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Celebrating with my favorite snack!

Hello, Precious Readers!

It’s January, which means it’s the beginning of a new year. New Year’s Eve was fairly quiet in our home, not counting the fireworks that were set off throughout the neighborhood. To me, January not only signifies a new start, but also a time of reflection over the last year. In harmony with the season, I completed my third book, Missing You and it’s with my editor.

Sending off my book is a bittersweet sentiment. It is the last book of my current contract with Trifecta Publishing House and wraps up my character, Roxy Summers’ storyline… for now. I promise that I have several more ideas brewing, but I need to recuperate from this one.

After completing any project, as an introvert I always need recovery time. To close friends and family, I’ve already received the question, “Okay, you’ve finished Book 3. So what’s happening in Book 4?” Perhaps other authors go through this (at least I hope so!): My brain goes through a “creativity divot.” Imagine having worked for 24 hours straight, and then asked to drive a car across the country without sleep. That’s where my brain is. The larger the project, the longer the recovery time. I have a cup of creativity in my mind, and after it’s been used it needs time to refill.

Writers, we’re a strange bunch. We’re never fully satisfied with our writing. Ever. Maybe we weren’t has happy with a character or scene we’ve written, or maybe our project had typos for which we smack our heads against the surface of our desks afterward, or maybe we had to remove a character from the story, no matter how much we loved them. After a book has been submitted and/or released to the public, we’re constantly wringing our hands to know if it’s good enough, was the cover a good choice, were we able to convey the story in a way that not only matches what we envisioned, but communicated it in a way that is easily understood by the masses? This is no small feat. No matter which of these, or all of the above (and most often, more), have occurred, it’s important for a writer to take breaks to celebrate the little victories.

Otherwise, we’d go crazy.

This brings me to the topic of the day. Today is January 19th, which means it’s National Popcorn Day! Popcorn is my absolute favorite snack. I’m not talking about the chemical filled-quick fix-microwave stuff.

No, no way.

I’m talking about: fresh, fluffy, crunchy, tender air-popped clouds of savory deliciousness. There are many varieties of corn that affect the final shape of each popcorn kernel, and I like my popcorn puffy and round, known as “mushroom” popcorn. Most people use “snowflake” popcorn, which looks like a firework in the sky.

popcorndotorg popcorn shape

Image from Popcorn.org

This might seem blasphemous to other popcorn purists, but I don’t like butter on my popcorn. I don’t like soggy bits, and no matter how carefully one can drizzle, there’s always a soggy kernel. I prefer to air pop my crunchy bits, half of the time I eat it plain. No butter. No salt.

If I’m feeling frisky or needing a bit of kick-you-in-the-face flavor, I’ll add a light-to-no-flavored cooking oil (avocado oil and grape seed oil are fantastic on it!), and add seasoning flavors to it.

I’d like to share some of my special popcorn flavor go-to’s with you. That’s how much I love you.

(The following is in no particular order of preference.)

  • Brewer’s/Nutritional Yeast. Loved by vegans everywhere, it provides a cheese-like flavor, without the fat, calories, or dairy products. We get ours at our local grocery store in the bulk food items area. I also use Nutritional Yeast in several other recipes. Using Nutritional Yeast helps me with my cheese-loving addiction without the guilt.
  • My own personal blend. I don’t have an exact recipe for this one. As mentioned in previous blog posts, Mom and Dad grew up on good ol’ American farms. My mom learned comfort food cooking from her mother, and so on. We rarely used recipes, and recipes were typically for baking not cooking. For cooking, we measured with our hands and our eyeballs. If you want my personal recipe, grab your favorite storage container and shake together the following:
    • 1 part Nutritional Yeast: The amount used is what you’ll compare all other seasonings to.
    • 1/4 part Cumin
    • Large dash of Smoked Paprika (splurge on good stuff, if you can. It’s one of my few splurges. I love a good smoked paprika!)
    • Optional: A dash of Cayenne Pepper to taste
    • A dash of pepper
    • Optional: A light dash of Salt
  • Sometimes I’ll flavor the oil itself.
    • Make fresh
    • Wash and pat dry fresh rosemary stalks
    • Simmer gently in your favorite cooking oil to infuse the rosemary flavor for ~10 mins
    • Drizzle flavored oil over your popcorn
    • Sprinkle parmesan to your personal taste
  • Furikake. No, this isn’t a bad word. Furikake is a general term for Japanese “rice seasoning.” There are several varieties of flavors, but I stick with ones that focus on seaweed being broken up into tiny flakes. Sometimes this is referred to as “Hurricane Popcorn” stemming from the State of Hawaii. I prefer to use a light touch of oil instead of butter. Multiple varieties of furikake can be found at most local Asian food markets. If you haven’t tried it on plain rice, you’re sooo missing out!
  • Ranch Popcorn. I haven’t tried this recipe yet. I hope to soon. I have no comments if this will be good or not. If you try it, let me know what you think!

Although Missing You is not yet 100% done, the story is complete and it’s with my editor. There will be a few more rounds of editing before it’s sent off to the printer, but for now, I’m going to kick back with some of my favorite go-to snack, letting both my stomach and mind be refilled.

Love, and love of popcorn, to you all!
– KB

Haven’t read the Roxy Summers Mystery SeriesYou have time to catch up!
Start with Capture Me and meet Roxy in a case of cat-and-mouse for a grand Seattle adventure! Then, travel with Roxy to sunny Los Angeles for a food competition to die for in her sequel novel, Crush On You! Roxy’s third book, Missing You releases in June 2018. Keep an eye out on my bookshelf page for pre-order links closer to the release date!

IMG_20171109_222751.jpg

Get your copies today!
Katherine Bacher on Amazon
Katherine Bacher on Barnes and Noble
Katherine Bacher on other platforms:

Capture Me (click here)
Crush On You (click here)

it has a name for a reason. let’s keep it that way, m’kay?

Warning:
Below is a rant I cannot keep to myself anymore.
If you’d prefer to skip straight to the cookie recipe, please feel free to do so.

Now Precious Readers, I really hope after this post we remain friends. However, I do have an extremely serious pet peeve that must be shared.

There’s a reason it’s called “Christmas” and not “the Holiday Season.”

I know, I know. There are those who celebrate Chanukah, and Kwanza. Which is fine, I have no problems wishing someone a Happy Chanukah or Happy Kwanza. It’s those who celebrate nothing and have to make a big fuss about it that bother me.

In my place of work during my Daily Life, there are very few people who are Christians. Again, which is fine. I’m not going to shove “You should believe in Christianity” down someone’s throat. I, myself, did not become a Christian until I was 16 years old.

The problem I have is with people who are extreme to point out there is nothing. You know what? I say, let those who believe in a higher power, do so in peace. I don’t go around shoving Christianity down your throats, so please don’t Bi

If I’m wrong, or other religions, faiths, spiritualities are incorrect and there is absolutely no afterlife, reincarnation, or dispersion through the universe, then… What?  Nothing will happen when we die?

So what’s the big deal?

If we’re wrong, we’re wrong. There won’t be anything to change it and we’re all dust in the ground. Don’t go shoving your non-belief down my throat.  Honestly, what’s the harm? If it makes people act morally and humanely towards others and our environment, how is tis a bad thing? Yes, there are people who choose to use their faith as a method of hate-

which I 100% disagree with

-but 95% of believers in something tend to be more along the lines of peace towards her/his fellow man. Real Christianity specifically is of the belief that God is a God of LOVE and loves everyone, and we should treat others with love, no matter their background, sexual preference, previous sins, etc.

Now, I am definitely not saying I’m perfect.

Far from it, as you may have read in earlier posts.

I am the last person who would say I was a good person, a moral person or least of all a perfect person. However, I make choices every moment of every day to try and do my best to help others.

However, one thing I will not stand, are those who shove the idea that there is no afterlife, reincarnation, dispersion into the universe, or whatever, only to then turn around and tell me about their “Christmas” plans. Non-believers of anything should not be celebrating “Christmas.” This pet peeve irritates me to no bounds.

They should be celebrating: Winter. Or Winter Vacation. Or Snowfall. Or that crappy holiday, Seinfeld talks about: Festivus.

Christmas is a holiday specifically focused on the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

This is so important, I will repeat myself:

Christmas is a holiday specifically focused on the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

No, according to the Jewish calendar, Dec. 25th is not His actual birthday, but it is the day our country recognizes as His birthday.

I wish I did not have listen to others who do not believe in Christianity use the term so casually to define their Winter Vacation plans. There is a reason it’s called CHRISTmas, and not ATHIEST-mas. Now, Jewish, Agnostics, Buddhists, etc., at least you believe in something to celebrate during the winter season, so please go and celebrate the Winter Solstice, Chanukah, Kwanza, etc. in peace. At least you are recognizing something and calling it by its seasonal name appropriately.

For those who do not believe in anything, please leave me to celebrate CHRISTmas on my own in peace, while you celebrate your Winter Vacation.

Katie’s “Christmas Rant” – out.

To perk up this blog a wee bit, since it’s a rough way to end the Christmas Season, I am sharing a Cranberry Pecan Biscotti recipe with you. Alas, it is not my own personal recipe, I found it through a co-worker. However, since Pilot and I are wickedly poor, I tend to make Christmas Cookies each year for my family. This year I tried biscotti and they were a huge hit. I have some tips below, along with a fun article that was written about biscotti.

Enjoy!

Pecan Cranberry Biscotti

Makes approximately 24 logs, or rounds

INGREDIENTS:

½ C. pecan halves, toasted (other nuts can be substituted)

1 tsp. baking powder

2 ½ C. flour

1 ¼ C. sugar

1/8 tsp. salt

3 large eggs

2 large egg yolk

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1 C. dried cranberries

Zest of 1 lemon and/or orange

1.  Heat oven 350°.  Toast pecans in oven.  After cooled, finely chop half the pecans, and leave remaining ones in halves; set aside.

2.  In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine baking powder, flour, sugar, and salt. In a bowl, beat eggs, yolks, and vanilla. Add to dry ingredients; mix on medium low until sticky dough is formed. Add in pecans, cranberries, and zest.

3.  Turn dough out onto well-floured board; sprinkle with flour, and knead slightly. Shape into 9-by-3 1/2-inch logs. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Reduce oven to 275°.

4.  Let cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes. On a cutting board, you can choose to:

a.  Cut logs on diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick slices; or

b.  Cut logs into small,1/2 inch thick rounds

Then, place flat on baking sheet; place in oven 20 minutes each side. Cool completely and place in air tight container.

Some tips:

A reminder to allow yourself plenty of time. This is a slow-baked cookie, and will need to be baked TWICE. Once for the original dough logs, and a second time to crisp up the cut sides.

For my biscotti, I only used orange zest and a little orange juice to add to the flavor of the dough.

Before kneading dough, flour your working area and your hands thoroughly. It’s a very sticky dough.  If it’s crumbly, persevere and keep working it. If it’s absolutely too dry, add a little bit of water and work the dough thoroughly before deciding to add more. IT’s supposed to be a drier dough.

When cutting the dough, I highly recommend a bread knife. If you do not own a bread knife, a serrated blade is the next best thing.

Check out this great article from Susan Russo, featured from NPR. It has some great additional tips and a little bit of history about biscotti.

Final Season’s Greetings before the New Year approaches!

Holy cow, the New Year is approaching quickly!

What are your favorite Christmas (or Chanukah, Kwanza, etc.) recipes? Please share!