Wednesday, September 28, 2011

White Chocolate Amaretto Custard Pie with Raspberries

Trying something new today!

As you probably don't know, I really like to cook. Especially when it comes to baking.  As the cold season approaches, I get to start flipping through my recipes for tasty treats that will fill my house with the warm smells of fattening, delicious goodies.

My coworkers also benefit from this.  I bake an assortment of custard pies and fancy cakes, and every time I bring one in, my coworkers urge me to post pictures & recipes on my blog.  So, here we go!

Above you see one of my very favorite recipes, my white chocolate amaretto custard pie with raspberries.  And yes, it looks even prettier in person and yes, it tastes just as amazing as it sounds.  I know that sounds a little vain, but trust me, it's pretty awesome.

Don't believe me?  Well, then, try it out for yourself:


* 1 Shortbread Pie crust (I abhor graham crackers, but change it out if you must)
* 1 pint (2 packs) fresh raspberries**
* 1 pint heavy whipping cream
* 1 small can sweetened condensed milk
* 3 egg yolks, well beaten
* 3 tbsp. cornstarch
* 1 box Bakers white chocolate squares 
* 2 tbsp. butter
* 2-3 Tbsp. Amaretto extract (I like a LOT of amaretto flavor, but use as much or as little as you like. I do NOT recommend substituting amaretto liquor, as it doesn't have nearly as much flavor as the extract does)


In a large saucepan, combine COLD heavy whipping cream and slowly add cornstarch, mixing constantly with a wire whisk. Turn heat to medium-low. Add condensed milk and egg yolks, still mixing constantly.

In a separate pan, add all white chocolate ingredients, amaretto extract to taste, and butter.  Cook over LOW heat (or in a double boiler), mixing occasionally, until it's all melted together (so that it doesn't stick to the bottom) and bubbling.

Continue mixing the custard almost constantly over low to medium-low heat.  When the custard becomes thick (so that the wire whisk leaves trails) and just starts to bubble--and this will take about 20 minutes, so bring your patience--turn off the heat and add the white chocolate mixture.  Stir well with a spatula until bubbling again.

Pour the custard into the pie crust and let cool for at least an hour (NOT in the fridge).

Top with fresh raspberries** and chill at least 3 hours in the refrigerator. Overnight is best.

**You CAN use frozen raspberries, but make sure you thaw them and drain them VERY WELL.  They will still turn the custard pink.  It will taste fine, but it'll look a little funky, and I personally think that it tastes better with the fresh ones.**

As I make my other recipes, I'll post them up here as well as some pictures.  You can look forward to things like Bananas Foster Custard pie, chocolate pecan custard pie, lemon-blueberry cake, and others.  Yay, baking!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

OoOoO! Another Blog Award!! Yaay!!!

Mucho thanks to Darian Wilk over at Crazy Lady with a Pen for bestowing upon my unworthy person theBlog on Fire Award!

So, things you may not know about me...

1. If I could have any superpower, it would be shape-shifting, because that’s kind of like having all the powers.

2. If I had a genie offer to make me twice as smart but it would make my butt bigger, I’d take the deal. I’m already fat. Maybe if I were smarter, I’d figure out a way to become rich and have my entire backside removed.

3. I hate Ikea furniture.

4. I have an orange tree in my backyard that mysteriously came back from the dead after the week-long ice storm of doom “killed” it last winter.

5. I’m secretly afraid that people will think I’m insane/psychopathic when they read how dark most of my writing is.

6. I have a very low threshold for stupidity. Alsmost as low as my threshold for bad grammar. Almost.

7. I could bore you to tears with my expansive and surprisingly useful knowledge about cables. HDMI, firewire, VGA, SVGA, component...the list goes on and on.

And, last but not least, I pass this award on to seven worthy recipients. Hmm...let me see...

1. The Monster in Your Closet

2. Tara Tyler Talks

3. De's Stories

4. Paranormal Pursuits

5. Writing Cocoon

6. Ink Poisoning

7. Talia Jager

Yay!! :D

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

More Vague Angry Robot News!

If you haven't been keeping up with Angry Robot Books on Formspring, you should check it out:

Angry Robot Books' Formspring

In other news, today will be my second day at the new position.  I think I'm going to like it (outside of the cruelty of a "normal" 9-5 day...already I miss sleeping in!!), but it's SUPER more complicated and intensive than my last job, so, sadly, I may not have the time to blog & Twitter and keep up with my various other social networks like I used to.

I shall give it my utmost, but between the new crazy work schedule, homework, trying to write Book 2 (I'm toying with the title of Blood and Black Sand, but I'm not married to it), and keeping up with the various chores & obligations of being a wife and homeowner and BFF, etc. while trying to get enough sleep so I don't die on my way to work, the blogosphere may be the one to suffer the most neglect.  I may only get to post once or twice a week, if that.  So don't fret if I wander off for a bit.  If you're that thirsty for more news about yours truly, there's always Facebook & Twitter.  Those are much easier to keep up with, as I can fit in little snippets on my breaks/lunch hour.

