Great summer reads and eats! #mgtab

There’s something about summer that calls for celebrating good eats! Case in point, it’s only August 11, but since July 30, three other authors here at The Author’s Billboard have shared food favorites here on the blog:

Rebecca York discusses yummy Werewolves‘ . . . er, appetites 😀 . . . and generously gives us her fabulous Barbecued Beef Brisket recipe.

Donna Fasano, whose wonderful 3-novel bundle, A Family Forever, is on sale for just $1.99 this month, provides a unique dinner idea (perhaps to go with the above brisket? ), Summer Farro Salad.

Patrice Wilton celebrates the launch of her and Traci Hall’s new cozy mystery (such great summer reading!), Mrs. Morris and the Ghost, and provides a perfect snack to go with it, Artichoke Dip with Fontana Cheese. Mmmm!

So I’m in good company, hey?! 😊🍽️🍷

This year I discovered small batch canning. It was really eye opening for me and so exciting! I love storing away a wealth of summer yumminess to enjoy on cold winter nights, but I learned to can, jam, and freeze from my mother who had a huge family and preserving was a big ordeal . . . like two twelve hour days of carrots, two more of bean everything, two for cukes, etc., etc., etc.! When I make jam, even after giving tons away, I have enough for years, LOL. But no more! I’m making, gasp, eight or ten half pints (or smaller!) of a way bigger variety of things. So fun!

Hand-in-hand with my new less and more philosophy, my newest foodie obsession is fermenting things (or . . . fermenting everything, LOL). My first batch ever of blackberry wine (from my own massive jungle of a patch) is bubbling away, and I’ve made so, so many pickles. . . . and I have to say, fermented pickles are sooo crazy easy and so delicious I may be a forever convert! (Though I did a canner of my traditional pickles because, hey, tradition—and also yum.)

If you’re a fellow fermenter, I’d love to hear your favorite recipes. If you haven’t fermented anything, but want to, here’s the very first thing I made: The Savory Lotus’s Easy Fermented Pickles. 🥒🥒🥒And they are sooo easy (and sooooo tasty on/with pretty much everything)!

The other thing I love about food gathering, prep, cooking, and preserving, is how it not only feeds my belly (eventually, anyway), but how it nourishes connections with friends and family (the eating, but also sharing the labor, or, at least, various recipes!) and how it also fuels my imagination. I get a lot of plot and character ideas while I’m working away, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that a lot of my characters find gardening and/or cooking cathartic, Noelle, from SPOONS especially.

When you first meet Noelle, she is struggling in pretty much all parts of her life . . . but as she reconnects with aspects of her identity she’d let go of, things like gardening and doing physical work, for example, she starts to feel that sense of connection I was talking about and experiences a new sense of hopefulness and empowerment over the pickle she’s found herself in. (Sorry, could not resist the terrible pun!😁)

If you’re looking for a great summer read (that pairs wonderfully with good summer eating), I’d love to entertain you with SPOONS, and I hope you enjoy your visit to River’s Sigh B & B, immensely.

AMAZON ~ KOBO ~ NOOK ~ iBOOKS ~ GOOGLE

Happy summer book (and food) devouring! Ahhhhhhh . . .

😊 Ev

P.S. Don’t forget to enter this month’s contest here at The Author’s Billboard! 

In the soup at River’s Sigh B & B

I’m a bit of a soup addict. Whenever I’m stressed or feeling blue about something, I make soup. Whenever I’m happy, expecting a crowd for dinner, or am feeling especially homemakery (That’s a newly invented word! Like it? 😁), I make soup. Chopping and grating, bringing to a boil, simmering . . . tasting. The steamy aromas of mingled garlic, onion, ginger . . . Mmmm!

There’s something Zen about cooking in general, and about making soup from scratch, especially. And like my aunt says, even if you can’t cook, it’s hard not to make great soup, so long as you use quality ingredients. It will sound corny, but I think she’s right only to a point. Something of yourself has to go into the pot too—your love, your affection, your hope, your well wishes . . .

My newest obsession is homemade wonton. (And yes, I make a whole ton of the little wrapped delights, freeze them on cookie trays, then dump them into freezer bags, so I can pull them out by the handful whenever I want that particular delight—ready in just ten minutes!) This is a wonderful site I’ve been using for inspiration: https://omnivorescookbook.com/recipes/wonton-soup (But I fold my wontons like Nagi describes on her fabulous website: https://www.recipetineats.com/wonton-soup/)

Another favorite is salmon chowder. Whenever I make it, I impress even myself, LOL. I use this recipe from Allrecipes.com, then modify it (as is my style) ‘til the concoction in my pot could never be recreated using the recipe card sitting on my counter.

As I cook (and taste!), my mind wanders all over the place, but generally settles on whatever novel I’m currently working on. Most of my main characters, in pretty much every one of my stories, at some point or another, make soup—yet my books aren’t the type that get marketed to foodies, with recipes in the back (though I do love those). In fact, the scenes are very brief. I don’t know if readers would even consciously remember them, but they are, I think, symbolic.

Soup is the epitome of comfort food, belonging and home. Every culture has its own variations of the dish, and while soup can be whimsical, there’s nothing trendy or passé about throwing things in a pot to simmer and blend all together into something, always a bit different, always good. Soup, regardless of its name, is as old as the human race.

And what do each of my main characters, despite how different from one another they initially appear, all have in common when you first meet them? In some way or another, they all yearn for and crave—but somehow lack: Family. A sense of belonging. A home.

Food of all kinds (not just soup!) has weighty (pun intended!) positive and negative connotations for us as individuals and within our relationships—and it does for my characters, too. What they eat or don’t eat, and the way they eat—standing over the kitchen sink, or with wine and candles even when alone—says a lot about their personality, their desires, their family background, their financial situation, and so much more.

Even if you’re not a fellow soup addict, LOL, I hope you’ll enjoy the sensory details in my stories, but even more so, I hope you’ll find my books food for your soul. A celebration of the simple good things in life and the power of finding, at last, that place you fit, with people who love you for you.  

Wishing you a lovely June, full of good eats and wonderful reads! 

😊 Ev