What do they eat in Catalonia?

While writing my next book, Forgotten Princess, I  have been researching what would be served for dinner in Barcelona, where I have set a scene at the mansion of Prince Arturo and Princess Elizabetta. They are part of the royal Santiago family of Cordillera, my imaginary kingdom on the border of France and Spain, but they prefer to live in the Spanish state of Catalonia. Thanks to Food Editor, Amy Schulman, posting on a travel website, I have found out about several dishes served there.

Since the state borders the Mediterranean, seafood is common as a dinner entrée. Suquet de peix, a Catalan fish stew, was invented by fishers to use parts of the catch that weren’t sold that day. It usually includes hake, monkfish, clams and mussels. The stew is often seasoned with saffron, an expensive spice grown in Central Spain, which gives the stew its recognizable red color. In the dinner scene, my heroine, Isabella, is trying to delicately remove bits of mussel from the shell to eat

Escudella i carn d’olla or Escudella, is a soup cooked with meat, vegetables, and pasta or rice. After it is cooked, the meat, sausage, a large meatball, and vegetables (carrots, celery and cabbage) are removed and then served on the side.

Dried cod, sausage, sliced tomatoes, and onions may be served in a salad, and sometimes hard-boiled eggs are included. This might be served with beans.

Mongetes amb botifarra is the Catalan version of sausage and beans. The Botifarra  sausage is typically made of pork.

Canelons is a large tube pasta stuffed with layers of meat and creamy béchamel sauce. I’ve tried making béchamel sauce. It’s tricky to get it the right consistency.

Reading all this is making me hungry. Luckily, I have leftovers from Sunday night’s dinner, corn pudding, zesty green beans with dill seed, basil, bacon bits, and onion, as well as a creamy carrot casserole, made with onion and mayonnaise to serve with leftover pork roast. Unfortunately, the strawberry pie is all gone.

Strawberry Cheesecake Pie

Posted in Delicious dishes | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Night of Romance at Haltom City Library

As one of twelve romance authors, on Valentine’s Day, I sat at a table with my books on display. I had copies of two books from publishers and five self-published books.  Beside them sat my plate of miniature chocolate croissants I’d made because that is the favorite dish of the heroine in my latest book, Royal Wedding Scoop. Attendees commented on how good they tasted.

I participated on a panel of romantic suspense writers. The librarian asked us questions about how we wrote. Most did not write eight hours a day, but had other tasks to take care of. I’m retired, but also do other things, such as trying out new recipes or creating ones of my own. My husband is a helpful guinea pig and will taste anything. Often he says it’s good, but occasionally he says, “Please don’t make that again.”

Another question was about what weird things we researched. One said she asked an FBI agent a bunch of questions and was surprised when he answered every one, gave her his phone number, and said to call if she had more questions. I told about researching what a person at a funeral home does. In one of my stories, the villain keeps the heroine in the room while he explains what he is doing to a dead body.

Before the book signing, I had finished Amazon’s process of making one of my self-published e-books into print copies. Since I’d worked through the process with a previous book, it had gone rather quickly. Amazon said to wait 72 hours. I waited six days but heard nothing. I checked to be sure no text strayed over the margins. Still nothing from Amazon.

Finally, I sent them an e-mail and got the message I’d put the wrong ISBN on the copyright page. By the time I’d fixed that, I had to pay extra to get my three copies in time for the book signing. I held my breath until they arrived just after noon on February 14th. Now they are all sold so I need to order more.

 

 

Posted in Delicious dishes | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Sweets for Your Sweetheart

Eight bakers assembled in one kitchen on Sunday, February 9th,  to make cookies for Valentine’s Day.  And one was a guy named Andy. I joined my daughters, Helen Elliott, and Diane Williamson with their other friends, Laura, Kimbra, Alicia, and Mandy to make peanut butter cookies, sugar cookies, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate cookies, and no-bake chocolate cookies.  The first picture shows the island table loaded with sugar, flour, butter, and a cookie sheet ready to go in the oven. The second picture shows decorated sugar cookies. Mandy was a whiz with the decorating tip, but I squeezed it too hard and got frosting oozing out the top onto my hand, so I let her do the rest. In the third picture, the bakers are assembled around a dining table loaded with various kinds of cookies.

My daughters and I planned to diet until that day, or at least not splurge, but when the aroma filled Diane’s kitchen, we couldn’t help but sample the goodies. We each took home a container of mixed cookies, and Diane will take the rest to the lawyer’s office where she works to share. My husband was glad to see me bring some home. We are trying to be good and only eat one at a time with a cup of coffee.

Posted in Delicious dishes | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

HIGH HOPES

It is still winter, but my iris bulbs are shooting leaves up while my yard fairy stands guard. They did not bloom the first year after I planted them, but I have high hopes.

I also have high hopes for my goals. Many people hate making (and keeping) New Year’s resolutions like lose weight, exercise more, and save money. Yes. I need to do all that too, but I’d rather concentrate on goals. They are more energizing. Mine are to finish Forgotten Princess and get it released. I also want to release Holiday with a Royal, which is out with a beta reader.

I learned some interesting things doing research for Forgotten Princess. Barcelona has a varied assortment of specially designed street tiles, some by Antoni Gaudi, and some by Josep Puig i Cadafalch. Those and other architects have worked with Casa Escofet, a construction company that won a bid held by the City Hall back in 1916. They’ve been paving Barcelona ever since. Each district of the city has it’s own distinctive tile design. La Rambla, the famous pedestrian walkway with shops, restaurants, and a theater has tiles with a pattern called el vibrazo that makes the pavement look wavy.

                                  La Rambla (2)  Ruta del Modernismo

The tile shown above with a circle design in the middles is one of 115 Flor de Barcelona tiles placed in spots near modernistic buildings. I wish I had known this when I visited that city. The only pattern I noticed was the one in La Rambla, where my husband and I ate paella at a restaurant and drank strong coffee. Later, after visiting Sagrada Familia, also designed by Gaudi, we were glad to find a Starbucks for a more familiar taste.

Sagrada Familia is a church unlike any other. Many statues and fanciful designs are carved into the walls, including a large carved scene of the holy family. Gaudi’s  over-the-top creative designs inspired the American term gaudy, to describe overly flamboyant attire or jewelry.

Work has begun on the final six of the eighteen towers planned.  The tallest of the six spires, the Tower of Jesus Christ will measure over 172 meters and make the Sagrada Família the tallest, religious building in Europe. Chief architect Jordi Fauli said the structure is on track to complete in 2026 to coincide with the centenary of Gaudi’s death. I’m betting tour tickets will be scarce then. Below is an image showing how finished building will look.

Sagrada Familia by Antoni Gaudi

Posted in Delicious dishes | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Happy New Year and a Recipe

Hi. Hope y’all had a nice holiday. I did and ate too much. I will soon go on a low carb diet, but I just had to try a recipe for blueberry scones to see if scones made with milk tasted as good as ones made with cream. There didn’t seem to be much difference, so I’ll make those next time instead of making ones with high calorie cream. See the recipe below.

I’ve been working on my next novel, Forgotten Princess. I wanted to delve into what might happen if a young woman suddenly discovered she was a princess after doing a DNA test.

Astonished and shocked, she’d rail at her father, who isn’t really related to her by blood, for not telling her sooner. I’m writing about her discoveries and adventures in Cordillera, a fictitious kingdom between France and Spain.

I’ve been busy researching foods served in Spain and France and tried making Gougeres,  French Cheese Puffs. My regular store didn’t have Gruyére cheese, so I used cheddar. I found them very tasty. I even froze some on aluminum foil and baked them later.

Blueberry Scones (8 scones)

2 cups flour

3 Tbs. sugar

2 ¼ tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. salt

1/3 cup cold Imperial margarine

1 large egg, room temperature

¼ cup plus 2 Tbs. 2% milk (plus 2 Tbs. to brush on top)

¾ cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Directions

Preheat oven to 375. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. With a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in the margarine until mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Mix egg and milk with a fork. Stir that into dry ingredients until just moistened. Empty bowl onto floured surface and gently mix in the blueberries by hand. Pat the dough into an 8-inch circle and cut into 8 wedges. Brush with extra milk. Bake for 15-20 minutes. You can freeze leftover scones and heat later in the microwave for 20 seconds.

Nutrition

1 scone has 220 calories, 9 g. fat, 23 mg. cholesterol, 274 mg. sodium, 31g. carbohydrate (7 g sugar, 1 g. fiber), 5g. protein.

Posted in Delicious dishes | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Pamela Thibodeaux’s Tempered Dreams is now on audio

I met Pamela at a Donald Maass workshop and wondered about her slogan, Inspirational with an Edge. Here are her answers to my interview questions and a copy of her book cover.  Read on, and you’ll even get an excerpt from Tempered Dreams.

  1. When did you start writing? I started writing in 5-subject notebooks while pregnant with my youngest child who is now 36 after reading one-too-many insipid, milquetoast-esque romance books. Still not sure if my reactions were hormone driven LOL! but that was the catalyst to my writing career.

2. What genre do you write? Or how do you define Steamy, Gritty, and Sensual, Inspirational with an Edge? When I first began writing I wrote steamy, traditional romance. Then I recommitted my life to Christ and committed my writing to Him. I had written everything in 5-subject notebooks so when I started typing my stories, I allowed the characters faith, or lack thereof, to shine through. Back then, I had no idea there were 2 separate markets. The ABA (American Booksellers Assocation) is traditional romance, women’s fiction, general fiction, etc and the CBA (Christian Booksellers Association). Nor did I know there were very strict guidelines of what could, or could not be included in a “Christian” novel. Suffice it to say I was shocked once I started submitting LOL!  After I received several rejections with the guidelines included, I tried really hard (and unsuccessfully) to revise my stories to fit. In 2000 I found a new, small publisher who liked them just the way the were, and viola! My publishing journey began. My books are steamy, gritty and sensual but do stay within biblical guidelines when it comes to –mainly- the premarital sex issue…hence my tagline, “Inspirational with an Edge!” ™

3. Since some Inspirational lines deal a lot with religion, what place does religion play in your stories? Religion does not play a part in my stories. Faith and a personal relationship with God/Christ do. Some characters in some of the stores do go to church, but that is only an outward expression of their inward beliefs.

4. How many books have you written?I have 7 full length novels, 2 novellas, 1 devotional and a collection of 8 short stories. I’ve also contributed to several anthologies.

5.  What were some of the most interesting facts you uncovered while             researching your books? When writing The Visionary, I researched my family history and uncovered that my 3x great grandmother once fought an Army Captain over a horse and won! All of the research my heroine does in the story, I actually did mysel.

6. Have you taken a trip to anywhere that features in your books? If so, tell me about it. Yes! My Tempered series are set in Bandera, TX which I call my home away from home. I visited there as a child with my grandparents and returned in 2010 to live and work at a guest/dude ranch off and on for 4 years. I still visit a couple times each year and dream of owning a log cabin there. My step children live in the Seattle, WA area and I’ve visited Hammondsport, NY so the descriptions in The Inheritance are accurate. I live in SW Louisiana and The Visionary is set on a piece of property that once belonged in my family so the culture portrayed in the novel is authentic as it is part of who I am.

7. What is one interesting thing about you that few people know? I don’t like tomatoes and have a visceral reaction to raw onions if I mistakenly eat them.

  1. Tell me about your family. How old are your children?My children (two by blood and two by marriage) are 41, 40, 38 and 36. My grandchildren are 15, 13 and 10.

Author bio: Award-winning author, Pamela S. Thibodeaux is the Co-Founder and a lifetime member of Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Multi-published in romantic fiction as well as creative non-fiction, her writing has been tagged as, “Inspirational with an Edge!” ™ and reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.” Sign up to receive Pam’s newsletter and get a FREE short story! (this link works. I tried it.)

Featured Book: Tempered Dreams

Dr. Scott Hensley (introduced in Tempered Hearts) has built a wall around his heart since the death of his wife and parents.  Katrina Simmons is recovering from scars inflicted on her as a battered wife.  Can dreams be renewed and faith strengthened?  Can they find joy and peace in God’s love and in love for one another?

Excerpt:“Spend the day with me,” he urged. “We’ll go to my place. I’ll take a short nap after which we’ll do whatever your little heart desires.”

“Anything?” she teased.

Her voice was as enticing as silk and just as alluring. Her excitement set fire to his blood. “Anything.” he assured in a thick voice.

His smoldering gaze, as tender as a caress and just as potent, lowered to her lips, lingered, then raked over her in a hungry gesture before returning to capture hers in a heated embrace. Trina felt as though he was touching her in the most intimate of ways. Her cheeks grew hot, her breath lodged in her throat. Desire washed over her in angry waves. She swallowed hard and tucked trembling hands in her lap, desperately trying to form a coherent sentence. “Please, Scott, don’t look at me like that.”

He could actually feel her trembling response across the table. His voice lowered another notch. “Like what?”

Trina shook her head. “Like you’re starving to death and could eat me up. Didn’t you have enough food?”

Pushing his plate away, Scott stood and held his hand out to her. Trina placed a trembling one in his firm grip. Pulling her gently to her feet, Scott raised it to his mouth, brushing his lips across her knuckles. “Food is not what I’m hungry for,” he informed her in a husky whisper.

Trina waited as he paid for their meal then followed him to the parking lot as gracefully as possible on legs that wobbled. He paused and in a silent gesture, signaled for her to give him her car keys. His fingers brushed sensuously over her wrist and palm, grasping hers gently when she placed them in his hand.

Locking his heated gaze with hers, Scott raised their clasped hands to his lips, this time lingering over the kiss. He nibbled on her knuckles, teasing the back of her hand with his mouth, then, in one swift movement, turned his attention to the sensitive flesh of her palm and wrist, relieving her of her keys and her senses.

Trina felt the caress to the very core of her being. She moaned, leaning against his hard frame when he pulled her closer. His heat enveloped her until she burned with him, for him. And his lips had never even touched hers.

Purchase Links:

Kindle http://amzn.to/1vJEqjk

Amazon Print:http://amzn.to/1q4Q8hV

Nook http://bit.ly/1QjniHY

B&N Print: http://bit.ly/1PYECpI

Smashwordshttp://bit.ly/173ypSN

Audio: http://bit.ly/TemperedDreamsAudio

I will give away an audio copy of Tempered Dreams!

She also has a Christmas Scavenger Hunt on now. Check it out on her website:

pamelathibodeaux.com

 

Posted in Delicious dishes | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

Reading, Writing and Raking Leaves

I just spent a great weekend at a writer’s retreat where I wrote the end of my next book, Forgotten Princess. However, I only have 30,000 words, so I need to add a few scenes, mainly those with the villains. I joined twelve other women in a big room with my laptop and access to yummy snacks. The Sisters’ Hideaway provided delicious meals, so I didn’t have to cook or clean up. At night, I read a print book and a kindle one on developing characters and creating character arcs (showing how the character changes and improves during the story). I’m the one in the white shirt in the middle of the first picture. Sitting beside me is Linda wearing red. In the other picture, Julie is on the left, and Gina is on the right.

When I returned home, my front yard with nine trees was full of leaves. My dear husband agreed to sit in a chair and hold the bag so I didn’t have to bend over and rake leaves into a bag lying on the ground. He kept pushing the leaves down inside the bags and was a big help. That took care of half of the front yard. Tomorrow we’ll tackle the other half, and hopefully the grass I planted will keep growing.

 

Posted in Delicious dishes | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment