Thursday, April 28, 2016

FOODFIC: Please Welcome C.M. Keller, Author of Screwing Up Time

When Shelley asked me to write about the food in my Screwing Up Time series, I was excited.

Probably because I’m a foodie and so food plays an integral role in my time travel novels. Henry, the main character in my time travel novels, is always dealing with food. If it’s not because of his mom, a dyed-in-the-wool, organic health food nut, who serves tofu-turkey for Thanksgiving or his sister Kate and her midnight trips for fries and Whoppers, it’s the food he encounters while he travels in other times and places.

After all, how can you visit the Middle Ages and not experience eel pie or a cockentrice (a combination of a pig and a chicken sewn together and cooked)? Because let’s face it, cockentrice is cool. And eel pie is just weird.

But food is more than setting and characterization. It’s also part of what drives the story. Even in our real lives, food is part of the plot. At holiday times, we come together to share a meal. Engagements happen over candle-lit dinners. Even many religious ceremonies like Communion and Passover involve food. So too, food helps drive the plots of in the Screwing Up Time series. In Screwing Up Babylon, a monkey with the aim of a Yankees’ pitcher in a pendant-winning year nails people with limes in Babylon. And when the beast is tamed with candied orange peel, Henry discovers the key to rescuing a woman from the harem. Or in one of my favorite scenes from Screwing Up Alexandria, Henry steals a mug of Sumerian beer so he can mix up a time travel elixir and save the woman he loves from being sacrificed.

Oddly enough, the food in my novels often drives the plot of my own life. Because if I’m going to write about ancient beers, candied orange peel, and eel pies, I have to know how they taste. The beer was great. Candied orange peel is delicious. And eel pie…okay, I didn’t really make eel pie. But I ate smoked eel, which is probably close enough, and it was surprisingly good.

Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Connie!

You can find Connie here:

Thursday, April 21, 2016

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Wendy Jones, Author of Killer's Cut

Scotch Pehs and Tattie Scones

Scots and food are inextricably linked. Long cold winters mean that hot, high calorie food is enjoyed with relish. Scotch broth thick with barley and brimming with vegetables, and stews made with the best Scotch beef are staple fare. Fodd that warms 'the cockles of your heart', or 'sticks to your ribs' as my grandmother would often say.

Italian immigrants brought fish and chips to Scotland and so began a love affair with all things deep-fried. Fish, dipped in batter and then fried to golden perfection, is served with fat succulent chips. Scotch pehs are also a much loved delicacy. Peh is the local Dundee word for pie. This is short cut pastry filled with spicy minced beef and dripping with grease. The pastry crumbles in your mouth and mixes with the mince causing a flavour akin to ambrosia.

The Detective Inspector Shona McKenzie Mysteries are set in Dundee. Shona and her team work long hours and the food they eat to fuel them is integrated throughout the books. In fact they eat a lot. Bacon rolls feature regularly with huge Scottish morning rolls filled with several thick rashers of bacon. Tattie Scones are another Scottish breakfast delicacy particularly enjoyed by Sergeant Peter Johnston. These are flat, made from potato and, you've got it, fried.

Dundee has had a long relationship with India due to the jute that came in to the ports. Therefore Indian curry is widely available. Shona's favourite food is anything from an Indian takeaway therefore she often orders it in for the team to enjoy.

Some of the best cakes in Scotland are made in Rough and Frasers bakery in Dundee, as are the pehs. Therefore, Shona often nips in to buy cakes for the team. They say an Army marches on its stomach; well, so do the police. They do in my books anyway.

Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Wendy!

You can find Wendy here:

Wendy H. Jones lives in Scotland, and her police procedural series featuring Detective Inspector Shona McKenzie, is set in the beautiful city of Dundee, Scotland. Wendy has led a varied and adventurous life. Her love for adventure led to her joining the Royal Navy to undertake nurse training. After six years in the Navy she joined the Army where she served as an Officer for a further 17 years. This took her all over the world including Europe, the Middle East and the Far East. Much of her spare time is now spent travelling around the UK, and lands much further afield. As well as nursing Wendy also worked for many years in Academia. This led to publication in academic textbooks and journals. Killer's Cut is the fourth book in the Shona McKenzie Mystery series.

