Those Marvelous Italians!

Life as I knew it changed over the weekend; last week, for me, is a fading dream. There’s a lot of noise, calamity and misinformation out there, but the smartest voices are saying the very same thing: STAY HOME. I saw a funny meme that put it best: If our parents and grandparents could go off and fight for humanity in WW11, we can hunker down on our sofas and watch Netflix.

Corned Beef and Cabbage with Horseradish-Watercress Dressing

Putting on some Irish ballads and making Corned Beef and Cabbage was just the tonic I needed to shake away my fears.

Even with my thoughts on the thousands who’ve been affected by this virus, to be honest, a couple of weeks ago I felt that some of my friends were overreacting. Wishful thinking––I’m good at that. And I’m also a slow learner. But the rapidity of how fast this virus is spreading has kicked me in the gut. The hashtag, #flattenthecurve, is now my battle cry.

If you’re sad, depressed and lonely, well, every one of us is on this collective journey staring down the same enemy. All of us. At the very same time. (Maybe not those of us under the age of 3. But even they are picking up the vibes.) Weird, huh? When has this ever happened in our lives?

Spaghetti Carbonara

Tomorrow I’m making Spaghetti Carbonara, one of my favorite comfort foods! Thank you, Italy, for your food!

The Italians, under coronavirus lockdown, are keeping their spirits up singing from balconies and cooking elaborate meals. You may have seen the U tubes and pics on Instagram—their glorious spirit is reassuring. I don’t have a balcony, but I am updating my playlist and, of course, cooking up a storm.

As Linnea put it in The Ruby of the Sea, “….at least for me, when combining ingredients for a recipe, I can give shape to the mess. With life, it’s not so easy. When depressing thoughts set in, the hum of the refrigerator and thwack of my knife stares my sadness down.”

Times are strange and scary, but we need to do things that make us happy. Read, laugh, cook, dial-up your friends. Give yourself a hall pass to while the day away on social media, if that’s what it takes to cheer you up. We are humans; we need to connect.

We are in this for the long haul. But as my father (who served in WW11) was fond of saying, “This, too, shall pass.” And it will.

In the meantime, Here’s one of the many UTubes that I’ve enjoyed.

 

 

 

 

 

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Chikhirta: Georgian Chicken Soup

This could be my defining image for 2020.

Although Michigan has been experiencing unseasonably warm temperatures of late, it seems like a good time to make soup.

The panic buying felt by the coronavirus maelstrom is like nothing I’ve ever witnessed. I’ve lived through the fallout of epidemics, famines and the scourge of the HIV virus, but the flames were never continuously fanned by instant media–non-stop overload.  I jump each time my phone pings!

I’ve bumped shopping carts with rest of you purchasing staples, disinfectants and masks (I did this before the Surgeon General said it was a no-no), but no good comes out of operating in panic mode.

For my own sanity, I do what I and my characters always do when confronted with events out of our control; we make soup. My daughter recently advised me to try out a chicken soup recipe from Milk Street, our favorite recipe go-to magazine of late.

If you prefer a thicker broth, double the amount of flour that the recipe calls for.

Beaten egg yolks create a creamy silken texture and impart a lovely lemony color to the broth.  I doubled the recipe (I’ve got several ailing friends), and added fennel seed and chopped fresh fennel, along with the carrots and onions, to the recipe. I love the flavor of fennel in brothy soups. If you like thicker soups, add a bit more flour.

 

Wash your hands, don’t touch your face, and be well, my friends!

Chicken Legs, copious herbs and aromatics make for a savory stock!

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One Thousand and One Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries…

Or a Chocolate Truffle with Bacon?

…that’s how many treats I’d need to make if I were to gift every person who helped bring this book to light a strawberry. Or chocolate truffle, if preferred.

Today I’m launching THE RUBY OF THE SEA. It took an army of professionals and friends to lend perspective and authenticity to Linnea, Delphina and Ivy’s story. I most certainly looked more to the council of others than I had done in my previous novels.

And what would a writer be without readers who asked, When will your next book be released?  I may have not met most of my readers,  book bloggers and other pre-launch champions––especially those who reviewed this story in these Goodread reviews– but I hold their words close to my heart. Reviews, even those written by people with valid criticism, are a large part of a book’s success.

Or, perhaps, a chocolate soufflé?

As for the inspiration behind my characters? Like so many people, I’ve experienced the fallout of undiagnosed mental illness within families. Why not set their story against a fanciful backdrop drenched in color and light?

Although this book is set in contemporary times, a historical subplot weaves through the narrative. Key West has a blustery past, indeed. During my last trip down to the Southernmost City, the seeds of a plot began to germinate, culminating in THE RUBY OF THE SEA.

Valentine’s Day is around the corner. I hate fighting the restaurant crowds on this special occasion, but for once, I wish I could put my feet up and order in.  I have decided, however, to make a special dinner at home that Richard and I can enjoy. Alas, this cast of characters has awakened him many nights, too, as I whipped off sheets when someone whispered in my ear.

Here’s a link to a slide show with well-recipe links that might inspire. A cyber-chocolate kiss to you all!!!

Happy Valentine’s Day, friends!♥♥♥ Eat well, read well, love well, dine well.

 

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