Positive Salsa – Cooking With A Writer

The man looked at the avocado.

“You are trying to kill me,” he said.

“You’re not allergic to avocado. That’s your brother,” I said.

He glared.

“Avocados aren’t going to kill you,” I said. “This is positive salsa. Did you know that if you think positively, you will feel better about this salsa?”

He harrumphed.

Salsa – Avocado Style

This is adapted from the Moosewood Restaurant Recipe

  • 3 whole avocados (If using Maine avocados, which are tiny, you honestly might want to use 4)
  • 1 cup tomatoes (diced)
  • .5 cup onions (diced)
  • .5 cup cucumbers (diced)
  • .5 cup red peppers (diced)
  • .25 cup lime juice
  • .25 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp cilantro
  • .5 tsp cayenne pepper
  1. Look. Dicing is hard. You’ve diced it all up, right? Good.

  2. Combine every single thing in that list in the bowl. DO NOT SECOND GUESS YOURSELF! YOU HAVE THIS. 

    Stir it.

  3. Leave it alone for 10 minutes. 

  4. Eat it. 

Man Verdict: Carrie hates me.

Dog Verdict: YOU CAN EAT THIS WITH TORTILLA CHIPS! WE LOVE TORTILLA CHIPS!

Carrie Verdict: This is the best food. Ever.

Book Expo America

I will be at BEA tomorrow, Friday, from 11:30 to noon at the Lerner Booth. I will look like I am from Maine. Come hang out!

TIME STOPPERS THE MIDDLE GRADE SERIES OF AWESOME

Time Stoppers’s third book comes out this summer. It’s been called a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, but with heart. It takes place in Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine. I need to think of awesome ways to promote it because this little book series is the book series of my own middle grade heart. Plus, I wrote it for the Emster. Plus, it is fun.

51YDGwoXfXL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE

And finally, the podcast DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE is still chugging along. Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of.

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Cooking With A Writer Pasta with Broccoli

Okay.

Let’s be honest.

I picked this recipe because I thought it might be cheap and I, my friends, am a writer and I used to be a journalist and we are almost always cheap.

What I failed to notice is that almonds are expensive.

I splurged and made it anyways.

As writers we’re always hoping to provide the right mix of elements in our story – a strong main character (protagonist), an awesome plot to hold it all together, a theme. And I was like – LOOK AT THIS RECIPE! Maybe the almonds are the surprise that will be the breakthrough element that makes this story/recipe fantastic! I will buy them. Look at me splurge!

The broccoli is totally meant to be the hero here and the pasta is the plot and the sauce, which isn’t actually a sauce, is like the theme, tiny bits of bread crumbs and almonds and olives holding it all together, making it all resonate.

But, it didn’t work that way for me.

It was like a not-quite-good story where all the elements are there, but… it just didn’t pop. Shaun, the husband, and star of the podcast “DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE” found this glee worthy.

Shaun: We are doing this because you are the former vegetarian trying to convince me, Captain Meat, that vegetarian cooking is awesome.

Me: Yeah. You just called yourself Captain Meat. You know that, right?

Shaun: Whatever. The point is that  you are the one who didn’t like the last two recipes and I loved them.

Me:

Shaun begins dancing merrily around the kitchen like a 6-6 hobbit.

Me: Um.

Shaun continues dancing.

Me: That means my plan is working, right. YOU are the one loving them.

Shaun: 

Me: 

Shaun: Oh.

Pasta with Broccoli

This is a modified recipe, heavily inspired by Truly Madly Pasta. The calorie count is TOTALLY an estimate. The portion size is for four Carries or two Shauns. Yes, Shaun is my husband’s name. He eats a lot. 

  • 14 oz short macaroni (Ditali is its official name; it does not exist at my grocery store)
  • 26 oz broccoli
  • 4 oz green olives that lack pits
  • 4 TBS olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic (all chopped up)
  • 2/3 cup almonds (blanched and magically ground)
  • 6 TBS bread crumbs (toasted recently)
  • whatever seriously parmesan cheese (to taste is a nicer way to say 'whatever')
  • to taste agan olive oil (extra virgin because it's getting sacrificed)
  1. Put a burner on HIGH heat. Put water in a big pot that can hold the pasta. Boil the water. Add pasta. Add salt to boiling water. Boil for 10 minutes or al dente. 

  2. Do not let the water boil over. This makes a big mess. Do not let anyone else be in charge of the boiling water. This is your story… I mean water. You own this. You get to be in charge. 

  3. Step away. Let someone else be in charge. Water boils over and makes a huge mess. Realize this is what it’s like to give up control of your manuscript. Cry. Clean up the mess with your tears. 

  4. While you are crying and the pasta is boiling, steam broccoli for six minutes. Do this in a different pot! Sing the “Chopping Broccoli” song from old SNL. Feel a bit better. 

  5. Chop olives while all this other stuff is happening. Think about how good books come from having multiple elements weaving together. Decide that the pasta is the plot. The broccoli is the characters. The olives are… um…. What are olives, really? 

  6. Heat olive oil in pan, a frying pan. Add garlic. Cook one minute. DO THIS GENTLY! Add olives and ground olives. Add a TB or more of water randomly. Take it out of the pasta pot if you can. It is better for sticking, plus less wasting of water. 

  7. Feel good about how eco-friendly you are. Gloat. 

  8. Drain the pasta. Try not to think about the water. 

  9. Mix the pasta, the broccoli , the olive/almonds/garlic mix, the bread crumbs. Drizzle extra oil on top. Bring out the cheese. 

Dog Verdict: We liked it!

Man Verdict: I loved it!

Carrie Verdict: Um…. yeah…. Are there red pepper flakes anywhere?

https://carriejonesbooks.bloghttps://carriejonesbooks.blog
Cooking With a Writer

WRITING NEWS

TIME STOPPERS THE MIDDLE GRADE SERIES OF AWESOME

Time Stoppers’s third book comes out this summer. It’s been called a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, but with heart. It takes place in Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine. I need to think of awesome ways to promote it because this little book series is the book series of my own middle grade heart. Plus, I wrote it for the Emster. Plus, it is fun.

 

And finally, the podcast DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE is still chugging along. Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of.

Dogs are smarter than people - the podcast, writing tips, life tips, quirky humans, awesome dogs

Cooking With a Writer: Black Bean Soup Recipe That is Allegedly Spicy But is It?

There are certain really important questions in this world.

Why does asparagus have to smell soooo rotten when it cooks?

And why does my asparagus have cool googly eyes?

Black bean soup recipe
And a hat

Why does my dog Gabby have to lick my fingers every time I sit down and type?

Cooking with a Writer Black Bean Soup Recipe
Fingers are yummy!

No, Gabby, “fingers are yummy” is not a good answer. 

And why does Gabby think the UPS man is evil incarnated?

Gabby: No, that prom dress is evil incarnate. What were you thinking?

*sobs

One of my major questions of all time is why is black bean soup not so tasty?

Like I love refried black beans. I love black beans in a regular way. Why not the soup?

I tried a recipe to find out.

Black Bean Soup – Allegedly Spicy

It’s soup. It’s made from canned black beans.

  • 2 tbsp olive oil (enough to coat the pot's bottom)
  • 2 onions (chopped, diced, cut)
  • 2 celery stalky things – ribs? Ribs sounds creepy (chopped)
  • 5 garlic cloves or 7 TBS (Totally up to you, but mince it)
  • 5 tsp cumin
  • .5 tsp red pepper flakes (This was not spicy enough for me)
  • 4 cans black beans (rinse. drain. )
  • 4 cups veggie broth
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • salt and pepper (as much as feels good to you)

You can garnish. It will impact the calorie count, obviously, but it's way more fun – cilantro, avocado, cheese, tortilla chips

    1. Find a pot. Study the pot. Is it big enough? 

    2. Put the olive oil in the pot. Turn the burner onto medium. Watch the oil get warm. Ponder life. 

    3. Wonder why you’re writer.

    4. When the oil is shimmering like a vampire in a successful young adult novel/movie franchise, add the onions, celery, carrot and maybe salt if you are into that. Cook 10 minutes or until the veggies are soft and mushy. 

    5. Think about how you changed those veggies from hard things into soft things. Feel powerful. Wish you could elicit that same kind of change in your main character and her story arc.

    6. Add garlic. Think about vampires. Wonder if world is ready for another vampire franchise. Add cumin and red pepper. Cook 30 seconds. HURRY! 

    7. 30 seconds pass so quickly when you aren’t waiting for an agent to call. You have no time to ponder this. Instead, add all the beans and the broth. Turn the heat up enough to get a simmer.

    8. Lower the heat so that it’s a gentle simmer and keep it that way for 30 minutes.

    9. Cry. Because the world really isn’t ready for another vampire franchise yet even though you, personally, have written 374,012 words about vampires and love and garlic. 

    10. Stare at the social media outlet of your choice for 30 minutes while your soup is simmering. Pretend like you’re going to use this time to write. 

    11. Don’t write. 

    12. Go back to the kitchen. Really super carefully get 4 cups of the soup (more if you like your soup thick like your prose and plot and descriptions). Blend/puree that soup in a blender. Be careful of steam. 

    13. Return blended up soupy stuff into the pot. Stir it all up. Add the cilantro if you want, lime, salt, and pepper. Taste it. 

    14. Eat that soup. It should be dark like the night that your story’s vampires emerge from, dark like your villain’s heart. 

    Black bean soup recipe
    Black bean soup recipe

    Gabby the Dog and Spartacus the Dog’s Verdict:  They won’t let us taste this. It’s all ‘black beans and dogs don’t mix’ and ‘You’re name is Spartacus not Fartacus.’ Humans….

    Man Verdict: This is delicious and filling. But I’m going to go have a third bowl anyways because I don’t believe in moderation.

    Me: I think it needs more cumin and spice and salt and cumin and lime and cumin.

    Man: There is no pleasing you.

    Me: I’m a writer. All I want to do is improve things. It’s how I am made.

    https://carriejonesbooks.blog Recipes with a Writer. Cooking With a Writer

    WRITING NEWS AND APPEARANCE AND STUFF:

    THE CLASS AT THE WRITING BARN

    The awesome 6-month-long Writing Barn class that they’ve let me be in charge of!? It’s happening again in July. Write! Submit! Support!is a pretty awesome class. It’s a bit like a mini MFA but way more supportive and way less money.

    PRAISE FOR CARRIE JONES AND WRITE. SUBMIT. SUPPORT:

    “Carrie has the fantastic gift as a mentor to give you honest feedback on what needs work in your manuscript without making you question your ability as a writer. She goes through the strengths and weaknesses of your submissions with thought, care and encouragement.”

    FLYING AND ENHANCED – THE YOUNG ADULT SCIENCE FICTION SERIES

    Cross Buffy with Men in Black and you get… you get a friends-powered action adventure based in the real world, but with a science fiction twist. More about it is here. But these are fun, fast books that are about identity, being a hero, and saying to heck with being defined by other people’s expectations.

    This quick, lighthearted romp is a perfect choice for readers who like their romance served with a side of alien butt-kicking actionSchool Library Journal

    TIME STOPPERS THE MIDDLE GRADE SERIES OF AWESOME

    And finally, I made a little video for my TIME STOPPERS books.

    Time Stoppers’s third book comes out this summer. It’s been called a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, but with heart. It takes place in Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine. I need to think of awesome ways to promote it because this little book series is the book series of my own middle grade heart. Plus, I wrote it for the Emster. Plus, it is fun

    Cooking With A Writer – Dude, There’s a Burrito in my Spaghetti Squash

    I convinced The Man and The Dogs to let me try another vegetarian recipe.

    “It’s for the blog,” I said.

    “Does the blog earn us any money?” The Man asked.

    “Does this vegetarian recipe have bacon bits?” The Dogs asked. “Bacon bits do not count as meat.

    “No,” I said. “And no. And yes… chopping meat into tiny bites and bits does not take away the qualities of meat.”

    The Dogs decided to sleep through the recipe, which I understand. They’d had a hard day of barking at UPS drivers and squirrels, drooling on windows, and longing for meat products.

    The Man did not sleep through the cooking.  He had questions, sort of like a copy editor or something… So many questions about every little detail.

    “Does this mean you’re finally going to get rid of the gigantic spaghetti squash that’s been in our bread box for months?’ The Man asked. “Because then I am good with this recipe as long as we can go get pizza later.”

    I have a lot to put up with here. Obviously.

    carriejonesbooks.blog

    This bad boy recipe is really loosely adapted from a much grander recipe from Cookie and Kate. You should check them out and applaud the beauty that is their website.

    For background if you are new to this part of my blog:

    Everyone always talks about writing being like cooking.

    Clarification: By everyone, I mean writers. Writers like to talk about themselves.

    Anyways, there are a million blogs about how writing is like cooking, but not really anything about cooking like a writer. So, our new Thursday segment is now COOKING LIKE A WRITER.

    https://carriejonesbooks.blog

    What does this mean?

    It means I’m going to share one recipe with you each Thursday and it’s not going to be shiny and pretty and slick. It’s going to be real, people, because writers of kidlit are authentic AF.

    Here is your Thursday recipe. The hardest part is cutting the damn squash, honestly. It was so hard! I had to get help.

    Burrito Bowl inside a Spaghetti Squash! Say What the What?

    Writers! YOU CAN DO THIS! You can make a thought into a story. Of course you can make a squash into a burrito! 

    Also, the calories are on the upper end of the scale because I’m imagining you’re using a lot of toppings because writers are like that if we have other jobs. If you don’t have another job, you probably won’t use cheese, right? Because cheese is expensive! And maybe not as many beans? Then your count is going to be in the 250 range. 

    THESE ARE THE ROASTED SQUASH INGREDIENTS – ACT ONE

    • 2 squash – medium, take out its innards and seedy things.
    • 2 TBSP olive oil
    • salt – dash
    • pepper – a few dashes

    THESE ARE THE SLAW INGREDIENTS – ACT TWO

    • 1 package cole slaw mexican salad mix OR two cups of green cabbage shredded
    • 1 can black beans, drain it because it's icky if you don't
    • 1 red pepper, chopped
    • 1/2 cup green onion – all parts white and green, we love all parts here
    • 1/3 cup cilantro
    • 3 TBSP lime juice

    THESE ARE THE SALSA SAUCE INGREDIENTS – ACT THREE

    • 3/4 cup salsa verde
    • 1 avocado – make it ripe, dice it up
    • 1 TBSP lime juice – yes, again with the lime juice
    • 1/4 tsp salt – yes, again with the salt
    • 1/3 cup cilantro, you've got it, again with the cilantro
    • 1 clove garlic

    Random garnishes if you are into that – cheese, more cilantro because we're trying to increase the livelihood of those who produce cilantro, I guess?

      1. I am so sorry. But you have to cut the squash in half. I know! I know! This is hard. This requires muscles. Writers’ only muscles are in our fingers. This is not enough to chop spaghetti squash in half. 

      2. Recruit help to cut the squash in half. This is like a beta reader. It’s okay for a writer/cook to have back-up. Just make sure they are strong. 

      3. Preheat the oven to 400-degrees Fahrenheit because that’s important. You can do this. This just requires finger muscles to set the degrees. You’ve got this, writer! 

      4. Spread the olive oil on the squash. Pretend it is the tears that have coalesced after rejection letters. Look at you! You’re tears are making something delicious. 

        Add salt and pepper because why not, honestly? 

      5. Flip the squash over so that the inside parts are now down against the baking sheet. Think about how this is like your own inside parts, hidden inside your story. This is you, this squash! This is your heart and soul hidden from the reader but turning into something beautiful. 

      6. Put the pan in the oven! THIS IS IMPORTANT! Use those writing muscles and eat the time for 40 minutes, but it might take an hour. Squash like stories don’t really follow perfect schedules and some take a little longer. It’s done when a fork can pierce through the flesh.

      7. DO NOT MAKE THE SQUASH YOUR OBJECTIVE CORRELATIVE! I promise. It is not you. It is not your writer soul. You do not need to be pierced easily with a fork. You must remain intact. Take a moment to breathe. You’ve got this. 

      8. Okay. Are you okay? Make sure you’re okay. Don’t think about rejections or bad reviews. Take the slaw mix. Add black beans, the red pepper, the cilantro, the lime juice, the olive oil, the salt, the tears. Toss it around. Let it marinate. This is just like writing a book, isn’t it? Leave it alone for a bit. Do not check it out. It’s good. It’s parts are mixing up and complimenting each other like plot and setting and action and voice and dialogue. Actually, maybe walk away from the kitchen and post an Instagram poem about squash and flesh and forks and marinating slaw. 

      9. Okay. It’s salsa time! Do you feel happier? Did you write a poem? Did anyone like it? Find a blender. Borrow a blender if you don’t have one. It’s like borrowing a plot – totally not a big deal. Cough. Okay. So in the blender put the avocado, the salsa verde, the cilantro and lime juice. Add the garlic because this is not a YA novel set in Seattle. No sparkly vampires here, baby. 

      10. Writer. Um… I forgot to tell you to plug in the blender. Put the top on. Press BLEND. Watch things blend. Blend it till smooth. Marvel at how all these random bits come together to make something yummy. These bits are like your thoughts! Wow…. That’s deep! 

      11. Dude. You are amazing. You have made three parts of something! IT IS LIKE THE OLD BORING THREE-ACT STRUCTURE OF A STORY! Whoah… Mind blown. Do a happy dance. You’re amazing.

      12. Assemble it! Fluff the squash innards up. Put slaw into the hollowed out squash places. Put the salsa verde mix on top. Dang. Look at that. Garnish if you want. Eat your masterpiece! You did this, writer! You! 

      https://carriejonesbooks.blog Recipes with a Writer. Cooking With a Writer

      Man’s Verdict: That was surprisingly good actually and hearty. Probably because like you know the beans and the spaghetti squash has some density to it. The slaw is like a binder. Through some hot sauce in there.

      Dog’s Verdict: Why do you hate us?

      Carrie’s Verdict: This was pretty yummy, but cutting a spaghetti squash is so super hard. There must be an easier way to do that. Wait! I should check the internet for ways to do that.

      Squash cutting
      Squash cutting is serious, people

      The ways are here, thanks to Trial and Eater.

      Also, my middle grade fantasy series, TIME STOPPERS, is totally out there in the world thanks to the wonderful people at Bloomsbury.  It’s about two kids finding love and acceptance and friendship even though their lives have been super horrible. One of them was raised by trolls pretending to be people. Apparently, there are a lot of trolls out there.

      Writing tips and help from NYT bestselling author Carrie Jones
      Look, they made a pull quote!

      It’s sort of Harry Potter crossed with Percy Jackson crossed with Inkheart, but set in Bar Harbor and Northeast Harbor, Maine and it’s full of magic and adventure, but mostly it’s full of friendship. Because friends? Friends matter.

      To find out more about it, you can go here. I hope you all have an amazing day and eat yummy food and nobody torments you too much. Watch out for trolls.