Friday, April 15, 2016

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Tonya Kappes, Author of Spies and Spells

There is just something about going to a diner in a small town. . .

I grew up in a small rural Kentucky town. It’s one of those thing when someone asks me where I’m from, I’m going to say the county name instead of the city. That’s just the way a small town rolls. 

That is just ONE of the things that I loved about growing up in a small town in the south.

In most small towns there is that one diner, the one greasy spoon that no matter what time of day you go, there is a line and the counter stools are filled with the same local, little old men in their John Deere hats with a cup of coffee in their hand.

When you go to open the door, you have to give the bottom corner a little tap with the toe of your shoe because it gets a little stuck every once in a while and the above the door dings as soon as you fully open it, our hearts swell with joy. Then our stomach rumbles as the smell of homemade biscuits, sausage gravy, and bacon grease swirl and curl around our nose with strong coffee chasing shortly after. Our eyes scan the top of the full diner just so we can find a couple available seats. After we find that seat, our usual waitress, the only waitress, comes over and fills the foggy plastic glass with the chip in the rim with water and a pot of coffee dangling from her hand. You don’t need a menu. You know what they serve at your diner as if it were tattooed on your brain.

And just thinking about that fried egg has your mouth watering. . .

Awe. . .wasn’t that a great step back into a wonderful memory? What about your memories? Do at least half of them revolve around food?

Food is such a wonderful way to gather people. It is magical really. Food creates community, builds relationships, and fills our souls. Doesn’t this sound exactly how a novel should feed your mind?

I think so too! In every single novel, mostly all in series, I’ve written (twenty-six published), I make the diner and settings of my small, southern towns just as much a character as my heroine and hero. It’s a comfort to the reader to open a novel in a series and know what it feels like to flip the first page and step back into the diner they have grown to love because of all the warm and fuzzy they get from visiting.

Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Tonya!

                                                                         You can visit Tonya here:

Tonya has written over 20 novels and 4 novellas, all of which have graced numerous bestseller lists including USA Today. Best known for stories charged with emotion and humor, and filled with flawed characters, her novels have garnered reader praise and glowing critical reviews. She lives with her husband, two very spoiled schnauzers and one ex-stray cats in northern Kentucky and grew up in the small southern Kentucky town of Nicholasville. Now that her boys are teenagers, Tonya writes fulltime but can be found at all of her guys high school games with a pencil and paper in hand.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Nancy Lynn Jarvis, Author of A Neighborly Killing

Realtor and occasional amateur sleuth Regan McHenry keeps chocolate chip cookie dough in her freezer ready to take and bake at open houses to create a homey feel. It’s an old Realtor trick, well, that and putting a drop of vanilla on an electric burner to accomplish the same aromatic lure.

So it’s natural that she would bring chocolate-laced melty comforting cookies to the wrongly accused in their jail cells or to use food to gather clues. When she doesn’t have quid-pro-quoi information to exchange with her policeman-friend Dave, she’s been known to loosen his lips with scones. (And he’s been known to cause a dinner disaster with a well-timed call and tidbit of information that makes her forget to stir her risotto.)

But in the latest Regan McHenry Real Estate Mystery, A Neighborly Killing, due out this month, Regan uses a full dinner as a culinary carrot to catch her crook, a recent émigré from Columbia:

Hector Gonzalez was due for dinner at 6:00 on Thursday. Regan was still going to play bad cop to Tom’s good cop, appropriate especially since she knew Hector was woman averse. She was going to come across as the perfect hostess, though, and had researched traditional Colombian meals. Potato-filled empanadas, tidy little fold-over pastries that took forever to prepare, were on her list for hors d'oeuvres . The rest of the meal was a traditional Colombian banadeja paisa, a platter laden with red beans cooked with pork, white rice, ground meat, eggs, chicharrón, plantain, chorizo sausages, corn pancakes called arepa, avocado, and lemon. The great commonality all the food except the rice, avocado, and lemon had was that it was fried. Authenticity set off the smoke alarm in the kitchen twice as Regan perspired over her creations.

Her plan would have worked, too, if during the after dinner conversation she and her husband hadn’t overplayed their hand by suggesting to Hector, a self-styled “Highly Sensitive Person,” that there were spirits of the dead nearby and scaring him so badly he fled before incriminating himself. Oh well. At least their failure wasn’t because of her cuisine.

Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Nancy!

You can find Nancy here:

Friday, April 1, 2016

5-Year Blogiversary!

NO FOOLIN' ;) I'm thrilled to celebrate another year of delicious reads!

This year I dug into: 

Become Your Own Matchmaker – Patti Stanger
Lailah – Nikki Kelly
I Am Number Four – Pittacus Lore
The Royal Diaries - Elizabeth I – Kathryn Lasky
Queen Sugar – Natalie Baszile
Dakota – Gwen Florio
ZOO – James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge
Going Over – Beth Kephart

These fabulous authors also stopped by to share their food for thought:

Leyla Kader Dahm – Annabeth Neverending
Carmen DeSousa – Creatus
John Dolan – A Poison Tree
Gary Dolman – The Eighth Circle of Hell
Lorna Dounaeva – May Queen Killers
Dorothy Dreyer – My Sister's Reaper
E.J. Fechenda – The Beautiful People
Karl Fields – Steths: Cognition
Christoph Fischer – In Search of a Revolution
Ashley Fontainne – Growl
Fayette Fox – The Deception Artist
Rhiannon Frater – Fighting to Survive
Chris Galford – As Feathers Fall
Mark David Gerson – The MoonQuest
Katherine Gilraine – Revival IV (The Index Series)
Mark Gilroy – Cold as Ice
Kim Golden – Snowbound
Peter Golden – Wherever There is Light
Alisse Goldenberg – Bath Salts
Amelia Gormley – Strain
Staci Greason – The Last Great American Housewife
R.S. Guthrie – Honor Land
Jessica Haight & Stephanie Robinson – The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow
Dianne Harman – Murder at the Cooking School
Milda Harris – Adventures in Funeral Crashing
Kelly Hashway – The Monster Within
Tamar Hela – The Wrong Fairy Tale
Guido Henkel – Hunted
Laura Hile – Mercy's Embrace
Kim Hornsby – The Dream Jumper's Secret
Axel Howerton – Hot Sinatra
Lynn Hubbard – Return to Love
Sandra Hunter – Elanraigh
Mona Ingram – Forever Changed
Elizabeth Isaacs – The Light of Asteria
Vickie Johnstone – The Sea Inside
Richard Rhys Jones – Sisterhood of the Serpent
Sanela Jurich – Remember Me
Luke Murphy – Kiss & Tell
Michelle Zaffino – The Love Quad

With so many great guests this year, I didn’t get to blog about every book I read. And, to be fair, not every read lends itself to a good FoodFic discussion, either because the food in the story doesn't jump out at me, or my schedule’s already full for the year, or a book’s subject matter is too dark or serious for me to lightly chat about here.

Anyway, below are most (I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few) of the books I read over the past year that weren’t reviewed here at BWATE?

And, as always, please feel free to suggest some great reads for me in the coming year. :)

Karin Slaughter – Pretty Girls

Friday, March 25, 2016

FOODFIC: Going Over - Beth Kephart

Love proves itself.

Ada didn’t think up this saying, but she believes it as fiercely as if she did. And the love she wants to do the proving is that of Stefan, the boy she’s loved for the 3 years since she turned 12.

Unfortunately Ada’s story doesn’t take place in 21st century in America, and the hill she wants Stefan to surmount to be with her isn’t some sort of metaphorical social obstacle. Ada and Stefan live in 1983 Germany on opposite sides of the Berlin Wall. He’s East, she’s West, and they’re  separated not only by the imposing cement, but by its accompanying fences, mines, dogs, and twenty-two-centimeter-high asparagus grass as well.

Yes, I had to stop there and look that  up. You’ll be interested – I know I was – to learn that asparagus grass is edible, and it is grass. No, I wasn’t initially sure of either; I thought it might be a name for some sort of weapon or obstacle, like barbed wire. Funny enough, in some of  the images I found it does look a bit like barbed wire, and its shoots are organized – or rather so disorganized – that in Turkish they call asparagus grass “Kuxkonmaz” which translates to “bird can’t land,” so its usage/placement around the wall is perhaps more apropos than the Germans were even aware.

Anyway, yes, Wikipedia may have proven the existence of asparagus grass, but not Stefan’s love.*

On their scheduled permitted visits, Ada sneaks in articles describing the best escape gadgets – double-jointed ladders, invisible string, escapable coffins – but all Stefan wants to do is kiss her and take her hand and go for walks. He wants to savor every precious moment they have together by being together, while Ada wants him to devise a way to make that time endless. He’s today, while she’s always five steps into tomorrow. When you look at it that way – his short-sightedness versus her long – hers seems more like love, his like infatuation. Then again, his feelings might be the more grounded and realistic of the two when considering the concrete obstacles in their path.

Either way, you’ll be pulling for these to beat the odds, cross that wall, and trample that asparagus grass.

*Because love proves itself, remember? I know I digressed a bit, but surely you can’t have forgotten that already!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Sanela Jurich, Author of Remember Me

At the innocent age of fifteen, Selma was just beginning to experience the power of her first love.

Unfortunately, living in Bosnia in 1992, Selma and her parents soon found themselves targets of the Bosnian War. Being in a war, they didn’t have a lot of choices when it came to food. They ate whatever they could find.

Since Selma and her parents lived in a city, they didn’t have a vegetable garden or live stock. They ran out of money, so they couldn’t just go out and buy food.

At first, they would walk to Selma’s grandparents’ farm and borrow food. The walk would usually take them about two hours there and two hours back, but as the war situation got worse, going there became too dangerous.

After Selma’s father got arrested by the Serb army and taken away to a concentration camp, Selma and her mother were at the end of their rope. They had absolutely nothing to eat and no way of getting food. That’s when one of Selma’s neighbors pitched in and started sharing with them what little food she had left.

She didn’t have much herself, so they had to come up with their own recipes in order to create something out of nothing.

One of Selma’s favorite things to eat at the time were these little doughnut-like cookies they didn’t even have a name for.

In a large bowl, they would mix a little bit of flour with a couple of diced apples, a pinch of sugar, and some water. They would, then, take spoon-fulls of it and deep fry until golden brown. Sprinkled with some powder sugar—if they were lucky enough to have it— it almost tasted delicious.

Those were the happy memories of shared meals in a war. However, those days didn’t last too long, for Selma was unfortunate enough to be taken away from home and thrown into a concentration/rape camp where she had to learn the hard way about how little a person needs in order to survive.

Follow Selma’s journey through love, despair, hope, and peace in author Sanela Jurich’s Remember Me. Experience the brutality of the Bosnian Genocide, but see how God’s hand restores Selma’s life tenfold. Understand the courage it takes to face your attackers and relive the pain in the name of justice. Discover whether love can blossom from beneath the rubble of war.

Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Sanela!

You can find Sanela here:

Thursday, March 10, 2016

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Vickie Johnstone, Author of The Sea Inside

When Shelley asked me to contribute a post about the food my characters eat in The Sea Inside, my first thought was it’s a good job she didn’t ask about I Dream of Zombies – not from the perspective of the zombies anyway.

The Sea Inside is set in three different places – our own reality, that of Entyre lost beneath the waves and another fantasy world – between which the heroine, sixteen-year-old Jayne discovers a bridge, thanks to a strange gift from an older character, Sophia. Waking in a forest, confused as to whether it is real or a product of her imaginings, Jayne wanders into danger, from which she is rescued by a stranger from the sea, called Skyen.

“I was not dreaming. There was no way my imagination could conjure all of this up and for it to seem so real… There was neither sun nor moon nor stars, only a faint mist. The stars of my home were replaced by glittering lights that flickered in the blue of everything.”

Of course, being a Brit, I made one of the most important conversations in the book – between Jayne and Sophia – happen over a good old cuppa. As in real life, things may be solvable over a warming mug of tea.

