Quote

"I cannot live without books: but fewer will suffice where amusement, and not use, is the only future object." -- Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

My Self-Publishing Experiences

Recently, I revised two publications and submitted them as ePubs to Smashwords.

I also created a PDF/a using Libre Office of the revised RKFNC to submit to Lulu to create a POD.

Then, I formatted a new publication, Budget Guest Accommodations Opportunities Marketing Report, Mérida, México in Pages, created an ePub and submitted it to Smashwords.

But, the preparation of the revised publications took months because I struggled to format the manuscripts created in Pages, exported as ePubs, to get the format I wanted, or to convert to a docx to create a PDF/a format.

I had so many problems, I can't remember them all. But, most days, I would start out optimistically, thinking it would take a couple of hours to fix the current problems and then find myself at 10pm at night still trying to fix problems.

I tried Open Office to create a PDF/a format but never got past all the formatting errors. Then, I tried Libre Office. I finally figured it out when I formatted the revised RKFNC.

I had almost 16 versions of each manuscript in attempts to fix formatting and image problems. Conversions of previous manuscripts produced loss of formatting, changes in styles, and image disarrangements. In one conversion, I kept getting Arial microcode font which I never used.

The takeaway from these issues was the realization that even though I tried to use a clean manuscript, in some  cases, I was using a file that had been formatted for a particular use and using the same file for another format introduced errors in coding. Coding I could often not see.

When I converted BGAO from pages to an ePub format, I had fewer problems because I was using the original file even though I had revised the manuscript many, many times.

Converting the revised RKFNC from a docx using LibreOffice to a PDF/a was a little easier than creating an ePub. I did have to fix some formatting errors. But, generally, the process was fairly smooth.

For authors who only produce about one book a year, I feel that I have to learn how to use various software programs all over again.

While using Lulu was fairly straightforward, I made a few mistakes and lost some work and had to start over.

I use macbook with Pages, Word for Mac, Preview and PhotoscapeX. While I had a few other software packages just a year ago, it seems I keep losing them when I upgrade my devices. But, in general, I don't want to spend any more money on software just to produce a book.

Plus, I hope the big software developers realize their popup reminders are aggravating. I ignore them now. I delay updating my software because it means too much downtime while it reloads and often I lose some functionality in the updated software.

Below are charts I created to try and capture the elements of making choices when you choose to self-publish. These charts are incomplete as I continue to gather information. Also, these represent my personal experiences, I know others who use several of these online publishers and are happy with their services.




Because this process took so long, over that time, I began to sense changes in the eBook marketplace. Large eTailers seem to be abandoning support for free or low-cost publications. Other online publishers have increased their fees and costs.

Unless you wrote a bestseller, or are an established author, or a popular niche author, it will be hard to get eyes on your products.

While I have researched and attempted to tackle marketing, it is a huge endeavor to try and find your audience, especially, if you write eclectic books like I do.



Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Search for the Very Best Bread Pudding Recipe

Using the “Use What You Have” approach, I decided to use a can of baby apples I had had for a long time, two small frozen containers of apple slices and three apples in the frig to make another bread pudding.

I tried to follow my Peanut Butter Bread Pudding recipe but instead of Peanut Butter, I used the apples and made some other changes.


Apple Bread Pudding

Ingredients:

3 eggs

1/2 tbspn sugar
1 cup coconut cream or cream
2 cups milk

2 tspns vanilla flavoring
Lots of apple slices
6 slices of bread (multigrain), broken into chunks
Cinnamon, lots

Process:


Mix eggs, sugar, cream, milk and vanilla. Stir thoroughly and set aside.

Spread the apple slices on the bottom of the microwave dish.
Spread bread chunks thickly over the fruit.
Pour egg mixture over bread and fruit.

Sprinkle cinnamon over the top of the mixture.

Cover the dish with plastic wrap.
Refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight.
Microwave on high for 15 minutes.

Let casserole rest for 10 minutes before serving.


First disaster, the canned baby apples were little whole apples with stems and seeds. I had to “pare" the apples.



Second disaster, I had cleaned and rearranged the entire kitchen. I am a visual person. What I see to my mind is what I have. So, I grabbed my large round covered casserole dish and began making the pudding. As the bowl filled up, I thought something did not look right.

Then, I realized that before I had used a square glass cooking pan. Volume wise, I don’t think there was a big difference but soaking wise, it may make a difference since the liquid was at the bottom of the dish and the bread was on the top. They weren’t really mixed well.

Plus, with all the various apples, they took up most of the dish.

Third disaster, based on my previous experience, I knew needed more liquid, so I decided to add more milk or coconut cream, but I got carried away.

But, I went ahead anyway.

I let the dish soak in the frig overnight. Then, in the morning I cooked it in the microwave in 3 -five minute intervals, on high. It tasted good but was still soupy.




I was not going to give up.


So, I broke apart three more slices of bread and added the pieces to the mixture and let it soak again for several hours.

Then, I cooked it again for five minutes on high.


It worked. It is a tasty, "interesting" apple bread pudding. It really wasn't bad but I doubt I can duplicate this recipe.







Stuffed Chayote Recipe

I have really wanted to use more Chayote in my cooking.

Chayote is a zucchini-like Mexican vegetable.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chayote



(Image source: Wikipedia, By Prathyush Thomas - Own work, GFDL 1.2, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=40701354)


Also, I was intrigued by the Stuffed Chayote Recipes I had seen, for example: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/special-stuffed-chayte-squash.

All I did was:

Boil the whole chayote in water for about 15 minutes.
This made it semi-soft. I sliced the chayote in half, length wise.

Then, I used a spoon to scoop out the center of each half.
I saved the pulp in a separate container.

Then I gathered a can of mushrooms, salsa, and carrots & peas.
Got some leftover onion out of the frig and diced a small amount.
Got some bread crumbs out of the freezer.
Got the imitation bacon bits out of the cupboard.

I mixed a full spoonful from each of the cans of mushrooms, salsa, and carrots & peas with the pulp I saved.
Added a good dollop of bacon bits.
Stirred the whole mixture together.

I added spoonfuls of the mixture to each half of the chayote.
Topped the mixture off with diced onions and bread crumbs.
Microwaved for about five minutes on high.




I liked it. It reminded me of my mom's stuffed zucchini.



Preorder - New Publication: Budget Guest Accommodations Opportunities Marketing Report, Mérida, México Update 1

This report, Budget Guest Accommodations Opportunities, Marketing Report, Mérida, México, grew from initial investigations on how to operate a budget accommodations establishment.

Mérida, Mexico is experiencing a building boom. New hotels, restaurants and other businesses are opening every day. But, sadly, many, in the span of a year, will close.


As I researched Mérida businesses, the ones that succeeded took certain steps to help their business grow, while the ones that failed did not invest time into various marketing analysis and promotional strategies.


My hope is that this report, Budget Guest Accommodations Opportunities, Mérida, México, Marketing Report can help more businesses succeed.



Based on extensive research and on-the-ground observations and experiences, the Budget Guest Accommodations, Mérida, México, Marketing Report offers low-cost market analysis and suggested marketing ideas for current and future BGA owners, managers and administration staff, to help their business succeed.

The report provides specific details on: running a successful budget guest accommodation, developing marketing analysis and plans including sample plans and press kit templates.

An extensive resource list is included and contains: management articles; economic and tourism reports; low-cost marketing services: tourism and trade association websites; as well as guides and handout suggestions.

You can find the report on Smashwords at: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/658440

Take a peek. See what works for your budget guest accommodation. Bien Dia.

Update 1:

I was a bit premature in making this post. The publication will not be available for preorders for a few days.

So Sorry.

Update 2:
Publication is still not viewable. Seems I have lost my touch in self-publishing on Smashwords.

Recipes from the Kitchen of a Frugal Non-Cook Revised -- follow this post for future Updates -- Publication not available at this time

I revised Recipes from the Kitchen of a Frugal Non-Cook.

Some new recipes were added as well as a few new Mocktails. Also, I cleaned it up a bit and added a few more promos.

As of today, readers and cooks can find a copy of the Recipes from the Kitchen of a Frugal Non-Cook  Revised on Smashwords as an eBook or on Lulu.com as a Print on Demand Book (POD) at:

Smashwords

New - Lulu Edition - Print on Demand
http://www.lulu.com/shop/ria-stone/recipes-from-the-kitchen-of-a-frugal-non-cook/paperback/product-22828527.html




Update 1:

I was premature in making this post. The Smashwords ePub will not be ready for a few days. The Lulu POD needs to be resubmitted and probably won't be available until November 2016.

So Sorry.

Update 2:
9/22/16
Having trouble publishing on Smashwords. They say they see one thing, I see another, so revised publications are not available at this time. Not sure when my revisions will be available. I have tried all the tactics and SW advice to submit a clean ePub but SW still does not recognize new submission.









Monday, June 27, 2016

Sunday Cooking Marathon Recipes

I have been cooking up a storm.

Deciding to make multiple recipes on Sundays has really helped me organize my week.

With this approach most of my dirty dishes can be washed in one day. Then, during the week, I can make a variety of meals using servings from various dishes with less to clean up. It has changed my attitude towards cooking. I feel more creative and positive. I just have to make sure when I choose the recipes for a Sunday, I have all the ingredients.

While most of the recipes I made in this marathon included several of standby recipes like the Universal Casserole, the Skillet Dish, my Imitation Tuna Fish, and Fritters, I did try some new recipes like: Falafel, two bread puddings, one with blueberries, the other with peanut butter, Corn Salsa, Glazed Carrots, Mug of Scrambled Egg with Corn and a Salsa Topping and more.

While most of the recipes came out well, some did not work as hoped.

This Sunday’s Recipes
Imitation Tuna
Falafel
Peanut Butter Bread Pudding

Previous Sunday Recipes
Blueberry Bread Pudding
Fritters: Corn, Carrot, Mamey
Corn Salsa
Skillet Dish - potatoes, carrots and cabbage
Glazed Carrots
Universal Casserole - Corn
Canned Chicken Salad
Sardine Dip
Scrambled Egg with Corn and Salsa
Potato Hash

The Imitation Tuna Fish came out great, I think one reason is I added the juice from a small can of sardines I had frozen and it gave the recipe just the right amount of fish flavor.

Sadly, the Falafel did not work out too well, the first batch of 10 balls came out good but the second batch never browned or cooked thoroughly, it may have been because the oil had collected bits and pieces from the first batch. I froze the second batch. I may try to make Falafel burgers out of the mixture and may need to add additional ingredients.

Oh, and I tried to make a meringue out of the garbanzo bean juice but failed. I don’t have a blender, so I don’t know if that would have helped.

Because the Blueberry Bread Pudding was a bit dry, when I made the Peanut Butter Bread Pudding, I did it a little different, I let the mixture soak in the frig for several hours. This was an experiment and it came out great. Nice appearance, texture, aroma and taste! My only concern is it is probably fattening. 

Also, after the Peanut Butter Bread Pudding cools, the peanut butter gets thick again, so I reheated a serving in the microwave for a minute on high to warm it up and make the peanut butter soft again.

The Fritters were good but because I used a cream corn in the corn fitters they did not cook well, so next time I will use whole kernel corn. Also, I grated 13 baby carrots and only got about 4 Tablespoons of carrot filling. Just something to keep in mind.

I also wanted to avoid food waste. Because I had lots of carrots, I used them in the carrot fritters, Glazed Carrots and added them to the Skillet Dish.

The Corn Salsa was good. I like adding salsas as a kind of condiment.

Ingredients in the Skillet Dish can vary quite a bit. This time, I used basic ingredients: potatoes, carrots and cabbage and it saved a lot of food waste since I had been holding onto those items a bit too long.

Another good thing about the Skillet Dish is once you’ve put the ingredients in the skillet, you let them simmer for about 30-40 minutes which means you can do something else while it cooks.

The Universal Casserole with Corn was good but maybe a little dry.

The simple Glazed Carrots Recipe worked well but probably not as sweet as the original recipe intended.

I am happy to say, I found, with the help of a friend, canned chicken in the local grocery store. It was in with the tuna fish cans.

Here in Merida, there are numerous varieties of canned tuna. But, only one kind of canned chicken (excluding Costco's canned chicken) Ensalada de pollo (chicken salad), the salad is some peas and carrots added to the chicken. I treat it like regular canned chicken and add mayo and diced onion to make Canned Chicken Salad.

I found a recipe for scrambled eggs and corn with a salsa topping. I converted that to Mug of Scrambled Egg with a dollop of corn and milk which I microwaved 1-2 minutes on high or even more if the liquid has not cooked out. Then, I topped one half of a toasted roll with the cooked egg and topped it with salsa and some imitation bacon bits.

Again, to avoid food waste, during the week, I made a Hash using the remains of some of the dishes I had previously made : diced "baked"potatoes, corn salsa, and diced spam.


Blueberry Bread Pudding Recipe
Adapted from: http://www.seasonsandsuppers.ca/peach-bread-pudding-warm-brown-sugar-sauce/?m&m
Makes about 6-8 servings

Next time, add more liquid, let it soak longer

Ingredients:


3 eggs
1 Tbspn sugar
1/2 cup cream or coconut cream or yogurt
2 cups mil
2 tspns vanilla flavoring
6 slices of bread (multigrain), broken into chunks
(Or use french toast)
1 16oz can blueberry pie filling


Process:

Mix eggs, sugar, cream, milk and vanilla. Stir thoroughly.
Spread bread chunks thickly on bottom of casserole pan.
Spread pie filling over bread chunks.
Pour egg mixture over bread and fruit.
Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
When ready to cook, sprinkle cinnamon over top of mixture.
Cover dish with plastic wrap.
Microwave on high for 15 minutes.
Let casserole rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Caution: pull edge of plastic wrap away from you to avoid steam burns.

This came out pretty good. Was surprised could not really taste coconut cream but I think it added texture.

Try with canned peaches, apple slices, cherry pie filling, or chocolate cream or peanut butter.


Peanut Butter Bread Pudding Recipe

Adapted from: my Blueberry Bread Pudding Recipe
Makes about 6-8 servings

Ingredients:


3 eggs
1/2 tbspn sugar
1 cup coconut cream or cream
2 cups milk
2 tspns vanilla flavoring
2/3rds of a 16oz jar of peanut butter
6 slices of bread (multigrain), broken into chunks
Cinnamon

Process:

Mix eggs, sugar, cream, milk and vanilla. Stir thoroughly and set aside.
Spread the peanut butter on the bottom of the casserole dish.Spread bread chunks thickly over the peanut butter.
Pour egg mixture over bread and peanut butter.
Sprinkle cinnamon over the top of the mixture.
Cover the dish with plastic wrap.Refrigerate for 3 hours.
Microwave on high for 15 minutes.Let casserole rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Caution: pull edge of plastic wrap away from you to avoid steam burns.


















Corn Salsa Recipe
Perused several Corn Salsa Recipes then made my own.

Ingredients:

1 14oz can kernel corn, drained
1 8oz can salsa, drained
1/4 white onion, diced
1 garlic clove, diced
1 Tbspn Basil flakes, crush in palms
Ground back pepper, to taste
1 capful Lemon juice

Process:

Mix all ingredients together.









Glazed Carrots Recipe

Ingredients:

1 16oz bag of baby carrots
1/2 cup water
A dollop of olive oil
1/2 tbspn sugar
S/P to taste

Process:

Add ingredients to a microwave casserole dish with a cover.
Mix well.
Cover and microwave on high for 10 minutes.


Mug of Scrambled Eggs with Corn and a Salsa Topping Recipe
Got the idea from: http://bstrecipes.blogspot.mx/2015/07/squaw-dish-scrambled-eggs-and-corn.html?utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitterfeed

Ingredients:


1 roll
a bit of olive oil
1 egg
A dollop of milk
1 tbpsn kernel corn
Ground black pepper to taste
A dash of paprika


Toppings:
1 tbspn canned salsa
1 tbspn imitation bacon bits

Process:

Cut roll in half and toast in skillet with a bit of oil. Set aside.
Break egg into an 8oz coffee mug with a wide brim.
Add the remaining ingredients.
Mix and stir vigorously for at least a 3o seconds.
Microwave 1-2 minutes until liquid has cooked off.
Scoop egg out and place on top of one half of toasted roll.
Top with salsa.
Sprinkle bacon bits over egg mixture.


Falafel Recipe

Ingredients:

1 and 1/2 cans of 210g of garbanzo beans, about 12 oz, drained
1/4 large white onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, diced
3 tbspns parsley, crush in palms
2 tspns cumin
2 tbspns flour
S/P to taste
Olive oil or other oil to fry

Sauce:
Plain yogurt

Process:

Add beans to a large bowl.
Mash beans into a paste.
Add onion, garlic, parsley, cumin, S/P to taste.
Mix ingredients well.
Add flour.
Mix again.

In a skillet with high sides, add enough oil to "deep" fry the falafel balls.
Heat medium to high.

Gather about a tablespoon of the mixture in your palm. By squeezing mixture between palms, make a ball.
Drop ball into hot oil.
Cook for about 3 minutes.
Turn balls over.
Cook for 4 minutes.
Remove cooked balls and place on cloth or paper towels to drain away oil.
Let them cool before serving.

I ate them just as they were with the plain yogurt topping.

I used olive oil to "deep" fry the falafel but I need to get a cheaper oil for deep skillet frying because olive oil is expensive.

I had planned on making apple and pineapple fritters as well as pineapple pancakes but as usual I overestimated my time and energy. But, I will make those recipes, soon.

The Sunday Cooking Marathon has been a good idea. Also, it is positive because I only went Big grocery shopping once in June.

I am getting better at meal planning and using what I have.

My Plate - Personalized

I have been exploring ChooseMyPlate.gov to try and understand the daily recommended dietary guidelines (DRDG).

Below is a chart personalized for my DRDG.




I think for most people this would be hard to stick to. While I am a low-meat eater, meaning I don't eat a lot of meat. Even I have more protein than the recommended allowance. And oil, since I cook with oil, I would exceed the recommended daily amount of oil a few times a week.

Maybe I got it wrong, but this is how I interpreted the guidelines.