Technical writers or non fiction writers scribble to pay the bills and for the love of the analytical or the exercise of truth or deception.

Fiction authors write to illuminate their world or escape it.

Whichever kind of writer, it's all about staying alive and helping or entertaining others.

The Writing Life

Like most writers, I have a love of reading and the power of words. When I was younger, I read everything I could get my hands on, but I don’t consider myself well read. I consumed books like a starved person, so quickly I hardly knew what I had read. By some strange process of osmosis, I learned from everything I read, but I cannot give you an erudite discussion of characters, plots, or authors. I can only tell you it’s lodged some where in the core of my being and informs my writing.

In addition to reading, I’ve spent a life time writing---from that first elementary school composition to my college days when I studied French literature and wrote explications de texte. Along the way, I fell into technical writing--to put food on the table and pay bills. In the 90s, I had the good fortune to take a dialog class with Sol Stein, former owner of Stein & Day publishers in New York and a prolific author. That led to his California-based writers’ group, Chapter One. It was a rigorous, ego-bruising experience, but I was intent on learning everything I could about fiction writing. A few years ago, I also had the good fortune to study with another writer, Louella Nelson, an experienced romance writer and teacher of fiction writing. She provided a different perspective and balance to my writing.

My novel, DREAMING OF LAUGHING HAWK, a mainstream, Sixties era novel, is available on Amazon in print and ebook (also available in Canada, Europe, Japan, and Brazil). Download a free sample. If you like it, I hope you'll download the book and post a review on Amazon.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Garden Gone Dead

After a week or so of 100 degree weather, the garden is not so lush any more. The fig tree is all confused. The too cool spring resulted in a massive late crop, but now the figs are fermenting on the tree. There's a whiff of vinegar in the air. I should also mention my husband sprayed the fruit because of all the feasting fruit flies and Japanese beetles. It was very effective, but I'm not too keen on eating fruit that has been sprayed with an insecticide that was not intended for use on fruits and vegetables. Oh well, I'm not too fond of Calimyrna figs any way. I prefer the Mission and Italian Honey figs that are struggling to survive in pots on the South side of the house.

About all that is left is tomatoes, paprikas, and eggplants. I have been hoarding tomatoes in the freezer in anticipation of a cool day for canning. I dry the paprikas and grind them (they have the best flavor!). The eggplants haven't been too prolific this summer, but it's just as well. I didn't have the time to deal with mass quantities. They are medium size and white with a faint pink/purple blush. They have a delicate flavor and are great when lightly breaded and fried in Canola oil. They are also wonderful grilled or as baba ganoush.

So here are some end of summer recipes--spaghetti sauce and chili sauce. Can't live without these staples of life. You won't find anything quite like them on a grocery shelf and they are open to a great deal of artistic interpretation. Enjoy.

Spaghetti Sauce

4 quarts tomatoes (fresh or frozen), peeled and quartered (about 24 large)
1 cup onion, chopped
1 cup Bell pepper, chopped
3/4 cup Canola oil
1/4 cup sugar
2 T Italian seasoning
1 T oregano
1 T basil
2 tsp. black pepper
dash of your favorite hot pepper sauce or a pinch of dried hot peppers (ground)
4 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 T salt
12 oz. can tomato paste

Note: Adjust the seasonings to suit your personal taste.
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a large stainless steel pot except onions, peppers, and tomato paste.
  2. Cook approximately one hour.
  3. Use a hand held blending wand (like Cuisinart's Smart Stick) to puree the mixture.
  4. Add remaining ingredients and cook another hour or until the sauce is reduced to the desired thickness.
  5. Fill sterilized quart jars and leave about 1/2 inch head space. Be sure the tops of the jars have no chips and are wiped clean before screwing on the sterilized lids. A particle of food can prevent a proper seal.
  6. Process in a water bath (boiling) for 45 minutes or in a pressure canner at 10 pounds for 15 minutes. The lids will make a popping sound as they cool, indicating that they have a proper seal.

Spicy Chili Sauce

4 quarts of tomatoes, peeled and chopped (about 24 large)
1-1/2 cups of chopped bell peppers (about 3 medium)
2 cups of chopped onions
1-1/2 cups vinegar
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 T salt
1 T celery seed
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 T dry mustard
Chili peppers to taste
  1. Combine all ingredients and simmer until thick (about 2 hours)
  2. Use a blending wand to puree the mixture in you like.
  3. Pour the hot mixture into sterilized pint jars, leaving 1/8 inch head space. Be sure the tops of the jars have no chips and are wiped clean before screwing on the sterilized lids.
  4. Process in a water bath (boiling) for 15 minutes.

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