In our world, Jayne lives with her grandfather, and I imagine he did most of the cooking. It would be traditional English fare, such as: bangers (sausages) and mash; egg, bacon and chips; meat pies; baked beans on toast; eggy soldiers; and beef roast dinner with roast potatoes, vegetables and Yorkshire pudding, splattered with gravy on Sundays. I’m sure there would be a treacle pudding in there somewhere - and gallons of tea.

In Entyre, the scene where Jayne meets Skyen’s family for the first time takes place over dinner, prepared by Manna. I was thinking of Manna from Heaven. Manna was ground in a heavenly mill for the use of the righteous, but some of it was allocated to the wicked and left for them to grind themselves (Wikipedia).

In a sky-coloured room where lights sparkle in the walls and all the furnishings are indigo, the food is served on a table resembling glass but is made of sheer ice. Manna entered the room through a doorway filled with blue mist, which shimmered to nothing at her approach and then materialised again. The guests ate and drank from bowls and cups made from sparkling blue glass, using wooden utensils. On offer were fruits and pastries, the purest lemon juice mixed with an ingredient Jayne didn’t recognise, and there was total silence as everyone tucked in. One of Jayne’s favourite dishes was a combination of carrots, almonds and apples – or at least these were the ingredients from her own world that she matched it to. The dish was inspired by a salad I love, which I discovered on holiday in Poland.

Thinking of the food scenes, I thought that maybe I didn’t write enough of them! Perhaps because when I’m writing, eating seems trivial when really it’s as necessary as oxygen. It’s going to make me think about food a whole lot more.

Thanks to Shelley for inviting me on her blog. Bon appetit!

Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Vickie!

Vickie Johnstone lives in London and works as a 
magazine sub-editor. She has written 16 books. 
One of her favourite foods is Milky Bar chocolate.

You can find Vickie here:

And find all of her books here:

Thursday, March 3, 2016

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Richard Rhys Jones, Author of The Sisterhood of the Serpent

"A food blog", she said. "Write about food."
So here I am, writing about food… Well, actually what the characters in my book, The Sisterhood of the Serpent would eat.

To be fair, it's pretty safe to say that this is new land for me. New land on a scale of the Mayflower Pilgrims crashing into Plymouth Rock, or Neil Armstrong and his "One small step" shenanigans!

Well, whatever, here goes…

Now, it could be said that, The Sisterhood of the Serpent takes place chiefly in a hotel room, and that would not be a lie. However, there are also scenes set on a ranch run by a seriously deviant cult, in a Satanist commune in Colorado, also in a prison, (on Death Row to be precise) and just outside the gates of Hell. So, as you can see, these wide-ranging locations could produce quite a broad variety of eats for us to pontificate on. However, for the sake of keeping your interest I'll just pick a couple, otherwise we'll be here all day.

So I'll start with the cult's ranch, as I don't actually see them dining in any elaborate fashion. The cult members have all promised themselves to Leviathan, the serpent demon. Their lives mean nothing, and they live only to serve their cult, the Sisterhood of the Serpent. The devotees endure brutish scarification and body alterations to resemble the snake devil they follow, with their ultimate goal being to join the ranks of the Nagani, the asp-like beings that wait at the gates of hell. So it's pretty obvious their diet isn't going to be rich in either consistency or taste. 

I see them surviving in their first year on a daily ration of turnip gruel, hard unleavened bread, and water. As time goes by and their station rises, perhaps their fare would improve. However, their mortal existence functions only to prepare themselves for the afterlife, so the quality of food wouldn't play such a major roll. Basically, they're living on British school dinners, and they like it that way!

Contrasting mightily with the poor tucker at the Sisterhood's ranch, the hotel room run by the FBI to house the two main protagonists is a different thing entirely. I put them in Bailey's, an imaginary hotel casino complex on the Las Vegas strip, so their every wish would be catered for.

Jim Gregory is a young lawyer from a well to do family. Used to the high life, but not snooty, Jim would be at home eating dainty Vol-au-vents at a polite soiree, or beer and steak with his friends. I see him being a good cook, who knows his wine and is willing to pay for a good Chardonnay for his oysters, rather than a super market brand.

Jim's pregnant wife Rebecca is a different animal altogether. An investigative reporter, she wears the pants in the family and has experienced the gritty ills of the wide, nasty world. She looks after herself, but is willing to rough it if needs be, and has done on many occasions whilst in the throes of her work.

