Monday, April 30, 2012

Z - Zabaglione

Do you have eggs, sugar, Marsala wine, a pinch of salt and some fresh berries?  If so then YOU could possibly be capable of making one of THE most fantabulous desserts ever to grace the taste buds of your tongue.

Make this! Now! It's low fat...I Promise...
It's so simple. I've always been curious to know if this was one of those dishes that came from a "Panic" state. Where the chef at the time had Nothing...and a certain someone super important, say the King of France, was coming for dinner...and Crap! There's a war on! Can't just go out to the local Whole Foods and get me some Tiramisu. Ooo! But I've got some giant ass eggs, a bunch of sugar, and more Marsala wine then God. Hmmmm.  Ambrosia was Created! You do need the berries though. It's kinda too much without the berries. Oh. And Champagne. I've found real Champagne actually does taste better with this. Not the Sparkling Wine. I have no idea why.

Could be that the first time I made Zabaglione was for a very crazy, full on, no -holds- barred wedding. For 300. I tried to talk them out of it because this is a dessert that has to be made on the fly. You *Can* have it cold...but they wanted it old school. (Of course). Warm. Fresh. "The way Gramma used to do it!" And when you're shelling out over $200,000 for your big day...who was I to say no. So the crew and I made Zabaglione for 300 crazy drunken French and Italian wedding revelers. Over a mix of fresh black berries, black raspberries, red raspberries, strawberries and brunoised kiwi fruit. Kill me. It was beautiful. And Hell.  But, they served it with Real Champagne. Which they also served to the kitchen staff. (These clients were not assholes :) And I'm telling you now. If you ever get the chance...This is one of the finer things in life.

Zabaglione. Warm over fresh, seasonal berries.  With a Real Champagne Kicker.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Y - You

Where would we as writers be without You, our audience? 

I know it sounds rather corny. Or maybe too "Deep Thought". But seriously. What are we writing for? I know for me, personally, there's a mix of reasons. The main one being simply that I must. But if I'm honest...I want to entertain. I want to have my story be told. I want someone, anyone, to pick up my book, read it and say "Huh! That was good! Where's the next one?" Just like I do with Jim Butcher. God Forbid that man ever stop writing...

Steampunk Dirigible...AWESOME!
I can't imagine ever Not writing. It's interesting the different reactions of people when they discover I write. Though I think that may be partly the fault of the genre in which I've chosen to write. Try explaining Steampunk to someone who doesn't even like Fantasy..."So, it's like if know who Tesla is? No? Hmmm. Do you know what a Tesla Coil is? No? Oh yes, they're still on Earth. They travel back and forth between 2012 and 1922.  But the 1922 is a different reality. It's as if a bunch of evil scientists had escaped and run rampant and taken over the world with their experiments. Oh, and there's dirigibles. No. Not everyone is an Evil Scientist. No the dirigibles don't all crash and burn like the... Look. It's Science Fiction. Not Real. TIME TRAVEL doesn't happen. That I know of. Ever seen the show Warehouse 13? YES?! That's Steampunk!! Good Christ...I need a whiskey..."

Yes. I did basically have this conversation. I doubt this will be my audience.

But I did want to take a few moments and welcome all my New Followers from the A - Z Blogfest!! Thank you for joining my craziness! I hope you enjoy my world!

Friday, April 27, 2012

X - oXtail

Please tell me you have had braised Oxtail.

This is a little different then Osso Buco, which most people have had...hopefully. Oxtail is, as you could surmise, Beef. *duh*. Osso Buco is Veal. Yes. The age matters. Quite a lot.

My main point here, though, is the whole dish. The Braised Oxtail. The beauty behind what it's like to take something that is quite literally a piece of Tail (!) and turn it into one of the most glorious most complex (aside from consomme) flavor stories (god I hate that term, but there it is) in the whole culinary world.

I Love Staub.
It's so deceptively simple. You sear the meat in a cast iron pan. You know the kind, Le Cruset or Staub make beautiful pots for this. You have to sear in the flavor. And then build from there. Every level adding on from the one below it. The onions and bacon. The tomatoes and wine. The Herbs and garlic. Everything added at just the right moment, to create a balance yet add their interest.

And then you slow braise the hell out of it. Pushing the flavor into the meat for hours on end. Forcing one of the cheapest cuts of meat to taste like gods gift to kings. So hearty. So fulfilling. So wonderful with either a beautiful Bordeaux or a zippy Gewurztraminer.

This kind of food is what I could happily eat every day of my life.

And weigh a whole lot more then I do.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

W - Whoops

So. Totally forgot about W. Even though I had gotten way far ahead in my planning for this fest I was writing the week ahead on the weekend. And last week I got the Alien Death Plague. So this week I've been playing Catch Up. Thought I was doing pretty darn good. Stupid W.

Looking back in my notes I think I had a blog planned for Whiskey, which can't be right because this is my "Writing" day. So you know what. I'm calling it! I got nothing. Mainly cause I'm still kinda stupid from being sick. And secondly, stupid W.

So here's some pictures of some Wombats! First a cute cuddly baby one! Awwww. Don't you just want one of your very own!
I want to snuggle with your brains!
But then you find out that they grow into THIS......!
Wombats are taking over your Couches!!
I love Wombats. Though you gotta wonder about who named the poor things. Were they drunk?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

V - Vino

Ah. Wine. The nectar of the gods.

I was going to write a post about what wines go with what foods...but that's really all a matter of taste. And far too pretentious. Bah.

Then I thought...I really want to write about my first experience with wine. Boring! Class in Culinary school. Yawn. It was really just "This is a red wine" *taste* "This is a white wine" *taste*. "Don't screw them up."

I think most people get their education about wine through just simply experiencing it. And there is simply no rule book that accounts for taste. You can enjoy a $2 bottle just as much as you can a $120 bottle.  In fact. When I had just graduated culinary school Bon Appetite did an article about Wine and wine tasting. They got 10 of the most renowned sommeliers in the country to do a blind taste test of something like 20 wines ranging from $5 to $150 a bottle. The results were kind of earth shattering. First off, some were having a hard time telling the difference between red and white. And then, across the board there was a bottle of 15$ Cote de Rhone that everyone absolutely LOVED. Above all else. Just goes to show. You never can judge by price.
I love stemless wineglasses even though they're kinda not 'right'

I love wine. The only thing I get snobby about is that it's not Merlot. Or White Zin. I've yet to have a good Merlot. White Zin is a candy wine only good to have with popcorn. (I'm not even kidding a little...try it...)  Other then that. I'll try anything once.

Corks Vs. Screw Caps? Meh. Screw Caps are gonna happen folks. They actually preserve the wine better then the cork used to. You get less 'corked' wine. So if you see the screw caps, it doesn't mean cheap wine anymore! Though I do miss using a corkscrew...something very satisfying about that whole ritual.

So just try wine. Don't be afraid. It's true what they say that wine can enhance the flavors of food. It's kind of amazing what happens when you find the right pairing. A great Zinfandel with just the right steak. A beautiful Viognier with an amazing bouillabaisse.

And hey, if you don't like it to drink can always cook with it! Poach pears! Jellies and Jams! Pasta Sauce! The options are endless!

 Everyone should drink more wine...there would be less war.

**BTW...I have the first 400 of my WIP being critted over at Unicorn Bell today! Hop on over and check it out!**

U - Universe Creation

So I’m writing a book where reality is just a little bit, well, bent. I’m still on Earth. I’m still in a real city. But the things that are possible in my book aren’t possible in ‘Real Life’. And isn’t that cool?
Being able to conceive of an entirely different reality? 

Granted, there are masters of this universe creation thing. Orson Scott Card. Patrick Rothfuss. Brandon Sanderson. All these people created places with laws of existence that are different then our daily reality. Yet. Yet we just accept them as truth. They wrote their worlds with such skill that it was just a given that Ender existed with Bug Aliens. Rothfuss is a master of storytelling and world building. You don’t question for a second that the type of magic in his books exists. In fact, he makes it so real you start to wonder if it IS real and just simply forgotten about.
Even if you don't like fantasy, READ THIS!
Anyway. The point I’m trying to make is that in writing it’s hard to decide what path to take when introducing our audience to Our World. Personally, I like to just be thrown in, head first. Learn the rules as I go, rather then have it all spelled out at the beginning. It also feels more real to discover the world along with your character, more organic.

 One of the most useful pieces of advice in writing I ever got came from a college professor way back in the day. I was busy writing some novel or another where I had just given the audience All the information about the ‘world’ I had created in the first chapter. Tolkien style. YAWN. But it seemed so important that the reader UNDERSTAND where they were! You know? He said to me, “What are you in such a hurry for?” That statement changed my writing style in a huge way. It was like a bolt to the brain. No idea what I was in such a hurry for. And because of that statement, my Universe pacing, if you will, has gotten so much better. Not to say it can’t still use some help! Can’t we all...But that’s what World Building is all about. Pacing. 

Finding the right balance between letting your reader into your secret and giving away the family jewels.

Monday, April 23, 2012

T - Taste

*commence rant*
Something I do not miss from my Cheffing days?
Special orders. Holy Crap. What the hell is up with people going to a fine dining restaurant, looking over the menu and saying to themselves. “Gee. It all looks so good! Except I’m really in the mood for just some steamed haddock and a couple of blanched carrots. You can do that right? You don’t mind?” Yes. Yes I do mind! 

Why did you come out to eat if you just wanted something so ridiculous? And I’m not just randomly choosing something as an example.  Nine times out of ten, a special order would be a piece of poached or steamed white fish with some sauteed veggies on the side. No starch please! Oh, and just a little bit of lemon if you could. ARGH. 

I just liked the design of this...Never eaten here.
How about this. How about you look at the menu. Go ahead. Look at it. I know you can read. Now. See all those things listed on it? Those are the choices! Choose one of those! These were put together after many hours of testing and research. They represent long nights spent after the restaurant closes trying to figure out new dishes that work well together. Foods that pair well with wines, that pair well with the appetizers, and the desserts. And in you come with your “simple little request”. It may seem like a minor little thing to you, and if I hear one more person spout off about the customer always being right I may lose it...But it’s not a minor little thing. And I’m not talking about food allergies, obviously that’s a different beast. This is just pure, in my opinion, ridiculousness. 

Who spends time choosing a restaurant for the food that they make...and then basically blows the whole restaurant's persona out of the water by telling the chef what and how to cook. It’s insulting. Don’t do it. I beg you. 
*end rant*

Saturday, April 21, 2012

S - Short Stories

Once Upon A Time... This is how stories start still, right? I wonder how that started? Who wrote that first? Anyway! Once Upon A Time there was a girl..nah, I always write about girls! A Boy.Boys need their time to shine. A Dog. Nah. A DUCK! ooo! A Kangaroo robot from the planet Maboo!

Once Upon a time there was a boy who wanted to ...hmmm. What the hell did he want? Must have a plot. Why am I writing this story? I know what I want. I want a cup of coffee. Really good coffee with just a bit of sugar and cream in it.

Once Upon a time there was a boy whose dream in life was to open a coffee shop. Everyone laughed at him for this dream because when you live on the planet of Maboo the only type of liquid people drink comes from a plant found high in the mountains. Yeesh
That’s crap. probably should have stuck with the kangaroo robot. Would have made more sense. Sigh. Scrap that whole thing.
The fuel of fiction

Once Upon a time there was a prettyful princess! HA.
I think my problem is that I’m starting too typical.  Ah. Here we go.

“You take the rolling pin”
“I don’t want the rolling pin. I want the knife. I’m older. I should get the knife.” The two young girls stood over the kitchen clutter drawer glaring at each other.
Damn it. Girls again. Oh well. Where was I …. Glaring at each other....
“Fine. You take the knife, but you go first. Besides. You heard it first.”
“Fine.” With a twirl of defiance the smaller girl snatched the big cleaver out of the drawer. “you can explain to mom and dad why I’m dead on your watch.”
“Oh for...” The taller girl rolled her eyes and pushed roughly by the smaller blond to get to the foot of the stairs. Just then it came again, rolling slowly down the staircase, muffled and quiet like footsteps.. but no one was there. FwepFwep BAM
“Go ahead! I’m right behind you!” The blonde pushed the brunette roughly.
It was a tortuous journey. They knew where all the squeaky steps were, but it didn’t seem to matter. Every few minutes FwepFwepBAM! Like someone was dragging a dead foot down the steps and then dropping a rock. Every time it started, they froze. It sounded as though it was right next to them. Echoing off the walls.
Finally they reached the top of the stairs. Their parents bedroom.
“I’m telling you. There’s someone in here!” The blonde whispered frantically to the brunette.
Slowly they peeked up over the edge of the floor, trying to catch a glimpse of the intruder with the dead foot.
Suddenly, the blonde screamed at the top of her lungs, flung the knife with all her strength across the room, then ran blindly back down the staircase sobbing hysterically. The brunette, having heard nothing, stood up slowly and looked around the room. It was empty. Then it started again. FwepFwepBAM.
The window shade was getting blown out -FwepFwep- and then sucked into the window - BAM! over and over. Lying next to it on the floor was a hastily thrown cleaver.

Some days the ideas flow...some days I shouldn’t be allowed near a pen...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

R - Restaurant

I had it all figured out. 

I was going to call it Marrow.

It was going to be a French Bistro. You know, The kind with the beat up butcher block table tops. Heavy pewter flatware. Mismatched glassware. Menu that changes pretty much every day written on a chalk wall over the dimly lit bar. It was going to seat about 35. Any more than that and it starts to feel less intimate, too impersonal. The tables would have real pepper grinders on them. None of that powdered shit. I hadn’t decided what to do about salt. I personally prefer kosher, but about the time I left the culinary world, grinding salt was coming into vogue. Meh. Salt is salt. I like the look of a salt crock. Rather old world. 

The kitchen was going to be open concept so people could gather around  to watch the huge slabs of braised beef being rotated out of the open brick oven. Wood heat baby. Its the only way to make osso bucco. 
Not even close...but I like the wall!

It would have a slate patio where people could come and have a bowl of french onion soup, share a bottle of wine or sit back and read a book with a cooling cup coffee.
I was going to make the best braised meats this side of the Atlantic. I was going to figure out how to make a croissant without needing to import water from Paris. I was going to get people to love the idea of eating small portions, and Enjoying the flavors, tasting the layers of of the 19 hours of braising that went into that piece of beef on your plate. Savoring the days and days of reduction and balance that goes into a well made stock.

It was going to be magnificent. 

I unfortunately did not win the lottery.

Maybe not my best financial plan...

Q - Quote

I dream of a future where I will soon be quoted as much as “They” are. I’ve not quite figured out who ‘they’ are yet, but ‘they’ seem to have quite a bit of control over the world. Almost as much as that “Simon Says” guy.

“They” Say you shouldn’t go swimming for at least two hours after eating? Pansies!
“They” say you shouldn’t wash your lights and darks together. Racists! “They” say you shouldn’t speak to strangers. How would you ever meet anyone?

They say. They say! Well! Someday soon it will be “Alicia Says!” and the brainless masses will start doing my bidding and my plan for taking over the world will be complete! Bwahahahah!
ahem.  You’re still.....RESISTANCE IS FUTILE!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

P - Potato

I hail from Aroostook County in Maine. Potato Country. And to me, there is nothing more satisfying, or nutritious, than a baked potato. 

Lovely, scalding hot. Fluffy. Crispy skin. Earthy. All you need is fresh butter. Maybe some salt and pepper.Seriously. Why are you messing about with all this fancy schmancy stuff like sour cream and bacon. Which, I understand is good on a baked potato. Absolutely. But all the time? No. 

Also good roasted with Rosemary and Salt.
Someone once tried to serve me a baked potato with sour cream, bacon and broccoli on it. They had the nerve to call it a Vegetarian Casserole. Now, I’m not a Vegetarian. (Don’t get me started...) But SERIOUSLY? The NERVE! It was an insult to Baked Potatoes everywhere! (not to mention...the bacon....but that’s ok...the pig probably only ate veggies...)

Oh, And truffles! Mustn't forget about the precious truffles! What is up with everyone putting truffles on and in everything (Mac and Cheese anyone)? Good god. Just simply bake it. And enjoy the simple beauty that is the honest goodness of a potato.

Oh, if I find out that you are “Baking” them in the microwave I will find out where you live, come into your home at night and do unspeakable things to your toothbrush.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

O - Odious

Isn’t that a fantastic word? Not only does it sound Bad. But it also draws up images of things that smell rather disgusting as well, doesn’t it? For example:
 "The odious sweet smell of decaying flesh rose to hit him in the face when he opened the manhole cover."
Or:  "The bonnet. The odious bonnet. If she had to wear it again, she swore she’d kill someone, and look. That’s exactly what happened."
And I know it isn’t my “food” day but this word is often associated with fish. And fish smells.

I’m not sure where it starts to become cliche when a word is too often associated with something. Think Romance. Think how often “Odious” is used in conjunction with the stamping of booted feet, or the pounding of clenched fists. Or the tossing of a ringlet-ted head as she flounces off saying “OH! That Odious Man!” Not that there’s anything wrong with a good romance every so often. But when words get over-used in certain situations they become cliche. Their power gets taken away.

Love Lady Cottington's Pressed Fairy's!
For example, I just wrote a short story where one of the plot points got a bit fouled up because I had described a character as having an ‘Earthy’ scent to him. My critique peeps felt this gave the character a feeling of bit of the Fae to him. Which is not at all what I was aiming for. Wasn’t even on my radar. I was just trying to suggest he was from ‘the wrong side of the tracks’. But since Both of the people who critiqued the story picked this up as an issue, I felt I should change it. Even though it’s not even close to what I was trying to convey. So, now having an Earthy scent is Equal to being Fae?       Odious!

Monday, April 16, 2012

N - Noodles

Have you ever had to make fresh pasta? It’s awesome. You should. So easy. Really. I’m not leading you down some dark alley just to nail you over the head with a 2x4. Honest.
Even easier if you have a bread machine with a “Pasta” setting...which we do. Anyway.

One of my first jobs, out in the “real world’ was at a, well, they liked to think of themselves as an Italian restaurant...and for the purposes of my story we’ll go with that. One thing they did do right was make fresh pasta. By hand. With a hand crank machine. Every. Fucking. Morning. They truly believed that running it through an electric pasta roller (such as a Kitchen Aid) would harm the flavor of the pasta. I can’t make this shit up. The restaurant sat 240. This was my job. I had KILLER biceps.
Ahhh. The memories....

 On my right arm.
The best way to have fresh pasta? Drizzled with a beautiful olive oil, shaved Asiago cheese, diced fresh from the garden tomatoes, and a chiffonade of basil. Cracked pepper and possibly kosher salt if needed. That’s it. Maybe a few olives. 

It’s so easy to make amazingly beautiful food. All served on the deck of my Tuscany Villa that overlooks the vineyard estate that I just purchased … wait...what were we …Damn it.

As much as I hated making the pasta every day, it was nothing compared to slicing five cases of green tomatoes for fried green tomatoes. Every day. By hand. Because the slicer “Messes up the seed packets”. Seriously.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

M - Motivation

Oh the Fame! The Glory! The Girls! wait...

What is your motivation to write? I can’t be sure, but the style I’ve chosen isn’t exactly “change the world” type stuff. I doubt I’ll be a feature on any Oprah Book Club lists (Thank God). I don’t think that the books that I publish will be anything that could be mistaken for High Literature. But that’s not why I write.

I write because I have to. The end result will never be The Reason.  Yes. I want my story to be enjoyable, read by millions and the books that crossed genres to open up a multitude of doors for new audiences and readers. But...I’d also be happy with simply finishing book one.
Not that this has anything to do with my post but HOW COOL!

Something else I’m curious about. How do you Get Motivated to write? What’s your 'Muse' so to speak? Do you need to have certain types of music playing? Does the mood just happen to strike you like a bolt of lightening? Do you have fancy crystals that you rub on your forehead whilst saying the Latin words for “May the Force Be With Me!” 7 times as you spin on your left foot in a counter-clockwise circle around the kitchen table? (That me..)

How do you get through the writer’s blocks? Knock on all that is good and holy, I suffer not from this horrible affliction. Yet.

My Motivation is purely selfish. I need to write. Therefore I do.

Am I any good at it?  Jury’s still out on that one. But hey, I can only improve.

P.S. when doing an image search for crystals for the pic for this post...I typed in Crystals into google...and "Crystals in Urine" came up! Is that a thing?! What is that? I ran away...

Friday, April 13, 2012

L - Lemon

The humble lemon. I say humble because it’s one of those fruits that I think people tend to take for granted. 

Lemons are used for just about everything. From household cleaners, to insect repellents, to skin whiteners. But I’m mostly concerned with its culinary honestly..that’s where it really shines. 

What can possibly be better on a hot, humid day then a tall, frosty glass of just -this-side-of-tart Lemonade with a splash of seltzer,or vodka, to give it a bit of fizz? Or roasting a whole chicken with a couple of mangled whole lemons shoved into the carcass? The scent of the lemon permeating throughout the meat, yet not overwhelming. I think it can be a tad overused in the fish there are many other wonderful flavors that go well with fish. Wasabi for example...
My preciousssssss

Anyway...lemon is also quite tricksy. We used it quite often if we had to peel huge amounts of potatoes or apples (or anything that would oxidize quickly)...just a few cut up lemons in the water bath, and voila! You had scads longer before you had to worry about your potatoes going brown. 

It’s the secret to a great hollandaise sauce. But, this can go very badly very fast. Too much lemon juice and you have a hot, curdled mess on your hands. Too little, and it just tastes like scrambled eggs. Handmade mayo? Same secret. Same balance.

So the next time you see a lemon, don’t just think, Ooo, Lemon water. Think of all the possibilities! 

Think of all the chicken butts you could shove it into for roasting!

***disclaimer*** I've managed to get a pretty interesting flu...making me glad I pre-wrote these posts...otherwise this may have been "Lemons...they're yellow. Pretty Tart. in stuff..." My brain isn't working. Hence the late post. Sorry folks!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

K - King, Stephen

Or, possibly a better title would be “How I Totally Ruined My Writing Career Before it Even Got Started.”

Some things you should know before I start this post. I worked in the UMaine catering system for the entire time I was a student there, so I had the unique opportunity to meet several famous people in my four year stint. Stephen King is a huge supporter of the UMaine system, and every year they do several catered events with him. But one in particular is in his particular honor. This is the one I’m talking about. Other things you should know, I am not a big fan of S.K’s writing style. Or rather, to be fair, his early writing style as I’ve not read any of his recent stuff.  Also, I am a big dork. But this will come out on its own. On to my Story. All events are true. Really. I am this much of a dork. Also, sorry for the length, but hopefully it will be amusing...

So there I was, Senior in College. Minding my own business, working hard at the Stephen King function. Chopping Veggies for a crudite tray and thinking about the crazy assignment that we had due in our Modern English Lit class. I mean really, who studies Jack Kerouac and Stephen King in one semester. Gag. Hurl. The kitchen was fairly low key. All the food had made it upstairs, and now we were just doing a few back-up trays and trying to get a bit ahead on tomorrow's functions. When in walks this guy. Now, this isn’t a big deal. People walk in and out of this kitchen all the time. And this guy was no exception. Jeans, plaid kinda wrinkly shirt. But what was odd was he just stopped by my prep table and started chatting with me. Ummm. Weirdo.

    I was fairly sure he wasn’t from the function upstairs as it was a black tie. And nope, no suit. Definitely not a black tie type guy. And I swear to god if he keeps eating my prep work he’s going to lose a finger.
    “So.” He says, all casual like. “What are you going to school for?”  Which, if anyone has ever gone to college is THE most annoying question on the face of the planet.
    “English lit, creative writing. Fourth year.” I answered. Probably more abruptly than I meant to. But I was busy, I had shit to do! And he was eating my prep!
    “Really? That’s what I went here for. Which writers are you studying?”
    “Jack Kerouac and Stephen King. It’s been interesting.”
    “Interesting how? What don’t you like about Jack?”
    “Personally I think it’s a bit of ‘emperors new clothes’ syndrome going on with his writing. No one really understands it, but no one wants to admit it.”
    To which he laughs. And then asks.
    “Well, what don’t you like about King?”
    At this point my Boss came around the corner, heard the question and started making slashing motions across his throat and crazy eyes at me. I totally ignored him.
    “King? I don’t like him because all his characters are the same from book to book. Plot? Same. Every book I could tell you basically how it's going to start and end. There’s no real drive for me to give a shit about anything that goes on.”
    During this heartfelt rant this man’s eyebrows were getting higher and higher into his hairline and then when I was done he kinda coughs and says,
    “Well. I’ll keep that in mind the next time I write a book. Thanks.”

Oh yes.

He looks Nothing like his pictures.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

J - Julia Child

Most people, admittedly, know who this woman is. Now. Thanks to that film Julie and Julia. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed the film. Meryl Streep was absolutely spot on, and I think that Amy Adams did a fabulous job as well. But I do think that the film kinda downplayed exactly what it is that Julia should be recognized for.

My husband's next project
 Oh yes. The woman brought French cooking to the fore and into the homes of Millions of Americans, making it accessible. Making it part of our daily life. Making it something we don’t even think about anymore. Don’t believe me? Take a look at a cookbook prior to The Art of French Cooking. yeesh. There is a Whole lotta jell-o, bread, and canned stuff going on in those books. And yes, Julia woke us up to food being more than just something we have to eat, and made us see it could be something we could truly enjoy as well.

What I think she did that doesn’t get enough recognition is she made it ok to drink, at any meal. Not just the ‘special’ occasions. (And no. The rumors about her drinking on-set were not true. What she’s ‘drinking’ was actually a mix of gravy master and water. Yick!)  

Now I want you to just think about this for a minute. Prior to Julia, most adults had crappy beer, water, soda, or even MILK for lunch for dinner. Julia came along and suddenly it was ok, even preferable to have wine. Wine! For lunch? For every dinner? 

Suddenly there is a need for good wine! Imported from..well...anywhere! This opened up huge opportunities for American growers and Winemakers! Seriously! It could be argued that one woman created an industry. Demand creates opportunity. And Julia created the demand. 

Imagine the sad state we would be in if we were still lounging about in our sad, drinking wine from wicker covered bottles days? There are not enough drippy candles in the world to cover up that sin.

My idea of a proper wine Cellar. Now. Where do I get a 400 year old Italian Villa...

Monday, April 9, 2012

I - Insomnia

Can’t sleep. Can't sleepcan'tsleepcan'tsleep

Oh well, it’s only 11:30pm. Not really that late. I have another hour before I really need to think about getting to bed. Besides, I really need to smooth out this one paragraph...

What if Anoria were to meet up with Tanner earlier won’t work...

But he’s got a key to the building, and she needs it... What if...

And then oo, yah, I need to get the two of them over...what the hell is This song? Yick. This guy really can't play guitar at all...

Ok. So, really need to pee...

What the hell is that fucking word for...MOUSE...right...

what Time is it? 1:45! Crap. Ok. Well, another 15 minutes won’t matter...besides, I just have to fix that one bit where he had fallen....

Riiiiight! Brilliant! Yah. People are gonna buy THAT twist! Why don’t you just make them all secret undercover clowns while you’re at it you moron! Cripes...dumbass...

Wait, what was that ‘20’s mode of dress style...with the shoes...Oooo! Look at That dress! I like that...and it’s only 68 bucks! Too bad I don’t have 68 bucks...I’ll buy it when I finish this book...hmmm...maybe I should go to bed. What time is it?

Good lord, it’s 3am! Oh, well...too late to sleep now...might as well just work on this one other bit where she finds out...

Sunday, April 8, 2012

H - Herbs

Welcome Back! A - Z Bloggers Unite! In continuing with my theme (every other post culinary / writing) Today we're on a Culinary Theme...enjoy and thank you for visiting!

