BVC EATS: Cassoulet

In the United States making cassoulet is a Big Cook. But where I sit as I type this, ten miles from Castelnaudry, it’s standard cuisine, almost to the point of fast food. Behold!

CannedCassoulet
My husband here is standing bemused in a discount supermarket. The wall of canned goods in front of him is every possible permutation of the ingredients of cassoulet, canned. Duck legs plus beans. Duck legs plus sausage plus beans. Beans with sausage. Beans alone. Beans with pork and duck but no sausage. And so on, a wall of canned goods that extends for the full wall of this supermarket. And we have not even wandered over to the freezer section, where there is yet more. I am in the white-hot center of cassoulet, folks.

Therefore I had not intended to make my own, but to simply follow humbly in the footprints of the local chefs. Alas, the coronavirus lockdown has closed every restaurant in France. The only possible response is to make one’s own cassoulet.  So, are you with me? Here we go!

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Meanwhile in Australia

I found it difficult to start writing this. Normally it’s easy enough to talk about what’s happening in Australia. There’s always lots of talk about. It was a bit harder during the bushfires, because I didn’t want to talk about … Continue reading

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The Brighter Side of Masks

 

When I would remark to a friend about how eerie everything looked during “lock-down”— vacant parking lots and streets, closed businesses downtown—I would often get the response of “But think how clean the air is! They can see jelly fish in the Venice canals!”

So yeah I get it. Always look on the bright side of life, as Eric Idle does in The Life of Brian. I usually do, too, but it’s difficult to feel happy about this glimpse of a pristine environment when I know that as soon as we begin to resume whatever normal is ahead, things will return to dirty.

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The Rambling Writer’s Greek Islands 2019, part 7: Roman Ruins in Kos Town

Thor and I continue our ramble among the ancient Roman sites threaded along the streets of Kos Town. Come walk with us!

NOTE: Of course, Thor and I had to make another trip to Greece, as he’s fallen as much in love with the islands as I am. This time I wanted to return to Crete after 37 years, to introduce Thor to “glorious Kriti” and research more settings for my novel-in-progress, THE ARIADNE DISCONNECT. After time-traveling via ruins and museums to explore the mysterious, vanished Minoan culture, we went ferry-hopping to relax on a couple of our favorite islands.

Last week we exited the reconstructed Roman villa that gave us a 3D experience of a luxurious two-story dwelling of aristocrats. Kos Town is a walker’s paradise, as so many sites are within easy strolling distance. Passing this lovely little bird vapa that provided springwater… Continue reading

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New Worlds Theory Post: Cultural Spheres

(This post is part of my Patreon-supported New Worlds series.)

One of the ways to think about the relationship between a made-up world and the real one is with the anthropological concept of a cultural sphere.

The easiest way for me to illustrate this is by pointing at the animated film Moana. You will not find the island of Motonui on any map; it isn’t Hawaii or Samoa or New Zealand. But it does feel like, if you were to sail around the tropical Pacific for long enough, you might find yourself on the shores of Motonui — and that’s because it was built to fit into the Polynesian cultural sphere. Which makes it different from, say, Dorne in George R.R. Martin’s series, where you might be able to trace similarities between certain aspects of life there and real-world societies, but there’s no single place where it very obviously belongs.

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Blogging the Magna Carta #10

by Phyllis Irene Radford

There has always been a different justice system for the rich, whether we acknowledge it or not.  Those with money can afford to hire the sneakiest and most powerful lawyers.  I’m told there are also ways to delay proceedings and manipulate schedules to get the most sympathetic judge.  Jury doctors (people who profile the perfect jury for your case then set about making sure those are the only, or at least the majority, of the jurors chosen) are in high demand, if you can afford them.

People without a lot of disposable income either rack up enormous debt going through the court system or accept whatever is given them in legal aid lawyers and the first 12 jurors who qualify.

The system though different in 1215, also favored the rich, especially those with titles. Continue reading

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Confessions of a Ghost Writer: Ghosts & Demons & Zombies (Oh, my)
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I’ve never sat down and counted all of my ghostwriting/editing clients. Every once in a while, when I go in to clean up my file folders, I realize that I’ve had more than I thought and that I’ve actually forgotten about some of them. Some I work with once and that’s that; some I’ve been working with for years. A lot of them, in one way or another, came to me from one of several editorial services I’ve done work for—companies which, in turn, came to me through a wonderful (but, alas, deceased) freelance resource called Freelance Daily.

The clients that puzzle me most stand at two ends of a spectrum. At one end are talented people who have no desire or who lack the confidence to take the next step toward getting published. At the other are people with little or no writing talent, a seeming inability to understand how either the writing craft or publishing works, and the ambition and confidence to believe that they can be (or already are) just as good as Ray Bradbury or Shirley Jackson or Umberto Eco (you may add your favorites to the list).  Continue reading

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The More Things Change…

One of the joys of writing historical fantasy is mining the past for tidbits and obscure events on which to hang a story…and one of the best places to do that is the wealth of magazines and other periodicals that survive from the nineteenth century. Even better is the fact that there are plenty of such magazines to be had for a pittance at flea markets and places like eBay.

I’ve been fortunate to acquire a number of issues of a magazine called The Mirror dating from 1824 and 1825. They make fascinating reading: what do you think of the illustration here for a proposed tunnel to be built under the Thames in the May 22, 1824 issue?
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BVC Announces A Bewitching Governess by Patricia Rice

A Bewitching Governess by Patricia Rice
A Bewitching Governess
School of Magic 2
by Patricia Rice

Lady Olivia Malcolm Hargreaves is a viscountess, a widow, a governess, the adopted mother of a disabled toddler–but above all else, she is a survivor. When the father of the young children she’s been caring for arrives on Christmas Eve, drunk and ranting, his aura and her own sad experience tell her he’s dangerous.

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Lounging in France 6: Windows

ShuttersThe reason Other Architecture is so fascinating, I realize, is because all my life I’ve lived in American houses. I know how those are put together and why. If you go somewhere else, it’s not the same at all. Why is that?

So we have the stone building and the tile (or slate or thatch) roof. What about windows? Windows are for us essential, like toilets and running water. I personally would not live in a domicile without any of these, would you? And we moderns are totally spoiled with glass. You can go to any shopping center and see a window taller than you are, wide enough to drive a truck through, that is utterly weatherproof and shatterproof yet perfectly clear. That was undreamed of in your great-grandparents’ day. Want one for your house? No problem, as long as you have the money.

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