Thursday, April 27, 2017

W is for WILDBERRIES ATOP ICE CREAM IS . . . well . . . the Berries #AtoZ

FOOD FOR THOUGHT
My daily #AtoZ posts combine two concepts in under-300-words per day:
an appealing food choice along with thoughts that spring to mind.
*** *** ***  
Children love berries: especially ones they can pick straight from the vine, whether blue- or rasp- or huckle-berry. Sprinkle a few over a scoop of honest-to-real Wisconsin ice cream, and even old folks act like kids.
Growing up in the country meant harvesting wildberries during June and July. Raiding the relatives’ backyard gardens wasn’t frowned upon, once they'd grown weary of berry-filled jam, syrup, muffins, and pancakes. I did learn early not to mishandle berries or they'd stain my clothes. And  thorns on blackberry branches always made me think twice before helping myself to a quick snack.
When writing a story, I sometimes compare choosing my words to picking berries. Each choice is made judiciously. Like sprinkling only a smattering of berries atop a scoop of ice cream, one learns to be frugal with colorful words sprinkled into a story, making sure every word has purpose.
Words are there for the picking, but a mishandled word can stain your entire story.
Repetition is another prickly point to watch for in writing. When people hear the same words over and over, they become weary like they feel after too many helpings of raspberry muffins and blueberry pancakes. Sometimes words used to often begin to feel like thorns in the reader's side, and that could get an author into an even worse jam.
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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

V is for VANILLA ANYTHING and EVERYTHING #AtoZChallenge

FOOD FOR THOUGHT
My daily #AtoZ posts combine two concepts in under-300-words per day:
an appealing food choice along with thoughts that spring to mind.
*** *** ***  
 
Vanilla is a flavor derived from orchids. The vanilla orchid is a vine-like plant that grows up trees. Most vanilla today comes from Madagascar and the island of Réunion. The rest comes from Mexico and Tahiti. Vanilla is the second most expensive spice, after saffron. The production of both is labor intensive - hummingbirds and bees are involved. With the flowers open for only a short period of time, that makes it too difficult to predict, meaning plants need to be hand-pollenated. Intense.

 
 
 
 
 
So many of the foods and liquids I like have vanilla as an ingredient. Chocolate Chip cookies are flavored with vanilla extract. There's vanilla latte, vanilla milk shakes and hot fudge sundaes made with scoops of vanilla ice cream, vanilla- flavored powered protein and weigh-loss drinks.
 
 
Everything vanilla is beautiful and/or delicious.
 

 
Do you have a favorite recipe that calls for vanilla in one form or another?
 
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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

U is for UDON NOODLES AND UGLI FRUIT

FOOD FOR THOUGHT
My daily #AtoZ posts combine two concepts in under-300-words per day:
an appealing food choice along with thoughts that spring to mind.
*** *** ***  
Udon Noodles Stir-fry

"What's the difference between Udon, Soba, and Rice noodles?" I wanted to know. After trying all three, it didn't take long to decide I didn't like long-rice noodles. To me, it was like eating rubbery cellophane and probably the reason I never order chicken long-rice.
Soba noodles are made of wheat flour and have square surfaces, odd for someone who grew up in the Great Lakes area eating plain ol' white-flour spaghetti. 
This brings me to Udon noodles, much closer in shape to spaghetti. But I prefer angel hair spaghetti,  and Udon noodles are "fat" in comparison. They're fine in a good stir-fry, though, using plenty of vegetables, soy sauce, and adding onion and ginger to taste.
Noodles come with their own personalities. Shell noodles, for instance, blend well in a cold tuna salad. Bohemian goulash needs fat egg noodles; chicken soup requires finely cut, homemade egg noodles. My mother, and her mother, always made chili with elbow macaroni noodles. I thought it an odd tradition to serve rice with chili. Now I often eat it with rice, or even polenta.
What is your favorite noodle dish?
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Ugli Fruit
It is no wonder people refer to the Ugli as an ugly fruit. Not nice, just understandable.
Grapefruit, Orange, Tangerine Fruit
The Ugli is a Jamaican form of the tangelo, which in turn is a cross between a grapefruit, an orange, and a tangerine. Why anyone felt a need to create a hybrid of these three fruits is beyond me. Especially when the result was, well, an Ugli fruit. I would much prefer to experience each of these fruits separately.
 
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Monday, April 24, 2017

T is for TANGERINES - MY NEW FAVORITE GO-TO SNACK #AtoZ

FOOD FOR THOUGHT
My daily #AtoZ posts combine two concepts in under-300-words per day:
an appealing food choice along with thoughts that spring to mind.
*** *** ***   
Not so many years ago, I would refuse any offer of a tangerine. My guess is it was because of the seeds lurking among the juicy flesh, waiting for me to crunch down, something I really, really dislike. It also explains why I love mangoes: one very large seed, no surprises.
 
 
 
Recently, though, I noticed the local grocery store Foodland carried a selection of delicious sweet mandarin oranges. Once I started eating them, it became an obsession. My stash seldom runs out.
 
What is the difference between mandarin oranges, tangerines, and Clementines?
 
I thought it was a fair question. Apparently, so did everyone else. When I started to Google the question, it filled itself in. The answer is that they are the same. They are called mandarins because they come from China. They are called tangerines because they come from Tangiers.
 
So what about Clementines? The clementine fruit is small and seedless (although many mandarins are also). Because it has no seeds, shoots need to be grafted onto similar varieties of the fruit. The varietal was created by a French missionary in Algeria over 100 years ago. His name was Marie-Clement Rodier, ergo: Clementines.
 
And now you know the rest of the story.
 
 
 
 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

S is for SWORDFISH AND SHRIMP #AtoZ

FOOD FOR THOUGHT
My daily #AtoZ posts combine two concepts in under-300-words per day:
an appealing food choice along with thoughts that spring to mind.
*** *** ***  
 
Relaxing and enjoying a
view of Diamond Head before sunset
Dinner at House Without A Key in the Halekulani Hotel in Waikiki is a treat for several reasons. The atmosphere is quiet and amazingly peaceful. The service is rated above-par because the wait staff is unconditionally Aloha Friendly. And Hawaiian music and hula dancing is offered for relaxing entertainment on the lanai, with the Pacific Ocean and Diamond Head as a backdrop. Few thoughts, other than general goodwill, stick at a time like this.

Lovely Hula Hands
Elegant Hula Dancer accompanied by talented Hawaiian Musicians

Special Mai Tai cocktails relaxed us even further before the salads arrived. Several of us in our group chose the meal of Swordfish and Shrimp. Normally, I would be sure to take home half of the meal from such a nice establishment. But this fish was so tender and flavorful, I couldn't stop eating and the plate was suddenly clean! No left-overs for me.
 
Celebrating the evening with us were Left Coast Crime Lifetime Achievement Honorees and Authors Faye and Jonathan Kellerman. Those folks who worked hardest to make the entire conference possible were: Gay Coburn Gale, Honolulu Havoc Chair; Treasurer Stan Ulrich and Publisher Liaison Lucinda Surber (who were also Awards Co-Chairs) and Panel Co-Chairs and Authors Rosemary and Larry Mild.


Pleasant conversation over Swordfish and Shrimp,
and a backdrop of hula dancers and Pacific Ocean,
with Diamond Head off to the left.
As I mentioned above, few thoughts other than goodwill stick at such a time. But I wouldn't want you to take my word for it. Come on down to Hawai'i and check out the food and music for yourselves!




Friday, April 21, 2017

R is for RHUBARB and RENSHI #AtoZChallenge

FOOD FOR THOUGHT
My daily #AtoZ posts combine two concepts in under-300-words per day:
an appealing food choice along with thoughts that spring to mind.
*** *** ***  
 
Pies, sauce, or wild stalks pulled straight from the ground! Rhubarb was a staple food when I was growing up in rural Wisconsin. Mom had a terrific garden that included a corner for the unwieldy stalks of rhubarb. She cultivated with care and turned the stalks into heavily sweetened pies.
 
 
An earlier AtoZ post discussed the use of a Foley Food Mill to grind up apples for apple sauce. In our house, that same mill was utilized to make rhubarb sauce, except the stringy pulp of the stalks made it more difficult to mash out the sauce. Lots of sugar went into making rhubarb sauce, also.
 
 
As kids, we had free run of the fields and woods out in the country. We often found wild rhubarb and braved the obvious sour-face to chomp on a barely cleaned stalk fresh pulled from the earth. Again, that stringy pulp - hard to pull out from between the teeth. Sort of an early flossing mechanism.

Thoughts of my childhood are dotted with images of food, whether at home or away.
Does the mention of specific foods bring back memories for you?

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Below are the final words of a short, renshi-style poem, entitled  A Magical Adventure, which looks back at childhood visits to my Gramma Anna and Gramma Julia:

Childhood
in retrospect
outshines the brightest star.
 
If you would like to sample my linking poetry, please visit my #AtoZChallenge poetry-themed blog site: http://poetryfromthelanai.blogspot.com

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Q is for QUICHE Food For Thought #AtoZChallenge

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

My daily #AtoZ posts combine two concepts in under-300-words per day.
Each post contains an appealing food choice combined with thoughts each brings to mind.

** *** ***
 
 
Granted, it was probably predictable that my Food For Thought post on "Q" day would be about quiche. It's fun to look at photos of fancy quiches and check out the offerings at restaurants. They all look so colorful, like a fancy pizza.
 
 
 
I'm not sure my recipe even qualifies as quiche. Whatever you want to call it is fine with me. I made up this simple, last-minute concoction for a wedding brunch years ago and still remember how people came back for seconds. The other choices included spinach or some other green vegetable (don't they all?) so that might have had something to do with it. That, or the flowing alcohol.
 
When I say simple concoction, it means use whatever amount of ingredients you have or want to toss into the mixing bowl. I crack and beat some eggs, add twice as much milk plus salt and pepper, along with cubed ham and grated cheese. Stick the pan into a heated oven long enough for the eggs to set and the ham to heat through. Sprinkle more cheese on top and let it melt a bit under the broiler setting.
 
Maybe I can label it "Questionable" so it still qualifies for an #AtoZ "Q" post.
 
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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

P is for PAPAYA #AtoZChallenge Food For Thought

FOOD FOR THOUGHT
My daily #AtoZ posts combine two concepts in under-300-words per day:
an appealing food choice along with thoughts that spring to mind.
*** *** ***  

Most people have enjoyed a glass of papaya juice or eaten the fruit, spooning the flesh from the seeded half shell for a juicy and very healthy breakfast. If you live in the islands, you may even have helped yourself to fresh papayas straight from the tree, or found a gifted bag of them on your doorstep.



The black seeds can be dried and used to spice up soups or anything that you normally season with pepper. Though milder in flavor, they still lend an interesting taste to foods.


One thing you may not have done with a papaya, however, is use the emptied shell - the outer skin - to give yourself a facial. I learned this "beauty" tip many years ago. A friend told me that her mother ate half a papaya each morning, then washed her face by rubbing the inner part of the shell over her skin. When I saw how young and wrinkle-free the woman's face looked, I gave it a try.  My face felt refreshed and clean, although I can't say it helped me look much younger. I should have been more faithful. Unfortunately, I didn't continue the practice. And it shows!

Do you suppose the younger look comes from washing with papaya or from eating it?

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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

O is for OCEAN FISH AROUND O'AHU #AtoZChallenge

FOOD FOR THOUGHT
My daily #AtoZ posts combine two concepts in under-300-words per day:
an appealing food choice along with thoughts that spring to mind.
*** *** *** 
Ocean fish around O'ahu that will satisfy your cravings for fresh seafood include 'Opihi, Opakapaka (Pink Snapper), Ono (Wahoo) - Ono means delicious and Wahoo is probably a derivative of O'ahu where these fish are found in abundance; and O'opu kai nohu. 'Opihi is the one that is sometimes called 'the fish of death'.
'Opihi picking off Maui rocky shore.
Rule #1 Never turn your back to the ocean.
'Opihi is Hawai'i's version of that snail delicacy: escargot. Pick it off a rock, suck out the meat, move on. Either you like it, or you haven't tried it. I am in the second category - I don't do oysters, either.
Although these fish can be found around the world, three species are endemic to the Hawaiian islands: black foot, yellow foot, and giant 'opihi. It has a thick, cone-shaped shell covered by ridges. There is a pair of tentacles, a mouth, and a muscular foot that allows it to strongly seal its body to a rock to prevent being plucked off by a rough wave - or person wanting to eat it.
Yellow and Black 'opihi "on the rocks"
People have risked their lives trying to pick 'opihi from rocks. It can be dangerous–even referred to as “the fish of death” and “delicacy of death”. Because 'opihi live in rough shore breaks, people get thrashed around by the surf, sometimes resulting in paralysis, drowning, other times getting swept out to sea and never returning.
http://www.wegoholoholo.com/opihi-poke-bowl-limpet/
Rule #1: never turn on your back to the ocean.
 
 

Monday, April 17, 2017

N is for NACHOS with Flat Stanley Rose at Ko'Olina #AtoZChallengeHave


FOOD FOR THOUGHT

My daily #AtoZ posts combine two concepts in under-300-words per day:
an appealing food choice along with thoughts that spring to mind.
*** *** ***  

Relaxing after a 5-day writers conference requires more than a comfortable chair on the lanai. In our case, we opted for the 'Olelo Room of the Aulani Hotel in Ko'olina on the leeward side of O'ahu. Listening to Jerry Santos and Kamuela Kimokeo sing and play their renditions of traditional Hawaiian music was paradise found.

Accompanying me was a visitor from Minnesota, Flat Rose. Each year the children at Kaleidoscope Charter School in Otsego, MN send out their Flat Stanley dolls. Teachers' instructions are attached for the lucky recipients to follow: visit local scenes and venues, take photos, write a short blurb of your travels, then send everything back to the school for the children to enjoy.

The food spread on the table in front of Flat Rose included the resort's unique version of Nachos. Here is a description from the menu:

Loaded Nachos Kālua Pork,
Taro Chips,
Fire-roasted Pineapple Salsa,
Poi Sour Cream

Flat Rose with Nachos platter and
Iced Tea with pineapple

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Saturday, April 15, 2017

M is for MACADAMIA NUTS #AtoZChallenge

FOOD FOR THOUGHT
My daily #AtoZ posts combine two concepts in under-300-words per day:
an appealing food choice along with thoughts that spring to mind.
*** *** ***
Until I visited a macadamia nut farm on the Big Island, it was difficult for me to picture the nut growing on a tree. It is even harder to imagine a cashew or pine nut growing from a branch. The macadamia nut originated in Australia. The Director of the Botanical Gardens in Melbourne, a scientist and botanist, identified and classified the tree, then named it in honor of his fellow scientist, John MacAdam (Macadam). Hawai'i, however, is where commercial production of the macadamia nut is concentrated.   

If you've never eaten dry roasted macadamia nuts, why not put that on your list of things to do this month? Whenever the bagged nuts go on sale at Longs (aka CVC), I purchase a few bags and snack on them about once a day. There are different schools of thought as to whether the nuts, made up of about 72% oil, are really healthy for you or not. I figure anything made in Hawai'i has got to have some redeeming qualities.
The first macadamia tree was planted on the Big Island of Hawai'i in 1946. The nuts and Kona coffee are both thriving products on the open market. If you don't want to eat the nuts plain, try them in cookies - naturally, they come with white chocolate chunks - or try them covered with chocolate (Mauna Loa is my favorite milk chocolate-covered macadamia nut.)
 


Many years ago, I decided that as long as I enjoyed the nuts in small helpings there was no need to worry about the health factor. Besides, Jim Nabors once owned a macadamia nut farm on Maui. If those nuts are good enough for Gomer Pyle, then they are definitely good enough for me!
 
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Friday, April 14, 2017

L is for LOCO MOCO AT LILIHA BAKERY for #AtoZChallenge

FOOD FOR THOUGHT
My daily #AtoZ posts combine two concepts in under-300-words per day:
an appealing food choice along with thoughts that spring to mind.
*** *** ***  
Let’s take a look at a meal that many have never experienced before. Loco Moco is a starchy carb-filled breakfast food popular in Hawaii. It's certainly not for everyone - but the visual is awesome. The basic Loco Moco consists of a solid clump of white rice covered with a hamburger patty along with a fried egg and topped with a puddle of brown gravy.
 
 
 
The Loco Moco is a culinary example of writing visually to give the reader a vivid image of the setting in your story. First, lay your foundation, a solid clump of white rice. Then spice it up with flavorful details like juicy hamburger and glistening egg yolks. Finally, bring out the wide angle lens - "topped with a puddle of brown gravy" -  so anyone reading the description immediately visualizes that oozing river of tangy flavor!
Simple contrasts are always best.
 
Next time you're in Hawaii, if you're feeling courageous, or just a little bit crazy, plan to order the Loco Moco at Liliha Bakery. 
#AlohaFriday!
 
*** *** ***
 
My protagonist, Pepper Bibeau is not much of a meat eater . . . so,
while Rick might join you in ordering the Loco Moco during their stay in Hawaii,
she would probably order a slice of pie!
 
 
Mystery and Murder in Paradise
The islands aren't all mai tais and rainbows!


 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

K is for KOREAN KIMCHI (KIM CHEE) #FoodForThought

FOOD FOR THOUGHT
My daily #AtoZ posts combine two concepts in under-300-words per day:
an appealing food choice along with thoughts that spring to mind.
*** *** ***
 
Let's get something straight, first. Although kim chee is a staple food in many Hawaiian homes, I have never eaten kim chee. I grew up eating cabbage in many forms, including baked with caraway seeds, sauerkraut with dumplings, beet salad,  and cole slaw. All delicious foods. But kim chee, in all its Hawaiian varieties, was not something I could bring myself to try . . . not once in 20+ years. 
 
At one time, kimchi recipes were jealously guarded by Korean families, the mother passing the recipe to the daughter with marriage prospects riding on the success of the flavor. Now, with commercial products on the market, this cabbage delight is readily available to everyone who finds pleasure in its unique blend of flavors.
 
Basic recipe for Napa cabbage Kimchi (kimchee):
  1. 1 (2-pound) napa cabbage.
  2. 1/2 cup kosher salt.
  3. About 12 cups cold water, plus more as needed.
  4. 8 ounces daikon radish, peeled and cut into 2-inch matchsticks.
  5. 4 medium scallions, ends trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces (use all parts)
  6. 1/3 cup Korean red pepper powder.
  7. 1/4 cup fish sauce.
This spicy dish is the equivalent of Korean soul food.
(Photo: Foodio/Shutterstock)
***   ***   ***
 
Kimchi is of Korean origin. The Korean population in Hawaii settled mainly in Honolulu. So kimchi is a popular food staple here. I know people who eat this for breakfast. The amount of red pepper used determines how hot the sauce is. You either love kimchi, or you don't eat it. I think the fish sauce makes the decision for you.
 
The Hawaii Korean Festival 2017 is tentatively set for August on the Frank F. Fasi Civic Grounds,  650 S King St Honolulu, HI. The purpose of the Korean Festival is to share, promote, and raise awareness of Korean culture in the community.
 
Korean Festival 2016 Honolulu
Photo courtesy of Hawaii Korean Chamber of Commerce for Hawaii.com

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

J is for JALAPENO PEPPERS #AtoZChallenge

FOOD FOR THOUGHT
My daily #AtoZ posts combine two concepts in under-300-words per day:
an appealing food choice along with thoughts that spring to mind.
*** *** ***
** *** ***
 
Chicken with Jalapeno Peppers
At Subway, I always ask for jalapeno peppers with my chicken. When you choose your garnishes for your sandwich, do you tell the clerk: "give me everything" or do you go down the line pointing out each thing you want added to your sandwich? Then, after you've finished, do you realize it would have been easier to just say, "hold the spinach leaves"?
 
Jalapeno poppers with cream cheese
 
 
I haven't had a jalapeno popper for years. T.G.I.Friday's had good ones. Poppers are so addictive, even worse than potato chips. They were a staple back in the day when most every Friday after work was El Torito time.
 
 
 
But then, it was also margarita time, ice cubes . . . not crushed, lots of salt on the rim. Those food and drink choices are best left in my store of memories!
 

 
Funny, the thoughts triggered by food.
 
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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

I is for ICE CREAM - Too Divine to Skip Over - #AtoZ

FOOD FOR THOUGHT
My daily #AtoZ posts combine two concepts in under-300-words per day:
an appealing food choice along with thoughts that spring to mind.
*** *** ***

canoe shaped ice cream sundae dish
For a Wisconsin girl, born and bred, ICE CREAM is the first thing that comes to mind for the letter "I". Wisconsin is the Dairy State. My hometown holds the top claim for "inventing" the ice cream sundae. The story goes that a glass dish salesman ordered canoe-shaped dishes for serving the new concoction of ice cream drizzled with chocolate syrup. Originally served only on Sunday, then everyday, the spelling changed along with the new dishes to "sundae" and . . . 
 
 
that's the rest of the story. 

 
 
If you drive to my hometown, 45 minutes south of Green Bay or 224 miles north of Chicago, you will see a historical marker in Central Park where band concerts are still held. Main Street in town is totally changed. The ice cream parlor where the first sundae was served is no longer there; it closed in 1927. But you can still get a great ice cream cone at the Washington House where all the memorabilia of the town is now housed. 
 
Change is inevitable but that doesn't mean we always have to like it. Change sometimes makes me sad. But then, there's ICE CREAM. And just the thought of a macadamia nut scoop over a double chocolate scoop makes me smile . . . every time.
 
 
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Monday, April 10, 2017

H is for HAWAIIAN FRUIT an Excellent FOOD FOR THOUGHT #AtoZChallenge

FOOD FOR THOUGHT
My daily #AtoZ posts combine two concepts in under-300-words per day:
an appealing food choice along with thoughts that spring to mind.
*** *** ***  
Left Coast Crime: Honolulu Havoc, held at Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki, is now ended, but my thoughts linger on the great gatherings, delicious food and delightful exchange of entertaining and educational information.

A good time was had by all, beginning at the Great Lawn opening ceremony with its excellent Hawaiian Blessing, lei presentations, and pupus (local hors d'oeuvres). I wasn't able to take photos as I was pleasantly busy presenting lei to honored guests and an award-winning student.

This wasn't the only time food and drinks were mixed and enjoyed, but the event did set a precedent for everyone to imbibe in multiple servings of fresh island fruit, including pineapple and mango, along with chilled POG (passion-orange-guava juice that is a favorite of many islanders.)

Ingredients for POG
4 passion fruits
2 cups water
2 large oranges (or 1 cup juice)
5 small, soft guavas (red if possible)
½ cup water and Up to ¼ cup sugar

One evening, we walked to the Halekulani Hotel for dinner (and drinks) to celebrate the opening of Left Coast Crime. Author Colin Cotterill, a conference guest of honor and quite an entertaining fellow, raised his glass more than once to toast the week ahead.


My friends and fellow authors, Rosemary and Larry Mild listen intently to
Author Colin Cotterill (on the right) at House Without A Key Restaurant,
while I eavesdrop and take a photograph.
 
Allow me to share with you my review of
Six And A Half Deadly Sins
by Colin Cotterill
 
 
When authors entertain me from cover to cover, this solidifies my belief that the art of writing is fun. Every writer knows to balance reading with writing. How easy to meet that goal with books that are fun to read - from cover to cover; books like Six And A Half Deadly Sins.

Six And A Half Deadly Sins by author Colin Cotterill is a Dr. Siri Paiboun mystery set in Laos. When I learned that Mr. Cotterill was invited to be a guest speaker at the 2017 Left Coast Crime Conference in Honolulu (another event where you can have fun being a writer), I checked out this book from the main library. How lucky of me to have found this book, one of my “fun-est” reads of the year.

Protagonist Siri Paiboun

Dr. Siri Paiboun’s witticisms make him a loveable character who never becomes overbearing or boring. The novel's humor is subtle, woven into the fabric of the story. It creeps up on you with a quick punch while the action continues to move forward . . . leaving you to catch up.

Retired coroner Siri and his wife are the quintessential happily-married couple; their love undying. When the doctor receives a mysterious package containing a handwoven skirt, known as a “pha sin” with a human finger sewn into the hem, it sends them on a scavenger hunt of clues around the countryside of Northern Laos.

Adventure within the pages, the historical narrative, clever clues, and dangers encountered along the way make this a unique mystery. After experiencing first hand this author's terrific sense of humor, I will enjoy his other novels even more.

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Saturday, April 8, 2017

G is for GREEK DOLMADES (STUFFED GRAPE LEAVES) #AtoZChallenge

FOOD FOR THOUGHT
My daily #AtoZ posts combine two concepts in under-300-words per day:
an appealing food choice along with thoughts that spring to mind.
*** *** ***  
As you've probably already guessed, I'm not much of a cook these days. Cracking open a container of yogurt or peeling back the lid of a can counts as preparing a meal for me. So when I'm in the mood for something complicated, like stuffed grape leaves, I gravitate to the grocery story salad bar. It's really not the dolmades that I crave, but the lemon sauce that contributes such flavor to the meatless variety. While egg lemon sauce (Avgolemono) goes best with the meat-stuffed rolls, a squeeze of lemon juice and a dollop of creamy yogurt works wonders to liven up the others.
Though I've never been to Greece, it has been a daydream of mine to jet off to the islands of Mykonos, Rhodes, and beautiful Santorini with its original whitewashed buildings of lava rock dotting the hillsides. Or, at least, to write a story set on a red sand beach. The volcanic activity that shaped the island, however, shares similar birth pains with the island where I reside. Possessing no great urge to travel such a distance, it pleases me to have that thread of commonality between Santorini and O'ahu.
That, and a shared love of dolmades.
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Friday, April 7, 2017

F is for FOLEY FOOD MILL: Making Apple Sauce #AtoZ

FOOD FOR THOUGHT
My daily #AtoZ posts combine two concepts in under-300-words per day:
an appealing food choice along with thoughts that spring to mind.
*** *** ***  
Do you remember that handy little, non-electric food grinder that worked by turning the handle around and around to mash up food? Believe it or not, this was a pleasant task for me as a child.
My mom would cook unpeeled apples until they were soft. After they cooled a bit, I would place the halved apples in the container and rotate the handle until all the flesh was ground into apple sauce. Mom would add sugar and cinnamon to the sauce, then let me finish stirring it around.
Spending time in the kitchen with my mom holds special memories for me. There was no loud buzzing of electrical appliances to shatter the peaceful atmosphere. Even the Mixmaster purred as it stirred batter for pancakes or devils food cakes. We didn't own a blender for making smoothies or chopping up vegetables. A fork or knife did the trick just fine. And the food was mouth-watering flavorful. Especially the home-made apple sauce.
It was a simpler life back then.
Maybe not always better, but quieter and more relaxed.
At least, that's how I remember it. 
Mason jars of homemade apple sauce
 
 
 

Thursday, April 6, 2017

E is for EGGPLANT PARMESAN at Assaggio's #AtoZ

FOOD FOR THOUGHT
My daily #AtoZ posts combine two concepts in under-300-words per day:
an appealing food choice along with thoughts that spring to mind.
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One of my favorite restaurants is Assaggio's. And a favorite menu choice of mine is Eggplant Parmesan. In the early 90's, my initial experience with Assaggio's was in Honolulu at Ala Moana Shopping Center, my home away from home for 12 years. After a hard day's work, the restaurant offered a soothing respite. It also presented its patrons with visual tranquility. 
 
My thoughts quickly return to a platter of fragrant baked eggplant, smothered with fresh mozzarella and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. In the background is heard the steady, rhythmic flow of water into a pond below. Between bites, a glance reveals a school of colorful Japanese koi fish swimming languidly past the window table. The waiter asks, "More wine?"  
 
photo by Gail M Baugniet
 
A plaque fronting the sculpture reads:
 
WAIOLA
The Living Waters. Symbolic of the new life found
in the Islands of Hawaii by all peoples and of the
harmony of Aloha achieved here through the
mingling of cultures.
This fountain form is made of silicon bronze, weighs
two tons, stands fifteen feet high and cascades
1000 gallons of water per minute.
 
Artist: George Tsutakawa        Engineer: Jack Uchida
June 30, 1966   
 
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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

D is for DAIKON April #IWSG and #AtoZChallenge

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group
 
Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time.
Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post.
http://www.alexjcavanaugh.com/p/the-insecure-writers-support-group.html
Let’s rock the neurotic writing world! Our Twitter is @TheIWSG and hashtag #IWSG
Ninja Alex J. Cavanaugh's awesome co-hosts for the April posting of the IWSG are Chris @ Madness of a Modern Writer, Madeline Mora-Summonte, Fundy Blue, and Chrys Fey
 
Anyone serious about marketing their published work is advised to join in the annual blogging #AtoZChallenge. In past years, I didn't use my participation as a marketing tool for my novels, so I have no statistics to share about results of publicity for my books during that time. My main objective had always been toward networking. But now I am more aware of the advantages and potential benefits of approaching the #AtoZChallenge in terms of marketing and publicity.

This year I will study the sites that employ marketing strategies so that next year I am better prepared to follow their lead. It will be interesting to watch how others approach these objectives with their posts. All in all, I see this as an expanded learning experience for 2017. (One caveat: my other blog site is applying this approach with an #AtoZ poetry theme. http://poetryfromthelanai.blogspot.com)
 
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FOOD FOR THOUGHT
My daily #AtoZ posts combine two concepts in under-300-words per day:
an appealing food choice along with thoughts that spring to mind.
*** *** ***  
Daikon resembles a white carrot and tastes like a mild radish. Its benefits include antioxidants to lower both cholesterol and high blood pressure. It is rich in the minerals Potassium, Magnesium, Calcium and Iron. Unfortunately, the only time I eat daikon is when it is shredded and served as a garnish (tsuma) under sashimi. Sashimi I would eat anytime.
Sashimi (raw tuna) decorated with shredded daikon
Although some folks consider it unacceptable or prefer not to eat the tsuma, it is okay to eat the daikon that decorates the plate displaying the sashimi. Considering the price of the raw fish, and the relatively small servings offered, the garnish helps to satisfy the appetite after consuming the main course.
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