Weird Breakfast

I am of mixed ethnicity. My father was Filipino and my mother was Irish. Both loved to cook. Both loved foods from all over the world.  My father grew up eating Filipino food, rice, lots of fish and traditional Filipino cuisine. When he came to the US at the age of 14, he settled in Oakland and became a short order cook before he went into the Army. My mother grew up in the state of Washington, redneck Irish as my Aunt Ardelia used to say. She knew how to make traditional Irish food like corned beef and cabbage and soda bread. Since her mother’s family had come from Ireland and settled in West Virginia, my mom also grew up making southern food, biscuits, country gravy, fried chicken, collard greens with bacon, pork chops with red eye gravy. She grew her own veggies, canned them and made all kinds of other canned items like stewed tomatoes. She also made her own jams and jellies. But my mom had also been married before and my brother and sisters’ father had owned a Chinese restaurant in Seattle. My mom got the chef to teach her classic Chinese dishes like pineapple chicken, chow mein, and barbeque pork. Yum.

breakfastingredientsSo I grew up learning how to make all kinds of foods, breads and desserts. I make my version of some of the things I learned, but I also make things exactly as my parents did. And since my brother Tom had worked as a sous chef for years for Hyatt, I learned a few things from him too. Today, for breakfast, I made something that has influences from both my parents and my brother.

Raiding the fridge, I had some rice, eggs, and linguica. Linguica is a Portuguese sausage made with wine vinegar. It’s just my favorite sausage in the world. When I was a kid, the sausage came raw and my father would steam it in the cast iron skillet then fry it once the water had boiled away. My dad loved this sausage. He’d become a fan during his years living in Oakland. I don’t know how he discovered it, but I’m so glad he did because it’s so yummy!

I decided to make Filipino fried rice with linguica and eggs with curry, something my brother made for me when I was a kid. It sounds weird, but it tastes great! I think all my nieces and nephews grew up eating Uncle Tom’s curried eggs. I know my daughter certainly did. Curried eggs and fried rice is one of Annicka’s favorite foods. My brother made it for her all the time when she was small.

So I start out by checking out the rice. Rott bought it the day before at Flame Broiler. It’s cheaper to make it myself, but alas, in the motel I have no pot or rice cooker. Unfortunately, the idiots at Flame Broiler didn’t seal the lid on the bowl so the rice is hard and dried a little. I leave the lid cracked and stick the bowl in the microwave for 2 minutes. If the rice is still a little hard, I’ll add a tablespoon of water and nuke it again. Steamed rice isn’t difficult to bring back from a dried state, especially if you’re making fried rice out of it.

linguicasizzleI slice the linguica and fry it up in a pan. Sizzle, sizzle! I take it out of the pan when it’s crispy on the outside and dump in the steamed rice. I add salt (like potatoes, rice needs salt!) and garlic powder. My dad used to say that Filipino fried rice was never the same twice, which isn’t exactly true. See, Filipino fried rice is made with whatever you have on hand. My dad would make it with bacon, sausage, linguica, pork steak…whatever meat he had on hand. He loved making it with linguica which turns the rice orange from the linguica grease. He would always cook the meat first and then make the rice in the meat drippings. He felt that to not use the drippings was a waste. Now, my dad, unlike other Filipinos, was not a fan of dumping veggies in the rice, especially those stupid canned or frozen peas and carrots. He hated those. He would put fresh veggies in scrambled eggs or omeletes, but never fried rice. He did say it wasn’t Fililpino rice without fresh garlic or garlic powder though.

riceinpanOnce the rice is all saturated in the drippings and fried up, it’s time for eggs. Oooh…eggie weggs. To answer your question about whether I can handle eggs, the answer is YES. Hey, my dad was a short order cook! I can flip eggs with the best of them!

eggiewegNow, I’m not a fan of sunny side up eggs. I like em over easy. Before I flip them though, I gotta hit em with yellow curry powder. This is my brother Tom’s trick and it is a yummy one.

eggcurryYou can try it the first time with just a light sprinkle. If you like it, season it to taste the next time. I like a good, heavy sprinkle as you can see above.

overeasyThere they are, flipped and unbroken. Told you I could do it. 😉  Next, the eggs are dropped onto that rice fried in linguica drippings.

breakfastAnd last, but not least, I mess up that pretty picture by mixing the egg with the rice. Chop, chop, mix, mix, yolk all over the rice…My kid can tell you, it might look like a mashed up mess, but those curried fried eggs mixed with fried rice are sooooo good!

eggsandriceAnd there you have it, my weird breakfast. It’s not a one person meal so since Annicka isn’t here, about half or a little more than half goes into a bowl for dinner or breakfast tomorrow.  The babies don’t really like to eat the linguica, but they love the drippings, which I let them have to help with their fur balls.

I doubt you’ll get another post from me for at least a week. I don’t do breakfast during the work week. Actually, I often don’t do dinner during the work week. I just get too tired and a $1 taco from Del Taco sounds like heaven when I’m exhausted. So I don’t think I can do one of these posts, fun as they are, when I do make dinner, but you never know. Maybe I’ll be back in a day or two with some photos from dinner, just to prove I can do it.

SAK_Fb2On the writing front, I’m working on a novella for MLR Press and I hope to have it finished soon. VJ Summers and I are in talks with our editor at Loose Id regarding the possibility of them contracting Partners and us finishing the sequel, Masks. I have asked for my rights back to Scrambling, which is currently at Loose Id. I’m hoping to self-pub it for a lower price when I get it back in the fall. So anyone who wanted to read it, but didn’t care for the high price will have a chance to read it now. In fact, I’m considering going Kindle Unlimited with it. A lot of MM books do very well on KU and I think I may want Scrambling to have that chance.

Hope you’re having a wonderful, safe Independence Day!

LexV_signature_sm

Homeless Brats and Beans for the Fourth

When you’re homeless and without your gas grill or an oven or even a crock pot, you find ways to make do.  We have a 2 electric (ugh) burner stove and a microwave in the motel. I don’t even have my cast iron pan. I do have a couple of decent Farberware pans though. But without a grill, I can’t make grilled brats. Without an oven, I can’t make baked beans. So what can I do this Fourth of July weekend? I can make Homeless Brats and Beans!

I sent Rott (aka my old man) to the grocery store. He brought me back the wrong brats. It was so noisy in the store that when I told him to get me a package of Johnsonville RAW brats, he didn’t even hear me. Well, he heard Johnsonville and brats so this is what he brought me.

bratsNow, if you know me, I’m not the type who sends the poor guy back to the store. I don’t get mad at him either. He’s trying. He’s just not a cook so he is clueless when I send him on a grocery mission. And our mission communication was a bit off since he couldn’t hear me in his earpiece due to the noise of the crowds in the store. Besides, sending him to take something back is always the wrong thing to do. He curses more than you’ve ever heard someone curse and he gets way more angry and frustrated than a normal person would. After eighteen years, I know better than to ask him to do things that I know will end up with him coming home pissed off.

chiliesnbeansBefore I start with the cooking, let me tell you about how I cook…some of this, a pinch of that, a squirt or a dash of this or the other, a handful of this…You get the picture. I don’t exactly measure anything. Being exact is what you do when you’re baking something that requires precision in measuring. Most cooking I do doesn’t require that kind of precision so don’t expect exact measurements from me on what I’m doing here.

Okay, so instead of cooking raw brats in a can of Boddingtons swiped from the fridge (ale he hasn’t been drinking anyway cause he really doesn’t drink unless he’s so pissed off he’s ready to stab someone) now I have to deal with smoked brats that are already cooked. What do I do with them? I slice them! Thick slices, cut on the diagonal. I set them aside.

brats_slicedNext, I chop up a bit of onion I had in the fridge. And I add to that some chopped green chilies. I almost had Rott get me a can of jalapenos. But I didn’t want to deal with a fresh jalapeno because you know, seeds and such. I’m lazy, especially when I don’t have a real kitchen.  I don’t even have my chef’s knife, although the small knife I have here is super sharp! I tend to keep my knives, all the knives, that way. A little something I learned from my Dad…a kitchen without a sharp knife is no kitchen.

onionsI had the stupidity to have forgotten to have Rott get me a few slices of Applewood smoked bacon. Eff. Me. What are beans without bacon? If I could get pork belly in the store I would, but I have yet to see it in Stater Bros market and I’m not sending Rott into Whole Foods Market after it. For one, it’s probably hideously expensive in Whole Foods and for another that place drives him completely bonkers. And at the motel, I don’t have a way to deep fry it anyway. If you have bacon, go ahead, dice it, cook it crisp, and then remove the bacon from the grease. Setting it on a paper towel to drain is best.Applewood-Smoked-Center-Cut-BaconWithout bacon, I have to make do. I have a bit of bacon grease stored in the fridge. I use this to cook my onions and chilies. Now, if I didn’t have a sensitive gut, I would really have made this with chopped red bell pepper and half a fresh chopped jalapeno. Feel free to make yours with those ingredients and as much jalapeno as you want. Canned jalapenos work too, but they aren’t as flavorful or hot as the fresh jalapeno. I used to be able to eat those things, but alas, no longer. So onion and mild green chilies it is. Saute them in the bacon grease until the onions are translucent and the red pepper (if you use it) is soft.  Remove the veggies. You can put them on the same paper towel as the bacon if you want.veggiesauteNow, I drop those nice chunks of bratwurst in the hot pan. Sizzle, sizzle. I cook them until they have a nice carmelization on them. (This smells especially delish if you’re using the brats cooked in beer.) Then, I dump in the bacon bits and veggies. Stir em up, just a minute will work. And into the pan goes a can of beans. Choose your favorite or make your own from scratch. There’s the old fashioned Campbell’s Pork and Beans or if you’re like me, one of the gazillion flavors of Bush’s Beans works really well.

sizzleSeason these however works best for you. Me, I dump in some sea salt, a couple twists from the pepper grinder, garlic powder or I use fresh garlic when cooking the veggies if I have it. You can also add a splash of Worcestershire Sauce, a heaping teaspoon of golden brown sugar (Bush’s Honey Baked Beans are already sweet so sugar not really needed), a squirt of mustard or a teaspoon of powered Coleman’s mustard, a squirt of ketchup, and a squirt of soy sauce. When I use raw brats, cooked in beer, I also add a dash of liquid smoke. I’ve also been known to add a dash of yellow curry once in a while, although usually, I reserve the curry for when I make over easy eggs, but that’s a recipe for another day.

bratsnbeansNow, normally, I’d do this in a cast iron skillet. I’d put some raw bacon on the top and I’d pop it into the oven for about 45 minutes, until the bacon on top is crisp. Here in the motel, I have to make the Homeless version of everything. So I stir everything together, bring to a boil, turn the temp down to simmer (a hard thing to do on an electric stove, ugh) and cover with a lid or foil. I want all the flavors to marry while I slow cook this for about 30-45 minutes.

bowlofbeansWhile it’s cooking, I slice up part of a Portuguese Linguica sausage. I fry it up and set it aside. When the beans and brats are done, I put the linguica on top, like an edible garnish, since I don’t have an oven to bake bacon on top. You can also use a mix of linguica and brats in the dish itself. Linguica is amazing sausage! It’s not traditional in the least and neither are these beans. It’s just one way to still have your baked beans when you are homeless and without the resources and things you normally have. It’s a little spicier than normal baked beans especially if you use the red pepper and jalapeno (which also makes it very colorful and pretty!), but it’s still good stuff.linguicaBefore I sign off, don’t forget, Winterheart Design has buy a book cover, get a free book trailer this 4th of July weekend. Your purchase helps keep us from living in our car and sending our cats to the pound. Also, keep a lookout for a blog post from me on what’s happening with my publishing career and what books you can expect to see from me soon.

Happy Fourth of July!

LexV_signature_sm

Drexting

I rant on occasion. Not as much as I used to, but I do. I don’t always rant about the world of publishing either. I could seriously rant about the state of the economy in Southern California where middle class people like me make double the minimum wage per hour, haven’t had a significant raise in years and can’t even get an apartment because the price is so high and the main requirement is to have 2 to 3 times the rent in income. Yeah, that’s a huge rant with me. Being homeless because of the economy sucks ass. No one will help you because you have a job.

DSC_0099Despite how much and how long I could go on about the homeless situation in Orange County, I have something else on my mind. Like being homeless, it’s on my mind daily or almost daily anyway. It’s on my mind the five days a week I venture out into traffic in the Catmobile to go to work.

Drexting. Driving while texting.

At first, it only happened once in a while. I’d glance into my rear view mirror while approaching a red light or stop sign and find the person behind me not slowing down, their head tipped down. It dawned on me that they were texting or checking their email on their smartphone and not paying attention to the road in front of them. So I started keeping a little bigger gap between me and the person in front of me in case the person behind me with their face in their phone didn’t stop.

TrafficOptimistically, I thought this sort of thing would stop happening as the police started ticketing people for using their phones while driving. Not so. Now, when I look in the rear view mirror or at the cars on either side of me, it’s the exception rather than the rule to find the drivers paying attention to the road. It seems like everyone around me has their face tipped down to their phone.

I’m an excellent driver. I’ve been to racing school twice. I know about mechanical things in my vehicle because I worked in a repair shop in college. I understand my car and the ones around me. And yet, it’s scary to drive out there with all the people who don’t get it.

Obviously, they are not thinking. They are texting. And texting while driving is not what an intelligent person does. I look at these people and many of them don’t LOOK stupid, but they are sure ACTING stupid. It reminds me of the saying “Stupid is as Stupid does.” And boy, do they does.

So many rear ender accidents from this and so many people who see the accidents, know it’s against the law to be holding your phone and using it in any manner while driving, and yet they still do it. I wonder how many times they’ve looked up from their email or text and had to slam on the brakes. Yet close calls to no deter them.

greenlightWe wonder why the traffic is so much worse these days. Think about it for a moment. How many times have you been behind a slow car and passed them only to find the driver either talking, texting or doing email on their phone? Same thing for drivers who don’t go when the light turns green. And the drivers who drift over the line? Them too. They are all part of the traffic problem because they are impeding traffic.

It’s rampant. I know it’s not just here in SoCal. It’s everywhere. And it’s also causing accidents which cause our insurance rates to go up. I wonder why the people doing this don’t realize this, especially if they’ve gotten into an accident. Rott tells me that these people know what they are doing. They know and they don’t care or think it will never happen to them because they’re such a good driver. Such utter bullshit.

I find myself using my horn far more than I ever did before. I honk at people at lights almost daily. They, of course, are busy with their phones. Many times it takes two honks to get them to go.  Rott yells at them a lot. “GO STUPID!” is probably his most frequently spoken phrase, followed by “It’s the big pedal on the right!” Nice.

DrextingAnd I can see how road rage would increase from all this drexting. I know I’m a lot more angry than I use to be when I’m driving and it’s all because of these inconsiderate drivers. I try to find a station on my satellite radio that engages me and makes me sing along so I care less about these idiots. And the one thing that keeps going through my head as I look in my rear view mirror and deal with these morons day in and day out is…don’t you want to get where you’re going? Don’t you want to get home? Because someday you’re going to be paying more attention to your phone and you’re going to run into something big in front of you and you may never go home again.

Much love to you all out there. Drive safely.

