Wednesday, February 3, 2016

JASMINE RICE AND JUNKYARDS - Recipes and Writing Prompts

I hope you've been enjoying the Recipes and Writing Prompt series of blogs. Look for many more Author Guest Blogs in the future, as well as, an additional new series of blogs starting in February entitled Spot the Lie Mondays . ~Lynda~


Drying Rice - Photo Credit
(J) Day - Jasmine Rice


Jasmine rice is a long-grain variety of rice that has a sweet aromatic fragrance. This rice is grown primarily in Thailand and Cambodia.  It is still about three times more sticky than American long-grain rice and comes in a variety of both brown and white.

Recipe: Simple Jasmine Rice Side dish

My family loves rice and sometimes it's hard to find a different, but simple way to prepare it as a side dish. I've fiddled with this recipe over the years and it works very well with almost any  entree. 

First, I lightly saute the following ingredients in 1 Tablespoons olive oil in a saucepan:

1 cup diced onion
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons minced fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup slivered almonds (I add the almonds after the onions have become slightly glazed because the almonds tend to brown quickly.)

When the almonds have become a toasty color, I then add 2 cups boiling vegetable stock and 
1 cup Jasmine rice. Stir well and cover the saucepan. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered for about 20-25 minutes. When all the liquid had been absorbed, uncover and fluff with a fork. It's ready to serve.

Photo Credit

Writing Prompt Theme:


Junk Yards
- A place where scrap is collected before being discarded, reused, or recycled.

Writing Prompt:

You've taken a wrong turn while traveling alone. At dusk you come to this junkyard and decide to stop and ask for directions to the nearest gas station. After searching for thirty minutes, you haven't been able to find anyone around. It's getting dark, you're almost out of gas, and your cell phone isn't getting a signal. Then, you hear what sounds like a child's weak cry...

In a hundred words or less, describe your first thought, your first emotion, your first action. Use impelling imagery and strong verbs.



If you enjoyed reading today's blog, 
please use the social media buttons below to give this a share. 

Thank You So Much




Wednesday, January 27, 2016

ICE BERG LETTUCE AND INK BLOTS - Recipes and Writing Prompts

I hope you've been enjoying the Recipes and Writing Prompt series of blogs. Look for many more Author Guest Blogs in the future, as well as, an additional new series of blogs starting in February entitled Spot the Lie Mondays . ~Lynda~


Photo Credit - Ernesto Andrade 

(I) Day - ICE BERG LETTUCE



Iceberg lettuce has the reputation of being low in nutrients, that's not exactly correct; it's just lower in nutrients than many other types of lettuce. Iceberg lettuce serves as a good source of vitamin K. Each 2-cup serving contains 35 micrograms of vitamin K. Use in mixed green salads, tacos and lettuce wraps..






Recipe: Ice Berg Lettuce Stir Fry
Have you ever wanted to make a skillet of stir Fried Vegetables and discovered you didn't have any of the common ingredient, cabbage? Well, don't worry. Grab that head of Ice Berg Lettuce, it's a great substitute. I've done this several times and my family honestly doesn't realize the difference. 

I use a bag of frozen stir fry vegetables, any variety will do and one head of lettuce.
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 3⁄4 teaspoon sweet soy sauce
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 green onions, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 cup diced fresh tomatoes 
Heat a large nonstick skillet over high heat until very hot. Add olive oil. Add garlic, green onions. Saute until green onions begin to change color, add package of frozen vegetables. Stir every so often. Cook until vegetables are slightly crunchy, not mushy. Add the remaining ingredients, except for the lettuce. Once the mixture has heated through and all elements are blended, add the lettuce and cook until the lettuce wilts and combines nicely with the vegetable.

Photo Credit - Chris Gerrard


Writing Prompt Theme:


Ink Blots - An inkblot test is a personality test which involves the evaluation of a subjects response to ambiguous ink blots.

Writing Prompt:

Your a famous archaeologist who's just been kidnapped and brought blindfolded to an unknown location. A voice tells you to remove the blindfold. When you do, you find yourself alone in a small room devoid of any furniture or other objects except for a large framed ink blot hanging on one wall. The voice now says, "Tell me-what is the meaning of the ink blot? Your life depends on your answer..." 

You're shocked. Why? Because you've been searching for this very item. It's a map of an underground cave formation, one that is supposed to hold a very unusual ancient tomb with unimaginable treasure. Your captors are not stupid. To stay alive, your answer must be convincing without giving away the ink blot's real secret. How do you answer...


If you enjoyed reading today's blog, 
please use the social media buttons below to give this a share. 


Thank You So Much



Wednesday, January 20, 2016

HONEY AND HILLBILLY - Recipes and Writing Prompts - Contributed by Author Susan Edwards

Courtesy of all-free-download.com
My Guest today is Author Susan Edwards. Susan has given us a super recipe for a perfect anytime dip, and a challenging and fun writing prompt. Why not try your hand at creating both.

(H) Day - HONEY

Honey is more than the sweet, golden product from a beehive. We all know how useful it is in the kitchen: a sweetener for tea, peanut butter & honey sandwiches, and a glaze for baking or in marinades. But honey is also loaded with antibacterial and antifungal properties. Honey is touted for its health benefits for the whole body and comes both raw (unpasteurized) and pasteurized. Pasteurized honey has gone through a filtration process and has a longer shelf life.

A tablespoon of raw honey contains 64 calories and is fat-free, cholesterol-free, and sodium-free. It’s approximately 80 % carbohydrates, 18 % water, and two percent vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. Honey should not be given to infants or children under one year.

Honey can contain spores of Clostridium botulinum bacteria which is found in dirt and dust and can lead to infant botulism and produce a toxin inside the body that can cause muscle weakness and breathing problems. There are so many health benefits to eating honey, or using it topically, it’s a worthwhile topic to research and see how you can incorporate it into your daily living.

Benefit of honey are:

· Alleviate Allergies

· Cough Suppressant

· Energy Drink

· Sleep Aid

· Treat Dandruff

· Wound Care

· Cancer Fighting & Anti-Tumor Properties

· Immune System Fighter
Photo/ Recipe Credit


Recipe - Honey Kiwi Raspberry Fruit Dip

Adapted from http://www.honey.com/recipes/detail/44/honey-kiwi-raspberry-fruit-dip)

1 - Ripe kiwi, peeled and diced

1/2 cup - unsweetened frozen raspberries (or blueberries or combination of both)

1/2 cup - pure honey

8 oz. - low-fat vanilla yogurt (Can use fat-free as well)

Fresh fruit, for dipping

I’ve also add half a banana at times as well but this is optional. Makes a great mid-morning snack or even a breakfast for those mornings when you need to hit the ground running.

Makes approx. 2 cups.

Directions: Using a food processor, puree kiwi, raspberries and honey. Stir in yogurt and serve with sliced fresh fruit (mangos, oranges, strawberries, pineapple, watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, grapes, bananas, etc.) 

Writing Prompt Theme:

Hillbilly (adapted from Wikipedia) "a Hill-Billie is a free and untrammeled white citizen of Alabama, who lives in the hills, has no means to speak of, dresses as he can, talks as he pleases, drinks whiskey when he gets it, and fires off his revolver as the fancy takes him." Hillbilly MusicHillbilly Music –

1. Folk music combined with elements of popular music in which the banjo, fiddle, and guitar are principal instruments: a type of music thatoriginated in mountain regions of the southern U.S. (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/hillbilly-music)

2. country-and-western music. 

Writing Prompt:

You’re in a Hillbilly Barbecue restaurant. What music is playing? How does it make you feel? What shows are on the TV screens and what is the décor like. Here’s some hints from a yummy place near me (portable potty chair as a planter outside, sink with a hose sticking out of wall for faucet, oil pan for sink, Jiffy Pop on the wall for emergency alarm, broom sticks for tooth picks). Set a scene with your characters. What kind of plates, glasses, napkins, flowers, uniforms of servers, lighting, and décor and how do your characters react (distain, amusement, humor, enchanted etc.)


I thank Susan for being my guest today. And for all my readers who'd like to find out more about Susan and her books, please visit the links below.

Website:         http://susanedwards.com
Twitter:           https://twitter.com/susan_edwards
Goodreads:     https://www.goodreads.com/susanedwards
New Release:  White Christmas Reunion http://amzn.to/1ZKwJL1



If you enjoyed reading today's blog, 
please use the social media buttons below to give this a share. 

Thank You So Much




Saturday, January 16, 2016

Writers and the Seasonal Word-count Syndrome

Never heard of this malady before? Don't feel uninformed. I just made it up.

Courtesy of Mick Lissone at
Public Domain Pictures dot net
I wondered if, much like myself, the productivity of other writers was connected in some mysterious way to the seasons. I love writing in the Fall and Winter. I think it's the fact that the weather gives me permission to spend more time cocooned by the fireplace with my laptop only inches away. It also gives me a perfect excuse to have additional cups of coffee and hot chocolate, which I really enjoy while I'm off in another world writing my little heart out!

My muse seems to be a seasonal little fellow also. She's not very talkative in the Spring and Summer, probably out flower-hopping with her other muse friends. But when it's cold and rainy, she's always snuggled on my shoulder where she drops wonderful tidbits of inspiration into my ear.


Are you infected with the Seasonal Word-count Syndrome? If so, how? Don't be shy, share your thoughts.




If you enjoyed reading this, please use the social media buttons below to give this a share. 
Thank You So Much


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

This Writer Loves creating Visual Inspiration through Storyboards on Pinterest


How important are visuals to you when you write? Do you have a storyboard wall or snippet file for all those little clippings you've been hoarding? Do you refer to these visual aids often?

I am inspired by what I see. So story-boarding is essential to my writing process. It's also one of the most enjoyable aspects of getting all the parts and pieces of my story firmly in mind. I keep it simple. I don't outline, make scene cards, or arrange all the elements in story order. Nope! That's way too structured for me. (*smiles precociously)

I'm a 'pantser', which means that my writing style is free-thinking, free-moving, and free from predetermined order. Sounds like a mess doesn't it? But don't be scared, everything comes out in believable sequence in the end.

What I like are visual hints, inspiration, daydream catalysts, and some shock-and-awe therapy. How do I manage to get all this on my desk at one time? By utilizing a visual wonderland called Pinterest. This is where I start story-boarding the elements that  may be included in my finished story. It's fun and totally inspiring. It never fails to jump-start my creative nature. It can introduce the perfect image of the characters in my head, the worlds they inhabit, their likes and dislikes, and the many different moods and motivations needed to move a story forward.

Why not see how this works by viewing the storyboards on my Pinterest Page. You can see the boards for books that have been published, and for books that are in various stages of completion. And notice how my storyboards have grown as I've gotten better at creating them.

Follow ICKY CHIC DESIGNS's board Payback in Wayback - Published on Pinterest.

Some of my readers have said they love watching my storyboards develop because they get an advanced feel for the story, fall in love with the characters, and are intrigued by the mystery even before the book is released. They love seeing if the concept they build through the visual storyboard is close to mine when they finally get the finished book in their hands.

Now it's your turn. Tell us how you like to use storyboards or visual aids.

And if you feel so inclined, please use the social media buttons below to give this a share. 
Thank You So Much



Book Review - The Disappearing Dolphins by Jennifer Kelman


About The Book:

Can You See the Disappearing Dolphins? Kevin and his twin sister Jackie always enjoy going to thebeach with their mommy, but Kevin can tell that today will be extra-special. As he and Jackie start building a sandcastle, Kevin sees a fantastic sight: a dolphin, jumping and playing in the ocean. Kevin is known for his vivid imagination, and when he tells Jackie about the dolphin, she doesn't believe him. As he watches the joyful antics of the dolphin in the sparkling sea, Kevin is convinced that the dolphin is real-even he couldn't make up something this fantastic! Determined to share the magic of the dolphin, Kevin sets out on an adventure of discovery that will create lifelong memories for him and for Jackie. With warm, comforting language and beautiful illustrations, The Disappearing Dolphins is sure to become a favorite with anyone who cherishes the wonder of the natural world as seen through children's eyes.

AMAZON

Breeze, @TexasMomToThree, is a mother of three girls. She endeavors to find great books to read to them. I thank her for sharing her thoughts on these stories here at BETWEEN THE PAGES.

Breeze: My Thoughts On This Book:





I enjoy finding books that make my children laugh, this was one of those stories.It was fun and certainly sparked my children's imagination while reading it. The story is about two kids enjoying a day at the beach when suddenly they see dolphins....but wait did they see them? Looks like you will have to read this fun adventure for yourself to find out! The illustrations will pop out at you and added such a great layer to this already cute story! Dolphins and beach days are a great combination and I enjoyed sharing this book with my little ones.





If you enjoyed reading this, please use the social media buttons below to give this a share. 
Thank You So Much





Sunday, January 10, 2016

Grapefruit and Grapple Hooks - Recipes and Writing Prompts

I'm having fun doing a series of blogs that I hope my readers will enjoy. I'll share some of my favorite recipes and devise some original writing prompts. Why not try some of both. Get creative, have some fun, and share your thoughts by leaving a comment. You're also invited to post a short example of how you used the writing prompt in the comment area. My first series of posts will use the Alphabet for inspiration. Grab a friend, tell your classmates, inform your writing group, whatever, GET CREATIVE!


(G) Day  Grapefruit and Grapple Hooks


Courtesy of Elizabeth Lindhag


Grapefruit – Did you know?


Did you know that grapefruit comes in several different colors. The most common color probably available in your local supermarket is pink, however, there are also yellow, white, and red grapefruit...who knew! One cautionary factor about this fruit is that it can interact with medications, sometimes increasing their potency, making it easy to over medicate. One grapefruit tree is capable of producing 1,300 – 1,500 pounds of fruit a year. WOW!






Recipe: This recipe is a variation I created but I found the inspiration at allrecipes.com.

Fresh Grapefruit, Coconut and Cherry Cake

Ingredients:

2/3 cup butter, softened

1 3/4 cups sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup fresh grapefruit juice

3/4 cup milk

3 cups sifted cake flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup of maraschino cherries (slice whole cherries into quarters, or dice into smaller pieces.)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans.

2. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.

3. In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Stir in the vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture alternating with the grapefruit juice and milk. Add cherries and stir. Pour batter into prepared pans.

4. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely. Top with your favorite icing or eat as is.


Writing Prompt:
 

Grapple Hook – Definition: A tool or device with multiple hooks (known as claws or flukes) attached to a rope. Primarily, grappling hooks are used to temporarily secure one end of a rope.

Prompt: Imagine that you're trying to describe this tool to someone who has no clue what you're talking about. Write a three sentence explanation using as many synonyms as you can dream up. (No peeking at a thesaurus!) Try for, at least, 5-8 descriptive synonyms along with two possible scenarios where this tool would be invaluable.


Coming Next: (H) Day – Honey and Hillbilly Music




If you enjoyed reading this, please use the social media buttons below to give this a share. 
Thank You So Much




Friday, January 8, 2016

Little Hati Offers Authentic Indian Dishes, Spices, and More...

As my readers know, I love anything Handmade.  And what is more enticing than some scrumptious and tantalizing dishes that are prepared by someone who loves what she does. Kayla, the artisan behind the unique cuisine of LITTLE HATI, has handcrafted some exotic choices. Kayla was kind enough to be my guest artisan today and she graciously allowed me to interview her about her Etsy shop and the story behind her business. So sit back and enjoy Kayla's interview...

Question: What is the name of your shop and do you have a story behind that name?
Answer: The name is Little Hati. Hati (pronounced, "Hah-tee") is the Hindi word for Elephant. I adore elephants and on a date at the zoo with my husband (then boyfriend), Lakshman, Hati was the first Hindi word he ever taught me! When I was trying to think up an Indian-themed name for my business that memory popped into my head and I knew it would be perfect!

Originally I was going to call it, "Hey, Hati!" because I love alliteration. But as I was painting up the sign, Lakshman came in and saw it and said, "Actually...You might not want to name it that... Sometimes 'Hati' is used as an insult so if you call out to somebody, 'Hey Hati!' it's kind of rude." Thankfully I hadn't gotten too far with the sign so it wasn't that big of a deal to scrap it!


Question: Do you currently have a favorite item in you shop you'd like to tell us about?
Answer: Yes! I have two, actually! My absolute favorite food in the entire world is Chicken Tikka Masala. Oooh, it's so delicious! It's creamy and spicy and sweet and just absolutely amazing!

I first discovered the dish on my Honeymoon. We ate at this little hole-in-the-wall Indian restaurant every single day because I couldn't get enough of the stuff. When we got home I knew I would have to figure out how to recreate it because I couldn't live without it. I went through fifteen recipes! I cried after each one. Lakshman is not a big foodie, so he did not understand how I could get that upset about food. It took me a full year of failure to finally perfect the recipe. Then I wanted to share the food with the world! That's how the Little Hati Tikka Masala Dinner Kit was born!
Chai Tea Kit
It has all the spices (three whole baggies full of 'em!) plus the amazing Himalayan Basmati rice so you can make Tikka Masala at home without the tears and guess-work that I went through!

My second favorite thing in my shop is my Chai Tea Kit. I love warm tea, especially in the winter! And one winter we were over at a Nepali friend's house and she made us all a big pot of chai. I was so amazed at the exotic blend of flavors, the beauty of the whole spices, I begged her for the recipe. She's super nice so she walked me through each step and each spice so I could make it at home! 

Chai Tea
All the whole spices you need, plus the authentic Tokla Black Tea, is in the kit, and the directions are so easy! You just steep everything in some water and milk! It uses Jaggery, which is an Indian sugar, and waaaay less processed than white sugar, which gives it such a smooth sweet taste, and makes it a healthier option for people who like sweetness, but want to be healthy.

Question: Where or how do you find your greatest inspiration?
Answer: India! My husband is Nepali, and the Nepalese and Indian cultures are very similar. He's fluent in both Nepalese and Hindi so we watch a lot of Bollywood! I not only fell in love with my husband, I fell in love with his culture too! The colors are breathtaking, the music is beautiful, the people are kind, and the food is delicious. I get inspired every time we go out to eat at an Indian restaurant, shop for spices at an Indian Bazaar, watch a great Hindi movie (Sharukh Khan is King of Hindi movies. He's awesome!), or basically anything else! I find great inspiration from nature, and India and Nepal are full of mountains and jungles and just absolutely beautiful scenery, so that really gets the wheels of my mind turning!

Question: What is the best/worst, or most amusing interaction you've experienced with a buyer?
Answer: Oh, there are so many! During Market-Season (spring-summer) I sell at a local Farmer's Market. I had my Elephant Banners on display and a few loose Elephants laid out on the table.  I told my employee named Amber) that if kids came along and really loved the elephants but their parents wouldn't buy a banner for them, to just go ahead and give them one of the loose elephants, 'cause I love kids and I remember the anguish I felt when mom and dad wouldn't let me get something amazing at a craft fair.  I don't have kids, so I did not realize what an impossible request I was making of them.

Well, a family came up with six daughters, all of them so sweet and cute and all of them desperately eyeing the elephants. I only had exactly six loose elephants left! Well, market day wasn't over, so I wanted to keep at least a few elephants for the next kids to come along. So I told the girls, "Okay, you can have two elephants! And ya'll share with each other!" Immediately six little hands reached out and grabbed all my elephants. I kept trying to yell, "You only get two! You girls can share!" over the giggles and elephant noises but there was no way I was getting any of those elephants back. I watched them run through the market with smiles on their faces and my little Mehndi Elephants gripped in their tiny hands and I thought, "Oh, well. At least the last elephants went to girls who are really enjoying them!"

Question:  Do you have any tips that might help another shop owner to better present their products?
Answer: My best advice is: Be passionate about whatever you're doing! The more you love it, the easier it is to work on it. You'll be more inclined to give it your best effort, and you won't be as discouraged when you hit a dry spell, because you love it so much! Second Best Advice: Photography is important. Spend a little time and energy on your set up, styling, lighting, and editing. Give your products (that you love because you're passionate about them, right?) their best possible showcase!

Question: Can you remember what your first sell felt like? How did you celebrate?
Answer: I don't remember the specific first sale, but I remember the first market day. Winter was just thawing out so it was still frosty in the morning, even with the sun shining, and I was so nervous. I had invested so much into this business! What if it was a failure? What if no one here liked Indian food!? But it turns out the people in my neck of East Texas woods had been starving for Indian food all this time! I sold out within the first two hours. I still get that nervous feeling before each market day, and I don't always sell out, but any time I see someone walking away with a kit and I realize that this might be their first experience with Indian food, or maybe they're giving it as a gift and someone out there in the world is going to be enjoying my Tikka Masala, or Chai, or Spicy Potatoes, or whatever, I get this thrill in my stomach and I feel so happy and proud! It's amazing.

I celebrate every good market day with a banquet of Indian Street food at home! I make Naan, Samosas, Chutneys, Pickles, and, of course, Tikka Masala and I pig out while dreaming of all the happy families that get to enjoy these exotic meals for the first time!

Question:  Can you describe your creative zone or area? Is it inside or outside your home?
Answer: The kitchen is, of course, a big creative zone for me! I love my spices. Sometimes I just sit and stare at their beauty. I don't even have to cook with them, they just make me happy! Then there's a big window in my living room where I take all my food photos. Lighting is crucial, and you just can't get any better than that soft, filtered, natural light streaming through the window. I have a few beautiful sarees so i like to use them as my backdrop! 
For the paintings and crafts side of my business I actually like to be outside with the fresh air filling my lungs and the forest across from my house inspiring me with all the colors and sounds! Of course, if I'm working at night I have to be at my kitchen table. It's just me and my husband here, so we could get by with a smaller table. But I had to get one of those big tables that seat 6-8 people and keep the leaf in it so I can spread my work out!

Question:  Where can we find your products?

Answer: I have my shop, Little Hati, on Etsy. I sell through Facebook (Little Hati Indian Dinners) and Instagram (#LittleHatiMeals) and over the phone and at the Farmer's Market. It's not a huge company-type thing, so I like to take orders personally and deliver or ship them personally too! You can email me at LittleHati@yahoo.com to place an order or check out any of the above mentioned places to see what all I offer. 

I'm constantly brainstorming and getting inspired, so I offer new stuff all the time! Mostly I just want to spread the love of Indian food and India-inspired things throughout the world. So, if you've never had Indian food before, don't hesitate to order! It's so delicious! 


Do you have a special cuisine that you enjoy cooking and sharing with others? Drop a comment, I love to hear about your food adventures.