Friday, September 24, 2021

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Jane Ward, Author of In the Aftermath



My maternal grandmother immigrated to the United States from Edinburgh and worked for years as a baker in the Boston University dining halls. When summer arrived, she would leave her husband and three daughters behind and pick up seasonal baking work in vacation resorts on Cape Cod. 

During my childhood, when her career baking days were behind her, Nana often visited our family, and at the drop of a hat would whip up a batch of what she called “girdle scones,” a quick bread that has nothing to do with foundation garments and everything to do with being cooked on a hot pan—a girdle, in Scots English—on top of the stove.

Years later, confident in the baking skills I learned from watching her, I followed in her footsteps and took a job as weekend baker at a neighborhood bakery. My day would begin at 2 a.m. with baking muffins and scones, and end between 10 and 11 after I pulled my beloved loaves of challah and white sandwich bread out of the ovens. It was a physical job that put my sleep schedule at odds with weekend family time. But I loved that job; I loved watching happy people head home with the delicious pastry I had made. 

In the Aftermath opens in April 2008, just as the Great Recession is about to do its worst to many homeowners and small business owners. These are the people whose stories I would tell. As I brainstormed small business settings for David and Jules, the husband and wife at the center of the novel, I began picturing them moving around a bakery similar to the one I had worked at years before. Yes, it was an environment I could write about with authority, but my decision was about more than choosing something familiar. I write to explore the nature of human connections, and the origin story of bread is also one of community.

Before the first brave souls looked at wild, grassy wheat and came up with the idea of grinding it into flour, turning that flour into dough with water and airborne yeasts, shaping this concoction into a cake, and then sticking it into fire, people roamed—rootless—and foraged to live. 

Once bread caught on as a reliably available food source, people were able to stop moving to find nourishment. They became farmers, bakers, consumers; they settled close to each other. Communities grew and people thrived. Around bread. Because of bread. 

In Jules and David’s fictional bakery community all those eons later, customers would have eaten good, crusty bread and everything else that owes its existence to society’s first humble loaf: scones and muffins, danish and croissants, cookies and brownies and cakes. In their best times, these bakers touched lives—sending sustaining food into people’s homes and bringing them joy. It is this same longing for connection - through work, through relationships – that guides the characters in In the Aftermath as they move through difficult times into a brighter future.


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



You can find Jane here:





Thursday, September 16, 2021

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Real Laplaine, Author of Deception People



Betrayed by Apple Pie

Deception People was inspired in the wake of 9/11, where literally hundreds of engineers and investigative professionals from around the world, people who had no bias or other agenda, objectively examined the attack, and concluded that the two planes did not, and could not possibly, under any circumstances, have brought down the Twin Towers with such precision. What they did discover was ample evidence showing that demolition style explosives had been secretly placed in the support columns of both buildings, and then carefully detonated to make it appear otherwise, bringing both structures down in their footprint, without touching another building; and moreover, that a 3rd building, 47 stories high, across the street, not even struck by a plane, also crumbled with perfect-demolition style, shortly thereafter, an incident which was explained away by the government, and yet, which few questioned or even challenged.

Deception People, while a thriller in of itself, presents a disturbing scenario, where another group of senior officials and their backers decide to repeat an act of terrorism, but this time, one that completely disrupts the nation through its digital platform – all of which seems relatively harmless until one realizes that airplanes will be crashing into one another or onto runways, financial systems will cease to operate, that tens of thousands will die in hospitals where equipment has failed, where transport services will cease thereby causing all manner of road and train collisions, and more.

One man discovers their plot and tries to expose it. Troy Evans, an unassuming graphic designer living in Minneapolis, has a special ability, one he has honed over the years. Surviving a near fatal accident as a young boy, Troy experienced his first out-of-body experience, and went on, over the years, to experience many, many, more. Now, as an adult, and still practicing his outings in secret, he happens across a hotel hundreds of miles away, and overhears a bizarre conversation where men are planning a massive terrorist attack on the nation.