Lex_Sig

 

New Ways To Be Offended

Every day on the internet, on the streets and freeways of Orange County, on the news, at work, getting lunch, going to the grocery store, the gas station and more…I find things to be offended about. And I sadly know that is true for you too. It’s called, The World We Live In. Yes, you can also find positivity everywhere you look too. It just seems that it’s harder and harder to find those positive things.

responsibleadultWhen I turn on the TV, I hear the GOP candidates fighting, almost literally cat-fighting, with social media memes and picking on each others’ wives, name calling, and behavior any good mom knows is that of a truculent five year old. Even CNN’s Anderson Cooper pointed this out, telling one candidate, “That’s the answer of a five year old.” I can’t help but wonder what is happening to our country. And then I see responses to blog posts that remind me how damned childish people in this country are. No wonder we allow political candidates to behave so childishly when we can’t behave any differently on the internet.

So an author friend blogged about a publisher. The comments on the blog really reminded me of how childish people behave on the internet. To me, and I could be wrong, it appeared that some of these childish comments were not from the author’s usual readers and friends but by people, either staff, friends or authors, of the publisher. I’m not a fan of publishers or other people who send their “troops” to defend them on a blog they would never normally read. That, in and of itself, is an immature and classless way to act. If you’re a good publisher, you don’t need people to defend you. You take the high road and you ignore that stuff. It’s like ignoring bad reviews. Most authors don’t engage in arguing with readers over a bad review. We ignore them.

2614477212_ba712347ba_oI’ve been out of the blogging loop for a couple of years and I should have realized that this kind of thing still happens out here. I guess I forgot because, geez, those people that came over from the publisher to get their point across on the author’s blog, a blog they wouldn’t normally read, totally offended me. Like really pissed me off, offended me. That’s a new one for me!

I don’t know why a publisher would condone such behavior. The publishers I’ve been with have been much classier than that. I guess I’ve been lucky on that front, to have publishers that take the high road, that embrace diversity, that care for their authors and don’t want them to look like fools out on the internet.

UnbreakMe2_432I suppose I just found my positivity in that mess I read yesterday and this morning. I’ve been lucky in my publishing career to have publishers who care about me and my work, who are professional and behave in a professional manner.

That being said, I’m slowly getting back all my rights to my books at Jupiter Gardens. Unbreak Me will be back in my hands as of April 30. Not sure when it will go back out as a self pub, but it does have a revised cover.

Thank you for reading! Go forth and find the positivity in the middle of all the offensiveness out there!

Lex_Sig

 

The Revival of Sunstroked

Sunstroked_200Several years ago, while my hubs was away and I was lonely, I began the journey to become an author. My signature series Tales of the Darkworld was born during this time. Most of the books in the series were reader favorites and some won awards and recognition. Books are like your kids and while you’re not supposed to have favorites, sometimes one will bend your heart a little more than the others. This post is about one of my favorites.

My plan to match my dour, angry Scottish werewolf Seth Dylan of the McCallan clan with sunny, ever optimistic wildling Corey Green in Sunstroked turned out better than I could ever hope. It also birthed the next book Breath Me In because my editor at MLR Press, the ever observant Kris Jacen, asked me, “But what about Will?” So Suntroked has always been sort of a middle child, the one that people tend to forget because there’s the award winning Fire Season as older brother and the beautiful prose of Breath Me In as younger brother. Sandwiched between those two bestsellers, Sunstroked did manage to thrive, but became, in my heart of hearts, my favorite of the three.

I love Corey Green. I have from the moment he first opened his mouth and spoke such irreverent words to his boss Colin in Hot Water. I stole his name and appearance from a fellow blogger whom I met in San Diego, Gooster SD. My Corey is happy, funny, a little outrageous and obviously gay. His mate turns out to be a very firmly closeted, angry at the world Seth Dylan. What happens between the two when they first meet is deeply sexual, intense and beyond mind-blowing for both. And then Seth runs away from Corey just as Corey realizes they are mates. When Seth leaves, he takes Corey’s sun with him. A heartbroken Corey is as dark and quiet as a happy Corey was outgoing and boisterous.

This story is about being broken and finding your way, realizing that what you’d always thought about yourself might not be completely true and finally seeing the world the way you’re meant to. It’s sexual and heartbreaking. These two characters so deserve their HEA, maybe moreso than any of the other books in the series. At least, that’s my opinion. Reader opinion probably varies widely because it seems that they all love Holden and Garret and Will and Garrick more. And I’m not sure why. Seth and Corey have their fair share of great prose like:

A rain of soft kisses fell all over his back, shoulders and neck, reaching up as far as the
underside of his jaw and behind his ears. The warmth in his body heated to boiling. Corey lay still,
wondering where Seth was going both with his words, his hands, and his mouth.

“I knew it at Gargoyle Lodge but I had a tough time accepting the truth. I love you, Corey.”

The joy Corey had always found in life, the joy that had left him so abruptly when Seth had
walked out all those months before, came rushing back. The darkness retreated as Corey stepped
into the sunlight once more, this time with his mate at his side.

He turned in Seth’s arms, his own arms coming up around his mate. The scent of sage
wrapped itself around him, binding him to the man he loved. With one hand he cupped the side
of Seth’s beard stubbled face.

“I love you, Seth Dylan,” he murmured, his gaze locking with Seth’s. “I saw you beneath
the trees that first day in the cemetery, and your scent drifted toward me. I knew the instant I
scented you that you were mine. I’d never been with a virgin before, never been with a man so
consumed by anger and fear. But I loved you anyway. I took one look into those silver eyes filled
with pain, and I loved you with everything I am. Being without you has been like being without
my soul.”

Seth’s eyes glittered, emotion darkening them to charcoal. “You are without a doubt the most
amazing man I’ve ever met. You were so full of confidence, so joyous and happy. I didn’t think a
man like you could need someone like me.”

Corey pressed his body against Seth’s, rubbing his cloth confined erection against his mate’s.
“Oh, I need you. I will always need you. Without you, I’m lost. No sunshine. No Corey. You are
what brings out the best of me.”

Anyway, the reason I’m talking about Sunstroked today is because the audiobook has just released. The ever so wonderful Chip Wood has voiced this book just as he did Fire Season. I’m very sad that he won’t be able to do Breathe Me In though. If you listen to the audiobook sample at Audible, it is a dinner scene that describes a dessert created by Z.A. Maxfield and I during a drive back from Los Angeles.

Sunstroked_audioYou can get Sunstroked at Audible.com by clicking HERE. Or you can comment on this post for a chance to win a FREE copy! My birthday is coming up on Halloween so I’m giving you all until midnight Pacific time on Halloween to post a comment. If you’ve read Sunstroked, leave a comment about the book. If you haven’t read it, let me know why you’d like to win an audio copy. I’ll give away three free codes, randomly chosen by my hubs, Rott, who never reads my stuff. (He’s all for the rest of us reading MM, but his very straight soul won’t let him read it.) He’ll pick three numbers from the total number of comments left and those people will win a free copy of Sunstroked.

Frankly, anyone who leaves a comment is in good shape to win because I haven’t blogged in so long nor written a new book in so long that no one remembers me any more. But I have something coming. Oh, yes I do. It’s called The Return of Light. I’d like it to be the start of a new series of novellas called Reclaiming Love, but who knows what the future holds. I never would have predicted this long of a dry spell for myself. I’m trying to come back because I have stories bursting to be free from the confines of my head. Joining The Return of Light is The Sun Always Sets in Paradise which is more of a spring-summer story. If anyone knows where I got the title for the second novella, let me know in comments. I’m curious to see who gets it.

And yes, I do plan to continue in the Darkworld, the Out In the NFL, and Souls in Bondage series. I don’t know what the fate of Shadows and Kink is. I guess I’d like to continue it on my own, but I don’t know.  I have thought about my Flying in the Face of Convention law enforcement guys though.  I’ve toyed with the idea of doing a series of short mysteries with them called Unconventional. Who knows at this point? Stay tuned though. Maybe I can pull a rabbit out of my hat and start turning out 20,000 word Sundays again. 😉

Don’t forget to leave a comment so you can get a shot a free audiobook copy of Sunstroked!

Happy reading,

Lex_Sig