Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Fireworks Month in the Lair

    by Nancy

    July is a big month in the lair with lots of fabulous guests. We're excited to have so many authors visiting to liven up the summer doldrums. We're also celebrating the launch of RITA-nominated Christine Wells's third book.





    Tomorrow, July 2, the fabulous Stacey Kayne will be here to discuss her latest release, Mountain Wild, book 3 in her Wild series!

















    On Friday, 3rd July, debut Berkley author Kandy Shepherd visits the lair as Anna Campbell's guest to talk about her hilarious and romantic contemporary romance LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD. Isn't that the greatest title? You'll love meeting Kandy and joining in the conversation about romance books, dogs, her road to publication and chocolate brownies.














    On 6 July, DeAnna Cameron will swing by the lair to chat with Christine Wells about her debut novel from Berkley, THE BELLY DANCER.








    The next day, on 7 July, we celebrate the release of Christine Wells's WICKED LITTLE GAME.














    Christine Wells has joined with Jennifer Haymore, author of A Hint of Wicked, to offer a wicked prize pack to one lucky reader. See Christine's website http://www.christine-wells.com/contact-christine-wells.html for details.






    On July 8, Kirsten will have the fabulous New York Times Bestselling Author ALYSSA DAY in the Lair to discuss not one but two of her steamy Warriors of Poseidon books -- Atlantis Unleashed and Atlantis Unmasked.







    Kimberly Raye visits with Tawny on July 12 about sex scenes (like the wildest place you've ever done it).











    July 13 brings Love Inspired author Renee Ryan back to The Lair as Joan's guest to talk about twins and her new title “Hannah’s Beau.”







    We have a mid-month lull in visitors, with many of the banditas traveling to or from Washington, D.C., for RWA National. We will be blogging as usual, though, so do stop in and see what we’re up to! On July 19, I'm giving away a surprise package (to me, too, since I don't have them yet) of books from the RWA conference.

    Marie Force joins Aunty Cindy on July 27.








    On July 29, Jo will be hosting return guest and NY Times best-selling novelist Brenda Novak who will be talking about time management and giving away a copy of her latest book. THE PERFECT COUPLE, the fourth book in the Last Stand series. The Perfect Couple releases on July 28!
















    Erotic romance writer Delilah Dawson will visit the Lair on July 30, as Jo's guest. Be sure to drop by the visit with this naughty writer, who'll be giving away one of her latest books to a lucky commenter.


    Source URL: http://castleofrock.blogspot.com/2009/06/
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Chai Choy/Vegetarian Delight

    This would be my vegetable dish when i ran out of greens. The only fresh ingredients are the Nappa Cabbage or ordinary cabbage and carrots, the rest are dried. There are many ingredients involved but even with a few ingredients less, this dish will be very flavorful especially if the sauce is right. This is a classic to the vegetarian and it can be a meal by itself for there are so many nutricious ingredients involved. Although this is a vegetable dish, dried oysters can be added for flavor and oysters are acceptable and considered vegetarian.



    Ingredients:
    4 tbsps cooking oil
    2 pieces fermented beancurd(preferably the red type which is called 'nam yee'
    1/2 cup dried oysters - soaked(optional)
    8 dried shitake mushrooms, soaked and halved
    1 lb Nappa cabbage, sliced
    1 carrot, sliced
    6 - 8 pieces Fried tofu (tofu pok) - halves
    3 long pieces dried bean curd (foo chook) - soaked and break into small pieces
    1/2 cup black fungus - Wan yee - soaked
    1/2 cup lily bulbs - soaked and tied into knots
    1 small bundle glass noodles - soaked
    Seasonings:
    1/2 tsp white pepper
    1 cup water
    2 tbsp oyster sauce
    1 tbsp soya sauce
    1 tsp sugar
    2 tbsp sesame oil
    Method:
    In a wok, heat oil and stir-fry fermented beancurd until fragrant. Add oysters (if using),mushrooms, cabbage and carrot. Stir-fry until cooked through.
    Add in the rest of the ingredients except the soaked glass noodles and the seasonings
    Bring to the boil, add the seasonings, then reduce heat, cover with lid and simmer.
    Add in the glass noodles and continue to simmer, you might have to add in more water/stock if the sauce has thickened too much. Do no be afraid to add more water/stock as the glass noodle will swell and soak up all the goodness.
    Simmer until sauce has thickened.
    Dish up and sprinkle with sesame oil.
    Serve hot.


    Serves
    Source URL: http://castleofrock.blogspot.com/2009/06/
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Monday, June 29, 2009

The Golden Rooster Family Reunion








    Ah! What’s this? A postmark from St. Poulet? A missive from my sainted maman, no doubt. The poor chicken. She worries so. I am the only of her chicks to pursue life on such a—how shall we say?—grand scale. Dancing along the knife edge of danger is not for everyone, oui? But it must come as a particular shock when held against the lives chosen by that clutch of spectacular dullards with whom I was hatched. So, alors, I shall read her little letter then compose a reply which shall put her pretty head at ease.

    My dearest son,

    Ah, you see? Dearest? I am her favorite still!

    I hope this note finds you well.

    If you consider lying in wait on the decks of a private yacht anchored near St. Tropez well, then yes, I am. Indeed.

    I know that you are very busy in your international business.

    Business which I shall endeavor to wrap up as soon as a certain wily adversary shows himself above deck. Any minute, I expect. Any minute….

    Oh yes, yes. I know there are many roads to cross to be as successful as you are but it is a mother’s hope that you will spare some time for your maman and…many of your other relatives.

    Ah, my quarry appears! I crouch and….I spring! And karate CHOP and jujitsu KICK and a slash-slash-slash of the…

    Un moment. Relatives?

    Yes my boy, it is that time once more. Time for our family reunion.

    Sacred bleu!

    Cousin Delta is hosting it at the old family homestead in St. Poulet, LA. Ah my, the flock has spread far from the coop but all are making an extraordinary effort to attend.

    But of course. My ne’er-do-well relations would sooner surrender to the Colonel himself than forsake the chance to importune me for favors, money, liquor and women.

    I know you will not disappoint, ma petite.

    I shall not, maman! Though it shall try my patience exceedingly to rub feathers with my déclassé brood-mates for even that short time.

    It will be June 30th well before the celebration of Independence when all poultry of worth seclude themselves away from the dangers of deep fryers.

    You will attend and make this mother proud.

    With all my love, my little hatchling,

    Maman

    And so I begin the long journey back to the broken shell of my youth. To St. Poulet.

    Two weeks later…..

    A lone vehicle maneuvers its way down SunnySide Up lane, past rows of rice fields to a dilapidated brick mansion.
    Bypassing the house, the driver steers down a dirt road to the rear of the property.

    Oh, these cursed country two-tracks with their paint-eating gravel! What it is doing to my new coupe!

    Aghast, I look at the rusted wire fence beneath spreading oak trees. The din is already more than my nerves can stand.
    “Yoohoo! Cousin!”

    The squawk makes me cringe. With the fortitude for which I am renowned I step out of the vehicle and (dear Lord) am enveloped in the wings of Cousin Delta.

    Normally I have not the slightest objection to being seized to a woman’s breast but merde, ma cousine, a little air? A minor application of pressure at the wing-joint and, ah, sweet oxygen!

    “Bonjour, Delta. You have not changed a bit, my dear.” A most unfortunate circumstance, that.

    Why mess with perfection?” she laughs, with a saucy twitch of her considerable tail feathers.

    “Why, indeed?”

    “You ain’t changed much, either, cuz.” She jabs a wing tip into my chest. “No more meat on your breastbone than when you left.”

    “Yes, well, an excellent diet and a dedication to the martial arts—“

    “And your coxcomb still does that weird thing. Har! Har!”

    My wings fly up to my head and….sacred bleu! Ah, this accursed humidity! I have not suffered this particular indignity since my late and unlamented youth here on the family compound. I have done well to shake the dust of this place from my feed scratchers years ago. Perhaps my impressive physique and accomplishments will distract the flock from this most unfortunate nod to history? A rooster can hope, can he not?

    But duty first. “Delta, my beauty. Where is Maman?”

    “Oh! Your sister’s here. Yoohoo! Junebug! Over here!”

    Ahhh, my sister. Elder by two eggs. The pecking order always took on a new meaning when she was around. “Bonjour, Junebug.”

    "Oh, sweetie, I'm so glad you came! When Mama said you might, I almost busted a gut, I was so excited. I can't wait for you to tell me about your world travels.”

    “Vraiment? Shall I begin with Paris or Prague?”

    “I always dreamed of getting out of this stuffy old coop.”

    “Budapest is lovely this time of year.”

    But...well.. .you know, along came Spur.”

    Spur? That bow-legged, self-styled, one-rooster Elvis tribute? She married him?

    “Now I have Cogburn and Auspice and Augustus (you remember, the twins?) and Octavia, Sebastian and Putt Putt to chase around."

    Good heavens.

    *sigh* "I don't suppose I'll ever get off the farm now..." *sniff*

    Zut alors! Not to be uncharitable but have you considered keeping your drumsticks together once in a while? I pat her wing sympathetically and scan the yard for the nearest exit. Or at least something shiny. Junebug’s attention span is not her most formidable trait.

    Suddenly a long silver limo pulls up outside the hen house. The driver, complete in uniform hurries around to open the door, and who should step out, but cousin Delilah, the madame of the best little henhouse in Texas, dressed in her Coco Channel suit, dark glasses and big hat, she kisses her driver and joins us.

    "Hey, y'all, it's been ages since I've been back to see y'all! Hey Junebug, how're all those little chicks? And Delta, lovely as evah!"

    Delilah lifts one brow, shakes her tail feathers and saunters toward me...

    "Well, well, well, I do declare, if it isn't the Golden One himself.”

    I incline my coxcomb graciously. I have a small fondness for Delilah as her hen house is the site of some of the—how to put it delicately—more memorable incidents in an otherwise unremarkable youth. “In the flesh, madame.”

    “So, what have you been up to these days, ya old fake frenchie you!"

    Fake frenchie, indeed! It seems my original plan—doing my familial duty with as much haste as decent manners allow—is a sound one. But as the finest tail feathers in the entire parish fall under Delilah’s purview, I muster the strength to do the pretty. “Nothing of note,” I say. “But I feel certain you’ve been leading life a merry chase.” She brays out that rough, two-packs-a-day laugh of hers.

    “Ain’t I just! I got this new girl—prime bit of thigh-meat, see? Lord, she’s a pistol…”

    I lean in, intrigued for the first time all day, but then a dilapidated yellow bus rolls into the yard. It sputters to a stop, belching exhaust fumes from its rear. The antiquated bus driver down the steps and holds out a hand to an elderly hen.

    "Git yer cotton-pickin' paw offen me, you smarmy fella," she snarls, leaping to the ground with surprising grace for one so ancient.

    I freeze. I am terrified of Great Granny Henster, and rooster enough to admit it. GG is tiny, fierce and extraordinarily rude. She has been, in the lamentable past, particularly cruel about my coxcomb situation. I remain still and pray her eyesight has faded with time.

    Immediately GG whirls around and opens the luggage facility beneath the bus.

    "Where's my stuff," she demands. "I need my Depends, dammit! I need 'em right now!"

    Oh. Mon Dieu.

    A sporty Italian roadster roars up the drive to the lair, pulling in behind the school bus. A svelte hen steps out, unwrapping the Hermes scarf and tips down her elegant designer sunglasses.

    "Where is that reprobate brother of mine?" Dominique D'Or drawls. "I've flown in from Paris for this, he better have done what he SAID he was going to do."

    Pardone? I implied I would perform some…service? For my poseur of a soeur? Ridicule!

    She scans the various family members scattered about.

    "Interesting digs big brother's found, and such an interesting group of people to attach himself too. Oh, Lord, he invited GG. How does she get around in that bus?"

    Dominique thinks I called this meeting? Heavens. She’s delusional. Either that or she’s been drinking breakfast again.

    One of the hired cockerels hurries over and asks after her luggage.

    "Well, aren't you johnny on the spot," she says, with a throaty laugh. "Of course you can carry my bags. You can polish my eggs too, rrrrrrrrowwww!"

    Rrrrrrowwww? Perhaps lunch was of the liquid variety as well.
    Leaving the roosterling staring after her, she struts up to the front of the coop and calls, "GOLDIE! Come say hello!"

    Seeing no better choice, I trudge after her. S’il vous plait, I pray to whatever diety will have me. Please let it be brief. And if it cannot be brief, at least let it be amusing. I march forward to meet my fate, whatever—or whomever—it may entail….Source URL: http://castleofrock.blogspot.com/2009/06/
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Steamed Salted Fish With Pork




    This dish is one of many homestyle recipes in the Cantonese repertoire. I remember my mom hand chopping the pork with a chinese cleaver to make this dish or any steamed pork. The hand chopping creates a more al-dente texture and it is worth the effort. However, this dish is still as delicious if made with ground pork. The salted fish of choise is the soft type as the hard type does not marry or blend well.

    Ingredients:

    8 ozs of ground/minced or hand chopped pork
    2 tbsp of soya sauce
    1 tsp of sugar
    1/2 tsp pepper
    1 tbsp of tapioca flour
    a pinch of msg(optional)
    1 tbsp of sesame
    1 piece "mui heong' salted fishoil
    2 tbsp of julienned ginger

    Method:
    Mix pork with all the seasonings, then place the salted fish on top and spread the julienned ginger on top of prepared dish.
    Steam until cooked in a steamer or put on top of the rice before rice cooker's function turns to 'keep warm'.
    Enjoy with white rice.


    Serves
    Source URL: http://castleofrock.blogspot.com/2009/06/
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Book Binge

    by Susan Sey

    I recently tried to read Little Women to my 6 year old. She's a precocious reader, & while completely capable of reading the book herself, I didn't want to hand over the hard-backed copy my mom gave me when I was a girl. As my daughter routinely loves the covers right off books, I didn't want her grubby little paws on my beloved copy just yet. I decided to read it to her myself.

    As it turns out, Little Women--while a wonderful story--is really....dense. The story telling is old-fashioned & detailed. The author doesn't just mention that the girls write a weekly newspaper for their secret society, she gives you the newspaper in its entirety. By the time the story picks up again--three pages later--my six year old is like, "Wait, what's going on again? Who are these people now?"

    So I decided to table it for a few more years. I started reading her All Of A Kind Family instead. But I couldn't put down Little Women. I finished it myself, then I went for Little Men. Then I ate up Jo's Boys. Then I devoured Eight Cousins & Rose in Bloom in quick succession, & just finished up with An Old-Fashioned Girl.

    I binged on Louisa May Alcott.

    And you know what? I feel GREAT. I'd forgotten how beautifully uplifting those stories are. I love the way the people in her books are poor but find happiness. They have flaws but work so hard to overcome them. Their goodness and talent aren't always rewarded with money or fame, but they're always rewarded. And that satisfies me on such a fundamental level. Happy endings always do. (I'll bet there are a LOT of romance writers/readers who cut their teeth on Louisa May Alcott.)

    I find so much of children's literature--at least the more modern stuff--so heavily laced with sarcasm, irony, clueless adults & poor grammar/bad language. I love reading with my kids but I'm so tired of books that disparage childhood. Little Women reminded me that it's possible to find really great books for actual children, not the adults who buy their books. Books where patience, self-sacrifice & charity are worth more than fashion, money & popularity. Books that celebrate childhood's inocence instead of trying to hurry them out of it. Where girls are taught to love goodness rather than clothes or looks, both in themselves as well as in others.

    Have you revisited any children's or YA books that really touched you lately? I have a voracious reader at home & I need a summer reading list, so don't be shy!Source URL: http://castleofrock.blogspot.com/2009/06/
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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Korea's Boys Over Flower Fashion Styles

    Boys Over Flower, Korea's version of Japanese manga Hana Yori Dango has captured the hearts of many Filipinos. I must say that I am one of the viewers who regularly watched their Filipino-dubbed episode everyday. Aside from enjoying the storyline, I also love the fashion styles of the characters in the said tv series. They are so fashion forward and from what I have heard last Saturday, the wardrobe budget spent for the show reached Php 5 Million. According to a local news, the suits and dresses of the characters are designer's clothes and custom-made for each of them to achieve their perfect preppy look.

    koreanmovie.comkoreanmovie.com

    Here's some of the still images from Boys Over Flowers:

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    koreanmovie.com

    Photo Source

    Source URL: http://castleofrock.blogspot.com/2009/06/
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