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Check out my science fiction series - The Fall of the Altairan Empire

Monday, October 16, 2017

I Have a New Purse

I'm sure that title just reached out and grabbed you by the throat and screamed, "READ ME NOW!" Totally gripping. Yup. Not boring at all.

Yeah, I struggle with titles. I spend hours trying them out in my head only to be met with shrugs when I run them past my kids.

I remember years ago picking up a book by an author I'd never heard of before and being so intrigued by the title that I just had to read it. A Thousand Words for Stranger did not disappoint. Julie Czerneda gained a new fan that day. I love her books. And I'm glad I took a chance on a book simply because it had such a fantastic title.

What titles have reached out and grabbed you? Or what titles would you love to see on a book someday?

Comment with your most epic title and I might actually award someone a prize for it.

The poor tribble, all worn out.
And I do have a new purse. My poor tribble was dying after many years of faithful service lugging my wallet, keys, and junk around. But my laptop didn't quite fit. It does fit in my new purse. Plus, I have a pocket just for my current crochet project for those times when I'm stuck somewhere and need to keep my fingers busy. And lots more pockets. I have pockets that are still empty.

Bonus: My teenage daughter told me it was a hideous granny purse. Score!

The new purse in all its hideous glory!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Thursday Recipe - Apple Butter

I'm a day late and a dollar short. Like usual lately. I got busy and forgot to get the recipe post up. Too many apples. Too many errands. Too many everything!

Apple butter is like a cross between applesauce and jam. It goes great on pancakes, waffles, muffins, toast, biscuits, and pretty much anything else you'd put jam on. It was really easy to make, too.

Save the peels and cores to make apple jelly. It's easy and tasty and very pretty. I'll post the recipe next week.

Apple Butter

12 apples
cold water
lemon juice
3 or 4 quart crockpot

Wash apples.

Fill a large bowl half full of cold water. Add 2 T. of lemon juice to the water. Set aside.

Peel, core, and slice the apples, dropping them into the lemon water bowl as you work. This helps keep them from turning brown.

Drain the slices and dump into your crockpot. They should fill it pretty much up to the top. Add 1/2 c. water. Sprinkle 2 T. lemon juice over the apple slices. Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours until the apples are soft and starting to fall apart. Stir them really well to break up the chunks. If you stop now, you have applesauce. The apples should have broken down to only fill the crockpot about half-way.

Remove the lid and continue to cook for another 4-8 hours, stirring every hour or two. The applesauce should turn caramel brown as it reduces. When it's really thick and down to about one-third of the starting volume of applesauce, it's done.

Package it into hot pint canning jars and process to seal. OR let it cool down and put into airtight containers and keep in the fridge for up to a month.

Makes about 2 pints of apple butter.

Monday, October 9, 2017

My Sasquatch Story

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I've been researching folklore lately. You can't live near the Cascade Mountains and NOT research Bigfoot, aka Sasquatch, at least a little. Giant hairy apes living in the forests that instinctively know how to avoid scientists and people with good cameras? Yeah, right. I'm usually a skeptic.

But, years ago, I had my own close encounter with Sasquatch.

I was just a few days shy of my twelfth birthday. My dad had decided to take me and some of my siblings on a backpacking trip with one of his friends in the Uinta Mountains in Utah. The plan was that we'd live on ramen, hot chocolate packets, and the loads of fresh trout we were going to catch.

Early one morning, Dad, his friend, and my older brother had gone off to a nearby lake to go fishing. My sisters and I were back at the camp next to another lake. I didn't want to fish, so I went off exploring around the lake. The fish weren't biting.

These lakes weren't very big, but there were a lot of them in the area. It's beautiful country. We were the only humans for miles around. Or so we thought.

I came around one end of the lake and found a stretch of muddy bank. And right in the middle of the mud, was the biggest footprint I think I've ever seen. It looked like a barefoot human foot, but not even my dad had feet that big. He'd also gone the opposite direction.

I poked around, looking to see if someone else was camping, but found no trace of anyone in the area. Just that lone footprint.

To this day, I have no idea where it came from. Did Bigfoot come to the lake to drink during the night leaving only his bare footprint behind? Maybe.

I halfway hope that's the truth, because I'd love to believe there's a lot more mysteries on this planet than we think.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Thursday Recipe - Chowder Base

I have neglected to post this recipe. Clam Chowder is one of my all-time favorite soups. This recipe is a great base to build on for many types of soup. Feel free to add in clams for clam chowder, corn for corn chowder, or whatever else you like.

Chowder Base

2 T. butter
1/2 c. onion, chopped small
1/2 c. diced celery
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small carrot, diced small
3 medium potatoes, diced
1 T. chicken boullion
1 t. salt
1/2 t. ground black pepper
4 c. hot water
2 c. milk or cream
2 T. cornstarch

Melt butter in a large pot. Add onion. Cook and stir for a few minutes, until onion is soft. Add celery and garlic. Cook for another  minute. Add in carrot, potatoes, chicken boullion, salt, pepper, and water. Cover and simmer for about an hour, until vegetables are tender.

Mix milk and cornstarch. Stir into soup. Simmer on low for about ten minutes until soup thickens. Adjust seasonings if needed.

*For clam chowder - add 1 can of clams with the milk.
*For corn chowder - add 1 can of corn with the potatoes, do not drain

Monday, October 2, 2017

Fun Anthology - Tales from the Underground

I've got a story in this collection. They all involve caves and/or underground. The genres are mixed - science fiction, fantasy, and horror.

It's up for pre-order now. The book will be delivered October 6, so grab it while the grabbing's good!

Tales from the Underground: Twelve tales of hidden legends

Under our feet lie countless realms of possibility. Join twelve writers as they explore those realms - discovering lands of fantasy, lands from our far future, lands of mystery. 

There are places full of wonders, full of terrors, full of visions of what could be. 

Join us, down here, in the dark.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Thursday Recipe - Chicken Cordon Bleu (GF and cow free!)

I love chicken cordon bleu, but it doesn't love me back. The original dish is a chicken breast pounded flat, layered with ham and swiss cheese, then rolled up, coated in bread crumbs and fried to delicious crispiness. It's a massive gall bladder attack, heart attack, cholesterol nightmare; but it's so tasty...

So I decided to make a more diet-friendly version. And while I was at it, I decided to make it gluten free so my daughter could eat it too. But that also meant we had to swap out the cheese for a sheep cheese. (Can't do goat cheese because I'm allergic to it.)

So if you aren't gluten-free, go ahead and use regular panko bread crumbs. If the cheese isn't a problem for you, use your favorite cheese. I recommend swiss cheese, but havarti, provolone, or monterey jack would also work well.

For the ham, choose whatever deli ham you like best—canadian bacon, black forest ham, honey smoked ham, or whatever sounds good to you. I like using the natural hams mostly because the chemicals added to most deli meats give me issues. Me and my GI tract need to have a long talk about reacting to things...

Chicken Cordon Bleu

4 chicken breasts
8 slices of deli ham
8 slices of Manchego cheese (sheep cheese from Costco - delicious!)
1 egg
1 c. gluten-free bread crumbs or gluten-free croutons, crushed fine
chopped parsley for garnish

Lay a chicken breast flat on a cutting board. Slice it horizontally into two thinner pieces. Repeat for the other three breasts.

Flatten each chicken breast by pounding it with a meat hammer or a rolling pin. You want them fairly thin.

Lay a slice of ham and cheese on each breast piece. Roll it up with the ham and cheese on the inside. Use a toothpick to hold the rolls closed.

Beat the egg with 1 T. of water.

Bread the chicken rolls by dipping them into the egg, then into the bread crumbs. If you use croutons, no need to add extra seasonings. Otherwise, you can add 1/2 t. of oregano or sage to the bread crumbs. Place seam side down in a greased baking dish.

Bake at 375° for 20-30 minutes, until chicken is no longer pink and breading is nice and crispy. Sprinkle with parsley.

Makes 8 servings - size depends on how big the chicken breasts were to start with.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Garden Stories

This is a story of the little garden in my backyard. It produces tons of veggies and fruits. My husband was in charge of planting it this year so we ended up with an interesting mix that wasn't what I had planned but it's okay. My husband is a casual gardener. He weeds maybe once a month when the weeds get higher than the veggies or he convinces me to go out with him.

My husband also believes in letting volunteer squash and tomatoes grow. Many of the varieties you plant are hybrids, so when they cross-pollinate, you get some very weird varieties. We got red pear tomatoes one year and teeny tiny red cherry tomatoes another. This year, we have some weird squash. Tasty, but weird. They look like zucchini, sort of. We just picked one that looks like a zucchini shaped acorn squash. Can't wait to cut into it to see what it tastes like. Others are a cross between delicata and zucchini. Mild tasting and less wet than zucchini, they worked great in zucchini bread and stir fry.

We also have these - tigger melons. They're about baseball size and taste a lot like a honeydew except not quite as sweet. They're an heirloom variety of muskmelon.

Maybe next year I'll plant my flowerbed of okra that I wanted to do this year.

What weird fruits or veggies have you tried that are not the normal stuff? Did it grow well for you? What did you do with it? I'd love recipes or other fun stuff.

Now to get back to making tigger melon jam. New experiment for me. I'll do a recipe post on it if it turns out.