The Hardest Post… As goes the publishing world, so goes the blog.

After six years, I’m done. The publishing world has changed, we all know it. So has the world of blogging.

Once upon a time, as recently as 2-3 years ago, a blog was crucial for outreach, for getting to know readers and other authors. Blogging meant putting oneself out there. No more.

Readers find books and authors via other algorithms. Via Amazon and Goodreads and who knows where. There is far less interest in the individual thoughts of individual authors like me.

I’ve loved this blog. It is precious to me. I’ve loved interacting with my readers and my friends. I will miss writing posts and reading your comments. But it’s time to make a change. And change is good. I’ll have more time to write regular old books.

Regular old books… Therein lies the reason I began this blog– to get my books read. Well, you’re reading them. And I thank you.

This blog will become a website. I’ll keep my blog posts archived. You can read them anytime! I plan to include a number of features and I’ll post updates whenever I release a new book.

So ends an era. It’s been fun. You all keep in touch because I would be lost without you. Love, Julia

Baba Ganoush (Translation: Yummy Eggplant Dip)

Fun factoid #1: literal translation from Arabic– Pampered Papa or Coy Daddy

Fun factoid #2: Eggplants contain nicotine. Why is this? Good question! Because the tobacco plant is a member of the nightshade family, along with eggplant, tomato, tomatillo, chilie, peppers, potatoes! Eggplant contains more nicotine than the other nightshades, aside from tobacco, at 100mg/gm. Twenty eggplants equal one cigarette. Better get to eating if you’re trying to quit!

Fun factoid #3: As usual we have an excess of eggplants, which is fine because my Montana daughter insists I overnight the excess to her. Short growing season and this past week they’ve had several feet of snow. (Hello ice age!)

So I’m making Baba Ganoush. Love. It.

It’s super easy. First I grill the eggplants (2 large or 4-5 small-medium) until they are soft and the skins are charred. Then I stick them in a plastic bag to steam. I let them cool to make peeling easier.

Grilled Eggplant. Ready to Peel.

Grilled Eggplant. Ready to Peel.

Toss the charred skins. Throw the meat of the eggplant into a food processor or blender. Add salt, 2 cloves of garlic, the juice of 3 lemons and 1/2-1 cup of tahini. Start with 1/2 cup. Blend. Add water, slowly, as needed to make the Baba Ganoush creamy. Taste. You may need to add a little more salt, lemon juice or tahini.

Scoop into a wide bowl. Sprinkle with sweet paprika or zaatar and drizzle with olive oil. And voila! Serve with pita bread and crudites.

Baba Ganoush.

Baba Ganoush.

And done!

 

Jake and his baby spiders.

Remember our giant orb spider? The spider who built a web across an entire garden bed? She was the size of my hand, fingers spread. She was so enormous the dog barked at her.

Ms. Spider only came out of hiding at night. Same with her daughters.

Ms. Spider, unfortunately, died. At least I assume she died. She must have been quite old for an orb spider. But she left us with an egg sac.

The baby spiders were tiny, practically microscopic when they first hatched. They flew off on silk threads, spreading throughout the neighborhood. Some, however, stayed right here. Yay!

We have two big babies in the garden, another in one of the hydrangeas, and a third and fourth in the redwoods– and these are just the spiders we’ve spotted.

The two babies in the garden have taken over their mother’s spot– same garden bed. One is on each side of my tomato plant. Their webs are so large, as are their legs, I refuse to harvest any tomatoes– mostly because while I know where one of the spiders spends her day, the other has hidden herself well. I can’t find her during the daylight hours. I suppose I’ll have to relocate the spiders before I pull the tomato plant at the end of the season. Because no way do I want those spiders on my hand or in my hair. They’ve grown to silver dollar size. Yikes! Big enough that Jake has noticed them. Now he barks at them when they appear in the early evening.

Here’s a video of their mom. If I can I’ll post a video of the babies.

Busting Nutrition Misinformation – Yes, you may have s’more!

A beloved s'more.

A delicious s’more.

The s’more has a long and glorious history.

It was first mentioned in Girl Scout literature back in 1925. That’s almost 100 years ago, folks!

A s’more, the simplest of confections, is made of a fire-roasted marshmallow and a layer of chocolate sandwiched between two graham crackers. There you have it. Our family has been making and eating s’mores for as long as I’ve been alive.

Remember when you were a kid? There is nothing quite as exciting as searching a campsite for the perfect stick, cleaning said stick, sticking a marshmallow on the end of said stick, sticking the stick holding the marshmallow into a campfire, roasting the marshmallow until it is nice and toasty and then smooshing the hot marshmallow between two graham crackers upon which awaits a thin section of milk chocolate.

If you did it just right the chocolate melted and wow, you had the perfect gooey dessert. I want s’more, please! (The truth is, s’mores are so sweet I’ve never actually met anyone who could eat more than two.)

It’s a multi-generational thing. After a summer barbecue, my parents love to make s’mores as the grand finale. My kids love s’mores, but only on camping trips.

Outside of the right setting, s’mores hold less appeal.

You see, that’s the thing. It’s not as if we’re all eating s’mores every single day or for every single meal. S’mores are usually reserved for camping trips, campfires, summer camp and cookouts/barbecues.

I spent two summers as a counselor at a summer camp for diabetic kids and even those kids got to eat s’mores. We just made sure we had the insulin to cover the sugar rush. Nobody ever passed out. Nobody complained. On the contrary, the kids were in s’more heaven.

I’m asking a serious question here. Why mess with a good thing?

To honor National Roasted Marshmallow Day, the Forest Service suggested we replace the chocolate with fruit or peanut butter. See here:

The USDA Blog.

Huh?

(Look, if it’s the sugar they’re worried about, get rid of the marshmallows, which are made pretty much entirely of sugar.)

Uh… no. To eliminate the chocolate from a s’more makes the confection not a s’more. And besides… ewwwwww. (Generally speaking I hate marshmallows. A s’more is the only time I’ll eat one.)

There is a prevailing myth about sugar. Any Amount of Sugar = Bad Things.

And yes, indeed, too much sweet stuff does equal bad things. But I’m not advocating too much sweet stuff.

Table sugar contains linked fructose and glucose. Honey contains un-linked fructose and glucose. Corn syrup contains maltose, but high fructose corn syrup is high in, surprise, fructose. Fruit is a bag of watery fructose with fiber and micro nutrients.

Look, I’m not a huge fan of sweets, aside from chocolate. I don’t think loads of sugar and processed carbs are good for us. Period. However, although I know many many many people will disagree, I don’t see all that much difference in the way our bodies metabolize all of the sugars mentioned above. I, personally, avoid products containing high fructose corn syrup because I believe concentrated fructose can be problematic. I don’t think sugar (including fruit) is dangerous, provided you are not diabetic, and it is eaten in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

I definitely don’t see a need to change s’mores. A s’more is perfect as is. (And this is coming from a woman who detests marshmallows under all other circumstances.)

I’m jumpin’ on the Lawrence Block bandwagon!

He has the right idea. I just don’t know if I can implement it.

He goes into seclusion to write a new book. Wow. He’s so prolific!

I could write a whole lotta stuff if I could only put the rest of my life on hold.

Well.

Unfortunately isolation, even for a few weeks, is out of the question. At least for the time being.

But yeah, I can see it. I’m going down my mental list of all those books in the queue.

Solitude.

Solitude.