Troy immediately reports the matter to Homeland Security, but soon finds himself under attack by the very people plotting the terrorism, people in high positions of government and the military-industrial establishment employed by the U.S. government, all of whom will benefit from the debacle.

Locked away as delusional and dangerous, Troy convinces his psychiatrist he is telling the truth, and together they run, trying to find someone who will listen, while evading a lethal team who are tracking them down, to silence them before they can speak up. At one point, they stop at the “Shack”, a diner in South Dakota, a seemingly safe haven where American apple pie could have been born, but unfortunately their presence there is soon discovered, and the net is tightened around them.

The question is, who will listen to what sounds like mere conspiracy theory coming from two fugitives on the run, and if anyone does, will it be in time to stop the attack?

While many choose to believe that 9/11 was entirely the work of Islamic radicals, Deception People presents another picture – those with an agenda, sociopaths who couldn’t care less if 3000 people, or 100,000 are killed, providing it aggrandizes their power and their bank accounts.


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



You can find Real here:


RealLaplaine.com

Twitter @Real0Laplaine

Facebook Fan Page

Books on Amazon

Thursday, September 2, 2021

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Lynn Lamb, Author of The Survivor Diaries


After living through a pandemic, there’s a good possibility you have considered what you would do if food supplies dried up or became otherwise unavailable. Having written the Survivor Diaries Series, five novels exploring how one group of neighbors survive a global nuclear war, these days I’ve been acutely aware of my emergency supplies, especially food and water.

Not surprisingly, that was the first thought for Laura Patton, the reluctant leader of a group dubbed the Villagers. With the possibility of being trapped in their home for three weeks after the initial bombs dropped, waiting for the nuclear clouds to dissipate, Laura had the forethought to collect drinking water in plastic eighteen gallon containers she had previously used as packing boxes. These water stores checked the first box of Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

With the most important life maintaining ration in place, food and nutritional requirements were next on the list. Preparing for at least two weeks of quarantine, with no access to Instacart or Grub Hub delivery, the survivors were tasked with creating a food bank following the catastrophic first days of the apocalypse.

It was time for me as an author to firmly lace up Laura’s shoes and dig into researching dietary needs, ways of preserving food stores, and preparing meals sans electricity and gas. It was most important to me that these techniques were real-life tested, so I went about doing so, video recording my “Survivor Challenge.” I spent one day learning how to box a fire starter kit, make candles, and even fashion a beer can stove for heating coffee and water for rehydrated foods. You can check out the results, sometimes frustrating and other times hysterical, here: http://www.lynnlamb.com/survivor-challenge.

After escaping death in the rolling turbulence and hot ashes of bombs and the collapse of unstable buildings, the characters were left to tend to their wounds, and then wait for the worst of the radioactive winds to die. As they did so, they worried about their food supplies once their rations became depleted.

The Villagers found ways to communicate through ham radios and walkie-talkies while interned, discussing what comes next. When finally liberated from their confinement, one of the first tasks was to come together to share food and water. The family’s matriarch, Annie, headed a cooking committee to determine what foods would be easiest to prepare in bulk. Dried goods such as rice and pasta were first on the list. Other characters were tasked with forging through the wreckage of the town to find the location of a big box store and rummage through what remained.

Thus were the first weeks of life after global nuclear war. As weeks, months, and eventually years passed, the needs and skills of the Villagers grew and morphed. Growing sustainable food sources, at first for themselves and later for trade and the health of the population as a whole, became a priority.


Learn more about the life and death challenges of the Villagers in the Survivor Diaries Series as this group of determined neighbors face monumental obstacles on the path to what really matters in life.

So, what would you be eating at the end of the world?


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



You can find Lynn here:

LynnLamb.com

Twitter @LynnLambAuthor

Facebook Fan Page

Books on Amazon



Have you ever wondered how you would survive a global nuclear apocalypse? Lynn Lamb imagined it into existence on the written page. And thus began her award-winning and best-selling literary career.

