Saturday, February 28, 2009

March -- Coming Attractions & Contests

    Before we proceed to our coming attractions round-up, the josh hasrey are THRILLED to make a very special announcement.

    The josh hasrey are sponsoring an RWA National Scholarship to cover the cost of the conference early registration fee (value = $425, the RWA member price) for one winner to attend the 2009 conference in Washington, D.C. The scholarship is for the registration fee only. The fee will be paid to RWA directly.

    To apply, please provide the following information: your name, address, telephone number, e-mail address, if youʼre published or unpublished, if you have ever attended an RWA National Conference before, and a short explanation (no more than 150 words) about why you want/need the scholarship. Applications will be accepted until April 15. The winner will be contacted by the end of April.Please e-mail all the required information in the body of your e-mail to Joan Kayse at JoanieT13ATgmailDOTcom.

    Now, on to what's up this month!

    Tomorrow (March 2) our very own Christie Kelley will celebrate the launch of EVERY TIME WE KISS, which Romantic Times gave a 4 star review, saying Christie's "well on her way to capturing readers' hearts". Come and join in the fun with Romans, cabana boys, Sven the Swedish Masseur and plenty of those colourful drinks with umbrellas in them!

    March 3 - Multi-talented, multi-genre author and wannabe witch, Jennifer Lyon, will be here to talk about BLOOD MAGIC, the first in her new dark paranormal series about witches and the extremely hot and hunky Wing-Slayer Hunters who love them.

    RITA winning author Linnea Sinclair will join us to talk about her February release, another exciting sci-fi romance, HOPE'S FOLLY on March 4. Romantic Times awarded Hope's Folly a 4.5 TOP PICK calling it "a roller-coaster ride in the extreme."

    On March 5, creator of the fabulous Gardella series, Colleen Gleason will be here to chat about her new release AS SHADOWS FADE.

    RITA-winning historical romance author Sophia Nash is great fun and her visit to the lair on 6th March promises to turn into a party. She'll be talking about her new release LOVE WITH THE PERFECT SCOUNDREL and giving away a signed copy to one lucky commenter!

    Debut Avon author Miranda Neville joins us on 10th March to talk about her new historical romance NEVER RESIST TEMPTATION. Originally from England and now a U.S. resident, Miranda has led a really fascinating life which will keep our visitors to the lair intrigued.

    On March 16, best selling author and 2008 RITA finalist, Kay Stockham, will be here to talk about her new Harlequin Superromance, HER BEST FRIEND'S BROTHER, another in the Tulanes of Tennessee series. Romantic Times gave her latest a 4.5 TOP PICK calling this "a heartwarming and delightful tale of love."

    We're excited to welcome Joanna D'Angelo to josh hasrey on March 21. Joanna is a writer/filmmaker who co-produced and directed WHO'S AFRAID OF HAPPY ENDINGS? - a witty and revealing documentary about romance writers and the world of romance fiction.

    On March 27, Jaye Wells takes us into her world of Urban Fantasy with the series debut book: RED-HEADED STEPCHILD.

    And to round off the month in spectacular style, NYT bestseller and RWA Hall of Fame member JODI THOMAS is here on March 31. Woohoo, give us a cowboy any day, Jodi!


    Anna Campbell's I Heart Historical Romance contest is giving away four signed historical romances by Amanda McCabe, Anna Campbell, Nicola Cornick and Donna MacMeans. Just email Anna on and tell her what your favorite historical romance is and why. The contest closes on 30th April. For more details, please visit her contest page.


    The josh hasrey facebook group has more than 400 members and we're still building. Join us! Invite all your friends! Sven will roll out the welcome massage table to greet you at the door.Source URL:
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Rusty Nails/Crispy Beef

    The chinese cooking term "Passing through" is a key technique in Shanghai and Szechuan cooking, where the meat is cooked by passing it through hot oil. This step makes chicken breast meat silken, transforms shrimp into toothsome creatures with a firm, almost crunchy texture, and renders paper-thin strips of pork and steak tender and juicy within. In passing through, the food is very briefly cooked in a pool of hot vegetable oil and then removed from the wok. To finish the dish, almost all of the oil is poured off from the wok, and the remaining oil is used to create the sauce. Finally, the passed through food is returned to the wok and stir-fried with the sauce.

