Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Snippet: Cachet took his hand

Breathless with anticipation, Cachet took his hand. A current shocked her, momentarily welding their palms. His eyes flared, but he held on, his expression intent. As the sensation faded, he raised her hand to his lips and then placed it on his arm. “Shall we?”
He was so tall. Dancing with him was like a dream. She didn’t have to worry about him accidently bumping her wings or treading on her large gargoyle feet. “There are four of you? Are there others nearby? Neighbors, perhaps?”
His smile was slow, a dazzle of sharp fangs. “I’m afraid not. I suppose that means I’ll have to keep you company.” He didn’t seem the least bit sorry.
The dance ended with them conveniently close to the French doors leading to the terrace. “Would you like to get some fresh air with me?” He smiled charmingly. “The scents are thick in here.”
“Would I!” she exclaimed. “I’ve been longing to escape since I got here.” She bit her lip, afraid he’d take that wrong. “I meant to say, you’re right about the air.”
He smiled and led her outside, but she balked when he made for the steps leading to the garden. At his inquiring look, she stammered, “I can’t. I have to keep up appearances.” It was important to fit in with the humans, and she wouldn’t risk all her grandmother’s hard work. Besides, it occurred to her that she didn’t really know him. She’d all but assumed he was her stone knight, but it was foolish to think he’d chosen her after less than an hour’s acquaintance. She had to be smarter about this.
“Ah.” He looked around and led her to a candlelit corner of the terrace and sat across from her at a small table. “Tell me about yourself. I had no idea there was a female close by. How long have you been here?”

She rubbed her hands nervously under the table. He was so handsome, he made it hard to think. “We moved into town last year, but we’ve been very careful. It’s just been me and Gran since the troubles.” The French had rampaged, smashing gargoyles. Thousands were killed in one night, and others fled the terror. “Gran was too old to survive the predators in the wild, and she felt I was too young. She said it was better to remain on the outskirts, to pretend to be poor gentry. Even though…” She’d been about to say “even though there’d been no chance of a mate”, but caught herself in time. “It’s difficult to be around so many humans, knowing what they’re capable of.”

Monday, April 14, 2014

GF bread, artichoke pesto

I have a cold and dentist appointment today, plus the farmer is stirring up dust in the wheat field next door. At least it's sunny. Oh, and I cracked the gluten free bread code. It's soft, it bends, and it has no weird ingredients. The only bad thing is how quickly it disappears.

Flour blend:

1 c rice flour
1/2 c toasted bean flour
1/2 c cornstarch
1/4 c GF potato flakes
1 tsp pectin

The blend is mild and the toasted bean flour provides protein that helps structure without raw bean flavor. Can't be tasted in the finished product.

The potato flakes make the bread bend, add moisture and make the bread stick together. Unlike the tapioca flour in so many recipes, it's a nice local ingredient, easy to find and inexpensive. I suspect it could be replaced with tapioca flour, butternut squash or sweet potato, but I haven't tested those. The last time I peeled and cubed a butternut, my hands were coated with a very sticky, hard to remove film that probably could be an excellent binder.

Pectin is a binder. You can find it with canning supplies in your local store. It's also good for you.

The bread:

2 1/4 c GF flour
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp oil
2 eggs

1 2/3 c water
2 tbsp rice flour*

1. Mix dry stuff (except for rice flour). Add eggs and oil.
2. Cook rice flour in 1/3 c water until a paste forms. Add the rest of the water to the pan and stir, adjusting temp until the water is bath water temp. Add the paste to the dry stuff, eggs and oil. Stir well, by hand or with a mixer. If you don't have a mixer, it will still turn out okay. The batter will look thin, like cake batter. Don't panic! This is what it should look like. Don't add more flour.

*The paste is a binder and keeps the bread soft and moist. Don't skip this step.

3. Grease and flour a bread pan (I use parchment instead of flour).

4. You can let this rise and double in size in the mixing bowl for more flavor, or bake right away if you're in a hurry. I was in a hurry, so poured the batter in the prepared pan and popped it into a preheated 350 F oven and baked for 40-45 minutes until the bread was set and didn't jiggle when tapped with my finger. I then took it out and brushed it with a beaten egg (egg wash) and sprinkled sesame seeds over it, because I like pretty food. I baked it 5 to 10 min more, or until a knife stuck into came out pretty clean.

4. You can slice it right away or let it cool a bit. My crew didn't give me a chance to let it cool, falling on it like piranhas on a drowning nudist. The word spread that the pesto rocked, and soon I was left with mere crumbs on the cutting board and rocking bowl devoid of pesto. I had to bake another batch.

This is a soft bread on day one, only slightly dry on day two, at which point it makes excellent toast, lovely with pesto, bruchetta, thin ham slices, egg salad, etc.

My brother in law was here when the first batch came out and said, "This is good bread." John asked me to consider not to changing a thing, or at least recording it so I don't lose the recipe, because this is good.

Artichoke, Spinach or Chard Pesto:

1 (8 oz) pk frozen artichoke hearts or spinach, thawed
(I had a bag of fresh spinach/chard, which I tossed in the microwave for 30 seconds and added to the blender).
1 c fresh parsley (or 1/2 c dried)
1/2 c toasted walnuts or pecans, optional (because it's good without it)
1/2 tsp lemon juice
2 cloves roasted garlic (or 1/4 to 1/2 tsp garlic powder)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 c good olive oil

1. Combine all in blender and pulse until blended. Leave a bit rough for texture. Serve on toast strips.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Introducing Gargoyle Girl!

While Scorched Earth finishes baking, I thought I'd serve a sweet taste of what I'm working on now. Welcome back to the Iron & Hemlock universe!

Gargoyle Girl

Gargoyle Girl
Copyright © 2014 by Autumn Dawn


Gargoyle Girl

Sometimes a heart of stone is a good thing.

Super-duper book blurb here.

Chapter 1

“I’ve heard good things about this house.” The old woman’s bones creaked as she maneuvered her navy taffeta skirts up the stone steps. Her face was weathered, but her black eyes were sharp and her white hair was in a neat bun. The old dame knew her business, knew the right impression to make. She’d survived the French Purge, saving one precious child from the butchers. They’d fled to England to make a new life, and she would do all in her power to see the girl found a new clan.
Cachet nodded and absently wished she could adjust her wings. Carefully folded against her back, they itched with tension. At least the humans couldn’t see through the glamour; she didn’t want the night to end in flames and pitchforks.
She was only forty-six, and the invitation to the party at Lord Griffin’s house had made her swoop with excitement. Not only was it the most glamorous thing that had ever happened to her, but the house was rumored to be a hotbed of magical activity. What better place to find other gargoyles?
Lord and Lady Griffin welcomed their guests in the front foyer. A former playboy, Lord Griffin looked resplendent in his black tailcoat. His tawny hair appeared as if he’d raced to the party on a horse and leapt off moments ago. With his hooked nose and slightly pointed chin, he seemed predatory, and he studied Cachet with brown eyes that glinted gold.
Lady Griffin was elegant in a boat neck burgundy gown with a front skirt gathered and pleated to reveal the ruffled black underskirt. Her black hair was pinned up and decorated with an unusual fascinator. The silver griffin had golden topaz for eyes and was accented with several brown feathers traced with gold.
Her blue eyes lit with pleasure when she saw Cachet. “My dear, welcome!” Her smile widened as her gaze swept Cachet’s form. “You will be very popular with the young men.” She kissed Cachet’s cheeks in and warmly welcomed Cachet’s grandmother. “Mrs. Black, I’ve so looked forward to meeting you in person. Our house welcomes you.”
Mrs. Black smiled with pleasure. “I’m excited to further our acquaintance, my lady.” She ushered Cachet into the party, surveying the gathering crowd, and settled stiffly on a couch. “Ah, I could sit here for a hundred years,” she said wearily. Under the glamour, her true skin had become very stiff, with an ashy cast that had been worsening over the last few months. She wouldn’t be able to rise without assistance.
“Not yet, Grandma,” Cachet said softly, attempting to smile. Even with the glamour, her face was too strong, her eyes too big for conventional human beauty. Her ebony hair and tan human skin was unfashionable, and her filed talons had to be disguised as French manicured nails, a somewhat racy choice for an English miss.
She was used to being a wallflower at these gatherings, her family considered odd. She sighed and glanced longingly across the room at a dark window, wishing she could escape the overwhelming noise and smells of beeswax, perfume and perspiring human. Grandma hadn’t flown in years, so Cachet did the hunting. She could be out there now, snagging a fat rabbit, surrounded by the scent of pine and earth.
She straightened as a body blocked her view. She looked up and gasped. Another gargoyle!
Handsome, his wings hooked over his chest like a cloak. He had a strong, deeply boned ebony face with large dark eyes and white hair that fell past his shoulders in in a silky mane.
She froze, suddenly shy, and went gargoyle still to avoid detection. Her heart raced, and she fought the frantic urge to see if her hair was smooth and her wings arranged to their best advantage. Did he like short girls? She was unbecomingly petite for a gargoyle…
That was when she noticed that he was gazing at her grandmother with surprise and concern. He stopped before the couch and bowed politely. “May I help you, elder? Are you alone?”
Mrs. Black sniffed, scenting the air with her old nose. She paused, arrested, and exhaled with great relief. “Take care of her. Make her happy,” she murmured.
Startled, he finally seemed to notice Cachet. His eyes widened in surprise, his gaze slowly sweeping her form.
She snapped out of her daze, trembling with excitement as her grandmother introduced her. “This is my granddaughter, Cachet Black. You may call me Mrs. Black. And you are?”
The gargoyle bowed politely. “My name is Rook. My brothers are here somewhere; there are four of us at Griffin House.”
Four! Four male gargoyles! Cachet wanted to dance with joy. She had four potential mates to choose from…if they liked her. She bit her lip. “May I meet them?” she asked shyly.

“Of course.” Rook glanced at the Mrs. Black for permission and held out his hand. “We might see them better from the dance floor.”

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Spent all stinking day figuring out why my website program refused to update. The upshot is that I now have to post changes to a different directory on my site. I don't know why that was changed, or when, or why they couldn't have sent out a helpful email to let me know this. ARGH!!!

After intense prayer alternating with snarling, I got it fixed. I know this is going to happen again, because it seems to be a yearly thing, but dear God, please help me to figure it out quicker. Honestly, I just want to post updates and get on with my day.

Anyway, SE is being edited, so I thought I'd work on gargoyles. It won't be tonight, though. At least there's Jim Henson's Creature Shop tonight. Maybe I'll plant stuff, too. I could use a bumper crop of feverfew.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Nearly done with Scorched Earth. Beta, Judy, status? Are you up for it? Let me know what your schedule's are like.

Will post release date when I get one. Stand by.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Snippet: Memory Dust

We've settled into the new normal of little sleep and insomnia around here, so we've agreed that I need to focus on work. It reminds me of when the kids were little, actually. That was a productive period of my life, so let's see if chaos is the flame to my tinder.