In the book she has reported on bear baiting in India, drug running in Guatemala, Stasi informers being uncovered in Germany, and institutionalized racism in the South African police force. So it's fair to say she's pretty knowledgeable about many cultures and their cuisine.

I see Rebecca being keen on Indian or Latin-American food, curries and spiced meats, peppers and chilis; edibles with a kick that take her back to the adventurous days before she caught pregnant, as she busted scoops and scandals, and made her name on the front line of reporting.

Jim and Rebecca are experiencing a nightly barrage of terror and pain, their very souls are threatened by creatures from the depths of our worst nightmares, but at least they're dining well, right?

Now we come to the Nagani, the dwellers at the gates of Hell who await the coming of Leviathan. They want to claim Rebecca and her unborn baby, and are using horrific dreams that infringe on reality to put their message across.

Officially the Nagani don't eat, being that they're dead and have passed on to a different plane. However, I could probably imagine the chief priestess responsible for harassing our heroes having a nosy in their fridge before actually starting to haunt them. I doubt she wants to eat anything, maybe she does, who knows? But seeing as food plays such a massive roll in our lives, be it turnip gruel or beer and steak, I suppose the interest in it would be slow to wane? I mean, feeding only on the agony she inflicts on the living must be tedious fodder in comparison to a bowl of spicy meatballs, well that's what I reckon.

So perhaps she crosses over from the dream world a little earlier than usual, and casts an eye over the contents of her victim's pantry, before going on to beleaguer and terrify her victims?

The priestess herself is a hag who was probably "recruited" around the time of the First World War, or maybe ever earlier? She'd be mortified by today's manufactured foods, chemical cheese and hormonally-charged meats; though I dare to venture she'd approve of the wide range of fruit and vegetables available nowadays. I see her being a country woman who grew up on raw dairy products, self-butchered meat and fresh, native greens; well, until she was recruited by the Nagani to feed on the suffering of mortals, that is.

So there you have it, a slice of the culinary action (not) contained in my book, The Sisterhood of the Serpent.

I might actually rename it as Jim and Rebecca's Pabulum for Purgatory
Nah, just joshing, I found the word earlier and I've been aching to use it.

Thanks very much to Shelley for having me on here, and to you for your precious time and attention. If you want to read my work, look me up on Amazon, though my work is waaaay heavier than this BlogSpot… and don't take the one star reviews too seriously ;)

Take it easy,
Reg (Richard Rhys Jones. Author of horror and various food orientated blog posts)

Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Reg!

Friday, February 26, 2016

FOODFIC: ZOO - James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge

When will we know if the TV version of Zoo is coming back for a 2nd summer?

I so hope it is because they haven’t yet brought my favorite scene from the book to the screen!

You know the one I’m talking about – when people are attacked by wild, savage, ferocious…dolphins.

That’s right, dolphins. No, I’m not kidding, folks. It’s the fact that they are dolphins that makes the attack more frightening than the others. The lion attacks we can of course see coming a mile away, believable even to the extent of the cunningly plotted execution. But Patterson takes us completely by surprise by villainizing dolphins – the golden retrievers of the sea! – by giving them an uncharacteristic hunger for human flesh.

And no, that “hunger” is not the FoodFic tie-in. That distinction goes to the never-before-heard-by-me synonym for puking which was thrown out in a subsequent scene: feeding the seagulls. This caught my attention because my kids and I had just – the same day I read the passage – listed all the colloquialisms we’d ever heard for throwing up. We covered everything from cookies to tossed to porcelain gods hugged to chucks upped, but not one of us came up with seagull feeding. *smh* Just when I thought Patterson had no more tricks up his sleeve. Although that might’ve been Ledwidge’s contribution. ;)

But bodily functions aside, will it be those above-mentioned dolphin attacks that finally force the powers-that-be to take the animal threat seriously? They do acknowledge Jackson Oz and the motley crew of scientists that come together on the show much more quickly than they did in the text, but in both cases will it still be too late? Okay, I know how it ends book-wise, but we'll see if the show takes a different path...