Food Crimes: Gifting Times Two – Ethnic Recipes from my Friends.

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Some years ago, John Voso Jr. put together a cookbook, Italian Recipes from my friends; the proceeds from which went to the Richie White Fund. Richie White was a young boy who spent most of his young life in the hospital battling cancer. He lost that battle a few days after his fourth birthday.

 

 

 

This year, John has put together Ethnic Recipes From My Friends. The proceeds benefit a number of good charities.

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The book contains JackFruit tacos. You’ll remember that some months ago, I tried JackFruit tacos at a vegan restaurant and loved them.

 

 

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When John Voso, his wife, Debbie, and myself met for dinner, I was surprised to find this recipe in the book! I, personally, can not wait to make them myself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The book contains recipes from a number of different people and cultures:

Angel Wings from Poland, 45249898_10215606113699519_8495535016174944256_n

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sonoran Style Carne Asada, 44957040_10215568156710618_4786004417256095744_n

 

 

 

 

 

 

42876531_10215381572126120_7345769895918829568_nand don’t forget about dessert, A Nut Kuchen!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ethnic Recipes from My Friends will make a great gift and it supports great causes. Contact John Voso to order your copy!

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Writer Wednesday: Can the Can’t!

cantI don’t like the word “can’t.”

I don’t like people telling me I can’t do something. I’ve experienced some person  or another throughout my whole life telling me I can’t do this or I can’t do that. For too many years, I believed them.

Now, it just annoys me.

I made a goal to write six short stories in a month. Someone, another writer, said, “You can’t do that.” Their point: writing must organically develop from inspiration, forcing it unnaturally would create work which was unpublishable.

Three of those six stories have already been published. Can’t? HA!cant2

I spend time on photography, just because I like it. Unasked, another person inserted their opinion: “You can’t do that!” They had the idea that a person can only be good at one creative pursuit and I shouldn’t waste my time on another. I took up photography for the pure joy of capturing visual beauty, but I’ve had a number of photographs published now too!

Why are people so wrapped up in “can’t”?

Some people judge themselves based on how they know you. When you change or move forward or do something they never thought you would or could, it changes how they see you and, therefore, how they see themselves.

cant1Others have limited views of what they can accomplish and, therefore, what anyone can accomplish, so they believe their guiding you away from an upcoming failure.

Whatever their reasons, never let anyone keep you from spreading your wings, doing what you want, need, must do to achieve what you want.

Writers must be brave. Depart from the naysayers and live your fullest life. Travel. Love. Experience. Write. Try something new.

Do not listen to the “can’t”!

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Food Crimes: Something’s amiss at the Farmers’ Market

Farmers-marketI both love and hate the Farmers’ Markets.

I like the samples or, at least, I used to. Some time ago, I witnessed a man reach his fleshy hand in a bowl, dig out some cut up apricots with his fingers, and put the chunks of fruit in his mouth along with his fingers. Then he reached his slobbery hand into another bowl for the pluots.

Disgusting! I no longer partake of the cut up sample bowls.

THERE ARE TOOTHPICKS OFFERED FOR A REASON!

I saw one woman holding her dog while she squeezed peaches. She readjusted the dog, farmermputting her hands under his belly, then turned him over like a baby in her arms, and reached down to handle more peaches.

Kids regularly reach their little hands up onto tables, into bins, fingers in the sample bowls.

But, in all honesty, I have not been turned off from farmers’ markets – until possibly this weekend.

I picked up a lovely, healthy looking bunch of kale and put it in my sack. When I got home, I started to put it away and got a whiff of it. It stunk. It smelled like a dirty sponge. I washed it and let it dry. I tried again – mildewed sponge smell stuck to it. I washed it again and laid it to dry. This time the aroma of old bleach wafted from it’s thick leaves.

farmersmktUnwilling to take a chance and eat something that might make me sick (that’s what happen last week after my farmer’s market visit, I got sick. I didn’t then chalk it up to my farmers’ market finds, but now I’m wondering), I tossed it.

I’m not bothered by the loss of my few dollars, but more feeling betrayed by the farmer who tried to pass this off as fresh. I’m not sure what happened to turn the lovely kale into a dirty dishpan scented germ haven, but I do have the feeling the person on the other side of those leafy greens knew what he was selling.

It occurred to me that the farmers’ market is much like a buffet in a restaurant, minus the sneeze-guard. Yes, we’re going to be responsible and wash the food before we eat it, but is that going to be enough?

Beyond the numerous hands touching the produce, the unclean fingers lingering on the individual items, what about those – like I witnessed this weekend – who cough and actually sneeze near the food?

There’s no one checking on these open air food markets.farmermk

I’m certain many of the farmers are proud of their produce and wouldn’t allow infested products to line their tables; however, how many can afford to lose money by tossing away bins of forgotten water-logged or other problematic food?

I’m unclear how these farmers and their sales people can keep people from coughing, sneezing, molesting their fruits and veggies – I mean we are, in some sense, avoiding the supermarket system and trying to buy local – but how do we do this safely?

I imagine I could go back and talk to the guy who sold me that wretched kale, but what would that do? I have every faith he’d offer me a refund or replacement. But that’s not what I want. I want to feel this food is of a higher and safer quality than what I buy in the grocery store. I want to support the local farmers.

But I don’t want to get a staph infection from an avocado skin or the flu from a persimmon nor do I want to pick fleas off my peaches.

farmers mkt

 

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Friday Feature: Timothy Savage on Going Places

time3When people ask where I’m from, I give my prepared answer. ‘Not really from anywhere. Seems like I’ve lived everywhere.’

And that’s true. Over my half-century of time, I’ve lived in Nebraska, Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Kansas (Overland Park and Lawrence), Seattle, back to Minneapolis/St. Paul, Providence, San Luis Obispo, and the city where I currently reside, Fresno, the fifth-largest city in California (behind Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose and San Francisco, in that order) and the largest city in the United States disconnected from the Interstate Highway System.  I like to claim that at this point, I’ve made nearly one lap of the country. Map it out and my path becomes a curious zig-zag that seems to alight nowhere and puts down roots only in memory.

That current spot Fresno isn’t exactly scenic. We’re kind of flat and agricultural, and if it tim5weren’t for triple-digit summer heat, certain sections would be indistinguishable from the desolate wilds of North Dakota. It’s so non-scenic that literature has more or less left it out, too. Need proof? A Goodreads count of books set in California is nearly 600. But books set in Fresno? Three. One by William Saroyan, better remembered here as ‘That Famous Guy Who Used to Ride His Bike Through Fresno’s Tower District.’ The second is ‘The Abortion’ by Brautigan, destined thanks to the area’s politics to be a non-seller. The third is by a guy who teaches journalism at Fresno State.

But despite being a setting apparently unworthy of literature, Fresno does have one advantage: It’s a quick two-hour drive from legendary settings. Yosemite. King’s Canyon. The majestic Giant Sequoias. Beaches along the Pacific, including my favorite, Avila Beach.  If you’re feeling ambitious, you can invest an extra hour in that drive and — traffic willing — be in the Bay Area waiting for the ground to shake, or in Hollywood practicing sidewalk astronomy. So Fresno tends to be one of those places people pass through on their way to places far more interesting.

tim1But I suppose I’m grateful that living here encourages travel, even if it does so in a backhanded, better-off-getting-outta-here sort of way. That urge to hop in a car and see something else, that desire to book a plane ticket and go even farther, is not only great for the soul, it’s great for my writing.

I’ve lived here for more than 12 years, and aside from an occasional drive to Avila for some seclusion in a hot tub, full-time work-at-home Dad Duty kept me from traveling much for those first seven years. I’ve made up for that drought over the last few years, though. First a memorable trip to see the sights in Chicago with my son when he was only eight, where we braved the Willis Tower’s ‘Ledge’ and walked the Magnificent Mile together. Then a three-generation trip to Washington D.C.  — myself, my son, and my father, where we explored the sights of true democracy while plugging our ears to my father’s Faux News talking points. Next, two very memorable trips — one solo — to a place I find more inspiring than any other: the southeast of England, where people very dear to me make me feel more welcome than anywhere else, to the point where I call them ‘my English family’ most sincerely.

Being a shutterbug, my other travel trick is to photograph everything. You know that guy tim2with the DSLR strapped around his neck, taking shots of everything from the loo signs to the historical plaques set across monuments managed by the National Trust? Yep, me. Those photos come in handy during the writing process, too. Need the feeling of ‘being there’ recreated? Go visit the photo album. Need to check a historical detail? Dig out the plaque pics and read the answer. Need to remember exactly what order the Roman gods appeared on a bas-relief at the Adler Planetarium? It’s right there in the photo.

time4As a writer I carry those places with me, and whether I want them to or not, they find their ways into my writing. My Nebraska origins find a home in my writing as Kolej, a small town with a big dark secret in my coming book ‘Lillie Augustine.’ Minnesota and Providence figure prominently in my memoir about full-time fatherhood, titled ‘One Ugly Mother.’ That memorable Chicago trip finds itself in another draft titled ‘Fortunate Consolation,’ where a father leads his special-needs son on a journey to escape the trickster Goddess of Fate. Two very special places — West and East Hills in Hastings, East Sussex — will soon find themselves adapted as different worlds entirely in a collaborative science-fiction epic. That Pacific hamlet of Avila Beach was the setting for my published novel ‘Davey’s Savior,’ an intimate story set next to the pier on a very small stretch of an epic beach. And Fresno? While the city itself may make me want to be elsewhere, its agrarian nature still found its way into a draft my editor promises will be a moneymaker: the saga of ‘Lifeboat.’

