postivitea

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Positivitea: "Bread and water can so easily be toast and tea." ~Author Unknown
Positivitea: “Bread and water can so easily be toast and tea.” ~Author Unknown

It’s been a quiet week. Despite best efforts at hand washing and healthy living plus not touching yucky public things, the G.O. and I succumbed to a common cold lurgy.

Feeling unwell isn’t conducive to looking on the bright side but this week along the lines of WikiHow’s How to Lead a Fulfilling Life Based on Words Ending in “Ty”, I gave it my own best shot with tea and words ending “y”. Positivity.

Following advice recommending lots of rest and fluids, I took a day and a half either side of the weekend off work. I attended only to household necessities, pottered around, rested and drank tea. Efficiency.

Over the course of the week we’ve drunk much and varied tea… lemongrass & dried ginger tea, peppermint tea, black tea, green tea, lemon myrtle tea, jasmine dragon pearls tea… but left to my own devices on Monday and not well enough to venture out I wanted something else… with a kick… so I brewed a concoction from what was to hand. Spicy.

In a teapot: Nancy’s Lemongrass and Ginger tea + dessert spoon of fresh grated ginger (from a jar) + dessert spoon of organic honey + half teaspoon Garam Masala + half teaspoon Tumeric + half teaspoon Cayenne Pepper + slice of lemon. Creativity.

Soothing to the throat and warming of the chest. The G.O. looked sceptical when I told him. But it was tasty.

I put it to dual use as an inflamed ear poultice, soaking a cotton pad with the tea, applying it still warm to my sore ear. The mother of invention is necessity.

We had things to do last weekend. A car show and a visit to our new niece. We didn’t do either. Or anything else. A quick top-up grocery shop as I walked home last Friday lunchtime plus fridge-freezer and pantry contents and little effort has fed us this week. Simplicity.

Not going to the Hot Rod and Custom Auto Expo saved us cash. Frugality.

We didn’t visit my family and new niece then realise we were sick. We rain-checked. Sagacity.

After he finished work on Saturday the G.O. admitted the lurgy had taken hold. We stayed all plans and had an early night. Practicality.

The G.O. and I spent a cosy recuperative Sunday together on the couch catching up on recent TV episodes of the second part of the first series of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander. Misery loves company.

The G.O. has been dragging himself to work. His system has a higher tolerance for Panadol and the Pseudoephedrine content of cold & flu tablets than mine does. Duty over captivity.

I have a higher tolerance for limiting my existence to within the walls of our apartment. Ingenuity.

But even I have limits to how much time I can spend recuperating at home so I’ve been going to and from the office at odd hours. Logging on and checking emails remotely. Flexibility.

My foggy head managed some reading to pass the time. I posted reviews on Goodreads but unless you’re a Diana Gabaldon fan and are interested in reading the Lord John Grey novellas, I haven’t got anything new and wonderful to recommend. As well, I’ve been haphazardly reading & commenting on blog posts. Literary community.

I felt like my head cold addled mind could barely string two words together but I managed to polish my ‘branching out’ short story to just over 2000 words before checking the submission details. Somehow I’d gotten it into my fuzzy head the required word count was 2000 to 5000 words. Realising the word limit was up to 1500 words, while muttering “show, don’t tell” I killed 500-ish of my darlings for the better I must say. I submitted it to Australian Country Style this morning. Maybe words formulated under the influence of lurgy brain will give it an edge. Tenacity.

I’m getting better, and we haven’t needed to visit the doctor for an antibiotics prescription, or a flu shot. The G.O. is holding his own and the rain has accomplished what gentle nagging did not; he came home from work early today although it wasn’t easy to persuade him to go and have a sleep. Plus he has the weekend off. Happy.

 

the long way ’round

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The G.O. and I have just passed the 25 year milestone since we met…

Regardless of not having been a Coffs Harbour resident since living there as a teenager with his grandmother on the family farm, whenever we make the drive about an hour from our home at Taylors Arm for business, shopping or recreation in the CBD, the G.O. habitually parks as he’s done since the 1970’s in the same street one back from the main road around the corner from The Coffs Hotel adjacent to the Coffs Coast Advocate newspaper offices.

Each time I step out onto the footpath, I marvel at the inscrutability of life’s journey.

About a year before I met the G.O. in 1990, I was at those same newspaper offices applying for a job on their staff. At which time the G.O. had been working off and on throughout NSW and Queensland for several years with the man who would become my Husband #2 and via whom we would meet.

