Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tasty Tuesday-Hobo Waffles

Toni Nelson lived close to a railroad where many transient, homeless people would stop to finish off her grandmother's breakfast leftovers. In her memoir, A Beggar's Purse she says, "I had grown so accustomed to the weary travelers arriving at our back door for food that I hardly ever noticed that they were even there." (p. 29) These homemade waffles are simple to make and cost very little. Make a double batch and feed a crowd.

Hobo Waffles
1 stick butter (4 oz.)
2 cups flour
1/8 C. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 T. baking powder
3 eggs, separated
2 cups milk or 1 c. buttermilk / 1 c. milk
1 tsp vanilla

In a bowl place one stick butter and melt in microwave until nearly melted. Cool, add baking powder, salt, milk, egg yolks; stir.

Add flour and beat briefly with a hand mixer or whisk. Stir in vanilla.

Beat the egg whites, gradually adding the sugar until soft, foamy stiff peaks form. Fold into batter and bake in waffle iron about 4 minutes or until steaming stops and waffles are golden brown.


Monday, December 27, 2010

A Beggar’s Purse by Toni Nelson

I drove past a homeless man on the corner today. He held a sign that read, “Desperate, please help.” Instead of ignoring the man like I might have before I read A Beggar’s Purse by Toni Nelson, I looked at his face. I don’t know his name, but somebody does. Somebody is his mother, his son, his friend.

I like to think that I am a compassionate person, someone who is willing to help others, especially those in dire need. But I hesitate to hand money to a “street person” because of those who take advantage of the good-will of others to feed the addictions that have led them to where they are.

After reading A Beggar’s Purse, I have begun overcoming the stigma that I associate with the homeless.  This is a quick read, I finished it in about an hour.

Food to eat while reading: Hobo Waffles
When I started reading Nelson’s memoir, I prepared myself to bristle at being preached to. I relaxed when I found that Nelson has struggled with the same uncomfortable questions that I have when I see the homeless asking for money on a street corner-like why don’t they get a real job?

The book reads like a novel with insights from the author’s experiences growing up in a house by a railroad where traveling hobos were common guests for dinner. The anecdotes drew me into her story and made it easy for me to understand how she came to her conclusions.

I love that the author isn’t a full-time crusader who gives all of her time and energy to the needy. That may sound harsh and I admire those who may devote their lives to a cause. But the majority of us are plodding away in our own spheres. Nelson shows how we can include the less-fortunate in our daily lives, by simply being willing to smile and learn a person’s name or offer to give them a meal.

I wish I could say that I stopped and helped the man on the corner this morning. I didn’t have any way of giving him some food. I did resolve to purchase a McDonald’s gift card(a form of money that can only be spent on food) to have on hand. I will keep it in my purse and the next time I pass by the desperate who are in need, I will have something to give.

“Am I being used by the so-called street people, or am I being used by God? I believe the Bible refers to the term as being a servant.” A Beggar’s Purse by Toni Nelson (p.87)

Purchase: A Beggars Purse
Genre: memoir
Publisher: July 6th 2010 by Tate Publishing
Where I got the book: Goodreads Giveaway from Toni Nelson*

*I received only a copy of the book as compensation for my review.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Micro Book Review- The Replacements, Writing the Great American Romance Novel, etc

A sampling of what I've been reading lately:

This book just didn't cut it for me.

I enjoyed the author's writing and the fun Tim Burton-style atmosphere.
After reading the cover blurb, I thought that the idea of a story from a changeling's point of view sounded fascinating, but it didn't work when I read it.
I just couldn't get into the teen boy's pov. The romance didn't work, maybe because I would rather read about love from a girl's pov.
The ending felt rushed and didn't satisfy and the language was a bit too rough for my taste.

I don't want to write erotica, so I was leary of this book, but I have found it invaluable.  Anyone who has any bit of romance in their WIP could stand to learn a lesson from Catherine Lanigan, the author who novelized Romancing the Stone and Jewel of the Nile. 

I don't know why, but I never knew that Yeats was an Irish poet.  Duh!  Although I do enjoy poetry, I don't usually read entire books of poetry.  For my WIP, I am writing a poem that will emerge a bit at a time at the beginning of each chapter.  I want the poem to have the feel that it was written by a poet anciently, and in Ireland.  Yeats creates pictures with words that take me away.  I am about halfway through with this one and recommend it to anyone interested in Irish mythology and history. 

What I am reading now:

The Lost Saint ARC by Bree Despain (I'm so excited about this one)

Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard

Lord of the Dance by Michael Flatley

Irish Dancing Costumes by Dr. John Cullinane

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tasty Tuesday-Irish Tea Cake

I found it charming that Irish dancers followed the Scottish tradition of dining on tea and cakes during intermission at their Ceili's, thanks to John Cullinane's book, Aspects of the History of Irish Dancing.  I think it could be a tasty switch from the hot dogs and chips sold by vendors at current Ceili's and Feisanna-don't you?  This tea cake is simple, made from on-hand ingredients.  It tastes buttery and, like a shortbread, yummy.

Irish Tea Cake

1/2 cup butter softened

1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1 3/4 cups of all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt 

1/2 cup of milk
1/4 confectioners sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 inch round pan.  In a medium bowl cream together butter, sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs next one at a time.  Stir in vanilla.  Next combine flour, baking powder, and salt, stir into batter, alternating with the milk.  Spread the batter evenly into the pan.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes
Dust lightly with powdered sugar.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Aspects of the History of Irish Dancing by John Cullinane

After wishing to get my hands on these valuable books on Irish dancing, I was thrilled to receive a copy of John Cullinane's books on the History of Irish Dancing.  So little has been written about Irish dance history.  If you do an internet search, most of what you come across contradicts itself. What a treasure this collection is!

Food to eat while reading: Irish Tea Cake
Dr. John Cullinane’s book Aspects of the History of Irish Dancing is the first in a library of eight books that provide invaluable information about Irish dance history. Because the Gaelic people passed down their history orally, very little is recorded concerning the roots of Irish dance. Through research, interviews and valuable experience, Dr. Cullinane delivers a rich background of Irish dancing as we know it today.

The book is written as a reference guide and covers important aspects of history. Dr. Cullinane describes the first Irish dance Ceili held in 1897, records the many remembrances of the infamous dance master, and explains the evolution of feisanna, dance costumes, hand position, as well as ceili and traditional set dances. He then touches briefly on the expansion of Irish dance to England, Australia, New Zealand, North West England and the United States.

Did you know that much of the ceili dances were preserved during the troubled times of 1916-1921 because they were taught in prisons? In Aspects of the History of Irish Dancing, read about the first ever Ceili held in 1897 where participants dined on tea and cakes during intermission. Find out how the infamous dancing master sometimes taught in a kitchen or farm outhouse. Learn about a man who was such a gifted dancer that it was said that “He could write with his feet”(p40).

Dr. Cullinane's book is mostly informative in nature, making it a bit of a dry read for those who are not interested in the history of Irish dance. I have to admit that I am a geek. :) I love Irish dancing and plan on writing several novels based on Irish dance and its history. I soaked up the information in the pages, finding treasures in every chapter.

Here are a few more things I learned about the history of Irish dance from reading the book:

• Job of Journeywork refers to the transient nature of dance masters—they taught dancing wherever their work took them.

• The figure dances we have today were likely created by the dance masters and were printed serially in the Sunday Independent newspaper.

• Sweets of May and Three Tunes are the only ceili dances that have arm actions.

• The dancing master in early nineteenth century prided himself in his dress, wearing a Caroline hat, swallow-tail coat and carried a silver cane. He sometimes taught in a kitchen or farm outhouse.

• In the early 1900’s irish dancers were mostly men and boys, with very few women ever competing, except in figure dancing.

If you find yourself wondering how Irish dance came to be, Dr. Cullinane’s books are a valuable tool that you can use to make sure that traditional Irish dance continues to thrive.

Purchase: www.feiswear.com or www.ossianusa.com

Genre: history

Publisher: Paperback, 185 pages, Self-published in 1987

Where I got the book: Dr. John Cullinane*

*I received only a copy of the book as compensation for my review.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Tasty Tuesday-Tadpole Soup

Tadpoles in your soup anyone?  In Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton, the nasty goblins like to eat tadpole soup.  I had to laugh because that made me think of frog-eye salad, a staple at many gatherings and reunions.  So mix up a batch today and see what your kids think of the secret ingredient.

Tadpole Soup

4 1/2 cups water, divided
½ cup sugar
1/3 cup tapioca
1 (12 oz) can frozen orange juice
2 sliced bananas
1 package fresh strawberries
4 oranges, sectioned

Bring 2 cups of water, sugar and tapioca to boil. Cook until tapioca is clear. Pour into a large bowl. Add orange juice and remaining water. Mix and let cool. Add fruit. Serve in a cup for an appetizer.