    While passing through is primarily a restaurant technique, it is worthwhile taking the time to master it because no other cooking technique can give the same results. Yes, the food is deep fried, but if it is done properly, it is not unhealthy. First, the food is always coated with a thin batter of egg white and starch, which helps keep the oil from seeping into the food.

    To prepare for the passing through step in a recipe, place a metal colander on a plate near the stove to hold and drain the fried food. Use a deep-frying thermometer to test the temperature of the oil. Be sure to have a wide wire-mesh strainer for removing the food, and if there is to be a subsequent frying step (as in Crispy Beef), have a fine-mesh strainer handy to skim off any bits of fried batter. Use a large metal wok scoop or spoon to stir the food, as the mesh on the wide strainer could disturb the coating on the meat. Place a large bowl on a heatproof plate nearby to hold the excess oil.

    Heat the wok for a few minutes over high heat until it is very hot. If you flick water from your fingertips into the wok, the water should sizzle away on contact. Pour in enough vegetable oil to reach at least 1 inch up the sides of the wok - this will be about 4 cups in a 14 inch flat-bottomed wok, there are cases, due to the large quantity of food, use less oil, so that it reaches 1 1/2 inch or 2 inch up the sides of the wok. Don't skimp - any food that sticks out of the hot oil will not cook at the same rate as the rest of the food, and it will get soggy too. But i do skimp, i use 1/2 the amount of oil and cook the meat in small batches.

    The temperature of the oil is the key to passing through. The oil should be hot enough to cook the food but not hot enough to brown it . 300 f to 325 f(Higher temperatures are reserved for true deep-frying, where the food will develop a crisp golden brown crust.) With the wok preheated, the oil will take only a few minutes to reach the proper temperature. Do not underestimate the value of a deep-frying thermometer. If you don't have one, you can gauge the temperature of the oil with a 1/2 inch cube of white bread: it should take at least a minute to brown in the hot oil. But unless you are an experienced cook, use the thermometer.

    The protein food(meat, poultry, or seafood) will have been marinated in the egg-white/starch coating. Carefully add the food to the hot oil, one of two pieces at a time, taking care that you don't splash the oil. Add the food quickly, but do not dump everything in at once, and try to keep the pieces as separate as possible so they don't stick together. The food will sink to the bottom of the wok, where the oil around it will bubble, but not furiously. The temperature will drop when the cook food is added, so keep the heat on every high to help the oil return to its original temperature. When all the food has been added, stir the food gently or quickly, depending on the recipe, with the metal scoop(wok chan) to keep the pieces from clinging to each other. Cook until the pieces of chicken, shrimp, or fish turn white on the surface, about 45 seconds, or until pieces of beef or pork turn a light brown (which could take a bit longer, depending on the size of the pieces) Use the strainer to transfer the food to the colander.

    In most cases, you will now (carefully!!!) pour the hot oil into the large bowl leaving 2 tbsps of the oil in the wok. If you have a subsequent frying step, be sure to heat the oil in the wok to required temperature before continuing.

    My family calls this dish 'Rusty Nails' cos the fried meat looked like them. Sorry for the lengthy text but it is so important to know. Now for some action.


    1/2 pound tender beef/flank steak strips (1/2 in wide, 1/4 inch thick and length of 2 - 2/12 in.)

    1 1/2 tsp baking soda


    2 tbsp sugar

    2 tbsp red wine vinegar

    1 tbsp shaoxing rice wine

    1 tbsp soya sauce

    1 tsp cornstarch

    Vegetable oil for "passing through"

    1 cup cornstarch

    1 large egg white, lightly beaten

    1 small onion - sliced

    1 tsp sesame oil

    1/4 tsp hot chilli paste(optional)

    Chopped spring onions for garnishing


    Mix the steak, baking soda, and 3 tbsp of water in a medium bowl. Cover, and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight(The baking soda will tenderize the steak)

    To begin the sauce, mix the sugar, vinegar, rice wine, soya sauce, and cornstarch in a small bowl. Set aside.

    Heat a large wok over high heat. Add enough vegetable to come about 1 1/2 inches up the sides of the wok, and heat it to 375f. Meanwhile, add the cornstarch and egg white to the steak, and mix well to coat the steak with the batter.

    Add the steak to the oil, one piece at a time so it doesn't splash or stick together, and stir gently until it begins to look crispy, about 1 minute. Using a wide wire-mesh strainer, transfer the steak to a colander to drain. Using a fine-mesh wire strainer, remove any bits of fried batter from the wok.

    Reheat the oil to 375 f, return the steak to the wok, and fry again until the beef is crispy all over, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a strainer to drain. Remove all but 1 tbsp of the oil from the wok.

    Return the wok with the oil to high heat, add sliced onions, steak, sugar-vinegar mixture, sesame oil and hot chilli paste(if using). Stir fry until all of the ingredients are well-blended about 30 seconds.

    Dish out and sprinkle with chopped spring onions.

    Serve immediately with white rice.


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Friday, February 27, 2009

Girlfriends We Need

    by Suzanne Welsh
    There's an e-mail that's been passed around for years that I periodically receive. It talks about the girlfriends we have in our lives and how they serve to help us through different stages and problems we encounter along life's journey. Every time this pops up in my e-mail, (often from my mom or one of those girlfriends), it always makes me smile, get a little teary-eyed and think of those women who have come to mean so much to me.

    So, here's my list of women:

    1) My mom. Yep, she's one special lady and I'm lucky enough to still have her in my life to talk, laugh and cry with. She taught me to read, to love books and wasn't the least surprised when I called long distance to say , "Hey, guess what? I'm writing a romance novel." Her reply? "I was wondering when you were going to do that." My mom has woo-woo's really kind of freaky. One of my kids will do something bad or dangerous or life altering...Poof Mom calls to say, "Is so-and-so okay? They've been on my mind all day." I won a writing contest. Poof, Mom calls and says, "Is something going on with your writing? It's been on my mind all week."

    Mom is also a nurse. She's one of the two reasons I became one. The other was watching Hot-Lips Hoolihan pass instruments during surgery on M*A*S*H. I wanted to be that smart, confident, efficient and still compassionate person. The bonus? When the bad stuff hits the fan, I can always call and chat with mom about patients, doctors, ugly stuff. She understands. (Yep that's me, ready to go do surgery, just like Mom.)

    2) My sister, Sam. Many of you may have several sisters, some none. But I was blessed with a younger sister who has the wickedest sense of humor and isn't afraid to say what she thinks. On top of that, she gets my mushy side and loves my kids. Cynical at times, irreverent at most, she was the person who taught my son to fish, play pranks on his sisters and sing to AC/DC songs as if every seven year old should know the lyrics! We've fought, laughed, cried and hugged through good times and bad.

    3) My friend Marion. Hey Marion!! Waiving madly in case she's reading this. We met in first grade, but became really good friends in middle school. This was the friend I first talked about boys with. (I still talk about MEN with my friends, but she was the first.) She knew my crushes all through those teen years. We cruised High street together oogling all the OSU boys partying on a Friday or Saturday night. We learned to do all the cool dances in her bedroom before she forced me to watch horror movies. We've gone through weddings, babies, grandbabies, and family loss together. I know her strength, her heart...and we know all the blackmail stories about each other!

    4) Nursing friends. This is a BIGGGGGGGG group, since I've been a nurse for nearly 30 years in 7 hospitals in 3 states. These are the women who've been in the trenches on busy nights, held me while I cried to release adrenaline in the cluster**** that just happened or the death of a baby. These are the women who get what it's like to eat chinese stirfry out of an emesis basin and think it's normal. They can laugh at raunchy jokes or find humor in the odd things humans will do to themselves at any given day or night. (Please ask me in a bar about the lady and the snuff!)

    5) The Writer Foxes. These are my Texas writing friends. My CPs and those women who understand my passion for writing. These are those ladies I can get drunk with and they may not stop me from acting a fool...(Sandy Blair) but laugh with me later about it. They push me, teach me, support me. They are my sanity!

    6) My daughters. Two totally different women I've been lucky to raise, know and love. I see in them the hope of the future. I've been priveledged to watch them find the loves of their lives. Artists and singers, they're talent always amazes me. They're book lovers, like their mama, grandmama, great grandmama! I couldn't be prouder of either of them!

    7) And finally, The josh hasrey. How does one say to 19 friends scattered all over the world in four countries and three continents how much they've come to mean to me? When we got together last July, it was like being with my sisters, only I didn't have to fight with any of them! We laughed like we'd been friends all our lives. These are friends I plan to have the rest of my life!

    So, who are the girlfriends in your lives?
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Bandita Booty!!!

    Our Fab guest from last week, Elisabeth Naughton used her mysterious random number generator and picked


    As her winner for a copy of her hot book Stolen Fury!

    Terrio, drop her an email at Elisabeth AT ElisabethNaughton DOT com and she'll get your booty - er, book - right out!Source URL:
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Spicy Crabstick with Fries

    When we eat out, we are sure to end up with alot of french fries not eaten. The fries will be packed home and end up as a dish for tomorrow's dinner.

    3 cups french fries
    1/8 lb imitation crabsticks
    1/4 cup fried peanuts
    salt and sugar to taste
    oil for deep frying

    Open up and tear/cut imitation crabsticks into thin julienned strips
    Heat oil and deep fry the julienned strips of crabstick until crispy. Drain and leave aside.
    Remove all the oil except for 2 tbsp, add in the garam assam paste and saute.
    Add in the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Adjust taste with salt and sugar.
    Serve with rice

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Love to hate you, baby

    by Susan Sey

    We recently joined the YMCA, & the whole family is IN LOVE. Oh, yes. We love our Y.

    For my kids, the love has a whole lot to do with an indoor swimming pool & water slide. For my husband, it's a structured time & place to work out that comes complete with a video screen six inches from his face.

    For me, it's BOSU Boot Camp. Ever seen a BOSU? It looks like this:

    It's a combination strength/aerobics class that works sort of like step aerobics, only instead of stepping up on a flat, steady bench, you step up on this squishy half-ball. The evil genius of this is that now, in addition to heaving yourself up there, you also have to balance.

    The first time I took this class, I thought I was going to die. The next day I was so sore, I whimpered like a little girl every time I had to pick something up off the floor. But I didn't hesitate to go back. In fact, I actually looked forward to it. A workout that kicked my @ss under the supervision of an instructor whose only mission in life seemed to be making grown women cry? Ah, bliss.

    But this is wrong, isn't it? Why would I love something that routinely hurts me? Why would I so enjoy not only finding my limits, but flagrantly violating them (hence the copious moaning upon arising in the a.m.)? Why would I do this to myself??

    Well. I don't know. And as I don't invite pain into my life on a daily basis, I'm not overly worried about it. It's an aberration, but one that has ultimately improved my health so I'm okay living with the mystery.

    But it did get me thinking about other things I love to hate. So here are, in no particular order, things that cause me significant discomfort and/or pain which I secretly (or not so secretly) enjoy:

    1) Writing. Can I get an Amen? Maybe this is wrong, but I look forward to churning out the pages the way most people look forward to oral surgery. It's a rare day for me when the words just flow. Most days I have to psyche myself up for the hard work of battling back the blank page. I think it was Dorothy Parker who said she hated writing, but loved having written. That's how I feel exactly. I hate struggling through that first awful draft, but am utterly addicted to the high of having committed words to the page. Even bad ones.

    2) Jogging. Half an hour of huffing & puffing & feeling all my wiggly bits wiggle? Not so fun. But putting on my jeans & zipping them without discomfort, even as I stare 40 right in the eye? Worth it. Every mile. And unless I'm planning to break my ice cream addiction some time in the near future (not going to happen, folks) it's an absolutely necessary evil.

    3) Letters to the Editor of low-brow gossip rags. People Magazine is my favorite. ("I wish everybody would leave poor Tom Cruise alone!! He's a class act, & I wish him & his beautiful bride every happiness!!!! Tom, you can jump on my couch any old time!!!!!") I think it has something to do with the flagrant abuse of exclamation points, along with the unshakeable conviction that Tom Cruise gives one tiny little flip about what Sandi Neblowski of Wahoo, NE thinks about his marriage. It just kills me, but can I stop reading them? Can I skip them? I cannot. No, I not only read them, but I pick the most offensive of the lot & read them out loud to my husband, who I'm sure appreciates it.

    So what about you? What do you love to hate? What do you feel compelled to do, regardless of logic, reason, or your better angels? Tell me everything!Source URL:
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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Drifting to the Dark Side

    by Nancy

    I was seriously tempted to blame this blog on Anna Campbell.  Her tortured heroes and tormented heroines make for darker reading (although fabulous!) than I usually think of when romance comes to mind, and I find myself reading darker books lately than I once did.   The change struck me when I finished Tempt the Devil.  I loved it but realized it was a far darker book than I'd thought of myself as liking.   When I looked back, however, I realized my drift toward the Dark Side of the Force started a long time ago.  I just didn't stop to recognize it.   Today I'm going to trace that drift.  As you read, please think of your own preferences and what shaped them because we'll come back to that later.

    Here are some springboard questions:  Do you prefer Fitzwilliam Darcy or Heathcliff?  Georgette Heyer's Marquis of Alverstoke or Charlotte Bronte's Mr. Rochester?  Luke Skywalker or Han Solo?  Aragorn or Acheron?  Superman or Batman?  Stargate SG-1 or Battlestar Galactica? Hugh Jackman as Leopold in Kate and Leopold or as Wolverine in X-Men?  Hugh Jackman as Whoever?

    Once upon a time, I would have chosen the first option, the less tormented one, in every one of the questions.  Heyer's Earl of Worth (Regency Buck) was about as dark as I wanted to go.  Somewhere along the way, something happened.  My tastes have been going darker for a long time, but I just didn't notice.  It was sort of like drifting on a raft in the ocean and suddenly realizing the shore had receded.

    I think it started when a college friend gave me a copy of The Lord of the Rings trilogy.  She was appalled that I, who so loved comic books and science fiction, had never read it.  If you've read the books or seen the films, you know this is not a story of sweetness and light.  Frodo struggles with the ring and ultimately succumbs to its lure.  Boromir, a hero of his people, falls from grace in attempting to steal it, only to redeem himself by dying in vain for Merry and Pippin.  At the end, Frodo finds that the peaceful, pastoral Shire holds no peace for him.  I hated that ending and still do, but somewhere along the way, I came to see it as right.  I can't tell you how many times I've read that trilogy.  I've lost count.

    In high school, I hated and despised Wuthering Heights.  I still wouldn't go so far as to say I like it.  Neither Cathy nor Heathcliff is likely to be anyone's BFF, and I can't see either of them as pleasant company.  Yet I now find the story compelling and the character study fascinating.  I admire the book despite its dark undercurrents.

    A lot of the 1980s romance novels were very dark in their sexuality and in the characters' experiences.  I read many of those books and have kept a handful all this time (Shanna by Kathleen Woodiwiss, for example because Ruark was so great even though Shanna was a brat for most of the book).   I read plenty of books with less tormented characters--everything I could find by Patricia Rice, Mary Jo Putney, Kathleen Gilles Seidel, and Jayne Ann Krentz's various incarnations, to list just a few.  These characters had experiences ranging from the painful to the horrible, but they mostly weren't brutal, as in those 80s books.  Of course, a lot of the brutal things that happened in those earlier books didn't seem to have realistic aftermaths for the characters, which made them slightly unreal and perhaps less disturbing than they would have been a newspaper story.  As I write this, I'm realizing that the books I kept didn't have a lot of physical or sexual brutality and had the hero and heroine with each other and no one else.

    Then there're the late Dame Dorothy Dunnett's Lymond Chronicles.  Francis Crawford of Lymond could be the poster boy for tortured heroes.  I made it halfway through the first book, The Game of Kings, and phoned the friend who'd given it to me for Christmas.  "Is there anybody in this book besides this blind girl I'm going to like?" I asked, after a more tactful leadup.  There was a short silence, and she replied, "Well, I can't promise, of course, but I think if you keep reading you'll be glad you did."  Oh.  My.  Word.  The last hundred pages or so turned everything inside out, and I adored Lymond, who had come across as a serious jerk until then.  I bought the other five massive paperbacks, reading every spare minute, reading before work, through lunch lunch, reading far into the night, and finished them all in under week. (No, I didn't have much of a life beyond work then.)  When my mom and I went to England, I found the equally massive hardbacks at Foyle's bookstore and lugged them home in my suitcase.

    Science fiction and fantasy did their part in leading me toward darker waters.   Elizabeth Haydon's Rhapsody series is extremely well done but isn't for the squeamish.  As I reached the halfway mark in the first book, Rhapsody, I found myself wondering why I was still reading and concluded it was because I had to know what happened.  Even in comic books, the stories I found most engaging were the ones in which the heroes had the most to overcome.  Which may explain the appeal of Battlestar Galactica, which I don't love the way Trish does but can't seem to stop watching anyway.  Yet if I had to list preferences in TV shows, I'd pick Stargate SG-1 or Heroes (which has taken a definite darker turn) over BSG despite giving BSG credit for grittier, more intricate plotting and characters, and how strange is that?

    Then there are the Dark-Hunters.  I put off reading this series because I had an unfortunate feeling that liking them would lead to obsessive serial reading, as with Lymond.  It did.  And the comic book geek in me wants to read in order, a habit with problems of its own if the next book doesn't happen to be in the store.  Every one of the dark-hunters died a horrible death.  That's part of their motivation.  And Acheron himself had a life brutal beyond horror.  But I asked for and got his book for Christmas and had devoured it by Boxing Day.

    I can no longer deny that I've drifted far from the bright shore and into the dark ocean.  I still love books that don't feature such heavy torment. The banditas run the gamut of light to dark, and the other books I've read in the last year fall i varying points on that spectrum.  In fact, those less brutal books are still the bulk of my reading.  The characters still have things to overcome.  I think that would be called conflict.   It doesn't have to be vicious, but it does have to be deep and difficult.  So maybe that's the answer, that I like the triumph after the arduous struggle and, with age, have come to appreciate the darker side of it more than I once did.

    So, getting back to our original questions--I pick Darcy over Heathcliff, Alverstoke over Rochester, Luke over Han (with respectful raspberries to Joan and Beth), Acheron over Aragorn by an molecule, SG-1 over BSG, Superman over Batman, and Wolverine over Leopold.  With a serious nod to the "Hugh Jackman as Whoever" option.

    What about you?  Do you gravitate more toward lighter or darker books?  What are your favorites in either category?
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Chrysanthemum tea Jelly

    Chrysanthemum flowers is one of the items in my pantry which gets replenished even before the last flower is used up. My generation grew up with this tea but not the younger ones though. Since i got a new jelly mould which is available online from, decided to make jelly with chrysantermum tea to entice Renee. To my surprise, she liked these jelly, now i know what to make her when her throat hurts.
    Read about the medicinal values from Wiki:
    Chrysanthemum tea has many purported medicinal uses, including an aid in recovery from
    influenza, acne and as a "cooling" herb. According to traditional Chinese medicine the tisane can aid in the prevention of sore throat and promote the reduction of fever. In Korea, it is known well for its medicinal use for making people more alert and is often used to waken themselves. In western herbal medicine, Chrysanthemum tea is drunk and used as a compress to treat circulatory disorders such as varicose veins and atherosclerosis.
    In traditional Chinese medicine, chrysanthemum tea is also used to treat the eyes, and is said to clear the liver and the eyes.[
    citation needed] The liver is associated with the eyes and the liver is associated with anger, stress, and related emotions. It is believed to be effective in treating eye pain associated with stress or yin/fluid deficiency. It is also used to treat blurring, spots in front of the eyes, diminished vision, and dizziness

    1 pkt (10 gm) konnyaku powder
    210 gm sugar
    30 gm chrysanthemum flowers
    700 ml water
    250 ml boiling water

    Put chrysanthemum flowers in a teapot and pour 250 ml hot boiling water. Put the lid on and let the tea steep for 10 minutes. Strain and leave aside. Reserve the flower for garnishing.
    Mix konnyaku powder with sugar and stir to mix.
    Bring 700 ml water to the boil and add in the konnyaku with sugar mixture. Stir until the sugar and konnyaku dissolve. Add in the 250 ml chrysanthemum tea and stir to blend.
    Wet the konnyaku mould with water but do not wipe dry. Put a chrysanthemum flower onto every mould and fill the mould with konnyaku jelly.
    Leave to set in refrigerator.
    Remove from moulds when set and serve cold


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Kuih Siput

    This is very addictive malaysian snack which looked like the sea shells you find on the sea shore. Siput is sea shell in Malay and to make this sea shells you will need an utensil which looked like this

    I had dreams of this snack but was unable to make some cos i could not find this utensil. I was elated when Julie Tan from wrote to me and said she has baking supplies for sale and i found this so 'hard-to-find' utensil that i longed for in her site.

    1 cup all-purpose flour
    1/2 tsp salt
    1 tbsp margarine/oil
    1 tsp sugar
    1/2 egg - beaten
    1 tsp black pepper powder
    2 tbsp curry powder
    2 tbsp coconut milk
    1 tbsp water
    Oil for deep frying


    Mix all the ingredients together into a smooth dough and let it rest for at least 1/2 hr.

    Roll dough into small pea size balls

    Using the utensil, press a ball with your thumb to form the shell shape

    When all the balls are shaped into sea shells.
    Heat oil in medium heat - 325 f and fry the sea shells until brown and crispy.
    Drain on kitchen towel.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Deadline Musings

    By Kate

    I’m writing to you from Deadline Hell, an actual place located hundreds of miles beneath the earth in the depths of the Cave of Desperation.

    The reason I’m here is that I’m racing to finish my second book, due in just a few weeks. I’m sure I won’t make it on time. I know everything I’m writing is dreck. And why am I italicizing words for emphasis? I've forgotten how to write. Gah!

    I’m stressed out and not sleeping well. I’m forgetful and prickly. I don’t know what I’m doing and don’t know where I’m going. My butt hurts from sitting in this chair all day.

    I’m living on chocolate kisses and frozen foods. My skin is pasty and I wear only sweat pants and work shirts. Big, shapeless shirts and comfortable shoes. Oh, just call them slippers.

    I squint a lot.

    I have a stack of new and exciting books I’d love to read—but I can’t. Reading something new would mean focusing on the words and the story—and I’ve lost my ability to focus.

    So I’m re-reading. Comfort reads. At night, before I crawl off to bed, I’ve been re-reading old favorites. I started with J.D. Robb’s Naked in Death and plowed through the next four "In Death” books. Then I jumped to Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ Nobody’s Baby But Mine. Next, I might move to some old Julie Garwood Scottish historicals. Gotta love those Highlander heroes. Men in kilts, 'nuf said.

    So tell me, who do you turn to for your comfort reads? What was the last book you re-read?

    And I would be remiss if I didn’t send a super-dooper wowzer yowzer THANK YOU to my darling Banditas for the incredible bouquet of star lilies and box of chocolate yummies they sent me to celebrate my first book hitting the New York Times Bestseller List!!

    Thank you, my lovelies!

    Cabana Boys, attention please! Sven, front and center! Pina Coladas and soothing massages for all my friends!!!
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Secretive Cake

    I named this Secretive Cake cos every blogger who made this cake did not share the recipe. There are several names to this cake - Seri Kaya Sarawak Cake, American Midnight Cake and even Kek Belacan. My friends have been giving me recipes on this cake and i have found that the ingredients are pretty much the same and the cake is steamed instead of baked. It has to use a browning sauce to make the cake black. When i got the first recipe, i tried making with gula melaka and it did not turn out black but more like Ma Lai Koh color. Then i made again using coco caramel and mollasses, still not black enough and this time the cake really looked like Belacan. This 3rd trial, i used 2 tbsps of Thick Caramel Sauce from Yuen Chun, longivity brand and the cake is dark enough.


    6 ozs(1 1/2 sticks) butter

    1/4 cup fine granulated sugar

    4 large eggs

    1 cup all-purpose flour

    1 tsp baking powder

    1 tsp vanilla extract

    140 ml condensed milk

    1/3 cup Kaya

    1/4 cup Horlicks

    2 tbsp Thick Caramel Sauce/browning sauce


    Grease a 8 inch round cake pan and line base and sides with baking paper. Allow the baking paper to extend over the top by 1 inch if using the shorter tin.
    Sieve flour with baking powder.
    Beat butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
    Beat in eggs, one by one, until well combined.
    Beat in sweetened condensed milk and serikaya until well mixed.
    Stir in Horlicks until well combined.
    Fold in sieved flour. Finally stir in vanilla and browning essence.
    Pour batter into prepared tin. Cover the top loosely with a piece of aluminium foil.
    Steam over high heat for 30 minutes.
    Fill up with more hot water if the steamer is low on water after 30 minutes.
    Turn heat down to medium and steam for another 60 minutes, or until cooked (if you wish to keep cake without refrigeration, then it has to be baked for a longer period, perhaps up to 4 hrs and the cake can last a month). Remember to replenish steamer with hot water whenever it is drying up.


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