Friday, October 11, 2019

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Beem Weeks, Author of Strange Hwy



Melanie is the ten-year-old POV character of my short story called "Monster," found in my collection entitled Strange Hwy. She’s going trick-or-treating with her older sister Millicent and a pair of neighborhood boys. As the older sister, Millicent has a knack for cheating the younger out of the good treats. And by good treats, I mean the chocolate bars and Skittles—those snacks a girl won’t mind spending her allowance on when it’s not Halloween.

Millicent hates jellybeans. Her idea of being a good big sister is to convince Melanie to trade off her chocolate for jellybeans. But Melanie hates jellybeans as well. And as the younger girl grows older, wisdom sets in. She’s no longer compelled to capitulate to her sister’s ideas where candy is concerned.

The story unfolds around the house at the end of the block. This is where the monster dwells—a man with a history. Of the four kids in the group, Melanie is the only one who dares approach the front door, seeking a treat, hoping she doesn’t become a victim of the monster. But there’s a twist in this tale. The monster is not who or what we expect him to be. And since Melanie is the only child to dare ring his doorbell, she’s the recipient of a grand chocolate bounty.

There is a morsel of reality in this piece, in that I, as the older brother, often tried to swindle my younger brother out of the good trick-or-treat snacks. I hated jellybeans as a youngster. They were easy to pawn off on my brother. When my brother reached an older and wiser age, he no longer cared to make those trades I’d once convinced him were worthwhile. However, I found a silver lining in being stuck with jellybeans: they’d last well into the next year. I’d still have Halloween candy as late as February or March. Jellybeans or no, candy is candy to a kid.


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



You can find Beem here:






Friday, October 4, 2019

FOODFIC: Please Welcome June Winton, Author of The Golden Horn



Lacy is officially fed up! She would rather be eating Greek food at her boyfriend’s house, with his Mum giving her cooking lessons. Or even at the local Burger Man with her pals, having a laugh. Instead of which she is babysitting her six year old half-sister, Sophie, and trying to persuade her to eat her vegetables.

To make matters worse, Sophie has a severe case of sleepwalking and an imaginary friend called “Betty Ballerina”, and seems to be obsessed with “digging for treasure” in their back garden, where Betty keeps showing her to. Only thing is, there might be something nasty hidden in the garden…

Lacy enlists the help of her friend, Karina, who thinks Sophie might be haunted and is seeing a ghost, and persuades Lacy to attend a psychic fair to have her Tarot cards read. Only this makes matters worse when she picks the Death card along with the Tower and black sword cards, prompting the fortune teller to give her money back.

In desperation Lacy turns to Barry, a family friend who owns a metal detector and has recently found a golden horn, thought to be celtic but placed in an anglo-saxon burial site. She begs Barry to search their garden for clues as to what Sophie is looking for. But will he get there in time?


Thanks for stopping by to share you food for thought, June!



You can find June here:



Thursday, September 26, 2019

FOODFIC: Please Welcome James Shipman, Author of It Is Well




It Is Well, a historical novel by James D. Shipman, is set in Snohomish, Washington during World War II, as well as on Wake Island and in the European Theater.

What were Americans eating on the home front during World War II? The diet of US citizens was substantially limited based on rationing on most grocery items. Pictured below is the ration book of my grandmother, Katherine Davis. There were limitations on all staples including sugar, flour, meat and coffee. Americans were encouraged to grow “Victory Gardens,” and the majority of vegetables consumed by citizens during the War came from these home-grown gardens.

Snohomish was a small town during the war, with a population below 10,000. The surrounding area was dotted with farms. The food in this rural community north of Seattle was simple and wholesome: baked or boiled beef with potatoes, cooked vegetables and bread. Rationing permitting, pie would have supplied the typical desert. Although a modern person might have found the fare bland and repetitive, the local citizens did not suffer near the limitations felt by the English, and certainly not the mass hunger and starvation felt by those living under Nazi occupation.

About half of It Is Well takes place in the US military. American soldiers in the field lived off a new invention, “K-Rations.” The K Ration was a packaged, 28-ounce, 2,830 calorie meal originally designed by Ancel Keys from the University of Minnesota. The K Ration would contain biscuits, canned meat, a ration bar, and lemon powder. The soldiers also carried D rations, which were bars meant to be eaten under heavy duty combat situations or in an emergency. The D Ration bar was a chocolate bar with a high calorie content. The bar was intentionally made with a bitter taste so it would be consumed only by necessity. It was designed to taste “a little better than a boiled potato.”




One of the main characters in the book, Matthew, is a prisoner of war of the Japanese during most of the war on Wake Island. Japanese POW’s would have lived on a watery rice gruel and vegetables. The Japanese were already conditioned to live on much less than an American soldier, and the prisoners on the island received less than the soldiers. To make matters worse, the Japanese were not always able to resupply the atoll, based on combat conditions and other necessities, so the prisoners suffered terribly. The Americans on the island lost considerable weight during their captivity, both from the limited nutrition and the back-breaking labor forced on them by their captors.

That’s a look at what the characters from It Is Well were eating during World War II. Thanks for reading and after you’re done, it’s probably a good time to go out and grab a great meal, and be thankful you’re not cracking open a K-ration!

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



You can find James here:








It Is Well was released as an Amazon Kindle First Read by Lake Union Publishing in October, 2016. This title ranked #3 overall for all books sold on Amazon for much of the month of October. James D. Shipman has four published titles with Lake Union Publishing. His newest title, Task Force Baum, will be released by Kensington Publishing in hardback on November 26, 2019.

Friday, September 20, 2019

FOODFIC: Please Welcome T.L. Searle, Author of Aquila



Aquila Raven Vickers, Aqua to . . . everyone, she hates her name . . . is a vegetarian through necessity; meat makes her very physically sick. On her Organic farm in Somerset she grows fresh fruit and vegetables year round which her and her mum, a prolific baker, then make into tasty stews and pies, jams and cakes.

Aqua’s world is turned upside-down when she meets Lucas. He’s the first person like her she’s ever met and he introduces her to a whole new world; including culinary experiences. Aqua is given her first taste. . . it starts simple with some fruit and nuts because she’s late for breakfast but her next meal, brought to her after an already traumatic experience, is curried potato and crickets with rice and iced tea.

She declines, but, as she begins to settle into her new way of life, living Celthia, a city hidden inside a mountain in Bhutan, she embraces new delicacies such as stewed worms, dried crickets, baked centipedes, ants, grubs . . . any insects really . . . the leaves and flowers of local vegetation as well as fruits and vegetables and drinking Cecalis, the sparkling alcoholic Angeli version of champagne.

So be ready with an open mind and, if you’re anything like Aqua’s friend Aaron, an empty stomach.


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


You can meet Tanya here:






Thursday, September 12, 2019

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Jan Ruth, Author of Silver Rain



Despite his hit and miss work life (house-husband, head-childminder, author, children’s entertainer) Al is no slouch when it comes to the kitchen. And it may seem that initially, Al really needs some redeeming qualities. I like writing about characters who are not conventional, especially where there is a romantic element as the traditional themes have been done to death. My main protagonists in this off-beat love story are both aged fifty. Al knows he is adopted, but despite the freedom of a country childhood and a ready-made brother in George, the feeling that’s he’s from a different background never quite leaves him and questions about his famous birth mother hover in the background until, aided by Kate, he finally manages to confront some of them.

Kate, once married to Fran’s deceased brother, is shocked to discover that Al has been banished from the family for a number of years, the reasons for which remain a dark secret and George remains tight-lipped. In fact, George is mightily disgruntled that since his divorce, Al is determined to bury the hatchet and move back to the family farm. Chathill Farm is a dilapidated small-holding, and the centre of Fran’s universe. Fran doesn’t cook and her housekeeping skills are notoriously rustic, and it’s further fuel to her husband's disgruntled fire that all the inmates are named after edibles – Butter, and Marg, the dogs; Bacon, the pig, and Stilton, the horse. Despairing, and hungry, George is forced to find culinary solace at a local hotel and since we’re in Wales, fare such as local lamb and bara-brith are staples of the menu.