Sleep sounded good, except they hadn’t hammered out the arrangements. She didn’t want him in her house, but was hesitant to send him on his way. He had answers about what she was and she needed him, but by his own admission, he was dangerous.
“You should sleep with a weapon tonight,” he advised as he followed her inside. “I’ll be on watch, but it’s best to be prepared.”
She halted. “Do you expect trouble?” She’d had enough brushes with death today.
He shook his head. “I don’t know why the Fates freed me and bound us, only to allow you to nearly be killed. It doesn’t make sense.”
“Which is why we’ll explain this once,” Destiny interrupted. Her red dress swirled around her as she crossed the yard, ignoring the way Tremor swept Cara behind him. It was impossible to tell if she’d teleported or simply walked out of the dark, but as one would expect of a seer, her timing was impeccable.
Cara tried to look around Tremor, but the man was actually made of rock, and impossible to budge. She resorted to tugging his arm and hissing, “Please! I want to see.” It gained her two inches of viewing space, but his grip on her wrist prevented any more. He seemed to be old school, a warrior who stood between the women and children and danger.
At the moment, she didn’t mind. She’d had enough of the Fate’s brand of “helping” today.
The Fate raised a brow at their little tussle. “Congratulations, Earth. Your sentence has been served and your probation approved. You might wish to know that the Oracle has discovered your awakening; it was her men who attacked you earlier. While she doesn’t yet know about your bride, it’s only a matter of time. You might wish to find a more secure place to stay.”
“Who’s the Oracle?” Cara demanded, but Tremor shushed her impatiently.
“Later,” he growled. “Where do you recommend we stay?” he asked the Fate, his gaze distrustful. He might not like her, but she would know the safest place for them. Fates might seem fickle, but they were excellent advisors. He needed time to teach Cara how survive life as an elemental. If she didn’t even know how to feed without instruction, then she would be helpless without him.
She canted her head. “You might try the Garden of the Gods.”
“Why are you asking her? She’s a…a smotherer, that’s what! She drowned me in mud!” Cara said, outraged.
Tremor gave her a little shake. They didn’t need to provoke Destiny. “Hush.”
Destiny looked amused. “I’m not going to harm your wife, Earth. We went through a great deal of trouble to arrange her threads, and you need her sweet nature to balance you.”
“I’m not his wife!” The “sweet natured” Cara shrilled. “You can’t just come in here and push people around like some kind of diva… Will you stop that?” she told Tremor, tired of the way he shook her arm. She had no intention of shutting up.
Tremor’s eyes narrowed as he realized that. Seeing no alternative, he clamped her in front of him with one arm. As soon as she opened her mouth, he squeezed, cutting off her breath. Ignoring her outrage, he made one more request, though it galled him. “It would help if I understood how the world has changed.”
“Certainly. My sisters are updating your friends, but meanwhile…” She blew glittery dust into his face. “You’re welcome.” She disappeared.
Tremor jerked, accidently squeezing Cara, then went so still she became alarmed. “Tremor? What did she do?”
“Just a moment.” He sounded strained.
Cara squirmed, but without knowing what was wrong she couldn't do anything for him. It was difficult remaining quiet in his arms. She wasn’t used to being held like that, and his arm was curled possessively right under her breasts. It made her aware of an attraction she hadn’t expected and didn’t particularly want.
When he finally released her, he looked very tired. He let her open the door for him and collapsed in her father’s recliner, which creaked alarmingly. How much did he weigh? By the sagging look of the chair, his body really was solid stone. She managed to contain herself until he was seated before demanding, “What happened? What was that stuff?”

“Memory dust,” he said with his eyes closed. “It's pouring the last eight centuries of history into my mind.”

Thursday, April 3, 2014

ktape for broken ribs

The ER doc said not to wrap the ribs because of risk of pneumonia from fluid collecting in bottom of ribs, but coughing with broken ribs sucks A LOT. We were told to try KTape from someone who'd had broken ribs and swore by it. Just got it from Sports Authority and wrapped John, who is very, very grateful. Dropped pain level from 7 to 5 when coughing. When it hurts that bad, two points is a big deal.

Also, we made the patch wide around the hurting ribs, so maybe it would be better if we closed the gape, but we were being cautious.

It looks like a tic-tack-toe pattern around the sore patch. See it here:

He's less yellow and pale and his blood level is higher, so that's good. He lost 4-5 units (pints) of blood from internal bleeding, so he has to take iron for a while.

Hopefully he'll sleep better tonight, but he's doing better, grumpy about the down time.

Kinda nice to be the healthy one for a change :)