Okay, time to gird my loins, pull up my big girl panties, and get with it. We had company all last week. John’s brother and Stuart stayed with us, and Holly came to see them for the first part of their stay, Nate came for a night, and Ty came to spend a night at the end of their visit. It was nice. Jim lives in Oakland, so we only get together about once a year. I love to cook and have people over, so I had fun. I get to pull out my “company” recipes–salmon layered on a bed of mushrooms, shallots, and spinach and wrapped in puff pastry with a dill sauce; primavera pasta (they’re from California and won’t eat too much meat); and smoked chicken with fresh corn on the cob. We went to Pokagon Park and walked the hiking trails, and I found the most wonderful, 15″ carbon steel pan at a kitchen outlet store when we stopped there. But everyone left yesterday, and tomorrow, it’s back to the real world and my writing routine.
I enjoyed the cooking and entertaining so much, it made me think about my novels/novellas. A lot of my writing includes people in a kitchen, cooking or sitting around a table, to catch up with each other. That’s how our kitchen works. It’s where we congregate, where we talk about the stuff that matters. Lots of kids came and went through our kitchen, and I catered to each one of their tastes. Nate’s best friend, Billy, had a finicky stomach, so every time he stayed for supper, we had some kind of chicken, a side of rice, and green beans (the only vegetable the boy would touch). Tyler’s friend Ethan loved Chinese, so when he was here, I made Shoyu Chicken or Chicken Cantonese, or their favorite: Korean Beef. Our boys ate a wider variety, and they loved to help in the kitchen, so we tried new things to keep them interested. They’re lovers of tilapia, and I have more recipes for tilapia than any woman should keep, and they love Mexican, so we have recipes for nachos, tacos, fish tacos, and Ranchero sauce, etc. All fun. The neighborhood kids would stop at our house after school, and I baked for them every day: cakes, cookies, or a fruit dessert. Our boys’ took a nutrition class at their middle school, and they were the only kids who knew every ingredient the teacher mentioned. They went to the grocery with me every week, and I vividly remember arguing with Tyler (11 then) over which chuck roast was the best until a fellow shopper started laughing at us. She couldn’t believe a kid cared that much about what I threw in my cart.
Oh, well, I’m rambling, but to me, food is a memory stamp on most of the things I’ve done in my life. Hell, I even feed the birds and squirrels. My husband and I talk about places we’ve visited, and we always remember what we ate there. I loved the food in New Orleans. That’s why it’s crept into all of the Babet and Prosper novellas. It’s an integral part of “River City.” Enoch loves to cook in my Fallen Angels series, so do Damian and Andre in Wolf’s Bane. Loralie loves to bake in the Death and Loralei novellas. One of my friends told me that she buys snacks before she reads one of my stories–short or long–because she knows she’s going to get hungry while she reads. I guess it’s true that your passions sneak into your writing. So if you start one of my novellas or bundles, have a glass of wine or a treat nearby. You might need them.