Thursday, February 26, 2015

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Diane Dunning, Author of Greta Smart Figures It Out

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20458647-greta-smart-figures-it-out


There’s a whole lot of eating and drinking in my contemporary-romance novel, Greta Smart Figures It Out.

The story opens inside a Manhattan restaurant, where the main character, Greta, finds herself being served this morsel while on a nightmare blind date:

“You’re not beautiful,” he said. “Your profile said ‘beautiful.’ You kind of overreached on that one.” He smirked and sipped his dirty martini.

Most women would lose their appetites at this point, flip the table and stuff the guy into the nearest buffet drawer before storming out. Instead, Greta stays, even after he ditches her. She reclaims her dignity with a glass of wine and a calamari appetizer at a table outside. A pleasant dish has restorative powers.

Throughout the book, food connects Greta to her past and grounds her in the present. It provides the setting for Greta to grow and pivot as she discovers new truths about herself, friends, family and a potential lover. Yet it also works against her, as it does when she meets a former colleague for “bad girls lunch.”

Greta Smart Figures It Out isn’t intentionally a book about food, it just turned out that way. Set during The Great Recession, there are no extravagant multi-course meals with exotic ingredients…just a 27-year-old single career woman hungry to transition her life into more satisfying fare. And, with the help of the right food and drink here and there, she finds the sustenance to do it.


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



You can find Diane here:






Thursday, February 12, 2015

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Grier Cooper, Author of WISH

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23353227



Say the words “ballet dancer” and most people think one of two things: either “What do I have to do to look like that?” or “Aren't all ballet dancers anorexic?” The truth is the body is a dancer's most important tool–their livelihood depends on it–so every dancer works to keep that instrument finely-tuned and healthy. When I wrote WISH, I wanted to share the world of ballet and the sort of decisions dancers face, particularly when it comes to taking care of themselves and staying at the top of their game. For instance, my main character, Indigo, has to say no to bagels (even though all of her friends are devouring them in front of her) because she has an audition coming up. While it's true that there is an expectation for dancers to stay thin they have to eat because ballet is physically demanding–so  demanding that headliner Steve McLendon of the Pittsburgh Steelers says, “ballet is harder than anything else I do.”

Since all foods are not created equal, most dancers pay close attention to the types of foods they eat. Good nutrition builds a strong body, and dancers need to get plenty of protein to build and repair muscles. However, dance and a full belly don't go well together, which further complicates things.  Since a dancer's day begins in the morning and often ends late in the evening, they have to eat small amounts on the fly, which means high protein snacks are a dancer's best friend. Favorite choices include: bananas (high potassium), beef jerky, nuts and yogurt. When there is time for a full meal, a salad is often involved, paired with hearty grilled fish, chicken or meat.

But dancers are human, too, and just like the rest of us they enjoy an occasional treat. Indigo savors a couple of warm-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookies during a particularly grueling rehearsal. Other treats she samples throughout the book include frozen yogurt with rainbow sprinkles, and let's not forget birthday cake (twice!), because life without birthday cake is dismal indeed.

Feeling inspired? Try starting your day with Indigo's breakfast of champions: 1 slice toasted gluten-free bread, topped with 2 tablespoons almond butter, sliced banana, and a drizzle of honey and toasted coconut. Although her brother, Brad calls it disgusting, it's her favorite alternative to scrambled eggs and her father's burnt toast. Try it for yourself before you form an opinion.

Indigo's advice to you...the one thing Indigo will never have? A double-chocolate-caramel-mocha-frap-with-extra-whip. Or any kind of frap. With 64+ grams of sugar in each one, they're at the top of the list of dancer don'ts.


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


You can find Grier here:





 About the author: Since she was forced into ballet lessons at age five, Grier Cooper has performed on three out of seven continents. Her first crush was in fifth grade but Tchaikovsky was her first real love. She left home at fourteen to study at the School of American Ballet but after living in New York City, San Francisco and Miami she's decided she prefers to live outside of cities. Today she lives in a somewhat secret seaside hamlet with her husband, daughter and Coco Chanel (a black standard poodle). She is a dance activist and recovered sugar addict.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Stephen Douglass, Author of Kerri's War

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22842304-kerri-s-war


Many thanks to Shelley Workinger for inviting me to contribute a post in connection with my novel, Kerri’s War, to her wonderful blog: But What are They Eating? I was honored and thrilled that she had given me an opportunity to expose Volume Three of The King Trilogy to readers in a very unique fashion. I accepted the invitation without hesitation.

