Monday, February 22, 2016

Here's the Thing....

I know I posted that I would update on my recipe experimental success or failure.

Result: Fail. Well not completely, but the chocolate twix thing was deemed The Oil Spill because of how it looked in the pan. It seriously had the appearance of an environmental disaster or at least some kind of wreckage a pet would cause. However, this tasted pretty darned good, and all of the pieces were consumed. It looked much better when it was cut. Sorry no pictures, I was in a hurry.

Rice crispy treats were pretty much a complete fail. They looked good but tasted awful and the consistency was terrible.

So, that says something about the fact that I can't even make rice crispy treats.

All failures were directly related to the circumstances. I rushed both recipes and I didn't use great substitutions. I ended up with way more marshmallow usage than I originally intended.

Lessons: Lard makes terrible caramel.
Watch the measurements when melting marshmallows and don't add stuff to it.

Sorry for a negative report folks, but my results could have ended up on one of those Pinterest "Nailed It" jokes.

Still chocolate was pretty tasty and I know how I'd adapt that particular recipe in the future. I'll just avoid rice crispy treats from now on... someone else can make those.

In a rush, so please see previous post for recipe links. Sorry to hammer this out and throw it at people. That's just how I blog today.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Gonna Try Something A Little Different...

Time to bring the blog out of hibernation. Once in awhile there is just *something* that I think people might want to hear about, and then I will blast away at a post. It makes for great writer's block breakage as well. Can't work on your WIP draft? Try writing a blog post on something completely different, just to keep your writing muscles limber.

This time it's food. I have no intention of becoming a food blogger, but I have a few things I'd like to try. If they work out, or even if they fail, I'm gonna share stuff with the faithful readers out there...just in case someone could benefit from my experiments.

It's a long story, but my family has a lot of food intolerances. I emphasize intolerance. We don't have food allergies, however the world of intolerances can lead to allergies in the long run and a whole lot more. I won't get into that now, but whooo baby, if you know anything about food intolerances, you know for a fact that we are what we eat, people.

So, with a laundry list of food intolerances in my household, and ones that are in everything that is required in baking, comfort foods, sweets, and even soup, there is a lot of substitution going on when we cook around here.

Our main intolerances are Fruit, Gluten, Sugar, Corn, Peanuts and Dairy.

As you can see, with a list like that, we seem to be very limited in our baking yummy goodies capacity, unless we want to turn our kitchen into a lab.

I feel I must stress that my family is not Celiac...BUT there *is* such a thing as gluten intolerance. It is not just a trend, and Celiac is very real as well. My husband is the poster child for the intolerance, and I might post all about it, someday. (Promises, promises.)

So, most gluten free (GF) flour premade mixes have corn and/or potato in them. My husband can't have corn. To make matters even more difficult, he can't have any grain or potato together. This no grain thing limits much of our starch choices to potatoes OR rice. Not at the same time. Most GF premade mixes in the stores have rice *and* potato. The key is to buy only pure, single ingredient GF flours and mix your own at home. Tapioca starch and xantham gum have been godsends. They add the extra stickiness. Almond flour, rice flour and garbanzo bean flour have been our favorites so far.

I also recommend using *good* rice flour and tapioca starch. There are bargain versions out there, especially in International aisles at grocery stores, but be careful. Some have some weird aftertastes going on. We haven't narrowed down which bargain flour is causing the subtle "bite down on aluminum foil with fillings" metallic aftertaste.

Bob's Red Mill

Now for the dairy compound. Myself and my daughters are dairy intolerant. Every goodie usually requires some kind of dairy, butter, milk, whatever. Fortunately, there's a myriad of dairy substitutes out there. We generally go for almond milk around here, because it usually doesn't use other ingredients that some dairy substitutes use. It's also come far down in price than when it first came out.

So, GF flour and dairy substitutes covered...right? Pretty much. Fortunately, we don't have issues with eggs. (Psst, eggs are *not* dairy.)

That leads me to the plethora of paleo and vegan recipes out there that look scrumptious. One problem. Fruit.

My hubby (the most complicated of us intolerant people) can't have fruit. That means nothing berry, seedy, pitty, or pulpy except melons, squash, tomatoes and cucumbers. And nothing citrus. (Don't ask, I don't know why tomatoes are counted as "safe"...) So, many paleo and vegan recipes use a lot of coconut. Coconut is a fruit. My hubs can't have it. (If you don't already know the buzz word Paleo, please google it. There are A LOT of opinions out there. I am not claiming ownership of any opinions. I use paleo as a tool for cooking guidance. I do not use it as a strict dietary component to follow for obvious reasons.)

This leads me to my point. (Sorry for the long winded explanation.) I am going to try substitutions for some excellent paleo sweets recipes so that hubby can eat them. My recipes will not sound as healthy as the originals because instead of using coconut oil, I will be using lard. (I can hear the gasps already...) I could do a whole blog post on lard, but that's for another time. Also, I am gratified to see that there are variants of paleo and vegan recipes that are already more flexible. Obviously the lard factor destroys a vegan label on a recipe, unless I discover some amazing vegetable (not fruit) shortening that doesn't include corn or other grainy ingredient. I might try sunflower oil. Note of clarification, my family is not vegan. We don't subscribe to any one kind of diet as I mentioned before.

My first experiment will be with this yummy looking recipe by Florian at Contentedness Cooking. It's for Vegan Caramel Shortbread . I will let you know how this turns out. It has a lot of coconut. So, I'll be turning my kitchen into the Lab of Intolerance Experiments for the next couple of days.

Vegan Caramel Shortbread

Let's face it, February in the North American North can feel like the month from hell, and we could use all the comfort goodies we can get! Stay tuned for updates on experiment successes or failures. My next experiment after the Vegan Shortbread will be Healthy 4 Ingredient Cake Batter Rice Crispy Treats. This one is a much more flexible recipe to start with.

Stay tuned, and feel free to ask questions in the comments. I will do my best to answer anything on intolerances that I can. Negative opinions, comments with info on where you think I should go for references, or otherwise disparaging posts will not be published. I've done my research, and have lived my own experiences. I appreciate that many have their own personal experiences with food intolerances. There is no single way to pigeon hole any person into a single diet. At some point, I might post my main resource and do a more concise explanation of my life with food intolerances.

For now, I just want to have fun with food!

Healthy 4 Ingredient Cake Batter Rice Crispy Treats 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Cover Reveal and Giveaway!

If you're like me, you love tearing off the wrapper of surprise packages. 

Today, I'm honored to reveal the book cover for Jolene Haley and Brian LeTendre. First a teaser or two. The suspense might just kill you... 

Intrigued? How about some more info?

Harrowed (The Woodsview Murders #1)
By Brian LeTendre and Jolene Haley

Journalism Rule #1: Always report the story. Never become the story.

Avery Blair has accepted the fact that nothing exciting ever happens in her small town of Woodsview, Massachusetts. As the editor of the high school blog, she prays for something—anything—to come along that would make for a great headline.

When Beatrice Thompson’s body is found in the girls’ bathroom, Avery has her biggest story ever. The rumors circulating the school say that Beatrice took her own life, but Avery doesn't believe it for a second. Her instincts prove true when the next day brings another body bag.

The tiny community of Woodsview has become the hunting ground for a killer known as the Harvester. The killer targets Avery and her classmates, stalking their every move and terrorizing them with morbid messages.

With the help of her boyfriend Jason, her best friend Quinn, and an aging detective who can't keep her off the case, Avery dives head-first into her own investigation. She discovers that the secret of the Woodsview Harvester is buried in the town's history and its annual Harvest Festival celebration. With every clue she uncovers, Avery grows closer to unmasking the killer—and becoming the next victim.

Avery Blair has finally found a story to die for...if she can stay alive long enough to write it.

Was that a shiver that went up your spine? 
The cover for your next Stay Up All Night Read...

Goodreads Cover Art by: Hang Le

Mmm, doesn't that just make you want to curl up by a warm hearth, with hot chocolate and fuzzy blanket? Harrowed will be available 09/22/15 by Horror Twins Press. Put that on your wishlist at all your favorite book sites! 

About Brian LeTendre:

Brian LeTendre is the writer of the Parted Veil horror series, which includes Courting the King in YellowLovecraft's Curse, and Lovecraft's Pupil

A gaming, comics and horror lover, Brian has co-hosted and produced a podcast about geek culture called Secret Identity since 2006, producing well over 1000 hours of programming. He also hosts and produces three other podcasts about writing See Brian Writedesign and small business Kitbash Radio, and gaming Co-Op Critics.

In addition to podcasting, Brian has worked as a freelance games journalist, and currently writes a webcomic called Mo Stachewhich can be read for free online and will be collected in print in 2016. 

Brian lives and works in Massachusetts.

Brian on Twitter
Brian's Blog
Brian on Amazon
Brian's Podcasts

About Jolene Haley:

Jolene Haley is the author of the Woodsview Murders series and Haunted coming fall of 2016.  She’s also the curator of the best-selling horror anthology The Dark Carnival through Pen & Muse Press. 

She runs a YA horror blog, The Midnight Society, the author resource site Pen & Muse, and Hocus Pocus & Co., a small horror press. She writes every genre under the sun, but prefers horror. 

When she’s not writing she can be found cuddling her two dogs and enjoying the beach where she lives. 

Jolene on Twitter
Jolene's Blog
Jolene on Goodreads
Jolene on Facebook

Join the book buzz using hashtag #WoodsviewMurders 
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