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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Tasty Summer Reads Blog Hop

Welcome to the Tasty Summer Reads Blog Hop! 

I've been invited by the inimitable Kim Rendfeld, who did an amazing job coming up with recipes that sound delicious AND historically accurate. 

Here's how the hop works: Each author invites up to five other authors to answer five questions about their current summer release or WIP and a tasty recipe that ties into it. Below, I post links to the blogs of all the authors in the hop so far so you can add these awesome treats (and reads) to your to do list. I have invited the lovely and historical Patricia Bracewell (Anglo-Saxon England), Kathleen Rollins (prehistory), and Richard Abbott to join in the hop, and they should have their exotic recipes up soon, so just click on their names to see what they've got cooking.

About my novel, SEVEN NOBLE KNIGHTS:

When courageous, but hot-headed, young knight Gonzalo defends his pride at a wedding in tenth-century Spain, he unwittingly launches fifteen years of devastation on his homeland as the outraged bride wreaks a bloody revenge against him and his family. New hope for peace and justice comes from the unlikeliest place: Córdoba, the shining capital of Muslim Andalusia. Mudarra, our powerful young hero from this exotic civilization, looks just like his half-brother Gonzalo, but would rather catch falling almond blossoms as if they were snowflakes than face his own turbulent history. If Mudarra takes his jeweled sword to the throats of his betrayers, can he restore his family’s power and fulfill his purpose in life?

It's a family saga that will keep you turning pages the same way Game of Thrones keeps you coming back week after grueling week! It's a refreshing take when you hunger for history but tire of Tudors!

It's seeking representation at the moment, but rest assured I will let you all know when I get publication lined up. (Book scouts, publishers, and agents, please contact me!) In the meantime, check out the SNKL website and my publications and translations in the carousel, left sidebar. You'll be hard pressed to find such a variety of unusual books anywhere else.

Now for the Random Tasty Questions:

1) When writing, are you a snacker? If so, sweet or salty? 

I tend to be pretty ascetic when writing, but without snacks, I wouldn't get much editing done. There always comes a point in the afternoon, if I'm editing, when I can't live without a few mouthfuls of Goldfish. The crackers. Regular cheddar or parmesan flavors are the best, and they need a lot of water to wash them down!

2) Are you an outliner or someone who writes by the seat of their pants? And are they real pants or jammies? 

My contemporary stories have always been pantsed. When I was writing The Seven Noble Knights, I had a clear idea of where everything was going — because it's history — and I'm trying out an outline and research procedure for the next historical to see if I can save myself some time on the editing end. That may be spilling over into my contemporary ideas, or else my Muse is getting more organized. Will it work for me in the end? Time will tell.

Comfort is key. I can't imagine writing in real pants!

3) When cooking, do you follow a recipe or do you wing it? 

I'm meticulous about following the recipe when it's baking or it's something I've never tried before. If I'm familiar with how the dish works, I'll guess and eyeball and drive my husband bonkers before I'll ever refer to the recipe. 

4) What is next for you after this book? 

Right now I'm unusually overwhelmed with ideas. I'm researching my next historical novel, set some 40 years after my first, and along the way I'm finding tons of tidbits that would be perfect for a Seven Noble Knights sequel! That would begin a week or two after the end of the first novel, and extend for about five years, so 990-995 A. D. 

I also have a couple of contemporary projects percolating. One ties in with "Middle Awash in Talent" (to be published some time this year) and is about other people in that world with special "Talents." One is an even bigger secret... I haven't figured out how to really write in this hotel room, so it's hard to say when any of these projects will get off the ground, but I'm glad at least the inspiration hasn't left me.

5) Last question... on a level of one being slightly naughty and ten being whoo hoo steamy, how would you rate your book?

About a half a point. Sex is necessary to my plot, but I'm one of those writers who cringes at descriptions of intimate acts in books. Most of the sex in The Seven Noble Knights of Lara is behind closed doors. So at least it's suitable for youngsters in that regard! That said, the story does have love, intense, contradictory, passionate love.

I've experimented with medieval recipes before: a delicious meat-filled pastry and one really awesome loaf of bread that used ale instead of yeast to rise. Years ago, while living in Massachusetts, I also tried succulent, aromatic blancmanger. It was so tasty, I gave it to Ruy Blásquez to eat in Chapter III before his wedding. As a side note, making your own almond milk is fun but tiring!

I'm currently living in a hotel with only a kitchenette and no access to my cookbooks in storage, so I'll have to cheat and just copy this recipe from Medieval Cookery.

Recipe by 
This dish, a slightly sweet casserole of chicken and rice, was served all across Europe and appears in just about every medieval cookbook. While often described as being suitable for the infirm, it still found its place on the menus of coronation banquets and wedding feasts.

1 pound chicken 
4 cups cooked white rice (about 1 1/2 cup uncooked) 
1/2 cup almond milk 
1 cup water 
2 tsp. sugar 
1/2 tsp. salt 
1/4 tsp. ginger 
1/8 tsp. white pepper 

Boil chicken until very tender and allow to cool. Tease meat apart with forks until well shreadded. Put meat into a large pot with remaining ingredients and cook over medium heat until thick. Serve hot.

Source [Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books, T. Austin (ed.)]: lxxxij - Blamang. - Take Rys, an lese hem clene, and wasshe hem clene in flake Water, and than sethe hem in Watere, and aftyrward in Almaunde Mylke, and do ther-to Brawn of the Capoun aftyrward in-to a-nother almaunde Mylke, an tese it smal sumdele with a pyn, an euer as it wolt caste ther-to, stere it wel; nym Sugre and caste ther-to, then make it chargeaunt; then take blawn-chyd Almaundys, an frye hem, an sette hem a-boue, whan thou seruyst ynne; and 3if thou wolt, thou my3te departe hem with a Cawdelle Ferry y-wreten before, an than serue forth.

Source [Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books, T. Austin (ed.)]: Blamanger. Take faire Almondes, and blanche hem, And grynde hem with sugour water into faire mylke; and take ryse, and seth. And whan they beth wel y-sodde, take hem vppe, and caste hem to the almondes mylke, and lete hem boile togidre til thei be thikk; And then take the brawne of a Capon, and tese hit small, And caste thereto; and then take Sugur and salt, and caste thereto, and serue hit forth in maner of mortrewes.

Source [Forme of Cury, S. Pegge (ed.)]: Blank Maunger. XXXVI. Take Capouns and seeþ hem, þenne take hem up. take Almandes blaunched. grynd hem and alay hem up with the same broth. cast the mylk in a pot. waisshe rys and do þerto and lat it seeþ. þanne take brawn of Capouns teere it small and do þerto. take white grece sugur and salt and cast þerinne. lat it seeþ. þenne messe it forth and florissh it with aneys in confyt rede oþer whyt. and with Almaundes fryed in oyle. and serue it forth.

And here are the authors who've participated up to this point — be sure to check them out, too!

Thanks for hopping!