Even though my post would chronicle an event close to the end of the third volume of an epic trilogy, the invitation still struck me as a fascinating idea. “Everybody eats,” I said to myself. “Surely it must follow that readers would be interested in what the main characters of their chosen novels are eating,” I further concluded that Shelley was way ahead of the curve when she initiated her blog. Clearly, she was thinking outside the box. Her timing was perfect. I had just finished reading an historical fiction novel, set in the sixteenth century, in which the Spanish conquistadors, determined to relieve the Central American natives of their gold, were perpetually preoccupied with finding sufficient food to remain alive. There were no grocery stores or restaurants, conveniences we take for granted today.

The King Trilogy is a thrilling epic, spanning four decades and featuring the trials and tribulations of the King family and their connection to an inconvenient fortune. It is stolen and it is cursed. It ruins the life of everyone who touches it. The Bridge to Caracas, Volume One of The King Trilogy, is the story of how the inconvenient fortune was accumulated. Using the Peace Bridge as a fulcrum, an audacious criminal stole $325,000,000 via the mechanism of gasoline tax evasion. The Tainted Trust, Volume Two of The King Trilogy, is the story of what happened to the stolen fortune and its devastating affect on everyone who knew of its existence.

In Kerri’s War, the subject of this post, and Volume Three of The King Trilogy, Kerri King, a thirty-three year old woman, goes to war against Enerco, a corrupt Houston based conglomerate. At the outset of her conflict, she meets and falls in love with Steve Monteith, a perfect ten in her mind. Unfortunately, he is engaged to marry Christine Stewart, a Toronto socialite. Kerri’s dream is shattered when Steve marries Christine, but it is rekindled when he ends the marriage, in dramatic fashion, at the lavish Naples, Florida wedding reception. Once again Kerri’s dream is shattered when Steve is involved in an horrific automobile accident, resulting in a near life ending coma. The two become inseparable as Kerri nurses Steve back to health. Late in the story, Steve invites Kerri to join him in a wine tour of the Niagara Region. He plans to ask her to marry him.

It is at this point in the novel that I wanted the two lovers to be in a very romantic setting, one befitting a marriage proposal. Having endured so much adversity, the two deserved nothing but the best. I chose Niagara on the Lake, in Ontario, Canada, one of my favorite places on the planet. The happy couple have enjoyed the tour, blissfully unaware that they are being followed by a professional killer, contracted by Enerco to kill Kerri.

Following the tour and prior to dinner, Steve led Kerri to the cosy and beautiful Churchill Lounge at The Prince of Whales Hotel.. It was there that he asked her to marry him.

A stunningly beautiful five star hotel at the corner of King and Queen Streets, The Prince of Whales was one of the finest in the entire Niagara Region. Its rust and white brick exterior walls and cedar shake mansard roof line with dormer windows made it look like it had been transplanted from downtown Paris. Its false porch and pillars were festooned with hanging baskets containing thousands of local flowers of every color of the rainbow. It was a destination for tourists wishing to stay and enjoy the visual and gastronomic delights of the area.

Instead of the intimate privacy Steve had anticipated for his proposal, the two quickly became the focal point for everyone in the Churchill Lounge. The happy couple was besieged by well wishers and curiosity buffs, all anxious to congratulate them and interrogate Kerri. The session continued to grow in intensity until Steve raised his hands and formed a T. “Timeout,” he shouted as loud as he could. “Thank you all for your kindness. I wish we could stay longer, but we have to be at the Shaw Theatre at seven, so we have less than an hour for dinner. We really must leave now.” He reached for Kerri’s hand and led her to Escabèche, the hotel’s famous dining room.

HERE IS WHERE I NEARLY MESSED UP. I won’t bore you with the original manuscript text, but I will admit that it failed to describe what Kerri and Steve ate for dinner. When my wife, one of my strongest critics, read this part of the manuscript, she frowned and said, “How can you have your novel’s principal characters, newly engaged, eating in one of the most famous restaurants in the world, and not tell your readers what they ate? You’d have to assume that many of them would want to know.” She was right. How could I have made that omission? My only excuse is that I eat to live. By contrast, many people live to eat.

Armed with my wife’s rebuke, I climbed into my automobile, drove to The Prince of Whales Hotel, reviewed its amazing menu, made my selection, then re-wrote the dinner scene.

Here it is, as it appears in the novel:

They were warmly greeted at the dining room’s entrance by the maître d’hôtel. “Congratulations, Mister Monteith and Miss King. Dinner is on us. Our sommelier will see to it that you have a bottle of our finest champagne to assist your digestion. Please follow me,” he said, then led them to their table. They were treated to a dinner consisting of roast carrot and leek soup, Escabèche Caesar salad, and Northern Canadian elk, with creamed potatoes, sautéed mushrooms, and heirloom spinach. Even if there was enough time for desert, (apple trifle with Mascarpone cream, vanilla and orange juice), both would have declined. They were full and had thirty minutes to curtain time at the Shaw Festival Theater, one kilometer from the hotel. It was time to see Pygmalion.



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



You can find Steve here:








Author Bio:
I was born, raised and educated in Canada. I spent the first half of my career working for the two largest oil companies in the world: Exxon and royal Dutch Shell. I spent the second half working for one of the smallest oil companies in the world; my own. We have three sons and one daughter, all of whom are grown and “off the payroll”. Now retired, I spend summers with my wife, Ann, and our two cats, Abby and Samantha, at our Canadian home near Niagara Falls. We winter at our Florida home in Port St. Lucie. When I’m not writing, I’m reading, traveling, or playing horrifying golf. I plan to write until the day I die, probably longer.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Joshua Done, Author of The Exile Empire

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7236682-the-exile-empire



A few days ago I received a pleasant surprise in the form of a Goodreads message from Shelley. She wanted to know if I would be willing to talk about the food in my story and the significance and story behind it. Immediately I thought of one meal that stands out in The Exile Empire. It took an invasion, thousands of lives, and the formation of an entirely new economy for the new recipe to exist.

One of the primary components in The Exile Empire is obviously the fact that humans have been dispersed from their old area of space. The problem with such diaspora in the vastness of interstellar space filled with hostile enemies is the relative lack of resources, and chief among them food! This had become more than an inconvenience by the time the major events of the story began to unfold and the human exiles were getting quite desperate.

But that was when they found a new system with edible plants and animals a-plenty. There was only one catch. The planet was in a system crawling with hostile enemies that had just conquered the natives on a nearby planet and the humans would have to fight their way to the new food source.

After the initial scouts are attacked the remaining human fleet springs into action, moving to protect both their people and the precious food on the planet below. After the carnage that ensues there is still a major problem in that most of the edibles are either in raw, indigestible form, or spread around the planet in roaming herds that weren’t big enough to feed everyone.

That is when Karen, an economic and business savant from the old civilization, was brought in. Over the course of several chapters she takes the rag-tag remnants of a mixed civilian and military fleet and is able to create a fully functioning economy and foodstuffs supply chain in only a few days. Now, of course such a supply line would be highly limited in what it could produce. The two main foods that resulted from this endeavor are a grain called a sand nut and meat from a creature called an Abe.

The sand nuts had to be refined because in their raw form they contain a powerful laxative (something a few of the initial colonists lacking caution found out in humorous fashion). The Abes were similar to earth cattle and because of this similarity people started calling them Alien Bison when they first encountered them. This lead to the abbreviation ‘A’ ‘B’ which Wen said aloud sounds like “ABE” and after a few rounds of repetition the name stuck. The end result of all these shenanigans was a pita-bread-like wrap around an Abe meat filling.

These resulting Sh’in Wraps (named for the planet) quickly became a staple in the new civilization and they appear in subsequent stories throughout the series. It is amazing how much history and work can go into the simplest of foods, and science fiction, since it involves people and supply chains, should be no exception. I think that the Sh’in Wraps are an excellent example of simple food created by a complex setting.


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


You can find Joshua here:


 




Thursday, January 22, 2015

FOODFIC: Dust Girl - Sarah Zettel



https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12795973-dust-girl

Callie LeRoux knows dust. And that’s about it, really, since everything she thought she knew just blew away like, well, dust. In a dust storm. That’s literal, by the way.

