Tag Archives: cooking

Yesterday’s Office.

This is mostly going to be the photos I couldn’t upload yesterday. I’ll throw in a couple more. I intended to post a different update today, but without much of a connection, you kind of get the words yesterday and the pictures today.

We’re home now. I had my usual comedy of errors getting out of there. I couldn’t remove the sewer cap to flush out our holding tank. I left the dump station rather than back up traffic waiting to use the septic system.

I forgot my block for the trailer jack, so we had to loop back through the campground. It was still where we left it. While there, I decided to take a rock to the sewer cap and it worked like a charm. One more lap through the dump station and we got to head home.

This was what I wanted to call my office in the post yesterday.

This is the little doe that hangs around the campground. She browsed about ten feet from Otto this morning while he had his breakfast. Nothing interrupts that boy’s breakfast.

A glimpse at part of last night’s supper.

Lobsters

These boys were hanging around the dump station this morning and posing for photos. These are all mule deer, for those who only have white tails around.

There are three of them, but one of the bigger ones is behind the little guy

I always hate to come home, but it’s good to be back.

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Not a writing day

Otto let me sleep in until 6:00. It felt good after a week at 4:00. Today is my flex day, but Old What’s Her Face is off today too. I fed the dogs and they went back to bed with my wife.

She likes to sleep in, so I took my chance, it just wasn’t my day for it. I weaved through social media, then backed up a chapter and made a few adjustments so I could forge ahead.

That’s when my wife and the dogs woke up for real. I know when to admit defeat, and I’ll have the house to myself tomorrow.

I picked these a few moments ago.

There are probably another hundred basket-fulls still on the tree. I may take a basket to the office if I remember to pick them Sunday night. My wife wants to take some to the hospital too.

The birds are starting to get to some of them, but the tree produces enough for everyone. I just glean through mine to make sure they haven’t been sampled.

These went in the refrigerator to chill for a while. Then I’m going to eat them as presented. I might dig out some salsa or a daiquiri recipe. Maybe I’ll make a cobbler, but I’m leaning more toward some waffles covered with peaches instead.

It wasn’t much of a writing day, but my chances were low anyway. Besides, the battle for the rope toy is going on under my chair.

It’s been a loooong work week for me. It might not be a bad thing to kick back for a day and eat peaches.

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Not quite so organized

I stayed up past eleven o’clock last night watching my baseball team lose another game. They lost again today. Sometimes I think the only time they lose is when I can watch. It’s a powerful burden to carry a curse.

With that in mind, I hoped to sleep in a bit, but Otto wasn’t having it. Whenever he gets table scraps in his bowl, he can only hold out so long. My day started at six.

I tried not to do anything too heavy until after I called my parents this morning. After reading Father’s Day blogs, I really am blessed to still have them around.

I moved into writing by rereading what I came up with the day before. A few minor edits, and I was ready for new words.

The words didn’t come as easy today. I had to search back for some of the commitments I’d already made. Things like how many guns this ship was designed to hold. Gear certain characters have available to them. That kind of thing.

I also had to research the language of root monsters. Let’s face it, I’m making it up on the fly, but once I commit, I need to be consistent with it. This also revealed an inconsistency in the way I spelled some of their words, so I fixed it.

The biggest accomplishment was updating the “cast of characters” sheet so I have this data readily available.

On the momentum side, the root monsters declared war on seagulls. The cook declared war on root monsters, and my main character had to deal with all of it. Bay frogs were cooked and eaten.

There is a tropical storm brewing, and they sailed out to get ahead of it. The couple who got together had to figure out how to be together aboard the ship, but that was pretty easy.

There might be a use for the skin of bay frogs. They’re pretty big, like roast turkey big. Might make a cool look for some leather items. Frog skin gauntlets? Frog skin chicharones?

I’m debating whether the new character, Serang needs a magical fu dog at her disposal. That might be drifting too far into the magical stuff, but it’s added diversity too. What’s scarier, a realistic looking fu dog, or one that’s bronze with a green patina? They’re also supposed to come in pairs, so maybe she needs one of each.

Now that I think about it, that’s a lot of work from nine o’clock to noon. That’s when Old What’s Her Face got off work today.

She went to the store and went seafood crazy. We googled a recipe for grilled oysters. They turned out good, but they weren’t New Orleans good. This might have to do with living in Idaho instead of next door to actual oyster beds.

She also bought a few king crab legs. I’m stuffed right now.

My hands are kind of buggered up from shucking oysters and trying to coax king crab out of its shell. For those who don’t know, king crabs are kind of spiky.

I’m off tomorrow, but so is she. I may get some new words down, but I’m not making big plans.

Hope everyone had a nice Father’s Day. I called my dad. If you still have access to yours, you should too.

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Goofing off, kind of

I never received back any of the final interviews this weekend. That means I didn’t schedule any new ones. I sent one out, but I’m three weeks ahead. There is no need to panic… yet. Sometimes authors drag their feet, and I understand. I’m pretty sure they will come in and get me through the month of June.

I didn’t do squat today. I watched Spider-Man Homecoming, because I hadn’t seen that one. I liked the message that Stark technology didn’t make Spider-Man. He had to be Spider-Man first. (No idea why Apple is forcing the hyphen in there, but don’t care enough to change it.)

Yesterday, while Dad and I were hanging out, I started some sourdough raising.

Today, Old What’s Her Face made some beans and meat. Dinner was a team affair, and it was awesome.

Homemade sourdough scones…

…led to homemade Indian Tacos.

They were stellar. There are a few scones left over to have one for breakfast, maybe with some honey butter. (Before anyone asks, these are American Indian tacos. Most county fairs out west have these.)

Back to work tomorrow, hope all of you enjoyed your weekends.

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The Festival and other Stories

We return to a culinary theme with this picture that our artist painted of Blinia Crole. The picture is from Blinia’s own collection and is displayed with grateful thanks to her. Andeal chose to paint her seated in her old home working as she always had.

Chicken Legs

Blinia drifted into being a cook, but was handicapped by lack of capital. Her family home was in the more run-down part of Ropewalk. Some would even write it off as being part of the Warrens. So to have anything to cook she was reduced to purchasing worn out domestic fowl sold for a pittance for their feathers. She would pluck the fowl, sort the feathers, wash them, dry them and then sell them on to those who would use them to stuff pillows with.

With regard to cooking the fowl she was lucky that her mother had taught her well. Once plucked she would keep the carcass covered and chilled in a meat-safe for as long as possible to allow the meat to relax, up to a week in winter. Then she would leave it for a day in brine, and after that she’d rinse it off, cover it with clean water and allow it to simmer for anything up to twenty-four hours. Finally she’d allow it to cool, remove the bones (because the meat just falls away from them if you’ve cooked it properly,) and then add vegetables and all the other necessary ingredients for a stew. This would be cooked until the vegetables were ready.

The advantage of this system was she didn’t need to advertise. The smell of cooking chicken hung around her house because there was always chicken cooking! Then each day, just before noon, a queue would form of people clutching their own bowls and spoons. For twenty dregs you got a good ladle full of her thick broth. The local baker sent his son round with a tray of bread rolls and for a few dregs more he would sell you bread to go with your meal.

So far so good, Blinia’s customers were loyal and as old Mister Mumster would have said, her business was ‘steady away’. But she was wise enough to sit back and look at how she might improve things. One issue was fishing out the bones. She decided that given the amount of meat that there was on the legs and wings, they were more effort than they were worth. Still, properly brought up, she was loathe to throw them away. So as an experiment, while the chickens were cooking she experimented, leaving the legs and wings to marinate in various sauces and then roasting them. Much to her surprise they were a great success, especially those with the sweet and bitter herbs. Men would buy a couple of them to put in a pocket to chew while they worked.

The problem is that there are only two legs and two wings to each carcass. It was nowhere near enough. So she experimented. She peeled the skin off the carcass, rolled it tightly and cut the roll into several pieces. These she fried, then marinated and roasted with the other chicken legs. Customers snapped them up and demanded more.

Finally in desperation she went down to a slaughterhouse and bought a full mott skin. This she cut up into pieces that were about the same size as a chicken leg, fried them and then added them to the marinade. Finally she managed to produce enough to satisfy demand.

Now let us be clear. There was no attempt at deception. Blinia was selling these to sober people in the middle of the day. This was not late night catering where you’re merely selling ‘food’ to drunks. People knew that Blinia’s chicken legs might contain no chicken. Indeed some preferred the mott hide ones because there was more chewing. Other aficionados claimed that the chicken skin ‘legs’ were a better bet, being slightly more crunchy. On the other hand there were still some who preferred the traditional leg on the grounds that they enjoyed sucking the last of the meat off the bone.

Her highest accolade came when the chief cook of the Flensers, peckish on his way home, purchased a ‘chicken leg’ to chew on. He returned next day and bought a dozen, praising her touch with spices. Indeed he became one of her regulars and eventually it dawned on Blinia that he was starting to court her. This came as a surprise, but he was merely the first of many. The baker’s son, whom now had to use a handcart to carry his trays of rolls, was also remarkably attentive. She had regarded him as friendly, even charming, but it seems that spotting a potential rival for her affections, he felt the need to step up to the mark.

Then there was her vegetable supplier. Because they were all served chopped up and cooked, she merely needed vegetables that tasted good, not that looked pretty. So her order a valuable one, every greengrocer knows that there’s excellent eating in vegetables that will never pass as pretty. Hence Sopwin, a purveyor of root vegetables and a man with a dry sense of humour, used to drop round every evening with anything that was beginning to look a little tired. She got a good price and enjoyed the banter they shared as she would mock his wilted parsnips and drooping carrots and he would praise them to the skies, claiming that merely dropping them into her broth would perk them up. Now it seemed that he too was trying to woo her.

Blinia, in desperation, turned to her friend and employee Nila. Nila was a smiling, thickset, buxom lady of middle years with a husband who worked on the wharves and a number of children who managed to amuse themselves during the day.

Blinia, catching Nila sitting eating her lunch, (inevitably a bowl of broth) sat down besides her.

“They’re all after me!”

Nila looked at her in surprise. “But I saw you pay for the fowl only yesterday.”

“Not creditors Nila, suitors. It’s getting ridiculous.”

“Well I know that cook seems sweet on you.”

“And then there’s the baker, and Sopwin the veg.”

“So what’s the problem, surely it’s better for a young woman like you to have too many suitors than too few?”

Blinia sounded almost desperate, “But all they’re interesting in is my cooking!”

Nila looked at her sternly. “What do you want them interested in? Your body?

Well in forty years your cooking will be better than it is now, the less said about the rest of you the better!

Blinia subsided briefly then asked, “So what do I do?”

“What the rest of us do, see who works the hardest, really puts the effort in. Then just wed the one you like best anyway.”

***

Tallis Steelyard and Jim Webster proudly present

Tallis Steelyard. The Festival, and other stories.

Available from

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tallis-Steelyard-Festival-other-stories-ebook/dp/B07BT9LWRP

More of the wit, wisdom and jumbled musings of Tallis Steelyard. In here Tallis touches upon child rearing, politics as a performance art, the joy of dance and the advantages that come with good manners. Discover why Madam Dolbart was forced to constantly hire new cooks, marvel at the downfall of Dash Blont, lecher, libertine, and philanderer . Whatever happens, do not pass through life without knowing of the advantages to be gained by an early morning pick-me-up of horse dung spread fine on toast. You too can be charming and elegant once you know how.

For a mere 99p all this and more can be yours.

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Holiday Week

This is a holiday week here in the USA. For my international friends, Thursday is our Thanksgiving.

This kept me up late Monday, because my work scheduled a potluck. Makes sense, we have to stay up all night Wednesday to cook, why not do it Monday too? I had enough chile verde to take home for supper last night.

Tonight I have to bake dinner rolls. I made the mistake of baking these for Thanksgiving many years ago, and everyone demands them now. It’s a raised dough product, so hours of rising and punching down, and re-rising are part of my evening plan. My wife said we need a TRIPLE batch this year. I actually have one giant-sized bowl I might be able to make it all at once in. I’m sure I have to wash it first, and will have to wash it during the process because it’s also my storage bin for the finished product.

Bake time is another issue. I only have so many sheets, and the rolls have to raise one more time after they are shaped. This year, I’m going to be thankful for getting it over with.

Things have slowed down online. I’m noticing it on all fronts. Since I ended my big promotional push, I have a lot more time for other things. I’ve even expanded beyond my “must read” list on WordPress. Some of you may notice some likes on blogs I haven’t visited for a while.

I took a vacation day Friday. We have company, but I don’t know if they’re all going out for Black Friday. I don’t see it being a productive writing day, but it could happen. Pure luck of the draw, my flex day is Monday and that could be a writing day.

I hacked out another “anthem” piece for my Enhanced League baseball stories. I’m pretty happy with it. This one is about the extra guy on the team. The one who fills in for injured players and the lack of respect for his job.

In other news, I have a fun Lisa Burton Radio post scheduled for tomorrow. I couldn’t sell Thanksgiving to anyone as a good day, so I wrote this one on my own. It isn’t about one of my books though, so if you get a break in the action tomorrow you might want to check it out.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone who celebrates it. I’ll be thinking about you slaving over your cornbread stuffing, and green bean casserole while I punch down dough.

PS: Don’t forget to thaw the turkey.

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They taste a little bit like artichokes

I got to the writing cabin later than usual. It was great sleeping in, and the crisp morning air made it hard to get out of bed. Even the new puppy slept in.

The weather was so nice, I left the gyrocopter on the runway and walked in through the front door. Lisa* stepped around the corner to see what was going on. She wore some old school envelope jeans and a tiny Summer top.

“That doesn't look like office appropriate attire.”

“You were supposed to go fishing today. That means it's not an office today.”

“Oh, the wind blew the kids' tent over and they came home. Fishing's off. Tonight we have a houseful of grandkids, so I thought I'd stop by to get some things done. I haven't seen those fold over, envelope jeans since 1990. They were pretty hot back in the day. Where did you find them?”

“I think they're hot too, and they aren't easy to find.” She twirled in a circle to show them off. “eBay has them though. I planned on working outside, but that's okay. What are we going to do?”

“I think I'll catch up on some reading. You can do whatever you had planned. Is there any coffee?”

“I'll make some. Then I'm putting your mouse-eating house plants out for the Summer. It's nice outside now. <Snort> Mouse-eating house plants, they're mouseplants, get it?”

“Um, yeah. I'll be in my office, reading if you need me.” I dug into Naked Alliances by S. K. Nichols. This book hasn't been published yet, but you guys are in for a treat when it is. I finished it and really enjoyed it.

Lisa donned a big Summer hat and lugged potted plants out to the deck. She went downstairs and brought back a small bag of fertilizer.

I assembled a blog post for later this week, I love the scheduling feature on WordPress. I gripe about them, but I think they're still the best blogging option out there.

When I surfed through social media, I posted a picture of Otto on Facebook. He's pretty popular, and maybe he can bait a few people into following my Entertaining Stories page. Can you imagine doubling your size in two weeks and how that must feel? It's no wonder puppies take a bunch of naps and eat like crazy, they need the energy for growing.

I nearly started reading Wings of Mayhem, by Sue Coletta. I've wanted to read this one for a long time, and will start it before the weekend's over.

Lisa screamed, followed by a clanging of kitchen pots, running water, and slamming kitchen cabinets.

“What are you doing out there? Is everything alright?”

“Everything's just fine! I'm starting your lunch.”

“Sounds good, what are we having?”

“It's, um something new. Kind of a vegetarian delight.”

You know it isn't half bad, tastes a little bit like artichokes once you get past the teeth. Does anyone know if you can start a new mouseplant from a leaf cutting?

*Lisa is my robotic personal assistant. She's also the spokesmodel for Entertaining Stories and my writing career. She has her own Facebook page here.

I'm also looking for more followers on the Entertaining Stories Facebook page, if you're so inclined. You know you want to, there's a new picture of Otto and his pull toy.

 

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My wife is disappointed

We were supposed to drive from Boise, Idaho to St. George, Utah today. We let the weatherman scare us off.

Weather watches and warnings started yesterday afternoon. They ran all night long, and are still running. It appears that one huge winter storm decided to strike the American West last night. It's about 600 miles to St. George, and the storm is that wide. The outline on the weather maps covers our entire driving route.

Neither one of us is a weather wimp, and we've both driven through many winter storms. This doesn't mean I trust the other guy on the road. There are a lot of people in Salt Lake City, and it gets pretty congested under the best of conditions. Add in a huge winter storm, and it could be a nightmare.

Consider slowing down to accommodate the weather, and we could have been facing a twelve hour drive, with white knuckles all the way.

We will have to visit some other time. We can even have a turkey dinner if we want.

My wife made a couple of pumpkin pies, and I have dinner rolls raising right now. We invited ourselves to our son's house for Thanksgiving.

In other news, I finished reading a book I've been picking my way through. I also wrote a bit of micro-fiction, and ordered some new blog art. I put out a clever Twitter post that indicated those stuck in an airport might enjoy my Experimental Notebook. Are today's sales because of that? I have no idea, but it didn't hurt. A bunch of people clicked on it.

I was productive, but my wife is disappointed. I hope all of you are safe and warm, whether you celebrate Thanksgiving or not.

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Alton Brown Live

Old What’s Her Face* and I had date night last night. We bought tickets nearly a year ago to see Alton Brown Live. For those who don’t know, Brown is a celebrity chef. He’s hosted Iron Chef America for years and years, and his own program, Good Eats, helped put Food Network on the map. This was before all cable chanels became reality TV and game show networks. In the early era, this was a good channel.

Brown taught me a lot of interesting things with his humorous style that seemed to combine Mr. Science and Monty Python. Today, he is relegated to hosting various competition shows. Think; you have 72 seconds to cook something using Fruit Loops, escargot, and rubber cement – go. (Who cares.)

Brown’s talents are wasted in these endeavors, but he has to keep making a living. I get it. He came up with the idea of a live show that wasn’t a typical cooking presentation. I have to say it was a fantastic show. It involved some standup comedy, a few humorous songs, and some food preparation that involved sensational props.

In similar style to other shows I’ve attended, there is film running before the show starts. This is my horrible attempt to capture yeast puppets burping and farting as they do what yeast does. (Maybe my sourdough starter would have enjoyed the show.)



Yeah, I know it’s awful photography. I never claimed to be a photographer.

This was a long show, roughly two seventy minute segments with a twenty minute intermission. I was sad when it ended. Brown is a genius of presentation. His song, Airport Shrimp Cocktail, is worth the price of admission.

There was food preparation too. He made a gallon of chocolate ice cream in ten seconds using a fire extinguisher and some jet propulsion techniques that were way over my head. He also made two pizzas using a super sized Easy Bake Oven. The oven was about ten feet tall and powered by theatrical lights.

His engaging stories cemented something in my mind. He used suspense to make the punch line all the sweeter. His story elements all tie together in the show too. Yeast from the film is a central player in a dough mishap he shared with us. (And it was hillarious.) As a writer, I really appreciate all the technique and polishing that must have gone into this show.

If you ever have the chance to see Alton Brown Live, do it. Even if you aren’t a cook you’ll have a great time. Oh, and never eat airport shrimp cocktail.

*Not my date’s actual name.

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Was Grandma right?

I write science fiction, fantasy, and paranormal stories. In my mind, they’re related, but are a bit different.

I write my novels, this blog, the occasional micro fiction, and am probably going to attempt a few short stories.

The blog covers a pretty broad spectrum of topics. Cooking, foraging, writing, reading, plus the writing cabin stories under the Muse category.

When I read, I like online articles, comic books, your blogs, and more. Novels I read are pretty broad based. I read the kind of stories I write, but I love a good detective story, courtroom drama, historical fiction, horror, westerns, biographies, and more.

So am I becoming a jack of all trades, and master of none? I am more than the blogger and writer you see here, but I share. Thus the stories about sourdough, gathering morels, growing peaches, going out with my wife.

I don’t think that makes me so different, but what about my writing? Am I covering too many bases? I understand I don’t have to change a thing, but would I be more successful if I focused more? What if I focused on novels, and blogging about novels?

Just kidding! I’m going to keep doing what I enjoy. One thing I refuse to let go of is my personal enjoyment of this. Chances of getting rich here are slim at best. Chances of having a good time are excellent. I’m having a great time.

My grandmother used to say I bounced around like a fart in a skillet. Maybe she was right, but I’m enjoying myself.

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