Lynn Lamb is the author of the post-apocalyptic Survivor Diaries Series, Opus of the Dead Series, The Oxymoron of Still Life, a short story anthology, and Mechaniclism, an apocalyptic, horror novella. Lamb was inspired by the characters in her hometown of Monterey, California. She holds a BA in Cinematic Arts and Technology and has worked as a scriptwriter and corporate filmmaker.

The Survivor Diaries explosive series and the Opus of the Dead’s chilling novels have made a big bang and a scream on the literary scene. Grab her incredible titles, and don’t miss out on this chart-topping author!



*Excerpts from Monte Vista Village, all rights reserved

Friday, August 20, 2021

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Anne Hagan, Author of Tennessee Bound



The Morelville Mysteries is a series built on the coveted morel mushroom that grows wild after wet spring rains and drains in the area of Ohio I now call home. Oh, you can try to cultivate them, but tromping about the woods to find them, then posting pictures of your haul on social media for your friends to envy before you lightly batter them and fry them is what makes them even better eating than the ones from the patch that always springs up behind Aunt Edna’s garage under the elm trees.

Morelville is a farming community near the heart of Ohio’s Amish country. Mushrooms of any kind, Amish fried chicken, and Amish wedding plates rule tables in little mom and pop restaurants across a three-county area. And pie. There’s always pie; sliced, whole or fry pies taken to go to eat from your hand.

Sheriff Melissa ‘Mel’ Crane grew up on a family farm where her mother still gardens and cans food to feed an army from fall through spring. They raised chickens for daily fresh eggs and livestock for meat. Neighbors share their bounty with each other, both ‘English’ and Amish, and there’s always room for another plate at the dinner table.

When Dana came into Mel’s life, Mel’s palate expanded. Dana’s Pittsburgh Italian upbringing and a long hitch spent in Chicago sampling all of its gastronomic delights made her a passionate if indiscriminate foodie. She’ll try anything once. Maybe two or three times. Mel’s more cautious, but she does an instant liking to Dana’s signature dish, chicken Cacciatore, a combination of meat and stewed vegetables she never thought she’d like.

In the later books of the series, our two heroines leave the confines of Ohio from time to time to relax in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. Food is always on Dana’s mind, and she doesn’t hesitate to sample the fare at the pancake houses that attract teaming hordes of tourists in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, local beers, southern style barbecue and so much more. Mel’s usually game, at least she is for anything involving beef or chops. She doesn’t get to sample much cuisine in Tennessee Bound but that’s to be expected when you know what happens in the story. She’s going to have to make up for some lost table time after that trip south.


Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought Anne!



You can find Anne here:

AnneHaganAuthor.com

Twitter @AuthorAnneHagan

Facebook Fan Page

Books on Amazon

Friday, August 6, 2021

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Sherry Harris, Author of A Time to Swill


Chloe Jackson moved from big city life in Chicago to the small town of Emerald Cove in the Florida Panhandle. She left behind deep-dish pizza and hot dogs, moving to a land of seafood and Southern food. Because she made a promise to a friend, she’s also gone from children’s librarian to part owner of a bar, cocktail waitress, and barback.

The bar Chloe works in, the Sea Glass Saloon, sits on a beach so white it looks like Mr. Clean comes by every night to tidy up. The water is a dazzling blueish-green shade – it’s no wonder the area is called the Emerald Coast. While the Sea Glass doesn’t serve food the delicious smells of barbeque and seafood waft over from the Briny Pirate, the restaurant next door. Customers order food from there all the time. Chloe’s favorite dish is called a Redneck bowl. It’s full of smoked pulled pork, black-eyed peas, cabbage, corn, rice, greens, and just the right amount of hot sauce.

Chloe lives in a two-bedroom, cement-block house that sits on top of a sand dune. The open concept living room, dining room, and kitchen all have spectacular views because of windows that run all along the backside of the house and lead to a screened porch. When Chloe is home, she loves to cook with fresh, local seafood that she picks up from her favorite market – Russo’s.

She buys shrimp for shrimp scampi, yellow fin tuna to grill, and has experimented with dishes from local grouper, amberjack, and wahoo – depending on what is in season. The only thing Chloe refuses to try is raw oysters – she thinks they look like something a whale would sneeze out.

Chloe has a knack for finding trouble. In A Time to Swill, the second book in the Chloe Jackson Sea Glass Saloon mystery series, she’s swept out to sea in an abandon sailboat which she boarded because she thought she heard a baby cry. What will Chloe be hungry for if she makes it back to shore? Please read A Time to Swill to find out!


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


You can find Sherry here:

SherryHarrisAuthor.com

WickedAuthors.com

Twitter @SHarrisAuthor

Facebook Fan Page

Instagram

Books on Amazon


Sherry Harris is the Agatha Award nominated author of the Sarah Winston Garage Sale mystery series and the Chloe Jackson Sea Glass Saloon mysteries.

Sherry is a past president of Sisters in Crime, a member of the Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters in Crime, the New England Chapter of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America.

Sherry loves books, beaches, bars, and Westies — not necessarily in that order. She is also a patent holding inventor.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Lynne Kelly, Author of Song For a Whale


My character Iris, a Deaf twelve-year-old tech whiz, is about to embark on a grand journey to track down the world’s loneliest whale. But first, she’ll need to fuel up. On her way to the assisted living center to pick up her sidekick grandma, Iris stops at the gas station. Since she lives in Houston, there are plenty of good Mexican restaurants around, but Carlos’s Gas ‘Em Up has the best breakfast tacos. This isn’t the kind of place that has all the food pre-wrapped in plastic. One side is like the ordinary convenience store you’ll find at most gas stations, but there’s also a family-run café that serves excellent Mexican food. If you’re unfamiliar with breakfast tacos, think of a regular taco on a flour tortilla, but fill it with breakfast food: scrambled eggs, cheese, maybe some bacon or sausage, and salsa. This morning, Iris orders her taco with eggs, potatoes, and cheese. She also orders a coffee. She’s never had coffee before, but it seems like an appropriately grown-up drink for a trip like this. After one bitter sip, she throws it away and goes back to the check-out counter for her usual chocolate milk. 

For the next few days, Iris and Grandma will be far from Houston and the gas station tacos. The whale she’s searching for isn’t swimming anywhere around here—they’ll have to hop onto an Alaskan cruise to get close to him. 

When I was writing Song For a Whale, I was lucky enough to be able to research the setting in person, though I live in the Houston area like Iris does. I work as a sign language interpreter for my “day job,” and shortly after I started writing the novel, I saw an assignment for a week-long Alaskan cruise, interpreting for three Deaf passengers. I got to do that again a year later, when I was revising the manuscript. In addition to being a lovely place to work for a week at a time, seeing the ship and the scenery really helped with the setting details I added to the story. Of course, that included food! After Iris’s first cruise ship dinner of salmon and mashed potatoes, she orders a crème brûlée for dessert. She has no idea what it is, but it looks like it’ll be worth finding out. She and Grandma are too full to finish their dinners, but magically find more room when the desserts arrive. Iris still isn’t sure what’s in crème brûlée, other than sugar and some sort of cream, but she decides it’s her new favorite food. 

The next day at the breakfast buffet, she’s overwhelmed with the selection, which is like “…every breakfast buffet from every restaurant I’d ever been in, all shoved into one place.” It’s not every day you can have a waffle, a pancake, and French toast all in one meal. With the help of her new friend Bennie, Iris quickly learns where to find the shortest buffet lines and the best places to sit and enjoy a plate of salmon eggs benedict and banana waffles. 

Grandma is ready for full-time cruise ship life, but Iris is more like me—ready to be back home after an enjoyable week at sea. I imagine she still loves her gas station breakfast tacos, but maybe makes her own version too, with some grilled salmon added. 


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



You can find Lynne here:

LynneKellyBooks.com

Twitter @LynneKelly

Facebook Fan Page

Instagram

Books on Amazon


Thursday, June 10, 2021

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Mary Kincaid, Creator of Hawk McCoy



My character Hawk McCoy is a seeking personality who has many adventures. Confronted with the eating habits of my grandchildren who will not try anything new I was prompted to write this story. I want to encourage children to try things and make up their own minds.

In Hawk McCoy: The Mutant Onion, Hawk explores the tastes of various superfoods, vegetables, that his mentor Nyssa Pentas  developed with his father, a plant genetist. He joins Nyssa as a Junior Botanist. The first requirement of being a junior botanist with his father’s lab are expressing his opinions about recipes after the daily taste test. His father and Nyssa work on increasing the nutrient value of four types of vegetables: artichokes, peanuts, sweet potatoes, and onions. While he tastes, Lima Bean Curry, Artichoke sauces, and peanut fritters, he develops a three-part scale to rate vegetables on the blog.

His ranking system designed to encourage everyone to try the vegetable recipes went like this: “One Hawk: take the one bite your mom insists on. Two Hawks: two spoonful’s because it is not that bad. Three Hawks: eat up: it will make you grow.”

Before his summer is over, he talks about vegetables on the radio, dances in an artichoke suit to attract tasters to Nyssa’s display, and learns to grow vegetables.

When Hawk, lured by the local ice cream vendor, Earl, with his two for one special, gives into his craving for hot fudge sundaes, he alarmed Nyssa. Nyssa coaxes Earl into being the only vendor for her special ice cream sauce. After tasting it Earl agrees to distribute the sauce and help Nyssa with an ice cream social that will encourage the community to name the sauce.

The sauce looks like it is created from some type of berry but is actually made from the Pen5, the mutant onion. This onion is bright pink with yellow striped leaves.  The bright pink onion makes amazing ice cream topping. The additional benefits are that it will eliminate many of the ailments that require over the counter drugs. It is a real threat to aspirin sales.

Hawk becomes a vegetable eating convert over the course of the story. He ends the summer no longer believing that mac and cheese is a vegetable. 


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



You can find Mary here:


Twitter @marykincaid2001

Facebook Fan Page

Books on Amazon


Thursday, June 3, 2021

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Timothy S. Johnston, Author of Fatal Depth



The characters in my newest thriller, Fatal Depth, live in an underwater city.  They commute to work in scuba gear or in submersibles.  They work in submarines or serve in the submarine fleet, piloting massive warsubs through the world’s oceans.  They live, love, fight, and do everything else underwater.  All.  The.  Time.  

It’s their life, it’s their existence, and it’s their very reason for waking up each morning.

But what are they eating???

It’s an interesting question, and in fact, it’s at the core of the entire series of novels (which includes The War Beneath and The Savage Deeps). 

I knew I wanted to write a series of books that were cold war espionage/spy thrillers that take place underwater.  Think The Hunt for Red October on steroids.  But every writer needs a rationale behind the world they create.  I wanted it to be grounded in reality, in history, and in science.  It needed to be logical.  After many years at University in the 80s and 90s, and teaching environmental studies for decades, the justification for my undersea reality quickly became obvious:  global warming and rising ocean levels might soon destroy continental breadbasket regions and ravage shorelines.  Economies would disintegrate.  Nations would fall to rebellion.

People would starve.

But the underwater world could be our salvation!  Consider this:  The oceans occupy 70% of the planet’s surface.  Scientists believe we’ve only discovered 10% of the species which live there.  The ocean floors are, generally speaking, way beyond our reach.  However, the continental shelves at the rims of nations, extending a few kilometers into water before their rapid plunge into deep ocean abysses, are rich in organic material.  They are shallow enough to receive sunlight.  Fish love the shelves, especially if the currents are just right.  A collision of warm and cold currents is preferable. 

Kelp flourishes in these areas too. Some cultures already make heavy use of kelp and seaweed.  Imaging cultivating this crop in an organized and industrialized manner!  Kelp grows one meter a day in the right conditions.  It could solve our food problems, especially as famine and collapsing arable land hits us on the surface.  Throw in fish farms — schools of fish contained by bubble fences — and shellfish fields, and suddenly there’s a very real (and logical) reason for people to colonize the shallow ocean floors.

This is the basis for my current writing:  Surface nations are essentially a collection of collapsing economies which thirst for new resources.  There is an explosion of exploration and colonization on the ocean floors.  In Fatal Depth, the confluence of events have led to a Second Cold War, and a rapid flood of human beings into the oceans, to settle underwater cities and exploit the ocean deeps.  And, more often than not, war is the result.  This future possibility is a near certainty, if history is any indication of things to come.

I hope you might consider joining me in these adventures, and to explore just what people are eating in the underwater world!

- Timothy S. Johnston, from somewhere on the continental shelf


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



You can find Timothy here:

TimothySJohnston.com

Twitter @TSJ_Author

Instagram @TSJ_Author

Facebook Fan Page

Books on Amazon



Fatal Depth Book Trailer: www.timothysjohnston.com/fataldepthtrailer

Friday, May 28, 2021

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Bowen Greenwood, Author of Death of Secrets

 


What we like to eat reveals something about us. If a character orders nothing but salad every time he eats, the natural conclusion is to wonder whether he’s concerned about weight, or cholesterol, or some such. If a dainty, petite woman calls for a sixteen-ounce sirloin and tells the waitress, “I want to hear it mooing,” a picture of her rural upbringing comes readily to mind.

That makes food and drink useful tools for writing. In my first novel, Death of Secrets, Kathy Kelver, the female protagonist, witnesses a murder and then gets accused of making a false report by the police. In response, she and her college roommate open a bottle of wine together at the end of the day. It brings them into focus; it makes them relatable. It helps the reader understand better who they are.

Later in the novel, on the run from deadly adversaries and trying to understand why, Kathy, her roommate, and the male protagonist, Mike Vincent, hole up in a hotel room. The following morning, Vincent brings the two young women breakfast: biscuit sandwiches from a local fast-food joint. Vincent is a Member of Congress but grabbing McMuffins at McDonalds brings him down to Earth. Under stress, he craves grease and salt just like any of the rest of us.

My most recent story is Distant Thunder: An Exile War Novella.* It’s science fiction and space opera, and food and drink help create the world and the setting. At a cocktail party, the main characters nibble on something like a snail from the oceans of Tau Ceti, and drink beer from the finest grains grown there. The food means nothing to the plot, but just by mentioning it, the reader knows this is an interstellar world, space travel is common, and different worlds take pride in their local cuisine.

Food and drink tell us who we are, what we want, where we live, and where we’re going. They’re part of what makes real life worth living, and they’re just as much a part of making up worlds. Any time a book makes good use of that recipe, I know I always come away hungry for more.


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



You can find Bowen here:

BowenGreenwood.com

Twitter @BowenGreenwood

Facebook Fan Page

Books on Amazon



*Bowen Greenwood’s latest release, Distant Thunder, an Exile War Novella, is free to email subscribers at www.ExileWar.com


Friday, May 21, 2021

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Susan Keene, Author of The Wedding Cake Murder



Arizona Summers is the fifth generation to own Moonstone Lake’s most popular eating spot. At one time or another, everyone in the area has eaten there. She has nightly specials geared to the area seniors and folks who can’t afford to eat healthy without help.. She sends her leftovers to the homeless camp nightly.

Food is a universal symbol of fellowship. It’s our common ground.

Arizona knows everyone in her town because of the café. People who don’t know her well feel at home with her because they have seen her so often over the years.

She puts people to ease with a piece of apple pie with cinnamon ice cream or a steak smothered with garlic butter and fried onions.  

Folks begin to think of her as a friend. It’s a great way to dig up clues.

No one pays attention to her as she moves around the place hearing bits and pieces of conversation. If you sit down to have a serious conversation with someone the interaction can be formal. Add a cheeseburger, an order of fries and a coke to the encounter and tension melts. Your companion will focus part of their attention on the food and things get said they would have otherwise not revealed. 

The recipes in The Wedding Cake Murder are kept simple for a reason. They give the readers ideas for special occasions but keeps them simple with ingredients usually available in their kitchen.


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



You can find Susan here:

MusingsbySusanKeene.blogspot.com

Twitter @SusanSKeene

Facebook Fan Page

Books on Amazon