Have a fantastical week!


Monday, September 19, 2011

By the Powers!!!

How could I have forgotten???


For shame; I ought be keelhauled and sent to the depths fer forgettin such a noble an 'onrable day as this!!  Ye'd think me a sprog!!

Official site for "Talk Like a Pirate Day."

Bosun got yer tongue? Click here to larn how to be gittin' yer pirate speak on!!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Got a Promotion (Sort of)!

Starting October 1st, I'll be the new Binding Supervisor for Collection Development!  It means nothing to you, I know, lol.  Basically I'll be in charge of binding old journals/books etc. into hardcover books, things of that nature.  And I'll have a minion; a student assistant. And no more parking permits or walking 8 blocks in the hail and rain and snow and heat!  HUZZAH!!

So why is this just "sort of" a promotion?  Because there's no more money in it, just the experience.  Although I may have to make some squeaky-wheel-type noises over that.  I'm going from a glorified receptionist position to an actual supervisory one, which has way more responsibility and a much harder/more challenging workload, and I don't know if it's fair for me to still only make a lowly receptionist's salary.  Plus, thanks to the whole "government employee salary disclosure" thing, I know that the woman leaving that position has only been there for 6 months and she makes about $3,000 more a year than I do.  So...yeah.  I'll wait and see how this whole thing pans out, though, before I go making waves and whatnot.  I might acyually get more money, or the job may be very different now than it used to be, etc.  Lately the university has had a tendency to change jobs, supervisors, and offices around willy-nilly. 

Heck, my first 2 weeks at this job I went through 5 different bosses.  They cycled them around like a birthday card.  Two weeks ago they changed it again and I had yet another supervisor, and now I'm leaving myself.  Half the people who worked in this office when I started have been moved to other offices/buildings/departments, and others have come in only to be moved yet again.  Fun on a bun.

Ah, well.  It's a good thing.  I want to get into collection development or technical services anyway.  I like me some books (shocking, right?) and I'm not necessarily what you'd call a "people person."  Books don't ask me stupid questions or threaten to call the police if I don't know where the nearest bicycle rack is located, and they don't call me nasty names when I tell them they have a late fine.  Actually, books never get late fines, because they're inanimate objects.

Ok, I'm rambling now. 

Back to work...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Review: Prophecy - The Fulfillment by Deborah A. Jaeger

I got this book, Prophecy - The Fulfillment by Deborah A. Jaeger through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program.

This book suffers from a tragic lack of decent editing. I was so distracted by odd phrases, typos, and the exorbitant number of adverbs that I had to re-read the first few chapters. Heck, one of the pitch sentences on the back cover read, “An urgent need to follow it's covenant.” Shameful.

Granted, I’m also a writer and I can’t turn off my editor-vision when I’m reviewing something. But the incorrect phrasing would have distracted me anyway. For example, “…worked himself to the brink of exhaustion physically” (should be “…worked himself to the brink of physical exhaustion.”). Or, “Unable to think of anything else to say, the gift touched him deeply" (I’ve never known my gifts to think, speak, or rub my shoulders, but perhaps I’m doing it wrong.).

And if I have to cull my adverbs, then everyone else does, too. One section toward the beginning of the book almost made my head explode. In the course of one paragraph the character does things finally, tenderly, tightly, gently, sharply, bloodily, and quickly. I had to set the book down for the day.

Mid-scene POV shifts, an abundance of qualifiers (the favorite seemed to be “Listen”), and—and this may be a purely style-related complaint—I found the contraction use stilted and inconsistent. It kept jumping out at me throughout the entire book. It’s hard to explain. “What is the way to the store?” “I do not know what is wrong.” “He does not know what is going on and I am nervous,” etc. It just didn’t seem like realistic dialogue. I tried to ignore it but it took me out of the story ALL THE TIME. If there were no contractions at all, it would’ve been better. Some people don’t believe in them, and that’s fine, but the inconsistency made it worse. “I’m here because I am having dreams and I have not been able to tell what they are about.” People don’t talk like that. Am I crazy?

Moving on. The characters started out too idealistic. Everything in their lives went exactly as they wished, forever and ever, amen. I could almost see them skipping through the meadows, tossing flower petals into the air as they told tales of their perfect lives. Jillian’s mother says this about her marriage: “in all their married life, she’d never been bored.” Really? Never? Every single moment of the last 20 years was a paradigm of joy and adventure? Never a tedious night in front of the television? Never a sex-withholding, I-can-last-longer-than-you, silent-treatment-filled weekend? I don’t think so. I got that the author wanted to highlight the difference between the veritable utopia of their lives before their darling daughter got pregnant and the chaos it degenerated into afterward, but I didn’t believe it.

I also didn’t get why everyone flocked to the hospital so fast. People may take a 19-hour bus ride to look at a piece of toast with the imprint of the Virgin Mary on it, but they don’t want to just look at the house where the person who ate the toast lives. So why gather around to stare at a hospital when no one knows what (if anything) happened? Countless people overwhelm the city before the first news report. And even then, where was the skepticism? Why didn’t anyone, at least at first, think or even suggest that the doctor who was “miraculously healed” just hadn’t been that badly injured, or perhaps he’d spilled blood on his hand and had never been hurt in the first place? Without those X-rays showing otherwise, which nobody saw except the doctors, the whole “miracle” thing is nothing but hearsay. But no. The whole world jumps straight to “miracle.” I don’t buy it.

But let’s just say throngs of desperate miracle-seekers did surround the hospital. Would they really lock sick and dying people outside behind police barricades in the middle of a heat wave? It’s a HOSPITAL. And that press statement? REALLY? The hospital representative essentially blurts out, “Yes! We witnessed a miracle healing!” and goes back inside. No one does that. It creates hysteria and attracts crazy people. Heck, Obama took his time announcing that bin Laden was dead, and we already knew about it.

The “telling” really got to me, too. Characters said things like, “I’m scared and confused,” and “I’m just so tired and worried.” It reminded me of that episode of Futurama where the Robot Devil says, “You can’t have your characters just come right out and SAY how they feel. That makes me angry!”

I had a tough time powering through this one, what with the ridiculous number of punctuation errors and the weird lack of contractions. The story itself was ok. It got a lot better about halfway through, when Jackson almost cuts his arm off to experiment with the miraculous amniotic fluid, then injects more of it into random patients. That was pretty cool. But overall this book lacks subtlety, suffers from too much “telling,” and the editing was just abysmal. I give this two stars, tops, and a “pleh.”

Prophecy – The Fulfillment – by Deborah A. Jaeger

· ISBN-13: 978-0982889107
· ISBN-10: 0982889100

Publisher: Hampton House Publishing; First edition (June 14, 2011
Publisher's page

Amazon page for Prophecy - The Fulfillment by Deborah A. Jaeger

Monday, September 12, 2011

I Have Returned!

Ah, the beach was GLORIOUS!!!  Our hotel was right on the beach, so we got to see the waves anytime we wanted.  We even saw dolphins swimming right offshore form our window.

The beaches were all free, the parking was free; even the FERRY was free!!  I couldn't believe it.  Thank you, Texas Department of Transportation!!

The picture above is my husband David and his Mom, Legay, chillin at Crystal Beach after a few hours of riding the waves and rooting out shells with our feet in the ocean.  I pulled up a pretty snail shell only to find it inhabited by some little hermit crab dude.  I laughed and showed it to my husband, and the little crab got SUPER pissed off.  It thrust all its little pincers and feet out and waved them at David's face like he was gonna pull his eyeball out.  It might have been more frightening than laughable if the little guy had been more than an inch tall. 

Oh, it was so peaceful.  The weather was perfect, the food was good.  It feels like we were gone for weeks.  I can't wait to go back.

If you'd like to see more pictures, click HERE and you can see them all on my Facebook page.  I'll be adding some more over the next couple of days, when David & his Mom finish uploading all of theirs.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Vacation Time!

It's been a long week, hence I haven't had it in me to blog too much.  Got a reject on the partial sub from my dream agency, another R on a short story sub, found out my sister has to have one of her ovaries removed, my best friend collapsed into a sobbing heap after a drunken argument with her boyfriend...

So, yeah, it's time for a little R&R.

My mom-in-law is whisking me & David off to Galveston Island tomorrow morning, and I'm SUPER EXCITED about it! Ok, so it's not as pretty as the picture at the top of this post, but it's still the beach and the weather will be sooo nice this weekend!  It's been years since I've been to the ocean, and I've never been to an island before.  Shoot, I think the last time we actually went anywhere for a real "vacation" was like 3 years ago (camping at Palo Duro Canyon--awesome, btw).  We'll be staying at a hotel on the beach, take a ferry ride to other islands, and hang out like a beach bum on the sand.  Yay!!

So I shall be incommunicado from about 2:00AM tonight until Monday-ish.  I'm setting Goblin's humiliator on vacation mode so I don't get that dreaded 7-days-without-writing badge, and I'm not going to think about anyone but myself for the next 2 days. 

I will, however, bring a notepad to the beach with me in case inspiration strikes for some story of novel, etc.  I'm not a fool. :)

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Favorite Books Day!

I LOVE me some books.  No doubt you all do, too.  It's why we write.  That or the psychosis.  I don't know you people all that well, so maybe you're crazy.  Maybe you hate books but the voices in your head demand you commit their manifesto to writing.  Well, if that's the case, I'm sorry, take a pill, and come back tomorrow.

For the rest of us, I thought it'd be fun to talk about some of our favoritest books.  It's magical, isn't it?  To delve into other worlds until you feel like you know those characters better than you know your own friends.  It's seductive and wondrous and the reason why we all write books of our own.

Watership Down by Richard Adams is one of my all-time favorite books.  I got hooked on it as a kid when my uncle rented the movie.  A few years later I read it, and I've been re-reading it ever since.  It took me a few years to convince my husband that this wasn't a run-of-the-mill kiddie story about bunnies.  He finally broke down and read it, and now it's one of his favorite books, too.

Raptor Red by Robert T. Bakker, a paleontologist, is also up there in my favorites.  I've worn out 3 copies.  It's one of the only books I know told from the raptor's point of view.  It's AWESOME and I love it and you should love it, too.

Dinotopia Lost by Alan Dean Foster is the only book I've ever read twice in a row.  I read "The End," closed the book, then opened it right back up again from the beginning.  It's got pirates, T-rexes, lost cities made of gold, Buddhist raptors...oh, I want to go read it again right now.

Elantris by Brandon Sanderson is AWESOME!!  The story of the fallen god-like creatures who have been locked inside their own broken city, surviving despite their utter lack of food or water.  It's so vivid, the characters so well-done.  Well, that's Sanderson for you, isn't it?

The Illuminati by Larry Burkett scared the bajeezuz out of me when I first read it as a teenager.  It's a Christian story that's sort of about the End Times.  What scared me was how realistic it was.  MUCH better than the "Left Behind" series.

And last but NEVER least, Song In The Silence by Elizabeth Kerner.  This is my all-time favorite fantasy books.  The other 2 in the series weren't quite as good, but this one was JUST. SO. GOOD!!  It's about a young woman who travels to the fabled "Dragon Isle" in search of the mythical creatures who live there, but finds SO much more than that. 

There are so many other books I count as my favorites; The Pern books, the Samaria books, the Temeraire books, Animal Farm, Jurassic Park, the Liveship trilogy, the Weather Warden books, the Stand, A Wrinkle in Time, the Bloody Jack books, the Narnia books...oh, there are just so many!  There's never enough time to talk about how wonderful books are!

So what about you?  What are your favorite books?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Yay free book!

I won a free copy of Phoenix's new ebook, SECTOR C!!  HUZZAH!!  I love free stuff!  I won it last Friday, but I was busy enjoying the non-brain-melting-temperatures all this holiday weekend, so the post had to wait until today.  I've only read the first few pages so far, but I'm digging it.  And I'm beginning to suspect that I'm a tough sell, because I seem to hate so many books lately. 

Everyone check out SECTOR C here, at Phoenix's Blog.  She's awesome!

Or just buy it HERE!

Also, for those of you who are also stalking the Angry Robot people, there is a new question & answer posted up on formspring with a hand-chewingly Cryptic Answer.  I seriously joined formspring just so I could follow them. 

Happy Tuesday!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Eureka Moment and A Huzzah!

I've recently discovered that what I read has an impact on how I write. The True Blood books are fun and all, but not necessarily conducive to writing epic fantasy. But give me some Brandon Sanderson or George R. R. Martin and suddenly I know exactly how to describe that fight scene I’ve been struggling with. I’m not talking about stealing their words or anything monstrous like that, of course, but I do find certain books and writing styles…inspirational. When I read books by authors I admire, by writers I strive to emulate, it gets my synapses in line and sets my mind into a more creative pattern. I think.

It’s often hard to articulate what your own writing is missing. You know what I mean. The opening scene is ok, but not great. No matter how long or how hard you glare at that infuriating little cursor, you just can’t figure out what’s wrong with that chapter. Last night I started reading Game of Thrones (which is REALLY GOOD, btw), and I only got five pages into it because I suddenly got all these ideas for my own WIP.   I scrawled four handwritten front-and-back pages of dialogue and scene information into the notebook I keep near my bed for just such occasions, and had to force myself to stop at around 4AM so I could get some sleep. The scene I was writing has nothing to do with the scene I was reading about, but it sent my brain and fingers into a frenzy nonetheless.

I always read for an hour or so before I shut out the lights. I’m starting to think that’s why I get so many ideas while I’m trying to go to sleep.

Well. It seems I’ve found myself a new cure for writer’s block. Just goes to show you how right everyone is when they tell you to keep reading.

And a big, bone-crunching roar of Congratulations to Phoenix, who just published her ebook, SECTOR C!

YAAAAY!!  (Muppet-like flailing of arms in joy inserted here)