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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Buffalo Barbecue

Stinger's so happy--he figured out he can have red meat in a healthy way by ordering buffalo meat off the internet! I came home from RWA to a freezer full of ribeyes, filets, and of course, our favorite: ribs.

Before I'd even unpacked, I was in the kitchen whipping up my family's favorite bbq sauce. This recipe is adapted from the one in Helen Corbitt's famous, now out-of-print, compendium of Texas cookery. Corbitt, herself, was not a native Texan; she was born in New York! A fact which shocked me as a child, weaned as I was on tales of Texas and how it was like a whole country unto itself. My mother grew up in Dallas and met and married my father in Austin, where I was born, so the Lonestar State had a special place in our family's mythology even after we moved to Virginia.

And to this day, Helen Corbitt's barbecue sauce is the standard by which I judge all others. It's not a Carolina sauce, not sweet and not very spicy--the main flavors are smoke and vinegar and SALT. I love it. And it paired beautifully with the grilled buffalo ribs!

Edwards Family BBQ Sauce (adapted from Helen Corbitt's Cookbook)

2 Tbs salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
6 Tbs dark brown sugar
1/2 cup ketchup
6 Tbs brown mustard
4 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp Liquid Smoke (Very important! Check the condiment aisle of your supermarket.)
2 cups water
1 cup white vinegar
2 cups melted butter or cooking oil
Chili sauce to taste

Mix in order given and boil until thickened and reduced by half. Spoon off the layer of fat that rises to the top and discard. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.

This sauce is best with beef and pork; it's a little robust for chicken. We always ate it on beef spare ribs, charred on the grill and gnawed with abandon by our whole family. One of my favorite meals, growing up, and a vivid summer memory for me.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Bite Me! by Melissa Francis

Finally! The much anticipated debut YA novel by Melissa Francis is out today. Run right out and buy a copy for every teen girl you know!

AJ Ashe isn't your typical seventeen-year-old vampire—as if there is such a thing! She's stuck in the middle of a huge fight between her two BFFs. Her ex-boyfriend—whom she's still totally in love with, by the way—is now her stepbrother. A former classmate—who, um, she may or may not have turned into a vampire—is stalking her. And now, apparently, the fate of humankind lies in her little undead hands.

What ever happened to the good old days, when all a vampire girl had to worry about was the occasional zit and hiding her taste for blood?

Many smart and stylish people love this book. For instance, me! And also New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter, who says, "This book is made of awesome!" (I'm not kidding, that's a direct quote.) So obviously, all the cool kids are doing it. You should do it, too! Here, I'll make it easy. Click the link!

Monday, July 27, 2009

First Review for CStH, and a Contest!

Two exciting bits of online fun: my first ever review for Can't Stand the Heat was posted at Crystal Reviews, and I'm running a contest for a $50 gift card to Barnes and Noble!

First, the review. It's lovely! And spoiler-free, for which I thank the reviewer. Favorite pull quote: "Snappy, exciting, adventurous, and totally unexpected." Win!

And second, for all my loyal blog readers out there, a chance to win some money for books. Because even though you can't buy Can't Stand the Heat yet (unless you pre-order!) a rising tide raises all ships, and we should all be reading more, and also B&N lets me make super cute gift cards with my book cover on them.

Go forth and read, my loves!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Say Goodbye to RWA 09

Why does it always take me a week to get back into the swing of normal life after conference? This time it's at least partly that I have (much-loved, but still) company at my house for the next two weeks. And did my husband go grocery shopping even once the week I was gone? No. That was partly my fault--I left him too well supplied. I even made casseroles for him to eat! Chicken Hash from James Beard and Mark Bittman's Eggplant Parmesan. I know. I'm such a Susie Homemaker, I kill me. But I hadn't cooked in weeks while I struggled with that deadline, and I was so in the mood to slice and dice!

Anyway, quick conference roundup. I could talk about workshops (the Amazon one turned out to be mostly a long infomercial about Kindle; the contract trends one was very interesting and made me want to hire a lawyer--so, a more successful infomercial) but really, you don't come here for my insightful comments about the romance industry, do you? No. I know you. You're here for the food.

And who am I to deny you? So here we go. The first night we ate at the little Italian place down the hill from the hotel, and it was fab. I had fettucine with pine nuts, olive oil, basil and parmesan--a sort of deconstructed pesto. Yum!

We ate multiple times at Sake Club, where they had a sake list more extensive than many restaurants' wine lists, but I managed to keep it in my pants most days and order the delicious iced green tea. The sushi was beautiful, and the chirashi some of the best I've ever had, but I never managed to get a picture. Sorry!

My editor wanted to take me out for dinner and asked me to choose the place. Keeping in mind that I have a rep to maintain and that she lives in NYC, I wanted someplace fun and cool with fantastic, unique food. One of my D.C. faves is Cafe Atlantico, Juan Andres's funky Nuevo Latino fusion place. I've never had a bad meal there, plus there are exciting cocktails (which was a big decider for me, since cocktails are thin on the ground here in Ohio.) It was great! The meeting with the editor, yeah, that went wonderfully (I love her! She's awesome! And she approved my idea for the third Recipe for Love book, so yay!) but the food. Oh. So good. The cocktails ended up being more hilarious conversation pieces than drinks, actually, hers more than mine. I tried the strawberry gin rickey and liked it a lot, very tart and refreshing. She had a "magic mojito" that involved a fluffy dollop of, I'm not making this up, cotton candy in a glass that then had mojito poured over it, which melted the cotton candy. It turned out a little too sweet for our taste, but it made a seriously cool presentation.

I started dinner with foie gras soup. Yeah, you heard me. It was unreal. Thick and luscious, salty and rich, with floating islands of corn foam. I almost never wimp out on a dish, but this one was truly too rich to finish. I wouldn't have missed it for anything, though! L'Editrice had tuna ceviche covered with beautiful slices of avocado, a particular weakness of hers. She was stunned, said somehow they made avocado taste even better and more avocado-y than normal.For entrees, I had the duck confit. I'm not going to say it's my life philosophy or something, but I have a really hard time ever passing up a dish with duck confit--and in this case, it was the entire dish! It came with a gorgeous sugar crust, laid on a bed of creamy truffled potato with morels, ramps, and turnips (classic, the duck/turnip combo, loved it!) It was divine. With that one, rich as it was, I wanted to lick the plate. L'Editrice had the jerk chicken, which turned out to be quite a big meal, the beautifully crisp chicken surrounded by piles of roasted vegetables and meaty chunks of bacon. She did a good job on it, though. I was impressed!Those were the foodie highlights of my time in D.C. They were interspersed with meeting some wonderful writers, getting some fantastic advice from the trenches, and lots of wine at the bar. I'm already looking forward to next year!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Mea Culpa

I'm finally emerging from the Deadline Cave, blinking and squinting my way back into the light, and while there is much rejoicing, there is also SHAME. Because in addition to the many and myriad things that haven't happened around my house in a while (laundry, cooking beyond thawing frozen pizza, walking the dogs, sweeping, etc) I also never managed to send out the copies of RED KISS by Deidre Knight that I ran a contest for lo these many moons ago.

But I'm about to fix that! So please, if you or someone you know was a winner in this contest, give them a heads up. I need them to resend their snail mail addresses to my email (louisa . white @ gmail . com) because of course I lost the emails from the first go round, and I'll mail the books out RIGHT AWAY. I swear.

Don't give up hope, y'all! If writing this last book, ON THE STEAMY SIDE, taught me anything, it's that you must persevere!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Pacific Coast Highway

For a long time, I'd hear people talking about the "PCH" and just nod, smiling, having no clue what they were referencing. And now I finally know! The Pacific Coast Highway is a stretch of road that winds down the hairpin curves of our country's western border, which it shares with, yes, the Pacific Ocean. This means the views, or at least the views to one side of the road, are spectacular along this rocky, cliffy highway.

Stinger got it into his head that we should make this drive. He had it all planned: we'd rent a Corvette convertible and make a day of it, skimming down the PCH from San Francisco to Santa Barbara, a trip that would take about four and a half hours on the regular, more direct freeway, but should take seven or eight on the scenic route. We'd go through Carmel, Monterey, Big Sur--it would be fantastic! And to be clear, parts of it were. Carmel is this sleepy little artists' colony wedged into the rocks high above the water. Big Sur is one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen, combining the dramatic, rough-hewn coastline of a place like Maine with the vibrant blue water of the Pacific.I couldn't stop myself from taking these pictures. And I'm not really a scenery-only sort of travel photographer--I like to remember the people on my trips, including me, as part of the landscape. In fact, I'm mainly posting them here because I know I'll probably never look at them again and I want them to have not been taken completely in vain. Anyway, here's one with me and Stinger:We look happy, right? We were. Because this was taken before the fuel system on our car malfunctioned and we took it to a mechanic and dicked around with Hertz and finally went to the Monterey airport to exchange it. At which point we'd lost all interest in pretty scener and headed back to the freeway to zip down to Santa Barbara. For the next five hours. The entire trip took about ten hours and we ended up giving Santa Barbara a miss altogether, driving straight to our end destination, the home of some friends of ours in the gorgeous, rustic-chic Santa Ynez valley. I've rarely been so happy to arrive anywhere! More on the rest of the trip later.

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