Writing, Reading and Food.
So I’m researching a new book and dove head-first into the inter-tubes. Ah yes, interesting stuff there. Did you know people ACTUALLY BELIEVE that there are humanoid-type beings living in Mount Shasta? Yup. For realz. And they have a nice PayPal account you can deposit into and get some fancy power crystals. They have like a million members of these ‘churches.’
(She crosses herself several times as a good Catholic with no irony whatsoever.)
Anyway…So this conversation happened at the dinner table yesterday:
Me:…And they believe that these people have a British accent – A British Accent? Now how can you have a British accent if you are descended from a tribe of people that lived on an island before the time of Christ, more than a thousand years ago, then migrated to live inside of a mountain, and somehow you acquired a British accent? Where the hell did that happen?
Husband: Um, you just told me that there is a religion where 7-foot tall benevolent aliens live in a mountain and the British accent is what’s got you all worked up?
Me: ….Well, yeah.
Husband: Okay. Just checking.
I’m going to go pray a rosary now.
What’s it about? Addison is a clairvoyant – a teen able to search the future outcome of any given choice. She lives at the paranormal compound with her parents who have decided to divorce. Will she go with her kind father, who wants to move all the way to Texas? Or stay with her uptight mother on the compound with everyone she knows? She searches her future, living through both possibilities. We run at breakneck speed, switching between both versions of her life. A murderer is loose on the compound, and someone is mysteriously injuring “Norm” football players – including the former hottie quarterback at Addie’s new Norm highschool. In the end, Addie must make her choice between two types of love: love for her friend, or romantic love with the love of her life.
Should you read it? YES. If you appreciate fast-paced storylines, you’ll really get in to Pivot Point. I love how we flip back and forth between her two lives, and see where her alternate timelines intersect. Also, this is a refreshing break from the rather harsh ‘end of the world’ type books that are so popular now. Not that I don’t love those…but this is a great palate-cleanser. Also appropriate for younger readers. If you’re a fan of Sara Sheperd (Pretty Little Liars, The Lying Game), you’ll love this exciting book. I can’t wait to read book two!
Hi all. This week I’m editing my latest manuscript, FORSAKEN. You can read the first bit of it here. I also stopped by the library and picked up a few new books, including TUMBLE AND FALL, PIVOT POINT and ALTERED. Who has two thumbs and is stoked for new books? This girl! Heh.
Speaking of which, how great is the library? It’s like browsing at a book store and getting to take all the books you want home for FREE. Free I tell you! Yes, I have to bring them back, but I love that I can pick out books I might have been unsure of to buy, and then those books are my new favorites. It’s a great way to try out new authors! So give some love to your local library and stop by.
I’m a little late to the party on this post, but hey, Happy New Year anyway. Friday was the Chinese New Year, so I decided to make some chicken stir fry with my fancy schmancy new Wok. I’ve wanted a new Wok for a while now, and finally bit the bullet at Costco. It’s amazing! I can’t believe I waited so long to buy one. Let me tell you, it makes this so much easier.
And btw, if you’ve seen my bio page you already know I’m clearly not Chinese. So no, this is not authentic. It’s just good and really easy.
You will need:
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken, chopped into equal bite-sized pieces
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp corn starch
Rooster sauce to taste
2 large zucchini, chopped into 1-inch cubes
1 or 2 medium onions, sliced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 jalepeno, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup chopped cabbage
*or sub any vegetables you might like in here
For the sauce:
1/2 Soy Sauce
Splash (or more) of fish sauce
Rooster sauce to taste
1 tbsp white sugar (or more if you like it sweet)
1 tbsp cornstarch
**And you will need your FULL ATTENTION. Turn off the Kardashians, people, because this is going to be hot and fast.
Not unlike Ms. Kardashian. Oh no she didn’t! Yes, yes I did. Sorry Mrs. Kanye, your baby is really adorable.
Here we go!
Start by cutting up a pound (or more) of boneless, skinless chicken. I use chicken thighs, but use whatever you like. Don’t let me wax poetic about the virtues of thigh meat. It’s way better. I suggest you try it. Marinate the chicken with a quarter cup of soy sauce, two tablespoons of cornstarch and a splash of rooster sauce. Or, if you’re like me, a quarter of a bottle of rooster sauce.
Mix the whole shebang and let sit while you work on everything else.
Next, chop up one medium onion, two large zucchini, three cloves of garlic and one jalepeno. I also had some leftover cabbage, so I threw that in there too. There are no rules in the Thunderdome, after all.
Now the key is to chop everything about the same size, so everything cooks evenly and is easy to pick up with your chopsticks. Put the vegetables in a bowl. Of course, your garlic can be chopped smaller.
Then, create the sauce you’ll pour over the top in a separate bowl.
Add the soy sauce, fish sauce, rooster sauce and sugar to a bowl. Taste it. If you think it is too sour, add some more sugar, a tiny bit at a time. This isn’t rocket science, folks. You can do it! I swear! Now, I will tell you that if you have added a ton more vegetables to the recipe, you will probably need more sauce, so adjust the proportions accordingly. When the sauce tastes about right, add in the cornstarch and mix thoroughly.
Next, get that wok flaming hot with a tablespoon of oil! Remember how we like a really hot pan, right? We’re going for wok hei, or the little brown bits of food that have been properly cooked in a wok. You’ll see, I’ll show you.
But first, let’s stop for a moment to admire my new pan. It’s so pretty. Well hello, Wok. Thanks for joining the Mealy household. You’re going to be very, very busy.
Working in batches, add the chicken to your screaming hot pan. It will sizzle and pop and burn the crap out of your arm. That’s okay. Wear long sleeves. Turn it down if you must, but only a little bit! Don’t be a weeny. Spread the meat on the bottom of the pan and don’t touch it for a minute. Let the chicken develop that nice golden brown-ness (wok hei!).
Notice the small amount of meat, maybe half the batch. After a minute or so, start stirring the meat quickly, then let it settle again for more browning! Look at you, giving your food wok hei like a pro.
When that batch of chicken is done, remove it to a waiting dish with a cover. Add the rest of your chicken and repeat. Easy, right? Make sure that pan is hot!
When you’re done with the meat, start the same process with your vegetables, a small batch at a time. Treat them just like you treated the meat, allowing the vegetables to cook until they get brown bits. Now, don’t overcook them. Just get them browned and fragrant before putting them in a waiting dish with a cover. Repeat until all the vegetables are cooked.
Pour on the sauce, enough to generally coat the mixture but not drown it. So pour half in, then a little more, etc. Toss until the sauce is bubbling, everything is hot and the sauce looks a bit thickened.
Grab the nice white rice you made in the background but forgot to mention.
Serve the stir fry over white rice. Splash some sesame seeds on top because that’s what the husband likes. Use your prettiest red chopsticks and enjoy!
See, that wasn’t so hard, was it?
What’s it about? The people of Internment live an enchanted life. Everyone is matched up at birth with a betrothed, everyone has a job, and everyone is happy high in their airborne city. Just don’t try to approach the edge and look down to Earth. Trying to leave Internment will drive you mad, or worse, get you killed. Morgan knows all of this, and her life seems good enough. With a handsome and loving fiance and a decent life, even after her brother tried to jump off the edge and was blinded, her minutes tick on. When her classmate Daphne is found dead on the train tracks, it shreds the peace of Internment. The mysterious pages of Daphne’s secret essay taped up around school, questioning everything the people are taught to believe, rips the mask off Morgan’s greatest desire – to reach the Earth below. But will Morgan be made an example of, next? Who is she to question the will of the King, and the great god in the sky himself?
Should you read it? If you love writers like Maggie Stiefvater (Scorpio Races, The Raven Boys) or Catherine Fisher (Incarceron, Obsidian Mirror) you will absolutely love this book. Fantastical, whimsical and precisely written, DeStefano’s exciting first installment of this new series will keep your pages turning to the fascinating ending. I highly recommend it! I can’t wait for the next book to come out.
What’s it about? Don’t worry, this isn’t a spoiler! The Legend Trilogy follows star-crossed lovers June and Day. In the dystopic future of Los Angeles, June Iparis is a budding military prodigy. Day, a clever and infamous Robin Hood, survives on the streets while his family thinks he’s dead. When his little brother catches the plague, it sends him on a path that collides with undercover officer June. Will she turn him in, or fall for his tender touch and stunning good looks? Will he save his brother from dying of the plague? And what horrible secrets is the government hiding about the plague, the aptitude trials for teens, and the death of June’s entire family?
Should you read it? I absolutely love this series. June is likable but not a damsel in distress, and Day is just dreamy enough without being overboard. This is fast-paced, direct writing at it’s best. If you hate wading through pages of description, you’ll love Ms. Lu’s on-point writing style. With the release of Champion, we finally get an answer as to whether or not June and Day will finally be together, and if they can save the Republic. Four stars!
Hey folks! I’m impatiently waiting on some book stuff, so I’m getting a little squirrely. Is that a real word? Anyway, I realized I haven’t posted a recipe in a while, so I took pictures of what I made last night. Teriyaki chicken! Here in the Northwest, we eat a lot of Teriyaki. It’s a Japanese method of grilling meat with a sweet/salty glaze made of soy sauce, mirin, and some other things. Here’s my recipe, with a lot less oil than the restaurant versions Feel free to add more if you like.
What’s that? It sounds too hard? Put down the take out menu, and back up slowly. This is going to be easy-peasy. For real. Let’s do this, and in less than ten steps!
1 lb chicken (I use organic boneless, skinless thighs)
1/2 head of cabbage, sliced
2 small onions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced. (or more!)
Prepared Teriyaki sauce (or make your own, see the end of the post)
White rice to serve
For the marinade:
1 cup soy sauce
1 tbsp dark soy
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp Sriracha hot sauce
1 tbsp vegetable oil
Just soy sauce and oil, if that’s all you have
One: Marinate your chicken (I only use boneless, skinless thighs as they are more moist) in a mixture of Soy Sauce, a splash each of Dark Soy, Fish Sauce, Sriracha hot sauce and vegetable oil. Now, if you are like me, you add a ton of hot sauce. Up to you. If you only have Soy Sauce, just do that with about a tablespoon of vegetable oil. Mix ‘em around with tongs.
Two: Chop up your vegetables. I used a half head of cabbage, two smaller onions and two cloves of garlic. Chop them into uniform sizes, and put in a dish to use later.
Three: Get your pans ready. You’ll need a grill pan (unless you don’t live in Seattle and can grill outside. If so, well, stop bragging about it), and a large frying pan. I need to buy a Wok sometime, but until then, this will do. Make sure the pans, even if they are non-stick, are well oiled. See how shiny mine are? That’s a good thing. Promise. Now, Turn up the heat! I want that grill pan smokin’ hot. When I put meat on it, it’s going to pop and sizzle and burn the crap out of my arms. Got it? Good. Oil burns are badges of honor.
NOTE: There is a pot of rice cooking there, too. Feel free to use a rice cooker if you need to, though.
Four: Throw the chicken onto the blazing hot grill. We’re going for a bit of char to get that authentic Teriyaki taste.
Five: When the chicken is about halfway done, heat up your fry pan. Add a tablespoon of oil, and throw in HALF of your veggies. Seriously. DO NOT OVERCROWD YOUR PAN. You will be sorry. Your veggies will turn to mush. Toss them around until they start to get little blackened bits on their edges. Toss veggies into a dish to wait, and then throw in the rest. Repeat.
Six: Now you should also remember to check on the chicken. When it gets those blackened grill marks, flip it over! Then, throw your old tongs into the sink and get new ones. Those others are all chicken-y and gross. Prepare the Teriyaki Sauce by putting it into a bowl with a little brush (or spoon for drizzling). Brush some of the Teriyaki Sauce onto the chicken. Once your other side is suitably blackened, flip it and add more sauce. Repeat until you get a nice sticky glaze, but make sure to work fast. You may even want to turn down the temp a bit so you don’t burn the chicken.
Seven: Now that your chicken is almost done, make sure your veggies are, too. Add everything back into the fry pan. Drizzle a few tablespoons onto the cabbage mixture and stir well. When it’s heated through, take it off the heat and put it in a bowl.
Eight: When the chicken is done, remove it from the heat. Serve with a sprinkle of sesame seeds, over a bed of fresh white rice. Eat a generous helping of cabbage because those are the rules. I don’t make them, I just follow them. Drizzle Teriyaki sauce over the whole darn thing if you like.
Side note: So I make my own Teriyaki sauce because storebought stuff is too sweet and full of weird chemicals. It’s super easy. Add about a cup of soy sauce to a small pan on low heat. Add a quarter cup of Mirin (Japanese Rice Wine). I add a splash of Sriracha, but feel free to leave the hot stuff out. Now as the mixture gets warm, add two tablespoons of brown sugar. Stir until the the sugar is melted. Taste. If you like your sauce sweeter, add more sugar, one tablespoon at a time. Heat mixture until it reduces a bit and gets slightly syrupy. Cool and store in tupperware in your refrigerator. Note: I add some Fish Sauce and Dark Soy to mine, but you certainly don’t have to. Enjoy!
That was, until the robots became self-aware and started a revolution. Siblings Nick, Kevin and Cass live in one of the last human outposts on Earth, hiding from robots and eeking out a life in the wild with hundreds of others. But when Kevin accidentally alerts the robots to their freepost’s location, their family and neighbors are brutally killed or taken captive. The three siblings journey to the city, desperately hoping to find their parents. What they find instead shatters everything they knew about the world around them. Will they escape the clutches of the robots, and free their parents? And what will become of the humans contained in the city?
Should you read it? If you love action adventures, boy-centered stories, and fast-paced dramas, you’ll like Revolution 19. It was refreshing to read a book that didn’t drag on for chapters. This is a fun read that will keep you in your seat until you turn the last page. I hear this is being made into a movie, and I can’t wait to see it!
What’s that, you say, in the top right corner? Is that a NEW excerpt from a NEW book? Why yes. Yes it is. It’s called FORSAKEN and I’m pretty excited about it. Wish me luck. Feel free to comment (I’m looking at you, people who see me in person and then talk about the blog, but never ever leave comments). Love it? Hate it? I want to know!
Here’s what it’s about:
13 is a slave bred to serve the upper classes, and she’s the best. But when she’s accused of murder, handsome visitor Blake swoops in and saves her from execution. 13 is pulled into a literal different world – an actual parallel universe where she’s no longer a slave, but a Princess of a vast underwater BioDome of the last humans on Earth. But who killed her double, Princess Quorra? Was it Talus, the brooding yet alluring boy who looks just like her long-lost crush? Surya, the ditzy but glamorous best friend? Or power-hungry politician Damon? 13 will have to fit into her royal life and find the murderer, but at least she has Blake by her side.
Or does she?
Did you love the Hunger Games? How about The Maze Runner? Are you looking for a new book/movie combo to sink your teeth into? Try Veronica Roth’s DIVERGENT trilogy, a fast-paced romp into the fearless world of the Dauntless.
What’s it about? In a run-down future Chicago, the residents are divided by five factions – Dauntless, Amity, Candor, Erudite and Abnegation. Beatrice Prior is a member of the selfless Abnegation, but the joyful rowdiness of the fearless Dauntless draw her eyes in the halls at school, speaking to her soul. During her choosing ceremony she breaks her parents hearts and chooses the Dauntless. But will she survive the breakneck pace and terrifying initiation of the adrenaline junkies? And what will happen if people find out her real aptitude test scores marked her as Divergent?
Should you read it? Yes! I loved, loved, loved Beatrice’s transformation to Tris as she grows into a kick-butt rebel. This is an exciting series with twisty plot points, swoon-worthy love interests (Four, we’re looking at you), and action sequences. Five stars!