4

The Unfinished Galaxy. Mars: The No God Zone (Also: Lonely Woman’s Easy repair of the day; and a yummy give-away)

Mars is our next door neighbor . . . .

It is the forgotten playground of a god, or God. Almost there. Almost Just Right. Almost Earth-like . . . more on that later.

marsSmaller than Earth, it does have two moons so that in itself makes it nice to visit in my Lil Loghouse Spaceship. Though, it’s often difficult to see the moons, because of the dust storms kicking up. The wind howls, and you can hear it if you click on this video—as well as see a sunset tinge the sky blue. You can hear the sounds of Mars from space on this video.

From space, Mars is beautiful in its own way—if you like red, and I do. There’s so much iron in the soil. And it’s cold. 80 degrees below zero. And I forgot my coat on Pluto. Oh well! When you are a Lonely Woman, you don’t have anyone to remind you to grab your coat, or to make sure your shirt isn’t on inside out, or fix the tag that’s sticking up in the back, or acknowledge your existence when you return to Earth from Mars. There’s not even a Jesus to wipe off your Mars-dusty feet, either. But I digress . . . .

On Mars, there’s canyons, volcanoes, craters. Clouds, fog, wind. Tornados. There’s gravity—though one-third less than Earth has. If you dropped a cup of coffee on Mars, it would fall slower than if you dropped that cup of coffee on Earth—maybe you have time to grab it, but then I suppose everything would move slower. Just like with Pluto, which I wrote about below, you’d weigh less: if you weighed 100 pounds on Earth, you’d only weigh 37 on Mars. You could also jump higher on Mars. Wheeee! Though after a while, jumping higher means nothing if there’s nothing to jump for, or no one to show how high you are jumping and laughing while you scream “Isn’t this cool?” We must have witness to coolness or it just doesn’t feel as cool.

It takes a little less than twice as long for a year to pass on Mars than it does on Earth—plenty more time to fail at your New Year’s resolutions; am I right? One day on Mars is only 20 minutes longer than on Earth. What to do with those twenty minutes? What to do. Waste it? Make it count? Scientists think that at one time the planet could have had liquid water, or at least could support oceans. They think that something may have struck Mars and flung out a lot of its atmosphere into space—

That happened to me. I was metaphorically struck by something, or if I’m being honest, by someone, and parts of me flung out into space so that I am left altered. I am Mars—all howling winds and dust storms and I am next to all this Life and Abundance and I am not Goldilocks—Not Just Right—and . . . more on that in a second.

Mars is the closest thing there is to Earth, and scientists think it could support life. As long as we don’t think of it as Life as We Know it On Earth.

I don’t believe in God. Not any longer. And not for quite some time.

Okay, that came out of the blue, right?

Doesn't that "mass" look a little like our continent?

Doesn’t that “mass” look a little like our continent?

As I travel our Galaxy in the lil spaceship, I see our beautiful Earth among all the other planets so inhospitable. I know that Earth is in the “Goldilocks Zone,” meaning Earth is situated in the “just right” place in our solar system not only to support life, but life so lush and varied that it boggles the mind how we became who we are and what we are—Random Acts of Nature. Because, I randomly think, if there were this Higher Being creating, why not Mars? Why would a god so magnificent and awesomely and powerful stop with one planet? Why make Mars “almost there” but not go there? Would a god realize his limitations? Did he/she/it want us to be the Lonely Planet? Did he/she/it feel abandoned so abandoned the entire project? Would a god or God be the loneliest being in not only this galaxy, but in all the galaxies? Maybe God or gods created just what he/she/it felt—a world full of lonely-hearted people looking for a way not to be lonely; a world full of the Always Searching for Something that isn’t there until it is and then it isn’t.

If you are the Lonely Woman traveling the galaxy looking down at the busy earth, and the desolate planets all around it, you feel the absence of God not the presence. You don’t see this Miracle—instead you see Beautiful Acts of Random. You see how a planet right next door just because it is not in The Perfect Spot, but almost is, is not able to sustain the life as Earth does.

You know what I miss most about believing in a god and Jesus and all that? Not the fire and brimstone—I mean, face it, the God(s) man created are abusive and mean and incredibly cruel and why would I pray to that? This God throws you in a lake of fire and watches you burn—how sick is that? And though Jesus would want to kiss your blistered feet, even he has to turn his back on you once you do whatever it is that is not pardonable. And there you are screaming out their name, begging for mercy where there is none. That sounds  like a really interesting novel that I’d read once and be so disturbed I’d never read again. I have done much thinking on this. I find science comforting. Very comforting. I find a god or Gods unsettling and more like a fairytale told to misbehaving children to get them to Act Right.

But what I miss about Jesus, you see, is that as a Lonely Woman, you lie in bed at night and there is DSC09985no one to listen. You speak aloud to hear your voice, and you “pray” to the Universe but you know no one or no thing hears you. The dark is darker. The night is nightyer. The loneliness lonelier. You think that if it were your last night on Earth, who would be there to witness your death? Who would cry and scream and shake their fist to the sky? It would only be after no one had heard from you that they’d begin to worry and then make their grisly discovery. You try not to think about these things. But you do. So you reach out to neighbors and friends and family and find ways to make sure you are Seen and Heard and Discoverable very quickly.

Earth may be the God Zone, but Mars is the No God Zone, and that is where I am hovering right now, right above Mars, looking down at a dust storm fierce and howling. When I land, I’ll walk its dusty soil and know that no Big Being in the Sky would leave Mars so desolate—so close to Earth yet so far. Here’s a Rover on mars.

It’s as if the God Story is unfinished. As if this Being started a project in a petri dish, the Great Scientist in the Sky, and then grew bored. Or gave up. Or perhaps thought, “This is enough for me. This is just right.” Or, as I lie in bed at night looking out the window at the stars and as the moon shines on my right foot, I know just how random I am. There is some comfort in that. I can absolve myself from so much responsibility.

But there is no one to say that to. No one to talk to and say, “Guess what? I just had an epiphany!” And there’s no Jesus there to nod his sage head and say, “Good work, my daughter.” There’s no God up there smiting me, either, which is a relief. Who wants to be smit’ed?

For Lonely Woman in this strange Unfinished Galaxy, there is You in the night. You. You. Just You. You. Just You. Unfinished. Almost but Not Quite Just Right.


Easy Repair of the Day: Is your ceiling fan making noise and driving you nuts? Did you know that sometimes all you need to do is clean it? That there may be some dust on it, or on the top of the blades where you can’t see it, and that is causing it to be out of balance. Turn the fan off, take a rag and clean the blades top and bottom. Turn the fan back on and be amazed that it fixed the clickity sound or the clackity sound or the click-clack sound. If this does not work, or only partially works, you may have to go to your local hardware store (or big hardware store) and purchase a ceiling fan weight balance thing to try that. But the easier fix without even leaving your spaceship is first to try cleaning the blades. I cleaned the dust from mine and it worked!


Links: Daniel Wallace Guest Author at R&T, Firefly Dance, RAP, etctgIf you love Appalachian/Southern Fiction, I hope you will head over to Kat Magendie Amazon Page and pick out a book. I will have book give aways (mine and other authors’) from time-to-time, but today–chocolate. TG & Sweetie are two of my best sellers. But there are more to choose from.


Give away of the week: Chocolate! Since we talked about Mars today, I am going to give away some Mars chocolates. I don’t like the “first commenters” thing.  So, at the end of the week (Saturday), I will randomly draw a number out of a box and whomever is the *that number* commenter is the one who receives the give away. If I receive only 1 commenter, then, well, I’ll have to pull from the box until I get number 1 *laugh*

0

Pluto: too tiny to clear away obstacles? (& Repair for the Day)

At one time Pluto, though the smallest in the solar system and the farthest away (as far as we knew), was a Planet, a regular old planet and a part of the Nine Planets we all grew up reciting in school using a mnemonic, such as: My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas (for more, plutoclick on this site: Mnemonic Devices Memory Tools ). But one fine day Pluto was flung out of its A Part of the Whole planet status in our galaxy, left to drift there in the cold and dark.  Oh people rooted for it and that made Pluto feel hope, but it was still alone out there. Perhaps because scientists felt so sorry for Pluto in all its lonely isolation, they upgraded it to a Dwarf Planet. A consolation prize that didn’t lessen the sting so much as make Pluto feel its pride surging up but its feeling of belonging surging down.

