Today, in my constant attempt to bring you great authors and even better food (!) author SORCHIA DUBOIS is visiting me. She’s brought along a tasty summer salad recipe and an even tastier sample of her newest book ZORAIDA GRAY AND THE FAMILY STONES.
Here’s Sorchia to tell you all about it….
In my Zoraida Grey series, Zoraida and her BFF Zhu are women of many passions. Food and drink come in about third on their list (magic and men being numbers one and two, not necessarily in that order.) From curly, cheesy fries at the local eatery in their hometown of Bear Hollow, Arkansas, to the tempting fare at a formal dinner in a haunted Scottish castle, they eat and drink their way through one magical adventure after another.
Self-depravation may be coming through in my writing since I often reward myself for meeting a deadline or word count with a wee dram. My first book, Just Like Gravity, contained so many references to a particular brand of Scotch that my publisher dedicated the entire book to the distillery and one of my reviewers says she gets thirsty every time she reads a passage about whiskey.
The format of a Gothic novel seldom allows for the inclusion of recipes, so I use my blog—Sorchia’s Universe—to cater to my own passions with an irregular feature I call the Writer’s Scotch and Salad Diet. The Writer’s Scotch and Salad Diet came about when a friend and I surmised that it should be possible to build a healthy diet around alcoholic beverages (it isn’t) and set out to prove it (We didn’t—don’t remember what went wrong, but something did go horribly, horribly wrong and I just thank the Powers That Be it happened before cell phones.)
Not to be deterred by common sense or nutritional science, to this day I continue the search for the elusive balance between healthy food and booze. Let me show you what I mean. Here’s a salad recipe and suggestions for drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) to accompany it, followed by an excerpt from Zoraida Grey and the Family Stones.
Let me hear from you! What is your favorite combination of food and drink?
The Writer’s Scotch and Salad Diet: The Couscous and Black Bean Fiesta Salad.
Black Beans—2 cans or 1 cup of dried beans
¼ cup of minced fresh cilantro
½ tsp cumin
4 T Olive oil
3 T Lime Juice
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1 ¼ cup broth—any kind but chicken or veggie broth work nicely
1 cup raw couscous
1 chopped green pepper
1 chopped red pepper
1 cup frozen corn
8-10 chopped green onions
Shredded cheddar cheese
- If you use dried beans, cook until tender and cool.
- Prepare the couscous using the broth and cool.
- Mix everything except the tomatoes and cheese together and salt and pepper to taste. If you use frozen corn and mix in the rest, the corn will chill it down quickly.
- Chill for at least half an hour.
- Garnish with cheddar cheese and tomato slices.
A nice Speyside Scotch might go well with this salad—Glen Livet, Balvenie, or Glenfiddich. Something light and a little sweet. I love Rob Roys—especially smoky Rob Roys made with Laphroaig––which would be a good finisher to nearly any meal.
While I am enamored of Scotch, the salad does have a Mexican tang to it, so a Marguerita wouldn’t be amiss. Being a purist in all things, I advise against a mix. Get your bar book out and make it from scratch—not hard and much, much better. As always, avoid the cheap stuff. Patron Silver is touted as the best by many tequila aficionados in my acquaintance but I am not of their number so I can’t say anything beyond that.
If you don’t drink alcohol, then a sparkling white grape juice would be perfect. Go for something not loaded down with sugar or make your own:
- 2 bottles well chilled Welch’s Sparkling Strawberry Lemonade. (This stuff may include sugar so you could make your own strawberry lemonade to create a healthier drink.)
- 3 cups Welch’s 100% White Grape Juice. (You can get the unsweetened variety which is only 45 calories per serving.)
- 2 cups peach juice.(Unsweetened!)
- 1 lemon, thinly sliced.
- 1 peach, thinly sliced.
- In a large punch bowl or pitcher stir together Sparkling Lemonade, White Grape Juice, Peach juice, lemon slices, strawberries, lemons, and peaches.
Here’s a little excerpt from Zoraida Grey and the Family Stones which shows Zoraida and Zhu in action at a formal dinner in a haunted castle.
Ursula moves her soupspoon—the one on the far right, I note—from front to back. Her manner looks much more civilized than the shoveling motion Zhu and I employ at home when we eat Campbell’s Chicken and Noodle soup on the porch. I catch Zhu’s attention and cock an eye at Ursula. Zhu sets her mouth grimly and copies the motion. Shea watches first her and then me. His eyebrows arch high and his mouth twists with suppressed laughter.
“I heard about the renovations.” I take a sip of soup, trying not to slurp. I could lap the savory chicken broth like a dog if I wasn’t trying to impress my new relatives. “That tower looks like it could withstand a hurricane.”
“The outer rockwork is as perfect today as it was when Lorne Logan built it in the fourteenth century.” The corners of Shea’s lips turn up slightly. Miss Watson Part Deux told us he is a murderer, a dangerous fellow likely to gut us in our sleep. He crackles with magic like the rest of them, hiding something from me and from the others. His voice is a delicious blend of rolled l’s and burred r’s, more Scottish than Michael’s clipped English accent. “We’re repairing doorways and excavating an old part of the interior that has been in ruins for nearly two centuries. Old tunnels and dungeons. Michael wants to make it part of the tour and charge an arm and a leg for the privilege. Always thinking ahead is our Michael.”
Michael shrugs. “One must do what one can to ensure the family’s security.” He smiles at me, but his words are for Shea. “We must make difficult choices and utilize our resources wisely. Shea and I have a disagreement about how to do that. Ours is a family of great diversity, and so we seldom agree on any course of action. I’m afraid family history is fraught with such disagreements, ranging from minor arguments to full-fledged feuds.”
The servants clear away the soup and bring in platters of fish ringed with lightly toasted Brussels sprouts. Fresh basil and rosemary leaves sizzle on the surface of fillet. It’s a far cry from the fried catfish they serve at Hofstedler’s in Bear Hollow.
Again, I survey the choices of implements at my disposal and wonder which one is for the fish. Who knew eating could get this complicated?
Across the table, Shea unobtrusively touches the fork on the outside left with his index finger. He shoots me a pointed glance, the smartass. With another quiet gesture, he indicates the knife on the outside right. I pick up my fish knife and fork and narrow my eyes at him. I can see enough of his mind to know he finds me hilarious.
To buy your very own copy of Zoraida Grey and the Family Stones—now a finalist in the Prism Awards offered by the Fantasy, Futuristic, & Paranormal Romance Writers chapter of Romance Writers of America, here are the links to purveyors of fine literature as close as your computer screen:
You can connect with Sorchia here:
Sorchia Dubois lives in the piney forest of the Missouri Ozarks with seven cats. She edits technical writing part time, but she spends a number of hours each day tapping out paranormal romance, Gothic murder, and Scottish thrillers.
A proud member of the Ross clan, Sorchia incorporates all things Celtic (especially Scottish) into her works. She can often be found swilling Scotch at Scottish festivals and watching kilted men toss large objects for no apparent reason.