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I have a secret. Lean closer and I'll tell you. Just a little closer. Now listen closely...I’m only saying this once, and I trust you won’t tell anyone...I totally SUCK at gardening. Flowers. Veggies. All the useful stuff that a chef should be growing in abundance. I see all these chefs that are doing the farm to table thing and all I can think is "Good God, Why?" There is So much (rewarding) work involved in cooking amazing food to begin with, why…WHY do you want to throw the ridiculous chore of gardening on top of that?  *shakes head*
However. I Do have the most incredible herb garden. Indeed. Tomato blight 4 years running. But herbs. Oh yes. I can grow sage so that it's knee high. Oregano? Two feet long! Thyme? No problem! Spreads like Mint! Oh and my Mint? Of which I have six varieties…(Get some chocolate mint and stick it in your Earl Gray tea…trust me)! Not that Mint is especially hard to grow, but my mint is Out Of Control! Waist High and the leaves get to be as big as my thumb!
Sage, Oregano, and Thyme in Early Summer.
My special project, though, is my Lavender. It started out as a pathetic one sprouted wizzely little thing that I got on sale at the farm stand. I picked it up and said, "Oh look! Charlie Brown Christmas Lavender!" It’s a good ingredient in chicken and stews and stuff. Not to mention headache pillows. Now? Two years later? I have to move some silly day lily things to make room for the lavender that is taking over that corner of my garden. Apparently it likes the abuse of never being watered.
Oh waiiiiiiiit.....
Maybe I should have watered the Tomatoes...  

Lavender after 2 Years

Saturday, April 7, 2012

G - Genre

I’m curious. How did you pick the Genre in which you are writing? Or did it pick you? Which side of your brain makes this decision? The Creative side or the Logical side? Personally, I haven’t the foggiest. 

Do we as writers “write what we know”? And if so, how does that explain fantasy and science fiction? If we’re just writing what we know, IS it Fantasy and Science Fiction? Or is it just another version of a Truth, reworded for the general public to understand in a simpler manner so that when the machines Do take over we aren’t all that surprised?

    MAN I have to stop reading those science fiction novels.

   Right ...Genre. Focus.
This picture sparked the idea for the Control Room in my book
Personally, I tried several different ones before reaching the one I’m working in right now. First came Epic Historical (Think Ken Follett). Wow. Was that ever bad. Lots of hangings, women running away from priests, and horses getting stolen. Apparently that’s what happens in history. Then, I tried my hand at a mystery or two. Got very frustrated. Gave it up. May go back. Not sure. It’s a mystery. (HA!) 

Horror. This genre I liked, and in some respects am still working in. Though, I find Horror works best when blended with other Genres. Like Steampunk. The genre I’m working in now. It was somewhat of a revelation when I decided that my book would be Steampunk. There I was, all innocent, sitting there, trying to figure out HOW the hell I was going to get my MC from 2012 to 1922. And WHAM! H.G. Wells! The Time Machine! Oh so Victorian!

And there it was, staring me right in the face...and all the pieces that were missing tumbled like blocks.

Love it when a plan comes together ...and no blood is shed.  That I have to account for...

Thursday, April 5, 2012

F - Fromage

I know that I want my last meal on this great and Glorious earth to be a beautiful crusty sourdough French bread with a spicy hard Italian salami, the freshest fruit and berries available, and an assortment of beautiful cheeses from across the Globe.  My only problem is I have no idea Which cheese I want. There are so many that it makes it almost impossible to many cheeses! So little time!

Cheese! Glorious Cheese!

Growing up, cheese was cheddar or American, or, if we were lucky Swiss! It was a small, very rural town…and even now I know when my Dad tries to cook something "exotic" he has to special order some crazy ingredient…like Nori. Then I went to culinary school and Wonders on wonders! There are different types of Swiss? Holy crap! And different ages of cheddar! Bliss! Age crystals…find them. Eat them. You will love them. Especially in Gouda.

As for pairing wine and cheese? I find blue cheeses and champagne go very well together. Though really, what Doesn't go well with champagne? The older the cheese, hence the stronger…the milder the wine. 

But. Don't be afraid. It's all about the whole picture. Creamy cheese? Tart wine. Hard cheese? Buttery Wine.
Just like in Love. Opposites attract in Cheese and Wine.


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