Sprouts Get Sexy


So last week I learned that several of my Tasty Tuesday co-bloggers don't like Brussels sprouts. Well, I can understand that. I didn't like them for many years and my husband didn't like them for even longer. Not until just last year, in fact.

Last Thanksgiving it was just the two of us, so my  husband and I decided to travel up to Calistoga and have dinner out at the Calistoga Inn. They had a wonderful holiday menu, with several delicious side-dishes, but the real surprise of the day was the Brussels sprouts, which was so good, it made my husband an instant convert.

Today, I'm posting a recipe that's pretty close. I dare you to try it!  I think you might be surprised.

  • 1  pound of Brussels sprouts,  trimmed and cut in half
  • 3 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 1/2 large red onion,  sliced
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  1. Cook Brussels sprouts for 5 minutes in salted, boiling water, then drain. 
  2. Fry bacon pieces with onions until bacon is crispy. 
  3. Pour off bacon grease. 
  4. Add brussels sprouts to the pan and stir-fry until brussels sprouts begin to brown. 
  5. Season with salt and pepper.

Please check out these other Tasty Tuesday treats:


Red Flannel FTW

One of the things I like best about living in the San Francisco Bay Area, is the weather.  Yes, I'm a weather wimp, and proud of it. It's never too hot or too cold here and I've developed a real appreciation for cool foggy mornings.  I have a fabulous view from my back deck, but what really gets me excited is to walk downstairs, look out the window and see nothing but white beyond the deck railing. I guess, if it were going to stay that way all day, I might be less excited, but I know   what's going to happen is the fog will gradually burn off and I'll get to watch as the view is revealed, magically, layer by layer.

Cool mornings require a hot breakfast, however, and one of my favorite dishes--because it's as pretty as it is delicious--is Red Flannel Hash, which really does look like lovely, softly faded, red-plaid flannel. Kinda like that picture over there. I first tasted this hash at Rick & Ann's in Berkeley, where I had the vegetarian version, which is equally yummy. 

And, yes, I even have a flannel shirt excerpt for you this week. You can find that: HERE



  • 2 cups red-skinned potatoes cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup sweet potatoes also cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup peeled beets also cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 8 slices of bacon
  • 1/2 cup red onion, chopped fine
  • 1/4 fresh parsley, minced
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper


  1. Steam potatoes and sweet potatoes until tender, about 13 minutes. Transfer to bowl.
  2. In a separate pot, steam beets until tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer to bowl with potatoes. Or wrap beets in foil and roast in oven.  It's important not to combine the beets with the potatoes until cooked, because the variations in color make for a more attractive dish.
  3. While vegetables are steaming and/or roasting, cook bacon in large skillet until crisp. Cast iron is really best for this, but not essential. 
  4. Drain bacon on paper towel. Once cool, crumble into pieces and add to vegetables. For vegetarian version, omit this step. 
  5. Reserve 1 tablespoon drippings in skillet--or, for vegetarian version, heat one tablespoon olive oil in skillet over medium-high heat.
  6. Meanwhile, add onion, parsley, heavy cream, salt and pepper to vegetables and mix to combine.
  7. Transfer hash mixture to skillet and flatten with spatula. 
  8. Cook until hash is crispy and brown on the bottom, approx. four to five minutes. 
  9. Continue cooking for another five to ten minutes, stirring occasionally, so that crust is distributed throughout the hash and everything is heated to a uniform temperature.

Makes four servings. Red Flannel hash goes perfectly with poached eggs and may also be served with a dollop of sour cream. Take a big plate of this and an extra-large latte, then go and sit on the porch and watch the day unfold...

For other Tasty Tuesday treats, check out the following blogs:

Lentil & Sausage Soup by Moira Keith 

Men are from Mars Bars Squares by Nancy Lauzon 


Broken Promises: Special Guest JK Coi

Today I'm very happy to welcome author JK Coi to my blog. JK is one of my antho sisters, as we're two of the authors who have stories in Carina Press' steampunk Christmas anthology,  A Clockwork Christmas. JK's story in the anthology is Far From Broken, a story that I loved. It's dark and angsty and if you haven't read it yet, you're really missing out (Go. Buy. Read. You can thank me later.). I was thrilled to learn she was writing a sequel, and now it's finally here! But I'll let her tell you about that!

Broken Promises by JK Coi

When I wrote Far From Broken, I hadn’t really thought it would be a series until I finished it and knew that I couldn’t just leave Callie and Jasper like that. It wasn’t that the story was unfinished or didn’t have a satisfying ending, but it was a really dark, emotionally draining book and I wanted to give the reader a peek into their future. I wanted to show everyone that life wasn’t always going to be so bleak. Sure, there would be difficulties and conflict, but Callie and Jasper are destined for high adventure!

So Broken Promises is a little lighter than book 1. It’s also got exploding air ships, speeding steam trains, mad scientists, and lots of other excitement! I hope everyone has as great a time reading it as I did writing it.

J.K. Coi is a multi-published, award winning author of contemporary and paranormal romance and urban fantasy. She makes her home in Ontario, Canada, with her husband and son and a feisty black cat who is the uncontested head of the household. While she spends her days immersed in the litigious world of insurance law, she is very happy to spend her nights writing dark and sexy characters who leap off the page and into readers’ hearts. (www.jkcoi.com)

She also writes Dark Fantasy for young adults as Chloe Jacobs (www.chloejacobs.com)

BROKEN PROMISES (Book 2, Seasons of Invention series), coming September 10, 2012

Former ballerina Callie Carlisle is determined to rebuild her life with her new mechanical limbs. She's just learned to accept the enhancements that saved her from certain death when she experiences uncontrollable twinges and flashes of light that obscure her vision. Terrified of literally falling apart, she resists telling her husband. Jasper's already vowed to keep her out of harm, and she doesn't want to worry him further.

When the War Office's General Black arrives with an urgent mission—rescue the doctor who created Callie's enhancements—she has no choice but to accept. A rogue agent and former patient of the scientist believes the biomechanical modifications he received are killing him, and he's out for revenge.

Callie must reach the doctor before it's too late. But with an overprotective Jasper at her side, and her alarming symptoms getting more frequent, will she be able to hold herself together long enough to save the doctor...and herself?

Buy this book HERE


I Heart NY Cheesecake

Welcome to another Tasty Tuesday where I and some of my author friends post tasty treats to tempt you. Since today is September 11th, I thought it would be fitting to post an epicurean homage to New York City. 

Now there are a lot of really great things that New York is justly famous for (as well as some not-so-great things) but, at least when it comes to food, cheesecake is arguably the most unique. There are actually several different versions. Everyone has their favorite and, predictably, everyone will tell you theirs is both the best and the most classic variation.  But this is my post, so we won't worry about any of those other versions. They're not as good anyway. 

 Once, a long, long time ago I actually lived in New York--so I know from where I speak. But, even before that, I lived in New Jersey where my mother made The Best Cheesecake Ever. And, yes, that's exactly what we called it. 

My parents loved to host dinner parties and my mother made that cheesecake a lot. Many, many people asked for the recipe and most of them ended up making vastly inferior cheesecake-like desserts from said recipe. Not because there's anything inherently difficult about it. As it happens, cheesecake is a surprisingly easy thing to make. Trust me. I've done it. It is, arguably, the closest thing to a completely fool-proof product that the baking world has ever produced. 

The ingredients are simple, obvious and not persnickety. The directions are even more straight-forward. So why do so many people fail at it? Because to make a perfect cheesecake you must accept one unalterable fact of cheesecake life:  Cheesecake is not now, nor ever will be a health-food. It's dense. It's massive. It's packed with calories, sugar, fat and carbohydrates. It's as white a food as you can possibly find. It is not lactose-free.  It is not gluten-free. It's not heart-healthy or diabetic-friendly. It isn't vegan. 

I'm sure you can make more-or-less palatable versions of something close to cheesecake that are all those things, but it won't be the same and, at that point, all bets are off.  Seriously.You wanna mess with perfection? You go right ahead and do it. Just know that you're on your own with that and I take no responsibility for how it turns out.

New York Cheesecake


For the Crust

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs 
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
For the Filling

  • 40 oz cream cheese (5 80z pkgs) (yes, you read that right. You must use two-and-a-half pounds of cream cheese. This is not negotiable.)  
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • grated zest of two lemons
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 5 whole eggs


  1. preheat oven to 475F
  2. mix cracker crumbs and sugar in bowl to combine.
  3. add melted butter to crumb mixture
  4. press crumbs into buttered 9" (24 cm) springform pan (covering the bottom and partially up the sides)
  5. place pan in refrigerator or freezer to cool (set) until needed.
  6. in a very large mixing bowl combine first five ingredients (cream cheese, sugar, flour, lemon zest and vanilla) and beat with an electric mixer until smooth.
  7. add eggs and egg yolks a little at a time until it is all incorporated and uniform. It might be necessary (or helpful) to stop several times to scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl. 
  8. take pan from 'fridge and place on cookie sheet (or baking pan)
  9. pour filling carefully into pan. 
  10. place on center rack of oven and cook for 10 to 15 minutes until center of cake looks puffy. Do not allow cake to get too brown yet.
  11. reduce temperature to 200F and continue to bake for an additional hour, or until cake is mostly firm. Center will be slightly sunken at that point and will jiggle slightly if pan is shaken. 
  12. remove cake from oven, but do not remove from pan! Allow cake to come to room temperature then place in refrigerator and cool for an additional 6 hours before serving.
  13. remove sides of pan and place cake on a plate. Serve plain or with any topping of your choice. 


Special Guest A. Catherine Noon

Today, I'd like to welcome special guest author A. Catherine Noon (half of the writing team Noon and Wilder with fellow author Rachel Wilder) to tell us a little about her upcoming release.

PGF: It's such a pleasure to have you here today. What can you tell us about "Taking a Chance"?

ACN: “Taking a Chance” is a contemporary M/M romance short story, written for the Torquere Press 2012 Charity Sip Blitz event to benefit the charity NOH8.  It’s a bit of a departure for us, in that we usually write paranormal or science fantasy.  Here’s a short blurb:

Doctor Jacob Davison has outgrown the hookups of his younger days and wants to settle down.  When he’s abandoned by the side of the road, a leather-clad stranger stops and offers him a ride. Chance Renton is different from anyone Jay’s ever met. He’s caring and helpful, yet cynical and world-weary. 

From the first moment of their shared motorcycle ride, an attraction begins to simmer between them. Between Jay’s ex-boyfriend showing up and the misconceptions they have about each other, does this relationship have a chance?

PGF: Okay, that already sounds awesome. Bikers and misconceptions--two of my favorite things. :) What inspired you to write this book?

ACN: The theme of the event is “Leather,” and we didn’t want to do the two obvious ones (BDSM or cowboys).  Instead, we conceived of a character on a motorcycle, with some very subtle hints toward BDSM play that don’t materialize in this story, but may in sequels.  We’re already planning a novel with these two characters as well as a possible offshoot novel.

PGF: Subtle is good and sequel is even better! Which character do you like best? What is it you like about him? Can you see yourself in either of your characters?

ACN: “Best” is a tough one, since, for me, each of my characters are different.  I don’t like any one over any other, because of the work involved in creating them.  I like Jay because he’s gentle but driven, focused on his medical work.  Chance, on the other hand, is jaded and a bit world-weary; for him, the blush has come off the rose.  In Jay, he sees someone with whom he can reconnect to the fire and passion of life.  Together, they reinvent each other.

PGF: Do you have a dream cast for your book?

ACN: Not for this one, no; however, for others, we do.  In fact, for our first book, Burning Bright, we cast figure skater and artist Johnny Weir as our main character (not that we’d ever admit that out loud, smile).  For other characters we actively look for models, actors, and other public figures that we can use as inspiration.  In the process of creating the character, though, they become individuals and aren’t related to their original genesis.

PGF: Is there a particular song you think of as being the theme song for your book or any of your characters?

ACN: Yes, definitely.  I use Pandora.com extensively for my characters (sadly, due to licensing constraints, the website is not available to those outside the U.S.).  My profile is here:  http://www.pandora.com/profile/a.catherine.noon and I build stations for projects and books as well as specific characters; it depends on my mood when I’m writing.

PGF: Oh, that's a great idea! What's the best advice anyone has ever given you? Or what's the one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?

ACN: Keep writing.  Get on the page.  Learn to rest on the page, play on the page, meditate on the page.  Do any of it, but do it on the page.  Best advice?  From Julia Cameron, “Keep the drama on the page.”

PGF: Hmm. Yes. Very good advice. I think I need to remember that more myself! Now, let's get personal. What's your favorite season?

ACN: Seasons in general are my favorite.  I spent a lot of time in Southern California and, if you can believe it, got tired of the sun.  The seasons bled endlessly into one another without any real demarcation.  I’ve been in Chicago for over a decade now and love the abrupt changes – they still catch me off guard.  By the time I get used to the heat of summer, I’m having to bundle up because it’s snowing outside.  This is, in my view, a good thing, because it reminds me I’m a physical being and not just a brain with legs.

PGF: What?! You're dissing Cali weather? Okay, let's move on. Favorite places to travel?

ACN: Anywhere.  I love to travel.  I’ve found something of interest everywhere, from tiny towns in the Midwest with nothing to their name but a dusty building with a sign proclaiming “Museum” to the fancy urban centers with their glitzy, polished tourist attractions.  I love travel because I think it brings you out of yourself, and in the process you meet yourself.

PGF: Oh, yeah. I hear that! Favorite time of day?

ACN: I’m totally a night person.  The world was designed by and for morning people.  I mean, who said “The early bird catches the worm?”  Honestly, it was an alert night person out when the sun rose who caught it before the morning person even thought to brew coffee.  Night.  It’s where it’s at.

PGF: You're so, so right about that!  Okay, one more. If you were stranded on a desert island what essentials would you absolutely want with you?

ACN: Yarn, dark chocolate, and coffee. Oh, and a radio.  You know, TO CALL FOR HELP??  ~grin~

PGF: But, who're you gonna call? lol! Okay, awesome answers. Thank you so much for stopping by today. I will definitely be checking out "Taking a Chance" next week.

Check out a short excerpt HERE
My links: Blog | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon | LinkedIn | Pandora 
Knoontime Knitting:  Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Ravelry
Noon and Wilder links: Blog | Website | Facebook
Team Blogs: Nightlight | The Writers Retreat Blog | Beyond the Veil | LGBT Fantasy Fans and Writers
Publishers: Samhain Publishing | Torquere Press

Check out BURNING BRIGHT, available from Samhain Publishing.
Check out EMERALD FIRE, available from Torquere Publishing.
Watch for "Taking a Chance" part of the Charity Sips 2012 to benefit NOH8, coming September 12th.


Inspiration Cake

Sometimes, life hands you lemons. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, you understand, because there's always lemon cake.

Now, my love for lemon cake is nothing new, but it's only recently that I realized how...well, how truly inspirational a good lemon cake can be. I have Twitter and my lovely friend, author Erin Nicholas, to thank for that bit of insight. 

See, the other night I was attempting a #1K1hr marathon (that's writing one thousand words in an hour, for those of you who aren't obsessed writer types). I was struggling a little with it because, as usual, there was no dearth of interruptions and distractions going on here at Casa Forte. During an hourly Twitter-check-in, Erin happened to mention the fact that not only was she was she getting more wordage in than I was, she was also baking lemon cake while she did it.

Well. I'm afraid my first thought was, "Gee, thanks a lot, Erin!"  or words to that effect because, really, how is it helpful to be handed a craving that you have no way of satisfying, especially at a time when you're having more than enough trouble with the task already at hand? It's a lot like those proverbial lemons, right? Well, exactly.

After another hour or so of fruitless (pun intended) struggle I realized that both my WIP and I would be better served by a little purposeful distraction. So I took a break to bake my own, damn lemon cake. I had everything I needed on hand but the buttermilk, so I used coconut milk instead and it still turned out pretty awesome. In fact, I think I might like it better that way.  And the writing? Well, the night was pretty much shot by then, but the next day, fortified with a nice slice of cake or two, I found the words flowed a lot more smoothly and I was able accomplish everything I'd been having trouble with the night before. Which, in this case, was hot, vampire sex.

So, here's my recipe for inspiration cake. I use Meyer lemons whenever possible for anything lemon-related, but feel free to use ordinary lemons instead...or limes...or maybe grapefruit. Because, just like with the buttermilk, or with writing itself, sometimes trying something different is exactly the inspiration you need.

Inspiration Cake


  • ½ c butter
  • 1 c sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ c flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ c buttermilk
  • Grated zest from 2 large Meyer lemon
  • Juice of 1 large Meyer lemon

  • 1 cup sugar
  • Juice of 1 large Meyer lemon


  1. Preheat  oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 1 standard loaf pan, or line with parchment paper. 
  2. Cream  butter,  sugar and lemon zest together until fluffy. Try not to ‘taste-test’ too much at this point. 
  3. Sift t flour, baking powder, and salt together in one bowl. In another bowl, combine lemon juice and buttermilk. Alternately add wet and dry ingredients into the creamed butter/sugar mixture until they’re all incorporated. Pour batter into pan and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.
  4. Meanwhile, combine the second cup of sugar and the juice from the second lemon  and set aside.
  5. When the cake is done,  remove from pan and invert invert on a rack or plate. Poke holes in the top of the cake and pour glaze over cake, allowing it to soak in. Allow cake to cool for at least ten minutes before devouring completely.
Works best if accompanied by black coffee, or pots of espresso, and served to your author at her desk. 

And now, because you all know how much I love sharing excerpts, here's a quick scene from Touch of a Vanished Hand.

[Sinead] sniffed the air again, and then looked around until she caught sight of what she’d been searching for.  An ancient lemon tree stood sentry beside the stone stairway; starred with blossoms, perfuming the air. 

 Yes. She could make lemon curd, as well, something she remembered fondly from her own childhood. As they ascended the stairs, Sinead pulled a lemon from an overhanging branch and put it to her nose. It was overripe, its skin cracked, the tender flesh inside already drying from the heat. Still, it smelled delicious; bright, pungent, intoxicating. There were so many things she could make with it, not just curd, but pies and cookies and lemonade. It had been a long time since she’d had a chance to do this kind of cooking, homey and intimate, using ingredients chosen spontaneously, because they were close to hand, or had sparked a craving. She’d missed that. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad spending a little time on land.

Read the rest of the excerpt HERE.