When Almonds Mooed

I’ve never heard almonds moo, but somewhere in the distant past, a savvy cook figured out a way to coax almonds to give up their “milk.” They’ve been doing it for thousands of years.

Almond Blossoms courtesy of aquarelabogota.org

Almond Blossoms courtesy of aquarelabogota.org

It wasn’t as hard as milking cows—you know, the hand/fingers coordination . . . thing—and it was a good substitute for cow’s milk at a time when refrigeration didn’t exist. Fresh milk had to be used immediately and no one would dream of buying milk from a vendor. It could have been contaminated, spoiled, or watered down.

Almond milk isn’t a new idea. It has a long history, and I doubt anyone could ever pinpoint the exact moment someone had a light bulb moment and realized that by soaking pulverized almonds in water, they could make almond milk. Almonds are native to North Africa, Western Asia, and the Mediterranean. The Egyptians enjoyed them and almonds were found in Tutankhamun’s tomb. The Romans thought them useful, calling them “Greek nuts” since the Greeks were cultivating them.

Tonsil Plums – Really?

The English word almond comes from the French word amande. In turn, amande is derived from an old Latin word for almond, amygdalus, which means “tonsil plum.” Hmm. That term doesn’t make almonds sound very appetizing, but it likely refers to the shape of the tonsil as it sits in the back of the mouth.

Blanced Almonds

Blanched Almonds

There are currently more than 100 varieties of almonds, many of which are grown in California, thanks to the Spanish missionaries who first brought the trees to the New World. California is currently the world’s largest supplier of almonds.

Back to medieval Europe.

As a rule, medieval adults didn’t drink cow’s milk. It was served to children, the elderly, and the sick. Today, we know that milk is rich in protein and can be consumed when meat wasn’t readily available. One thousand years ago, little was known about the nutritional breakdown of food into vitamins, minerals, proteins, etc. A typical meal for a farmer was bread and cheese with mead or ale thrown in for good measure. Cow’s milk was generally reserved for making cheese and butter, things that lasted far longer than the few days of fresh milk. For the wealthy, cream skimmed from fresh milk was used in making luscious desserts with fruits, nuts, and pungent spices.

The Catholic Church had imposed dietary rules, especially for Lent and other major holidays. There were also meatless days throughout the year. Using almond milk got around those restrictions, didn’t require refrigeration, and because almonds stored well, was available as needed.

When I started doing research for my medieval novel Forsaken, I scoured the internet

Fresh almond milk courtesy of Carrie on Living.

Fresh almond milk courtesy of Carrie on Living.

for information about what was eaten during that time as well as how food was prepared. I was surprised and delighted by how much information there is, including authentic recipes; both in the original text and transcribed into modern day English. For instance:

Source [Du fait de cuisine, Elizabeth Cook (trans.)]: 28. Take the quantity of almonds, have them well and cleanly blanched and washed and then have them very well brayed (crushed or pounded fine); and take very clean fair water and let him strain his almond milk into a bowl or a cornue (bowl or vessel with handle) which is fair and clean . . .*

You can buy almond milk at the grocery store, but making it yourself is very easy and tastes delicious. Here here are a few websites to help you get started:

Carrie on Living – easy tutorial with pictures.
Medieval Recipes – updated for the modern kitchen
A Boke of Gode Cookery – a website chock full of recipes and historical information.
Medieval Cookery – another website with recipes and historical information.
Vegan Reader – besides the basic recipe, there are other recipes for using almond milk.

* From Recreational Medievalism – a website by David Friedman

Posted in Food, Food In History, Medieval | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Pictures for Maddie “Storyboard”

Will they rediscover love in the midst of a disaster?

Will they rediscover love in the midst of a disaster?

Pictures for Maddie has been out for almost a month and I decided to create a storyboard on Pinterest that features items from the book. The Tennessee River. Larke’s favorite tea in a delicate china cup. The quaint, downtown area of Majesta Landing. Tec’s homely, red pickup truck. A stuffed rabbit toy. If you’ve already read it, take a peek at what was on my mind while I was writing it. And if you consider it cheating to look BEFORE you read it, then wait until you’re finished! I plan to add storyboards for all my books. Happy reading!

Pictures for Maddie is available at Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble and other online retailers!

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The Dangers of Tinkering – A Lesson Learned The Hard Way

Dear Reader,

I have a confession to make. I found myself in a pickle. Now, I like pickles, as a rule, but not this pickle. At the end of last year, my editor finished with the manuscript for Pictures for Maddie and I was happy with the outcome. The holidays were upon us and I knew I couldn’t do anything until the new year.

The new year came and I got sick. I get sick every January like clockwork. So, while I was huddling in my recliner with a warm blanket, tissues, thermometer, cough syrup, and comfort food, I did something a writer should NEVER do with a completed manuscript.

Photo by Menchi

Photo by Menchi

I started tinkering with it.

I shouldn’t have done it, I know, but there were things I felt needed showing rather than telling. So I tinkered away. I got well. It lasted two weeks. Then, in February, I got hit with round 2. There I was, trapped in my recliner again, feeling worse than I had in January. This time, I lost my voice. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, according to my family. Instead of working on a new project, I went back to Pictures for Maddie.

I tinkered with it some more.

Photo by Evan-Amos

Photo by Evan-Amos

By the time May rolled around, my deadline for the 31st was counting down. So, in my usual way, I began the final formatting and preparation for the book launch. One week into the month, I got sick again. (I’m beginning to think this isn’t my year.) I pushed hard to get everything ready for the book launch and came in just under the wire. It was time to celebrate.

Wrong!

Pictures for Maddie will be the first book to be offered in print. It’s shorter than the other four and seemed like the most logical book to start with. And that, dear reader, is where the pickle comes in. As I began to place the text into the template, I began to find mistakes. None were left by my editor. All of them were in the text I had added when I tinkered with the manuscript.

My heart sank. The book was already on Amazon and Smashwords and its distribution partners. Now I’m finding mistakes. Not serious mistakes, just enough to make a discerning reader wonder why my editor and I are incapable of finding mistakes.

1What have I learned from this fiasco? Well, for starters, I shouldn’t tinker with finished manuscripts, especially when I’m sick. My editor is very good at what she does and I don’t want anyone thinking she doesn’t perform her job well. I owe her a HUGE apology. I also owe all my readers an apology. The current mistakes are my fault. Tinkering in and of itself isn’t bad, but next time, I should let my editor have a go at it before I release it. And that is the end of the story, dear reader.

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PICTURES FOR MADDIE has been released!

Drum roll, please! It’s here! Pictures for Maddie is here! It’s been a long haul to get this little gem ready to publish. During the past two weeks (a critical time in the final process),  I’ve been sick and writing was the last thing I wanted to do. However, I had to meet the May 31 deadline and I made it! It’s my first contemporary after four historicals. Woman with a secret. Hot, hunky male. A dangerous natural disaster. All the ingredients of a wild, sensuous adventure! It has its own storyboard at Pinterest, filled with elements from the book. Check it out and leave a comment–there or here! Pictures for Maddie is available at Smashwords and Amazon for $2.99.

Will they rediscover love in the midst of a disaster?

Will they rediscover love in the midst of a disaster?

Her secret . . .
Larke Scott never told anyone why she broke her engagement and disappeared, shattering her heart and leaving her fiancé confused and angry. She hid from him that she gave birth to his child, hoping that if she kept the secret and stayed away from the man she loved, her family would be safe.

His resolve . . .
Five years later, Mayor Kody Raines has his hands full—the worst flood in one hundred years is overwhelming towns along the Tennessee River. In the midst of the crisis, he turns around and there she is, the woman he’s never forgotten, the woman who mercilessly dumped him and vanished. She makes a shocking confession—he has a daughter! Convinced there’s more to the story, he decides that, no matter what the cost, he’ll discover how deep her deception runs.

Nature’s fury . . .
With the threat of the levee’s imminent collapse, Kody and Larke suddenly find themselves in the middle of a nightmare: on the run, dodging an unknown assailant. He believes she knows more than she’s telling. Their world unravels when they receive a desperate phone call—“Maddie is missing.”

And the levee breaks . . .

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Pictures of Maddie ~ Cover Reveal!

It’s here at last! The cover for my first contemporary romance novel. Join Kody Raines and Larke Scott as they battle each other and a natural disaster that could end their second chance at love even before it begins.

Here’s a short excerpt:

Will they rediscover love in the midst of a disaster?

Will they rediscover love in the midst of a disaster?

“What did I do to make you hate me so much?”

Larke leaned her forehead against his shoulder, shaking her head, soaking up his warmth, knowing she could lie against him, her arms around him, for just a moment. “I never hated you,” she confessed.

“And yet you left,” he reminded her, certain they were at the threshold of the truth.

“I wanted to stay,” she confessed, her arms tightening around him. “I wanted . . .” She stopped, uncertain, biting her lip, and she raised her tear-ravaged face.

Kody was afraid to breathe, to hope. After all these years, was it possible? His fingers caressed her cheek, his eyes soft with concern. “What did you want?”
Her eyes slipped shut as she sighed, leaning into his rough palm, rubbing her cheek against him. “You. Only you.”

Watch for the release on May 31, 2014 at Amazon and Smashwords. A huge thank you to Erin Dameron-Hill Graphics who designed it!

 

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A Heroine By Any Other Name . . .

With Forsaken edited and available at online retailers, I thought it was time to answer a question that’s been asked, but one that I couldn’t answer. Until now. And the question is:

Why did I name the heroine in Forsaken MORYNHA?

I wasn’t sure how to answer it because I couldn’t locate the original information until recently and now that I’ve pieced the story together (again), I can share it with you.

Some years ago, we spent Christmas with my husband’s family at Indian Springs State Park in Georgia. Beautiful scenery. The cabins were wonderful. Crackling fire. Good food. Exceptional company. When we drove in, we noticed a stone wall enclosure with a gate, well shaded by a thick canopy of trees. Inside were headstones.

That got my attention—big time! The history buff and genealogist in me kicked into high gear and I vowed to see it before we left. When the chance came, I grabbed it! The gate was open and my husband and I went inside, not realizing that it was larger than the wall let on. It was an old cemetery and a lot of the stones were broken, some lying on the ground, others missing altogether. It was a place of whispering and quiet walking, a place to think about those who had lived in the area and now rested within the protective stone wall.

And then I saw it! Her name was Marhyna. Such an unusual name. She had been a daughter, a wife and a mother, remembered on a headstone placed by those who loved her. An idea exploded in my brain! Why not? I could do it. The name would be perfect in a story! What story? I didn’t know, but I didn’t care! We forgot the camera? What! No pencil or paper? I did my best to memorize the spelling and when we got back to the cabin, I wrote it down. Except that I wrote it wrong. I spelled it MORYNHA.

Within the last few weeks, I felt I needed to locate the original information and since I couldn’t remember where I put it, it seemed to take forever. After some intense searching, I finally found it online. Her name was Marhyna, NOT Morynha. It’s pronounced Marina and she was listed as Rena in one of the censuses. There was also a photo of the headstone.

Well, I get zero points for having a faulty memory, but I rather like the way I spelled it. Morynha – Mor-EYE-nuh. Hats off to the parents who gave their daughter a name spelled in an unusual way. I like to think, perhaps, that the real Marhyna would be proud to have been the inspiration for such a strong willed, yet loving heroine.

Forsaken is available at Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Amazon and other fine online book retailers.

Posted in Medieval, On Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Forsaken Now at Amazon!

Forsaken has been edited and is now available at Amazon

Forsaken

Forsaken

for the first time! A big thank you to my editor. If you love your Kindle and everything medieval, have I got a story for you! Knights, damsels, sword fighting, castles, royalty–you name it, Forsaken has it! It’s the perfect time of the year for a cup of your favorite hot drink, a cozy fire and a trip back to days gone by.

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Heart of a Rose Series now at Amazon!

It was a long time in coming, but I finally did it with the help of a wonderful editor! The three novels comprising the Heart of a Rose Series have made the leap and are now available for Kindle at Amazon! Discover the wonderful world of Victorian London and immerse yourself in the story of Miranda Kingswood and the Earl of Hawk.

Heart of A Rose Series

Heart of A Rose Series

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A Rose Beneath the Snow Now Available at Amazon!

I’m pleased to announce that A Rose Beneath the Snow has been released for Kindle at Amazon! Follow the link to see the book at Amazon. A Rose in Summer and Hawk’s Autumn Rose are next up! A huge thank you to all my fans and readers who have been so supportive and encouraging while I get all this done.

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Heart of a Rose Series Uploaded!

Well, It’s done! Can I do a happy dance? Stand on the roof and shout it to all my neighbors? The three books, A Rose Beneath the Snow, A Rose in Summer, and Hawk’s Autumn Rose have been uploaded to Smashwords. While they’re not available anywhere else yet (pending review for the premium catalog), I’m happy to say this long journey is about over. Amazon for Kindle users is next and after that I’ll offer a print edition for those who just have to have the real deal in their hands. I’m the same way. I love the feel of a printed book.

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