Friday, July 29, 2011

Treasures in Your Life - BLOG HOP

Today's post is in conjunction with the Blog-A-Licious Blog Tour: a fantastic blog hop that brings together bloggers of all genres, backgrounds, and locations. Check out the post before mine in today's hop - SCATTERED MUSINGS - and the one right after - LIFE THROUGH LUCYLASTICA'S LENSE - as well as all of the other thoughtful bloggers on TODAY'S TOUR. Happy Treasure Hunting!

The treasure we call family isn’t all that different from pirate booty, if you think about it; we’ve got mostly priceless, sparkling gems, but there are also a few pieces of precious silver tarnished almost beyond recognition, and a handful of fake coins thrown in the mix as well. But pirate treasure can be boxed up and stored, hoarded and preserved for eternity. Family’s a bit more like Nestle Treasures; not meant to be buried and hidden, but shared and enjoyed. 

Yup, if Mr. Nestle and Forrest Gump had a baby, the youngster would surely say, “Family’s like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’ve really got in there.”

Like chocolates, some of your relatives are most certainly delightful inside and out; others may look plain, but conceal delicious surprises; others still may be beautiful to look at, but so hard on the inside that you could crack a tooth on them. (Note: you can avoid such painful snacking situations by poking the bottoms of chocolate candy to investigate before diving in, but family members don’t seem to take that quite as quietly as food products do.)

Sadly, also like Nestle Treasures (a product line the company divested in 2008), people don’t last forever, and so the only way to realize the true value of your loved ones is to treasure them every day. So go give some kisses (sloppy, Hershey’s or both!) to someone you love right now. :)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Mike Angley, Author of the Child Finder Trilogy

First, let me introduce myself: I retired as a Colonel from the U.S. Air Force in 2007, following an exciting and dangerous 25-year career as a Special Agent with the OSI (Office of Special Investigations). 13 assignments around the world, including 5 tours as unit Commander, made me a seasoned criminal investigator and a counterintelligence and counterterrorism specialist. I put my writing ambitions on hold until I retired, then happily signed a contract to publish my Child Finder trilogy. The first 2 books have each won national awards; the third and final installment, Child Finder: Revelation, will be released November 1st

My debut novel, Child Finder, introduces Air Force OSI Special Agent Patrick S. O’Donnell, who discovers (reluctantly) that he has a unique gift to find missing children. Unfortunately, Uncle Sam quickly pulls him into a Top Secret under-world community that leverages his skills for just about everything but finding the abducted. It’s a tale of double-crosses, sinister government agencies at work, and people driven by their own agendas, like FBI Agent Vicky Desantis, who couldn’t care less that Pat is a happily married man and devoted father. In this scene, she tricks him into meeting her at a safe house to discuss “urgent business,” but he finds himself walking into a romantic dinner she’s prepared for him. Although he protests being fooled into coming, he allows the flirtation to play out:

He sat down and watched Vicky move from covered tray to covered tray, deftly putting together a seven-course meal of French foods, the names of which he couldn’t even pronounce. They laughed and chatted away throughout the meal, finishing first the bottle of Dom Perignon, and then a vintage 1966 Bordeaux from the A. de Luze & Fils St. Julien vineyard in France.
                “It’s from the year you were born, Patrick,” she said as she poured his glass and then caressed his hand as she set the bottle down

You’ll have to read the book to learn what happened after the meal!

In Child finder: Resurrection, Agent O’Donnell is back with a few former team members – the ones who weren’t jailed or killed in the first book. In book #2, Pat and his team discover that he’s not the only gifted psychic in the world; enter a cunning serial killer whose skill set seems to outpace even O’Donnell’s and who will stop at nothing to get to Pat and kill him. Yet, there is a moment of peace in the story: on Easter morning, following mass, Pat takes his family to the Fort Belvoir Officers’ Club for Sunday brunch. Having been to these brunches at that particular club, I can attest to the splendid spread I describe in the following passage:

                There were huge, separate sections with several tables just for salads, with bins holding every conceivable topping on Earth. There was another sizeable station for breads…french, sourdough, pumpernickel, rye, wheat…in slices, in rolls, in buns, and in loaves. In the center was the hot entrée station that the children had practically raided, next to which was a seafood bar with oysters, lobsters, shrimp, and more. Although mom and dad made sensible, balanced food choices, each of the four O’Donnells went wild with the dessert station. In the center of it all was a chocolate fountain that Erin found simply fascinating. They gorged themselves on cakes and pies, ice cream and chocolates. When the frenzy finally subsided, they all looked at each other and broke out in laughter, with crumbs flying everywhere. 