You take your rewards where you can get them, right? So, until I have a best seller, it seems my challenges come in recreating places dear to me in words, and rewards through memories made in unforgettable places. With a little luck, I’ll make them equally memorable for my readers. Because after all, what is a good book if not a zig-zag journey that takes root in your readers’ hearts?

 

Timothy Savage – Author of Davey’s Savior

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Thank you, Timothy. I wholeheartedly agree!

noreen

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Writer Wednesday: Bored? Good!

boredom2Chatting with my students, I reminded them I didn’t have google nor a cell phone and, if I needed to look up information, I had to walk to the library and figure out the card catalogue. (Of course, I added the obligatory “walk ten miles in the snow up hill both ways”).

One said, “Wow, you must have been so bored.”

I smiled a moment, thinking back. “Actually, I wasn’t.”

While I’m sure there were times I spent an afternoon whining about boredom, we learned to do things to entertain ourselves. And, well, mostly mine was writing.

I don’t think I’d be a writer today if I had a cell phone, a computer, and google. Play At Work. Low Angle Of Dreary Female Freelancer Using PaperI think I would be, like many people today, too distracted to focus on creating other worlds and investigating the motivations of people/characters.

I worry my students are too distracted to become the best people they can be or do the best work they can do.

I’m not a troglodyte by any means; however, will we ever be as productive as we can be if we don’t learn to look too quickly for outside entertainment instead of within ourselves to be creative?

boredomI guess I’m saying, boredom can be good for you. Daydreaming, thinking, and spending an afternoon lounging without distraction can be helpful to a writer. We need to allow our minds wander sometimes, see where they go; keep your mind from distraction, turn off the tele, the cell, the computer, and be inhibited by the lack – your mind will rebel and it will begin to create.

 

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Food Crimes: Is Death by Chocolate Real?

20181028_133526[1]I was inspired the other night while watching netflix; a character mentioned Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies. I put the show on pause and sought recipes.

I found the usual 2 cups of flower, 1 cup of sugar run-of-the-mill types of recipes; then I happened upon something exciting!

I have a habit of looking up a ton of recipes, then mixing and matching and making my own. It seems the author of this blog does something similar, researches others and then works in her own special touches.

This recipe uses only 6 tablespoons of flour. More room for the good stuff!20181028_133637[1]

I used a little more than 1/3 a cup of baker’s chocolate and I replaced the bittersweet. Although I’m a fan of bittersweet, I decided to use semi-sweet in its place. This makes my cookies a little sweeter than the original recipe. If you like it more sweet and want to risk a trip to chocolate heaven, I suggest mine. If you are 20181028_133641[1]a less-sweet chocolate lover with a desire to live a long healthy life, try it as recommended on the blog.

I tried unsuccessfully a few weeks ago to use a double boiler method to melt chocolate, so I was hesitant to try again.  However, I followed the instruction in the blog and used a bowl in a pan. It worked great.

I melted a cup of semi-sweet with the butter and baker’s chocolate, cooled it, then added the recommended amount of semi-sweet chips to the batter as suggested.

I also used regular chili powder and omitted the cayenne. The chili pepper doesn’t make it spicy; it just brings out the other flavors. I’d be willing to try it with cayenne and/or a little spicier – so if anyone does, let me know how it turns out!

Everything looked gorgeous and tasted so good, I had to share.

This recipe was to die for as announced by my taste-testing kids.

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Writer Wednesday: Sharing is….?

climbing helping  team work , success conceptIn a writer’s group, I asked a specific person how one would use a certain program. They responded with, “I’d be glad to show you; my rates are very reasonable.”

I was shocked into silence. I asked a simple question, and they wanted to charge me for their answer?

But, then again, they have the right to earn a living by selling their knowledge.

How often have I given my knowledge for free? I could charge, I thought, for all the information and skills I’ve accumulated over the years.

But – wait a minute – writers really don’t make that much money, and we’re all strugglingshare3 in the same boat of trying to get our books, articles, short stories, or other out there to larger audiences.

Think of being on a life-raft and you are the one who has the clean water, or maybe the secret to cleaning the water, would you really sell it to another passenger? Some people would.

There’s a story from a Gladwell book about how post-its came about. (To simplify:) One worker in the paper department bumped into someone from their glue department, they both talked about what they were working on and the problems there were having. If only we could….   and boom – two collaborators came up with an idea worked together to bring that to fruition by sharing their expertise and invented something we all use (and made billions for 3M!).  Companies like 3M, Apple, Google, and others now use that theory to come up with new ideas, products, and solutions for every day problems!

shareWhen we all work together, we all become better humans. I want to share my ideas and experiences and share other writer’s with you, other ideas with everyone who desires to listen.

I have a job; I have many jobs. I’m not about to take advantage of others who are students in life or in writing and try to make a buck from them. I’d rather share my knowledge. I’d rather help my fellow passengers on this journey.

Thanks to all who have shared their knowledge with me. Thank you to those writers who give of themselves and their resources to make a better writing community.

When we work together, we can all benefit.

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