Y’all ready to set the flo’? Say what? Not sure what I’m talking about? You’re not alone. I had no idea what “set the flo’” meant until digging into the research I needed to bring readers into my point-of-view character Drake Bailey’s world in the third book of The Last Timekeepers time travel adventure series. Set in 1855, during the antebellum period in Georgia, Drake discovers that it’s not the best place for an African American time traveler, but he endures and lives to tell his tale.
Plantation slaves in the deep south of America weren’t given many pleasures in their hard lives. Author Julius Lester sums it up beautifully when he wrote in his book, To Be A Slave, “The prayer meetings, the parties, and the holidays did not make being a slave pleasurable. Nothing could do that, but whatever pleasure the slave was able…
It’s no secret I love noodles/pasta and this dish has been on my “to make” list. Dan Dan Noodles translates as “noodles carried on a pole” or “peddler’s noodles”. There are many versions of these noodles and I finally decided on Joanne Chang’s version. She is the owner of Flour Bakery + Café in Boston and also has written a cookbook “Myers+Chang At Home”. This recipe was not in her cookbook but came to me via email from Food & Wine.
These noodles are one of the most famous of Sichuan street foods. The egg noodles are served in a savory, spicy broth made with chili oil topped with crispy pork and peanut flakes and then it’s all stirred together. Simple but with a numbing, smoky and spicy sauce.
The version I made is by no means the traditional Dan Dan Noodles from Chinese Sichuan cuisine as…
Please welcome cookbook author Sloane Taylor to the blog with a chilled soup recipe. If you’ve never tried gazpacho, this is a great recipe to start with because it’s easy and packed with flavor.
Beat the Heat Summer Supper
When the days are muggy and hot, cool down with this light and refreshing meal. Add a loaf of crusty fresh bread and a bottle of chilled, crisp white wine to make dinner complete.
GAZPACHO – Cold Fresh Vegetable Soup
Image by Яна Тикунова from Pixabay
1 large cucumber, peeled and chopped 5 medium Roma/plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped 1 large onion, chopped 1 medium green pepper, seeded and chopped 1 tbsp. garlic, chopped fine or pressed 4 cups French or Italian bread chunks, crust removed 4 cups cold water ¼ cup red wine vinegar 2 tsps. salt 4 tbsps. olive oil 2 tbsp. tomato paste
Combine cucumber, tomatoes, onion, green pepper, garlic, and bread in a large bowl. Stir in water, vinegar, and salt. Ladle mixture into a blender or food processor. Be careful not to overload either appliance. Set on high speed until you have a smooth puree. Pour the blend into a clean large bowl and whisk in olive oil and tomato paste.
Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 2 hours minimum. Just before serving stir well to recombine ingredients. Ladle into a chilled tureen or large soup bowls.
May you enjoy all the days of your life filled with good friends, laughter, and seated around a well-laden table!
Sloane Taylor is an Award-Winning author with a passion that consumes her day and night. She is an avid cook and posts new recipes on her blog every Wednesday. The recipes are user friendly, meaning easy.
A tasty way to incorporate fiber-rich oatmeal into your diet.
1 cup boiling water
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 package (1/4 oz.) active dry yeast
1/3 cup warm water (110° to 115°)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 to 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup raisins
Nonstick cooking oil
Large mixing bowl
Loaf pan (8 x 4 x 2 inch)
Directions: 1. In a large mixing bowl, combine boiling water and oats; let stand until warm (110°-115°). In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in warm water; let stand for 5-10 minutes. If the mixture foams up, the yeast mixture can be used and added to oat mixture. If it does not foam, the yeast should be discarded and redo the step with dissolving yeast with sugar. Next add honey, butter, salt and raisins beat until smooth. Add 2 cups flour; beat until smooth. Add enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.
2. Turned onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl (olive oil), turning once to grease top. Cover with plastic wrap and place a damp cloth on top. Let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch the dough down. Shape into a loaf; place in loaf pan sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Brush with melted butter. Sprinkle with oats
3. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 30 minutes. Bake at 350° for 50-55 minutes or until golden brown. Yield 1 loaf.
Chris Pavesic writes fantastic fantasy and she’s an amazing cook. That’s why I invited her back today to share a recipe that helps us eat more vegetables and exciting books to binge on.
Take it away, Chris!
1 lb. red potatoes, cubed in 1 inch pieces
4 large carrots, sliced thin
3 celery stalks with leaves, sliced thin
2 medium zucchini, 1 inch pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon dried parsley
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste
6 cups vegetable stock
Large Soup pot/Dutch oven
Combine all of the ingredients in the soup pot/Dutch oven except the parsley. Bring to boil. Cover and reduce heat. Simmer about 30-40 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add parsley during the last 10 minutes. Remove bay leaves before serving.
Chris Pavesic joins us today with a soup my family and I have been making since she posted the recipe on her blog. I have added vegetarian sausage to it for extra protein, or substituted the brown rice for chickpea-based orzo for the same reason. Vegetable broth is always used in place of chicken because my daughter is a vegetarian. No matter what I do with this recipe it comes out amazing.
1. In a large saucepan, combine onion, rice and stock. Bring to a boil, then simmer 25 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, melt butter in flat saucepan. Gently cook mushrooms about 10 minutes or until brown and most of moisture has evaporated. Add mushrooms to stock. Stir in sherry and season with salt and pepper. Simmer 10 minutes.
Makes 6 servings
While you eat your meal, why not enjoy a good book?
We have a new guest author on the blog today, and guess what? She’s brought a bowl of cheese soup for National Soup Month and shared a little about her book, A Chance At The Moon.
Thank you, Linda!
By Linda Lee Greene
Winter, and especially the high-holiday season that is winter’s centerpiece, brings with it for me an air of nostalgia, a wistfulness for the Thanksgiving Days of old, the days when at the end of a long country lane, the white square farmhouse of my maternal grandparents came into view, and within its walls my large family would soon gather around an immense table groaning with a homegrown Thanksgiving meal. With the elapsing of time, the torch has passed to my aunts and uncles, and then to the members of my generation. The work of keeping the traditions of our family alive and well continues to be handed down.
This past Thanksgiving my immediate family gathered at the home of my daughter, Elizabeth, the person who often as not, has hosted our celebration for several years. I am so grateful for the young people of my family, and for the time and space to hunker into the winter of my life, to gather my provisions, as well as to relax into my unbound hours and make the most of them.
Turkey and dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, cranberries, and several other side dishes, sweetened at meal’s end with pumpkin pie and whipped cream, and a wide selection of additional heavenly desserts was our traditional fare. Last year, we broadened our menu with some new dishes. My contribution was a lovely ‘Farmhouse Cheese Soup’ laid at table as an appetizer. The recipe comes from Stacey Pirtle of ‘Southern Discourse,’ where it is described as “…oogey, gooey, goodness…a zesty comfort food even the pickiest eaters will enjoy.”
Savory Farmhouse Cheese Soup
1 stick (½ cup) butter ⅓ cup onion, diced ⅓ cup carrots, diced ⅓ cup celery, diced 1 tsp. garlic, minced 32 oz. chicken broth (I prefer the low-sodium brands) ½ cup roasted red peppers, diced 1 cup of Chardonnay, optional 6 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated 6 cups of half-and-half 2 tsp. paprika 1½ tsp. fresh thyme, chopped 1 tsp. salt 1 tsp. white pepper Bacon bits French bread, small chunks
Melt butter in a large stockpot or automatic cooker over medium-low heat. Add onions, carrots, celery, and garlic. Cook until vegetables are translucent.
Add broth and peppers. Simmer about 5 minutes. Pour in Chardonnay and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
Add cheddar cheese, 1 cup at a time, and stir well after each cup until cheese is melted. Blend in half-and-half a little at a time, stirring continuously.
Stir in paprika, thyme, salt, and white pepper. Cook on very low heat for another 5 to 10 minutes, stirring every 2 to 3 minutes.
Sprinkle bacon bits on top of each savory bowl. Sprinkle on bread. Shredded chicken is a nice add-in. Enjoy!
While your soup is simmering how about a peek at my latest crime thriller?
Was it chance or destiny’s hand behind a man and a woman’s curious encounter at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas? The cards fold, their hearts open, and a match strikes, flames that sizzle their hearts and souls. Can they have the moon and the stars, too? Or is she too dangerous? Is he? Can their love withstand betrayal? Can it endure murder?
While the cards at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas fail to distract them from their troubled pasts, on the side, the actress and the gambler play a game of ‘will they won’t they’ romance. Meanwhile, an otherworldly hand also has a big stake in the game. Unexpected secrets unfold brimming with dangerous consequences, and finally, a strange brand of salvation.
Amid the seductions of Las Vegas, Nevada and an idyllic coffee plantation on Hawai’i’s Big Island, a sextet of opposites converge within a shared fate: a glamorous movie-star courting distractions from her troubled past; her shell-shocked bodyguards clutching handholds out of their hardscrabble lives; a dropout Hawaiian nuclear physicist gambling his way back home; a Navajo rancher seeking cleansing for harming Mother Earth; and from its lofty perch, the Hawaiian’s guardian spirit conjured as his pet raven, conducting this symphony of soul odysseys.
The Cast of Characters
Actress, Olivia Montoyo Simms escapes the shadow of her mother’s gruesome murder and the relentless demands of Hollywood and loses herself in the cards at Las Vegas casinos. But like hounds on the scent, the scandal tracks her. And true to her history, it shows up in the person of dashing Hawaiian gambler, Koa Kalua’i. Neither of them are strangers at taking risks and too often losing. Will they win in their chance at the moon this time?
In Hawaiian cosmology, Aumakuas are guardian spirits whom many believe to manifest in physical form. Koa Kalua’i knows the tenet to be true, because Raven has not only been his winged-pet since the earliest days of his childhood on his family’s coffee plantation on Hawaii’s Big Island, but also his Aumakua. They make a remarkable pair, dedicated to righting wrongs.
Born and raised in Las Vegas, and orphaned as little kids, twin brothers Nicholas and Tobias Plato grew up tough but tenderhearted, qualities they put to use as actress, Olivia Montoyo Simms’ bodyguards. Who knew that Nicholas would play such a pivotal role in Olivia’s life: her most trusted friend and guardian, and in the end, her savior?
Navajo rancher and computer geek, Sam Whitehorse uncovers a secret, terrorist stockpile of materiel burrowed in the side of one his people’s sacred mountains in Nevada. It is a threat that he and Las Vegas gambler, Koa Kalua’i must expose and eliminate, but potential government involvement in the matter complicates such an offensive. And why does actress, Olivia Montoyo Simms insert herself into the whole affair?
Multi-award-winning author and artist Linda Lee Greene describes her life as a telescope that when trained on her past reveals how each piece of it, whether good or bad or in-between, was necessary in the unfoldment of her fine art and literary paths.
Greene moved from farm-girl to city-girl; dance instructor to wife, mother, and homemaker; divorcee to single-working-mom and adult-college-student; and interior designer to multi-award-winning artist and author, essayist, and blogger, it was decades of challenging life experiences and debilitating, chronic illness that gave birth to her dormant flair for art and writing. Greene was three days shy of her fifty-seventh birthday when her creative spirit took a strong hold.
She found her way to her lonely easel soon thereafter. Since then Greene has accepted commissions and displayed her artwork in shows and galleries in and around the USA. She is also a member of artist and writer associations.
Chocolate Mousse 1 ripe avocado 1 large ripe banana 2 tbsp. cocoa powder 2 tbsp. cold water
Put ingredients in a blender and blitz until smooth.
Spoon mixture into 4 small dishes or glasses.
Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours.
You can add your sprinkles of choice on top, e.g. coconut or chopped nuts or whatever teases your taste buds.
How about a little from my latest psychological fiction while you’re waiting for your mousse to chill?
Gillian Roth finds herself in middle age, living alone, working in a dull job, with few friends and little excitement in her life. So far, so ordinary.
But Gillian has one extraordinary problem.
Her house is full of other people… people who don’t exist. Or do they?
As her surreal home life spirals out of control, Gillian determines to find out the truth and undertakes an investigation into the nature of reality itself.
Will this provide an answer to her dilemma, or will the escalating situation push her over the edge before she has worked out what is really going on?
EXCERPT Thursday, 26th March, 2015.
My house is filled with people who don’t exist.
They have no substance. They are neither alive nor dead. They aren’t hosts or spirits. They aren’t in any way shape or form here, but I can see them, and now I need to make a record of how they came to be under my roof.
Why now? Why today? Because we line in strange times, and today is one of the strangest days this year; this is the day that Richard III, the last Plantagenet king of England, was interred in Leicester Cathedral, with all due ceremony, 530 years after he was slain at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. How surreal is that? I watched the highlights on Channel 4 earlier. A couple of my house guests sat with me and together we marveled at the event. They did Richard proud, no doubt of that.
I left them to it after a while and came up here to my bedroom to start writing a diary: this diary.
Life feels unreal today, as if time has looped back onto photo albums. The house clearly passed must itself and everything is happening now. And if I can set my thoughts down on paper, perhaps I can make sense of everything, make it all real somehow.
Where did it start, this thing that has happened to me? A couple of years ago? I can’t say when. It evolved without my conscious input. The existence of my house guests was a fact long before I began to wonder at it. I do wonder at it now and I know I must keep track of what’s happening before I lose myself in this crowd of imaginary beings.
At first there was only a few of them, and I observed their doings without much concern. I watched them snooping around the place, choosing the most comfortable chairs to sit in, leaning against the furniture, inspecting the bookcases, checking the kitchen utensils, and peering into my photo albums. The house clearly passed muster and they stayed. In time, they knew me down to the marrow. I have never known them as well as they know me. They have an air of mystery, as though they have a life outside my house they will never divulge. Even so, I felt I was safe with them and I could tell them my problems. Tell them what no-one else must ever hear. And so these shades thickened, quickened; their personalities accumulated depth and solidity, as though they were skeletons clothing themselves in flesh.
I no longer came home to a cold, empty house, but to a sanctuary where attentive friends awaited my return. I was embraced by their jovial welcome when I stepped through the door. I never knew which of them would be there, but one or two at least would always be waiting to greet me, anxious to hear about my day and make me feel wanted, and for a while I could forget the problems I have at work (even the one that bothers me the most). Since then I have felt a subtle change.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. I really need this to be a faithful account of the entire situation from start to finish, so I have to try to work out how it all began, even if I’m not sure when.
If I cast my mind back, it floats like a lantern through a city cloaked in fog. I must try to isolate the shadowy figures that flit up at me out of the murk. So, let’s begin with the friend I remember first. I was cooking my evening meal. My mind wandered. I remember feeling sad. And there she stood, at my right elbow, peering into the saucepan.
“Watch you don’t burn that,” she said.
I don’t have names for my imaginary friends, just titles, so I call her Kitchen Girl. She’s dark-haired with porcelain skin, and she’s tall and voluptuous. The sort of woman I’d like to be except I’m small with red hair and a ruddy complexion, and I need chicken fillets to convince people I’m female.
I suppose Kitchen Girl is rather daunting, with those fierce blue eyes and no-nonsense approach to everything. I can stand up to her though. I use humour as my weapon of choice and she appreciates wit and banter. I’d like it if she didn’t nag so much, if I’m honest (“Use less salt… keep stirring… is that all you’re going to eat?”) but, criticism aside, I know she’ll compliment me on the finished product as it lies uneaten between us on the table. Long conversations back and forth have been played out while the meals go cold on their plates. Fried eggs congeal and go waxen. Ice cream melts into a tepid sludge. Sandwiches curl up with embarrassment to be so spurned. You know how it is when you get gossiping. Someone wants to talk to me and that’s better than food.
And sometimes, it’s curious, but it’s Kitchen Girl who cooks the food and serves it to me like a waitress. She likes to surprise me with new dishes.
I have no idea how this happens.
Nor why she never leaves the kitchen. But I wish she’d do the washing up now and then.
Born in Stafford in the UK, Carol Browne was raised in Crewe, Cheshire, which she thinks of as her home town. Interested in reading and writing at an early age, Carol pursued her passions at Nottingham University and was awarded an honours degree in English Language and Literature. Now living and working in the Cambridgeshire countryside, Carol writes both fiction and non-fiction.
This slightly more sophisticated version of a no-bake cookie is a perfect treat to make this summer. Any cookie I can hold in one hand while I hold a book in the other is already a winner. Add peanut butter and oats and it is on!
12 pitted dates
1/3 cup old-fashioned oats
1 tablespoon reduced-fat peanut butter
Food processor/chopping blade
SpatulaSmall mixing bowl
Heart-shaped cookie cutter or sharp knife
1. Place the dates in food processor fitted with the chopping blade. Process until the dates are very finely chopped and stick together.
2. With a spatula, transfer to a small mixing bowl. Add the oats and peanut butter. Using your hands mix well.
3. Divide the mixture into 4 equal amounts.
Shape each into a ball. Place one ball between two sheets of waxed paper. Flatten the ball to a 3″-diameter cookie. Repeat with each ball.
Remove waxed paper and cut out a heart using heart-shaped cookie cutter or a knife.
With remaining cookie dough repeat process of rolling into balls and flattening in between waxed paper.
Serve immediately or return to waxed paper and store in an airtight plastic container. Refrigerate for up to 5 days.
Makes 4-6 cookies depending on shape of cookie cutter.