Thursday, April 10, 2014

Coming Soon! My Interview with Antoinette G. Lane, Author of Guy Williams: Man Behind the Mask


I am excited. I am going to interview Antoinette G. Lane, author of Guy Williams: Man Behind the Mask. Guy Williams was the actor who played Zorro in Walt Disney’s 19050s TV show.

When I watched Zorro in 1958, I was too young to understand much about TV production or the profession of acting. I just loved adventure stories. The show, Zorro, was exotic with its late 18th century Spanish-Mexican political setting, horses, sword-fights, and a handsome, masked hero saving the day.



Later in 1965, I recall, I was happy to see Guy Williams on the show, “Lost in Space.” I know I watched the show just because he was in it.

But, as life went on, I forgot about Guy Williams.

Then, I found Zorro reruns on YouTube. Watching those shows brought back wonderful memories, and I wondered, “What happened to Guy Williams?” A few internet searches later I found Ms. Lane’s biography.

What a treasure trove of information and she spent 19 years doing research for the book.

In our interview, Ms. Lane will talk about the art and skills needed to write a biography, and about some of the wonderful experiences she had, as an author, during her years of research and more.

The interview and other materials will be available around April 30, 2014.

For more information on Ms. Lane's book go to: Antoinette G. Lane -- Facebook page




Saturday, April 5, 2014

Mocktail Adventure


Oh, the things writers must do for their books or stories.

I am writing a mocktail recipe book. Of course, I have to test the recipes. When I first started, I researched various mocktail recipes that resembled classic cocktails and adapted aspects of various recipes to suit available ingredients, and my budget and tastes.

Somewhere along the way, I felt I should try the original cocktail and make my mocktail recipes as similar in flavor and appearance as possible to the original.

When I went out with friends, it was easy to find Champagne and a Margarita but then I hit a snag. It seemed like many Mexican bartenders did not know how to make a Daiquiri, a Manhattan or Cosmopolitan.

Attempting to tackle the problem, when I went out to dinner, I would order one of the drinks I needed to test. But, on the first try, when I ordered a Daiquiri, I got a sorta of Margarita, a drink with slushy ice and a salted rim. I could not smell or taste the rum. The only flavor was the lime slush. The drink had no bite.

I did not make a fuss but I did check with the bartender to see what rum he used. When he showed me the empty bottle of Bacardi’s white rum, I understood why the drink lacked sufficient alcohol. My question upset the manager and he hovered over my table. I tried explain in my awful Español that I was writing a book about drinks and that the drink was fine. I am sure he thought ‘oh boy, another crazy expat.’

On a second attempt, at a reputable Irish restaurant, I ordered a Manhattan and got a concoction made with cognac. It was yellow and tasted awful. Even my friends said it was not a Manhattan. Whew! This experiment was getting expensive and time consuming.

Ok, one more try. I decided to go to the high-end American hotel, the Hyatt, on a Friday afternoon. They had an informal bar set up in the lobby.

At first, the young bartender, Henry, did not understand what I was trying to do. But, I was able order a Manhattan and watch him make the drink. I think he had to read up on how to make a Manhattan.

He used Johnny Walker Red. I knew JWR, it was a good scotch. But, the drink itself, while I am sure was well made, tasted like pure alcohol with a smoky taste which I think came from the scotch. It was not sweet. I could not discern the bitters or vermouth in the drink. It was cold, smooth, with a pure alcohol flavor.

I think I would rather have JWR on the rocks than in a Manhattan. Plus, I never considered trying a Martini. I just can’t drink straight alcohol.


I had drunk about 1/3 of the Manhattan and I had at least two more drinks to test, when Henry offered me a drink of his own design. He named it, Rivera. It was made with orange juice, Midor, Vodka, creme de menthe and a dash of Sprite. The garnish was a lime slice and mint sprig.

I liked it. It smelled good with a mild lime aroma. It was not too sweet and you could taste a hint of orange. The mint gave the drink a unique flavor. I gave up on the Manhattan and drank the Rivera.

While researching cocktails, the history of a drink often includes the hotel, restaurant or bar where the drink was “invented.” So, for the record, Henry created the Rivera at the Hyatt Hotel in Merida, Mexico.



Henry’s drinks looked like little drinks. So, I wondered about trying a Tom Collins.

I think the Manhattan was kicking in. I was feeling a little silly. I was also thinking about ordering a Cosmopolitan. I felt I was bordering on being foolish.

Do men giggle when they get tipsy?

I did not think my girlfriends would appreciate coming to my rescue if I asked them to order drinks just so I could taste them and to prevent me from going under the table. Just what does that mean, going under the table? If I think about it for too long, it doesn’t sound like fun.

I gave up on the idea of ordering a Tom Collins and asked Henry to make a Cosmopolitan.

Henry had all the right ingredients, so I figured, let’s get this done.

Watching Henry reminds me of the time when I was a bar maid and I had to use a book to make drinks. My favorite customers would let me make any drink I wanted for them. I would go crazy, using the fanciest glasses, embellishing the rims, and adding  various garnishes.



The Cosmopolitan smelled like pink grapefruit. I see why people like it. It is not an overwhelming drink. It is not too citrusy or overly sweet. There is a faint taste of orange. I suspect Henry used pink grapefruit instead of cranberry juice.

To heck with the Tom Collins and Daiquiri.

I think vodka is sneaky. What is the opposite of a liquor connoisseur? I am not a connoisseur of anything, but, I have grown to like my mocktails. They are tasty, fun and refreshing and I won’t be going under any tables if I drink them.

Good thing I didn’t finish the Manhattan.

Now home to create more mocktails.

Here's my revised Boyhattan Mocktail recipe:







Thursday, April 3, 2014

Wow! What a Soup! Tomato Souped! Up


Working on my new cookbook has presented some problems. One of them is I am eating too much and gaining weight. So, I switched my focus to soups because simple soups, in general, have less calories.

In addition, because I have purchased ingredients I do not normally stock, I have to get creative with the leftovers.

I had purchased a carton of tomato juice to make a Virgin Mary. But, I don’t drink tomato juice on a regular basis, so to use the remainder of the juice, I researched tomato soup recipes.

In my search, I came across the Hot Bloody Mary Soup recipe at BBC.com (http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2604647/hot-bloody-mary-soup) and that sparked my interest.

But, in the end after reviewing many tomato soup recipes, I created a recipe by pulling ideas from at least nine recipes and making my own variations.

I am proud of my tomato soup recipe!



Tomato Souped! Up
(adapted from Creamy Tomato Soup, Cooks.oom)

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion. diced
1 garlic clove, diced
3 cups tomato juice
1 cup water
1/2 vegetable or chicken bouillon cube
2 tablespoons basil, dry, crushed
1 capful lime juice concentrate or lime juice
2 small capfuls vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons to 1 cup milk or cream cheese, cubes, per serving
Chunks of hard bread.


Process:

Add oil to skillet.
Add onions and garlic.
Cook medium-high until a majority of onions and garlic are browned.
Add tomato juice.
Add water.
Add bouillon.
Stir.
Add basil, lime juice, vinegar.
Stir.
Reduce heat, simmer 15 minutes.
Season to taste.
Stir.
Serve in a bowl.
Add milk or cream cheese cubes.
Stir.

Serve with chunks of hard bread.

Reheat in Microwave if desired.


Notes:

The browned onions and garlic added to flavor. I liked the cream cheese cubes partially melted, because they provided a cool, creamy contrast.


Variation: add paprika.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Walter Mosley and Thom Hartmann -- Two of My Favorite Writers -- Together Onscreen


Two of my favorite writers, Walter Mosley and Thom Hartmann are together, online, onscreen on Thom Hartmann's RT TV Show.

On Thom Hartmann’s show, "The Big Picture" (http://rt.com/shows/big-picture/), he has a special segment called “Conversations with Great Minds.” In this segment, he converses with Walter Mosley. I do not know the exact date of this particular show other than I uploaded them in May 2011.



Love is a funny word. It can have many meanings. I love the public personas of Walter Mosley and Thom Hartmann and the depth of their delicious, curious and intelligent minds.

First, I need to say, Walter Mosley (http://www.waltermosley.com/) is the only writer I have ever read who captures the intimate chemistry between words between people -- he touches that river where trust, love, fear, and joy shimmer and change in moments, especially in his mysteries featuring Easy Rawlings.

Mosley has also written several nonfiction books like The Twelve Steps Towards Political Revelation where he analyzes America's failing political system and offers the public suggestions for how to change our failed system.

I have not read the book yet but this book is part of Thom Hartmann and Walter Mosley’s conversation.

Mosley notes that Americans are miseducated exemplified by the fact that most Americans think that their only political activity is to vote, not realizing that they should be active in politics by participating in "town halls", by educating ourselves about our government and by making our opinions known to our politicians. He suggests an online or participatory town halls.

Another perspective Mosley describes is that there is no middle class, most Americans are working class.

He states we are not citizens, we are denizens because it is money that controls our political system.

He says we are fooling ourselves, because capitalism is killing us.

As I watched these two smart, educated, intellectually curious men converse, to me, sparks flew as their ideas lit up the screen.

Mosley also wants to find a way to use our technology to create a place for public dialogue.

Thom warns that neocons would hijack an online system and make it reflect a right-wing perspective just as neocons are actively re-writing Wikipedia to reflect their propaganda and to rewrite history with misinformation.

This post is just a brief glimpse of the conversation between Mosley and Hartmann.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Tuna Fish Sandwich and Homemade Croutons


I am running, screaming from the kitchen.

A “simple” tuna sandwich turned into an ordeal. I have too many recipe ideas in my head and too many tasks I have given myself.

I wanted to spice up my tuna sandwich and also make some croutons from a sack of leftover bread I had been collecting. Sounded simple.

As I was making the tuna mixture, I decided to add some green pepper. Looking in my frig for one green pepper caused an avalanche because I had so many items leftover from experimenting with other recipes, jars of  sauces and teas, bags of onions, potatoes, carrots, peppers, squash, celery and more, they all came spilling out. As I plucked the green pepper from the heap, I realized that I would have to cut up the whole pepper and freeze the remains.

I went forward cutting up the bread ends into cubes and tossing them in the skillet. I doused them with olive oil and and lots of oregano and stirred them frequently as they toasted.

As I had noted previously, Mexican tuna fish in cans is more soup than solid. So, rather than drain the oil and save it, I decided to add some croutons to soak up the oil. While I diced up the onion, green pepper and celery, the dirty dishes began to pile up. 

At first, I doubted the croutons would work but they did, they also disappeared into the tuna mixture. I ladled a few spoonfuls of the tuna mixture onto a kaiser roll and took a bite. Not bad, the oregano added a tang and I could not taste the bread per se. From about 10 bread ends, surprisingly, I only ended up with about 3/4 a small baggie of croutons.

Even though I tried to wash a few dishes as I went, the sink was still full of dirty dishes. I struggled to free a bottle of ginger ale from its plastic harness. It was so thick and tight even the scissors broke trying to cut it loose. But, soon I freed a bottle and with a glass of ice, I settled down to the tuna sandwich. Ginger ale is my favorite soda, so it made all the difference between a disaster and an eatable lunch.

But, boy, those dirty dishes are such a deterrent. I am going to rethink my budget to include a lot more eating out.


Tuna Fish Sandwich and Homemade Croutons

1 can tuna fish, drain if desired
1 heaping tablespoon mayo
1/4 red onion, diced
1/4 green pepper, diced
1/3 stalk of celery, diced
3 tablespoons, croutons (optional)
1 kaiser roll or bread slices
salt and pepper, season to taste.

Mix ingredients together (except kaiser roll or bread slices) in a small bowl or container with a cover.
Season to taste.
Ladle a few spoonfuls onto one half kaiser roll or slice of bread.
Top with second half of roll or slice of bread.
Cover remaining tuna mixture, store in frig.

Optional: serve on bed of lettuce instead of bread.



Sunday, March 16, 2014

What to Do?


I found this “recipe” for chicken in tomato sauce with the fewest instructions I have ever seen. The links did not lead to a fuller recipe. 

"ChooseMyPlate.gov ‏@MyPlateFast & #Easy= simmer skinless chicken breasts in tomato sauce with veggies & Italian seasonings Serve over pasta  http://ow.ly/uqpLc  "

So, into the wilderness, I went. Braving the unknown, I guessed at what the directions might have been.

Based on what I had on hand, this was my approach.






Chicken and Vegetables in Tomato Sauce

Ingredients:

2 skinned chicken legs (thigh and drumstick)
2 cups water
2 stalks celery, sliced into chunks
1 carrot, quartered in chunks
1 onion, quartered in chunks
1 potato, quartered in chunks
1 8 oz container of tomato sauce
2 tablespoons rosemary, crushed*
2 tablespoons thyme, crushed
2 tablespoons oregano, crushed
2 tablespoons Basil, crushed
salt and pepper, season to taste
1 small bag of pasta

*crush spices between your palms and sprinkle over dish


Process:

Put water into microwaveable casserole dish (with lid).
Put vegetables into dish.
Top with chicken legs.
Sprinkle spices over chicken and vegetables.
Pour tomato sauce over mixture.



Cover and microwave on high for 20 minutes.

While dish is cooking, make pasta.
When pasta is cooked, drain and set aside.
When mixture is cooked, spoon one serving of pasta onto a plate
Place one chicken leg on top of pasta.
Spoon vegetables and tomato sauce over chicken and pasta.
Use a fork to remove chicken meat from bone.




I divided the remaining mixture (after pulling chicken off the bones) into four containers and put three into the freezer.

I think I reached the "summit", let's raise the flag or a cup of tea to success.




Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Welsh Rabbit or Rarebit with Ginger Ale


I call this dish a “romantic” dish. For some reason, I associate Welsh Rarebit with history, mystery and romance. For example, in the TV adaptation of Agatha Christie’s the Tommy and Tuppence mystery, “Finessing the King”, the couple goes to a cafe to get a late night snack. One of the menu choices is Welsh Rarebit which they order.

I think this is an illustration of how television shows and novels affect us.

I like the taste of my Welsh Rarebit but I had to make several variations and substitutions based on what I had on hand.

Most Welsh Rarebit recipes call for butter and beer, I used olive oil and ginger ale.

Also, I was low on milk, so I had to make 2 cups of milk from a dry powder mix.

Then, I had to microwave frozen bread slices for 15 seconds before toasting in a skillet.


Welsh Rabbit or Rarebit with Ginger Ale

2 slices of bread
a dollop of olive oil
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons cup flour
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon mustard, wet
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup ginger ale
2 cups white cheese, sliced and diced
pepper to taste

Add a dollop of olive oil to skillet.
Heat.
Add slices of bread.
Heat bread until toasted.
Flip and toast other side.
Remove.
Set aside.


Add olive oil to skillet.
Heat.
Add flour and seasonings.
Stir.
Add Worcestershire, milk and ginger ale.
Stir.
Cook on medium.
Stir until mixture is melted and combined.
Continue to stir and smash flour lumps for several minutes to make a smooth mixture.
Spread spoonfuls over toast.


Notes:

I used a multi-grain bread. I think it added to the flavor.

The consistency of the hot mixture would also make a good fondue.

After reheating the mixture to make another snack, the mixture had thickened which I liked.