Tpluto_color_beforeclosestapproach.jpg.CROP.original-originalhough Pluto’s status in the galaxy changed, Pluto had not changed other than the natural changes that occur with any living thing—and one could say that planets are not living things if there is no life there, but that’s a subject for another day. Pluto was doing as it always did, so far away in its own little world. Pluto is so difficult to explore and know about, since it’s so far away, that it is often misunderstood—and even so, it relays its heart on its pale face (and you can see and read about that heart on Nasa’s Site), sending messages of please love me! I am worthy! While at the same time keeping its distance away from all the others. A strange contradiction.

A Dwarf Planet is called this because it is so little it cannot clear other objects out of its path. Oh, my friends, how we do relate to that. In our One Status, tucked inside our spaceship, we see obstacles of every size and though we may feel mighty, we can’t seem to clear the way—and we see the other planets big and important doing what we struggle with and that only make us feel smaller and lonelier. We begin to feel this ineptness creep up on us. That inept feeling erodes and causes us to flounder. It’s all too much!, we wail. And, it is. No platitudes from well-meaning friends and family helps. Yes, they mean well when they say the supportive things they say out of their own helpless way of helping you. But it means nothing when you are struggling to clear the way through the galaxy’s bombardment.

One day on earth is 24 hours. But on Pluto? One day is the equivalent of 6 and ½ days. Time drags on slowly and methodically, though at the end of it, how much was accomplished? It feels as if we squandered that six and one-half days. We pass by Earth and see all the busy people accomplishing in one day what it takes us almost a week to do—because it’s all on us. Because no one has our back. Things pile up. Housework, food shopping, bill paying, dog care, work. And repairs to the ship (see below!). We’re pocked by the obstacles smacking us senseless and we cannot clear the way because we are so tiny.

It’s very cold on Pluto. 375 to 400 degrees below zero cold. It’s icy. Cold, dark, icy. Who would love
Ice Walk at Killian Knob + Video Whale Back Rock & VK's Sagathat? It is only icy because it is so far away from everything and everyone else. Isolation. But yet, there is that big heart. There is that grit. There is that tenacity despite its smallness.  There is that, I am Here! I am HERE! You will not discount me! Goddammit! You will see me! You will respect me!

On Pluto, you can eat whatever you want and hop on those scales and laugh your ass off. Pass the ice cream! Pass the cookies! More chips and dip please! Because 100 pounds on Earth is only about 7 pounds on Pluto. So, my lovelies, the nights you are alone watching rerun marathons of Grey’s Anatomy with all that love and kissing and sex and people interacting and hope and loss and the 630320whole messiness of life and death, you, One You, are eating an ice-cream bar with enough calories to run a couple marathons around the perimeter of Pluto. And if you have not tried Magnums, and I mean the ice cream you sillies you, then travel in your spaceship over to Earth to the nearest store and find them. But know that they will taunt you from the freezer—call out to you, entice you. And you will answer because you crave the enticement, the taunting. You must save them for a special treat because once you return to Earth from Pluto, the weight difference will astound and amaze, and my friends, we must stay healthy! Magnuming ourselves into bad health isn’t the answer either. haw!

So how do you navigate your One-ness world? How do you clear objects out of your path even if Ring around the universe, pocket full of planetsyou are told you cannot or you tell yourself that you cannot, or reality is you in reality cannot? You rise out of bed. You make your bed. You wash your face. You comb your hair. You turn on the coffee pot. You eat breakfast. You put one foot in front of the other and you Do. You try not to look at the other planets who hang in the air with all their importance. You show your heart and hope that one day that heart will be a beacon for Something More. But until then? Until then you try and you try and you try some more. And in the failings come success. Even small successes are accomplishments that will make you feel empowered. All by yourself.

That is what Pluto does. That is what Lonely Woman does (mostly). That is what we who are One in the galaxy must do.


Repair for the day: If your garbage disposal in the spaceship quits working, don’t immediately start wondering how you will replace it. Instead, grab a flashlight and dive under that sink and look for the Reset Button. Yes, if you did not know, there is a reset button on your garbage disposal. I found it, and it worked, so I didn’t need to do anything else. Before you go resetting, you’ll need to make sure there is nothing stuck in the disposal causing it not to work. Please do not go sticking your hand in there until you not only turn it off, but find the plug to unplug it! I once chewed up an entire glass in the disposal and had to unplug it so I could dig out millions of shards of glass. But I did it! And I did it this time, too, by not letting panic take over: Where will I find the money to replace this? Who can I trust to install it? OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG! (More on those thoughts another time). I simply hit Reset.

There are other troubleshooting ways to fix your disposal on your own. It will give you a feeling of power to be able to fix what goes wrong in your spaceship, without having to travel to one of the Big Important Planets to find someone, or pay someone, to help you. Again, please make sure that if you are sticking your hand down in that dark nasty abyss, you turn off the disposal and unplug it. Two videos to help you: Short One with only Music & Visuals & Longer One with Voice Instruction.

Next week, I will have a give-away. If you did not receive anything from me last week and you should have received the Kindle Copy because you “won” it, then please contact me.

13

Introduction to the Galaxy

imagesThe Milky Way Galaxy. Home. It’s not very big, as galaxies go. Though, progress intrudes as it often does—the Milky Way is moving towards the Andromeda Galaxy at seventy miles per second, and what was One will become a bigger messier Two that becomes a strange unknown One. Much as we humans do—we hurtle towards one another knowing the collision will be beautiful and fiery, and end in our spiritual or romantic or sexual (or all three) deaths. Perhaps before that happens, the sun will have already swollen to a red giant and, well, we won’t survive that either. We have no choice in the matter—death comes, so we must do the living, hurtling towards what we think will make our lives more exciting, bigger, better, sexier. Often, if we are careless, hurtling towards hurt—hurt(ling).

Oh but do not fret, for the aforementioned collision is millions of years away. Or, as in the case of Human Endeavors, it has already occurred and there is quite the mess to clean up and the resurrecting of Life not as it became known, but as it will become. Advice will be given freely: Think Positive! There are people who have it much worse! You can do it! It’s not so bad is it? Buck up and stop whining!

084Looking out of the spaceship window, there is a vastness of sky interspersed with Stuff. Though one would think traveling into space would be a silent and black existence, it is not. It only seems that way for the Lonely Woman when eyes turn too far inward; but yet, even then, the brain is as the galaxy is—full of gas, dust, black hole, planets, moons, and stars, never still, ever-changing. In the midst of it all, one cannot see to think clearly with the dust and gas so thick, yet there are wonders there, beauties, discoveries. There is also the Hidden inside the black hole that one does not want to be too close to. Why, you may ask?

The massive black hole is a greedy dark mouth that devours all the beauty and wonder and light. But yet, you wonder, inside the blackness, where no one can see, the wonders and beauty are still there, are they not? Still, you know the danger of Black Hole. No one really understands it, and that makes it bigger and badder. It is ravenous, dark, moving, surreal, dangerous, scary. Even before you enter the Event Horizon and are sucked in, you are drawn to it, drawn to it, drawn to it, drawn to that strange awful blackness.

In this galaxy, there are over 200 billion stars, maybe up to 400 billion, and that makes up only part of the home of the Earth home. Back on earth, there are about 7.5 billion people—the world could possibly support 9 or 10 billion. (Go to this World Population Calculator and see how the number changes yet stays the same as it calculates births and deaths.) And yet, for the Lonely Woman, there is One. And the inside of the spaceship has a silence so loud it bangs upon the eardrums a tune that says: Alone Alone Alone Alone Alone Alone Alone, to the tune of the heartbeat. Turn your head this way and that, and find the spot that turns off the sound, brief respite you’ll cover up with alcohol, silly inane tv shows, work, or long walks in the atrium side of your ship.

The thing about being alone is people are afraid of the vastness of it, or ashamed of it, or think that it means they are somehow Not Quite Right. But often, the Lonely choose it. Because they must. One must learn to be alone before one can learn to be, well, not alone. So while it is a choice, it also has its challenges.

Earth is noisy, and Lonely Woman recoils, retreats to the safety of the ship. Yet in space, it is not as silent as one would imagine. Though sound is not as it is on Earth. Sound in space is eerie—it is the sound of loneliness, beautiful but frightening—it is a sound that both entices and repels. You want to listen, yet you want to run away from it. (Visit this website called “Can You Actually” that has YouTube videos of the sounds of planets, including Earth.)

download (1)Turning from the window, thoughts turn to the basics: how to navigate a busy galaxy when it is but you at the helm of your spaceship? And that is what this journey will be. Effectively, or sometimes ineffectively, navigating the galaxy as One, which includes that of Home Earth. What will you eat for One? How will you repair the spaceship as One? Where are safe places to go, as One? What to do when no one has your back but you? What if you are sick? What if . . . what if . . . what if? How to . . . how to . . . how to? Why, how, when, where? Thus, yes, the name: The Lonely Woman’s Guide to the Galaxy.

I hope to help. Or at least commiserate when I cannot help. And, perhaps you out there will offer your own solutions and ideas for how you navigate the Galaxy—not just as one, but as one of the billions of shining stars out there in this Milky Way Galaxy.

And today, to speed us off on our journey, as promised, I have a give-away. While I won’t always do it this way, and it will not always be a book from me, or a book by someone else, for I would grow bored with that, I do not want to seem as if I’m ‘trolling for comments,’ which I am not; so, that written, today, since it’s the first day of our journey, I will offer a Kindle copy of one of my books to the first three commenters (your choice of books, and to do with as you will – give away or keep). If you comment and do not wish for a copy, it won’t hurt my feelings, just say so. Lonely Woman does not get her panties in a twist about such.

I hope you will join in. How ironic that this blog could very well be the loneliest of places, as well? Ha! I can navigate around that, too. Yes.

 

 

 

 

 

9

Journey . . . begins, ends, middles . . . .

Well, my dear ones. A little housekeeping is in order. First, if you are receiving this blog post in your email, it is because you signed up to “follow” my blog posts. And while I wish you will stay, if you do not wish to receive my posts in your inbox, you must undo what you did to follow me!

I hope to be traveling the Galaxy here there and yonder, and will post at least once a week. Sometimes it will be just links and/or images, and others I will be speaking with you from planets and stars and moons, or black holes.

As well, I will periodically have giveaways: my books or maybe something else if I’ve a mind to. I like doing this, for it feels good to give, even if it is something small as a kindle copy of one of my books. Or maybe some chocolate. Who might know what treasures cross miles? Ha!

But, I must clean up around here, for cobwebs and dust bunnies have taken over my blog. So if you all who stay, and/or have stayed, with me all this time will be sweetly patient while I re-do and re-structure and fiddle-dee-dee with my blog, and enter my spaceship traveler, I will be ever-so thankful and delighted.

Journey.

I will return soon. Meanwhile, things are looking a little different so far here, and more to come.

 

 

 

1

NEVER FOUND THE OCEAN . . . .

Back to the cove at Killian Knob

NEVER FOUND THE OCEAN

Daddy arrives in ten million pieces

Plus two

How amazing

I can lift him

All at once, once and all

Piece by piece

Grain by grain

Had I found the ocean

(can you swim, Daddy?

“don’t be silly, I’m dead!”)

He would drift there

With each lifting wave

Old things shout

From ten thousand lips

“Time for all dogs

To be dead,

Aren’t you feeling a little sick?”

Daddy, I’d say, that makes

No sense

If I cry out to the ocean

(come back!)

He’ll send a small part of himself

(as he did in life)

Spill over my bare feet

My toes seek find

Anything but what I searched

(you’ll be safe in the ocean, Daddy

“safe from what?”

you know, Daddy, you know)

A piece of tongue floats by

Speaks of sadness

More often than joy

(as it was in life)

And now that I listen

silent

Hey, Daddy! Hey!

But he’s swallowed

By the by the by

Big sea only grass

Without even a wave

 

Kathryn Magendie

Presenting: Diane Buccheri of OCEAN Magazine(published in OCEAN magazine soon after my father died – a wonderful magazine that I was privileged to have poetry, prose, and photographs published within its beautiful pages. Ocean Magazine is, or was?, based out of the coast of North Carolina by its beautiful and talented and dedicated publishing editor Diane Buccheri. She dedicated herself to the ocean and all that it contained.)

1

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

imageHappy Thanksgiving, y’all!

Peeking my lil ole pea-head in here for just a moment to send you holiday greetings, and a quick “recipe” for homemade cranberry sauce.

Purchase a bag of fresh cranberries, wash them, put aside.

imageIn a saucepan add a cup of liquid–you can use plain water, or orange juice/orange juice/water combo. Or like I’m doing: a little water, a little fresh squeezed orange juice, a little “spiced water” I made by boiling a cinnamon stick, whole cloves and whole allspice (of course just use the spiced liquid and throw away the spices), and a little liquer (I like that orange flavored liquer but since I don’t have any, I’m using Drambuie). I also will be adding orange zest, and if I have it, lemon zest. Sometimes I add a little cracked pepper.

imageAdd sugar to the liquid: recipes call for 1 cup of sugar but I like mine less sweet so I add about 3/4 a cup or so.

imageBring liquid and sugar to a boil, then add cranberries, and bring back to a boil. Boil gently for anywhere from 10 minutes to 15 minutes, or until the cranberries are “breaking down,” stirring occasionally.

Pour into whatever dish you want, let it cool/chill overnight if possible.

imageEat and enjoy!

All photos are mine except the “finished product” at the end, which is Food Network’s (I haven’t quite completed mine yet!–preparing it as I write this!)

Here’s mine!

image

 

 

3 Kickarse Blogs with Links to Their Kickarse Articles: Writers Enjoy!

Amy Sue Nathan’s Women’s Fiction Writers: no heroes. no zombies. no high heels. well, maybe high heels.

Writers, Stop Apologizing For Not Being Published

————————————————————————————————————————–

Kristen Lamb’s Blog: WANA-We Are Not Alone

What Are the REAL Odds of Success? Extreme Ownership & the Best-Selling Author

—————————————————————————————————————————-

Writer Unboxed: about the craft and business of fiction

—————————————————————————————————————————

 

1

Autumn is here–time for chili: a quick and easy recipe

Blue Ridge Parkway

Blue Ridge Parkway

I used to dislike the coming of fall. It meant the end to summer; I like the warmth and ease and lush green of summer. But something magical has happened to me and I now look forward to autumn, and even the coming winter. Part of that “something magical” is how for a year I was away from my cove, living in Texas where the contrast of seasons isn’t as apparent–I missed what I was away from so acutely that every tiny molecule of this mountain cove delights and amazes me –I am imagediscovering it all over again; I only thought I appreciated it before. And, well, she says with a blush, feeling loved and being in love everything changes and swells up and becomes mystical and magical and new (thank you, Dale).

my colorful driveway

my colorful driveway

With the coming cooler weather, chilly mornings and evenings, with the changing leaves, with the sights and sounds (is there no more wonderful sound of autumn than that of leaves beneath one’s feet?) and feel of fall, my mind turns to soups and stews and chili. The other night, I prepared a chili that was so simple but so tasty, I will share it here. Of course, everyone should put their own ‘twist’ on chili–I like to play with food: the seasonings, the way I prepare it.

Now, even though this may look long, it’s super easy. I’m a novelist so I tend to run off at the mouth even when writing recipes *laughing!*

MMMM tasty!

MMMM tasty!

Easy Autumn Chili (this is enough chili for two people for a few nights)

Ingredients:

About a pound or so of beef “stew meat” — we bought these small lean “chunks” of beef. You can also “vegetarian” this by not adding meat and substituting more veggies and/or “fake meat crumbles” (I have done this and it’s good).

1 can of stewed tomatoes (or if you have fresh made, use it!)

1 can of tomato sauce (or freshly made if you have it)

(I had a little bit of Rotel tomatoes in the freezer that I also added)

1 onion chopped rough (I like chunky chili!)

1 green bellpepper  chopped rough

4-5 small “baby bellpeppers” in orange, yellow, red (we buy them in a bag – they are small and very tasty!) also chopped rough

minced or chopped garlic

Spices: chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper, and I also added 2 spices I have in my cabinet: ancho chili pepper and chipotle chili pepper, but use these two spices sparingly especially if you add the Rotel tomatoes. I also have some garlic powder that I sprinkled even though I used minced garlic. As well, I poured in about a half cup of Dale’s beer.

I also added a can of black beans since I had that in my pantry: I like very few beans in my chili and sometimes don’t add them at all – pintos in chili are really good, too, by the way.

Whatever oil you like to cook with – just a little.

Whatever “toppings” and “sides” you like: we like sour cream, or cheddar cheese, or both, for toppings. Crackers or tortilla chips are good–or cornbread, for sides.

And very important: add your tastebuds! You must taste as you cook. It’s like when I first began writing–I thought that if I were a Real Writer, whatever came out of my pea-head should be perfect  the very first draft and I shouldn’t have to fiddle with it (edit it or rewrite it)–Oh Dear Lawd! That’s crazy talk! Of course writers have to edit and re-write–I edit and re-write til the cows come home! Many many drafts! I “taste” my writing to make sure it is delicious. Do that with your food – layer flavors and taste along the way, y’all.

To Prepare:

Put a little oil in a large saucepan and turn up the heat until when a piece of meat is added, it immediately sizzles – you want to sear the meat very quickly – don’t worry about cooking it through because it will cook when you are simmering the chili. I added a little salt to this and nothing else, yet.

It’s up to you whether you sear a little at a time or all the meat at once, but note that if you sear it all at once, the  juices of the meat will stop the searing process and it may start to “steam” instead – so, if this happens, just turn up the heat and cook out the juices to keep that sear. When the meat is quickly seared, remove it from the saucepan (be careful! it’s hot!), and place the meat aside.

Turn down the heat so you can start sautéing your veggies: onion and bellpeppers. Don’t add the garlic yet, for garlic will turn bitter if over-cooked.  As the onions and bellpeppers cooked, I added some seasonings a little at a time: I like to “layer” flavors. First a little salt, cook a while, then I added just a little of the chili powder and cumin, and some pepper. You’ll be adding more seasonings, so just add a little of whatever seasonings you will be using. I also added just a few pinches of garlic powder (not garlic salt). When your veggies are fairly tender (onions will start to look translucent), add your chopped or minced garlic. Cook and stir this just a few minutes.

Time to add the tomato products (you may need to add a little water later). And the beans (and beer) if you are using them. Just pour them all in. Turn the heat to simmer. Add back the meat to the tomato/veggie mixture. Now start adding in the seasonings. Dale and I like a lot of chili powder, and as well a lot of cumin–decide how you like yours by TASTING! As I said above, tasting as you cook is important. I put a big palmful of chili powder, plus a little more. I put at least a half of palmful of cumin. Just a few pinches of the ancho and chipotle. I didn’t need to add salt since I salted the meat and the veggies.

After you have added everything you want to add, cover the chili, make sure the heat is on low, and simmer that bad boy for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally.  When done, add whatever toppings, if any, you like, and enjoy!

I hope I didn’t forget anything, but that’s the beauty of cooking: make it your own! Unlike baking, where it has to be more exact, we can experiment and have fun with preparing food.

Let me know how yours turned out and what you do differently!

(I hope you will drop by my Kat Magendie’s Amazon page and if you haven’t read one of my books, perhaps think about it whilst they are on sale at Amazon. I appreciate all of the support my readers have given me! Thank you!)

Well ain’t that some shit, Kathryn Magendie: kicking the ass of my fears.

I wrote this a year ago, when I thought anything at all could be possible. It bears re-reading (by me). I’m going to repost it and read it, and then I’m going to drink the rest of my dark rich strong black coffee and I’m going for a run and then I’m kicking the ass of the day–and the novel I am working on.

Kathryn Magendie

ipod photos 082I done been here, and I done been there, and I done this and I done that and I done the other. I done thangs I never done before. I done thangs I haven’t in a long long time.

I been where I’ve never been, and where I’ve seldom been, and where I’ve left, and where I’ve said I’d never go, or never return to.

This here woman done seen thangs that made her speechless with wonder. Made her stop right there and say, “Well . . . oh my god.”

This here woman done done thangs that opened her up and turned her inside out bursting kaleidoscopic super-nova–KaBOOM! Ka-POW! Ka-BAM!

And I ate things I said I’d never again eat. I broke many “food rules;” like, never eat pork: I ate bacon and damned if it wasn’t tasty; I ate peaches with the skin on them and the juice ran down my arm…

View original post 578 more words

2

In the mood for darkest chocolate cake? My favorite will become your favorite!

gather your ingredients!

gather your ingredients!

I’m a novelist who has discovered a side to me that I almost forgot. I love to bake. I don’t do it often because baking sweets with just Dale and me here means either some is wasted, we eat too much of it, or usually both! I baked this cake for Dale’s birthday when we had guests over, and then again a week or so later at “half recipe” just because he liked it so much. I’ve never had a man rave so much over a cake I baked in my life! It’s a great incentive to do more *laugh*  It’s the best chocolate cake he’s ever had, and that I’ve ever baked: it always turns out delicious–dark, almost black, cake. The frosting for his birthday was a lighter sweeter chocolate, while the second time I added more cocoa and less sugar making it more a “dark bitter chocolate” icing. While he prefers the sweeter, I do the darker more “bitter.”

I mostly follow the recipe on the Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa box, but I do add just a couple of things to make it my own. The icing I guess at–while baking is a science where I must be exact, I can play around with the icing without a recipe. Both recipes are below. Enjoy!

This is the lighter sweeter frosting

This is the lighter sweeter frosting

Hershey’s “Especially Dark” Chocolate Cake

Gather all your ingredients together before you begin–the last thing you want is suddenly to realize you are out of an ingredient. As well, some bakers say to take out your eggs so they aren’t “chilled” (but especially do take out the butter/cream cheese for your icing so it can soften while you prepare the cake). Also, the recipe calls for 1 cup of boiling water to be added at the end, so just be prepared to have that going at some point in the recipe–I always read my recipe through before I begin.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease/flour two 9-inch round pans: a Tip for chocolate cakes–I use a little cocoa mixed into my flour so my dark chocolate cake doesn’t have that white flour look to it when I take it from the pans.

Ingredients for the cake:

2 cups sugar (I used ‘raw’ sugar instead of ‘white’ sugar to give it a more “caramel” taste but white sugar is fine)

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (for a ‘gluten-free’ cake I made separate for my brother in a ramekin, I used coconut flour but you have to bake it a bit longer and add more liquid-experimenting still on this)

3/4 cups Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa (if you don’t like it so dark, use the regular cocoa -just make sure it’s the UNSWEETENED kind- I’ve done it with regular cocoa and special dark, both with great results)

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup of milk (I used Lactose Free milk and it did just as well as “regular” milk)

1/2 cup vegetable oil

The recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of vanilla–I added a little more than this, and I used what Ina Garten calls “good vanilla,” for which you can see it in the photos above: Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon vanilla.

I add 1-2 teaspoons of espresso powder–the coffee flavor adds a richness to the chocolate.

Also, I added unsweetened cocoa nibs (I used Viva Labs organic cocoa nibs–Viva Labs makes some really good products!) just to add a little extra something (Dale likes these nibs a lot in the cake).

1 cup of boiling water

Tiny cake is the "gluten-free" cake for my brother - the consistency is "grainer" and thicker - almost like a molten chocolate cake

Tiny cake is the “gluten-free” cake for my brother – the consistency is “grainer” and thicker – almost like a molten chocolate cake

Get started:

(You’ve preheated oven to 350; you’ve greased/floured pans). In a large bowl, stir together dry ingredients: sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add to the dry mixture the wet ingredients: eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla–not boiling water yet–beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. To this mixture, stir in the boiling water–be careful! Don’t set your mixer on high and splash hot cake mix on yourself! After adding the boiling water and mixing that, the cake batter will be thin: it is supposed to be thin so don’t let this concern you. However, if you are baking a “gluten free” cake, the batter will be thicker and you may have to add some extra oil or milk or both.

Pour batter into your prepared pans. Bake 30-35 minutes until wooden pick in center of cake comes out *mostly* clean (you want a little cake to come away on the wooden pick-if it’s completely dry, your cake may be overcooked). NOTE! I checked my cake after 25 minutes and it was DONE! Maybe it is the altitude; maybe it was the weather; maybe it is my oven–but I suggest checking your cake after 20-25 minutes, just in case.

Cool at least 10 minutes before you remove from pans. Make sure the cake is completely cooled before you frost it.

As for the icing: I make up my recipe as I go along. I’ve made it dark and bitter, and sweeter and lighter. Cream cheese (as I did recently) or regular butter cream. Chocolate or vanilla or otherwise. I’ve whipped it light and fluffy, and also had it thicker and “stiffer.” Just play with the frosting ingredients and consistency to your taste.

This cake is so dark, it's almost black

This cake is so dark, it’s almost black

Dark Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing

Room temperature softened unsalted butter (I had salted so I just used it)- at least one stick
Room temperature softened cream cheese – at least 1 8oz package
(I used a whole lot more for Dale’s birthday cake, since he wanted “a lot of frosting”)

Whip or beat (according to how you want your frosting to be: fluffy or stiffer) those two ingredients together — Sometimes I use equal butter and cream cheese, and others I play with the amounts, or use only butter.

Add in powdered sugar, a little milk (sometimes I add no milk-just experiment), cocoa, vanilla: add these ingredients a bit at a time until you have the consistency and chocolatey taste you want.

When the cake is completely cooled, frost away! One tip is to add parchment or waxed paper to the outsides of your cake plate, then put the cooled cake on top of that to frost–when you are done frosting, pull out the paper and your cake plate is clean! (There are a lot of frosting tips out there, like if crumbs mixing in the frosting bothers you, do some googling!)

 

Have fun and happy baking!