Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Super Sweet Blogging Award

Special thanks to Crystal Collier for the award. So here's what I have to do. I have to answer five "sweet" questions.

Without further ado, the five questions and their answers.

1. Cookies or Cake? Both?  Um. I'm not much of a sweets person. So how about salt and vinegar potato chips? Or honey mustard pretzel pieces. YUM. (And since this is true confessions, I've bee known to eat salt--but only really good salt, like the pink salt. And it's healthy. Really. All that pinkness is from essential minerals. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.)

2. Chocolate or Vanilla? Okay, this does hit my one sweet weakness--Chocolate. Dark chocolate. Always. It's a gift from the angels.
3. Favorite Sweet Treat? Coffee. I know this isn't really sweet, but I do put some sugar in it. There's nothing like a mug of steaming, black coffee in the morning
4. When Do You Crave Sweet Things The Most? Chocolate is the panacea for all ills at all times. Depressed? Chocolate with sea salt and caramel. Happy? Chocolate with  black currants. Bored? Chocolate with pear and almonds. Sick? Chocolate with cayenne. Yep, there's a chocolate for every time and need.
5. Sweet Nick Name? Sugar. Weird thing is that no one I actually know calls me this. But when I moved to the South seven years ago, total strangers began calling me "Sugar" or "Baby." When I first moved here, my little Nutmegger heart (people from Connecticut are called "Nutmeggers," don't ask why because no one knows) thought "I'm so not your baby or your sugar." But after seven years, I respond, "Hey, girl." Okay, I don't really say that, but I think it. And that counts.
My nominees for the award. (To fulfill the award, you have to display the certificate, answer the questions, and nominate a baker's dozen--i.e. 13-- other bloggers.) 
13. Anne

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Indie Life

The second Wednesday of every month is the Indie Life Celebration!

This month, I want to let everyone know about Crystal Collier's blog and her Writerly Wednesdays. Every Wednesday she celebrates a YA writer who writes fiction with a fantastic twist (fantasy in all varieties, paranormal, speculative fiction, horror, sci-fi, dystopian, etc.)

There's always a chance to play a game (two truths and a lie) and win books or other swag.  So check out her blog today, and make sure you go back tomorrow for a chance to play and win.


1.Susan Kaye Quinn, Author2.Steena Holmes
3.Claudia Lefeve4.Author Laura Diamond Lucid Dreamer
5.ali cross6.Katie Klein
7.Larry Kollar8.Faith McKay
9.Civil War Horror10.Ansha Kotyk
11.Terri J. Haynes12.The Open Vein, E.J. Wesley
13.Secondhand Shoes, A Novel14.Eclectic
15.Lisa M. Buske16.Sandra Ulbrich Almazan
17.J.R. Pearse Nelson18.Melissa Pearl
19.Cherie Reich20.PK HREZO
21.Victoria Escobar22.J.L. Campbell
23.K. A. Last24.The Murphey Saga
25.Tyrean's Writing Spot26.Suzy Turner
27.Laura Pauling28.C.M. Brown
29.Stephen Tremp30.Jennifer Writes Things Sometimes
31.Capri Montgomery32.Indiscriminate Writes
33.C. M. Keller, Screwing Up Time34.RaShelle Workman
35.J.J. Bonds36.Why I love the indie life
37.A First Look at Indie Life38.Mary Pax
39.Notes from the Jovian frontier40.L.E. Waters~Fantasy Prone
41.The Indie Children's Authors Connection42.Christian Superheroes
43.Ellie Garratt44.Write Me, Kaye Draper
45.Can You Make a Living Writing? (Author Nikki Jefford)46.Michelle Isenhoff
47.Catherine Stine's Idea City48.The Lina Lamont Fan Club
49.Donna Hosie50.Rinelle Grey
51.Word by Word52.Riann Colton
53.Strange Pegs54.Rachel Morgan
55.sarabeth burke56.Writing, the Universe and Everything Writing
57.J.L. Weil58.Meetings with My Muse
59.Planet Pailly: Where Science Meets Fiction60.Janeal Falor
61.Michael Pierce62.S.K. Falls
63.Donna B. McNicol64.Nadja Notariani ~ An Author's Adventures
65.Alki Nea66.Confessions of a Watery Tart
67.Nicole R. Taylor68.MJ Brodeck - Glitter Writer's Book Blog
69.Inside the Secret World of Allison Bruning70.Talia Jager, YA Author
71.Hunter Emkay

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Literature and Food

A couple of months ago, I was reading an article that discussed bestsellers and the commonalities between them. One of the commonalities that the article discussed was food.

The article didn’t talk about the whys of that, it just noted that many bookclub type books had themes of food. So I began to think about it.

I think it’s more than just our desire to eat that makes food such a common theme in novels. I think in many ways it’s because food grounds us culturally.

Even in the United States there are regional foods. Here in the South, grits is a given. When we moved here, people were shocked that we’d never eaten grits before. When we lived in New England (where there’s a huge Italian population), I served chili to a family that was at our house for dinner. The kids had never heard of chili before. The mom explained that it’s like pasta and sauce, only without the pasta. I’ve also lived in Hawaii, Chicago, Southern California, and Northern California, and each has its own regional foods.

But even more than regions, ethnic heritage comes into play. For me, autumn hasn’t started until we have uien hache for dinner. My husband’s family has been in the US for generations, and though they don’t really have any German cultural sensibilities, every Christmas they have pfeffernusse.

I suspect that the reason food works its way into so many books is because it grounds the reader in the culture. For example, in Screwing Up Time, I made Henry’s mom an organic, tofu-loving, proto-vegetarian because I wanted something very modern to set apart Henry’s experiences in the present from the cultural experiences of the past. That way when Henry visited the Middle Ages, the contrast would be huge. And food was a way of reflecting that. In other words, Henry goes not only from jeans and t-shirts to tunics and wool stockings, but also from tofurkey to a cockentrice.

What about you, readers and writers, do you notice food in books? When my kids were little, they were so fascinated with the foods in the Chronicles of Narnia that I found a Chronicles of Narnia Cookbook and we had a Narnian dinner. Have you ever tried making the foods mentioned in books?
BTW, if you’re interested here’s a recipe for uien hache (onion stew).

Uien Hache

1 lb. stewing beef
3-6 bouillon cubes
4 large onions
Cornstarch for thickening

Simmer beef in 4” of water that has been salted and peppered. Cook thoroughly. Cut onions in rings and fry with butter in a pot. Cut meat in small pieces and add onions. Add bouillon cubes. Simmer for 1 ½ hours. If beef liquid is thin, add some cornstarch mixed with a little bit of cold water. Serve with boiled potatoes. (Mash them with a fork on your plate and then ladle uien hache on top.

I realize that the recipe is a bit vague in terms of the amount of water and bouillon. This is my grandmother’s recipe and her instructions tend to be “add water until it looks right” and “add enough bouillon until it tastes right.” In the end, there should be enough broth to nearly cover the onions and beef. And the broth should be very rich and a bit salty—when you serve it over potatoes it cuts the salt. (3 bouillon cubes aren’t enough.)

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.