Friday, December 14, 2018

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Gayle Trent, Author of Killer Wedding Cake

Daphne Martin is a cake decorator with an enormous problem in Killer Wedding Cake - her oven is on the fritz. With her mind consumed with finding somewhere else to do the baking for her business, she isn’t very concerned with eating. When her sister Violet agrees to let Daphne commandeer her oven, Daphne orders pizza and breadsticks to feed herself and Violet’s family of four.

Still feeling guilty for taking over Violet’s kitchen, Daphne awakes early the next morning to make breakfast. Eyes lighting up at the sight of pancakes, Daphne’s nephew Lucas hugs her and invites her to move right on in. Besides pancakes, she prepares eggs, toast, and sausage—plenty of comfort food for the baker who’s not only dealing with a broken oven but also with the return of her abusive ex-husband…the week before her wedding! Oh, and did I mention that the night after he visited Daphne, her ex was found murdered?

When Daphne’s family arrives to help, and Daphne realizes the wedding planner she hired is a con man, her meddlesome mother only manages to ratchet up Daphne’s stress level. Desperate to escape her house, Daphne asks her fiancĂ© to take her to the store to buy cocoa. At the grocery store, Daphne and Ben buy the not-really-needed cocoa along with steaks, potatoes, macaroni, rolls, tomatoes, and bagged salad.

As you can imagine, our girl is under a world of stress. She eats a lot of comfort food throughout Killer Wedding Cake. If the holidays have you on edge and you’d like to make and eat a little comfort food of your own, below is a yummy recipe for chocolate pistachio cake you might enjoy.

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

You can find Gayle here:

Chocolate Pistachio Cake


1 pkg. white or yellow cake mix
1 pkg. pistachio pudding mix
½ cup orange juice
½ cup water
4 eggs
½ cup oil
¾ cup chocolate syrup


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Combine cake mix, pistachio pudding mix, orange juice, water, eggs, and oil in large mixing bowl. Blend to moisten and then beat for two minutes at medium speed with electric mixer.

Pour approximately ¾ batter into well-greased and floured Bundt or tube pan. Add chocolate syrup to remaining batter. Mix well. Pour over batter in pan.

Bake for about one hour.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Francesca Varela, Author of The Seas of Distant Stars

But What Are They Eating on Deeyae?

My science-fiction novel, The Seas of Distant Stars, tells the story of a human girl—Agapanthus—who’s abducted by aliens and grows up on Deeyae, a red-rocked, watery planet in another solar system.

It may not have the same name in real life, but Deeyae is a real planet. It bears the stoic title of Gliese-667Cc, and it’s known to scientists as an Earth-like exoplanet. That means it’s close to its home star, and could potentially harbor liquid water—and complex life—on its surface.

Gliese-667Cc revolves around a red dwarf star (named Imn in my book), which tinges everything on the planet with a pink-red glow. Red dwarf stars aren’t as warm or as bright as yellow giants like Earth’s sun, so I imagined that life wouldn’t be based around a sun-fed food chain.

Here on Earth, everything starts with plants, but, on Deeyae, the food chain revolves around hydrothermal vents, and the so-called “extremophile” bacteria who thrive in such environments. From there on, each step of the food chain is carnivorous. Aside from seaweed-like water plants, there’s no vegetation on Deeyae. And, because of that, all meat is eaten raw, even by the sophisticated and human-like Deeyans who Agapanthus is raised by. I mean, think about it—no plants, no trees, no wood, no fire.

Blobs of raw meat are the main fare on Deeyae. Much of it comes from the “asasd fish” raised in the fisheries, while some comes from the monstrous “red-breasted spers” and “w’rrs” that are hunted in the inner plains. Deeyae is home to many different species, and the Deeyans are undeniably at the top of the food chain. Agapanthus is lucky that she was brought from Earth as a toddler and doesn’t remember her home planet, because, by Earth standards, Deeyan food is disgusting!

Maybe someday we’ll know if Gliese-667Cc/Deeyae is anything like I’ve imagined. But, for now, it remains science-fiction, and the strange and exciting setting of The Seas of Distant Stars, available now wherever books are sold.

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

You can find Francesca here:


Friday, November 30, 2018

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Clayton Smith, Author of APOCALYPTICON

In Post-Apocalypticon, the world ended six years ago, and no one was prepared. The Flying Monkey bombs came out of nowhere, and boy, it’s a hard fact of life that the apocalypse brought a whole host of problems: roving marauders, trigger happy survivalists, strange and life-threatening weather patterns, the occasional flesh-hungry zombie. In the face of such ever-present danger, it can be easy to view food as a necessity instead of a culinary art…but there’s no reason to lose our humanity just because humanity has been completely and totally lost.

But to be clear, humanity has been completely and totally lost.

When it comes to post-apocalyptic mealtime staples, your best bet is obviously going to be beans. Packed with protein and loaded down with preservatives that were once decried as dangerous but now praised as pure brilliance, most canned beans are still good, even now, six years after the end of the world. They’re probably reaching the end of their shelf lives, though, so now’s the time to tuck in! If you have some compromised cans, you might find your beans a little moldy or mealy. If that’s the case, you can brighten them right up with a little bit of ground sassafras root or wild onion. And you can always mush them up with creek water to make a tasteless-but-mostly-nutritious paste! Just make sure the water isn’t from a source that’s been spoiled by death.

Of course, the more enterprising survivors will cultivate their own vegetable farms! This is an especially good option if you happen to come across a carefully protected seed vault, in which case, you’ll almost certainly come up against a bunch of other survivors willing to slit a whole lot of throats to keep the seeds for themselves, so bring your sharpest sticks!

If you do decide to plant your own seeds, you’ll want to pay careful attention to which part of the country you live in. Not everything grows well in every climate! For example, since the Flying Monkeys fell, Florida reaches an average yearly temperature of 68 degrees, while Minnesota only gets up to an average of 64 degrees. That could be the difference between growing beets and growing marginally-less-flavorful beets. Generally speaking, zucchini, tomatoes, and potatoes are reliable crops, but you will want to check your soil for Monkey dust before eating anything that grows from it. If the dust seeps into the soil, it won’t necessarily kill you, but it will almost definitely give your skin a light-greenish hue.

Which is still a pretty small price to pay for not starving to death.

And, of course, if you have no qualms with eating meat, even after watching the zombie hordes tear apart your loved ones with their strangely well-preserved teeth, there are some animal species that seem impervious to the Monkey dust, and are therefore safe to eat. Buffalo, for example, make for a great jerky snack! Tigers are also reputed to be in tip-top shape following the end of the world, but good luck finding one in the wild on this continent. Oh, and domesticated cats also seem particularly resilient where the disease is concerned, but please always remember, you’re supposed to be the hero of your own story, not some ALF-like horror-monster.

When all is said and done, culinary options aren’t quite as plentiful or palatable in the post-apocalyptic world, that’s true. But on the bright side, when literally every single second of every single day is a struggle for survival, flavor takes on a somewhat diminished importance. So peel open those beans, set a trap for that buffalo, and grow those sickly tomatoes, friend! You’ve survived the last six years, so like it or not, it looks like you’re in it for the long haul.

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

You can find Clayton here:

Friday, November 23, 2018

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Alan McDermott, Author of Run and Hide

Food was never the first item on the menu when I sat down to write a novel.  Action, yes, intrigue, definitely, but characters taking time out to enjoy a steak at a posh restaurant never really crossed my mind.  The people I wrote about were more comfortable facing enemy fire than perusing the menu of an Italian eatery.  In my first novel, Gray Justice, the closest anyone got to a decent meal was when six members of the SAS got together on a canal barge and sheared sausages, bacon and eggs!  Oh, and there were the endless tins of Spam.  Never forget the Spam!

That changed in my seventh title, Trojan.  It’s a spin-off from my Tom Gray series and features MI5 operatives Andrew Harvey and his girlfriend Sarah Thompson. When not saving the country from terrorists, they like to out-do each other in the kitchen.  Harvey kicks things off with a delicious seafood dish, and Sarah responds with lamb three ways.  I didn’t go into much detail on the preparation (though I do believe one of the ways was a lamb ballotine) because I try not to bog down my work when there’s action and adventure to be had!

