Thursday, September 29, 2016

Why Yes, I'll have a Bourbon with That

I just finished up my third book, picked up by a large Christian publisher.  I've worked 14-18 hours a day for the last two weeks (which includes my regular job and a few vacation days) getting it done so the publisher can have it out by Christmas.

They normally take 8 months to get a new author out.  But with two #1 best-sellers under my belt, and being new to them, they made me a great deal to get it published for the holidays. I've never written fiction so this was a big undertaking, but I hope it is well received.

Storyline: Rachel Raines is orphaned after putting off college to care for ailing parents. Finally, she's off to a major city University and the fun loving, young party girl has better things to do then go to the church of her upbringing, even if a good student. She inherits her only relative's tiny home in a small town in the middle of nowhere a few weeks after graduation. She wants to stay in the city, but that house is the only place she has any memories of her family, her childhood home sold to pay for medical bills, burials, and her continued education.

Armed with a Criminal Justice degree and grades that should have taken her to the FBI, she finds
herself as a rookie patrol officer in a town that has no coffee baristas, no single men her age and the only local restaurant has a life-sized plastic cow on the roof. Well, there was one single man, but he broke their date after she arrested him.

But small town doesn't always mean safe, and she's caught up in an unexpected meth lab bust, and in one moment of violence, her whole life changes, as does her look at her future and her faith.

So dinner tonight was salad, followed by a neat bourbon chaser.

Night all.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Sting Like a Bee - A Blog Anniversary

I've been doing this blog for a little over a year now.  For my half a dozen regular readers, I thank you :-)

But I've lost 15 pounds, gained a bunch of muscle and with the help of a weekly personal trainer, can proudly wear sleeveless shirts again, even though I'm continually having to work on my abs (I know, brownies and white wine). I was passing the PT's at work, but as I passed 50n muscle tone was going south and I knew I needed to really step it up, to be fit and not be mistaken for a flying squirrel in the summer.  My Dad does weights and cardio every single day but Sunday and he was playing 18 holes of golf weekly until he was 90, when cancer took him down a notch.  But I wanted to be fit like him, doing Nautilus when I was in my 80's.

So I hunkered down and started some serious work-outs, continuing with cleaner eating (but for the weekends) and TONS of spring water drunk daily and my Simply Birgit skin care routine with my friend Ami's Rodan Plus Fields Sooth Sunscreen, retinol serum once a week and eye cream.

And I got CARDED today - at 58.  OK, the clerk was about 70, but STILL.

Post-carding selfie here.

Today, while I worked on the editing acceptances from my editor for my latest book, LOTS of thumping and noise from the basement with the occasional drill or saw outside in the garage (though he came in and put ear muffs on me prior to drilling)

When I was done, my husband called me downstairs.

This is my husband.
He is a talented mechanical engineer, played in a professional orchestra in Austria when he was 18, and he puts up with his much older (25 years - yikes!) totally geek, Type A federal agent wife.  Plus my Dad and late brother just thought he hung the moon (we spent our honeymoon with him winterizing my Dad's house so he could continue to live on his own).

But during my third round of publishing, he knows I turn into Captain Cranky.

So he knew what to put up to help me through the rest of the publishing process.

Yay!  Sting like a bee time!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Pumpkin Patch

I'm with 

in that I am NOT a fan of pumpkin.  This time each year EVERYTHING is suddenly infused with pumpkin spice - coffee, tea, desserts, and beer

Yes, pumpkin flavored beer.


My husband said it's only a mild hint of pumpkin but I wouldn't try it.  He said it was very good.

Sorry.  I absolutely adore Fall and Halloween and all the orange and black decorations we put up.

But I'm still not going to try it.

Then I looked at the label.  It looked like a lizard wearing liderhosen.  He said no, that's a GRASSHOPPER.  Points at "Hopper" on the label like I am possessed.

Looks like a lizard to me.  I told him I think there are jobs out west where Millennials just smoke weed and get paid to design beer labels.

He looked at me and said "but I'M a millennial!"

True (and that explains all the cougar jokes)  But  I'm a cranky old pumpkin hater.

But what can I say, my engineer husband is so very smart and he built me new steps with lumber and hard work that are easier on my bad knee (oh meniscus, I miss you so). The steps now go back to the yard at a much shallower angle instead of a VERY steep slope to the driveway edge (I think he got the hint when I told him the Red Bull Games were interested in using our steps).
An pictorial version of "how I lost my meniscus".

This way we can install a fence a let Abby Lab out. So I'll forgive him the pumpkin thing, especially since he's scraping and repainting the sun room trim as well and putting up a punching bag in the basement so I can take out my pumpkin spice aggression and burn calories productively (30 minutes of boxing is 2 nice sized glasses of Chardonnay!)
Brick landing to go!

I might even make something out of the beer.
The "clock" in the back is an old timer for developing film, an antique

Sourdough Pumpkin Ale beer Bread.

I have to say, I had a piece for breakfast and it was really good, only a hint of sweet and spice to it, not a "arghhh PUMPKIN spew! spew! spew!" reaction.  Flavor wise it erred more on the side of a slightly sweet yeast bread rather than a typical sweet pumpkin bread.

I made mine with my  Einkorn based wild yeast sourdough starter but will give directions for both

2 and 1/2 cups 50/50 mixture of einkorn and whole wheat pastry flour (or use white or whole wheat)
1/2 cup sourdough starter (or equal amount flour in place of)
1/4  cup plus 1 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon (just a few shakes)
1 bottle pumpkin style ale

Beer instructions:  if using all flour, use full bottle.

If using a sourdough starter that's really thick (have to spoon into measuring cup) remove 2 Tablespoons of beer and put rest in mixture

If using a sourdough starter that you can pour into the measuring cup, remove 1/4 cup beer then add rest

Mix well and place in bread pan sprayed with non stick spray

Pour 2 tablespoons melted butter (or melted vegan spread if you are so inclined as this recipe otherwise has no eggs or dairy) over the top and pop in oven.

Bake in preheated 375 F oven for 50 minutes. It should pass the knife test with a firm crispy brown top crust (check it, as it may look done before it is, as the butter browns this up a bit more than other breads).

It was also really moist, and really didn't need the butter.

Not that I was going to leave that off or anything anyway.

I like the bread a lot.  Still hate pumpkin spice.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Thai Curry Noodle Soup - Comfort with a Kick

I love Thai food and could eat it several times a week.  But the restaurant Thai can be high in date sugar.  This reduced sugar curry soup is delicious.   Tofu is a great choice for meat free soup.

Thai Curry Noodle Soup

2 tablespoons vegetable oil or red chili oil
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger  (or used dried)
1 teaspoon lemongrass paste (I didn't have any fresh)
2 Tablespoons red curry paste (you can use up to 3 if you want it spicer)
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 and 1/2  Tablespoons fish sauce
1 Tablespoon light brown sugar
1 15 ounce can cocunut milk with cream
1/2 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms (optional)
4 servings of dried thin rice noodle (I have substituted spaghetti, just throw it in earlier or use a bit of leftover and heat with the mushrooms)
3/4 pound chicken breast or block of firm tofu (sliced thin and bite sized)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
 salt to taste

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Cook and stir the ginger, lemongrass, and curry paste in the heated oil for 1 minute. Slowly pour the chicken broth over the mixture, stirring continually. Stir in the fish sauce and brown sugar; simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk and chicken and cook until the chicken is almost cooked through, then add mushrooms and dry rice noodles and cook until both are soft (just a few minutes)  Stir in the lime juice; season with salt if desired.

Top with any combination of:
fried rice noodle pieces
additional lime
chopped Thai red pepper or crushed red pepper
cilantro or fresh basil