Though the family enjoyed the feast – and Pat the brief respite from the hunt – the madman was not far away, plotting the next move that would put O’Donnell on a kill-or-be-killed path for the rest of the book...

Thanks for stopping by and sharing some food for thought, Mike!


You can find Mike at:!MikeAngley

Friday, July 22, 2011

Welcome Hungry Readers! SheWrites HOP

Welcome to the SheWrites Blogger Ball! Welcome, wonderful women of She Writes!
For those of you who are *meeting* me for the first time, I'm the author of the "Solid" series for teens and tweens, but my blog is about food in books. No, not cookbooks - food in FICTION. We all talk about what the characters are doing and whom they're doing it with, But What Are They Eating?
When you think of Lady and the Tramp, you go right to that romantic scene behind Tony’s with the big, beautiful bowl of spaghetti that ends in their sweet doggy kiss, right?  Can you even describe any other scene?

Thousands of fans flock to Port Angeles’s Bella Italia where Bella had mushroom ravioli with Edward.

The first thing visitors to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter do is grab a butter beer.

You might be thinking that such scenes or details were only significant in the movies, but I disagree. I think those things – more specifically, those digestible items – only made it into the films because they first resonated with the readers of the books. 

Maybe it’s the relatability of characters when they make choices that we also make in our daily lives (as opposed to whether or not to turn into a vampire) that speaks to us. Or maybe it’s that we like to think that if we eat lamb chops and mashed potatoes, we can be strong enough to win the Hunger Games, too. 

Or maybe it’s just because people are HUNGRY – for love, for power, for money, for lunch!

Whatever the reason, the food depicted in a book does something for us, so let us read, read, read…and then ask the vital question: But What Are They Eating?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

FOODFIC: Bumped - Megan McCafferty

First comes pregnancy, then comes cravings…I figured the only question was: In the 2036 society where teen Surrogettes “bump” for infertile “obsolescents” (everyone over 18), what kinds of food will all those pregnant girls be craving?

Except that the stars of the story – Melody (a “pro”) and her newly-discovered, separated-at-birth, identical twin Harmony ( a “Churchie”) – aren’t “preggy.” Still, the girls have to eat – mainly at the U.S. Buff-A, which makes me laugh because I live near a similar “Café Americana.” The fictional Buff-A menu boasts items like Philly cheesesteak, Maine lobster rolls, and New Mexican tacos supremos, but we all know that, as much as such places try to bring regional cuisines to the masses, the replicas never live up to the real thing. You can’t get good Cajun food in the Northwest, and you can’t get a good NY slice anywhere else.

So the more interesting foods in the book are the innovations of the future, like Glyco-GoGo bars and Potent Pale Ale. We’re not given any more description (or ingredients) than those names, but we can make some decent guesses what they are based on the baby-crazed society, and that’s enough to un-sell me on 2036 cuisine…at least until I see what’s served up in the sequel.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Worry-Free BLOG HOP

Today's post is in conjunction with the Blog-A-Licious Blog Tour: a fantastic blog hop that brings together bloggers of all genres, backgrounds, and locations. I hope you'll also visit the blog featured before mine in today's hop: Memoirs of a Homemaker ; the blog featured after mine: Karen V. Wasylowski, and the rest of the HOPping bloggers who're tackling the same subject today: How to stay worry free. Some of these blogs are holding giveaways, including ME! (Click here for mine)

So back to the topic at hand, I just have to ask, "Will I lose all credibility if I end my answer with Duh?" Because I feel like this is a no-brainer.

To stay worry-free you need a full belly!

You know the feeling – your stomach growling so loudly that you can’t think about anything else; an inner hunger that’s not only distracting, but often debilitating.

But when you’re full, you’re fortified for whatever comes your way; when your inner needs are met, you’re equipped to face any stressors coming at you from outside your control-zone.

Now, to take this to a metaphysical level, the full-belly theory goes beyond the need for nutritional sustenance; we as human beings are hungry for everything from love and acceptance to money and power, and those kinds of un-met needs can be just as crippling. Again, the only solution is to fill yourself up – to satisfy your hunger for love by valuing yourself and opening your heart to others; to assuage your ache for power by exerting control over your own being and desires.

And, in both cases, there are temporary fixes that may tempt you, but they’ll most certainly also fail you. Take smoking, for example – the go-to appetite-curbing device used by many dieters, and the stress-reliever of choice for many others. Cigarettes can mimic the sensation of a full stomach, and can give the illusion of being in control of things/yourself/your life, but those satisfying feelings are fleeting and false.

So, you see: self-filling is the only winning self-fulfilling prophecy – the true key to a worry-free existence.

Well, okay, whipped cream straight out of the can helps, too :)

FOODFIC: Settling (Solid # 2) - Shelley Workinger

As I come to the final stop on what has been a PHENOMENAL 27-stop (!) blog tour, I can’t help but think of the timeless lyrics of Mr. Frank Sinatra: “And now, the end is here, and so I face the final curtain…”

I know what you’re thinking: This is supposed to be a food blog, not a music one!  But let me remind you of the words of that other immortal bard, Mr. William Shakespeare, who said, “If music be the food of love, play on.”

So please excuse my digestion – I mean digression! – as you consume the final post and thank you all so much for following the tour. :)

They say that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Well, I say, “Who is this mysterious ‘they’ and why don’t they take a look at the route between a woman’s heart and her stomach?” Because if they do, they’ll surely find an equal amount of licked spoons and discarded menus along the way.

Newsflash, fellas: Women Love Food, Too! The media loves to perpetuate the stereotype of dainty, tight-lipped, lettuce-picking ladies (probably because it supports the gazillion-dollar diet industry), but it’s a Big Fat Lie.

That’s right – girls don’t just cook for guys; they cook for themselves, too. And the only thing better than a fabulously-prepared dinner is having the dirty work done by someone else! My “Solid” hero, Jack, gets that, and my heroine, Clio, eats it up – in every sense of the phrase.

He puts together a romantic picnic for her, pulling items from the basket like bunnies from a hat:
Roast beef po-boys with horseradish mustard – her favorite sandwich, dressed just how she likes it;
Blue tortilla chips – which she finds “way more fun than yellow ones”; and
Guacamole laced with Tabasco – a “secret ingredient [she’d] never seen anyone else add.”

Yup, he serves up a meal so perfect that she admits she couldn’t have done better herself, which reveals the real key ingredient: he listens. Not just to her growling stomach, but to her – the things she mentions in passing as well as her greater wants and needs. That’s all we women really want, isn’t it?

So take your cues from Jack Vallard, guys, because after dinner Clio shows her appreciation for his thoughtfulness with more than just words…<3

*Like all the stops on the tour, I am giving away a signed copy of "Settling." 
To enter to win, you must follow this blog, then 
leave a comment/question, along with a way to contact you.

Optional Extra Entries:
+1 Follow on Twitter

Giveaway runs from July 15 to July 22; last day to enter is Friday, July 22.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

FOODFIC: Waking the Witch - Kelley Armstrong

Let me start by saying that I went into this story with no background info; i.e., nothing on my copy indicated that this was part of a series (because if it had, I never would’ve started here; I have to read a series in order – who doesn’t?).

So after I finished this book, I found out that it’s actually the 11th book of the “Otherworld” collection, which may not be a series in the strictest sense of the word, but definitely is a home base/platform for Armstrong’s body of work. And that would’ve been good to know before I started Witch, because everything about Savannah Levine and her history and powers was sort of assumed from the onset. She just goes right ahead conjuring light balls and casting sensing spells like we’re supposed to already know she can. (Oh, yeah, we are – or we would be if we found our books by helpful means like blogs, instead of roaming bookstore and library aisles and just picking up what ‘calls our name.' :)

Anyway, this book opens smack-dab in the middle of ab-, non-, and para-normal. Besides being the “orphaned daughter of a notorious dark witch and an equally notorious dark sorcerer,” Savannah also works for a supernaturally-bent investigation agency, and, while her bosses are on vacation, her first solo murder case falls into her lap. She immediately roars off to Columbus, Washington on the vintage Triumph motorcycle that she not only drives like a demon, but also knows how to repair, which (of course) stirs up all kinds of drama in a small town that’s not so fond of girls like her. 

