Sunday, May 24, 2015

Memorial Day Memories and a New Recipe Book with Old Fashioned Recipes

A Virtual Bouquet for Memorial Day

Memorial Day, a perfect time to remember...and here's one of my favorite memories and the recipe that came from it!

My mom was raised during the Great Depression by her British-born mom. So growing up, I got used to many of her recipes being from cheap ingredients. And quick and easy to prepare, as my mom worked full time and then some in our art gallery, the first in Sun Valley. Slumgullion, the Scots-Irish word for mixed up leftovers, was my mom’s favorite dish to prepare, despite inedible disaster often being a result. She hated to “waste” food, no matter what the state the food happened to be in, including that of waste. This is why my dad always said that nothing ever came out of our refrigerator unless it crawled out on its own. In self defense, I learned very early on how to cook and bake. Nowadays I often thank Mom for her terrible cooking.
            One of the things I learned early on is that there are several ways to make slumgullion without it tasting (and immediately being) garbage. If you just follow a few simple rules then you might find yourself making a delicious slumgullion often and well! And saving food, time and money!

Dear Readers, what are your Memorial Day memories?

Yummy Slumguillion!


Think of like with like and ingredients you'd use together in dishes. For example, I often take leftover chili (steak, chili sauce, and tomatoes), leftover Mexican casserole (hamburger, corn, chilies and carrots) and leftover pasta and combine. I promise it’s yummy, although may look illustrated above.

If you have a lot of one leftover and a little of another, but not quite enough to make a meal, consider another item that would combine well with your ingredients. I might add beans or some spaghetti squash to the recipe above. Or add a side dish too, a salad perhaps.

Avoid mixing too strong of flavors, sweets and sours, for example. If my character from my Starke Dead mystery series, Aunt Maddie, was making the chili/Mexican/pasta slumgullion above, she'd add apple pie! Okay, an extreme example, but Aunt Maddie is pretty extreme herself. Also avoid too many different added spices. Both these mistakes will make the food taste strange and murky and possibly not like food at all.

If you have "simple" leftovers, such as cooked vegetables and chicken, consider which spices to use and try different ones for a "refreshed" dish. (I might use coriander, thyme and pepper for the vegetables and chicken, for example.)

Avoid mixing tomatoes, vinegar or lemon juice with peas, green beans and/or broccoli as the green vegetables will turn brown and bitter.

One last trick: You can always pour gravy over everything, yum, or use the gravy as a base for a refreshed slumgullion soup, yum!

Readers, questions, suggestions, tales of culinary disaster?

A flyer for a booksigning of Family Recipes from the Snake River Plain, which includes my slumguillion recipe and other great recipes from great cooks, fry sauce, dream cake, zucchini rounds, but you can get a copy today here! Enjoy!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Leave Politics, Agendas and Rants Out of Your Public Social Media: A Rant

All proceeds from sales of Romance and Mystery Authors on Writing go to libraries!

The newest publication I'm in, Romance and Mystery Authors on Writing, inspired me to this rant.

Nowadays if you're an author selling titles you have to be on social media. But there are some guidelines if you want to have a good effect, i.e. have people buy your books, when you are using Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.

A major one: be professional and share only content that would be interesting/funny/informative to your public audience. Or at least not annoying.

Or to put it another way: if you are using social media in an "I'm an author" public way then no proselytizing of any kind about politics, religion or any agenda. No rants, she says ranting.

There's one simple reason for this. It turns potential readers off.

How can you know what the impact of any post will be? It turns readers off quickly if they don't agree with whatever. You're assuming your audience agrees with you in all ways. Or that you can change their minds by floggings by social media--which almost never if ever happens.

The surprising thing is that it turns potential readers off even if they agree with whatever it is you're ranting about. This is because of several things. The first is that there's a certain air of smugness, an "everybody thinks/believes as I do because I'm right and I know it" about those sort of posts. There's also sometimes an implied mild threat of "you'd better hop on board with this or else..." Or else what? You won't let them read your work?

Most of all, writers with an agenda can push that agenda to all exclusion of everything else, including good writing. Readers know this. Sure it's possible to write a powerful, award winning agenda driven manuscript, but it's very difficult to do. Most are rants.

If you have Facebook or Pinterest or whatever just for family and friends then go ahead and post those rabid political cartoons, get into a comment fight with your granddaughter about some news item, or whatever. It's a personal page and therefore limited, not an author page with a public persona.

There's one sorta/kinda exception and that is if the issue is part and piecemeal of what you write. For example, if you have a character who struggles with a disability, than news items about something particular to that disability might be okay to post. Or personal stories around the issue. Same might be true around a subject in your nonfiction titles, new nutrition facts if you write cookbooks--if you keep it specific and/or personal. The line between okay and annoying is thin.

So, dear readers, do you agree? Disagree? Rant away in the comments!