At the time, I was married to Husband #1, living in the rural Hunter Valley coal mining town of Muswellbrook, had a good job at the local council and was studying part-time for a Bachelor of Business in Local Government. Husband #1 bored with his carpentry job decided to try his luck bricklaying with his cousin who lived on the Coffs Coast. He went over for a couple of weeks on trial, me tagging along on holidays, and decided to move over permanently. Seeing the job at the newspaper advertised, I’d tried my luck, scoring an interview but unsuccessful as I wasn’t a local resident.

Returning to the Hunter Valley, in preparation for the move Husband #1 & I bought and renovated a large-ish caravan, relocating to his parents’ farm from our nice rented town house to live in it, with our 2 Rottweilers & 2 cats, and quit our jobs.

The day before we were due to hitch the caravan to the ute and depart Husband #1 changed his mind. His parents were unconcerned. Husband #1 had been employed in the main by one or another family member so he simply resumed work. Their blasé attitude at my unemployed status suggested they were hoping I’d come to my senses and produce a grandchild.

I immediately applied for any job listed in the local newspaper for which I was remotely qualified, and took the first offer I got as a receptionist at the premier hotel in town mainly patronised by visiting sales reps, executives, managers, etc. for local industry.

I worked 2 shifts: 7 am-3 pm and 3 pm-11 pm week about. Days were routine. Nights were more interesting with a procession of various guests, diners and occasional local minor celebrities into the hotel and restaurant. The hotel, part of a group, was managed by a cultivated but eccentric middle-aged couple who mostly left reception staff to their own devices.

The lady of the house was inclined to airs & graces and if it could be managed liked to have a couple of pre-dinner cocktails then descend the curved staircase from their private quarters elegantly attired, fluffy dog in hand to greet the guests. At which point whoever was on reception had to simultaneously attempt to persuade her back upstairs and locate her husband.

I kept one eye on the positions vacant, several months later landing a job as office manager for the NSW branch of a heavy earthmoving equipment company. It was there I met Husband #2. Soon, riding the last wave of the excess of the 80’s I was at the same hotel 3 nights a week lavishly hosting guests at the expense of the company or hosted by corporate colleagues.

The G.O. also had been working for the earthmoving equipment company, but his visits to our site didn’t coincide with my presence. It wasn’t until the company and my marriage to Husband #1 folded, and I moved to Sydney in April 1990 that we met.

The G.O. and EllaDee at Coffs Harbour's iconic tourist attraction!
The G.O. and EllaDee at Coffs Harbour’s iconic tourist attraction!

We discovered that over the preceding years our paths had come close but not connected numerous times; me holidaying as a kid on the Coffs Coast and the G.O. working in the Hunter Valley. And even once they did, it would take another 15 years, another marriage each to other people before the light dawned…

For Mary from Memoirs of a Husk who commented some time ago “We like long stories…” Check out her excellent novel A Wake of Vultures.

And with thanks to the commenters on my post out on a limb whose suggestions inspired ideas for several stories, this story included, and a ‘branching out’ theme short story which if I get time to polish it before May 29 might be a contender for submission to Country Style Magazine’s short story competition.

 

In My Kitchen: live love local

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Wiki describes Locavore as “a person interested in eating food that is locally produced, not moved long distances to market. One common – but not universal – definition of “local” food is food grown within 100 miles (161 kilometres) of its point of purchase or consumption”.

Although not strictly a Locavore, I like to source food as locally as possible or know its provenance. Locavore is great in principle, but not always do-able in reality. Dividing our time between 2 locations 500 kilometres apart as the G.O. and I do is similarly great in principle, but not always in reality.

In the last six weeks the G.O. and I have made 4 trips north; first to the Hunter Valley for my youngest half-sister’s baby shower; last to meet my niece ( …first grandchild for my family) born on my half-brother’s 30th birthday. In between we’ve made 2 trips to our house at Taylors Arm for Easter and ANZAC Day.

In order to drive to Taylors Arm for ANZAC Day we had to get through areas of the Hunter Valley which experienced a deluge during that week. The G.O. had a skin cancer removed from his face and 3 layers of 15 stitches immediately prior to our departure and we were delayed in traffic for 2 hours but managed to get through before the highway was closed due to floodwater across it.

water, water everywhere...
water, water everywhere…

I wouldn’t describe our time at Taylors Arm as relaxing or recreational, rather productive but it gave me the opportunity to stock up on local Nambucca Valley produce. Knowing we were heading off to Taylors Arm my family had put in their orders for lemon myrtle soap and macadamias.

Gruber's Winery
Gruber’s Winery

It was great to visit and chat with Michelle & Peter from Perry’s Lemon Myrtle and Mariana from Gruber’s Winery just down the road. As well as using lemon myrtle soap bars in the shower; I grind the soap up, adding water & glycerine and heating in a saucepan to make liquid hand soap for the kitchen and bathroom.

Perry's Lemon Mrytle
Perry’s Lemon Mrytle

The G.O loves a visit to the MacNuts shop in Macksville and samples the flavoured varieties of macadamias thoroughly while he waits.

Nambucca MacNuts
Nambucca MacNuts

I also strolled down our main street to The Pub With No Beer and bought beef & eggs locally grown by the new managers, the Welsh’s who are the G.O.’s cousins, and local garlic grown on the village outskirts.

grocery shopping at The Pub With No Beer
grocery shopping at The Pub With No Beer

Best of all our RHS neighbours shared with us bananas they had been given that were grown nearby, some of which I exchanged for one of 3 pumpkins anonymously left on LHS neighbour’s doorstep.

freebies
freebies

There were also a few choko’s remaining on the vine along our RHS dividing fence, which I grabbed as I like them (a bit smaller preferably) and even though the G.O. detests them, he’ll cook them for me on the bbq.

We return to Sydney laden with products from our Mid North Coast home, and fortunately online shopping enables me to replenish at a few of my favourite places both local & non-local: Perry’s Lemon Myrtle; Nambucca MacNutsKombu Wholefoods; Daintree Tea, even if I’m not able to visit in person.

Other local Mid North Coast favourites also available further afield at farmers markets or via distributors are Burrawong Gaian PoultryAusbuff buffalo products, and Booma Boers who are at my local Sydney Eveleigh Farmers Market. Booma Boers goat products are also available at some Woolworths supermarkets.

Thanks to Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial for hosting In My Kitchen and the IMK community for foodie inspiration & the virtual company they provide. If you’d like to join in, link back to Celia’s blog.

“The shared meal elevates eating from a mechanical process of fueling the body to a ritual of family and community, from the mere animal biology to an act of culture.” ― Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto

biggered

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Until a few years ago my food belief systems were stuck in the late 1960’s, where as a pre-schooler I shopped at the small country grocery store with my mother. There were only a few varieties of breakfast cereal. My grandparents provided us with milk and eggs. Fresh bread was delivered via a horse and cart. The modest amounts of cordial, ice-cream, packaged products bought were made by local companies not global conglomerates.

Baked Snow Gem potatoes
Baked Snow Gem potatoes

It became apparent things had changed. Food didn’t taste the way I remembered, and I’d begun experiencing health issues related to sugars, refined carbohydrates and additives. I considered what I was spending, and the value I was getting. I compared the taste of corporate-industrial products to quality fresh produce; and health, ethical and environmental costs vs. benefits.

Extracting myself from today’s food complex was daunting. I made the change gradually, exchanging bad for good; fresh white bread is still a treat, from a bakery not a supermarket. I found better options… I can take or leave supermarket potatoes but I love potatoes from the farmers market which when baked go crisp & caramelised, and taste so much better. Before I discovered farmers market potatoes I just thought I was terrible at baking potatoes.

And it seems I’ve come back to where I was in the late 1960’s. I manage by sticking to favourite products, buying in season, a stocked pantry, smaller portions of better quality, planning meals, cooking food at home rather than dining out or buying takeaway, taking homemade lunches to work, making meals from leftovers and putting them in the freezer… using every last skerrick.

Leftovers/freezer meals have increasingly become our equivalent of takeaway; quick & easy. Home cooked dinner made from good farmers market produce is better than a lot of restaurant offerings I’ve encountered… and I’m a simple everyday cook!

While we live in a small city apartment I’m unable to grow food but I am growing awareness. Akin to my passion for family history research I read books and blogs on food topics, Google search and follow a treasure map of links. It takes time and thought but it’s nothing compared with what consumers are against when it comes to marketing efforts by Big Food.

To give you an idea the top 3 companies of 2013 Food Sales from Food Processing’s Top 100 – 2014 are:

  1. Pepsico Inc.
  2. Tyson Foods Inc.
  3. Nestle

The world’s largest snack-food maker [Pepsico] may boost the advertising and marketing budget for its namesake cola and other drinks by as much as $600 million, or 50 percent, to $1.7 billion when it announces the results of a year-long business review Feb. 9, according to analysts surveyed by Bloomberg”

In 2012, Tyson Foods’ ad spend amounted to approximately 496 million U.S. dollars. Tyson Foods is a manufacturer of food products, mostly chicken, beef, and pork products.”

In 2013, Nestle spent 30.6 million U.S. dollars on internet advertising in the U.S.”

“I meant no harm I most truly did not, but I had to grow bigger so bigger I got.
I biggered my factory, I biggered my roads, I biggered the wagons,
I biggered the loads, of the Thneeds I shipped out
I was shipping them forth from the South, to the East, to the West.
To the North, I went right on biggering selling more thneeds.
And I biggered my money which everyone needs.”
Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

Note: Every day I eat. Every now and then I blog about food: I thought it only fair on occasion to share what passes as a recipe for something I’ve made. We’re a 2 person household. All quantities and times are approximate. Additions and substitutions may be made according to preference, taste and availability. Where possible I use pastured/free range/organic produce and improvise using ingredients I have on hand.

Easy weeknight food: Enchiladas made from freezer, pantry and fridge contents.

Combine in saucepan and heat through 1 medium size container of defrosted savoury ground beef mince* with 2 cans of drained & rinsed red kidney beans and a sachet of tomato paste (approx. 2 tablespoons).

Defrost small tub of chopped sautéed tomatoes and add approx. 3 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce.

Spray or brush a large shallow ovenproof dish with canola oil.

Spoon a line of the mince-bean mixture along the centre of 6 tortillas, folding and placing each in ovenproof dish.

Spoon tomato-sweet chilli sauce mix over the top.

Top with grated cheese.

Beef and Bean Enchiladas with Corn Salsa and Spiced Persian Yoghurt
Beef and Bean Enchiladas with Corn Salsa and Spiced Persian Yoghurt

Cover with foil and bake in pre-heated 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas 6 oven for 20 to 30 minutes, removing foil for last 5 to 10 minutes.

To make salsa combine 1 cup sweet corn kernels with 2 chopped tomatoes, a small red onion chopped, chopped red bull pepper, a handful of fresh basil, a drizzle each of olive oil and sweet chilli sauce.

Serve warm enchiladas with corn salsa and Spiced Persian Yoghurt -yoghurt, feta and fresh herbs, Greek yoghurt/crème fraiche/sour cream.

This is the first time I’ve made enchiladas but it won’t be the last. The G.O. said they were better than lasagne… but I’m not sure I agree but they’re as good as.

It made 2 night’s dinners and leftovers the G.O. took to work for lunch.

When I began incorporating beans into the savoury ground beef mince the G.O. wasn’t too keen but he’s become accustomed (it’s change he doesn’t like, I think) and enjoyed lasagne I made with beef & beans and layers of veges.

*There are always a few containers of savoury beef mince in our freezer. We eat it on toast, with mashed potato and veges, in spaghetti bolognaise, lasagne, nachos…

To make 4 containers of savoury beef mince for the freezer, in a large frypan saute 4 large chopped onions in canola oil with a sprinkle of white pepper. When translucent, add 1 kg ground beef mince stirring & breaking up until browned. Add a cup of beef stock, 2 tins chopped tomatoes, 1 sachet of tomato paste (approx. 2 tablespoons), a pinch each of dried rosemary & nutmeg and a squeeze of lemon juice. Simmer for approx. 15 minutes. Add 2 cups of fresh breadcrumbs and simmer for approx. 15 minutes. Can also be slow cooked in the oven in a heavy based casserole dish or using an electric slow cooker.

seeing is[n’t] believing

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Food is still all over the news… “The NSW Food Authority has found the batch of John Bull Tuna linked to the Soul Origin tuna salad food poisoning scare in Sydney to be safe but found the salad to contain nearly 20 times the safe levels of scombroid histamine“, Red Rooster food chain claims of “nothing artificial” have been challenged and supermarket giant “Coles was ordered to cough up a $2.5 million penalty in the Federal Court on Friday afternoon, ending a two-year battle with the consumer watchdog over the false and misleading claims it made about its “freshly baked” bread.”

Out of the berry fiasco came a market opportunity for local frozen berries that may not have had impetus otherwise, with Australia’s first commercial frozen berries, Matilda’s, set to be on the shelves by June.

It’s about time we paid attention the food we’re spending our hard-earned cash on. With businesses citing costs as the reason for pro-imports and anti-labelling consumers can exert influence via their spending behaviours. Regardless of their talk, if it means changing to stay in business, they’ll walk the walk.

The demand for transparent information is evidenced by new smartphone apps… “a new wave of barcode-scanning ones are giving consumers increasing power and intensifying pressure on companies to provide more information at a level never seen before“.

There’s no doubt from a consumer’s point of view full disclosure in food production and labelling is necessary. But for that to happen… and it will happen… it’s up to consumers. What we spend money on is a direct message.

Genuine Grower from Bob's FarmMy favoured option is farmers market for fresh food. Ask questions of the people selling it. Where does it come from, how was it grown, when was it picked… just have a chat. Go back the next week, they’ll probably remember you and continue the conversation… walking talking food labels.Label

If like me you can’t always get to a farmers market… food shopping gets trickier. It’s more than likely we’ll end up in a supermarket wondering about the merits of label statements & ingredients and supermarket organic-free range-pasture raised. What goes on the checkout docket is my opportunity to make a statement about the sorts of product I will buy.

Is organic worth it? I think so. Regardless of where you live the Dirty Dozen & Clean Fifteen fruits and vegetables designated by the U.S. Environmental Working Group is a good guideline.

“EWG singles out produce with the highest pesticide loads for its Dirty Dozen™ list. This year, it is comprised of apples, peaches, nectarines, strawberries, grapes, celery, spinach, sweet bell peppers, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas and potatoes…

EWG’s Clean Fifteen™ list of produce least likely to hold pesticide residues consists of avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, frozen sweet peas, onions, asparagus, mangoes, papayas, kiwis, eggplant, grapefruit, cantaloupe, cauliflower and sweet potatoes. Relatively few pesticides were detected on these foods, and tests found low total concentrations of pesticides on them.”

I do better when I have a checklist -mental or otherwise- of good products I’ve researched. Flavour Crusader is great for reference checking local, free-range and organic produce in Australia. If I find a good product, I keep buying it. If the selections are unfamiliar I consider alternatives but leave empty-handed if I’m not happy with the offerings.

Details details… one small independent supermarket near me promotes itself as selling “certified organic groceries, fresh fruit, market-fresh vegetables, artisan breads, fresh meat, gourmet brands, fresh & frozen meals and specialized products”. Sounds good, except when it first opened the blackboard at the door advertised “fresh produce daily”; now it advises “produce checked daily for freshness”.

“Seeing, contrary to popular wisdom, isn’t believing.
It’s where belief stops, because it isn’t needed any more.”
Terry Pratchett

Note: Every day I eat. Every now and then I blog about food: I thought it only fair on occasion to share what passes as a recipe for something I’ve made. We’re a 2 person household. All quantities and times are approximate. Additions and substitutions may be made according to preference, taste and availability. Where possible I use pastured/free range/organic produce and improvise using ingredients I have on hand.

Easy weeknight food: Pork Meatballs made with farmers market produce and ingredients to hand.

Combine by hand 500 grams of free range ground pork mince with a finely chopped sourdough bread roll and small onion, an egg, a dollop of oyster sauce and a pinch each of ginger & white pepper.

Free range pork meatballs, baked potatoes and Asian style veges from farmers market
Free range pork meatballs, baked potatoes and Asian style veges from farmers market

Toss quartered potatoes and golden beetroot in canola oil and salt. Bake in hot oven.

Top and tail snowpeas and blanche with boiling water. Run under cold water, then drain. Add to bowl with sliced red bull pepper and slices of baked golden beetroot. Toss with crunchy noodles and dressing made from Chinese black vinegar, sesame oil and honey.

The G.O. loves sausages. With few exceptions I’m not a fan. We compromise with meatballs aka rissoles… and given my stepmother’s renditions comprising only a ball of overcooked unseasoned minced meat, I wasn’t a fan of them either until I made my own.

My usual method for meatballs is to bake them as it enables me to quickly make enough for 2 night’s dinners and 2 freezer containers, but my last couple of efforts have been so-so.

This time I enlisted the assistance of the G.O. who other than being the Mashed Potato King prefers to exercise his culinary expertise via the outdoor barbeque at Taylors Arm leaving city-weeknight-kitchen food to me. He took the bait! shaped the meatballs and set them into a frypan with a little canola oil. We had a glass of wine while they sizzled, remarking how the comforting sound took us back to our childhoods. The taste of the food did too.

The G.O. is a generous meatball maker and eater but there was enough for 2 night’s of dinners.

Telling a book by its cover: Guest Blogger Kourtney Heintz

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Last time Guest Blogger author of The Six Train to Wisconsin Kourtney Heintz graced EllaDee with a guest appearance, it was about Believing… in what you do, and putting in the work.

As K.C. Tansley, Kourtney writes “YA contemporary fantasy. None of the quests and knights sort of stuff. More like one foot in this world and one foot in the magical realm”.

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” ~ Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

EKR’s words epitomise Kourtney, who as ever shares generously her process and here speaks to how beautiful book covers also do not just happen.

Click here for a Rafflecopter giveaway for The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts and here https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24991337-the-girl-who-ignored-ghosts to add it to your Goodreads To-Read list.

The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts will be available for Pre-Order May 2nd on Amazon.

EllaDee

Guest Blog: The Evolution of Cover Art
K.C. Tansley, author The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts

Every author worries about her cover art. Since the cover designer has only read the back cover summary, how can she/he possibly create a cover that conveys the tone, theme, and feel of the entire book? What if my cover is wrong for my story? What if my publisher doesn’t let me have any input? These are the fears that can eat away at an author.

Luckily, I got to work with an amazing team. The cover designer had a great eye for YA and paranormal/gothic covers. My editor loved the story and had a vision for the cover. My publisher had the final say over the design, but being a small press, my opinion mattered to them.

The-Girl-Who-Ignored-Ghosts11The design process started with a series of questions about the book, including a list of items that must be included in the cover. My publisher and editor both felt that the castle and the main character had to be featured because they wanted to play up the gothic elements of the story.

The cover designer read the back cover summary and our responses to her questions, and then came up with three concepts. Each featured a castle and girl but with very different tones and colors and images and fonts—three potential directions that we could take the cover in. Luckily, there was a clear winner and we easily agreed on the initial concept. Once we settled on that, the cover went through several iterations to get it to where it is now.

In an early version, there were snow-capped mountains in the backdrop, which worked for the tone of the book, but didn’t make sense because the story was set in the summer near the Connecticut shore. My editor and I explained why they had to be removed and they were.

Once we nailed down the background, we focused on the girl. The original girl on the cover had dark brown hair. Everyone agreed the pose was perfect but the hair was all wrong for Kat, our blonde protagonist.

Throughout the process, I learned that the cover is supposed to be a pastiche, a heightened version of the key elements of the book. At the same time, it cannot violate the story world.

So how do I feel about this cover? Absolute adoration! The designer captured the heart of the book. That girl embodies Kat. The eerie moonlight and the shadows surrounding the castle convey the tone. Even the fonts hint at the present day but with a touch of the past in the curly Ghosts font. The design encompass the time travel and mystery aspects of the story perfectly. I wouldn’t change a single thing about this cover!

Back Cover Summary

She tried to ignore them. But some things won’t be ignored. 

Kat Preston doesn’t believe in ghosts. Not because she’s never seen one, but because she saw one too many. Refusing to believe is the only way to protect herself from the ghost that tried to steal her life. Kat’s disbelief keeps her safe until her junior year at McTernan Academy, when a research project for an eccentric teacher takes her to a tiny, private island off the coast of Connecticut.

The site of a grisly mystery, the Isle of Acacia is no place for a girl who ignores ghosts, but the ghosts leave Kat little choice. Accompanied by her research partner, Evan Kingsley, she investigates the disappearance of Cassie Mallory and Sebastian Radcliffe on their wedding night in 1886. Evan’s scientific approach to everything leaves Kat on her own to confront a host of unbelievables: ancestral curses, powerful spells, and her strange connection to the ghosts that haunt Castle Creighton.

But that’s all before Kat’s yanked through a magic portal and Evan follows her. When the two of them awaken 129 years in the past with their souls trapped inside the bodies of two wedding guests, everything changes. Together, Kat and Evan race to stop the wedding-night murders and find a way back to their own time—and their own bodies—before their souls slip away forever.

Bio

K.C Tansley lives with her warrior lapdog, Emerson, and three quirky golden retrievers on a hill somewhere in Connecticut. She tends to believe in the unbelievables—spells, ghosts, time travel—and writes about them.kctansleyauthorpic

Never one to say no to a road trip, she’s climbed the Great Wall twice, hopped on the Sound of Music tour in Salzburg, and danced the night away in the dunes of Cape Hatteras. She loves the ocean and hates the sun, which makes for interesting beach days. The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts is her debut YA time-travel murder mystery novel.

As Kourtney Heintz, she also writes award winning cross-genre fiction for adults.

You can find out more about her at: http://kctansley.com

 

In My Kitchen: Short and Sweet

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The weeks since my March IMK post scraped in have flown; the gramma featured still awaits my attention. There’s been little available time to spend in the kitchen. Some of my cooking has been short and some has been sweet…

My much awaited book purchase Whole Larder Love by Rohan Anderson arrived the day after my March IMK post. Rohan also has a blog.

A pack of beef short ribs from Linga Longa Farm, Wingham NSW at Eveleigh Farmers Market was just the ticket for an easy Saturday night dinner & Sunday night leftovers, made to Celia’s recipe and with the lucky last of the jar of Pete’s quince jelly. I love it when I Google search for a recipe and up pops a Fig Jam and Lime Cordial result!

tapioca gone wrong
tapioca gone wrong

My first effort at making tapioca. I bought a pack of tapioca pearls with the view to making a coconut milk version but had 2 spare cups of milk left over from DIY yoghurt (also Celia’s recipe) I didn’t want to waste. It all went to waste anyway because I cooked the tapioca too long and it turned out like lumpy glue. The G.O. bravely volunteered it would still be good to eat.
But no. Live and learn.

Christmas in March biscuits
Christmas in March biscuits

Christmas in March biscuits (made from left over festive season dried tart cherries from Bellingen’s Kombu Wholefoods, macadamia nuts from Nambucca Macnuts and white chocolate chips) which the G.O. has been taking to work for smoko and his work mates have been nabbing to add to their protein shakes.

my contribution to my workplace's morning tea fundraiser: chilli chocolate lamington cup cakes with plum and sweet chilli sauce centres
chilli chocolate lamington cup cakes with plum & sweet chilli sauce centres

Chilli chocolate (remnants of a Lindt block) topped lamington cupcakes made from organic SR flour, sugar, butter,  vanilla essence, coconut and free range eggs with squirts of Plum & Sweet Chilli Sauce in the centres baked for my workplace’s fundraiser morning tea. My slightly different take on the theme: sharing a food from my cultural background. I had to buy back the leftovers so the G.O. could take them to work.

A diminishing jar of  Freckles… reward for my contribution to my workplace’s community service program, regifted to the G.O… who says he is rationing himself to 4 per day… usually consumed  at 5.30 am as he’s walking out the door, or 6.30 pm as he’s walking in!

a diminishing jar of  Freckles...
a diminishing jar of Freckles…

On that chocolatey note, it’s almost Easter which means later in the week we’ll be off again to the country for a short break; a little R&R and drinking of coffee & wine on the verandah is in order, and a chocolate egg for the G.O.

Thanks to Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial for hosting In My Kitchen and the IMK community for foodie inspiration & the virtual company they provide. If you’d like to join in, link back to Celia’s blog.

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” – Charles M. Schulz

fair suck of the sav . . .

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Food fight: Big Food vs Good Food. Home-made work lunch made from Good Fish tuna, farmers market salad selections, free range egg, Bulgarian sheeps milk feta, Spanish [naturally] green olives stuffed with almonds.
Food fight: Big Food vs Good Food. Home-made work lunch made from Good Fish tuna, farmers market salad selections, free range egg, Bulgarian sheeps milk feta, Spanish [naturally] green olives stuffed with almonds.
When I spend the cash I worked hard to earn on food that disappoints I get angry… When I realised the pretty green hue of the olives I had been buying was fake I thought “fair suck of the sav“… “sav” being short for saveloy, a type of sausage. And it’s not rude. It’s an Australian saying that means “give us a fair go”.

It reminded me of the importance of continuing my ongoing food due diligence, and led me to spend some time in that playground of information: Google, where I do regular home schooling in what’s good to eat.

Why do I care about good food? Because Big Food and Supermarkets no matter how high their profits are this year, aim to make higher profits next year, the year after and so on. Where do the profits come from? The money we spend. I don’t know about you but my income is modest and I don’t earn more and more money each year.

It’s gratifying to see food issues get airtime. In Australia there’s been a egg campaign (“that ain’t no way to treat a lady”, pork & bacon awareness (“consumers are unaware more than 75 per cent of bacon sold in Australia is made from imported product”), seafood labelling, as well as the packaged food labelling campaign that’s ramped up since the frozen berries recall of Creative Gourmet and Nanna’s frozen berries from China putting consumers at risk of contracting Hepatitis A and John Bull tinned tuna imported from Thailand linked with suspected Scromboid poisoning.

The call for fairer food is gaining momentum. Particularly when people are getting sick. While in Australia there is outrage and call for food labelling reform as industry, government and lobbyist are fighting over what’s appropriate & fair, consumers can make a big difference with very slight changes in their thought processes and behaviours.

Food fight: Big Food vs Good Food. Home-made yoghurt, home-made muesli, Omaha Organic NZ frozen blueberries, peach from Sariwa farmers market stall who sourced them from the grower at Orange, NSW.
Food fight: Big Food vs Good Food. Home-made yoghurt, home-made muesli, Omaha Organic NZ frozen blueberries, peach from Sariwa farmers market stall who sourced them from the grower at Orange, NSW.

Big companies spend more money to make more money. Their profits and executive salaries take them out of the real world realms of their target consumers. Wiki states Pepsico’s gross profit for 2014 at US$38.33 billion and “while CEO of PepsiCo in 2011, [Indra] Nooyi earned a total compensation of $17 million which included a base salary of $1.6 million, a cash bonus of $2.5 million, pension value and deferred compensation of $3 million“.

Big Food and Supermarkets don’t care about us. They want our dollars, and they spend millions to get them. Small food producers also want us to buy their product but those sellers at the farmers markets who have often made a 10 hour round trip to be there are more likely to be doing it for love as well as money.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

olives ain’t olives

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I didn’t get caught up the recent Australian food debacles: recall of Creative Gourmet and Nanna’s frozen berries from China putting consumers at risk of contracting Hepatitis A; nor the John Bull tinned tuna imported from Thailand linked with suspected Scromboid poisoning.

I’ve seen recent comments on social media such as Definitely worth reminding ourselves…Aussie barcode is 93. However a quick Google search clears that up… “The first two or three digits of an EAN-13 barcode identify the country in which the manufacturer’s identification code was assigned. They do not necessarily indicate the country in which the goods were manufactured”. Nor does it necessarily indicate the country origin for the ingredients. Australia’s barcode begins with a 93 but it’s no guarantee the product is Australian sourced.

When I couldn’t purchase fresh local berries I’d been buying frozen but because of an earlier recall I switched last year to Omaha organic blueberries grown in New Zealand. Scattering a small handful of berries into yoghurt each weekday means they last months. Tuna & salad from home has long been my standby work-day lunch but after the usual supermarket tinned tuna offerings began to smell like cat food I changed to Good Fish Tuna in Olive Oil. It’s pricey so I restrict myself to one tin per week and split it over 2 days, supplementing with tofu, goats cheese, nuts, olives…

From left to right: Good – Best – Read The Label

Do you prefer black or green olives? At Chez EllaDee & the G.O. any olive is a good olive. We love them: black, green, Kalamata, Spanish, pitted, stuffed, organic… We eat them alone, with cheese, in salad, in casseroles & pasta, on pizza. We buy them in tubs, jars and loose.

My latest food revelation was about olives. I’ve far too had many of these revelations… because I assume everyone has my best interests at heart. They don’t. Assumptions are the boon of food manufacturers and marketers who want to influence our purchases.

There was a recent SMH newspaper article Things you didn’t know about your food I just had to read.

“Black olives aren’t ripened the way you think
Black and green olives aren’t different varieties. Green olives are the more unripe version of black olives. Olives can age on the tree, and will shrink and become darker, however commercially produced olives are not harvested like that. Instead they are picked green, treated with caustic soda and spun in oxidised water to speed ripening. Once they’re shiny and black, a black substance called ferrous gluconate is added to make sure they stay that way.”

Curious, I began reading olive jar labels at the local supermarkets. They are reminiscent of the Castrol GTX advertisement of the 70 & 80’s promoting ‘man made’ synthetic motor oils…The tag line “oils ain’t oils, Sol” has become part of the Australian vernacular. Fine for motor oils, not for olives.

Turns out one of our go-to salad olive selections [on the right in the photo above] are that lovely shade of green courtesy of food colouring… well of course now I see it now but I trusted they were natural… how naive did I feel!

If it looks to good to be true, it probably is.

In My Kitchen: Oldies and Goodies

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My Pinterest page tag is “I love old objects and ways; local food and markets; home made, grown and cooked.” I’ve dedicated a board to Oldies But Goodies: Not getting older just getting better…

 

What does the symbol mean?
What does the symbol mean?
Tetsuya's at home
Tetsuya’s at home

Early in February we had a day in the Blue Mountains. I bought this Chinese tea mug at The Laughing Elephant Asian grocery store in Wentworth Falls. Can anyone tell me what the Chinese symbol means?

I opened a bottle of Tetsuya’s Wasabi Mustard, a Christmas gift from a friend, because best by dates aren’t the only reason for not saving lovely things for a special occasion.

At the end of February we had a weekend away to collect an EBay purchase… I rarely bid on eBay and when I do I’m rarely the winning bidder.

The odds were with me this occasion when I bid on Newlings Cordial crates pickup only from Braidwood. Even better when we hit town after an early start the Braidwood monthly markets were happening.

After Saturday night out in Canberra with friends we spent Sunday morning at the Old Bus Depot Markets at Kingston, ACT.

 

Back on home turf, I’ve been doing the weekly grocery shopping most Saturday mornings at Eveleigh Farmers Market  and browsing the retro/vintage/op-shops/markets of Newtown.

 

 

Gramma: the before picture! That's a teaspoon in front.
Gramma: the before picture! That’s a teaspoon in front.

I’ve had one eye on the calendar holding off posting so as to include the latest addition to my kitchen, a book I’m a little bit excited about but it hasn’t arrived yet, so will have to wait until next time.

In the meantime, in my kitchen is a gramma which we were given by country neighbours early in the year that is waiting for me to turn it into the gramma my Nanna used to make that you’d put into a pie, only the G.O. prefers it plain without pastry! Recipes vary but I’ll share mine next time too.

Thanks to Celia for hosting IMK and the IMK community for foodie inspiration & the virtual company they provide.