Friday, December 19, 2014

FOODFIC: Firelight - Sophie Jordan

Jacinda’s got a lot going on. New town, new school, new friends: one of the plain old girl variety, one of the not-so-plain (and not-so-strictly-friend-zoned) boy variety. Everything in her life is different now…except her mom’s five-cheese macaroni with unique blend of herbs.

Of course, this particular dish is made especially delicious because Mom is a Verda draki – the kind that know everything there is to know about herbs, specifically how to optimize them into food and medicines. In other words, the exact type of dragon descendant you want your mom to be.

Maybe I should back up.

Jacinda’s unique family tree boasts glorious traditional dragons of yore, as well as the evolved creatures of more recent generations like herself who have the ability to shift to human form. But even though Jacinda can attend a normal high school and live a regular teen existence, she wants to live in the fog-cloaked mountains, manifesting into her dragon form at will and feeling the wind caress her gossamer wings.

So the above-mentioned comfort food is Mom’s attempt to make a home where it is not – not just because the new home is a moldy pool house in the back yard of a snoopy old lady (a pool house to a pool that she won’t even let them use), but because the dry desert town is the complete opposite of the lush, protected land she had to leave behind.

It’s all part of Mom’s plan to kill Jacinda. Yes, really. Okay, not to make her dead dead, but to destroy the draki part of her so that the family can in every way move on from the past. The past that includes both the old home and the rest of the draki tribe…and also that tribe’s plan to breed Jacinda because of her generations-unique fire-breathing ability.

Mom knows they can’t go back (and at some level Jacinda does, too) to their old lives (and selves), so busting out the special macaroni is her only move. All she can do is nourish Jacinda’s body, while continuing to starve Jacinda’s soul. Supposedly for her own good. But it sure doesn’t feel that way to Jacinda every time she chokes on the dry desert air that burns her draki lungs…

Thursday, December 11, 2014

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Lauren Clark, Author of Pie Girls

As I was getting close to finishing my novel, Pie Girls, I planned an entire weekend taste-testing the very best recipes to include in my novel.  The Pie Girls storyline centers on Searcy Roberts, a Southern belle who has her life upended when her husband leaves her for another man. She returns home to Fairhope, Ala., where she takes over running the family pie business for her ailing mother.

During my Pie-tastic taste-testing weekend, I prepared 9 pies in three days for my two boys, my friends, and neighbors using my grandmother’s recipes. I selected something simple and sweet, something decadent and chocolate, and something light and tart to round out the selections—chess pie, chocolate pecan pie, and lemon sponge pie. All three recipes are included in the novel, along with my grandmother’s amazing-no fail pie crust recipe.

If you’ve never had chess pie, I highly recommend it. It’s a Southern delicacy that is simple to make, has a hint of caramel, and contains butter, sugar, eggs, cornmeal, and milk. Searcy, my heroine in Pie Girls, makes chess pie, along with many others, and discovers that she has a true talent for baking up desserts that delight. She transforms, eventually, over the course of many mishaps and unexpected challenges, from spoiled shopaholic to savvy business owner.

As anyone who bakes can attest, there is a certain amount of satisfaction that comes from creating a lush, delicious dessert with one’s two hands. Similarly, the act of baking pies is therapeutic for Searcy, a task that helps her overcome her shattered dreams and move on with her life.

My grandmother’s blueberry pie is one recipe that I didn’t include in the book, but is one that I make often, and would like to share with you today. It’s easy, only takes a few ingredients, and is perfect for a weekend gathering or family supper. I hope that you enjoy it! 

Delicious & Easy Blueberry Pie 

1 qt fresh blueberries
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp tapioca
1 tbsp butter
¼ tsp salt
1 tbsp lemon juice
½ cup white sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 (baked) Best Ever pie crust from Pie Girls or one Deep Dish 9” pie shell

Mix half of the blueberries, flour, tapioca, butter, salt, lemon juice, and both sugars in a saucepan. Cook over medium to low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens, approximately 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat. 

Add remaining half of blueberries. Stir well. Pour into baked pie shell. Chill until set. Top with whipped cream if desired.

 Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Lauren!

You can find Lauren here:

And her books here:

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Thursday, December 4, 2014

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Nick Cato, Author of Don of the Dead


Calamari is popular in many Asian and Italian dishes. In Italian/American culture, calamari is considered a rite of passage; when you finally enjoy it, you’re no longer a child, but on your way to having adult tastes. While many people have no problem eating squid when it is cut into rings and deep fried and drowned in marinara or hot sauce, those who are too timid to sample the mini tentacle clusters are missing the true flavor and aura of calamari.

In my debut novel, DON OF THE DEAD (2009 Coscom Entertainment), there are several dinner scenes, which is befitting of a gangster tale. Pasta is served at every meal, and calamari is too, sometimes to an absurd degree. One of the older mobsters is even nick-named Carl “The Calamari.” He eats calamari with every meal. He has been known to toss some rings onto his corn flakes, or stuff some fried tentacles into his roast beef hero. Rumor has it a dish of the prized seafood was placed between Carl and his wife on their wedding night. In the novel, side characters are seen eating calamari, and its presence in the background—I believe—helped to give much of the proceedings a genuine Eye-Talian feel.

As a kid, I was almost afraid to look at someone eating squid. It grossed me out. But when I entered my early teens, my grandfather told me one Sunday afternoon at the dinner table to “knock it off” and try a piece. I’ve been hooked ever since. And so are the characters in DON OF THE DEAD. Calamari is their treat. It’s the little side dish and neighbor to the main meal that keeps them focused, that helps them to feel everything is right with the world.

And in the New York underground, that’s an important state of mind to be in.

Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Nick!

You can find Nick and his books here: