Check out my fiction - http://www.jaletac.com
Check out my science fiction series - The Fall of the Altairan Empire

Monday, June 24, 2019

New Story!

Hey! I know I'm not posting regularly. Too much life and I just had to let things slide. But I will post when I find great recipes or have news, like now.

My story, It's Always Sunny in the Fortress of Bones, is coming out in the anthology, Tales of Magic and Destiny from Inklings Press. Loads of great fantasy in this volume. It's up for pre-order!

Check it out - mybook.to/MagicDestiny


Thursday, June 20, 2019

Thursday Recipe - Black Beans, Indian Style

I ran across a vegan slow-cooker recipe book at the library and decided to take a look. The book had recipes from all over the globe. I tried this one out on a whim. I'm glad I did.

Can you cook Indian food without peppers or paprika? Yep. And it's tasty, too.

Fenugreek seeds can be found at an Indian market, if you're lucky enough to have one around. You might be able to find them at your local grocery store, you could ask to see if they ever carry them. Or you can order some online. They give a distinctive flavor to the dish so it's worth trying to track some down. If you cook much Indian food, you'll want to have some on hand.

Black Beans, Indian Style

1 c. dried black beans
4 c. water
1/3 c. onion, chopped small
1 t. butter
2 t. salt
1 t. ground black pepper
1/2 t. fennel seed
1/2 t. cumin
1/2 t. ginger
1/4 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. fenugreek seeds

Put onion and butter in 2-qt crockpot. Cook on high for about 30-45 minutes. Butter should melt and onion should get soft. Add spices. Let cook for another 15 minutes.

Rinse dried beans. Put in a saucepan, cover with water. Bring to boil over high heat. Cover and set aside for 15 minutes.

Drain beans. Rinse with warm water. Add beans to crockpot. Bring fresh water to a boil; add to the crockpot to cover beans.

Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours, until beans are tender.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Thursday Recipe - No-Mato Sweet BBQ Sauce

Sweet and still tangy, it looks like barbecue sauce and tastes great as a dipping sauce for chicken nuggets. It's also tomato and pepper free.

It looks like a weird combination but it does come together as a nice sauce.

I used the cranberry jelly in a can, not the whole berry sauce. The whole berry sauce should work, but it will be a chunkier, lumpier sauce.

No-Mato Sweet BBQ Sauce

1/2 c. cranberry jelly
2 T. brown mustard (go mild or spicy, depending on what you like)
1 T. white vinegar

Mix everything in a small saucepan. Don't worry about jelly lumps, they will smooth out as the jelly melts.

Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sauce comes to a boil. Turn to low and simmer for 5-10 minutes, until the jelly is completely melted and sauce smooths out.

Serve warm or cold.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Thursday Recipe - Simple Fruity Frosting

I've found I have issues with food colorings. The all-natural ones in the stores are expensive and hard to work with. But sometimes you want more than just chocolate or plain white frosting.

The key to this recipe is finding a nice soft seedless fruit jelly with lots of color. I used a home-made black currant jelly and it made a lovely pinkish purple frosting. You could also use Hibiscus syrup to flavor and color your frosting. (hibiscus and mint or hibiscus ginger and lemon)  I haven't tried it with jams yet, but just be aware that if your jam or jelly has bits of fruit in it, they will be in the frosting, too.

Now I want to experiment with orange marmalade...

Simple Fruity Frosting

1/2 c. butter, softened
1/4 c. seedless jelly
3 c. powdered sugar
1-3 T. milk

Cream butter and jelly with powdered sugar. Beat for one minute.

If frosting is too stiff, add milk one tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition, until you reach the desired consistency.
If frosting is too soft or runny, add powdered sugar 1/2 c. at a time until you reach the desired consistency.

Whip for 2-4 minutes until very light and fluffy. Use on your favorite cake or spread on graham crackers or use on cookies or whatever you like to do with frosting.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Book Review - The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency
Alexander McCall Smith

First off, don't expect this book to be a mystery even though that's how it's billed. Yes, there is a mystery or two buried in the story, but it's mostly about the characters and the relationships. It's not a thriller, by any means. It's a slow, meandering, circle-within-a-circle type of story.

I thoroughly enjoyed it. I wasn't expecting to. It was a book I picked up cheap at the thrift store. I'd heard good things about it so I decided to give it a try. I'm very glad I did.

This isn't my usual type of book. It's about Mma. Ramotswe, a traditionally-built lady of African origin who decides to open a private investigator office in Gabarone, capital of Botswana. She doesn't want to handle big cases or criminal cases, just the small everyday problems of ordinary people, the kind of problems that police are too busy or too important to deal with.

So if you pick this up, be prepared for a different kind of storytelling. One that focuses on the people, on the countryside, on thoughts about life and family and love.

I enjoyed it so much I'm now on book ten of the series...

Five stars for a gentle, fun read with characters I actually like
G - no language or innuendo or anything objectionable

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Thursday Recipe - Hibiscus Syrup, Take 2

Several years ago, when I first discovered dried hibiscus flowers, I posted this recipe for hibiscus syrup. Since then, I've experimented more and found new flavors to combine with the flowers.

You can order dried flowers online or check your local latino grocery store, if you have one.

Hibiscus Syrup

1 lb dried hibiscus flowers
1/4 c. chopped candied ginger OR 1/3 c. sliced fresh ginger
1 lemon, sliced
1 quart water
2 c. sugar

Combine flowers, ginger, lemon, and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, cover and let steep for 30 minutes.

Strain juice and return to saucepan. Stir in sugar. Simmer over medium-low heat for about an hour, until it has reduced to about 2 c. and thickened into a syrup.

You can use it like pancake syrup if you want. Or use it to flavor frostings. Or mix it with some lemon-lime soda to make punch.

Hibiscus Fizzy Punch

1 T. hibiscus punch
1 c. lemon-lime soda

Mix together, serve immediately. Makes one serving.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Book Review - The War of Art

The War of Art, Steven Pressfield

This is a short, succinct book about recognizing and feeding your inner creativity. Sort of.

I recognized a lot of truth as I read this book, but I also wasn't quite sold on all of his ideas. It's a good kick-in-the-pants, though, if you need it to get you out of a rut and working again.

Pressfield spends a lot of time explaining Resistance. The way he defines it, resistance is anything that stops you from doing what you really want to do. It's internal, sometimes expressed as external forces. It's those hours of surfing online instead of writing. Or watching tv and movies. Or playing games. Or cooking. Or cleaning. Or spending time with your family. This is where I don't agree. Writing is NOT my top priority, obviously. Family and my personal health come first. And sometimes laundry and errands and all the rest of the stuff that is on my plate. But, he does make a good point that you are unhappy if you push your creative outlets too far down your to-do list.

If you want to be a professional, at least in attitude and output, you have to make it your full-time job and treat it as such.

It was a good read. Now to put some of his advice into action.

Four stars
PG-13 for some strong language