You see, this “dust girl” of Dust-Bowl era Kansas lives with her mother in the Imperial Hotel which her grandparents started back when there were people passing through and money to be made. The “black blizzards” and the Depression have driven away both, as well as all but a handful of townsfolk. Really, the doctor should’ve taken the town sign with him as he pulled out hours before the story-changing storm blew in.

So, in the pre-storm hours of that fateful day in April, Callie knew  3 things:

1. She had to wear a scarf over her mouth every time she went  outside to keep her dust pneumonia from worsening.

2. The last name people knew her by – McGinty – came from a traveling salesman Mama let the town believe was her father. Her real papa’s promise to return is what kept Mama in Slow Run long after it ceased being a safe or in any way pleasant place to be.

3. NO ONE was supposed to touch the grand piano under the sheet in the Moonlight Room.
But then Mama changed the rules. She ordered Callie to play, and, like the parabled flap of world-altering butterfly wings, Callie’s touch on the piano triggers a catastrophic ripple that brings on the storm of all storms. Its winds carry away her mother and its wake deposits a family of human locusts at door. Okay, not actually humans nor locusts, but fairies, who reveal that Callie is also one of them. Thus begins Callie’s epic (and first ever) journey out of Slow Run to search for both her parents and her true self.

Little by little, or in her case too much by none and over again, Callie learns about her magic, the best lesson of all (and from my favorite character in the book) being this: “It’s like pepper in the soup – you want just enough to do the job, and no more.”

I think that’s the kind of food for thought both humans and fae can digest. ;)

Thursday, January 15, 2015

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Michael Draper, Author of Three Strikes and You're Dead

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22912911-three-strikes-and-you-re-dead



Restaurants and food have an important part in Three Strikes and You're Dead. I believe that a good book should appeal to the various senses – to see, as in well prepared food; to smell, where the aroma of food gets the stomach juiced flowing; and to taste, which is the icing on the food palate.

Early in the story, a trio of friends are meeting at a local coffee shop. Roseanne is the motivator of the group and the force behind them. She feels that her persuasive ability is strongest in a setting outside the four walls of her office. The restaurant has gourmet foods displayed on the counter with various coffee cakes, pastries and toppings for English muffins. There are six choices of coffee from French Vanilla to English Roast on display, enhanced by the aroma of freshly ground coffee.

Roseanne has big news to deliver, so she shares with her brother a light exchange to set the tone: Graham tells Roseanne that she's had so much coffee that her eyes are blinking in Morse code; Roseanne counters, "Your hands are so shaky that when you go to a Mexican restaurant people use your handshake to blend their Margaritas.”

Within this relaxed atmosphere, Roseanne tells the others that she has decided to change careers and become a private investigator. She also wants Graham and Randy to join her in this endeavor because they are a great team; they worked together in the past to solve her husband’s murder. She points out each person’s strongest asset;  where Roseanne has the creativity to pick worthwhile endeavors, Graham possesses the knowledge of investigatory methods from his military experience, and Randy is analytical, reliable, and also able to handle Graham, who has a tendency to fly off the handle.

Yes, Roseanne understands the way to a man's heart is through the stomach, and we see this more than once. After the trio has been working at the agency for a time, Roseanne serves Graham and Randy dinner at her home, starting with a shrimp and scallop casino, followed by veal Marsala with homemade bread from the local Italian bakery, and ending with chocolate mousse.

Once everyone was content and receptive, Roseanne announced that she had applied to the Baseball Commissioner to be part of the investigation group hunting for a murder. The food and wine her brother brought made sure the two men were not upset that she moved without consulting them.

Restaurants also bring a visual element to important scenes. After the three investigators spent time in Florida, they went to a restaurant that their hotel recommended:

At the Blue Door Terrace, their seats overlooked the terrace with its royal palms and fig trees. The white bottom painted on the fig trees added an extra color to the setting, as did the potted trees placed throughout. Randy spotted ficus, mango and hibiscus trees displaying their burgundy red blooms in pictorial fashion. As the group waited for their food, small brown birds fluttered around the tables looking for crumbs.

This is just the point in the story where things are starting to gel; the murderer has left a trail that the investigators can see and they’ve called an FBI friend who he leads them to the climactic confrontation.

So, in Three Strikes and You're Dead, food and drink help relax the characters almost every time they need to make decisions as to what course of action they will take. Works in the story just as well as in real life.
:)
 


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


You can find Mike here: