Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

Why Yes, Blood Soup is a Real Recipe

Cover of the Book Several people have asked me if Blood Soup is a real recipe.

Yes, it is–an old Polish recipe, in fact.

True: Just before I submitted the story to a publisher, I removed the recipe from the book. I’d included it at the end, just for fun, to give people an idea of what was actually being served in the book. However, I removed it on the advice of a fellow critique group member. Now, I sometimes wish I’d left it in.

For your personal edification, here’s the recipe:

Blood Soup

Ingredients:

5-6 lb duck OR 3-5 lb spare ribs or pork loin ribs
Fowl trimmings, if available
1 gallon water
2 bay leaves
4 whole cloves
4 whole peppercorns
4 T flour (Add more if a thicker soup is desired.)
1 T sugar
2 T salt
2 T pepper
1/2 c vinegar
1 c sweet cream or whipping cream
Fresh Apples, Pears or both. (Peel, core and chop into pieces less than 1/2 inch.)
Dried fruit: 1/2 lb pitted prunes and 1/2 lb raisins
2 c duck or goose blood OR 1/2 c pig blood

(If you’re squeamish, 32 oz prune juice with pulp may be substituted for blood.)

optional:
1/2 tsp crushed marjoram

Directions:

In a soup kettle, cover meat and foul trimmings with water and boil slowly 1-3 hours depending on the size and age of the duck. Skim off foam from top of soup. Place spices in cheese cloth bag and add to soup.

Boil slowly until meat is tender.

Remove meat and spice bag from soup. Reserve meat to be added back later. Take out 1 cup of boiling stock and set aside. Add fruit to soup. Boil until apples or pear are soft.

In a separate bowl, blend the flour, sugar, salt and pepper into 1/2 c of the blood until smooth.

Add cream to the flour mixture. Mixture should be a light paste.

Add the 1 c of hot soup stock and mix until smooth.

Add vinegar and blend.

While soup is still boiling, add flour mixture and remaining blood (or prune juice if no blood was used).

Stir constantly.

If a thicker soup is desired, add 1 c of pureed prunes.

Boil another 5-10 minutes. Meat may be returned to the soup.

Taste and adjust seasoning.

Allow to cool and place in refrigerator. Allow soup to stand overnight before serving.

Because of the raisins, prunes and fruit, the soup will be sweeter the next day.

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

Thank You, Veterans…Thank You, Current Service Men and Women

Orvalle Harmon

Your hard work, service, and dedication are neither forgotten, nor overlooked.

My family has a strong history of military service: grandfathers on both my mother’s and father’s side of the family and more uncles than I can count have served. Some have given their lives in service, some have dedicated their lives to serving.

Pictured is my grandfather, Orvalle Harmon.

I often wonder, not just on days of remembrance, what life would have been like had they not made the choice to enlist. I know it wouldn’t be as good as it is.

To all U.S. Military personnel: Thank You.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

From the Department of Veteran’s Affairs Web site, History of Veteran’s Day:

The United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I when it passed a concurrent resolution on June 4, 1926, with these words:

Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and

Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations; and

Whereas the legislatures of twenty-seven of our States have already declared November 11 to be a legal holiday: Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), that the President of the United States is requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

A Room with A View

Mine. Here’s what I’m seeing as I look out my window right now. No internet access, but I think it’s a fair trade.


My view.

It’s been windy, but I’ve picked up some color. I’m noodling with a plot, and it’s coming along. But mostly, there’s the view…and that’s just fine.

Monday, June 29th, 2009

Alice Hoffman: What Were You Thinking?

Have you seen the Alice Hoffman kerfluffle yet?

In a nutshell: Roberta Silman at the Boston Globe reviewed her latest book, The Story Sisters, and gave it what’s being called “a lukewarm review.” (Here is the Boston Globe Link – it opens in new window).

It’s not a glowing review, but I wouldn’t call it lukewarm, either. Silman has done her homework, and she’s obviously familiar with (and has even enjoyed) Hoffman’s earlier works. But, Silman does say that the book, “…lacks the spark of the earlier work. Its vision, characters, and even the prose seem tired. Too much of it is told rather than shown…”

Silman does have nice things to say about the book, too: “Admittedly, there are some wonderful passages as the book winds to a close – about the heirloom tomatoes Annie grew in her garden and how Claire learns to design jewelry.”

Hoffman responded by tweeting Silman’s phone number  and email address  and told her readers to “Tell her what u think of snarky critics.”

Hoffman also disparaged Silman: “Roberta Silman in the Boston Globe is a moron. How do some people get to review books?”

And then Hoffman put down the Boston Globe: “No wonder there is no book section in the Globe anymore – they don’t care about their readers, why should we care about them”

Ed Champion says, “…I think it’s safe to say that Alice Hoffman is certainly the most immature writer of her generation. One expects such behavior from a whiny brat in a boarding school who didn’t get the latest iPhone, not a 57-year-old bestselling author who won’t have to beg for a writing assignment or a hot meal anytime soon.”

The Cajun Boy, writer of the Gawker story on Ms. Hoffman’s actions, says, Ms. Hoffman, “went insane on Twitter” and “acti[ed] like a petulant child.”

Wow, wow, wow! Ms. Hoffman’s been publishing since 1977. You’d have thought she would have developed some kind of thick skin by now.

As @davidgibbons tweeted, “[to survive web2 u have to check ur ego at the door].” How true that is!

I certainly won’t be picking up the latest Hoffman novel, will you?

~~~~~~~~~~

Update: Ms. Hoffman has deleted both of her Twitter accounts as of this morning. Was she feeling the pressure?

Sunday, June 21st, 2009

Happy Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads in my life.

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

Woe Unto Me

When I was a sophomore in college, my best friend Amy and I ate a lot of Chinese food. Amy would take the fortunes from her fortune cookie and tape them to the back of a spiral notepad. By the end of the semester, the reverse cover of her notebook would be plastered with little white slips in neat rows from top to bottom.

I was fascinated by the practice, and started doing the same. (Disclaimer: as much as I enjoyed Chinese food (and still do), my notebooks never achieved the same coverage Amy’s did.)

To this day, I retain my fortunes (often lamenting that fortune cookies have stopped dispensing predictions and starting meting out platitudes). But every once in while, one comes along that is particularly fitting to my writing life.

My favorite, taped to my computer monitor:

All your hard work will soon be paid off. 🙂

Yes, it even contains the smiley, albeit in black and white. Now, as far as I’m concerned, this prediction hasn’t come true yet – no novel published so far, right?  “Soon” is definitely a time span defined by the writer-gods. Or, on the other hand, fortunes could be a lot of bunk…which is what I’m hoping because…

Woe unto me, here is my latest:


You never suffer from a money problem, you always suffer from an idea problem.

Folks, for a writer, it doesn’t get any worse than this.

Or does it? I’d love to hear from anyone else who’s been cookie-cursed! Please share in the comments.

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

M3 Concert Rocked…

Okay, so it’s a bit off-topic for a writerly-type blog, but I’ve got to tell you that the M3 Concert last night rocked. (I won’t be verbose, promise…only about 600 words…)

Don’t like glam or metal?  So sorry.

A lot of bands were on the ticket, causing the venue (Merriweather Post Pavilion) to set up a second stage (for the second rate?) acts. The ballot (playing in reverse order) included: Twisted Sister • Ratt • Extreme
Kix • Dokken • Slaughter • Y&T • Gilby Clarke • Keel • Jetboy • L.A. Guns • Jani Lane – Formerly of Warrant • XYZ • BulletBoys • Carmine Appice’s Slamm • and Steel Panther.

M3 was a full-day event, celebrating the 25th Anniversary of Twisted Sister’s album Stay Hungry.

I was soooo into seeing Carmine Appice (one of Rock’s greatest drummers) but I didn’t realize that Slamm!! was a drum band. Three kits, garbage cans, plastic buckets, etc. They were good…but I got bored after about three songs.

Jani Lane (formerly of Warrant) wore eye shadow and liner. Not his usual style. IMHO, he looked like a clown. I was never a huge fan of Warrant, and I just couldn’t get over the creepiness of his eyes. On the other hand, he played something new…and it sounded pretty good.

I missed Y&T. [Rats] Love their music…and have wanted to hear them live for while now….

Never heard of Keel before. (Surprised to learn they’ve been around for 25 years!) They sounded pretty good. Might have to buy their album.

Dokken blew all the young guns away. Don Dokken is what, a grandfather? He claimed to be hung over, but I wouldn’t have guessed it. [Dokken’s been touring in Europe for several months. Don said, “It’s great to be back in the US where there’s some sun…and where I can talk to people. I only speak Californian.”

Extreme. Uh…what the heck were they doing there? These guys were odd-man-out in the genre department as far as I’m concerned…. Not a band I’m fond of. Moving on…

To be fair, Ratt played well. (I never like them.) But definitely too loud in the pavilion (never thought I’d say that about music…)

Dee Snyder of Twisted Sister put on an awesome show, coming out on stage in his glam outfit of yesteryear….definitely not what I expected (after all, every other rocker who performed forswore the hairspray and glitz for this occasion). I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised.

Not familiar with Dee Snyder and his buds from TS? Here he is:


Twisted Sister

Dee is the one with his mouth wide open.

He quipped on stage: “The people with back stage passes are getting old. [pause] I’m getting old. The bad news is: I look like an aging drag queen. The good news is: I’ve always looked like an aging drag queen.”

All I can say is this: I want to know what brand of cosmetics he sports: he ran around on stage, under the hot lights, for over an hour, and that stuff didn’t run or melt. I want some of that. In more subtle colors.

Despite the almighty greatness of Twisted Sister (not my favorite band, BTW, just the flavor of the day) Kix definitely stole the show. And I’m not saying that because I’m biased. (Kix hails from the Baltimore area – Hagerstown, MD, to be exact) and well, so do I…hail from the area, that is.)

This is Kix:


Kix

I think Twisted Sister exuded the same amount of enthusiasm and high energy that Kix did–and their music was tight…but the crowd was more into Kix. I think that kind of vibe contributed to their overall performance. Very symbiotic.

An excellent show all around.

Thanks for listening.

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

Bad Parenting

A total d’oh moment for Mama Duck here. It’s funny and sad at the same time. (And sadly, I’m still chuckling…) Thanks to Moonrat for the pic.


Mother Duck Loses Babies

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

There Are Two Kinds of People In the World….

…and I’m about to tick-off half of them. So let me get right to the point.

If you’re one of those people that keeps the radio running while you pump gas: turn it off! Especially if you keep the radio turned up as loud as it will go.

Chances are…whatever you’re listening to, I can’t stand it. And it’s darned discourteous to make me have to listen.

(Yes, I pumped gas today…and had to listen to tripe that passes for music on some radio stations. Makes me grumpy, can you tell?)