Samhain 2013 Newsletter

Greetings Everyone,

Welcome to Issue #9 of my quarterly newsletter, posted to and e-mailed to subscribers on Samhain 2013.

Harbour Con-Fusion in St. John was great fun. I had the opportunity to work alongside actors, artists and writers of local, national and international repute, deliver and attend panels and enjoy the company of other geeks and nerds. Many thanks to the staff for its hard work and hospitality!

The Ruin of Beltany Ring
I've enrolled The Ruin of Beltany Ring: A Collection of Pagan Poems and Tales in the Kindle MatchBook program, which means the digital edition of the collection is available at the reduced price of $1.99 to purchasers of the print edition. I've also uploaded it to Smashwords and made it available in epub format for Apple iPad/iBooks, Nook, Sony Reader, Kobo and other e-reading apps. You can purchase it through your favorite ebook outlet or directly from Smashwords.

I'm also delighted to report the collection continues to receive favorable reviews. Rebecca Buchanan of BookMusings calls it '...wonderful, thoroughly engaging, always amazing'. Ser of Pagan Book Reviews says '...the author twists you up in one storyline before whisking you off to the next world, not giving you a chance to collect your scattered emotions. That is, if you read it all at once as I did my first read-through, unable to put it down...'. And finally, Jennifer Lawrence of Eternal Haunted Summer writes '...I’ve re-read this collection three times since I originally got it; the first read-through happened during my down time at Pagan Spirit Gathering this year, and by the time I finished, I wanted to run up to random strangers, open to a poem or story at random, and growl, “Read this!” at them. Sanity prevailed, but I would still like to encourage — even demand — that everyone who has a chance to read these tiny marvels do so; it won’t be a waste of time'. Many thanks to the reviewers for their kind words!

New Projects
In other news, I've been asked to contribute to a forthcoming anthology of fantasy and science fiction entitled A is for Apocalypse and edited by Rhonda Parrish. This themed anthology will feature twenty-six stories, one for each letter of the alphabet, all apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic. I have been randomly assigned the letter 'N'. I dearly love apocalyptic fiction, and I have decided to write an epistolary tale, which is a form I also love and used to write The Longest Road in the Universe. I've also decided it's time to revisit the Akhila, Divided universe, as one reviewer hoped I would after he read the tale. So, sometime next year, there will be an apocalyptic, epistolary tale in the Akhila, Divided universe based on the letter 'N' alongside twenty-five other tales o' woe.

Vegan Recipe of the Quarter
Many people tell me they don't like tofu, but I maintain the reason for that is because so few people prepare it correctly. Luckily, my husband's tofu-fu is strong, and he makes a wicked stir-fry. Here, then, are his directions for stir-fried tofu:

Tofu as a Meat Replacement

Do you have a cast iron pan, or at least one with a thick bottom? The trick to good, well-textured tofu, IMHO, is to slow-fry it on the stove.

You'll want to start with firm or extra firm tofu, and not that "silken" stuff either. If you can find a local producer of tofu, then you probably can't go wrong with them. Otherwise, try to find a brand that has a clear container -- for whatever reason, I always seem to do better with those.

Get the tofu out, letting the water drop off it, wrap it gently in a towel, and put it between two dinner plates. Balance something heavy on top (like a heavy-ish pan or a large-ish can of beans) and let it sit for an hour or so to press out more moisture. Alternatively, you actually can get away with just squeezing it between the plates with gentle but firm pressure; this doesn't work near as good, but gets the job done.

Pro-Tip: Tofu that has been frozen and then thawed stays firmer for frying.

Put a liberal dollop of olive oil in a pan and get it heating up; don't use the high setting for this, but rather something between half-heat and medium high. Meanwhile, slice up your tofu; I usually cut it down to cubes between 1 inch and 1/3 inch on each side, sometimes as rectangles, but that doesn't really matter. When the oil has heated a little, put the tofu in.

The trick initially is to handle the tofu as little as possible. You'll want to let it cook on the first side for four or five minutes. When you turn it next, you may need to scrape a little bit to get the pieces to come up, but just try to be gentle and patient and it will all work out. Even if they stick badly, shredded and fried tofu still works a treat for most recipes (although this rarely happens in my experience). The goal is to get the tofu browned on as many sides as possible without burning (hence not using high heat).

While the tofu is cooking, you'll want to mix up some sauce. Sometimes I make a lot of sauce, like when I want to fully flavor the a pile of stir fried veggies when I add the tofu to it, and sometimes I make just enough sauce to flavor the tofu, like when I'm going to add it to a soup. When you add the sauce to the tofu, you'll be cooking it in a bit, allowing it to absorb and condense, so you'll want to make more sauce than you think you'll need.

What goes in the sauce is largely up to your tastes. My standard approach is to mix together some soy sauce (1/8 cup or so) with some broth (about 1/2 to 1 cup), possibly mixing in a heaping tablespoon of peanut butter and/or a dash of cayenne (or rooster sauce) and/or a splash of liquid smoke (for extra "meaty" flavor). If I want extra sauce, I double or triple all this accordingly.

When the tofu is browned all over it will seam a bit hard and crusty. Turn the pan on high and immediately add the sauce mix. Give it a minute or two, either getting all the sauce absorbed if you made just a little sauce, or boiling it to soak in and set the flavors. What you're left with is firm, meaty, flavorful tofu that everyone will rave over.

That's all for now. Thanks for reading, and I'll be back at Imbolc with more news and nomz.

All the best,
C.S. MacCath