My most recent works introduce a new character Eva Driscoll.  She’s a CIA assassin forced rogue to investigate her brother’s murder, and as in the Gray series, she hasn’t got much time for eating.  She does manage to throw a burger and plate of fries down her neck at one point in Run and Hide, but the rest is sandwiches whenever the bullets aren’t flying.  In the sequel, Seek and Destroy, she does get one last hot meal before the big finale, but thankfully she makes up for it in the third book (tentatively titled Crash and Burn).  Steak dinners, lobster, Chinese noodles all come into play as she takes on her nemesis at the ESO and tries to shut down another deadly organisation.

In short, if you want action-packed, fast-paced thrillers, pick up one of my books.  Just be aware that you’ll have to bring your own sandwiches!

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

You can find Alan here:

Friday, November 16, 2018

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Nick Cook, Author of Cloud Riders

Jake Stevens is one lucky teenager because his mom, Sue Stevens, runs the famous Twister Diner, the best place for food this side of anywhere and favoured haunt for storm chasers. So what might Sue be serving her patrons that has made her so famous?

A day in Twister Dinner might start with an Eye of the Storm breakfast, a stack of smoked bacon on silky scrambled eggs, with that essential stack of pancakes, the best maple syrup and fresh strawberries on the side, and all arrange in an inverted tornado shape. One of Jake’s favourite meals is his mom’s slow cooked chill with its melt in the mouth meat with just the right hit of spice tang to tickle your taste buds. Then of course to finish there’s the baked cheese cake that storm chasers have been known to cross the state to grab a slice.

Cloud Riders also deals with parallel worlds. In Breaking Storm, Jake journeys to Floating City, a place that’s literally constructed from hundreds of thousands of airships. I had a huge amount of fun creating the ultimate noodle bar, a place called called Ramas. Think steampunk themed restaurant with food delivered to the tables via a pneumatic system and you’ll get the general idea. However, when Jake tries his first ever bowl of Sanfire Noodles, he makes the huge mistake eating the spiced leaf on top of the noodles and that nearly blows off the top of his head! This was actually based on a real life incident… When I visited San Francisco a long time ago, I tried sushi for the very first time. How was I to know that wasabi shouldn’t be eaten like a green been? The look on my colleague’s face was priceless as I swallowed it whole and she too late tried to stop me. As a man who enjoys spicy food I will never forget that intense wasabi heat travelling all the way down to my stomach and burning all the way. Think of that when you’re reading that sequence with Jake!

I always notice references to food in novels and I find it easy to tell if it’s written by someone who actually cooks or not…and just so you know cooking is a huge passion of mine much to the joy of my wife. In stories food is another strand of world building that helps bring texture and bring life to a story. And sometimes food is there for the joy of it. I mean who wouldn’t want to experience a banquet at Hogwarts under a roof with a moving celestial sky on it? Yes, J.K. Rowling definitely cooks!

In my latest Fractured Light trilogy, food once again is there taking a central role at times. Food is life, so why not reflect that in one’s writing? And coffee, there always has to be great coffee!

So to conclude, I do love great food and it seems, having read this back to myself, so do my characters!

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

You can find Nick here:

Thursday, November 1, 2018

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Cyndi Tefft, Author of BETWEEN

A blog focused on books and food - brilliant! It’s comforting to know that I’m not the only one who notices what characters are eating and drinking.

Between, the first book of my series of the same name, references one of my favorite family dishes: ‘taties and eggs’. The cheesy breakfast scramble becomes something of a link between the present and the past for the main characters, so finds its way onto the page multiple times.

In fact, I even got a request for the recipe, so posted it online for my readers to make at home!

The scene when Lindsey first makes taties and eggs for Aiden takes place in a log cabin, where she’s cooking in an iron skillet on an old-fashioned wood stove. And while I’ve never met an 18th century Scottish Highlander, I can tell you the setting is pulled straight from my memories of a family cabin. Thinking back on it, I can practically smell the sharp tang of the cheddar cheese and taste the buttery, crisp potatoes. Ahhhh… It’s no wonder he falls in love with her (oops- spoiler alert!).

To me, food has a magical quality that can take me back to a place and time, that can make memories come alive, like a song or a scent. It’s a bridge between people, a way to remember your connection with loved ones even when they’re far away. Taties and eggs will always hold a special place in my heart, and if you decide to give the recipe a try, I hope you and your family love it, too!

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

You can find Cyndi here:

Thursday, October 25, 2018

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Ann Swann, Author of Stutter Creek

She went looking for an old flame and found a serial killer instead.

When Beth lost her father to cancer and her husband to another woman, she didn’t know where to turn. So she pulled herself together and headed for their old family cabin in the mountains of New Mexico for some comfort and some comfort food at the historic Drugstore CafĂ©.

Like a lot of us when we are hurting, we automatically attempt to retreat to a happier time in our past. For Beth the happiest times were the summers she’d spent at the cabin with her dad, a single parent. She distinctly remembered helping him in the tiny kitchen, chopping vegetables while he cooked. They’d had a very special relationship.

 And then she’d met eighteen-year-old John, her very first crush. She’d thought he would always be there, every summer, but then he had joined the military and disappeared. No way he could be back on the mountain, could he? That had been years earlier.

 She couldn’t wait to find out. Unfortunately, on the way to the cabin—looking forward to a comforting late-night snack of pan-fried toast with a smear of peanut butter and a dab of grape jelly—Beth accidentally crossed paths with a serial killer. Suddenly her trip to the past took a dark turn endangering not only her safety but also the safety of a young boy and a teenage girl. Would they survive, or would her search for comfort lead to the destruction of them all?

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

You can find Ann here:

Ann Swann is the author of numerous romantic suspense novels (and ghost stories) published by 5 Prince Publishing. She has also written several award winning short stories.  Ann lives in West Texas with her husband and their rescue pets.  She loves libraries and book stores and owns two different e-readers just for fun.  Her to-be-read list has grown so large it has taken on a life of its own.  She calls it Herman.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

FOODFIC: Please Welcome John FD Taff, Author of Little Black Spots

Food for though, huh?  Listen, I'm an author who's fat.  Or perhaps I'm a fat man who happens to be an author.  Whichever.  But I will acknowledge that food plays an important role in my life, probably too important a role.  And as with many parts of my life, my love for food plays an important role in my writing.  I spend some time in many of my works talking about what the characters eat and drink.  I'll talk about a few of them with you.

In my short story "Shug," appearing in the anthology Shadows Over Main Street 2, the setting is a farm in the years right after World War II.  The main character, Vesta, has lost her husband in that conflict and lets the farm fall into decrepitude.  Along comes Shug, and he helps her get the place back into shape so that he can plant some…well, you'll have to read the story to find out exactly what he plants.  But there are plenty of scenes of eating, all good, 1950s farmhouse stuff—fried chicken and mashed potatoes, split pea soup, okra and plenty of vegetables right out of the garden, strong coffee, bacon and eggs.  She even makes a strawberry cake with boiled icing, just like my grandmother used to make.

But food figures even more prominently in two of my other stories.  And here's where it's vital you understand that I am a horror writer, and these stories might be (should be!) disturbing.  The first we'll talk about is "The Mellified Man," which appears in my collection Little Deaths: The Definitive Edition.  The story concerns sweets.  Candy.  I wrote it with my brother Robert in mind.  He had a notorious sweet tooth growing up, and I wanted to explore the idea that a sweet tooth could get you into plenty of trouble.

I'd read somewhere about this concept of a mellified man.  In either ancient Arabic or Chinese medicine (I can't remember which), there was a sort of legendary practice of steeping a dead body in honey for a long, long time until the honey saturated the flesh.  This honey-steeped corpse was then cut into small pieces and doled out to people suffering from various maladies.  To eat.  Let me emphasize this point: patients were given chunks of a dead person's honey-macerated flesh to eat.  Yum.  Or not.

