Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Time for Traditions

December 12, 2018
Lani Longshore tradition-turkey-12-12-18

I am just about ready to start my holiday baking, and decided to use my quilt guild’s Unfinished Quilt Challenge to guide me. I bought a chocolate turkey for a Thanksgiving decoration but had no clear plan for what to do with it after Thanksgiving. Yes, I intended to eat it, but how? It’s a solid little bird, and I had no desire to be gnawing on it until Easter. Then I remembered the challenge, and how we were advised to repurpose old projects so we would have a reason to finish them.“Self,” I said, “repurpose that turkey into fudge.” My mom used to use a stick of butter, a bag of marshmallows, and a bag of chocolate chips to make a quick candy. I figured I could do the same, but I cut the marshmallows down to half a bag (because that’s what I had). Add a few maraschino cherries while it’s setting up, and you’re done.

Luck and wisdom!

What Your Tools Say About You

December 3, 2018

I have collected cookie cutters most of my adult life, although I rarely use them outside of the Christmas baking season. They’ve come in handy for quilting designs, so I don’t feel too guilty about the number of cutters I’ve acquired. Still, your tools tell people something about you. My husband and I have been writing family biographies, and we’ve been amazed and amused at the tools our relatives collected, kept, and used.

As a novelist, I have given my characters something interesting to use in order to give the reader a better understanding of who these people are. Once I’ve decided what I want the reader to know, I insert the proper tool. My quilting heroines, for instance, use fabric, thread, and scissors in various scenes. As a biographer, I have to work backwards. I need to tease out what the tool meant to my relative based on what I remember and the stories told to me so I can better understand who this person was.

So here’s the deal, should anyone want to write my biography through the lens of my cookie cutters. I like bright, shiny things. I like tiny, cute things. I like cookies. And that’s really all these tools say about me.

Luck and wisdom!

Vegan Cream of Whatever Soup

November 19, 2018

Got this? You’ve got soup.

My husband and I love to experiment with cooking. The other day he suggested we make a cream of cauliflower and broccoli soup. I made the base with the cauliflower, pureed it, added chopped broccoli and cooked until tender. It was delicious, and reproducible (not all of our experiments are). I made butternut squash soup this week with the same base, adding the squash with the cauliflower and whizzing the whole thing up with my stick blender. It was wonderfully creamy without a hint of dairy. So, if you are counting calories, entertaining a vegan, need to watch your cholesterol levels, or just want to have a delicious soup ready in about 30 minutes, here’s a quick base that is versatile, nutritious, and inexpensive.

1 onion, chopped

½ head of cauliflower, chopped

olive oil (I use 2 teaspoons, but you can get away with 1 teaspoon)

salt and pepper to taste

Saute the onion with the olive oil, salt, and pepper in a large pot. When soft, but not browned, add cauliflower. Cover with water, bring to a boil, and cook until soft. Puree.

Seriously, that’s it. Now add whatever other ingredients you wish, with enough water to make the soup as thick or thin as you wish.

Luck and wisdom!

World-Building Through Cheese

September 17, 2018

Cheesehenge

The local paper ran an article about cheese not being the source of all evil for anyone worrying about cardiovascular issues. My inner cheese-hound yipped and yapped and chased its tail, because I adore cheese but there is a history of heart disease on both sides of the family. While rescuing my recipes for cheeseballs, cheese sauces, fondues, savory pastries, souffles, and quiches from the dusty corners of the cookbook shelf, I thought of how I’ve used food in my sci fi stories. Ann Anastasio and I have featured food in each book of the Chenille series. We’ve also made a subplot out of Earth foods that are similar to products on our imaginary planet, Schtatik. Reading the article about cheese reminded me of all the nutrition advice I’ve followed only to be told later that the studies were wrong, which illustrated a hole in my world-building. When I think of what my aliens might eat, I’ve always envisioned their diets as an ideal, or bound by ritual. I don’t think I’ve ever given my aliens a chance to cheat on their diets, or indulge in comfort food, or visit the junk food aisle in their groceries. I’ve never even considered what their groceries would look like. Ever. From now on, however, I’m going to spend a little time imagining what my aliens think they should eat as well as what they do eat, and why it matters. World-building through cheese – yeah, that’s a thing now.

Random Notes On Writing and Life

September 10, 2018

 

Sometimes finishing the book helps. I started reading The Art of Character by David Corbett, then got slowed down in the middle. The exercises are wonderful, but not exactly what I needed at the time. Continuing to read brought me to this passage: “As you launch your characters through the gauntlet of want and conflict, you will see this in your own life, suffer the scars, feel the tension of consequence like a wind humming through you. You will find yourself in your words, if you work honestly and deeply.” This is what I was getting at in last Monday’s blog, just not as eloquently.

Save stuff. I have saved this puzzle holder for years, even when it was obvious we would not be putting together another jigsaw puzzle ever. Guess what makes a perfect holder for antique maps that my husband inherited from his grandfather? Guess who feels incredibly vindicated?

Buy the good chocolate, then eat it. There really isn’t much more to add.

Writing Down The Dates

May 14, 2018

I was a history major in college, as were most of my roommates. We threw dinner parties to commemorate important dates. The Chicago Fire, the invasion of Poland, Pearl Harbor Day, Armistice Day – anything that came close enough to a free weekend so we had time to cook.

Dates and food are still important to me. I once made Cheesehenge Fondue for a summer solstice. As a writer, however, I want to do more. My friend and fellow writer Marlene Dotterer published her wonderful alternate history The Time Travel Journals: Shipbuilder to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Titanic sinking. I started writing a story that is set in World War I. While the 100th anniversary of the end of that war is fast approaching, the end of that story is not.

I decided part of my trouble was pulling myself out of the “what-does-this-date-mean-to-me?” role. Separating my ego from my words is job number one for getting a story written. One of these days, the right story for the right date will reveal itself. Until then, bring on the cookbooks. There’s always another anniversary to celebrate.

Experiments for Pi Day

March 14, 2018

My husband asked for pecan pie to celebrate 3/14, Pi Day. I have a great recipe, because it’s easy – when you have all the ingredients. When you don’t, well, how else should one celebrate a made-up math holiday than by experimenting?

The pie for Pi Day

First, I had some Trefoil Girl Scout cookies that needed eating and not entirely by me, which is a problem because I’m the only one who really likes those cookies. I decided to make the crust from them, which worked fine except I ended up with more cookie crumbs than required. My experiment was to add a little more butter and use them all. It worked. Then I discovered I didn’t have corn syrup for the filling, so I used molasses. That made the filling a little bitter, so I added chocolate chips – and more butter. Heaven only knows what the calorie count is, but the pie tastes good. That’s all that matters with cooking experiments.

The same is true of quilting experiments. I took Peggy Martin‘s Jelly-roll Jive workshop on Sunday, only instead of a jelly-roll I brought some 2 1/2″ strips from my stash. I chose from the not-quite-scraps drawer, those pieces too large to go in the scrap bag but too small to make an entire quilt. I figured if I got a decent block out of it, great; if not, I hadn’t lost much.

Perhaps I’ll call this Blueberry and Pecan

Turns out I got a great five blocks. I made four blocks from blue and beige fabric. My first thought was to make a traditional 4-block medallion wall-hanging, but turning it on point is more interesting. I’m not sure how I’ll fill it out, but that’s an experiment for another day.

A second experiment for another day is this last block that I made from fat quarters I bought in New Mexico. I have enough fabric of a similar nature to make a small wall-hanging, and a boatload of beads that might find a home on the piece.

I hope all your experiments go well today and every day.

Luck and wisdom!

Happy Garlic Day

April 19, 2017

According to my food holiday calendar, today is Garlic Day.

A decorative member of the garlic family

In honor of this made-up celebration, here are my favorite garlic recipes:

Garlic and Sage Chips

1 tablespoon – 1 stick of butter (depending on how decadent you feel)

1 tsp olive oil

3-4 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced REALLY thin (basically shaved)

1/8 cup fresh, whole sage leaves

salt

Melt the butter over medium heat in a frying pan. Stir in the olive oil. Turn up the heat to high and spread the garlic slices/shavings evenly in the pan. After about 30 seconds, stir in the sage leaves and salt. Fry until garlic is golden brown, stirring often. The garlic chips can turn into garlic charcoal in the blink of an eye, so stay alert. Use the chips as a topping for baked potatoes, salad, soup, or Brie.

Garlic and Split Pea Soup Base

1 small onion, chopped

1 tsp olive oil

10 cloves garlic, peeled

1 pound yellow split peas

4 cups water

salt and pepper to taste

Saute the onions in the olive oil in a medium-size pot. I prefer my onions to be nearly caramelized, but you can stop when they are translucent, or even leave them a little crunchy. Add the garlic cloves, and cook for another minute or two. Add the yellow split peas and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and cook until split peas are soft (about 20 minutes). Add salt and pepper to taste. You can strain the liquid and use as a clear soup base, or puree the lot for a creamier soup base. This is a great substitute for chicken stock when you are cooking for your vegetarian friends.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

5 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered

8 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped in half

1 tablespoon butter

cream

salt

Put the potatoes and garlic in a medium pot and add cold water to just cover the potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are mashable. Some people like a little substance to their mashed potatoes, others want it to be as smooth as yogurt, so you get to decide what done is. Drain the potatoes, put into a bowl, toss in the butter and mash away. Add cream until you like the consistency (or you start freaking out about your arteries). Salt to taste.

The proper keeper for those who really love their garlic

Luck and wisdom!

Where The Buffalo Roam

April 6, 2016

Since I didn’t have a plan for the embroidery on my buffalo collage, I put the threads and a couple of pattern books next to my place on the couch. When I watched TV, I also picked up my needle and thread. Hey, if buffalo can roam, so can my stitching. This is what I had by the end of the week.

Lani Longshore buffalo collage

Most of the stitches came from one of my crazy quilt pattern books.

The stencil is probably an auroch, but that's close enough for me

The stencil is probably an auroch, but that’s close enough for me

The backing comes from leftover pieces in my collection of High Plains and Southwest fabric.

Lani Longshore collage backing

I might add more embroidery later, but for now I’m auditioning beads in my new sorting container, which is the carry-out shell from the really cool cupcake place downtown, Cake Delight. When I finally finish the piece, I’m heading back there for my celebration treat.

Lani Longshore beads

Luck and wisdom!

Donut Day

June 3, 2015

My trusted made-up food holiday calendar says June 2 is National Donut Day. Who am I to disagree?

A mixed dozen - perhaps a metaphor, perhaps just dessert

A mixed dozen – perhaps a metaphor, perhaps just dessert

I even felt that I deserved a donut or two, since I finished the row quilt top.

Lani Longshore row quilt

The best part was getting down to the bottom of the fabric pile and finding just enough of this blue for the final row.

Lani Longshore row quilt detail

I used every bit – there are no scraps to bedevil me. Sing hallelujah!

As I was separating the fabric I didn’t use in this top into new collections, I noticed a kit for sun printing fabric. Heaven knows how old it is. I have a vague memory of buying it years ago at a silent auction. I’ve moved it around the sewing room every since, waiting for the perfect project. This week I decided there is no such thing as the perfect project, and who knew if the prepared fabric would react in the sun anyway? I gathered up a few objects and put the whole lot out on the patio.

Doilies and vases, forks and scissors, whatever I could grab

Doilies and vases, forks and scissors, whatever I could grab

When I ran out of stuff to put on the squares, I used the weeds growing between the pavers.

Using weeds for art beats pulling them any day

Using weeds for art beats pulling them any day

Wonder of wonders, the stuff still worked.

A salad fork and a spatula

A salad fork and a spatula

It even worked with my beaded wire reindeer.

My Christmas reindeer in blue

My Christmas reindeer in blue

Yes, I now have another collection of fabric waiting for a project, but the squares take up a lot less room than the kit. Reason enough to celebrate with another donut.

Luck and wisdom!