Thursday, February 22, 2018

FOODFIC: Please Welcome David Hogan, Author of The Last Island

Modern Greeks start discussing dinner after the first bite of lunch and start discussing the next day’s lunch at dinner. For the unwitting visitor or in-law, like myself, there is a single escape from this circle of culinary obsession: breakfast. In the morning, you’ll find yourself on your own, consuming some undiscussed but tasty yogurt, granola or figs.

This preoccupation with food separates modern Greeks from their ancient counterparts -- by very little. The works of classical Greece are teeming with meals, menus, and recipes. Here’s Antiphanes (408-334 B.C.) on how to prepare some choice dishes:

“Sea bass?”
“Bake whole.”
“Boil with fresh chopped herbs.”
“Salt, oregano, water.”
“A slice of tuna?”
“Bake it.”

What if you haven’t acquired the ingredients? What if you have to boldly venture to the agora in order to acquire them? In that case, Lynkeus of Samos (early 300s B.C) is your man; he tells you all you need to know in his aptly titled masterpiece, Shopping for Fish. (Spoiler alert: scorn the desired fish and fishmonger so contemptuously that you frighten off all the other buyers and then start bargaining.)

Fortunately for the Boston fireman who relocates to the poor and remote Greek Island in The Last Island, the people he encounters are overwhelmingly kind and generous, and he has no need to insult fish or fishermen. He’s offered syrupy cookies by a widow on the day he arrives and soon after learns how to ‘sun the octopus.’ With his stomach full, it’s his heart and conscience that need repair. That’s when he meets, Kerryn, an animal rights activist, who believes dolphins possess consciousness, intelligence and souls. But as his relationship with Kerryn deepens, her passion and convictions lead her to make a fatal decision that changes the island and both their lives forever.

The island will indeed change, as Greece itself is now changing. What will remain is the food, the delicious and simple meals of fish, vegetables, olive oil and wine that Homer, Aristotle, Antiphanes, and Lynkeus enjoyed, and which a lonely Boston fireman and you and I can still enjoy, and which for thousands of years have filled body and soul.

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

You can find David here:

David Hogan is the award-winning author of screen and stage plays as well as a novel.  His stage plays include the NPI award-winning Capital, Samoan America, and No Sit – No Stand – No Lie, which opened the ‘Resilience of the Spirit’ Human Rights Festival.  His screenplays include The Tractor King, Free Radical (with Frank D’Angeli) and Stranded (with Frank D’Angeli).

His debut novel, The Last Island, published by Betimes Books, was a Finalist in the 2014 San Diego Book Awards, an Amazon Contemporary & Literary Bestseller in the U.K. and reached #1 in Fiction at Amazon Australia.  Click here to order.

Friday, February 16, 2018

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Brittany Hawes, Author of WICKED

In the land of Esperance lived a Cursed Three:
A princess, a misfit, and Death’s small prodigy.

Though some have perished in this cherished land,
Awaiting final judgment, the Three are forced to stand.
Yet Esperance’s gnarled and withering hands
Still shall welcome you within.

To the Underworld’s depths we first must descend,
Plunge into liquid darkness at life’s end,
To find the little girl that Death has claimed,
Zenobia, princess of nothing, is now her given name.

Pulsating in the pitch black, her heart fights to beat,
Golden marionette strings tugging at her bare feet.
Follow after her to Death’s grand dining hall.
This is where we’ll witness Zenobia’s daily meal.

Picked by two guards made from yellowing bone,
Succulent berries rest on plates of precious stones.
Shimmering goblets of crystal are filled to the brim;
White wine aged for eons glistens by the rim.

Delicate pieces of meat jut up from a dish,
Picked clean of bones by bones sits the fish.
“These are the things on which a human must dine.”
Death’s orders must be dutifully followed by the line.

Now we go to a home coated by sugar and fear;
A home approached by none privy of who truly lives here.
Colorful gumdrops dot the brown wafer roof.
A sugary mansion calls to all with a sweet tooth.

Smooth licorice twists around pillars of fudge,
Taffy mortar makes sure that the house won’t budge.
Behind the rock candy sheets that are window panes
Lies a pair of great eyes wanting you to remain.

With nails and hair that all drip to the floor,
The Witch of the Woods hopes you’ll step through her door.
The price you must pay for a bite of her lair?
A trip to her cauldron after days of despair.

But if you are lucky and don’t see her house,
You still might be met by a girl like a mouse.
“Come see the treats that I have in store.”
If you follow, you’ll be seen nevermore.

So instead come with me to the castle of Livor.
Mind your step for there’s blood on the floor.
Chandeliers overhead and executions down below.
While their people run dry, the royals overflow.

Rounding a corner, we see a fine spread
On the long table surrounded by heads.
Here is where Princess Ruta and her father sit,
Picking away at the fallen, bit by bit.

Roasted pheasant and platters of spiced capercaillie,
Hot beef paired with mustard, butter, and honey,
Red wine spilling and surrounding the feast,
Bloodstained fingers maneuver with ease.

As you and the Wicked enjoy your grand meal,
Mind your manners lest you catch her steel.
The blade of the guillotine beckons from outside,
So be polite and open wide.

Finally, our frightening journey has come to an end.
Esperance bids you farewell—won’t you visit again?

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

You can find Brittany here:

Thursday, February 8, 2018

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Holly Jacobs, Author of STEAMED

Thanks so much for the invitation, Shelley!  I always love talking about books…and food!

I once had an editor tell me that my characters spent too much time eating.  As someone who enjoys cooking—and eating—I told her I didn’t think that was possible. 

Every book I write is a bit autobiographical.  I might not ever have run away from the world like my heroine in Just One Thing, but I have experienced loss.  I might not have ever given a child up for adoption like Pip in Carry Her Heart and Hold Her Heart, but I have discovered family I’d never met.  And I have never accidentally cleaned a murder scene, like Quincy in my Maid in LA Mysteries series (Steamed, Dusted, Spruced Up, Swept Up and this summer’s 5th book, Polished Off), but I do relate to her love of food.  And while I enjoy cooking, like Quincy I love having other people cook for me. 

I took a bite of the salad.
 “Wow,” I managed as I chewed.  This wasn’t head lettuce cut up in a bowl and slathered with ranch dressing.  This had greens, nuts and dried fruit, with some light dressing on it.
 Cal forked up his salad and didn’t seem overly appreciative as he chewed it, then asked, “What I want you to do is try to remember everything you cleaned, touched or moved at Banning’s house.”
 So, I tried to remember every step.  It was easier because I’d started going over all this for myself and my file.  I thought about telling him that.  After all, he’d made it clear he didn’t consider me a serious suspect.  But I still wasn’t positive I could trust him, so I simply worked at recreating the list, from picking panties off the ceiling fan, to steam cleaning footprints off the carpet.  When I mentioned the Mortie, Cal perked up.  “What was on it?”
 I shrugged as I swallowed another bite of the salad.  “No idea.  It was sticky and a sort of rusty brown color.  It was all over the base of it.”
 “I don’t think so, though I’ve never seen dried blood on a Mortie before, much less cleaned it off.  I polished the award, and then I put it on the mantle.  It was on the couch when I came in,” I added.
 Cal made a groaning sound and made a call on his cell.  “Test the Mortie for trace evidence of blood.”
 He waited and I ate undisturbed.  
 I’d moved from my salad to a plate of pasta that Big G brought back.  It was just as good.  I was trying to decide what all was in the simple red sauce when Cal’s phone rang.
 He picked it up, listened and said, “Okay.”  Then he clicked the button and set his phone down.
 He turned to me.  “It’s official.  You cleaned the murder weapon.”
 All I could think of was a wrinkled unicorn tattoo.

Poor Quincy.  She spends the first book, Steamed, in the (soon-to-be) five book series worrying she’s going to go to prison for accidentally cleaning a murder scene.  She’s worried that she’ll have to get a prison tattoo and realizes tattoos don’t always age well…which explains that wrinkled unicorn tattoo comment.  But she does meet Cal, who despite his frustration finds Quincy as intriguing as she finds him.  And she does visit her friend Honey (whose daughter is named Trixie…and all you Trixie Belden fans will recognize the pair) who’s also a cook, and is introduced to Big G and goes to Pattycake’s Pancake House.

So maybe that editor was right…there’s a lot of food in my books.  But there’s a lot of food in my life as well!  I just did a new Cooks and Books video.  It’s an ongoing, sporadic series I post online.  The newest one is about my easy-peasy Mexican Lasagna ( and how I tricked my young hockey-fan dinner guests into eating it.

Yes, I do the Cooks and Books videos because for me, food and books go together! Quincy feels the same way!

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

You can find Holly here:

Friday, February 2, 2018

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Cathryn Hein, Author of The Country Girl

Have you ever fallen down the rabbit hole that is food blogging on the internet? It’s a marvellous place, filled with stunning pictures of mouth-watering recipes, and clever people creating new dishes or adding interesting twists to old favourites, who usually have much tidier kitchens than mine.

The heroine of my latest release The Country Girl is one of these people, but Tash is a born and bred Australian farm lass. She doesn’t go in for over-styled food or ingredients no one has ever heard of. Her recipes are wholesome and hearty, and loaded with comfort. Which is just as well, because The Country Girl’s hero Patrick is a man loaded with heartache. He needs every ounce of comfort she can give, and give is what Tash does.

As she says to Patrick, “Cooking for other people makes me feel good. And here at The Urban Ranger we smother goodness like we smother butter – thick and with great pleasure.”

Tash has returned home to the family farm to write a cookbook and take her blog in a new direction, showing off not just new recipes but where the produce comes from. At first Patrick thinks it’s a bit of a joke, but he soon learns Tash’s business is serious. Especially when he begins to try her dishes.

There are curries and crème brulees, tarts and terrines, pies and pastries, salads and soups, and all cooked with great gusto by Tash because cooking is her passion and her life’s philosophy:

There are those who believe it’s just something we need to live, and that’s true, but food is more than a necessity. I truly believe food—the preparation of it, the sharing, the way it brings people together—can be a powerful symbol of compassion and love.

One of the first dishes of Tash’s that Patrick tries is a mini ricotta cheesecake with currants soaked in sherry. For a bit of fun, I’ve shared the recipe in this video. Enjoy!

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

You can find Cathryn here: