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

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

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Wednesday Words

Kuportik's forked tongue flicked over the claws on his front foot. So messy, those deer, so full of blood. But that haunch of venison had tasted all right. Not spectacular, but it was sufficient to satiate his hunger. Tomorrow, he'd have to try something new. Maybe fish from the lock. Shark was supposed to good for the scales and teeth.

His huge eyes slowly closed as he drowsed in his cave, tail tucked over his nose.

Tomorrow, next week, next year, it would bring more venison, not fish. His wing still ached and his bones grew weary as the centuries passed.

Kuportik the great dragon dreamed of his past glory, of that time when he was usually more adventurous in his diet.

Check out more flashfiction on this theme here - https://www.facebook.com/pg/WonHundredWords/posts/

#WednesdayWords #flashfiction

Monday, March 18, 2019

Call for Submissions!

I've been inspired to create a thought-provoking book of short quotations and really short stories. I'm titling it Beer-Battered Shrimp for the (something). (Someone brought up concerns over the trademarked series you-know-what-it-is, so the name will be shifting.)

What? You were expecting it to be a NORMAL book filled with NORMAL stories? Nope. Silliness and weirdness will abound. All I ask is that submissions be happy and silly and hopeful. Not dark or scary or disturbing. Well, maybe a little disturbing.

Details:


Deadline: May 31, 2019

What I want:Strange little stories or silly inspirational quotes of up to 125 words (this is not a firm count, but if it's longer, your piece had better be exactly what I'm looking for). I want something that will fit on a single page in a large and funky font.
Here's an example (used by permission from Michaelbrent Collings) -

I wish all rabbits were named Barry. That way, when you were out walking with your friend and you saw a rabbit and your friend said, "I wonder what that rabbit's name is?" you could say, "It's Barry," and you'd look very smart.

Multiple submissions are fine. Reprints are fine as long as you have the rights back for them.

Forgot to add: Please keep it G or PG. No profanity or explicit sex or violence, please.


What you get:
Right now, token payment of up to $5 per story/quote and one copy of the collection when it's finished. You can also have space for a bio and a website if you want it.
Basically it would be a charity collection. Any proceeds the book earns will go towards this fundraiser - 
https://www.heifer.org/gift-catalog/animals-nutrition/honeybees-donation.html
or one of their other animal gifts.

Why am I doing this:Because it sounds like fun. And I like silly books of uplifting quotations, inspirational stories, and weird things. The world needs more happiness.


How do I submit?
Write something, edit it, make it shine, then email it to me at jaletac@gmail.com. Make sure you put SUB and your title in the subject line. Please include your name and contact info.

Deadline is the end of May. It really depends on how many submissions I get by then.

Contract stuff:
I only want the right to publish your item in my collection. I don't want exclusive rights or anything else. Feel free to publish it elsewhere or send me reprints if you have them. You agree to let me have your writing in my collection. If you need something more legal than this, I'm sure I can come up with something.

Any questions?
Comment on this post or send me a message.


Thursday, February 28, 2019

Thursday Recipe - GF Banana Cake

I found a lot of GF alternate flours at our local Grocery Outlet. The good? They were pretty cheap for GF flours. The bad? They expire soon. So we got baking and trying out recipes. Here is one that worked pretty well. It's gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, and pretty tasty.

GF Banana Cake

1 1/2 c. sugar
4-5 very ripe bananas
1/4 c. softened butter
1/3 c. milk or milk substitute
3 eggs
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1 c. GF flour blend (the stuff that you substitute 1:1 for regular flour)
2/3 c. banana flour

Heat oven to 350°. Grease a 9x13 cake pan and set aside.

Cream sugar, bananas, and butter until very creamy and smooth. Add milk, eggs, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Beat well. Stir in flours until well blended.

Spread in baking pan. Cook for 45-55 minutes, until cake is set and toothpick comes out clean.

Cool and frost as desired.

This makes a dense banana cake very similar to banana bread. You can add cinnamon or chocolate chips to it if you want.