I know I know, I haven’t been keeping up with you guys. Honestly, this book is running my life along with extra naps and walks with Naps. So I tried to think about how I could make it up to you and I remembered the ridiculously delicious (as told to me by my lovely taste testers) Jalapeño Stir Fried Pork.
Before the pork, an update on my life. Things have been going really well. As you know I completed my draft, did 2 edit run throughs and sent my book off to my beta readers. Thankfully I have already gotten one copy back and am already dissecting the beta copy and seeing what changes I would like to make. The book, I can’t even believe it, is getting revamped once more. I am moving some things around in the first two chapters and adding new scenes and action into my last chapter.
Why? A few reasons. One is that I know that by the time I got to the end of my book I was tired. I wasn’t tired of my characters, or my story because they are amazing and the universe that they have created in my mind is infinite. Honestly I dream about my characters, I live and breathe them, and they as well as their lives and the books are constantly on my mind. I was just burned out from late nights on the book and early mornings in the kitchen. My first beta confirmed what I already knew – my last chapter needs a little more punch. Luckily, the two weeks I have taken off have given me time to really let my imagination work things out and BOY it has.
Second reason falls to the query research. I have a list of 6 agents I want to send to. During those few weeks I took off physically working on my book I labored on the internet searching for any information on what these agencies are looking for. From interviews to query reviews and articles they have written. I’ve taken notes and realized that there are still some improvements that will make my story better and thusly more appealing to these agents. My research helped me well beyond my query, because it has helped me reflect on my work and see how to improve it. I need it to be as perfect as possible before I send out to agents, so my timeline has shifted and that’s ok. I haven’t pushed it back forever, just for a month. A month can make a big difference.
I have also been reading more about Mindy Kaling, who is an amazing writer and comedic actress. I love her for her tenacity and persistence, and how she is unapologetic of how awesome she is. She owns it and she worked hard to be where she is. She has often commented that it was so difficult to find parts that she decided to write them herself. That sounds simple but it took a lot of time and energy but it sure as buns paid off. I love acting and I love writing. I tried the acting route first and found that the parts available weren’t for me. I was too this or not enough that, too ethnic, too curvy, too short, not American enough, thin enough, tall enough, the list goes on. Since I was a little girl I loved writing, and it took me a long time to realize that it is what makes me the happiest. Writing this novel, this trilogy (or longer) is my in to get it all. If people love it as much as I do I can do what Mindy did, and write parts for myself. I have so many ideas and so much to offer, and I am excited for the day I will be able to share them with the world.
Wooh! That was fun. Now for the pork…
This is my take on Asian style pork stir fry. I love taking dishes and adapting them to the latin palate. Using jalapeños, a classic spicy pepper, really helps bring out the sweetness of the bell peppers and onions. The use of pork shoulder is the big ingredient. Used more often for pernil, it is great to find new uses for ingredients you may already have on hand so shaving the pernil for this dish just brings a whole other string of possibilities with this one cut of meat. I love doing that.
Cooking should be fun and easy. To me it shouldn’t involve ingredients that are too exotic or specific. It is all about using what you have in different ways and creating a new plate you can enjoy again and again. Sure it is great fun to experiment with new flavors and textures and ingredients, but for day to day life it is about kicking monotony to the curb and spicing up what you have on hand. And what you have on hand, I assure, is a lot of delicious waiting to happen!
This dish is colorful, flavorful and easy to prepare. Enough said.
It has been a helluva long time since I have checked out FGF. Sorry for those of you that have been kind enough to check in and see how I was doing only to get rebuffed by my not updating at all. Apologies. *hugs* If it makes you feel any better, but a month after I finished my first draft I was editing like a mad woman. Book editing may cause symptoms including but not limited to excessive hunger, constipation, lack of sleep, drowsiness, carpal tunnel and the need for AM Espresso Cherry Biscotti.
Before I get to these (see below) I want to talk about the book editing process.
Sorry about that…
Now when I say I was book editing, what I mean is that I did very little else. Eating, exercising and showering because more of an idea than a necessity on some days, and I hate to admit that I scarcely interaction with my family, friends or husband and instead focused on tending to my computer and Napoleon, only because unlike every one else he didn’t want to talk to me he just wanted to serve as lap dog, personal heater and cuddle bug throughout the process. Most days were perfect. I would wake up, feed and let the pup out, munch on nuts or anything else that was immediately at hand and got to work.
My method was simple. Once I finished my draft I printed out each chapter and took a few days per chapter marking it up. I would change names, add scenes, move scenes around, you get the picture. When I was done with a chapter I would grab my computer and input my changes. Sometimes my input days were longer than my mark up days – I wrote a bit much. Once a chapter was finished I would praise myself with something special – gelato from Pitango, ice cream from Ice Cream Jubilee or a quick bite from Tortilla Cafe. Come on, you had to know all of my rewards had to be food related. If there is one thing I love more than pouring my thoughts onto paper it is eating them, hence the food blog (primarily ok, ok sheesh).
Here, another photo to drool over while I continue…
See, I haven’t forgotten why you are really reading this, I just need to get a bit more off my chest first.
So anyway, this pattern (I forgot a lot of words from a multitude of languages for a second – meep!) went on for a month. I did not finish inputing the changes for my final chapter until 3:43AM on July 12th – which is when I went on vacation to South Carolina. Hooray right? It was a huge hooray, but even on vacation I did one last read through. I did it to make sure I didn’t miss anything, so I could catch any really dumb errors (which I found out I didn’t catch them all – ugh) and to finally read through a body of work I had put so much of my blood, sweat, tears and nails into (my nail biting returned with a fierceness I cannot explain).
We vacationed from Saturday to Saturday. I didn’t print out my beta copies until that Thursday. So my real vacation, with no novel to tinker with, was three days – well really a week since my kitchen faucet decided to die and a few other things have held up my days.
Anyway – rewind – how did I get through those early mornings and late nights working on my draft? AM Espresso Cherry Biscotti. You knew I was going to get back to it didn’t you?
Have faith people!
This biscotti, out of any other biscotti recipe I have done has been the best received. Why? Because most of my taste testers are coffee addicts, because these biscotti were perfectly crunchy on the outside with just enough richness in the center to be a cookie and a crisp. Because cherries are deliciously tart, pistachios are deliciously creamy and espresso is a wake up call. Because they go great with anything, everything and shine on their own. Because… because!
Make a batch and enjoy it while I do the same and work on the next part of the book process – querying an agent! More on that to come.
Ladies and gents, for this post I have a big announcement to make.
I FINISHED MY FIRST DRAFT! *applause*
I thought there was no way that I could make this moment better. That is until I realized that I hadn’t shared my Coconut Crumble Lime Bars with you yet. *applause and flowers*
Oh yeah, I did it! Sure, now that I look back on it I can say that I have some really great things going on in my novel and a few things I need to work on, but the truth of the matter is that I wrote over 55K words, and have a story that has a beginning, a middle and an end with some amazing stuff in between. Part of me feels like I should be shouting off of the rooftops, and another doesn’t feel like I have accomplished much. Not because I haven’t, but because I know I have so much more to go.
Once I’ve taken enough time away I will go through the book again, chapter by chapter, flagging any issues I see big or small. Day by day I’ll take a few hours to fix some of those flags and continue reading for new ones. When i have all of that settled, and I feel like my novel is the best I can possibly make it, I’ll send it off to my beta readers. That’ll be a nice vacation for me, where I am constantly nauseated and eating my weight in chips and salsa waiting for the feedback. Once I integrate what I agree with and shelf what I don’t, I will be left with the best version of my novel I could come up with. From there it’s all about the agents, and hopefully I’ll have this all done by August so by the end of summer I’ll just be waiting for a good word and laying out the groundwork for book 2.
In the meantime, I am taking a few days off of my novel, BT, and am focusing on my recipe development, food photography and FGF. That includes these oh-so-glorious Coconut Crumble Lime Bars. How this came to be stems from my bubbles. Lee loves key lime pie. When I say love, I mean if it was between me and the pie I don’t know who he would choose. I’m just kidding, he would choose me (right?). So I am constantly thinking of ways that I can infuse the flavors he loves into new desserts. Why? Because I get tired of eating the same thing, and I love creating new things, and I LOVE a challenge.
I’ve made lemon and lime bars before. Alcoholic or not, they are always the perfect mixture of tangy and sweet. You can always taste every ingredient, I’m big on that, and sugar in my desserts is always used sparingly. Desserts shouldn’t just taste sweet, they should taste sweetened. Anyway, these bars have a one up on any other because of their coconut almond crumble topping. Intrigued? I knew I had you at crumble…
Sometimes when I am supposed to be writing my book I am too involved thinking about other things. I think about my parents constantly interrupting me with a call while I try to concentrate, the audio technica headphones that could help drown out the sound of Lee killing zombies in his latest video game so I could concentrate, the food I could be eating to stop the rumbling in my stomach so I could concentrate or the riverside estate I dream of in Portugal that would be the ultimate sanctum for me to be a writer and, you know, concentrate.
So in the vein of trying to concentrate, I’m gonna share with you one of my favorite sandwiches of all time – The Marinated Veggie Sandwich!
This sandwich has everything you could want on it. Ok, maybe not. There are a few things you could add to it. I should have said this sandwich has everything it needs to be great. Sure, you could add MORE to it and make it even GREATER, but it is so simple to make and so delicious it is a go to GREAT sandwich.
Did I mention it’s awesome?
Oh right, I meant GREAT!
This sandi-wich is all full of delicious. Marinated zucchini, red pepper, yellow pepper and orange pepper make up the bulk of what you see. Avocado adds creaminess and cotija adds a bit of salt. You could make this vegan by omitting the cheese, adding nutritional yeast or vegan cheese.
Side Note: I’m not a fan of vegan cheese, or vegan mock meat products. I have a stance that you should eat things as they are in their most wholesome form. I like tofu, but not tofu chicken. I stay away from meat because I don’t like the flavor, so making vegetable based foods taste like meat doesn’t help me at all.
But I digress.
Add a little red onion, some lettuce or peppery arugula and you’ve got yourself a dynamite lunch. This is also a great sandwich for a picnic, packing everything separately so you can build your own sandwiches on the spot. Try it with ciabatta or on a hollowed out Portuguese roll!
Now that I have chosen to write this blog post I will attempt to concentrate once again on my book. Wish me luck, or a sandwich. Either would be quite helpful in this situation….
Perfect for a picnic at the park or a pick-me-up at home, this Marinated Veggie Sandwich packs grilled lemon marinated zucchini with a rainbow of sweet peppers topped with red onion, lettuce and avocado cream.
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper, fresh cracked
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
1 medium zucchini, sliced ¼ inch thick
1 sweet red pepper, sliced
1 sweet yellow pepper, sliced
1 sweet orange pepper, sliced
1 avocado, ripe
½ cup cotija, crumbled
8 slices of whole wheat bread
¼ red onion, thin sliced
4 lettuce leaves
In a large ziplock bag combine lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and zucchini along with the sliced red, yellow and orange sweet peppers.
Press out as much air as possible and zip. Shake bag to combine ingredients and ensure all vegetables are covered. Store bag in refrigerator for 2 hours or overnight to marinate vegetables thoroughly.
Preheat grill pan lined with aluminum foil over medium heat.
Spread vegetables over grill pan and cook until vegetables are charred with grill marks. Do this in batches if necessary.
In a small bowl combine 2½ tbsps of left over marinade with avocado. Smash avocado with a fork and combine with marinade until a creamy dressing forms. Fold in cotija cheese and set aside.
Creating one sandwich at a time, take one slice of bread and spread with a heaping tablespoon of avocado cream.
Top with a few slices of red onion, marinaded zucchini and peppers, a lettuce leaf and another slice of bread.
Repeat with remaining ingredients to create a total of 4 sandwiches.
I know I know, I haven’t been keeping up with you guys. Honestly, this book is running my life along with extra naps and walks with Naps. So I tried to think about how I could make it up to you and I remembered the ridiculously delicious (as told to me by my lovely taste testers) Jalapeño Stir Fried Pork. Read more…
It has been a helluva long time since I have checked out FGF. Sorry for those of you that have been kind enough to check in and see how I was doing only to get rebuffed by my not updating at all. Apologies. *hugs* If it makes you feel any better, but a month after I finished my first draft I was editing like a mad woman. Book editing may cause symptoms including but not limited to excessive hunger, constipation, lack of sleep, drowsiness, carpal tunnel and the need for AM Espresso Cherry Biscotti. Read more…