Sunday, June 29, 2014

Jaycee Dugard’s Tomato Dumpling Recipe

“I don't believe in hate. To me it wastes too much time. People who hate waste so much of their life hating that they miss out on all the other stuff out here.” 

I read “A Stolen Life” when I was a community education and outreach volunteer speaker for an anti-sex trafficking of minors non-profit.  Although I’d read many books about sex-trafficking at the time, Dugard’s story was especially moving. I think her writing is so powerful because she is so brave and open in the way she shares her story. I really admire her courage, and the way she has transformed her life is nothing short of phenomenal. Her spirit is undeniable.  

I remember being surprised when I saw a recipe towards the back of her book. It didn’t really seem to fit in with her story, but then, after I thought about it, it was so reflective of her wonderful character. Most of her story is heartbreaking, but the end is full of hope. I think its such a genuine and thoughtful thing for her to want to share something she loves with her readers—in this case, a recipe she made with her grandmother.

So I tried it out. And honestly, I’m not sure it translated that well to gluten-free (due to the nature of the dough). But I will say this, it tastes much better than it looks! It was different than anything I’ve ever made, that’s for sure, and it was a fun experience.

My hope is that whatever brought you here, be it pinterest, twitter, facebook, google, whatever, that you will take a moment to learn more about the huge problem of sex-trafficking and sexual slavery, both domestically and internationally.  Here are some links to some great resources:

Jaycee's foundation, check it out!

(the organization I volunteered for)

Monday, June 16, 2014

Summer Food Reads: Stacey Ballis "Good Enough to Eat"

“I hate those books where the heroine faces loss and desperation with a total lack of appetite.” 

As a self-professed lover of chick lit, Stacey Ballis has been on my radar for a while now, but “Good Enough to Eat” was my first experience with her writing. And I’ve got to tell you, she lives up to her master-of-chick-lit reputation.

When I look forward to a book and its better than I hoped:

I read GETE in one sitting--a plane ride full of spit-your-drink-out-laughs, lots and lots of tears, and plenty of salivating over delicious descriptions of yummy eats…come to think of it, that’s a lots of bodily fluids expelled in a very confined space.  I’m sure the person sitting next to me was very happy when that plane finally landed.

But anyway, let’s talk about what made GETE so great. First, the concept behind the book is original and slightly mind-blowing. Living in a culture that has a “get skinny and all your happily ever after will land right in your lap” attitude, it was so shocking and refreshing to read about a protagonist who worked her ass off (literally) to get into shape, and then her life promptly falls apart because of it. And I definitely cared about Melanie’s life falling apart, because she was such a full and loveable character for me.

Melanie really drove this novel. I felt completely invested in her and her struggles with heartache, food, and creating the life that was right for her. And creating the life she wants isn’t easy. My biggest pet peeve is when a protagonist in a chick-lit books flaw is “clumsiness.”


Real girls have real flaws.

Ballis doesn’t try to feed us (no pun intended) that clumsiness shit. Melanie is flawed. She gets grouchy, she has a bad attitude sometimes, and she is honest. One of my favorite ‘Melanie moments’ is this, “I pull into my parking lot of my gym, and am immediately irritated that the only parking spaces are at the opposite end from the entrance. Because lord knows that just because I’m about to work out for forty minutes doesn’t mean I want to walk an extra fifty steps if I don’t have to.”

I’m pretty sure Melanie is my spirit animal.

Melanie works hard on her life, and things don’t come together in a typical-chick-lit way for her. I don’t want to give too much away, but I admire a character who pushes for her own happiness, and doesn’t rely on a knight-in-shining-armor or a streak of good luck to solve all of her problems. Because ladies, life isn’t like that.

The message I took away from GETE was that you are the chef of your own life. You don’t always get to choose the ingredients you’re given, but you choose what you do with them and what kind of culinary masterpiece you create out of your life.

Okay, I’m getting sentimental here.

And hungry.

Speaking of hungry, Ballis adds recipes from the book as an afterward, because she clearly loves her readers and wants us to be happy (and well-fed).

I had the "Macaroni and Cheese for Every Day" for lunch and it was incredible. I'm going to make the Turkey Meat Loaf tomorrow! 

Macaroni and Cheese for Every Day
(should probably have been called "Amaze-Balls Mac and Cheese")
(made with gluten-free pasta of course!)
If you want the recipes, here is where you can buy Ballis’s book. Trust me, its “Good Enough to Eat.” (Although don’t actually eat it. Especially if you buy it on kindle.)

I read Stacey Ballis's "Good Enough to Eat" as part of my summer "food books" reading list. Feel free to read along with me!

***Note: Not all of Ballis's recipes are not gluten-free, but easily adaptable. 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Cover Reveal: How to Date Dead Guys: My Most Anticipated Book of the Year!

"Dead people don't scare me. 
At least, not as much as live ones do."

Alright, I admit this isn't a gluten-free blog post, but I couldn't help but share my excitement for this incredible new book, out July 15th, 2014.

Ann Noser is an extremely talented author (and dear friend) whose debut novel is the first in her new-adult, urban-fantasy series "Under the Blood Moon," published by Curiosity Quills Press. 

Find out more about this can't-put-down series in my interview with Ann, which I'll post August 5th as part of her blog tour. And yes, we'll definitely talk about food!

In the meantime, check out the How to Date Dead Guys Goodreads page for more about the book, and follow Ann on Twitter for up-to-date information!

How to Date Dead Guys--The Spooky Synopsis:

College sophomore Emma Roberts remembers her mother’s sage advice:  “don’t sleep around, don’t burp in public, and don’t tell anyone you see ghosts”.  But when charming Mike Carlson drowns in the campus river under her watch, Emma’s sheltered life shatters.
Blamed for Mike’s death and haunted by nightmares, Emma turns to witchcraft and a mysterious Book of Shadows to bring him back.  Under a Blood Moon, she lights candles, draws a pentacle on the campus bridge, and casts a spell.  The invoked river rages up against her, but she escapes its fury.  As she stumbles back to the dorm, a stranger drags himself from the water and follows her home. And he sn't the only one.  
Instead of raising Mike, Emma assists the others she stole back from the dead—a pre-med student who jumped off the bridge, a desperate victim determined to solve his own murder, and a frat boy Emma can’t stand…at first.  More comfortable with the dead than the living, Emma delves deeper into the seductive Book of Shadows.  Her powers grow, but witchcraft may not be enough to protect her against the vengeful river and the killers that feed it their victims.
Inspired by the controversial Smiley Face Murders, HOW TO DATE DEAD GUYS will ignite the secret powers hidden deep within each of us.

All About the Amazing Ann M Noser:

My to-do list dictates that I try to cram 48 hours of living into a day instead of the usual 24.  I’ve chosen a life filled with animals.  I train for marathons with my dog, then go to work as a small animal veterinarian, and finish the day by tripping over my pets as I attempt to convince my two unruly children that YES, it really IS time for bed.  But I can’t wait until the house is quiet to write; I have to steal moments throughout the day.  Ten minutes here, a half hour there, I live within my imagination.

Like all busy American mothers, I multi-task.  I work out plot holes during runs.  Instead of meditating, I type madly during yoga stretches.  I find inspiration in everyday things:  a beautiful smile, a heartbreaking song, or a newspaper article on a political theory.  For example, a long drive in the dark listening to an NPR program on the SMILEY FACE MURDERS theory made me ask so many questions that I wrote HOW TO DATE DEAD GUYS to answer them to my satisfaction.

I’d love to have more time to write (and run, read, and sleep), but until I find Hermione Granger’s time turner, I will juggle real life with the half-written stories in my head.  Main characters and plot lines intertwine in my cranium, and I need to let my writing weave the tales on paper so I can find out what happens next.

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