Monday, November 6, 2017

Goodbye Chef Jean


When I started this blog in 2011, I was delighted to welcome longtime friend and cookbook author, Chef Jean Denham. Over the years, she contributed many wonderful recipes to share with my readers. The soul of generosity, she often shared her creations on Facebook. Jean had a whimsical side as evidenced by her picture above. Nevertheless, she worked hard at her craft and was loved by all who worked with her. The first time I featured her on my blog, I introduced her as Jean Denham. She sent me a gentle reminder. Marilee, I worked hard to earn the title of Chef, could you please call me Chef Jean Denham?

 Jean married Roy Denham forty-eight years ago and they created their own little Brady Bunch, since each came to the marriage with four children. Here’s a quote from Jean, “They said it would never last.” It did, of course, until October 9, 2017, when Jean left us for that great test kitchen in the sky.

You are in our thoughts, Chef Jean. Here’s a recipe you sent to me, knowing my limitations as a cook.

Ramen Noodle Chicken Pad Thai

One of the fastest to put together and flavorful dishes I’ve made in a long time. Two best things about this dish is you can add any veggies you might have in the fridge and/or sauté a few and add; and you can discard that high-sodium packet that comes with the ramen noodle pkg. – not needed.

1 package chicken flavor ramen noodles, 3 ounce
1 Tbs soy sauce
2 Tbs peanut butter
1/2 Tbs garlic chili paste
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1/2 to 1 cup cooked chicken, or whatever leftover meat/fish you have
Unsalted chopped peanuts, garnish

1. Boil 2 cups of water in a saucepan. Add noodles, reserve flavor packet, and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Reserve 1/4 cup cooking liquid. Drain noodles.

3. Add soy sauce, peanut butter and garlic chili paste to pan and stir to combine. If needed, add cooking liquid to smooth out sauce.

4. Add cooked noodles and stir to coat noodles. Add cooked chicken and stir to combine. Top with chopped peanuts. Serves 2.



Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Beauty and the Beast


Beautiful, talented women who want to move up the ladder. Powerful men who hold all the cards. It’s a blueprint for disaster and a scenario available to us 24 hours a day.

You know what frosts my cookies? Major news channels yammering on and on about the incredible gall and criminal behavior of Harvey Weinstein. Has it occurred to those in charge they may be part of the problem? Yes, Harvey is a creep. But hold on a sec. 
Check out the talent on Fox News, CNN and MSNBC. By check out, I mean compare the attractiveness quotient of women to men. If you’re a woman and want to be on the air, you must be highly intelligent, articulate and drop dead gorgeous.





If you’re a man, you must be highly intelligent, articulate and, well, that’s about it. Why? I don’t have a good answer.


Maybe the majority of their viewers are men and they’ll change the channel if the women don’t look like super models. It’s the best I can come up with.

Wouldn’t you love to be a fly on the wall when powers that be review the tape of a female applicant?

Stroking chin thoughtfully, the big boss says, “Hmm, her chin’s a little weak and she definitely needs a boob job. No problem, we can take care of that.”

Heaven forbid, the female anchor should look like a real woman, not one put together by a committee of men. Maybe in my next lifetime.




Saturday, September 9, 2017

WOW (Words of Wisdom)



I was recently invited back to a group I’d spoken to previously. When the subject is related to my books, I’m so in my comfort zone and can talk a blue streak. But since I’d already covered that ground, clearly, I needed new material.

With fear and trepidation, I prepared a presentation optimistically titled, An Interactive Writing Workshop. My plan included a brief description of setting, character development, genre and point of view. Keeping those topics in mind, I’d follow up by reading the opening paragraphs from several of my books. Then, (cue music) the scary part. I would ask them to write the beginning of a story.


Assailed by doubts, the following scenarios appeared in my overactive imagination. What if nobody showed up? What if I was met with truculent glares and they refused to participate? What if I heard mutterings like, “Why the heck did I come to this stupid thing?” “You want us to write???” Or, worst case scenario, maybe someone would initiate a stampede to the exit.

Because of my anxiety, I over prepared. I arrived armed with a long list of possible settings and dozens of writing prompts. Guess what? Not necessary.


Jim arrived early so he could show me the book he’d written about his life, titled The Farm. Many others filed into the room armed with paper and pens. After my brief introduction, I asked them to write, either individually or with a partner. With nary a grumble, they got to work. What they produced was educational . . . for me.

  


Bob, a child of the depression, came home from school to find the all family’s possessions piled outside their re-possessed home. Despite abject poverty, Bob served in the military, earned his M.D. and had many interesting experiences as a county coroner.


When Judy, along with three small children, arrived in the Philippines to join her military husband, he was nowhere to be found. Unfortunately, nobody told him she was coming. It was Sunday. None of the stores were open. There was very little furniture in the house and no food. Unlike today’s Millennials who panic when they can’t get cell service, Judy prevailed.



Sharon’s story of visiting her parents’ graves moved us to tears. Her husband’s description of an outdoor adventure was eloquent as well.

One group took the challenge of using a story prompt and penned a story about a group of 13-year-old girls gathered around a campfire and their rough-around-the edges visitor, Whopsy Willie. Creative, indeed!


If you decide to undertake a similar project, here’s my advice. Look for a group of well-seasoned adults who have lived life to the fullest. Their stories are amazing. I promise you will be richer for the experience. I know I was.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Finally, Allegiance is here!


Allegiance, Book two in the Soul Seekers series, will be published January 18, 2017. You may pre-order it now here: http://a.co/iDTvCIl

If you haven’t yet read Affliction, Book one, it will be on sale for $.99 at The Wild Rose Press, starting January 6th.


Here’s a bit about Allegiance:

Transplanted California girl, Melanie Sullivan, vows to stay in Oregon until she nails the killer of her best friend, Dani. Mel’s ability to search a soul for innocence or guilt is a big plus. Her love for Billy the Kid, former Marine and now a detective with the 3 Peaks police department is also a factor in her decision. She’s not quite sure what’s going on with Billy. Has the PTSD from his Middle East deployments returned?

When a hate crime is committed in 3 Peaks, mel is recruited by sexy Homeland Security agent, Mick, who requires her soul-reading ability. Mick doesn’t hide his feelings. He’s more than eager to step in if Billy steps out, a complication Mel doesn’t need or want. As she goes undercover, Mel embarks on a dangerous journey, aided by her Uncle Paco and devoted friends.


Along the way, she learns a valuable lesson about the power of forgiveness.