With all the otherworld-ly stuff going on, the normalcy of cookies is, well, strikingly abnormal. Now, that could be because they’re made at a commune on the outskirts of town where a dozen women live, service, and bake for one very charismatic middle-aged leader, but I don’t want to sell them short because said cookies are certainly not ordinary; they’re “top-end gourmet cookies, twelve dollars a dozen, made from farm fresh eggs and butter.” AND made with “fair-trade dark and milk chocolate, micro-farm macadamia nuts from Hawaii and pecans from Georgia. Organic, kosher, nut-free, if you want it, we offer it.”

And they’re selling like hot cookies, since, as Savannah notes, “Comfort food is recession-proof.” But do these choco-licious cookies smell creepy? Or criminal? All I know is, a dozen iffy women + one dollop too-good-to-be-true batter = suspicious me. You’ll have to read the story to find out if my instincts were pastry-knife sharp, or clouded by all that flour in the air…

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

FOODFIC: Forget-Her-Nots - Amy Brecount White

Pretty much all I know about flowers is that they look pretty, but for Laurel – or “Floral Laurel,” the apprentice flowerspeaker – every plant has a meaning.

Some are obvious: roses for love; forget-me-nots to forget me not! That was interesting and all, but I came for the food! Lucky for me, Laurel’s language of flowers book had just as many edible plants as decorative ones. 

I loved reading (and then re-evaluating relevant meals I’ve eaten) the meanings of: thyme (activity), sage (esteem), rosemary (remembrance), parsley (feast/festivities), mint (virtue), marjoram (blushes), fennel (worthy of all praise/strength), coriander (hidden worth) and basil (hatred). 

*Insert sound of needle screeching across record here*

How can hatred possibly have anything to do with Italian food? Seriously, I used to wish (okay, still do) that I was Italian just for the family dinners!

But in this story, basil does not bring out the best in Laurel; it is in fact so powerful that she alienates pretty much everyone she knows before she stops inhaling it like a junkie. Then just before I head to the kitchen to purge my spice rack, Laurel differentiates between basil and sweet basil, which is the one you cook with, and which means (much more appropriately) good wishes.

Whew, that’s all I have to say. Oh, and pass the tomato-mozzarella salad, please.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Freedom - BLOG HOP

Today's post is in conjunction with the Blog-A-Licious Blog Tour: a fantastic blog hop that brings together bloggers of all genres, backgrounds, and locations. I definitely recommend the blog featured before mine in today's hop: LIFE THROUGH LUCYLASTICA'S LENSE ; and the author's blog featured after mine: RYDER ISLINGTON'S BLOG. Do stop by and say Hello, as several blogs on the tour are having giveaways and contests. Enjoy!

Free Food for Thought

In the United States, we take freedom for granted at all levels – from the major rights like voting and free speech, to the lesser ones like being able to choose what we read and what we wear.

And what we eat.

When I was a little girl, my Army dad would bring home extra MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) after drill weekends and I would love to drop the dried fruit blocks into water to bring fruit cocktail to life, or stick the cassette-tape-sized squares marked “BBQ” into the microwave to see if they’d come out anything like my mom’s pork chops. But, believe me, the meals were only “treats” because they were exciting and different to my 6-year-old palette; I’m fairly confident that our servicemen and women don’t find much savory in their field rations (along with most aspects of their jobs), but they persevere without complaint and they do it for complete strangers like us.

So as you’re enjoying a hot dog and beer (and not just on the 4th of July), think of what soldiers around the world are sacrificing at that same moment for your freedom to eat, and then give thanks because, as Toby Keith so musically put it, that Freedom don't come free.