Fall is come! Sort of.

We’ve had some lovely pre-fall days recently and I am feeling it. My heart keeps fantasizing about apple picking. There is nothing like the smell of cooked apples on a brisk day with the windows open. Luckily the apples are beginning to come into season, so I imagine I’ll get my wish once this latest heat wave dissipates.

In honor of the upcoming smorgasbord, I wanted to share my favorite apple recipes and couple of delicious fall stories, visual and legible. Fall for me is about creepy, atmospheric thrills and dying leaves, sweaters and spicy honeyed chai. So my fall stories hold a similarly special place in my heart.

Practical MagicSpiced Apple Cider

You can’t have fall without this most traditional of drinks, and in my house you can’t have fall without the movie Practical Magic. It is my favorite witch movie, which is saying something, and my favorite fall watch despite the fact most of it takes place in the summer. I hope you get to snuggle on the couch with sweater and a warm drink and enjoy your favorite movie soon. I know I’m looking forward to trying this lovely recipe from bon appétit.

 

Dusk or Dark or Dawn or DayStuffed Pumpkins

This novella is, for me, a comforting Thanksgiving ghost tale. It’s about family, found and otherwise, and mirrors and dastardly deeds. I think it goes great with a stuffed pumpkin. Apples are a key to this dish, which is appropriate because the root of the jack-o-lantern tradition lies in apple carvings, pumpkin being a thing that wasn’t really around in Europe until recently. I’m a vegetarian, so my modifier to this recipe from Local Milk is to sub out the gruyere and bacon and replace them with smoked gouda. It goes over swimmingly as my Thanksgiving centerpiece every year.

The Graveyard BookApple Pie

You can’t talk about apples without talking about apple pie, and you can’t talk about fall without talking about graveyards and spirits. Happily, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman takes place almost entirely in a graveyard. This book contains a lot of endings, so I think it’s a good place to talk about dessert. Accordingly, I provide this basic apple pie recipe from Smitten Kitchen. I myself usually end up making Rosemary Apple Pie, which might be more appropriate, but unfortunately that recipe is not available online to share. Also not everyone likes rosemary as much as I do.

It’s the holiday season! Ghosts and crunchy leaves and loveliness await!


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New Year’s Resolutions

It is a New Year and even though it feels kind of overwhelming to be thinking about resolutions at all I am going to take a stab at it. It helps that I’ve already got a schedule through April.

There are a couple of carryovers from last year, and I’ll get through those. But mostly these are new goals (eek) so let’s look at that.

  • Finish Daughter of Madness. This is the big elephant in the room. I’m hoping for an April release date. I am excited for folks to read this book, but it’s been in the works for a while now and I’m very interested in shifting gears to something else.
  • Finish APM. I may have mentioned this project before. It’s something I’ve been scribbling off and on for a few months now, and the goal is to get a draft wrapped up by March.
  • Successfully attend Futurescapes. Did I tell you all I got into this workshop? No? Well APM is the thing I will be work-shopping there, thus the need to have it finished in March. I told you it’s going to be a busy few months.
  • Successfully attend my planned events, RAI and MystiCon. These always both simultaneously inspire and take a lot out of me, so we will see how it goes! We’ve already started on MystiCon programming, actually.
  • Figure out my next novel project and start on it. Right now I’m on the fence about what project to pursue next. The next Creation Saga book is obviously high on the list, but I’ve had a couple of new novel ideas kicking around for a while and I would like to get started on them. I’ve also been researching doing a serialized novel or novella project for release on Patreon or Gumroad. A lot of this decision is going to depend on what happens between now and April, and whether or not people continue to support my Patreon, which I need to overhaul to comply with a more realistic projection of how much time I will be spending on it and what I can produce.
  • Be better at not over-committing myself, and on following through. I like to juggle things, and I like to be busy. I also enjoy my free time and alone time. It’s a conundrum. Keeping a good balance of juggling so that I don’t get bored and stay productive, and rest so that I don’t get burnt out and stay productive, is really hard. It might be easier if these were the only projects I were juggling. They’re not, and that will probably never be the case. Personal life, and, more often, work life will continue to intrude. I have to find a way to make all of those things balance, and it’s a constant negotiation. It’s one I’ve failed at the end of this year. We have to push ourselves and take chances, so I’m not exactly upset about failing that recently, but life is a marathon, not a sprint, or at least we hope it is. I’ve been sprinting this year and I need to learn to respect my limits.
  • Keep up with my short story craft. One of the things I’ve been glad of this year is that I’ve been exploring new mediums, including short stories. I am not a natural short story writer, I don’t think. It’s hard to tell for sure, of course, but so far I’ve been short listed twice and never successfully sold something. Considering my production rate, I don’t think those are terrible numbers, but having a short story publication under my belt can only help both my self-publishing sales and my chance of diversifying my income and market reach through traditional publishing. All of which is to say that getting a short story published, or five, would be great. So I’m going to keep chipping away at that and hope it works out.

Okay, those are my goals! There are decidedly less than last year for sanity purposes. I look forward to chiming in on my progress in June!

Hope you all have a great 2018! Let me know if you have any fun goals for this year.


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Thanksgiving Dinner!!

I promised you a Thanksgiving post so here we are!

My friends and I got together last Sunday to make some scrumptious things, as we do every year, and here is the menu list, with occasional pictures. Plus what I made for my family’s Thanksgiving! Recipe links, discussion of adaptations, and general cookery follow. Feel free to drool.

The appetizer: Presenting, the Pumpkin Herb Cheese Ball

I found this recipe… I don’t even remember where, really. I am a recipe hoarder. Anyway, it’s really not that hard. I don’t have a stand mixer so I just hand-paddled mine, which took a while but is good exercise. Make it ahead, buy a box of crackers, and you’re golden. I made this to take to my Mom’s house, and used the pumpkin seeds from the stuffed pumpkin recipe below to roll it in.

I also made a salad to take, since that was requested. Since I’m lazy we’re not going to even talk about the salad today. It was there, I ate it. Yay!

The main course: Stuffed Pumpkin Supreme

Is there anything more satisfying than gutting a pumpkin? I found this lovely heirloom baking pumpkin down at the grocery for only five dollars. That’s ridiculously affordable. It was a bit bigger than the pie pumpkin the recipe called for, so I added extra cheese because you can’t go wrong with cheese.

I’m a vegetarian. This recipe is not. But the only thing not-vegetarian in it is a tiny smattering of bacon, so I took that out and did a substitute for the gruyere. Smoked gouda brings that smoky umame flavor and then some. This is decadent and not for the faint of heart. You will eat it and you will be amazed. Plus it’s cute, because who doesn’t love a little stuffed pumpkin as your centerpiece for a delicious meal? Make this first, because it takes minimum an hour and a half to bake and you can always bake other things around it if your oven is big enough.

The dessert: Peach pie

I made a peach pie based off of the Smitten Kitchen blog recipe, which is my literal favorite website for recipes that involve any kind of baked goods. It was pretty delicious, and also one of the prettier pies I’ve made recently, probably because my oven failed to burn the crust this time around. Thanks for being reasonable for once, oven! For this recipe I would definitely recommend putting a baking sheet under your pie pan to catch the falling peach juice and also running your vent or cracking a window. My smoke detector went off a few times (Thanks again, oven.)

Bonus photo of Steve with his Pecan Pie, a family recipe! The pecan pie was a bigger hit than my peach pie, I believe because there were two of them and people felt like they could safely avoid taking the last bite. Or maybe because peaches are a summer fruit. Or maybe because the S.O. was standing over the peach pie brandishing a fork in defense. Thanks for taking the pressure off, Steve!

Alright, that’s your food porn for the day (year?). I hope you enjoyed! Until next week.

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