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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Thursday Recipe - Salsa Verde

I adore salsa verde, except nobody makes it without cilantro anymore. In case you haven't picked up on it, I detest cilantro. Detest isn't strong enough. Abhor, loathe, despise, execrate (cool word I just found in the dictionary!). The stuff is foul beyond words. If you like it, good for you, but please, please, PLEASE don't try to convince me to try it. I have and no, I will never NEVER like the stuff.

So, I had a whole garden full of green tomatoes and needed something to do with them. I still have quarts of green tomato mincemeat in my basement. I don't have any salsa and my children eat it like candy. So salsa was the obvious answer. I couldn't use my red tomato version, so I went searching for something with green tomatoes. I came across this recipe on the Ball Canning website. I didn't have all the ingredients, so I improvised. I like the version I came up with. It's sweet, tart, citrusy, and very tasty.

Bonus, it can be bottled and stored. If you can keep your kids out of it. Just follow the canning and processing directions for your area and altitude. The original recipe has information on processing or check your local county agricultural extension office.

Salsa Verde

3 large anahiem chilies
7 c. finely chopped green tomatoes
1 large onion, chopped small
2 - 3 large cloves of garlic, finely minced
1/2 c. lemon and/or lime juice
1 t. cumin
1 t. dried oregano
1 t. salt
1 t. chili powder
1 t. black pepper

Wash the chilies. Roast until nicely blackened. (This takes about 15 minutes in my BBQ grill. If you don't have a way to roast them or just want the easy way, use 2 can chopped green chilies. If you want it spicier, chop up some fresh jalapenos or other peppers and add them in.) Peel the roasted peppers, remove seeds, and chop into small pieces.

Dump everything into a large pot - chilies, tomatoes, onion, garlic, lemon/lime juice, and spices. Cook and stir over high heat until the mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Fill clean, warmed pint jars. Wipe the rims clean, process and seal if desired. Otherwise, put it into containers and refrigerate for at least overnight before serving.

If you like it smoother, use a stick blender on the salsa until it's the texture you like.

This recipe makes about 5 pints.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Broad Universe Full Moon Blog Hop - Blue Moon Blues

Check out Broaduniverse!

I love the song Blue Moon. It's a sweet, sad, romantic song, great for those moody days.

A blue moon isn't really all that rare or special, though. Astronomically speaking, it's the second full moon in a month. This past July, we had a blue moon on July 31. The moon was full on July 2, then again on July 31, making the second one a blue moon. It was very pretty. I enjoy sitting outside at night and watching the full moon. I enjoy watching the night sky pretty much anytime, even when it's cloudy. But then, I'm a space geek.

I could explain what makes a full moon. (During a full moon, the earth is between the sun and the moon so we see the fully lit up side of the moon. The cycle from full moon to full moon takes approximately 28 days.) Or I could explain how the moon doesn't have a dark side. (It's tidally locked with the Earth. One side always faces the Earth, but because of the relative position of the Sun, Earth, and Moon, that side is not always lit or always dark. One day on the Moon lasts about two weeks. One night on the moon also lasts about two weeks. It is more technically correct to call it the far side of the Moon.) I could quote numbers for daytime (100°C) and nighttime (-173°C) temperatures on the Moon.

Day and night temperature
maps of the Moon -
from NASA's website
I could even expound on the types of rocks on the Moon's surface (mostly volcanic), their ages, and even the origin of the Moon's atmosphere. (Yes, it has an extremely thin atmosphere, basically negligible but still there.)

But what I love most about the Moon is the way its light makes my mundane backyard into a chiaroscuro world of mystery and shadow and liquid silver. I love how it hushes the strident noise of day and creates a silence stitched together with the chirp of crickets and the shush of the night breeze. Night without the Moon would be too dark, too full of terror and fear. Night with the Moon is magic.

Because this is a giveaway tour, I'm offering a one-of-a-kind hand-made crocheted Kindle cover! And yes, I'll even mail this international. And include at least one free ebook for your reading pleasure. Just pick a title off my webpage - - and tell me in the comments on this post. It also helps if you leave an email or some way I can contact you if you win.

Be sure to enter the giveaway for the Blog Hop and visit the other blogs -

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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Thursday Recipe - Hawaiian Beef

Slow cooker recipe for you. It worked pretty well, but it wasn't quite what I was hoping to re-create. I've been looking for a sweet tomato beef recipe that my neighbor taught me to make years ago. It had pineapple, bell peppers, raisins, and a bunch of other yummy stuff in a ketchup based sauce.

Here's try #1:

Hawaiian Beef

1 large onion, cut into strips
2-3 lb top round steak or roast, cut into chunks
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 large bell peppers, cut into strips
1 c. crushed pineapple
1/2 c. raisins
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 T. ground ginger
1/4 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. hoisin sauce
1 c. ketchup
1 t. ground black pepper

Layer everything into a large (5-6 quart) crockpot or slow cooker in the order given. Slap the lid on and let it cook on high for 1-2 hours. Give it a good stir, then cover and cook for another 4-6 hours on low.

Stir well before serving over steamed rice.

chopped peanuts
sliced almonds
shredded coconut
chopped green onions
mandarin oranges
pineapple tidbits

Monday, October 19, 2015

Breathing Room

It's nice to catch a breathing space every now and then. I finally found a few days. Sort of. My thesis is off to the committee. The house painting projects are (mostly) done. Those that are left are not critical. The house is cleaned up, cleared out, and officially up for sale. Work is not to busy, at least for me. The kids are old enough that they don't require much hands-on care anymore. Most of my projects are at a point where they don't require a lot of attention. So I have space to breathe.

That could change any moment. We're in a holding pattern waiting for the dominoes to start falling. Then big changes will happen, all at once. And I'll be wishing for more breathing room again.

What kinds of things do you wish you had more space and room for in your life? I'm looking forward to more time for writing fiction again. Time for quilting and crocheting. Maybe I'll take up sketching again. Or maybe gardening. Time for games and movies. Time to laugh with my family. Hiking, camping, perhaps fishing. What would you do if you had a day or three where you could do whatever you wanted?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Thursday Recipe - Lemon Sauce

This is that tangy, sweet but still sour, dessert sauce that goes really well with applesauce bundt cake (hint, hint). Or over gingerbread. Or over those traditional baked pudding thingies that I can never get to come out right.

It's easy and fast so go try some today. This version is based on an old Betty Crocker recipe.

Lemon Sauce

1/3 c. sugar
2 T. cornstarch
3/4 c. warm water
4 T. lemon juice
1 t. grated lemon peel (optional)
2 T. butter

Mix sugar and cornstarch. Stir in water and lemon juice. Whisk until smooth. Cook over medium heat until it thickens and boils. Boil and stir for one minute. Remove from heat. Stir in lemon peel and butter. Stir until smooth.

Serve over your favorite fruit dessert or applesauce cake or bread pudding or whatever you like lemon sauce drizzled over.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Person of Interest Definitely Caught My Interest

Have you noticed how tv shows these days are going for long story arcs that take at least the whole season, if not two or three, to resolve? Back in the day, tv shows told stories that took at most two or three episodes to finish, and those were usually reserved for season finales. Most storylines took one episode. Period. The End.

It makes sense. If you had to wait an entire week to get the next chapter in the story, you'd lose a lot of the urgency and interest. Yes, you still have to wait a week if you're watching the shows live. But with various recording devices and services like Netflix and instant streaming, long storylines are not just possible. They are becoming the norm.

I am definitely not complaining. I love it. I'm finding that watching shows with short storylines aren't as satisfying to me. Even movies are not as good. These tv shows really go into depth on the characters and settings and background. As long as it doesn't bog down the story, why not? It's like settling in with a really good book series.

Person of Interest is that kind of series. The story gets more tangled and convoluted the longer I watch. I just finished Season 3 and I can't wait to dive into Season 4. I really enjoy watching the characters evolve and finding out about new complications and issues.

The series is a dystopian-in-development that takes place in the now to near-future. It's totally 1984 in the making. I'm not a fan of that kind of dark storyline usually, but I'll make an exception with this show. The main character, Finch, is a Don Quixoté. He's full of goodness and light and hope. He sees the best in people and the future. Despite evil. Despite people who do horrible things. Despite the ever-looming presence of Big Brother. He believes in decency and goodness. And because of that, I can love the show and him.

If you've ever seen Man of La Mancha, the stories have a lot of similarities. Finch is taking people that most would assume are beyond redemption and finding ways to bring out the good in them. They have evolved into crusaders for the common good. Even though most of society is oblivious to what is happening, Finch and his friends are fighting for that right to remain oblivious. It's a hidden war, fought in shadows, which only adds to the tension. What if this is real? What if we are just ignorant because the government wants us to be ignorant? It's a believable scenario. And that's another reason I enjoy the show. I can believe in the truth of it. Even when I know it isn't true.

Besides that, the story is riveting. Three seasons in and I still don't see where it's headed. But the ride is fantastic so far.

Person of Interest is on Netflix. If you haven't watched it, go find it and spend a few days watching.

I give it an A, great show. I will warn that is a solid PG-13. The violence is a bit much, even for me. They keep the language and the innuendos clean, though. It's very definitely an adult storyline, so not one for the kids to watch.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Thursday Recipe - Applesauce Bundt Cake

Referring to Monday's post: Talk about frustrating! Karina Fabian’s I Left My Brains in San Francisco would be up on Audible by now, but sometimes, there’s no rushing Amazon. To make up for the wait, she’s offering the first 3 chapters free and a chance to win the audiobook of Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator, the first in the series. Go to Hurry! This offer goes when Audible finally posts the book!

Bundt. Such a fun word. Every time I say it, I think of that scene from My Big Fat Greek Wedding where the mom "fixes" the bundt cake.

Anyway, bundt cakes can be fun. The key to getting them to look pretty is to grease and flour the pan well so they slide right out. Nothing wrecks the cake faster than sticking in the pan. It still tastes good, so if it sticks, mix it with pudding and call it dirt cake. Or make those cake pop thingies out of it. Or just eat it as crumbs on ice cream or all alone.

This cake made my house smell so delicious while it was baking. Cinnamon and apples and all the smells of fall. Now I'm hungry again...

Applesauce Bundt Cake

1/2 c. butter
1 1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 t. salt
3 t. baking powder
2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. ground cloves
1/4 t. ground cardamom
2 eggs
3 c. applesauce
3 c. flour

Cream butter and sugar. Add salt, baking powder, and spices. Cream until very fluffy. Add eggs. Cream again until light in color and silky smooth, about three minutes. Stir in applesauce. Mix very well. Add flour and stir just until mixed.

Grease and flour a bundt pan. Scoop the batter into the pan and spread just enough to even it out if needed. Bake at 300° for 90 minutes.

Flip the pan upside down on a cooling rack. Let it sit for about five minutes, then lift the pan. The cake should slide right out. Let the cake cool for at least an hour. Transfer to a plate.

Serve with lemon sauce, whipped cream, cream cheese, or caramel sauce. Or just eat it plain. For breakfast. Come on, be a rebel!

Monday, October 5, 2015

::Warning! This blog has been infiltrated by zombies!::

My brain has been stolen. . . by zombies! It's all Karina Fabian's fault.

Karina Fabian and Bruno, her pet chainsaw
The Great Zombie Interview Experiment
Welcome to ZERD, the Zombie Extermination Research & Development Center. I’m Dr. Coriander Spice, and it’s my pleasure to take you on this tour. We have a special treat for you today! We have started an exciting new round of experiments suggested by Doctor Jaleta Clegg, a blogger and SFF writer. (Aren’t they the most amazing people?  I wish I had that kind of imagination.)
If you’d follow me to the experimentation room… Yes, yes, that is a live zombie. Or actually, an undead zombie (chortle). No need to panic. We’re behind safety glass, as are Doctor Clegg and our own ZERD specialist, Berk Fognini.
As you know, or should know by now, zombies do not have higher brain functions. For example, zombies as a rule cannot do multiplication. Of course, regular humans can. What’s 7x6? Yes you… uh, no, that’s not… You? No, it can’t be an odd number.  How about…? No, no Googling it.
Oh, hm. Maybe we should rethink that test.
Anyway, in general, a lack of higher brain functions is the rule, but what does that mean? We know that zombies can think enough to return home, chase the living, open doors, even avoid smoking areas. But is that cognizant thought or just ingrained habit? Today, we’re trying something new. We will actually question a zombie.
Yes, yes, people have done that before, but in the past, most of those people have been killed by the zombie before they could share anything they might have learned. Besides, “Honey, what are you doing?”, “Don’t you recognize me?” and “How could you?” really don’t give us a lot of insight. So please do not try this at home or anywhere else. We are professionals!
As you can see, our – quote – live zombie – unquote - has been immobilized with netting and we’ve attached electrodes to its brain. An MRI would be more accurate, of course, but we couldn’t guarantee it would survive the decontamination process. Listen as Doctors Clegg and Fognini begin the test. You can see the brain activity on the screen to the upper left.
Clegg: Can you tell us your name?
The zombie rasps a groan and struggles against the netting. The lines on the graph twitch, but steady quickly.
Clegg: What’s your name?
Zombie: Ehhhhh.
Its eyes roll in its head and it twists, but it ignores the scientists. Again, a minimal response makes the lines wiggle but nothing more.
Clegg shrugs and waves to Fognini.
Fognini, with the voice of the Bridgekeeper in Monty Python: What…is your name?
The zombie stills, but turns its attention toward the scientists.  The graph starts drawing peaks.
Zombie: Gaaal-a-haaad.
Fognini: What…is your quest?
Zombie: Graaaail.
Fognini: What…is your favorite color?
Zombie: Blue! No, yelll…auuuuugh.
Despite the zombie’s last answer ending in a long groan, the machine still showed activity.
Wow! So as you can see, we definitely have a Python fan. We had expected that, since this is the walking corpse of Cumberdict Benehatch, a local actor who hung himself when he didn’t get the part of King Arthur. The corpse zombiefied and escaped its noose before it was discovered, and was captured when it returned to the theater groaning, “Flesh wound.” I wonder if it’s a fan of British comedy in general. Excuse me.
Coriander presses a button: Jaleta? Try something from Dinner With the Past. I love that show.
Clegg: Who would you like dinner with?
Zombie stares at her a moment: Braaains.
Clegg, this time with a Welsh accent: Welcome to Dinner With the Past. Are you expecting someone?
For a moment, the zombie is still. The graphs trace gentle waves. Then, a sudden spike.
Zombie: Einstein. Aquinas. Biiiiiiiden.
Clegg, eyebrows raised in surprise: Very good. And what will you be having?
Zombie: Einstein. Aquinas. Biden. Braaains!
Becky Parker and her awesome voice
Fascinating! If I may draw your attention to the charts. You see this pattern, here? That is commonly associated with hunger, yet this line shows a definite decision-making process. It would seem our test subject has a discriminating taste in brains. Biden, one can only assume, is dessert. Let’s see where Jaleta goes with this.
Clegg: Why do you eat brains?
The zombie groans “brains!” once or twice more, and renews its struggle to escape.
Fognini, quoting The Return of the Living Dead: Don’t be afraid. Can you hear me? Why do you eat people?
Jaleta grabs Berk’s arm, shouting for him to stop, but it was too late. The zombie goes wild. It howls and thrashes against its restraints. The charts draws the Himalayas, then go flat as the zombie tears the wires out of the machine. Alarms sounds and large guns drop from the ceiling and spray the zombie with foam. As its struggles cease and it goes slack, it moans.
Zombie: Haaaack.
Oh, my. Oh, that is a shame. Fognini stepped all over its lines. You see, this is why you have to stay objective, and keep to a methodical scientific process. Well, still some interesting data. Perhaps we can try with someone who was less sensitive when they were alive.
Next on our tour is our chemical defense system. We have a wonderful video for you on how we developed the antihistamine foam you just saw in action.

You do NOT want to see what happened next. It wasn't pretty. Trust me. Oh, you DO want to see that? But this is a public blog. You're going to have to read the books. Or listen to them. After all, we are celebrating the audiobook release for Neeta Lyffe and her zombie adventures. I Left My Brains in San Francisco is waiting for you to listen.

Zombie problem? Call Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator--but not this weekend.

On vacation at an exterminator’s convention, she's looking to relax, have fun, and enjoy a little romance. Too bad the zombies have a different idea. When they rise from their watery graves to take over the City by the Bay, it looks like it'll be a working vacation after all.

Enjoy the thrill of re-kill with Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator.

Karina Fabian, the author, is an award-winning fantasy, science fiction author writes comedic horror that will make you die laughing and come back for more.  Check out her latest at

Becky Parker Geist, the narrator, owns Pro Audio Voices, serving clients internationally with exceptional voiceover for audiobooks, advertising & animation. She loves creating audiobooks with sound effects! Married with 3 adult daughters, Becky lives in San Francisco and New York, working Off Broadway regularly.

Find Karina at:

Find Becky at:

Find I Left My Brains in San Francisco at:

Audio Link will be sent once live….or undead, as the case may be. Due to publisher delays, it isn't quite there yet, but stay tuned.

Video Links