Friday, December 23, 2016

Holiday Gifts - Books, Of Course!

Happy Holidays, Hungry Readers!

Instead of giving you the same-old best-seller list of gift suggestions, I thought I'd make this year's post a little more personal and share which books my family will be giving/receiving. Maybe you'll find one of them to be a good gift for someone you know as well. :)

The Guinness World Records 2017 edition is for the boy child, but it always turns into a full-family gift as he reads aloud every. single. record. Mostly interesting for all, but beware this is not for the faint of heart; many of the bug and FOOD records can be quite disgusting!

The American Girl Guide is for the girl child because, like any fictional character, even the dolls have extensive back-stories. More history = deeper understanding = more imaginative and intelligent play!

Harry Potter #4 is for my husband, the most-behindest reader of all time. ;) We have a family rule that we can't watch a film until we've read the book and he REALLY wants to catch up to the rest of us with the movies, so now he can use the vacation week to crack this spine!

As for me, I have asked for - and hopefully not delusionally expect to recieve - The Bible as read by James Earl Jones. This tome of all tomes has been on my TBR list since really the beginning of days but its sheer size has kept it anchoring the bottom of the pile. But then, Totes Magotes!, I find a version that will be read to me by the greatest narrator* of all time?! It's the only item on my Santa list and I have been VERY good this year...

Be sure and let me know the best reads you give and receive this holiday season; 

Happy Holidays to All and to All a Good Read!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Kathy LaMee, Author of Tansy Taylor Paranormal P.I.

I’m a total food junkie, or foodie, so there is always food in my books. We use food as a culture in so many ways, so it’s only natural to draw that into stories. I’ll be honest - it’s been a few years since I wrote the first Tansy - so I was struggling to remember all of the foodie bits in the book. So what does one do when they can’t remember? They open their Kindle Cloud Reader and use the trusty Cntrl+F to find the food! Wow, was there a lot of food!

First, a little insight into Tansy’s story. She’s a twenty-something soul who is sort of lost, wandering from bad love interest to bad love interest and working at a psychic hotline call center. She really has an ethical problem with her job and the way she is expected to lead customers on, so when she gets fired for being too helpful to a caller, she isn’t surprised. She ends up meeting the caller, Callie, and begins the quest to help figure out what has happened to Callie’s missing boyfriend Buster, a shady car dealer’s wash bay guy. She ends up discovering a lot about her newly discovered talent - that she not only can do some aura reading but can actually see and talk with the recently departed as she unravels the facts behind Buster’s disappearance.

Tansy has food around her ALL the time. Her roommate and best friend is a designer, who also happens to work magic with pastries and other treats in the kitchen. Often, the sweet sultry smell of baked goods and freshly made coffee entices Tansy to get on with her day, no matter the trouble she’s gotten into the night before!  Her love of baked goods doesn’t stop there though - she digs into scones and muffins several times in Dixie’s Diner, where her client Callie works as a waitress. Speaking of diner food, nothing makes Tansy or me happier than walking into a diner. My stomach rumbles when I hear the jingle of the little bell on the door (they all have them, right??) and it induces a Pavlovian response that makes my mouth wonder at the treats in store. I discovered in my early thirties that I absolutely love Reuben sandwiches; I mean, who would think that corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and a thick slather of Thousand Island dressing on rye would be so unbelievably tasty? On their own I actually do not like any of these foods, but put them together and crazy magic happens. I counted six times in Tansy’s first story that the Reuben is either mentioned or consumed, usually with a bag of locally made potato chips. Perfection on a plate!

As Tansy works her case to discover what has happened to Buster and grapples with the fact that she can talk to dead people, she converses and muses often, all while enjoying something tasty at the diner, her kitchen, or a picnic in the park. I think that food is a natural binder- it’s there when we have conversations over dinner, or meet up for drinks. Food can also be a way to show someone affection - I mean, who doesn’t love to have someone special bring them a tasty treat or a cup of their favorite coffee drink? What we eat or the type of drink we order says a lot about a person, in my opinion, and I find it a great way to bring characters to life in the stories we tell.

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

You can find Kathy here:

Friday, December 9, 2016

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Tony Macaulay, Author of All Growed Up

In my memoir All Growed Up, it’s 1982 and I leave my hometown of Belfast, Northern Ireland for the first time in my life to begin a ‘coming of age’ adventure of learning as an eighteen year old student at university. One particular chapter of the book serves up the flavours of traditional Irish food. In Go Wild in the Country I tell the story of my first visit to my new girlfriend’s house in a small rural village in the middle of Northern Ireland. I meet the lovely Lesley’s mother who is very warm, friendly and hospitable and more importantly, a legend in her own kitchen. However, like every good Irish Mammy when it comes to offering the best of food to a guest, she cannot take no for an answer. The repercussions are most embarrassing!

There are two main Irish foodstuffs involved in this unfortunate incident, one sweet and one savoury. The sweets are the typical fare baked in every self-respecting kitchen in Northern Ireland and produced alongside a nice cup of tea on all occasions. A ‘pavlova’ is an egg and sugar based dish, a monumental meringue smothered in fresh cream. Meanwhile ‘caramel squares’ are biscuit based square shaped cookies with a delightful layer of caramel and chocolate on top. Here’s what happened when I entered my girlfriend’s mother’s kitchen:

She placed one of her Himalayan pavlovas in the middle of the table and my mouth watered instantly. Then she surrounded the pavlova with a series of smaller plates containing geometrically perfect caramel squares, freshly baked fruit scones with butter and jam and a plate of chocolate biscuits from a good tin…

The supply of food continued all day long:

‘Have another piece of pavlova,’ said Mummy
‘No, thank you, I think I’m full up now,’ I replied.
‘Och sure go on, you would, you could, you should’ said Mummy.
‘Okay, thanks, you’ve persuaded me, please,’ I responded with the utmost courtesy.
‘Now, have another scone, Tony,’ said Mummy.
‘Oh no, thank you, really I couldn’t, I’m full up now. It’s all so lovely, thank you.’ 
‘Och, none of that, you will, you can, you should, sure you’re a growing boy,’ said Mummy, clearly not expecting ‘No’ for an answer. 
All of this food was delicious and I enjoyed being spoilt in this way, but I wondered if I would be permitted to stop eating before all the plates were empty.

The savoury dish that features in this chapter of my book is the iconic Northern Ireland breakfast, known locally as an Ulster Fry. As the name suggests this is a hot fried breakfast, not known for its health benefits. In fact an Ulster Fry is also known locally as ‘a heart attack on a plate.’ The dish consists of fried eggs, sausages, bacon, black pudding and mushrooms. An essential element of the Ulster Fry is the addition of two distinctive Irish breads, soda and potato farls, fried of course. This large breakfast plate is usually completed with a dollop of tomato ketchup or HP Brown Sauce. Normally, it’s a very satisfying breakfast on the weekend, but on this occasion it was simply too much to handle!

I sat down amid the activity and cooking and frying smells but all of a sudden I began to feel sick. I was surrounded by the makings of the perfect Ulster Fry, a massive feast of meat and enough fried bread to empty a shelf in the Ormo Mini Shop but probably due to my over indulgences the day before a wave of nausea began to overwhelm me.
‘I feel a bit sick,’ I whispered to Lesley, who looked most concerned.
‘You have to eat Mummy’s fry, she’s been preparing for it all week,’ she whispered back, our conversation masked only by the sudden sizzling of mushrooms being added to the frying pan. 
I attempted to take deep breaths to subdue the nausea but every deep inhalation was accompanied by the odour of fried meat and mushrooms and by this stage of my condition the smell was sickening rather than appetising. Lesley observed me closely, clearly aware of the potential disaster unfolding in her own kitchen. She could see that my face had turned a whiter shade of pale and realised that an intervention was going to be necessary.
‘Tony’s not feeling well,’ said Lesley, much to my relief.
Mummy looked over her bifocals with a mixture of shock and disappointment, as the frying fat spat at me from beneath the eggs.
‘Och, sure you’re alright now. You just need a good fry and you’ll be fine.’
‘Sorry, I think I need to lie down,’ I confessed, ‘and then I’ll be okay thanks for a fry, please, if that‘s ok.’
Mummy, Daddy and Lesley cast glances at each other from various workstations across the kitchen. I was embarrassed. To fart explosively at the kitchen table would not have been worse. Mummy looked hurt, as if her cooking was making me sick and Lesley looked concerned about Mummy and Daddy went outside for a smoke.
‘Sure, you would, you could, you should just try a wee plate,’ persisted Mummy and she proceeded to set down a plate of sausage, bacon and egg in front of me.

Of course, you have to read the book to find out what happened next, but I’ll give you a clue – everything went in the wrong direction!

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

You can find Tony here:

Thursday, December 1, 2016

FOODFIC: Please Welcome E.A. Lake, Author of Stranded No Where

When the EOTWAWKI (end of the world as we know it) arrives, everything will change. The Darkness, as I like to call it, will envelop all. And I mean every last bit of our lives.

Gone will be our electricity, our phones, our cars…our current way of life. Food will disappear from store shelves and your own pantry so fast that we won’t have time to think or react. Fresh water will become our daily quest.

And still, we’ll have to find something to eat.

So, my friends, what are we going to do for food? Want some help with that one? Here’s my top three finds for you:

1. Venison – If you eat meat, eventually all most choices are going to fade away. The good news is that deer are plentiful in almost area in the United States. Just this morning my wife almost ran into a deer while only a block from our home. And we live in a very urban area.

City deer are easy to take. They don’t have the built in fear that their country cousins possess. With a small handgun or any bow, you’ll be able to take an animal that will provide you with anywhere from 15 to 50 pounds of fresh meat.

And they’re like rabbits in most areas. So there will be lots of them. Just don’t harvest more than you can eat and you should be fine for years to come.

2. Dandelions – Believe it or not, your first salad in the post-apocalyptic days may be made from dandelion greens. You know, those weeds that everyone tries to eradicate from their beautiful lush green yards. The ones that are harder than heck to keep away.

Dandelions can be found everywhere. And once The Darkness arrives you won’t be so worried about your pristine lawn anymore. So they’ll be plentiful from early spring through late summer.

The trick is to boil them after harvest. One or two runs through hot water baths and that should reduce their general bitter taste. Be careful not to over-boil them though; that will results in dandelion mush. And even the dogs won’t want that.

3. Scavenge – My last recommendation for edible foods is to get out there and root through deserted houses and stores for whatever you can find.

Sure, there are a lot of foods that will spoil over time, but there are many that won’t. Here’s a small list of stuff to look for: ramen noodles, hot chocolate, honey, maple syrup, bouillon, salt, rice, dried beans, powered milk…

The list goes on and on. Some of these items will be scavenged immediately. But some will be overlooked. And those may just keep you alive.

Above all, you’ll need plenty of fresh water to go with the items above. After three days without water the human body begins to do weird things, not so good weird things. So be sure to find a decent source of this. Find a source of at least a liter a day. That’s what you’ll need at a minimum.

Plus, you’ll need that water for the rice and beans you’ll be making for dinner your first night in the dark world. Be sure to smother it with plenty of maple syrup; it’ll taste better that way. ;)

Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, E.A.!

You can find E.A.  here: