Where can I buy your books?

Where can you buy my books? Thank you for asking! Ebooks and print books are available online through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Ebooks also available through Biblioboard at the East Baton Rouge Parish Library.

Sunday, May 21, 2023

A teaser from the prologue to "Fried Chicken Castañeda"

 After dinner, Prudence and Wally insisted that Mrs. Bates leave them to clear up. As she washed the dishes and Wally dried, they continued their discussion from dinner.

Wally began, “Look, Pru ... I know I’ve asked this before and ...”

She turned to him as she handed him a clean plate, “Wally, you know what my answer will be.”

“I know, but like I told you – you’re the only girl for me. You’ve been the only girl since we were six years old.”

“And I’m very fond of you, Wally. I always have been. I’m just not ready to settle down to a white picket fence, a couple of kids, and pot roast every Sunday.” She sighed and looked pensive. “Dad told me just before he died that the only regrets he had were for the things he didn’t do. He and Mother married so young, and then he worked so hard to provide for us. If it hadn’t been for us, he probably would have joined up in 1917, just to see Europe. He planned for them to travel when he retired and was saving toward that. He’d bought the house and started Mother’s annuity when they got married, and he got steady promotions and things were going well for us financially, but he got sick and the travel money went into a trust fund for my education. I don’t want to have the same regrets, Wally. I’ve still got some money left in the trust fund. The house is paid for and Mother’s annuity is plenty for her to live on and I will always be able to support myself as a librarian, so I’m going to use it in a way that I know he would have wanted me to.”

She stopped and stared out of the kitchen window, then continued in a different tone of voice, “Come with me, Wally!” She turned toward him, her eyes sparkling, “Come with me! Just for a few months! We could have an adventure together.”

“Now, Pru ... that’s not very practical. I’d have to give up my position at the motor company and I’m due a promotion before the end of this year. Besides, what would people say?”

“Oh, who cares what people would say?” She rolled her eyes. “Besides, we’d be in the company of other Detourists and Couriers. It’s not as if we would be going off into the wilds together, just the two of us. As for your job, you’re young, and you’re good at what you do. A few months wouldn’t be the end of your career ... and think how much fun we could have!” She smiled enticingly at him, inviting him to change her opinion of him.

He shook his head and changed the subject, trying to console her by offering her a bribe, as if she were a child who had been denied a treat. “Friday night, how about we go to that new speakeasy in Short Vincent that I’ve heard good things about?”

She smiled regretfully and looked back down at the sink. “All right. It’s been ages since we’ve been dancing.” How many chances was she going to give him to show that he was – that he could be – the kind of man she wanted to spend the rest of her life with? Or even that he understood her and what she wanted?

They talked about the speakeasy as they finished the dishes, then Prudence walked him to the door. Wally slipped on his coat and took his hat in his hand. “Look, Pru,” he said, in a low voice, “I know you want to do this and I know you’ve made up your mind, but, if you won’t think about us, think about your mother. You’re all she has. Leaving her all alone to go gallivanting after Indians ...”

Prudence glared at him. “I won’t be “gallivanting after Indians,” as you put it,” she hissed. “I don’t even know any Indians. I’ll be expanding my horizons. And when have I not thought of Mother? I wanted to go to one of the Seven Sisters, but instead, I went to Western Reserve, because it was close to home. I earned a master’s in library science because Western Reserve offered one and I could get a job here in Cleveland and I got one. I’m twenty-five years old, Wally, and I’ve never been farther from Cleveland than Chicago, and then only for a couple of nights. I wanted to be an anthropologist and study primitive tribes, like Margaret Mead, not just read about them. It’s too late for me to do that, but I could do this.”

She paused for breath. She refrained from adding that she had maintained a close friendship with Wally in part because her mother doted on him and he cared about her mother almost as much as she did.

“Ah,” Wally nodded. “So that’s what’s got you all het up. That woman’s book that came out last year.”

She gritted her teeth. “It certainly brought it all home to me how little I’ve done that I really wanted to do. And now I have this opportunity – possibly my last opportunity – and all you can say is “think about your mother.” When do I get to think about myself?”

He looked down at the hat he held in his hand. “I never realized you resented your mother so much, Pru.”

“I don’t “resent” my mother!” Prudence hissed through clenched teeth. “I love my mother and I’m grateful for everything she’s done for me. I just don’t see why that has to mean that I can’t have a life of my own!”

“Now, Pru,” Wally put out a hand to her arm. “We only want what’s best for you, you know that.”

“And this IS what’s best for me!”

“Are you sure?”

“The only way to know that is to do it, Wally. At least I have to try. And it’s not as if this is a permanent change. It’s only for a year or two.”

“Even if it means leaving your mother all alone for that year or two?”

“Mother is not “all alone.” She has her ladies’ club and her church group and the neighbors.” She paused in exasperation. “And she has you. You know you’re like a son to her.”

He looked at the ceiling. “Like a son to her, Prudence, not a son.” He shook his head in exasperation. “I could be a son to her, if you’d just say the word. Agree to marry me and you can go off on your adventure, leaving your fiancé to look after your mother. That’s the proper way to do it. And I won’t even ask you to set the date until after you get back.”

She moved closer and put her arms around his neck. “I might consider it,” she said and pulled him closer, pressing up against him, lifting her face toward his.

He brushed a chaste kiss on her lips, then pulled his head back and pushed her gently away. “Now, Pru,” he chided, “We both know you’re not that kind of girl. So, what’s it to be?”

“No, Wally, it’s no. Not even for Mother.” And never for someone who couldn’t see her as a woman, not a girl and a rather staid and colorless girl, at that.

He shrugged. “You’ll change you mind one of these days, Pru. Well, I guess you know that I’ll look after her, regardless, and I’ll still be here waiting when you get back.” He settled his hat on his head and opened the door. “Night, pumpkin. Don’t take any wooden nickels.” He grinned as he left.

She stared through the glass at his back as he walked down the sidewalk. “Not that kind of girl? You don’t know me at all ...” she muttered to herself. “That was your last chance, Wally Carver. Now I’m going to go out and find someone who is ‘that kind of boy.’ Or better, that kind of man.” And if she didn’t, well, Wally would still be there waiting for her when she got back. She hoped she’d be able to do better, but if not, she knew that she could do a lot worse.

Friday, May 19, 2023

French Toast à la Santa Fe

Another breakfast offering from Fred Harvey -- and the title of my upcoming second novel in the Couriers series. As with the others, this is not a "healthy" dish. Avoid the temptation to use skim milk and whole grain bread, but you can serve it with just applesauce if you want to make a nod in the direction of healthful eating. 

Although the ingredients in this recipe will be familiar, the technique elevates it above our usual weekend-morning French toast. Again, I have made several modifications. There is no way that I am going to deep-fry anything these days, let alone French toast. And it isn't necessary. Also, I used milk rather than cream -- whole milk, so it wasn't entirely lacking in richness, but we're rather "creamed out" at the moment after this past week.

Be sure to use thick-cut bread, 3/4 of an inch thick. Yes, I stood in Trader Joe's with my little measuring tape measuring the width of bread slices 😂 None was thick enough, but, serendipitously, Costco was giving out samples of their la Brioche sliced bread. Not only are the slices 3/4 of an inch thick, it is an eggy sweet bread ideal for French toast. I suspect that King's Hawaiian would work equally well. Or, of course, you could bake and slice your own. 

Modern store bought loaves tend to be smaller than the bakery loaves of an earlier generation, so I used twice as many slices and merely cut them in half on the diagonal. Even at that, I found that I had enough egg batter to do two more slices. If you're making your own or have access to a bakery, start with just two slices and do more as you have batter.

In order for the bread to puff up in the oven, it must be saturated with the batter (and probably needs the cream). Our modern supermarket bread falls apart when soaked to that degree. You'll need bakery or homemade bread for that. I do pop in it the over, nonetheless, so that it can be served piping hot. 

Original recipe: 

Place one-half cup cooking oil in skillet, heat to hot. Meanwhile, cut two slices white bread three-quarters of an inch thick diagonally to form four triangles, and set aside. In a small bowl, combine two eggs, one-half cup light cream, and salt. Beat well. Soak bread thoroughly in egg/cream mixture. Fry soaked bread in one-half cup hot cooking oil to a golden brown on both sides, about two minutes per side. Lift from skillet to clean paper towel and allow to absorb excess cooking oil. Transfer to baking sheet and place in oven. Bake four to six minutes, until bread slices have puffed up. Serve sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon and apple sauce, currant jelly, maple syrup, honey or preserves. (https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/56650/appetite-for-america-by-stephen-fried/?fbclid=IwAR1QKi0poC7QYWnNM2o9nOoiBtl8R_j_jgu503qsWs9WSI84KdMrxf8xUhk)

For modern cooks: 

Makes 4-6 slices 

4-6 slices of thick cut (3/4") white bread, cut in half on the diagonal 

2 large eggs

1/2 cup milk or cream

1 teaspoon granulated sugar (optional)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

Pinch of salt

Oil for frying

Powdered sugar and cinnamon for serving

Applesauce, jelly, maple syrup, honey or preserves, served at the table

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. 

Heat about a tablespoon of oil (enough to coat the bottom of the pan) in a large skillet. 

In a shallow bowl, beat together eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt until frothy. Soak each triangle of bread thoroughly in mixture. Let excess drain into bowl, then fry in skillet until brown golden brown on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Cook as many at a time as will fit without crowding. Add oil to pan as necessary to keep toast from sticking.

Lift from skillet and place on prepared baking sheet. When all pieces are cooked, place sheet in oven. Bake 4-6 minutes or until bread slices have puffed up. 

Place on a platter or individual plates. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and cinnamon. Serve with diners' choice of applesauce, jelly, maple syrup, honey or preserves. 

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Chicken Maciel

In the vernacular of today's food culture, this is an elevated recipe for good old chicken and rice casserole and looks suspiciously like the inspiration for Chicken ala King. As I mentioned in my previous post, I made it primarily to put the remaining quart+ of cream sauce from the Fried Chicken Castañeda to good use. I bought pulled cooked chicken breast from Costco, so putting it together was relatively quick and involved very little labor. 

The updated recipe takes into account our modern food preferences. I could feel my arteries hardening just reading about using 1/2 cup of butter, especially when considering the butter in the cream sauce! I cut it to 1/4 cup, and think it could be cut even further, to 2 tablespoons. 

The cream sauce can be as made with as little as 1 cup of cream or as much as a quart. Obviously, the more cream, the richer, but also the more calories, fat, and cholesterol. A combination of chicken stock and whole milk is a good compromise. I heat the liquids in glass measuring cups in the microwave. You can heat them in saucepans on the stove. If you don't heat them, it will just take longer for the sauce to come to a boil.

I also assume that, like me, you have glass or Corelle casserole dishes. If you happen to have one that can go under the boiler (ceramic, porcelain, cast iron) -- go for it. Or use a kitchen torch (the one you use for crème brûlée) to brown the cheese. 

One other note -- you could add cooked broccoli or cauliflower or green beans if you wanted a one-dish dinner. I'd avoid peas, mushrooms, and red bell pepper unless you want it to look like Chicken ala King. 

Original recipe : 

Preheat oven to broil (or four hundred degrees, if casserole is glass). Dice one pound cooked chicken breast meat into one-inch squares. In large skillet over medium heat, melt one-quarter pound butter and stir in two teaspoons curry powder and one-quarter cup sherry wine. Add chicken to this mixture and sauté five minutes. Meanwhile, cook two cups boiled rice. Using a two-quart saucepan, heat one quart cream sauce. Carefully blend chicken and cooked rice into hot cream sauce. Stir carefully until well mixed. Place in casserole, top with three-quarters cup grated Swiss cheese, and place under broiler until browned, about four minutes, or bake in glass dish at four-hundred degrees until browned and bubbly, about ten minutes. (This was the signature dish of the Kansas City Union Station dining room, named for its longtime manager Joe Maciel.) (https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/56650/appetite-for-america-by-stephen-fried/?fbclid=IwAR1QKi0poC7QYWnNM2o9nOoiBtl8R_j_jgu503qsWs9WSI84KdMrxf8xUhk)

For modern cooks :

Serves 3-6

1 lb cooked chicken breast, cut into 1-inch squares

2-4 tablespoons butter, butter substitute, or oil (according to your preference)

2 teaspoons curry power

1/4 cup dry sherry

2 cups cooked rice (2/3 cup rice plus 1 1/3 cups water)

1 quart medium cream sauce (recipe follows), reheated if necessary

3/4 cup grated Swiss cheese (or more if using individual casserole dishes)

Heat large skillet over medium heat. Add butter and melt. Add curry powder and sherry, mixing well. Add chicken pieces and stir to coat. Sauté five minutes. Add rice and mix well. Add hot cream sauce.

Spoon into a 2 1/2-3 quart casserole dish or into three 2-cup or six 1-cup individual dishes (or any combination that equals six cups). Top large casserole with 3/4 cup cheese; top individual casseroles with 2 tablespoons - 1/4 cup cheese. 

Bake 400 degrees until cheese is browned and filling is bubbly, 20-30 minutes. 

Medium cream sauce

1/2 cup butter, butter substitute, or oil

1/2 cup flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon white pepper (you can use black, but you'll have little black specks throughout)

3 cups chicken stock, whole milk, or cream, warmed 

1 cup whole milk or cream, warmed

Melt butter in a 1 1/2-2 quart sauce pan over medium heat. Add flour and stir until thoroughly incorporated. Add salt and pepper. Cook an additional two minutes so flour loses its raw taste. Slowly add stock, whisking constantly, then add cream. Cook, stirring occasionally, 5-8 minutes, until thickened. 

Monday, May 15, 2023

Fried Chicken Castañeda -- the recipe

Yesterday turned into a "Meals by Fred Harvey" day! Flannel pancakes for breakfast and Fried Chicken Castañeda for dinner, followed by Hot Strawberry Sundaes for dessert. Neither one disappointed, but I will warn you that the chicken is labor intensive. You'll need to plan on about 2 hours from start to finish. 

Original recipe : 

Fry an onion, chopped very fine, in butter, add flour, mix and pour in one quart chicken broth and one-half pint cream. Stir and let come to a boil. Let it cook about ten minutes. Add two egg yolks and parsley, and remove from the fire. This sauce must be quite thick. Dip thin slices of one three-pound hen in the sauce so that it adheres to both sides. Lay them in a pan sprinkled with bread crumbs and also sprinkle the chicken with bread crumbs. When cold, dip them in beaten egg and crumbs and fry in deep hot grease. Serve with tomato sauce and French peas as garnish. If handled properly, one three-pound hen will make ten to twelve fair-sized orders. (https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/56650/appetite-for-america-by-stephen-fried/?fbclid=IwAR1QKi0poC7QYWnNM2o9nOoiBtl8R_j_jgu503qsWs9WSI84KdMrxf8xUhk)

For home cooks :

Serves 4-8

Cream sauce 

1 large onion, minced

3/4 cup unsalted butter (or olive oil)

 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 quart chicken broth

1 cup heavy cream (do not substitute lower fat dairy)

2 eggs, separated, yolks lightly beaten

2 tablespoons chopped parsley


2 pounds chicken breast or tenderloins, pounded to an even thickness

1 cup plain breadcrumbs or panko 

2 whole eggs plus the 2 separated whites, beaten in a shallow dish for coating

Neutral oil, such as canola, sunflower, or vegetable, for frying

Marinara sauce or other tomato sauce

Buttered green peas

Melt butter in a 2-quart saucepan. Add onion and saute until soft. Add flour and stir for 1-2 minutes until well incorporated into the butter. Gradually add the chicken broth, whisking until smooth. Add heavy cream. Mix well. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes or until thick. Remove from heat. Temper beaten egg yolks by mixing a few tablespoons of the hot mixture into them, then add all to the pan and mix well. Add parsley. 

Spread a layer of breadcrumbs over the bottom of a rimmed baking sheet. Dip each chicken piece into the white sauce and lay in over breadcrumbs in the pan. Turn to coat. Press lightly to adhere. Repeat with each piece. Add breadcrumbs as needed. Let set until cool (this took no time at all).

Heat several inches of oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat until hot. Spread additional breadcrumbs in a shallow dish. Dip each piece of chicken in the beaten eggs, turning to coat, then dredge both sides in breadcrumbs and fry until golden brown on both sides. 

Serve with marinara sauce and green peas. 

A couple of notes -- while waiting for the first two pieces to cook, I went ahead and prepped the remaining pieces, setting them back on the baking sheet. As you might guess, there is a LOT of cream sauce left over -- as in, most of it. I absolutely cannot throw it away -- yes, I know that I dipped raw chicken in it, but it was boiling hot. I will be using it to make Chicken Maciel, a chicken and rice casserole, in a couple of days. In the meantime, it's in a covered bowl in the fridge. 

Now, for the Hot Strawberry Sundae. It's a simple enough recipe that doesn't need much updating. The syrup should be made immediately before you plan to serve the sundaes. It calls for vanilla ice cream, but you might use a good-quality strawberry. 

Marinate one pint of strawberries, cut in half, in four tablespoons Jamaican rum for one hour. Bring three-quarters of a cup of strained honey, four tablespoons of lemon juice and the rind of one orange, cut into strips to boil; remove orange rind and combine flavored honey with strawberries. Serve over vanilla ice cream immediately. (Inspired by a sundae that a Harvey restaurant manager had at the Chicago world’s fair—which combined hot maple syrup and strawberries—this became the favorite dessert at Kansas City Union Station.) (https://erenow.net/biographies/appetite-for-america/48.php)

1 pint (2 cups) strawberries, halved

1/4 cup Jamaican (dark/golden) rum (you can use white rum; it won't be as flavorful)

3/4 cup honey

4 tablespoons lemon juice (juice of two medium lemons)

Rind of one orange, cut into strips

Vanilla ice cream

Combine strawberries and rum and let marinate one hour, covered.

Combine remaining ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to boil. Remove from heat. Remove orange rind and combine honey with strawberries and rum. Serve over vanilla ice cream immediately.

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Flannel Pancakes

 This morning brings another Fred Harvey pancake recipe. Flannel cakes were a breakfast staple probably until the invention of commercial pancake mix (that's my guess -- I have absolutely no evidence for it 😄). They are made with a very thin yeasted batter and cooked have the consistency of a piece of heavy flannel. They do not, however, taste like a piece of flannel (or maybe they do -- I've never eaten flannel 😄)

You will need to begin the recipe at least 2, and up to 3, hours before you want to make the pancakes. I recommend cooking them on a griddle rather than in a skillet, as they are easier to turn and you can cook two at a time. 

Here's the original recipe, clearly written for someone who already knows what to do but just needs to be reminded of quantities : 

Combine one pound flour, one quart water and one small yeast cake. Set to raise and work in three beaten eggs, one ounce melted butter, a pinch of salt and two ounces of maple syrup. Let raise again and cook very thin, flannel-like pancakes on hot griddle iron. (https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/56650/appetite-for-america-by-stephen-fried/?fbclid=IwAR1QKi0poC7QYWnNM2o9nOoiBtl8R_j_jgu503qsWs9WSI84KdMrxf8xUhk)

And here it is for modern cooks. These quantities make about 24 thin cakes or enough for 4-6 servings

3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

4 cups water

2 1/4 tsp yeast (1 packet)

3 eggs

2 tablespoons melted and cooled butter

Pinch of salt

1/4 cup maple syrup (molasses makes a great substitute)

Combine flour, water and yeast together in a large bowl. Cover and let rise for 1-1 1/2 hours until bubbly and yeasty smelling.

Beat together eggs, butter, salt, and maple syrup. Add to flour mixture, beating until smooth. Cover and let rise another 1 - 1 1/2 hours until bubbly. Stir well. 

Pour by 1/4 cups onto a greased griddle or 10-inch skillet. The batter will spread but will not rise. Cook until the top is covered with small, broken bubbles and is dry. Flip over and cook until steaming stops and the bottom is golden. Keep warm while you cook the remainder. Oil/grease griddle as needed to keep from sticking. Serve with syrup, jelly, honey, powdered sugar, etc. 

If you don't want or need 24 pancakes (and don't want to freeze them and reheat in the microwave), the amount of ingredients to make 8 or enough for 2 adults is : 

1 cup + 1 3/4 tablespoons flour

1 1/3 cups water

3/4 teaspoon yeast

1 egg

2 teaspoons melted and cooled butter

Few grains of salt

4 teaspoons maple syrup

Follow directions given above. 

I served them with a simple blueberry syrup made by simmering about a cup of blueberries with a few tablespoons of maple syrup and the juice of half a lemon until the blueberries popped and the sauce had thickened. 

Sunday, May 7, 2023

French Pancakes Filled with Apricot Marmalade or Cottage Cheese

Or what I like to call "Crepes filled with Apricot Marmalade" or "French Blintzes."  

Mix well two eggs, one-half cup cream, one tablespoon flour, one teaspoon of sugar, vanilla extract to taste and a pinch of salt, place small amount of dough in a hot buttered skillet and brown on both sides. Fill with marmalade or cottage cheese, roll and sprinkle lightly with sugar. 
Cottage cheese filling: Four ounces of dry cottage cheese pressed through a sieve and mixed with the yolk of one egg, one tablespoon sugar, a pinch of salt, a little grated lemon and vanilla. Work to a smooth paste and spread over pancakes. (https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/56650/appetite-for-america-by-stephen-fried/?fbclid=IwAR1QKi0poC7QYWnNM2o9nOoiBtl8R_j_jgu503qsWs9WSI84KdMrxf8xUhk)

This recipe, as you can see, doesn't need much updating for today's kitchens, although some might prefer to reduce the fat content and calories.

French pancakes 

Makes about 10 pancakes; enough for 2 adults for breakfast along with sausage, bacon or other breakfast meats or scrambled eggs

2 eggs

1/2 c. cream, 1/2 and 1/2, or milk

1 tablespoon flour

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

Apricot marmalade or your favorite jam, jelly, or preserves (including sugar-free) or Cottage cheese filling (recipe follows)

Powdered sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon sugar

Preheat oven to very low (170-200 degrees). Set a baking sheet on a rack in the center of the oven.

Whisk all together in a medium sized bowl or whirl all in a blender until smooth. Make the cottage cheese filling, if using. 

Heat an 8-inch skillet (non-stick if you have it). Melt a small amount of butter in skillet (1/4 teaspoon or so). Pour in 2 tablespoons of batter and swirl around to coat the bottom of the skillet. Cook until the steaming stops (about 2 minutes or so), batter is set, and bottom is lightly browned. 

Flip pancake very carefully -- they are thin and tear easily -- and brown the other side. Loosen and flip out onto a plate. Spread a rounded teaspoon of filling of choice over pancake and roll up. Place on baking sheet in oven to keep warm while repeating steps until all batter is used. 

Remove filled pancakes from oven, place on serving plates, sprinkle with sugar of choice and serve. 

Cottage cheese filling 

1/2 cup cottage cheese or ricotta (add 2 tablespoons cream cheese for an especially rich filling)

1 egg yolk 

1 tablespoon sugar

Grated zest of half a lemon

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Pinch of salt

Puree all in a food processor or blender until smooth.

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Authors' Row at the Jones Creek Regional Branch Library


My very first public appearance as a writer of fiction! Saturday, April 23 the East Baton Rouge Parish hosted an "Authors' Row" for all of us indie authors at the Jones Creek Regional Branch Library. They even gave us a tote bag with swag! 

So, here's my display. Maybe a little busy but people did stop and ask about the postcards. Mike lent me his serape; wasn't it perfect? Very pleased with the bookmarks -- Vista Print if anyone wants to know -- and the print books. I wonder if I should have had copies of the recipe (Fried Chicken Castañeda, what else?) to hand out? 

 The event went for 3 hours. Most of those in attendance were other authors (LOL!) and friends and family of authors, but still, I sold TWO books (thank you!)! And handed out about a dozen bookmarks.