A more recent story of mine is called "Purple Soda Hand."  It appears in my latest collection Little Black Spots.  I wrote the story for bestselling author Josh Malerman.  I had this image of an unlabeled bottle of grape soda found by a kid on a hot day.  Sealed tightly, its cap unbroken, it lay on the side of the road.  No label.  But, man, did it look refreshing.  So, the kid unadvisedly cracks the soda open and take a few healthy swigs.  It's the most delicious, grapey grape soda he's ever tasted.

The problem is—and isn’t there always a problem with these things?—that there's also a tiny, amputated human hand in the soda bottle, too.  Does this change his mind about drinking more of the soda?  Would it with you?  You'll have to read the story to figure out what happens.  But I can assure you, it's not good.

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

You can find John here:

Thursday, October 11, 2018

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Beth Kander, Author of Original Syn

Dishing It Out, Dystopian-Style

Original Syn is a dystopian epic where our world has become totally unrecognizable… or maybe not so much, if we just squint a little. Fifty years after an epic event called the Singularity, the entire world is divided into just two categories: The powerful, age-defying Syns ("synthetic citizens," human-computer hybrids with extraordinary enhancements) and the dying, oppressed Originals (those who did not merge their bodies with machines). A decades-long war between Original and Syn is almost at an end, because after an attack on their reproductive systems, the Originals are on the verge of extinction.

But then Ere, one of the world’s last teenage Originals, meets a beautiful, powerful Syn girl called Ever, and suddenly questions everything he’s ever been told about his lifelong enemies. Meanwhile Ever realizes there’s a dark side to the world she’s always taken for granted. And unbeknownst to either of these star-crossed lovers, there’s a revolution at hand…

Okay—but what are they eating?!

In the Originals’ world, food isn’t glamorous. They eat canned goods and whatever they can find and forage. But gathering water and preparing and eating food brings them together, uniting them even when the meals themselves are nothing special.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, the Syns can eat anything they like. Food, as with everything else, is something they can stockpile and perfect and enjoy… but as with so many other things, having hoarded all of the resources doesn’t always turn to joyful ends. With the ability to eat anything at all, selective withholding of food or manipulation of menus becomes a tool of domestic warfare for Syns at odds with one another. Take Marilyn Hess, wife of the most powerful man of the Syn world, ageless and privileged but constantly feeling victimized, overlooked, and powerless. She’s always at odds with both her husband, Dr. Felix Hess, and her daughter, Ever (who has been seventeen for fifty years, so you can imagine the drama). Marilyn can’t go up against her husband—at least, not yet. But she can find small ways to torture her daughter, and food is one of the ways she does so, as in this scene:

     “Mrs. Hess?” Angela is standing in the doorway, drying her hands on her apron. “I got the message about Ever, coming back. Shall I fix something for dinner she’ll like? Greek, maybe? I have some grape leaves. Maybe some dolmas would be nice. She loves my dolmas. If it’s something she likes, maybe she’ll eat.”
     Marilyn takes another slow, punitive sip as she considers Angela’s words. Then she sets down the cursed cup, knowing Angela will clear it away for her. She stands, smoothing the invisible wrinkles from her dark, form-fitting dress, and shakes her head, as if making a regrettable but necessary decision. 
     “I’ve been craving salad nicoise. Make that for tonight.”
     “Salad nicoise?”
     “Salad nicoise,” Marilyn says firmly.
     Both women know how much Ever despises salad nicoise. Selecting it for dinner is an easy way to rile the girl, to make Marilyn’s anger evident, right on the plate. Ever will refuse to eat, giving Marilyn an excuse to chastise her, and the endless cold war will continue.
     “If that’s what you want,” Angela says carefully.
     “It is,” Marilyn snaps. “And this coffee is terrible.” 

Even in a world of advanced technology and big ideas, details matter. Food can still unite or divide us, depending on what we have and how we choose to share or deny it. For more dystopian drama – and food feuds – check out Original Syn, now available wherever books are sold.

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

You can visit Beth here:

Friday, October 5, 2018

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Barbara Stark-Nemon, Author of Hard Cider

Why Hard Cider?
By Barbara Stark-Nemon

Several lifetimes ago, at the beginning of a career and the end of a marriage, I spent a year living in England. I worked at my first job as a speech and language therapist, and teacher of English as a Second Language at the American Community School in London.  At 27 I had taught English for two years in America, then gone to graduate school.  I had traveled to Europe several times, and even studied in Austria for a summer, but I’d never lived and worked outside the 50 mile radius of where I’d been born, grew up, attended university.

I worked hard all week, but on weekends I explored London and then traveled farther afield.  I loved the culture of pub life in big cities and small hamlets.  Nothing ever seemed to taste as good as a ploughman’s lunch after a morning’s country walk. Thick slabs of local cheese slathered with chutney or mustard, piled with butter lettuce and tomato and sweet pickle on a crusty roll. I never tired of trying each pub’s variations.  My only problem was that I was raised on German and American beer, and just couldn’t get used to English ale. Casting about for another local drink, I started to notice hard apple ciders on menus.  All I knew about apple cider was that I had enjoyed the sweet fruity juices accompanied by donuts from the local cider mill in the autumns of my childhood in Michigan.  But here was a sparkling drink made from apples and fermented somehow to produce a variety of sweet to dry drinks capable of packing a serious alcoholic punch.

I had become a gardener by then, and I can’t imagine a better country to learn about gardens and landscapes than England.  Many of my weekend and vacation sojourns included places with formal gardens and orchards.  Among the most memorable were times spent in Somerset and Devon.  There the apple growing industry is both longstanding and historically interesting, not to mention filled with the beauty of orderly orchards, quaint villages, and a pub on every corner.  It’s where I cut my hard cider chops, and began my fascination with the drink and its production.

Fast forward 30 years- a long satisfying career, a different marriage and a family and a cementing of that interest in growing things. I became a Master Gardener through a university extension service in cooperation with our local county. As a family, we’d begun to explore the northern lake country in the northwest corner of Michigan’s lower peninsula as a regular vacation destination.  Lo and behold, in addition to having the most drop dead beautiful forest and lakeshore, the area is known for its orchards, and vineyards.  Add the last ingredient. I was given a copy of Michael Pollans’ The Botany of Desire, The alchemy of tracing the history of certain plants and their impact on the humans whose destinies the plants determined worked its magic on me and my developing novel, and provided the inspiration for Hard Cider’s major subplot.

Then came the research. I reviewed the sections of my master gardener training having to do with fruit tree growing and maintenance.  I’d begun to hear about the burgeoning hard cider industry in the U.S. I knew that Prohibition and later the commercial beer industry had usurped the prominent place of home brewed cider that dated back to colonial times in this country.  But hard cider was experiencing a renaissance and I read the new bible, Cider Hard and Sweet, by Ben Watson. I then explored local orchards and cider makers in Michigan, and leading apple growers and cider makers in New Hampshire and Vermont.  The people who know it best were kind enough to let me interview them and tag along on a tour and a cider pressing.  Needless to say, I tasted a lot of excellent cider! (See below for a list of a few of my favorites and where I found them..)

My main character in Hard Cider, Abbie Rose, embarks on her dream of producing hard apple cider along the shores of the dunes and lake that she loves in northern Michigan.  She learns as I did, and writing Abbie’s scenes in the orchards and cider making facilities were some of the most enjoyable writing I did in the book. And yes, I may have once wanted to get into the cider business myself.  But writing Abbie through the achievement of her dream is a close second!

Cider Favorites:
From Tandem Ciders in Suttons Bay, MI, I love Farmhouse, Smackin-tosh and Pretty Penny
From Taproot Cider House, Traverse City, MI - Northern Natural Lavender or Elderberry
From Farnum Hill Ciders  in Lebanon, NH, try Farnum Hill Semi-Dry (Sparkling)

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

You can find Barbara here:

Barbara Stark-Nemon is the author of the novel Hard Cider, just released by She Writes Press, as well as the award-winning first novel, Even in Darkness. She lives, writes, cycles, swims, does fiber art, and gardens in Ann Arbor and Northport, Michigan. After earning her undergraduate degree in English Literature and Art History and a Masters in Speech-language Pathology from the University of Michigan, Barbara enjoyed a teaching and clinical career working with deaf children. Barbara writes novels, short stories, and essays.