Friday, September 8, 2017

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Dina Santorelli, Author of Baby Grand



Mob storylines usually involve a smorgasbord of Italian food—pasta, sauce, bread, lots of bread, and all kinds of pastries. In my mind’s eye, when I think of books and movies about organized crime, I picture bulky, menacing-looking guys stirring big pots of sauce and probably the most memorable line from The Godfather: “Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.”

In Baby Grand, the first book in my thriller trilogy, a bunch of mob guys are living temporarily in the home of a man named Don Bailino, who has just orchestrated the kidnapping of the baby daughter of New York Governor Phillip Grand. Bailino has also abducted a down-and-out writer named Jamie Carter whom he then forces to care for the child while he and the others work to delay the execution of mobster Gino Cataldi, who is on death row.

Rather than have the usual smells of tomato sauce, basil, and oregano permeate Bailino’s home or have the mobsters hang out in front of a pork store, a la The Sopranos, or make frequent visits to a local Italian bakery, I keep the food spare—and, overall, quite healthy. Cheerios (for the baby, perhaps). Apples. Grapes.

The reason? Don Bailino isn’t your everyday mobster.

In one scene, he bakes brownies—carefully using a knife to coat the top of a brownie with frosting, an image that makes him seem more like Martha Stewart than a mob guy. I did this to depict the complexity of Bailino, a guy who uses knives to kill but also to bake. A guy who can be as sweet as he is ruthless. A man who is meticulous about his work, be it in the kitchen or in a back alley.

Bailino eventually presents those brownies to Jamie Carter who is upstairs in his bedroom. What will Jamie do? And where is the baby?

I could tell you what happens next, but I’d have to kill you.


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



You can find Dina here:





Thursday, August 17, 2017

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Jack Scott, Author of Perking the Pansies



Turkish cuisine is justifiably famed as one of the world’s greatest. The Sultan’s table overflowed with extravagant bounty from the vast Ottoman domains that once stretched across three continents. The empire may be history, but food – preparing it, eating it, sharing it – is still of enormous cultural importance to all Turks regardless of status and income. So it’s small wonder the simple act of eating plays a starring role in both of my memoirs, Perking the Pansies and its sequel, Turkey Street. Here’s a soupçon…


Mini dishes of Turkish tasters flew out from Beril’s kitchen as she launched her mission to spice up our bland English palates, something she approached with the unrestrained fervour of a TV evangelist. Like her parents before her, Beril had never ventured into Europe beyond the city limits of old Istanbul but had heard terrible tales about British cuisine, a culinary travesty, all fish ‘n’ chips, pork scratchings, over-boiled carrots, scurvy and mad cow disease.

‘Eat!’ she would scream, sliding another exotic sample onto our table. ‘Is good. Eat!’

We would comply like scolded children, tucking into her braised artichoke hearts, garlic-roasted aubergines, sautéed spinach or white bean goo, salivating even before the first mouthful.

‘Süper!’ we would shout over to Beril as she puffed on a Black Russian Sobranie, looking on and waiting for every last scrap to be devoured. ‘Le-zz-et-li! De-li-cious!’



When our new next-door neighbours moved in, Liam and I were on edge. What if they were a couple of old stick-in-the-muds rolling out the prayer mats? After all, we were an unabashed gay couple living in a Muslim land, something as rare as ginger imams. We were mightily relieved to be greeted by Beril and Vadim, an unconventional couple from Ankara. He was a retired percussionist, she a fiery brunette half his height and half his age. And they were living in sin which made them just as damned as us. Their English was dreadful and our mastery of the language of the sultans was close to tragic. Despite the language barrier, over time Beril and I developed a sweet affinity. With Liam often back in London on family duty and, likewise, Vadim in Ankara, Beril kept my pecker up with freshly-baked treats from her kitchen. We ate, we smoked, we drank and we laughed. And when Beril felt totally at ease, she shared the secret about her older brother.

Our all too brief time in Turkey was a kaleidoscope for the senses – so many extraordinary sights, unexpected events and vivid characters like Beril. I just had to put pen to paper, first in a blog, then in the memoirs. Turkey made a writer of me. Who’d have thought? Certainly not me.


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



You can find Jack here:





Thursday, August 10, 2017

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Deborah Shilan & Linda Reid, Authors of Dead Air



Dead Air, Vibrant Cuisine!

What’s the #1 College Team in New England?  The delivery crew from Luigi’s Pizza, of course.  Luigi’s is Ellsford University’s championship greasy spoon, where fraternity men and sorority sisters rub shoulders with bespectacled graduate students, exhausted medical students, and varsity athletes.  The hangout is a treasure trove for campus radio talk show host cum investigative reporter Sammy Greene, whose alert ears pick up on local gossip for her show as Ellsford students chow down on tsunamis of mozzarella, pepperoni, bacon and sausage.  Daring rebels order pineapple on their pies, but, to the relief of all, there is nary a vegetable in sight.  Despite tasty toppings, something is rotten in the State of Vermont.  In Dead Air, Ellsford University students and faculty are disappearing or dying, and it’s Sammy to the rescue with a variety of suspects stirring the pot at the Ivy League school.
 
Soon after Professor Barton Conrad buzzes his alarm, his goose is cooked; and it’s Sammy and her on-and-off boyfriend, medical student Reed Wyndham sniffing out suspects.  Sammy and Reed are feeling the heat from corrupt coaches, aggressive sports stars, animal rights protesters, and crusty campus cop, Gus Pappajohn, whose sinecure has turned into a forum for activism and ecoterrorism directed at the college’s new multimillion-dollar Nitshi Research Institute which funds the pharmaceutical research of Reed’s mentor, Dr. Marcus Palmer.  Even Gus’ love for tasty pastitsio can’t stop the churning in his stomach as the body count mounts.

Sammy’s nose for news takes her to her childhood haunts in New York City, where she was raised after her mother’s suicide by her Bubbe Rose.  She’s ripe for rescue by Sergeant Gus, who provides tasty respite at a church Greek Festival near his sister’s home in Boston as they drive home to Vermont.  At the Fair, Sammy gets to sample the home-cooking flavors of eggplant soufflé Moussaka, flaky filo-wrapped Spanakopitas, sizzling beef and chicken Souvlaki, and cheesy Tiropites.  Just like (Greek) Mom’s.  Energized by her Mediterranean dietary excursion, Sammy is back on the trail—providing readers a delicious recipe of mystery, murder, thrills, and chills, as she uncovers the charred underside of her higher education home.

Enjoy great Mediterranean dishes as you share Sammy’s culinary and sleuthing adventures in Dead Air! 


Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Deborah and Linda!




You can find the authors here:








Friday, August 4, 2017

FOODFIC: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children - Ransom Riggs



Riggs isn’t kidding – the children* certainly are peculiar.

Emma can make fire with her hands.

Millard is invisible.

Hugh has bees living in his stomach.

There’s also Olive, the levitating girl, and Claire, who is a backmouth. (I’ll let you read the book to discover what that is on your own.)

And it’s not just the children who have “gifts;” their headmistress Miss Peregrine can in fact morph into a bird at will!

So it stands to reason that the food this strange cast partakes in must also be “special,” right?

Not so much.

Newcomer Jacob joins them for a dinner consisting of: a roasted goose, its flesh a perfect golden brown; a whole salmon and a whole cod, each outfitted with lemons and fresh dill and pats of melting butter; a bowl of steamed mussels; platters of roasted vegetables; loaves of bread still cooling from the oven; and all manner of jellies and sauces [he] didn’t recognize.

Okay, maybe that’s not a typical American dinner, but Jacob has come a very long way - to a remote island off the coast of Wales - to find these peculiars from his grandfather’s stories, so you have to take regional culture into account. More interesting still - it’s not only great distance he has covered, but also time. Again, you’re on your own to discover in which era this meal would most likely be served…and if Jacob will make it back.



*Or syndrigast, to use the venerable language of [the] ancestors. 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Juli D. Revezzo, Author of House of Dark Envy



In  my latest novel, House of Dark Envy, my heroine Sarahjane is a young painter so when she has a chance to study with a painting master, she jumps at the chance.

She is surprised to learn, however, that though she stays in the master’s house, she’s also left with the run of it, while he goes off gallivanting around town. For a young lady in the 19th century, this was  a strange things she deals with, mostly young ladies were followed around by mothers and chaperones and not allowed such freedom. Running of the house of course means dinners so she pretty much does what she wants in terms of meals, as far as the markets allowed. This was, of course, before you could run off to the store to buy any ole thing, regardless of whether it was in season or not.

Aside from her meals, she drinks a lot of tea. For most people, tea is the first thing they think of, when they think of Victorian Britain, and Sarahjane’s daily repast was no different. Though she never frequents a tea room, at least during her educational stay in York, she does consume the popular drink with a few little dainty sandwiches or cakes, if she’s hungry enough!

It’s an interesting tradition and one that many partake of today, even in the United States. My grandmother used to have her tea every day like clockwork, and I can say I myself have gone to a high tea.

Okay, okay, I wasn’t all decked out in Victorian finery but it happened! I have the pictures to prove it. :) In looking into what-all else she might have, the Britons ate differently than we Americans. There’s sausage and ham—and tomatoes, of all things, to comprise their breakfasts. Which sounds a lot more like lunch to me. More often than not, I can see her just having a biscuit and a bit of tea. Something she can eat with one hand, while painting with the other. :)



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




You can find Juli here:








Synopsis of House of Dark Envy:

Surely, lightning can’t strike twice...

1888: When Sarahjane attends Lady Morville’s costume party, she never expects to learn her old beau Felix Gryffith is under the illustrious woman’s patronage and stands on the cusp of making a world-changing discovery. Felix, whose lies disgraced her in the eyes of the London elite by labeling her a flirt.

Felix’s love for Sarahjane has never wavered, despite the scandal that forced them apart. He’s desperate to tell her the truth, if he can convince her to listen.

Fate lurked in the shadows that night, years ago. Has it returned to grant Sarahjane and Felix their wishes, or terrorize them?



Works cited:
Articles about English breakfasts:
https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/jul/21/how-to-make-full-english-breakfast

Friday, July 21, 2017

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Cory Putman Oakes, Author of WITCHTOWN



There are few things I take more seriously than books and food. Put those two things together and I really go nuts. When I was writing my young adult novel, WITCHTOWN, a lot of my writing research revolved around food.

WITCHTOWN is a story about a sixteen year old girl named Macie and her mother who travel between witch-only towns (called havens) robbing people. They must ingratiate themselves with the folks at each new haven they arrive at, and one of their methods of doing this is trying to assert their spiritual superiority by maintaining a raw vegan diet.

I decided to try raw veganism for myself so I could write about it more realistically. I’ve been a vegetarian since I was thirteen so I figured it would be no big deal – I figured wrong! The idea behind raw veganism is that you eat no animal-derived products at all, and no food that has been heated above 104 degrees. Unlike vegetarianism, which is really just about substituting different protein sources into your diet, raw veganism requires a completely different approach to shopping, preparing, and eating food. I committed to the diet for one full week. You can follow the whole story over on my blog (Starting here on DAY 0: http://www.corypoakes.com/news-and-events/in-the-name-of-writing-research-my-raw-vegan-adventure/) but the highlights included: rampant cheese cravings, raw “lasagna,” a new appreciation for raw vegan desserts, raw vegan date night with my (carnivorous) husband, and victory pizza at midnight on Day #7.

To make things more interesting for my raw vegan main character, I had her develop a friendship with Gayle, the Witchtown baker. To make Gayle (and her bakery) as real as possible, I spoke at length with a wonderful pagan food blogger (http://recipesforapagansoul.weebly.com) who helped me to come up with all sorts of delightful (NOT raw vegan) baked goods to torture Macie with – including Gayle’s signature scones. (The recipe is on my website: http://www.corypoakes.com/books/witchtown/recipe-gayles-lemony-thyme-scones/) They are lemony, herby, and totally perfect for the Summer Solstice (or whatever special occasion you happen to be celebrating). I make them all the time!

I also really got into pagan holiday recipes. I’m most proud of my Summer Solstice cakes and pies (they’ve become an annual tradition in my house). But I also love the mini pumpkin pies I made for Autumn Equinox one year, and the wassail and Yule Log cake I did for Winter Solstice.

In short, the research for WITCHTOWN was as fun as it was delicious and it’s left me with family traditions and recipes that we’ll continue to enjoy for years to come – as well as a book I’m really proud of. I hope you enjoy reading about the food in WITCHTOWN just as much as I enjoyed writing about it!


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



You can find Cory here:





Thursday, July 13, 2017

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Holly Robinson, Author of Folly Cove



Nothing Brings People Together Like an Eiffel Tower Cake...and Other Fictional Follies
By Holly Robinson


A confession: I am not a cook. My husband is the cook. In fact, he won me over on our first date because he took what looked like a wilted spinach leaf, a solitary egg, and a piece of yarn—okay, maybe not yarn—and made me a delectable omelet.

Me? The first time I cooked for him, it was lasagna made with no-boil noodles and a jar of no-name red sauce. But he married me anyway, God bless him.

However, the best thing about being a fiction writer (other than working in your sweats most of the time) is that you can be an expert at ANYTHING. In the six novels I have published so far, I have been a painter, a potter, a DJ, a real estate agent, a construction worker, a secretary, a PR executive, a competitive equestrienne, a sheep farmer, a therapist, a backpacker in the Himalayas, and—wait for it—a fabulous cook!

Of course, doing all of these jobs requires a combination of real life experience (I took pottery lessons and horseback riding lessons) and research. Cooking is the toughest thing I've ever written about in a novel by far, since I'm the sort of person who is likely to text her husband emergency questions like this: “Should I have taken the plastic wrap off the chicken pie before I put it in?”

For my newest novel, Folly Cove, I was pushing every envelope by having the characters not only be great cooks (these three sisters grew up in an inn, after all), but ace bakers, too. This meant researching the sorts of foods typically served in historic New England inns (prime rib or lobster, anyone?) and how they were made.

And, as a bonus, I had these three sisters organize a birthday party for their mother, Sarah, despite the fact that Sarah has not always been the most loving mother and has some pretty dark secrets, starting with the fact that she is not who she says she is...

The cake had to be as extreme and elegant as Sarah has always seemed. And the birthday party had to have a theme. Finally it came to me: one way of outing Sarah's true identity (and age) would be to have a party based on her favorite movie, An American in Paris, which came out the year she was born—or did it?

And, since the movie is set in Paris, of course the cake had to be shaped like the Eiffel Tower, and big enough to serve lots of guests. Amazingly enough—or maybe not, given how much you can find online these days—I discovered more than one recipe online. Here's one of them:

Did I actually try making the cake myself? Sure. And you can guess how that went.


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



You can find Holly here:




Friday, July 7, 2017

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Stephen Penner, Author of A Lack of Motive



Hello, everyone. Thanks for stopping by, and thanks to Shelley Workinger for inviting me to her blog.

My latest novel, A Lack of Motive, is book #8 In my David Brunelle Legal Thriller Series. These books are set in Seattle, but for this most recent installment, I moved the action to Bellevue, an affluent suburb across Lake Washington from Seattle.

I've lived In Seattle for over 20 years now, and have watched as the city has changed from a smaller, sea-based community to a corporate, high-tech hub. But there are still remnants of the old Seattle hidden, almost out of sight, between the shiny new glass-and-steel skyscrapers. So when my hero, Dave Brunelle, meets an old flame, I knew where they were going to dinner. In part, because I'd just eaten there myself.

Dave's old flame, Victoria Cross is rich, much richer than my public servant protagonist. When they decide to catch up over a potentially romantic dinner, he lets her pick the restaurant. He expects a pretentious, overpriced eatery atop one of those office towers. Instead, she directs him to "The Crab Bucket", one of those hidden pearls of old Seattle, tucked between luxury condos that now block its once pleasant view of the lake. And that's when Dave falls for her again, realizing she may be rich, but she's authentic--and not afraid to eat crab in front of him.

...but does it work out? Well, you'll have to read the book to find out.

My books often feature restaurants and cafes. Like a lot of authors, I enjoy exploring the relationships between people. Most commonly, I do this through dialogue, and nothing goes with dialogue quite like a cup of coffee or a good meal. And when one character invites another to a favorite restaurant, it not only shows what that person likes to eat, but it can often reveal what the person is hoping for the relationship. Dave has been taken to cheap diners, fancy restaurants, and now "The Crab Bucket". Each of these places was inspired by a restaurant I've been to myself, and more often than not, my visit was for reasons similar to those of my hero. That's probably why I like writing those scenes so much.


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


You can find Stephen here:





Friday, June 30, 2017

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Jeff Chapman, Author of The Black Blade



Howdy. Jimmy here. I'm the narrator and protagonist of The Black Blade. As a rule, I don't cotton to using highfalutin words like protagonist, but the author says I have to so I'll do as he requests. I reckon it's like my grandma used to say, if you want your green beans to taste like beans, you got to use the proper sized canning jars. My grandma was mighty particular about her canning jars. And her canned green beans always tasted like green beans and not, well, something else. Well, enough literary criticism talk. What in tarnation is literary criticism anyway?

Orville and I are a pair of hucksters. I like to think of us as showmen, giving folks some entertainment to leaven their dull days with good humor. Orville's the master huckster and I'm his apprentice. In The Black Blade, we get ourselves into a heap of terrifying trouble in the weird west. Orville thought we could make a quick and tidy profit helping this strange old man with a knocker haunting his house. I didn't trust the old man's looks, but a team of horses couldn't hold Orville back when there's gold glittering ahead. The old man proved himself as rotten as I speculated. The first talk of food was whether we were going to become food. The old man locked us in a cell with this monster that was a cross between a pig and a wendigo. Nasty piece of work was that creature, and he seemed awful hungry. The old man finally told us what game he was up to. To save Orville from the pig-man, I had to go questing for some enchanted blade. I'd like to share the whole story with you. It's mighty entertaining, but the author says I can't.

The author says I'm supposed to talk about some of the vittles we partake. When Orville and I are out on the trail, we make do with beans and some bacon, if we've got some. Orville complains I'm not too good at beans but I don't see him offering to cook. We wash our meals down with coffee or some good ole cool spring water, if we can find some. Saloon food, like meat pies, are cheap as can be, but I've heard from a reliable source that the barman adds extra salt to everything. The drinks ain't so cheap. And for some cotton-pickin' reason, every time I darken a saloon, I'm served sarsaparilla. I don't mind sarsaparilla, but there's nothing like a hearty beer to wash the trail dust from your parched tongue. We might be adding a new member to our partnership, a second apprentice. The girl's name is Isobel, a little firecracker if there ever was one. She helped me find the black blade and get out of more than a few dangerous scrapes when I figured my goose was cooked, including a shapeshifting coyote that I figured was about to turn me into a meal. According to Isobel, her mama taught her to cook everything from squirrel legs to calves liver. I reckon we might have some more variety to our vittles in the future. Thanks for listening. And if you find yerself at a fair, stop by our tent and let Orville the Oracular tell your fortune.


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



You can find Jeff here:




Thursday, June 15, 2017

FOODFIC: Please Welcome April Michelle Davis, Author of A Princess in Disguise



Princess Margaret has never been forced to be hungry in her life—she has never even been limited to a small selection of food—that is, until she selfishly decides to run away from the palace the night before her father is set to announce whom she would be marrying.

After Princess Margaret leaves the palace, food begins to play an important part in building relationships. Around meals, the atmosphere is a time to connect, learn, and reflect.

Princess Margaret’s first meal outside the palace is with Huntley, a commoner, in a local tavern run by Ackley, a good cook of local foods. Princess Margaret has only had meals served in the palace dining room or that had been brought to her room, so the atmosphere of a tavern, the smells of unfamiliar foods, and even the process of selecting what foods to order from a menu are all new to her. Princess Margaret wants to experience the food that her people eat so when Huntley orders shepherd’s pie, she is surprised and delighted by the smell and taste of the dish.

The food adventures do not end with trying new foods. During the first days at sea, Wes, one of Huntley’s crew members, teaches Princess Margaret how to cook a pot of stew. He shows her how to prepare the meal, how and when to add spices to the stew, and how to taste it as it simmers and cooks—an intimate time between two new friends.

While cooking and having a conversation with Wes, Princess Margaret realizes her people are poor and many must steal food to survive in her father’s kingdom. Cooking time also becomes education time for Princess Margaret, which is ironic because she has been taught by the best tutors, and now by these poor, common fishing men who have had little to no formal education.

In another scene, Huntley offers the chicken-killing job to Princess Margaret since she has expressed that she is strong and can perform labor same as a man. The conversation held as this task is performed teaches Princess Margaret that her people often barter for foods.

Food becomes not simply a form of sustenance for Princess Margaret, but also a time for learning more about the people she will someday lead, and this connection helps her discover her true self.



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


You can find April here: