Thursday, January 31, 2013

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Guest Samantha Stroh Bailey, Author of Finding Lucas

Finding Lucas centers around Jamie Ross, a 32 year old associate television producer for Chicago’s sleaziest daytime talk show. She’s just about ready to end her toxic five year relationship with her bad boy turned metrosexual boyfriend and head off on a hilarious and life changing hunt to track down the love who got away. And Jamie wouldn’t be the fiery and sassy woman she is without her beloved and holistically nutritious family.

Jamie is a coffee loving carnivore and the total opposite of her health conscious mother, Leah, a crystal healer and colonic herbalist who shuns coffee, meat, sugar and anything chemical. Jamie, on the other hand, craves anything that Leah thinks might be bad for her body.

I created these two diametrically opposed eaters because of my own struggle to eat healthier and make sense of the organic world. I have always believed that everything is okay in moderation, be it meat, cheese, coffee and sugar. However, it’s interesting that my husband and many friends are vegetarians, my sister-in-law and brother-in-law grow their own food and have chickens to lay eggs and most of my loved ones are very aware of what they eat. In Jamie, I created a food rebel.

Growing up in a warm, loving and toxin free environment, Jamie always felt like she didn’t quite belong. And without her daily dose of caffeine, Jamie would never make it through the day. Navigating a difficult childhood with parents unlike any others in her suburban neighborhood, Jamie ate spelt bread and soy milk for snacks (in the 90s!) and distanced herself from her family as much as she could.

Food plays a major role in one of the most talked about scenes in Finding Lucas when Jamie, her stepmother, sister and Leah are all having lunch with Jamie’s boss, Andrew. 

"Do you want some tea, Andrew?" Katie asks as she pulls five mugs down from the shelf.

"Do you have any coffee?" he asks.

Four heads swivel to look at him in shock.

"That word is blasphemy in this house. No caffeine, no sugar, no meat. But there is a vast assortment of tea," I tell him.

"Um, sure, tea would be great then. I feel so damn good. I haven't felt this loose in," and he rubs his chin, "huh, years. I haven't felt this relaxed in years."

"That's funny. David does that," Leah says to Andrew with interest.

"Dad does what?" I ask.

"Rubs his chin with one hand when he's thinking about something."

"Oh, that's just one of my little habits. I also grind my jaw like Jamie."

"Do you have a navel ring like Rachel's?" I ask.

"No. But I do have a tattoo on my hip. Katie saw it," he says and winks at Katie who flushes with pleasure.

Where did Mr. Charm come from? Jeez, he is just full to the brim with surprising character traits.

"Could I have some tea too, please?" I ask.

I don't want to sit at the kitchen table and chitchat about Andrew's tattoo because before he knows it, they'll have convinced him to take off his pants to show them. 

"Of course, love. Katie, mix in a little of that mulch we bought. Jamie's color needs some perking up," Leah says and peers at my pores.

"Just plain tea, please."

I move my face back so she'll stop inspecting me. It's embarrassing.

How people eat relates to how they see the world and their place in it. Jamie just wants to find hers. And though she goes through a major transformation and comes to appreciate her family more than she ever has, you’ll still never find her without a cup of coffee plastered to her lips.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your food for thought, Samantha!

                    You can find Samantha here:
Samantha Stroh Bailey                    Goodreads 
Twitter @PerfectPen                         Facebook

And Finding Lucas here:

Amazon                 Kobo

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Toastworthy Teens - Anastasia Roda

Anastasia Roda, Ecosystem Researcher

19-year-old Anastasia Roda is focusing on environmental studies and marine biology at Harvard and is keeping the option of a law degree open. But impressive as that is, her toastworthiness predates her acceptance to the prestigious university.

When she was only 15, Anastasia began to worry about the proximity of the nation’s oldest nuclear power plant (Oyster Creek Generating Station) to the bay where she spent her summers. To determine whether or not her concern had merit, she began studying the ecosystems of the creeks near the plant. 

Proving that the creeks closest to the power plant had higher temperatures, faster currents, and created higher bacteria levels downstream (than a control creek 7 miles away) led to several awards for Anastasia, including the American Museum of Natural History’s Young Naturalist Award.

If you are (or know) another such talented teen researcher, enter next year’s contest here:

Do you know a toast-worthy teen you’d like to see featured here at BWATE? 
Comment below with your email address so we can get a post together!

Friday, January 25, 2013

FOODFIC: Dirty Little Secrets - C.J. Omololu

This is the hardest FoodFic post I’ve had to write so far; in fact, I actually finished the book almost a month ago and am just getting my thoughts together now. My procrastination isn’t a result of my not liking the story; on the contrary – once I got to a certain point, I couldn’t put it down.

No, the trouble is that something major happens very early on (chapter 2, to be exact) that makes almost anything I might say here a spoiler, which is something I try to avoid at all costs. (Apparently the cost here will my sounding completely cryptic and odd. :) So I’ll just say what I can in the best way I’m able and know that when you read the book yourselves, you’ll understand. 

In this book, the “dirty little secret” is that Lucy’s mom’s a hoarder. Now, I’ve seen enough episodes of Buried Alive to know what sort of food I should expect in this story – old, moldy, rotten, forgotten…you get the idea. And it’s all here: petrified pizza boxes and takeout containers full of food that had sat long enough to congeal into one black, furry, mess, a no-longer-used sink full of a dark brown mass that…looked like chocolate pudding, and a plastic grocery bag full of some gelatinous brown goo that was probably produce at one point. It’s enough to make you throw up, really – even if you’re expecting it – and more horrifying still because it’s so accurate. 

What I hadn’t pre-known, however, was the shame felt by the children of hoarders; they’re embarrassed and scared that other people might find out their family secret, as well as terrified of being thought of as dirty or gross by their peers. I found this both eye-opening and eye-wetting – another way kids suffer internally and externally because of their parents’ failings. 

Omololu certainly gave me some food for thought with this one, and I particularly loved that she included a website ( at the end of the narrative for the real-life Lucys out there.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Toastworthy Teens - Matthew Petronis

 Matthew Petronis, Breezy Point Disaster Relief Fund

For most people, Thanksgiving is pretty much synonymous with "home." That's why it was so devastating for Matthew Petronis to see the beloved Breezy Point community where he'd spent all of his 18 Thanksgivings go up in flames as part of the Hurricane Sandy destruction.

By the time the fire was subdued, more than 100 houses had been lost...and within hours Matthew had set up the first fundraising tool to help those newly homeless families. In the month between the Oct. 29th tragedy and Thanksgiving Day, Matthew's relief fund collected almost $80,000 in donations, all while Matthew (whose baseball coach calls "a free spirit, yet a caring kid [with] that New York can-do attitude") managed a full college freshman course load. 

To help Matthew help others, visit:

Do you know a toast-worthy teen you’d like to see featured here at BWATE? 
Comment below with your email address so we can get a post together!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Guest Lorne Oliver, Author of Red Island

In the interest of showing rather than telling, I thought the best way to give you a glimpse into the life of my book's hero (Sgt. Reid) was to sit him down for a little imaginary lunch and let you spy on us from the next table over. ;)
Bon appetit!

“What’s going on?”

“Nothing.” I motion to the chair across the table from me.

The man pulls out the chair and sinks into it. He’s getting wrinkles around his eyes and I bet if he let his hair grow more than the light stubble there would be a fair bit of grey. He says, “You know I’m busy, right? I’m trying to catch the killer of little girls, so I can’t be sitting around.”

“You went to Yogi’s bar and almost missed your couples’ therapy.”

“You haven’t written that scene yet, so technically I haven’t done it yet.”

Out of nervous habit my hand goes to the pen sitting on my black cover notebook. I give him a little smile. “It’s in my head so that has to count for something.”

“You and I both know what’s in your head doesn’t always make the page.”

I have to give him that.

His name is Reid, Sgt. Reid. Okay, that sounded corny. I know his first name, but he has sworn me to secrecy because he hates it and never uses it. Even his wife just calls him, Reid. He is in the Major Crimes Unit of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Prince Edward Island, Canada. His marriage is on the rocks, he has impure thoughts towards his partner, and no matter where he goes the mistakes of his past seem to follow. Namely killing the only suspect is a pedophile killer case, which made him move across the country to “the gentle island.”

“Gentle island my ass,” he snorts.

“Don’t read my mind.”

“I’m in your mind.”

A small white plate appears in front of each of us. In the center of the plate is a perfectly seared scallop sitting on a warm salad of grilled corn, quartered cherry tomatoes, and a light honey-lime vinaigrette. On top of the scallop are a couple of tiny pea shoots.

“You’re buttering me up for something,” he says as he picks up his fork and knife.

I take a bite of the scallop. “I thought I’d give you some PEI fare. Next is my seafood chowder with shrimp, haddock, clams, North side lobster, and mussels. After that it’s the island favorite of New York strip loin with a peppercorn sauce and mashed potatoes.” I can tell the curiosity is growing in his eyes as I go through our menu. “For dessert I was going to have sticky date cake with a toffee sauce. Yum.” My eyes go wide. I put another piece of scallop in my mouth with some of the salad.

Reid stops. His fork was about to enter his mouth with the last of his scallop speared on the tongs, but now sits suspended in air. He slowly puts it in his mouth and chews, but the taste is not what is on his mind.

“What?” I don’t want to look at him in the eyes. In many ways Reid is like me only I pictured him looking like a cross between Bosco from the TV show Third Watch and Detective Baylis from my favorite cop show, Homicide: Life on the Street. The season Baylis had the really short hair.

As the first plate goes away and a bowl appears with wonderfully creamy seafood chowder, Reid stares me down. “First of all, you never say, ‘yum.’ And secondly, what the hell is going on? Are you filing me in the round filing cabinet or what?”

I can’t keep it from him. It’s nothing like that.” Trashing hi? Sgt. Reid, Hillary, Sgt. Marilyn Moore, Eckhart, the Red Island Killer – they have been a big part of my life for the past two, almost three years. I can’t remember how many emails I have sent and how many hours I have interviewed actual RCMP officers to get the realism. I don’t study the inner workings of serial killers for fun. I clear my throat before continuing. “I’ve got us a publisher. Split Tree Publishing out of my home town is going to put most of what they have on my shoulders as their first big author.

His lips twitch a little toward a smile, but the man who has interviewed many criminals and witnesses won’t let anything go by. “And?”

“We are going through Red Island with a fine tooth comb and, as you know, I’m working on the second draft of Forever Screaming.”

“And?” He takes a spoonful of the chowder and his expression lightens.

Forever Screaming won’t be out until mid-September with Red Island being re-released a week or two before that.”

Reid makes a noise with a mouthful of diced potato and seafood that came from the waters around the island.

“But we’re going to have to stop selling Red Island soon.” I watch him put his spoon down. “But that means I can focus more on the next books for a little while.”

For a few minutes Reid says nothing. He only eats his chowder.

While living on PEI I learned how to make really good seafood chowder. One of the restaurants I worked at had a lot of customers with allergies so I learned how to make the chowder using no flour or cream, but tons of flavor.

“So is that it for me then?” Reid asks when he is finished the soup.

I shake my head. “Of course not. I’m still selling the copy that is out there for a couple more months, I think. And then we’ll start teasing people with little snippets of Forever Screaming. And there’s more books to write and more crimes for you to solve.”

“So the copy of Red Island that is out there now could be a collector’s then? If you make it big that is.”

My face flushes. “That’s so many steps down the line, Ha-“

“Don’t go there.”

The empty chowder bowls go away as a plate of steak and potatoes appears with a dark rich sauce oozing out. Some sautéed wild picked chanterelle mushrooms sit beside the meat adding a vibrant orange color to the plate.

Sgt. Reid holds up his mug of Alexander Keith’s and simply says, “Here’s to the future.”

Thanks for sharing your food for thought, Lorne (and Sgt. Reid)!

You can find Lorne here: