Tonight’s Dinner: Shepherd’s Pie

Homemade shepherd’s pie (cottage pie for the UK peeps). It’s been kind of nice getting back into being interested in cooking again. It’s going hand in hand with writing more. Let’s see where this journey takes us.

I do make a very cheesy shepherd’s pie. With a bit of veg. But it should be nice and brown on top and a very savoury filling.

I am not Dead. :D Just forgetful….

I swear to God I updated the blog last week but apparently I did not. Dear Lord.

Not a lot really has gone on. The house is slowly coming into grips with itself and I’ve got a nice writing nook built up in my room. If you are on Facebook, you might want to consider joining my group (there are questions to make sure you are not a bot so please respond to them to be accepted in). I am having an Ask Me Anything on Saturday. Well two of them to be exact.

Here’s the link to the group:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/635660536617002/

It’s Rhys Ford’s Coffee, Cats, and Murder. Can’t miss it.

There will be prizes and I will try to answer as many questions as I can or just hang out with people. And give away things. International readers are very much welcome to join. I post globally because that’s only fair. If the Post Office can get stuff to you, I shall send it. There’s also going to be virtual prizes as well so… join if you please!

Today is the Potato’s 13th birthday! He got a bath yesterday because he was out playing in the water from the garden hose then decided afterwards he would roll in the dirt and grass… so he was a filthy mess. Right now, he’s spending his morning snoring away. So is Harley. I don’t know where Badger is but probably on my bed.

Or plotting world domination. One never knows with him.

But that’s my update. I will leave you with this…

I love George. He is awesome. But man, this burger can give you a heart attack. Proceed with caution.

Bread and Butter Pickles… and Words

Right now I’m having a very late dinner of a faux shark cooterie board of butter crackers, salami, pepperoni, cheddar, colby jack, and bread and butter pickles. The pickles in question are Mt. Olive and come in a bag. The first time I encountered them was in the South at a highway stop and well, love at first bite. So… they’re a part of dinner tonight.

I don’t like pickles on sandwiches. Or relishes in my chicken / tuna / egg salad. Or any kind of salad actually. I do like relish on hot dogs. MMMMmmmmm Chicago dogs. But I do love a good pickle. But not chutney. Chutney and I have never truly made friends.

Now of course, kimchi counts as pickles so that’s a thing. But really pickled plums, pickled eggs, pickled pigs feet… all are okay. Dunno why. Must be the Portuguese influence. Lots of vinegar there. Or maybe the Japanese. Either way, pickled anything is good.

It’s going to storm like crazy tomorrow and we already had to postpone the Monday Borking Report because of high winds and rain. Hopefully it won’t be that way tomorrow because the Potato probably would like to go on at least one hard trot for this week. Even though he’s had a LOT of exercise going in and out of the house.

As well as borking at the lawn guys who came by Tuesday.

The house purge continues as I rearrange life. It’s an interesting exercise in figuring out what should be in my life and really how I fit into it. We’ll see what comes out on the other side.

The cats are adjusting to the upheaval well. Okay, to be fair, they really don’t give a shit because there’s food, sunbeams, and places to snooze. What more can they ask for? Oh… Badger needs to be walked a bit every day but you know, he’s weird.

If you want to try one of my favourite dishes, here’s the Foodland guy teaching how to cook pancit. Which is…. love love pancit. And with pata, dear God, it’s good. Easy to cook and the ingredients are pretty easy to get.

Oh… and I guess I actually better eat my dinner. Hope you all are doing okay. I’ll be rolling something out in a bit and I’m excited to bring that to you. Right now, I’m poking at the edges and working out a small social issue in the text that I’ve got to land right or it’ll come off…. meh. But that’s something I just want to get right.

Tell me what easily made dishes that you love… and even better, share with me a link to a recipe or video of it being made. I’m always up for a good new dish!

Last Stop on the Rhys Ford’s Ramen Assassin Tour! Making Ramen!

First, thank you for following along on the tour and if you’ve missed any of the stops, please be sure to go back and visit the participating blogs and don’t forget to enter their giveaways!

You can find the rest of the tour at the links below. I want to thank everyone who has participated and most of all, everyone who has gotten the book! I really appreciate your support!

Grab more recipes at:

Posted On:
June 19: It’s All About The Book
June 20: Reading Reality
June 21: Blogger Girls
June 22: Boy Meets Boy
June 24: Joyfully Jay
June 25: Archaeolibrarian
June 25: rhysford.com

Making Ramen

I’ll let you in on a secret. Well, it’s not really a secret but it’s something not a lot of people really remember.

Ramen is street food and simply a vessel for you to empty your leftovers onto. Sure, it can be elegant, elevated and curated the hell out of but… it can also really be what to eat because you’ve got a bunch of bits and pieces of food but nothing to make a whole meal out of.

Remember ONE thing: There are NO RULES in Ramen. Continue reading “Last Stop on the Rhys Ford’s Ramen Assassin Tour! Making Ramen!”

Ah, flowers and grumpiness

This cat is pretty much my spirit animal. Well, I dunno about the femme part but then I flip between the whole gender thing so… there you go.

Updates are pretty much going to be the same until I get this book done. Words are being written. Cat bellies are being rubbed and the dog has to be protected from Badger’s bully behaviour.

The Firebird is in the shop getting its carb rebuilt. One of my secondaries wasn’t operating properly and so it would bog down when punching out of first. This is extremely problematic when trying to merge onto a SoCal freeway. That’s when you need that power. Changing lanes and then having the car drop 20 mph instead of accelerating is dangerous. So, my mechanics are hard at work bringing Tengu back up to speed (no pun intended).

Ramen Assassin drops in two months and I’m very excited to see how that’s received. I’ll be doing the standard ARC lottery in my Facebook and reaching out to blogs to see if they want an ARC for review. I’ve got a list. A lot of review blogs get books directly from Dreamspeinner but I do like to send out a few to those I know.

I’ve been having cravings for kalua pig so… that looks to be in my near future.

Spicy Salt Tofu Recipe

For Venona….

Spicy Salt Tofu

Ingredients:

1 block extra firm tofu

2-3 medium sized fresh Jalapenos (sliced thin) (you can use green chiles, serrano or habanero or pepitas…to your spice level)

4-6 T (or more) Deep fried or roasted garlic (you can use fresh cloves but they need to be sliced thin)

Salt / Pepper / granulated garlic optional. Some people also use Chinese five spice but I’m not a fan. Curry might be good.

Cornstarch

A lasagna or cake foil pan you can cover with a lid or foil. Disposable works great. You’ll need to be able to lift it up and lightly toss it so glass probably not a good idea.

A non stick pan with enough oil to pan fry the tofu. Deep frying is better but your call.

Instructions

Drain tofu and squeeze as much water out of it as possible. I usually cut it across the middle so I have 2 shorter blocks. Press these blocks with paper towels to get as much of the water out as possible. You want them to be very dry.

Mix salt and pepper and the granulated garlic into the cornstarch to make a dredge. Put the jalapenos and garlic into the lasagna pan and have it nearby so you can put the tofu into it.

Cut the tofu into long rectangles… about one finger long and two fingers wide. Some people like squares. I just prefer rectangles. After the oil is hot, dredge the tofu into the cornstarch mixture then gently slip them into the oil. Leave enough room so you can turn them. When the tofu is all brown and crispy, take them out, shake a bit to get some of the oil off then slide into the lasagna pan.

COVER IT IMMEDIATELY. Shake it around lightly to spread the tofu around the jalapenos and garlic and leave it alone while you do the next tofu batch.

DO NOT OPEN THE PAN until it is time to put the next finished batch of tofu in. Once in, cover immediately and shake about to mingle the contents.

Repeat until you are done with all the tofu and then let sit for a few minutes. Then open up and be careful because the contents will be hot.

You can salt and pepper it again if you like. Serve with sweet/sour sauce or shoyu/Chinese pepper oil.

The steam from the tofu will cook the jalapenos and release the oils in the garlic so it is imperative to not fuss with the foil or pan lid. The steam releasing also sucked those flavours into the tofu so just let all of that happen. You can also use this method with shell-on shrimp. I’ve not tried it with unshelled shrimp but it probably would work too.

Brief Rundown of LA and Rebel News!

So I owe the blog a really long post about hitting Los Angeles with Greg Tremblay and well… sheesh, everything we did. And everyone we met up with.

I want to say thank you to everyone who came out for the Reader Dinner on Friday! It was awesome! Fabulous time and god, all the food. Seriously, all the food. I’ll post pictures of food at the end. Or in the middle. Or something.

Dragging Greg around Los Angeles was fun and we did a Pendle Run so he could see where dragons were born. The Firebird is great to take on long drives and with some good music, life’s even better.

We met up with Tristan James for drinks at the Normandie Club and chatted about projects. And then went to leave but only to hook up with another narrator, Amy Landon, at a restaurant on the corner where we did a quick bites and chat.

Most of the LA trip was kind of strolling around and kicking back. Our last dinner was at Sushi Enya, which is a place I highly recommend if you want great, pretty affordable sushi. We didn’t take pix at Enya mostly because… it was kind of just a dinner of talking and well, damn fine fish and beer.

In other news, I’m officially announcing Tristan James will be narrating the 415 Ink series and he’s started on the read of Rebel.

And man, I need more sleep and coffee. But… I’ve got Savior on deck then Kai 3 is right after!

Come to Dinner in LA with Greg Tremblay and Rhys Ford. Jan 19th!

Greg Tremblay, narrator extraordinaire (not gonna lie, gonna go spell check that) and I will both be in Los Angeles in a couple of weeks and several of you have expressed interest in going to dinner.

SO…. we’ve chosen to meet up at a place near and dear to the Dirty series, BCD Tofu on Wilshire! If you are interested, please RSVP me at rhysford(at)vitaenoir(dot)com so we have an accurate head count for the table. Hope to see you there!

When: Friday, January 19th at 6:30 pm

Where: BCD Tofu on Wilshire
3575 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90010
bcdtofu.com

A Sunset at Pencarrow tour stop—featuring chocolaty goodness from New Zealand, sexy excerpt, and a giveaway

Hi everybody. Here I am, back on Rhys Ford’s blog to talk about a Lou Sylvre release for the first time in… I don’t know—a long while—and I’m very happy (and grateful) to be here. This release is different for me, as it’s my first co-authored book, written in cahoots with Anne Barwell. Sunset at Pencarrow is a contemporary novella, part of Dreamspinner’s World of Love collection, focused on New Zealand. For this stop on our blog tour, I’m going to tell you about the fun I had making (and eating) a New Zealand favorite treat, called for completely unexplained reasons, Afghans. Before I get to that, though, I want to let you know that the cover, the blurb, buy links, and an excerpt are part of the post too—just scroll down. And don’t miss the chance to enter our Rafflecopter giveaway—more than once, if you care to increase your chances to win.

Now about those Afghans

I learned some wonderful things about New Zealand while writing this story with Anne and the foods our reluctantly romantic couple ate during their two-day sightseeing jaunt were a part of that. One of the New Zealand treats our characters ate in the story is a filled and flavored cake bite Kiwis call lamingtons. I baked those too, and blogged about it on June 9, on the Dreamspinner Press blog. While I did find them tasty, in my mind, they don’t quite measure up to the divine chocolaty goodness that is an Afghan biscuit.

(Of course, when I say biscuit, I mean cookie. As an aside, I will confess it took me years to figure out why British Victorians in romance novels were so fond of biscuits with tea, when I far prefer mine with gravy. I did eventually figure it out. Cookies and crackers both are biscuits in the UK way.)

I baked Afghans with the younger of my two daughters on the what turned out to be the first really warm day we’d had in 2017. I got the recipe from a website called Just a Mum NZ, and the picture on the site of the finished product looked absolutely scrumptious.

All along the way, however, the dough seemed “wrong.” It didn’t seem like enough cocoa powder to make such a dark product. The dough seemed too stiff, even for cookies. Adding uncrushed cornflakes just seemed strange. Nevertheless, we followed the recipe to the letter. When it came time to prepare the cookies (er… I mean biscuits) for baking, it dawned on me that the dough was stiff because they were to be formed cookies (rolled into a ball and slightly smushed), rather than drop cookies. Duh. They were about the same consistency as the refrigerator dough you slice for pinwheels and such, except they had cornflakes in them. And after baking, they looked gorgeous.

I had to fight myself to do it, but I didn’t eat a single one (and neither did my daughter) until they were iced and topped with walnuts. When I finally ate one, I fell in love—they are so good fresh. Who would have thought that a day later they would be even better! The textures are wonderful. The cookie itself is a little like shortbread but slightly melty and with a finer crumb, the cornflakes incorporated give both a bit of crunch and a bit of chew, and the icing and the walnut provide perfect contrasts. They are indeed more chocolate-rich than I expected given the amount of cocoa powder, and the flavors complement each other perfectly.

In order to save myself, I sent them all with my daughter to share at the office—where they disappeared toot suite and lots of people wanted the recipe.

New Zealand, I’ve got to hand it to you. You’ve accomplished something totally unexpected. Move over Scottish shortbread, I have a new favorite cookie. Or biscuit, as the case may be.

Okay, now are you ready for my super-cheesy segue to talking about Sunset at Pencarrow? Here it is:

At first, I didn’t think I was going to like Afghans, much like Rusty didn’t think he was going to like Nate. Later though, it’s just possible that Nate became Rusty’s very favorite flavor. (I swear I can see you readers rolling your eyes, hear your groans. Still, I can’t apologize.)

Read on for the blurb and a tiny, quite NSFW excerpt (because sex and chocolate, chocolate and sex). Enjoy! (And then make yourself some Afghans, a wonderful New Zealand treat, to eat while you read the book. Hah! How’s that for a tacky plug!)

The blurb:

Kiwi Nathaniel Dunn is in a fighting mood, but how does a man fight Wellington’s famous fog? In the last year, Nate’s lost his longtime lover to boredom and his ten-year job to the economy. Now he’s found a golden opportunity for employment where he can even use his artistic talent, but to get the job, he has to get to Christchurch today. Heavy fog means no flight, and the ticket agent is ignoring him to fawn over a beautiful but annoying, overly polite American man.

Rusty Beaumont can deal with a canceled flight, but the pushy Kiwi at the ticket counter is making it difficult for him to stay cool. The guy rubs him all the wrong ways despite his sexy working-man look, which Rusty notices even though he’s not looking for a man to replace the fiancé who died two years ago. Yet when they’re forced to share a table at the crowded airport café, Nate reveals the kind heart behind his grumpy façade. An earthquake, sex in the bush, and visits from Nate’s belligerent ex turn a day of sightseeing into a slippery slope that just might land them in love.

World of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the globe.

And the excerpt:
They’d fallen asleep zipped into the sleeping bags and covered with their thin blankets. Rusty hadn’t wanted to break the connection with Nate—even if it had been nothing more than sex. They weren’t spooning, not quite that intimate. Yet when he woke with the smell of Nate and sex permeating the darkness, he became a slave to it, couldn’t seem to stop himself from wrapping his body around the man. He may even have groaned as he pushed his erection against Nate’s prickly-haired thigh. Of course Nate woke up, and before Rusty could even start to think or talk, Nate took his lips in a hard, biting kiss. Heat surged through Rusty. He broke away, unzipping the bags to push the covers back so he could follow his nose down to Nate’s cock, which was already leaking precum and gleaming in the moonlight. The sight and smell of it entranced Rusty like a hypnotist’s gem, and he lowered his mouth down to savor the taste. He knew right then that the memory of blowing Nate would be burned into his brain as one of the hottest things he’d ever done.

Here’s some buy links, and you can get 30% off at the Dreamspinner Store if you use code PENCARROW at checkout!

Thank you, Rhys, for hosting us on our blog tour, and thank you all you readers for stopping by. Anne and I would love to have you visit us elsewhere on the blog tour. For a complete schedule and links to the blogs, just click right here.

Last but not least, here’s a link to the giveaway—win book money or books!
Lou Sylvre and Anne Barwell’s Sunset at Pencarrow Giveaway