Friday, November 30, 2018

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Clayton Smith, Author of APOCALYPTICON

In Post-Apocalypticon, the world ended six years ago, and no one was prepared. The Flying Monkey bombs came out of nowhere, and boy, it’s a hard fact of life that the apocalypse brought a whole host of problems: roving marauders, trigger happy survivalists, strange and life-threatening weather patterns, the occasional flesh-hungry zombie. In the face of such ever-present danger, it can be easy to view food as a necessity instead of a culinary art…but there’s no reason to lose our humanity just because humanity has been completely and totally lost.

But to be clear, humanity has been completely and totally lost.

When it comes to post-apocalyptic mealtime staples, your best bet is obviously going to be beans. Packed with protein and loaded down with preservatives that were once decried as dangerous but now praised as pure brilliance, most canned beans are still good, even now, six years after the end of the world. They’re probably reaching the end of their shelf lives, though, so now’s the time to tuck in! If you have some compromised cans, you might find your beans a little moldy or mealy. If that’s the case, you can brighten them right up with a little bit of ground sassafras root or wild onion. And you can always mush them up with creek water to make a tasteless-but-mostly-nutritious paste! Just make sure the water isn’t from a source that’s been spoiled by death.

Of course, the more enterprising survivors will cultivate their own vegetable farms! This is an especially good option if you happen to come across a carefully protected seed vault, in which case, you’ll almost certainly come up against a bunch of other survivors willing to slit a whole lot of throats to keep the seeds for themselves, so bring your sharpest sticks!

If you do decide to plant your own seeds, you’ll want to pay careful attention to which part of the country you live in. Not everything grows well in every climate! For example, since the Flying Monkeys fell, Florida reaches an average yearly temperature of 68 degrees, while Minnesota only gets up to an average of 64 degrees. That could be the difference between growing beets and growing marginally-less-flavorful beets. Generally speaking, zucchini, tomatoes, and potatoes are reliable crops, but you will want to check your soil for Monkey dust before eating anything that grows from it. If the dust seeps into the soil, it won’t necessarily kill you, but it will almost definitely give your skin a light-greenish hue.

Which is still a pretty small price to pay for not starving to death.

And, of course, if you have no qualms with eating meat, even after watching the zombie hordes tear apart your loved ones with their strangely well-preserved teeth, there are some animal species that seem impervious to the Monkey dust, and are therefore safe to eat. Buffalo, for example, make for a great jerky snack! Tigers are also reputed to be in tip-top shape following the end of the world, but good luck finding one in the wild on this continent. Oh, and domesticated cats also seem particularly resilient where the disease is concerned, but please always remember, you’re supposed to be the hero of your own story, not some ALF-like horror-monster.

When all is said and done, culinary options aren’t quite as plentiful or palatable in the post-apocalyptic world, that’s true. But on the bright side, when literally every single second of every single day is a struggle for survival, flavor takes on a somewhat diminished importance. So peel open those beans, set a trap for that buffalo, and grow those sickly tomatoes, friend! You’ve survived the last six years, so like it or not, it looks like you’re in it for the long haul.

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

You can find Clayton here:

Friday, November 23, 2018

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Alan McDermott, Author of Run and Hide

Food was never the first item on the menu when I sat down to write a novel.  Action, yes, intrigue, definitely, but characters taking time out to enjoy a steak at a posh restaurant never really crossed my mind.  The people I wrote about were more comfortable facing enemy fire than perusing the menu of an Italian eatery.  In my first novel, Gray Justice, the closest anyone got to a decent meal was when six members of the SAS got together on a canal barge and sheared sausages, bacon and eggs!  Oh, and there were the endless tins of Spam.  Never forget the Spam!

That changed in my seventh title, Trojan.  It’s a spin-off from my Tom Gray series and features MI5 operatives Andrew Harvey and his girlfriend Sarah Thompson. When not saving the country from terrorists, they like to out-do each other in the kitchen.  Harvey kicks things off with a delicious seafood dish, and Sarah responds with lamb three ways.  I didn’t go into much detail on the preparation (though I do believe one of the ways was a lamb ballotine) because I try not to bog down my work when there’s action and adventure to be had!

My most recent works introduce a new character Eva Driscoll.  She’s a CIA assassin forced rogue to investigate her brother’s murder, and as in the Gray series, she hasn’t got much time for eating.  She does manage to throw a burger and plate of fries down her neck at one point in Run and Hide, but the rest is sandwiches whenever the bullets aren’t flying.  In the sequel, Seek and Destroy, she does get one last hot meal before the big finale, but thankfully she makes up for it in the third book (tentatively titled Crash and Burn).  Steak dinners, lobster, Chinese noodles all come into play as she takes on her nemesis at the ESO and tries to shut down another deadly organisation.

In short, if you want action-packed, fast-paced thrillers, pick up one of my books.  Just be aware that you’ll have to bring your own sandwiches!

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

You can find Alan here:

Friday, November 16, 2018

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Nick Cook, Author of Cloud Riders

Jake Stevens is one lucky teenager because his mom, Sue Stevens, runs the famous Twister Diner, the best place for food this side of anywhere and favoured haunt for storm chasers. So what might Sue be serving her patrons that has made her so famous?

A day in Twister Dinner might start with an Eye of the Storm breakfast, a stack of smoked bacon on silky scrambled eggs, with that essential stack of pancakes, the best maple syrup and fresh strawberries on the side, and all arrange in an inverted tornado shape. One of Jake’s favourite meals is his mom’s slow cooked chill with its melt in the mouth meat with just the right hit of spice tang to tickle your taste buds. Then of course to finish there’s the baked cheese cake that storm chasers have been known to cross the state to grab a slice.

Cloud Riders also deals with parallel worlds. In Breaking Storm, Jake journeys to Floating City, a place that’s literally constructed from hundreds of thousands of airships. I had a huge amount of fun creating the ultimate noodle bar, a place called called Ramas. Think steampunk themed restaurant with food delivered to the tables via a pneumatic system and you’ll get the general idea. However, when Jake tries his first ever bowl of Sanfire Noodles, he makes the huge mistake eating the spiced leaf on top of the noodles and that nearly blows off the top of his head! This was actually based on a real life incident… When I visited San Francisco a long time ago, I tried sushi for the very first time. How was I to know that wasabi shouldn’t be eaten like a green been? The look on my colleague’s face was priceless as I swallowed it whole and she too late tried to stop me. As a man who enjoys spicy food I will never forget that intense wasabi heat travelling all the way down to my stomach and burning all the way. Think of that when you’re reading that sequence with Jake!

I always notice references to food in novels and I find it easy to tell if it’s written by someone who actually cooks or not…and just so you know cooking is a huge passion of mine much to the joy of my wife. In stories food is another strand of world building that helps bring texture and bring life to a story. And sometimes food is there for the joy of it. I mean who wouldn’t want to experience a banquet at Hogwarts under a roof with a moving celestial sky on it? Yes, J.K. Rowling definitely cooks!

In my latest Fractured Light trilogy, food once again is there taking a central role at times. Food is life, so why not reflect that in one’s writing? And coffee, there always has to be great coffee!

So to conclude, I do love great food and it seems, having read this back to myself, so do my characters!

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

You can find Nick here:

Thursday, November 1, 2018

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Cyndi Tefft, Author of BETWEEN

A blog focused on books and food - brilliant! It’s comforting to know that I’m not the only one who notices what characters are eating and drinking.

Between, the first book of my series of the same name, references one of my favorite family dishes: ‘taties and eggs’. The cheesy breakfast scramble becomes something of a link between the present and the past for the main characters, so finds its way onto the page multiple times.

In fact, I even got a request for the recipe, so posted it online for my readers to make at home!

The scene when Lindsey first makes taties and eggs for Aiden takes place in a log cabin, where she’s cooking in an iron skillet on an old-fashioned wood stove. And while I’ve never met an 18th century Scottish Highlander, I can tell you the setting is pulled straight from my memories of a family cabin. Thinking back on it, I can practically smell the sharp tang of the cheddar cheese and taste the buttery, crisp potatoes. Ahhhh… It’s no wonder he falls in love with her (oops- spoiler alert!).

To me, food has a magical quality that can take me back to a place and time, that can make memories come alive, like a song or a scent. It’s a bridge between people, a way to remember your connection with loved ones even when they’re far away. Taties and eggs will always hold a special place in my heart, and if you decide to give the recipe a try, I hope you and your family love it, too!

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

You can find Cyndi here: