Archive for the ‘#recipes’ Tag

Kitchens Rule   20 comments

Sept 6, 2021

Does food play an important part in your writing? How about sharing a favorite recipe of one of your characters, or maybe one of yours?

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Food in My Fictional Worlds

Food plays different roles in my fictional worlds, depending on the situation.

Daermad Cycle

I pay attention to details in Daermad Cycle (The Willow Branch and Mirklin Wood, Fount of Wraiths coming this year) as part of the world-building process of a Celtic fantasy world. The characters live in a feudal society where the farmers pay taxes in crops and merchants pay taxes in goods. Coin exists but it’s mainly used by people who sell services — innkeepers, for examples. This dictates the sort of food my characters have access to. The poor rarely eat beef because milk is a renewable protein resource. They know the nobility enjoy beef, so they pay their taxes on the hoof should a male calf be born to their milk cow. Pigs eat ANYTHING and their meat is tasty so poor people are more likely to raise them for meat. Sheep give you great cloth and can be eaten when they get old. Chickens give you eggs (another renewable protein source) and you can eat the extra males. The poor eat a simple diet of meat (often pork, mutton, and poultry) and vegetables (turnips and parsnips since potatoes don’t exist in their world), with barley bread. Barley porridge and bread for breakfast. The reason barley is so common is a function of taxes. The nobility demand a certain amount of wheat but they don’t require barley, so most wheat goes to the nobility in taxes while barley is sold for profit. What wheat is left over is sold to wealthier merchants at a higher profit margin. There are guilds that control the price of wheat to assure the poor can’t really afford it.

There’s also some geographic variation. People who live in the north rarely eat fish because they’re too busy growing food to spend them putting a line and hook in a stream. People who live in the south, along Celdrya’s coast, eat a lot of fish because there are fishermen catching and selling fish. Both the nobility and the commoners eat fish, but they tend to prepare it differently.

In Celdryan society everybody drinks ale because some Celdryans haven’t figured out not to put their midden heaps and outhouses next to the well and the alcohol in ale kills those nasty bugs. Even children drink watered ale. The nobility and wealthy merchants also drink mead and wine, but the wine is imported from Hanalan (a more southerly country), so only the wealthy can afford it. Only very well-healed taverns sell it, but ale comes in two varieties–light and dark. The dark has more alcohol and thus costs more.

The Celdryans eat what might be termed a Euro-medieval diet, but the neighboring Kin eat a more plant-based diet often with wild game meat and rye grain because they live in the mountains. They tend not to keep cattle, preferring goats for their milk and general hardiness. They also keep sheep and tend to eat mutton for special occasions. Drinking spirits is not as common as in Celdrya. Because they live in the mountains, they don’t have worry about human sewage and they actually do know that your outhouse and midden heaps should be far away from the cisterns.

My characters are both nobility and commoners, Celdryan and Kin. Padraig — the part-elven son of a Celdryan nobleman who chose to become a commoner — walks in both worlds, but I try to pay careful attention to what he eats when he’s with one group or the other. It matters. It’s a subtle backdrop to the stratification of society. I don’t draw attention to it, but it’s there for Daermad Cycle readers to notice if they care to.

Transformation Project

In Transformation Project, my characters are starving. It’s the apocalypse after all and food is running out. In the beginning of the series (Life As We Knew It), I spent a lot of effort to concentrate on what they were eating because I knew they’d soon be starving. I described the food Shane, Mike and Alicia ate at a Mediterranean restaurant. I identified the coffee Shane likes to drink. I described breakfast at the Lufgren Farm. I wanted to show that life was normal, even abundant in the life they knew. Even in Objects in View (Book 2), I did a little bit of food (and booze) focus because I knew where I was headed in coming books. Now, in Worm Moon (draft) there’s discussions of cannibalism. I imagine the Delaney family ate pretty much what my family eats, just swap out an occasional caribou roast with deer. And now, they down to “licking postage stamps for the calories” as the always-up-for-a-quip Stan Osimowitzc said in A Threatening Fragility.

Recipes

Fried Green Tomato Sandwich with Bacon and Pimiento - Taste and Tell

It’s fall here in Alaska and we’re trying to get our tomatoes to ripen before it becomes too cold for them. They’re all wearing plastic bags right now, but they might have another week. But if they don’t ripen before nature closes down the growing season, I will definitely make fried green tomatoes. So, here’s my recipe.

Ingredients (feeds four)

4 medium to large green tomatoes

2 eggs

1 cup AP flour

1/2 cup corn meal

Kosher salt to taste

Ground pepper to taste

Bacon

Frying oil – I prefer about a half-inch of oil in a cast iron skillet, but the lady who developed this recipe with me (a true Southerner transplanted to Alaska) likes to use a quart of oil (that’s too much for me. Opinions very.)

Preparation

Fry the bacon.

Remove bacon to draining plate.

Add frying oil to bacon grease. Heat pan to medium.

Slice tomatoes 1/2 inch thick

Dust with AP flour

Beat eggs with a splash of milk.

Dredge flour-dusted tomatoes in egg-mixture.

Dredge in corn meal. (If you like really crunchy tomatoes, dredge in eggs again and then toss in bread crumbs. I prefer Italian style when I do it. My son finds them overdone, so I tend to go with the simpler recipe).

Place the tomatoes 4-5 at a time in the hot oil and grease mixture. Flip when golden brown. When second side is golden brown, remove to a drain plate. Serve with bacon or as a Bacon-Lettuce-Tomato sandwich. (Even better with cheese).

BONUS

Add sliced potatoes and onions to the still hot pan and fry until done. Serve as a side with the bacon and tomatoes for a more dinner-like presentation. Add some bread to round it all out.

Quite tasty!

I wonder what my fellow blog-hoppers are cooking up.

Posted September 6, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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Setting the Table   4 comments

August 28, 2017 – Favorite Foods. What are your favorites, something you could eat weekly or more often. Feel free to share a recipe.

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My parents were restaurant workers. Dad was a chef and Mom was a diner waitress. They even owned a restaurant together for a time. So, I grew up with a tradition of bravery with food and food preparation.

Do I have a favorite dish? Wow, that would be a tough one. I have a favorite broad cuisine – Asian/Oriental. I like a smattering of dishes across the continent. I’m not fond of really hot curries, but I do like milder curries. I’m frankly nervous of sushi because raw fish done wrong will kill you, but I do eat it sometimes. Generally whatever the equivalent of pad thai is in a specific country cuisine is my go-to meal option if dining in a Asian restaurant. I figure if they get that right, I’ll come back and try other dishes at a later time.

I’m fortunate to live in one of the most diverse states in the union. Asian/Oriental restaurants outnumber almost all the other cuisines combined. Oddly, most of these restaurants are owned by Koreans, but they offer other Asian cuisine and do a good job at it. But we also have Italian, Greek, Mexican (by real Mexicans), American Pub Style, Middle Eastern, Seafood, Cuban, Fusion, and, of course, American steakhouses. We even have some vegetarian restaurants. Because Alaska is such a unique place, we have Alaskan-style restaurants which concentrate on what can be flown in fresh by Alaska Airlines. Chena Hot Springs resort also specializes in greenhouse grown veggies from their onsite greenhouses.

Image result for image chinese fried riceBut the truth is, we don’t like to spend a lot of money, so we don’t go out to a lot of restaurants. Instead, I make a lot of meals at home. So, our admin suggested a recipe.I have tons, but this is my son’s favorite.

Chinese Fried Rice

  • Make several servings of rice the night before and allow to cool. This is very important. You won’t get good results with warm rice.
  • Cube up Chinese barbecue pork (you can use any meat, but Kiernan likes barbecue pork). This should be tiny pieces.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable or canola oil in a wok. Beat eggs with water and make a thin omelette in the wok. Remove from wok and shred into bite-sized pieces.
  • Add more oil to the wok – you could splurge and add sesame oil. Don’t skimp. You want enough oil to coat the individual grains of rice when added.
  • Add a chopped up yellow onion to the hot oil. Add enough soy sauce to double the pan liquid — you can cut it with water if it’s too salty (or use low salt soy).
  • Chop up a red bell pepper (it could be any color, but again, Kiernan likes it that way).
  • Add spices. My favorite are chile powder, ground mustard, tumeric/curry powder, cinnamon. Flavor to taste. I can’t give exact measurements, but I’d guess about 1 tsp each.
  • When the onion is translucent, the pork and a bag of frozen peas and carrots. Stir. (Using frozen makes this a simple recipe. You can use fresh, but you will need to cook before adding to the rice which turns a 15-minute meal into an hour or more)
  • Add cold rice. Break up chunks. Stir to coat individual grains with spices and oil. Add the eggs.

Let mixture warm through. Serve hot.

 

Now my favorite weeknight meal. It takes 25 minutes.

  • Oil in the wok. Canola or vegetable will do. I find sesame is too strong for this dish.
  • Start rice enough for who you plan to feed.
  • Add cubed up pork (could be chicken, beef or shrimp) to the oil when hot.
  • Add onions and peppers. (I buy these as a frozen mixture for weeknight ease).
  • Add soy sauce (I preferred brewed).
  • Add spices. Tumeric, chile, ground mustard, ground ginger, cumin, cinnamon. Experiment for taste. Stir.
  • When meat is almost done, add one or two bags of frozen Asian vegetables. Stir. We also like to add kale, bokchoy or mustard greens to this, but it’s not necessary and is probably an acquired taste.
  • Pour some bottled sesame-ginger sauce over the warming vegetables. (I make my own, but that’s a lot work for just one meal, and the store brand isn’t bad).
  • Put the wok lid on and turn to low. Come back when the rice is ready. Put stir-fry mixture over rice. The melt water from the veggies and the soy sauce combines with the sesame-ginger sauce to make a great sauce that soaks into the rice.

Image result for image pork stir fryIf it takes more than a half-hour to prepare, you’re doing something wrong or making brown rice, which is a valid excuse. The coolest thing about this is that you can change up the flavors with different bags of vegetables or swap the rice for thin noodles (I prefer whole wheat durum thin spaghetti over Asian noodles, but you can do it YOUR way.) Sometimes we use chow mien noddles, adding them to the top of the dish while the veggies are reducing. It gives a crunchy-soft mix to the flavors.

 

Posted August 28, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop, Uncategorized

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