Family drama is always rife at Christmas time and although Kate seems burdened with the main event in the kitchen, it’s Al who adds the more interesting ingredients – both figuratively and metaphorically – such as almonds and smoked bacon to the sprouts, and makes real custard from scratch… (I’m thinking the kitchen might be the only place Al is ever serious). But it’s the Christmas trifle which really takes centre stage, when Al’s ex-wife unexpectedly arrives on Boxing Day to gatecrash proceedings:

Lifting the tablecloth, Al wondered about getting underneath. He could see his brother, shifting his weight from one leg to the other, and he could see Helen’s knickers as she sat with her legs slightly apart, totally sloshed. It was tempting to drop down there and curl up in a ball, but what would that solve? No, the only possible option he had at that precise moment was one of surprise. Without rocking the table too violently, he managed to crawl underneath and surfaced next to Helen’s chair.

She seemed poised to begin some sort of rant, her finger ready to point and accuse. Thrown by his sudden, close proximity her nostrils flared and she inhaled deeply, steeling herself for battle. She was about to open her mouth and there was a brief connection when he looked, apologetically, into her eyes; the eyes of the woman he’d always love, as the mother of his children.

Then he pushed her, face down into the trifle.



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



You can find Jan here:








Jan Ruth lives in Snowdonia, a mountainous area of North Wales, UK. Jan writes contemporary fiction about the darker side of the family dynamic, often blending life in rural Wales with a touch of city business. Her style is best described as fast-paced and realistic, with a sprinkling of dry humour.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Carole Bumpus, Author of Searching for Family and Traditions at the French Table



If  you tell me what you eat, I can tell you where you're from
by Carole Bumpus

While traveling in Europe, have you ever strolled down a cobblestone street, passed an open window and heard laughter flowing out to greet you?  Have you ever stopped to listen to the banter while wondering what it would be like to live there?  In that house?  That village?  And, oooooh!  What is that wonderful aroma?  Say, what are they eating?  I did too.

My book series, Savoring the Olde Ways, is a compilation of intimate interviews, conversations, stories and recipes I had the good fortune to gather from European families as I traveled throughout their countries. Part culinary memoir and part travelogue, these books are the personal stories told to me by individual families—from inside their homes along those very cobblestone streets.

As a retired family therapist, my initial interests were about the families themselves.  But as a lover of traditional foods and home cooking, I discovered that favorite ancestral foods brought both French and Italian families together—not only for holidays, but every day—at their own family tables. 

What sure-fire recipe did I use to open a topic of conversation?  I asked my hosts to tell me about their favorite foods as children.  Or, I asked if they could share with me the treasured recipes they prepared when first married.  But I quickly learned that I needed to prepare myself.  I needed to have pen and paper in hand, along with my trusty tape recorder. (Yes, I still used one.)

I also needed to quickly pull up to the kitchen table, because, without fail, I was headed for a most passionate journey.  You see, once I posed my question, the fondest of memories immediately rose to the surface—moments of delight of holidays past, favorite family foods, cherished traditions and beloved family stories—all would come bubbling forth.  And, before I knew it, my host would jump up, eyes bright with excitement as he or she would rush to the kitchen to snatch up a favorite recipe.

‘Voici!’ I would hear exclaimed in French, or ‘Ecco qui!’ in Italian. ‘Here it is!’ they would shout as they made a beeline back to my side. And there, clutched in hand, was a recipe card, all smudged with past efforts and spattered with passionate conviction.  Immediately, and because I’m only fluent in English, their arms would fly in all directions with mixing motions sweeping the air as they enacted the preparation of their favorite recipe.

By collecting recipes, I learned about their culture, their history, their loves and their sorrows.  I learned the favorite way to celebrate family was to return to the recipes of the past—the cuisine pauvre (French) or cucina povera (Italian)—the traditional cuisine of the family.   And, I learned that if you tell me what you eat, I can tell you where you’re from.


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



You can find Carole here:




   

Thursday, June 13, 2019

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Bo Kearns, Author of Ashes in a Coconut



For hundreds of years beginning back in the 16th century, Indonesian islands monopolized the spice trade. The country’s flavorful cuisine reflects that bygone era. In Ashes in a Coconut, Manhattan fashion designer Laura Harrison sets aside her career and accompanies her banker husband Jack to Indonesia to save her marriage. There are several scenes in the story where Laura and Jack experience the diverse local fare.

In Jakarta, they’re served gado gado, vegetables in a hot chili and peanut sauce, and a large bowl of steamed rice. Jack comments that he’s heard rice is used to calm the spice. Laura speculates that could be why there’s so much of it. 

In the Hotel Kediri’s elegant ballroom, waiters scurry about making last minute preparations for Laura and Jack’s welcoming reception. Over 500 guests have been
invited. Laura fidgets concerned she might do or say something offensive to the local culture.  An ice sculpture in the shape of a mythical bird dominates the buffet table. Its translucent wings extend over an array of exotic foods: chicken satays, nasi goring, giant prawns with a spicy-looking red sauce and a pyramid of colorful tropical fruit. Laura selects a prawn and dips it in the sauce. Overcome by spice, she chokes; her eyes water. She struggles to catch her breath and her plate tilts. Red blobs fall onto her white dress.

Fortunately things get better. Nissam is the cook in Laura’s household. Having worked for expat families of different nationalities, he comes with a range of recipes: boueuf bourguignon, pasta primavera, chocolate mousse, and Mandarin Chinese to name a few. He knows how to temper Indonesian dishes to accommodate the Western palate, without sacrificing the special flavors. 

The novel takes place in the 1980’s. The Palms is an upscale restaurant set in an old  mansion. Maroon velvet curtains frame tall, corniced windows and crystal chandeliers hang from the ceiling, evidence of an era long ago.  The menu includes rijsttafel— a medley of island foods concocted by the Dutch colonials. Twelve sarong-clad young women each carrying a large platter with a different dish serve it. Laura thinks the elaborate presentation a bit much. She hopes Jack won’t order the concoction, though she suspects he will. He enjoys the spectacle. Soon twelve women parade in and line up behind Jack’s chair. One at a time they step forward, smile and dish food onto his plate. Laura casts an eye roll in his direction. A selamatan is an Indonesian celebration of gratitude where food takes center stage. Having survived a life-threatening incident, Laura and Jack host a selamatan. Guests sit on the floor on a carpet and an imam chants a prayer. The main meal attraction is nasi tumpeng, a yellow, cone-shaped steamed rice dish made with turmeric and coconut milk. It’s served on strips of banana leaf along with: rending (beef curry), pisang goring (fried banana), empal (sweet and spicy fried beef), sambal telur (hard boiled eggs in a pepper sauce) and sayur-sayuran (cooked vegetables). The guest of honor cuts the cone.

Pungent foods are often found in the cuisine of hot, humid locales. Some speculate the sweating that can accompany eating spicy food, ultimately has a cooling effect. Others say the anti-microbial property of many spices deters food from spoiling. Yet with air conditioning and refrigeration, spicy food persists. A more likely explanation is that it’s part of the culture. People in tropical countries begin eating spicy food at an early age. They become desensitized. So perhaps if Laura and Jack subsume enough local food, they might become desensitized, too.


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



You can find Bo here:








Bo Kearns, journalist and writer of fiction, is the author of Ashes in a Coconut, a novel set in Indonesia where he lived for three years. He is a feature writer with NorthBay biz magazine and the Sonoma Index-Tribune newspaper. Several of his short stories have won awards and been published. He is a certified UC Naturalist, beekeeper, avid hiker and supporter of conservation causes. He lives in the wine country of Sonoma with his wife and rescue dog, Jake.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Back Luke Murphy, Author of Rock-A-Bye Baby



I love this blog! So many writers take food, and other important aspects of life, for granted in their books. Make sure that you include meal times, sleep times, etc., because people can’t live without food and sleep, even driven law enforcement types.

I’ve been asked to write a few things about the importance of food in my new novel for the blog. So I thought about what might go well with my new novel and my main character, Charlene Taylor. As a busy, on-the-run detective, who needs food for fuel, Charlene doesn’t always have/take the time or worry about eating. Luckily, Charlene has a loving, caring mother nearby to take care of her (moms are the best).

Charlene’s mother loves to bake, and she keeps her daughter fueled with hearty, nutritious home-cooked meals/food. In this newest story, even though Charlene’s adventure takes her from Los Angeles (her home) to Denver (visiting her sister). Luckily, Brenda Taylor tags along to see her daughter and first grandchild, so she is still able to supply Charlene with warm, home-baked, directly-from-the-oven blueberry muffins, so she doesn’t have to slow down while investigating a case.

As the investigation tightens and becomes tenser, Charlene goes lengthy spurts without food or fueling up, and her mother, who was married to a cop for over thirty years, knows what it takes to get them through.

Charlene is lean and athletic, takes care of her body both with the food she eats, and the physical activity recreational activities she takes part in. So knowing the importance of staying in great physical shape and keeping up her energy for a tough, high-speed investigation, I needed food that caters to her lifestyle.

Charlene’s quick, healthy breakfast for her on-the-go day:

Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour 1/2 cup white sugar 3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt         3/4 cup milk         1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg         1 cup fresh blueberries 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest


Directions
1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C). Grease bottoms only of 12 muffin cups or line with baking cups.
2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, blueberries, grated lemon zest and salt; mix well. In a small bowl, combine milk, oil and egg; blend well. Add dry ingredients all at once; stir just until dry ingredients are moistened (batter will be lumpy.)
3. Fill cups 2/3 full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 1 minute before removing from pan. Serve warm.


Thanks for stopping back by to share more food for thought, Luke!



You can find Luke here:




Thursday, May 30, 2019

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Rebecca Enzor, Author of Speak the Ocean



Thanks so much for inviting me, Shelley! I’m a huge foodie myself, although I can’t cook much more than frozen pizza or boxed mac and cheese (Hubs, however, is an amazing cook!). And while the human side of my story contains more drinking than eating (my human MC just turned 21 and is enjoying it), the mermaid side of the story is heavily driven by a lack of food.

Over-fishing has my Mer characters leaving the safety of their deep-sea home and taking dangerous chances to find enough to eat. My mermaid protagonist, Erie, is caught on a desperate hunt when she pushes another Mer out of the way of the “landfolk” nets. Once she’s trapped at the marine park, she refuses to eat the dead fish that were trapped in a net like she was. One of the first air-words she learns is “breakfast.”

The pivotal scene when she first speaks to her human trainer revolves around him trying to bribe her into eating a dead fish (Mer only eat live fish, so she’s really grossed out by this). There are several scenes throughout the book that focus on her not-eating, including my favorite line: “when he throws a dead fish in the water, I throw it back.” I can just imagine my pissed-off mermaid throwing a dead fish at my human trainer, and him trying to duck while getting hit with a cold, wet, dead fish. Knowing him, there’s definitely an expletive involved!

I can’t say too much more without giving away key parts of the book, but while it focuses heavily on the morality of subjugating other species to the whims of human entertainment (orcas at Sea World, for instance), it’s also about our effect on the food chain in the ocean. As we overfish and pollute the waters other species depend on, we’re also destroying a source of food that we depend on too. Eventually, we’ll be just as hungry and desperate as the Mer.


Thanks for stopping by and sharing your food for thought, Rebecca!



You can find Rebecca here:







Rebecca Enzor is a fantasy author and analytical chemist in Charleston, SC, where she lives with her husband, two dogs, three cats, and sometimes chickens. Her articles on writing science in science fiction can be found in “Putting the Science in Fiction” from Writer’s Digest Books. Obsessed with everything ocean, she studied fisheries biology in college and electrocuted herself collecting fish in a river, which inspired several key scenes in her novel. Speak the Ocean, a Blackfish meets The Little Mermaid retelling, will be published by Reuts Publishing in July 2019. She’s represented by Eric Smith of P.S. Literary.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Karen Pokras, Author of Ava's Wishes



Ava Haines isn’t your typical college student. She has big goals and is laser focused to make sure nothing gets in the way of her internship at the local art gallery and her bigger goal of owning her own place one day.

But a girl still has to eat, right? Especially when the esteemed and very handsome photographer Thomas Malloy offers to take her out to dinner while he’s in town for his show at the gallery. Perhaps Ava is not quite as focused as she thought she was. Even she’s entitled to a little fun once in while, and dinner with Thomas at Habanero’s, the chic and out-of-her budget Mexican restaurant, sure beats another bland meal at the college dining hall. They start off with Margaritas and tortilla chips. While the scene ends there, I’m certain Ava ordered the grilled Mahi-mahi tacos.

As good as that meal was, it has unfortunate ending. No worries though as Ava has other delicious meals in her future with both Thomas and her charming statistics tutor Max Wallis. Max invites her out to D’Angelos Pub where she orders a grilled chicken salad instead of the pasta dish she really wants, because she never orders spaghetti on a date. It’s way too messy. And is it really a date anyway if they’re talking about statistics?

Maybe some distractions aren’t so bad after all.


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



You can find Karen here: