Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Indiana Authors

I belong to the American Christian Fiction Writers organization and I'm president of the Indiana ACFW Chapter. You may have noticed that I often talk about Christian authors in this cafe'. I have been a book reviewer for magazines in the past, and I now am a freelance manuscript reviewer/reader. I've written articles and columns in the past. Anyway, I'm particularly excited about our members who are having a booksigning in Lafayette, Indiana at the Carpenter's Son Bookstore this Saturday.

If you are in the area, please stop by! (and look me up, too.) If you can't be there, be sure to check out these books and pick up some summer reading. There is something for every kind of reader here.

Big Book Signing in Lafayette, Indiana

Date: 05/31/2008
Time: 1:00-3:00 pm
The Carpenter’s Son Bookstore will host several well known and some new Indiana authors Saturday, May 31st. Colleen Coble, Denise Hunter, Brandt Dodson, Diann Hunt, Cara Putman and Jamie Carie will be part of the signing. Please join us for this wonderful signing event!

The Carpenter’s Son
1165 S. Creasy Lane
Lafayette, IN 47905
(765) 448-6434
(800) 735-0290 Toll Free

The Authors

Colleen Coble

Author Colleen Coble's thirty novels and novellas have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Romance Writers of America's prestigious RITA award, the Holt Medallion, the ACFW Book of the Year, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers' Choice and the Booksellers Best awards. She writes romantic suspense because she loves to see justice prevail and love begin with a happy ending.

Denise Hunter

Denise lives in Indiana with her husband Kevin and their three sons. In 1996, Denise began her first book, a Christian romance novel, writing while her children napped. Two years later it was published and she’s been writing ever since. Her books often contain a strong romantic element, and her husband Kevin says he provides all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too!

Diann Hunt

Diann writes: The first autumn season of our empty nest, my husband and I began a weekly three-mile trek down the gravel roads of Amish country. One night I decided to put our walk on paper and sent it into a magazine which was later published. I never dreamed that God would take our empty nest, a peaceful walk, and a computer to create a new life and ministry for me. But He did. My once empty house is now cluttered with papers and books. Our cupboards that once bulged with chips and cupcakes, now old fat-free chips (can we say cardboard?) and low carb sweets.
I wish the kids would come back.
Still, knowing this is the way of life, I've learned to adjust. I started this writing adventure seven years ago, and I can honestly say this new season of my life has helped me through the crisis of the empty nest. Now if only I could stay focused when our granddaughters call my name...

Cara Putman

Cara says, "I am a woman living a dream God planted in my heart years ago. I’ve always inhaled books, and as a homeschooled teen decided to try my hand at writing. At that time, historical fiction was about all that was avail¬-able in the Christian market, so that’s what I wrote. I went to college (Go Huskers!), moved to the Washington, DC area, married the man of my dreams, worked in the non-profit world, went to George Mason Law School at night , and then started having children. My life was far from empty, but the dream wouldn’t die. In 2005 we at¬tended a book signing at our local Christian bookstore, Carpenter's Son. There I met my dear friend Colleen Coble. My first book, Canteen Dreams, released from Barbour's Heartsong Presents line in October followed by Sandhill Dreams in May 2008 and Captive Dreams in September 2008. These the stories of my heart, since I get to tell the world about the wonderful people of my home state, Nebraska. And I’m thrilled that Love Inspired Suspense will publish my first romantic suspense Deadly Exposure in May."

Jamie Carie

Jamie Carie is an inspirational fiction novelist who believes in the power of “story” to touch hearts and change lives. Her debut novel, Snow Angel, a USA News Book award winner, is a can’t-put-down story of redemption, hope and healing. Her second novel, The Duchess and the Dragon, is a passionate tale of love between a reckless Duke and a serene Quaker woman. Jamie lives in Indianapolis, Indiana with her husband and three boys… and a giant of a dog named Leo.

Brandt Dodson

Brandt Dodson was born and raised in Indianapolis, where he graduated from Ben Davis High School and, later, Indiana Central University (now known as The University of Indianapolis. It was during a creative writing course in college that a professor said; “You’re a good writer. With a little effort and work, you could be a very good writer.” That comment, and the support offered by a good teacher, set Brandt on a course that would eventually lead to the Colton parker Mystery Series.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Memorial Day

(My Dad, in the Army during the Korean Conflict, about 18 years old)

There are so many thoughts and memories for me tied up in Memorial Day. We used to go to Tennessee and camp along the Tennessee River about this time of year, as soon as we got out of school. We'd listen on the radio to the Indianapolis 500, a track that my dad worked on as a dump truck driver before I was born. When I was pregnant with our second son, we lived in Speedway near that same track and my husband worked on the emergency med crew at the 500. We also spent many years going to Aunt Carolyn and Uncle Ronnie's house (my husband's family) on Memorial Day for the best BBQ and fellowship a family could have.

We have many family members who served in the wars that America has been in. We remember their service and are thankful that many of them came back. My Uncle Pat Warren was on a ship at Pearl Harbor that went down. He was in the water for hours. I didn't hear this story until recently. I just knew him as Granddaddy's brother who made great hamburgers and shakes and cherry Cokes at his restaurant in Tennessee, Pat's Drive-In. His mother and sisters heard about the bombing at Pearl, and prayed for him. They had no idea if he was dead or alive, but his mother was just sure he was alive. He was.

Here's a photo from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. In honor of our many fallen soldiers, as well as the ones who continue to serve, I thought you might be interested in some facts about it.

Why do we guard the grave of an Unknown Soldier? (See this link)

Some facts about the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

1. The Tomb Guards work on a three Relief (team) rotation - 24 hours on, 24 hours off, 24 hours on, 24 hours off, 24 hours on, 96 hours off. Over the years the time off isn't exactly free time.

2. It takes the average Sentinel 8 hours to prep his/her uniform for the next work day. Additionally, they have Physical Training, Tomb Guard training, and haircuts to complete before the next work day.

3. It takes 21 steps to complete a round. The 21 steps refer to the twenty-one gun salute, which is the highest honor given any military or foreign dignitary.

4. The Sentinel does not execute an about face. He stops on the 21st step, then turns and faces the Tomb for 21 seconds. Then he turns to face back down the mat, changes his weapon to the outside shoulder, counts 21 seconds, then steps off for another 21 step walk down the mat. He faces the Tomb at each end of the 21 step walk for 21 seconds. The Sentinel then repeats this over and over until he is relieved at the Guard Change.

5. The Sentinel's gloves are wet to improve his grip on the rifle.

6. The Sentinel is changed every thirty minutes during the summer (April 1 to Sep 30) and every hour during the winter (Oct 1 to Mar 31). During the hours the cemetery is closed, the guard is changed every 2 hours. The Tomb is guarded, and has been guarded, every minute of every day since 1937.

7. The average tour at the Tomb is about a year. There is no set time for length of service. The Sentinels live either in a barracks on Ft. Myer (the Army post located adjacent to the cemetery) or off base if they like. They do have living quarters under the steps of the amphitheater where they stay during their 24 hour shifts, but when they are off, they are off.

8. The Tomb Guard Identification Badge is awarded after the Sentinel passes a series of tests. The Badge is permanently awarded after a Sentinel has served 9 months as a Sentinel at the Tomb. Over 500 have been awarded since its creation in the late
1950's. The Badge is a full size award, worn on the right pocket of the uniform jacket, not a lapel pin.

9. There is the "clicker" in the shoes worn by Sentinels. It is a shank of steel attached to the inside of the face of the heel build-up on each shoe. It allows the Sentinel to click his heels during certain movements. If a guard change is really hot, it is called a "smoker" because all the heel clicks fall together and sound like one click. In fact, the guard change is occasionally done in the "silent" mode (as a sign of devotion to the Unknowns"). No voice commands - every thing is done in relation to the heel clicks and on specific counts.

10. Each Relief (team) has a rotation during the 24 hour work day. This rotation is dependent on the number of Soldier-Sentinels who are proficient enough to guard the Tomb. The standard is 3-4 qualified Sentinels, 1-2 Relief Commander/Assistant Relief Commander, and 1-2 Sentinels in training. Generally, the Sentinel will be on guard duty for a tour and have two tours off in between - then go out for another tour. However, in extreme cases, Sentinels have been known to go back-to-back for the entire 24 hour shift.

11."The Box" next to the tomb is used primarily during wreath-laying ceremonies for the Sentinel to retreat to while flowers and Taps are being presented. There also is a phone with a direct line downstairs to the Tomb Guard Quarters - this is used in times of emergencies or just to notify the next shift of something.

12.We didn't guard the Tomb in the 1920s. People often came to the cemetery in those days for picnics during which time some would actually use the Tomb as a picnic area (probably because of the view). Soon after, 1925, they posted a civilian guard; in 1926, a military guard was posted during cemetery hours; and on July 1, 1937, this was expanded to the 24-hour watch. Since then, the ceremony has developed throughout the years to what we have today. Today, most of the challenges faced by the Sentinels are tourists who want to get a better picture or uncontrolled children (which generally is very frightening for the parent when the Soldier challenges the child).

13. The remains of the Vietnam Unknown Soldier were exhumed May 14, 1998. Based on mitochondrial DNA testing, DoD scientists identified the remains as those of Air Force 1st Lt. Michael Joseph Blassie, who was shot down near An Loc, Vietnam, in

It has been decided that the crypt that contained the remains of the Vietnam Unknown will remain vacant.

14. The Sentinels do not let guarding the Tomb in inclement weather bother them.
because,they consider it an honor to stand their watch ("walking the mat".)

15. The Tomb is guarded 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There has been a Sentinel on duty in front of the Tomb every minute of every day since 1937. And the Sentinel does not change the way he guards the Tomb, even at night when there is no one around. The Sentinels do this because they feel that the Unknown Soldiers who are buried in the Tomb deserve the very best they have to give.

16. Only 3 Sentinels have been female. (from this source.)

I honor the soldiers, past and present, of the United States Military today.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Spring Came Softly

I don't know why, but I used to really dislike spring. Rainy, muddy, chilly and my allergies would usually attack. I love being outside, and it always seemed to be bad outside in spring. I felt lethargic, and dreaded all the spring activities--school winding up, graduations, Mother's Day and various parties because of those things. I really am an introvert. I would have to come up with cards and presents and I just never felt comfortable attending so many social things. I would rather stay home and dig in the dirt.

Then, my mother died on April 12th several years ago. That really didn't help my attitude about spring. Since she planted blue petunias every year in her front flower box in front of the picture window, I had always done that, too. It felt like home with those petunias.

This year is different and my attitude change snuck up on me today. I still am sneezing and headachy sometimes as things bloom. But we've had a very cool spring. I dislike high heat, so it's been pleasant outside. Yes, it's been rainy, but nice rains. I bought a really good raincoat with a lining. Wildflowers are blooming like I've never seen them. I live next to a river in a woods with a creek. It's been fun to hike in the woods, see all the wildflowers this spring. I'm enjoying this spring.

Today I went and bought some new perennials for my front beds. Ever since we moved here, I've resented this place. At my old house I had spent many hours planting beautiful perennial and vegetable gardens. I had tons of fruit trees and gorgeous forsythia, a magnolia tree,English Ivy vines, osage orange, roses, wild roses and tulips. I cried when we left. I dug up my clematis to take with me, a huge thing, and it died here.

When I moved here, everything I planted died. Not enough sun. In fact, lack of sun is also a problem for me. Our house is rather dark, too, because of all the trees.

This year I went looking specifically for shade or partial shade plants. My hostas are gigantic that I planted in past years, so I thought, why fight this? I love petunias, gerbena daisies, geraniums,roses, lilacs,and daylilies, but they just die from lack of sun.

But my lamb's ears are profuse this year! My lilies of the valley are going wild underneath the Colorado blue spruce and mugo pine. My spice bush never smelled so perfumey as this year. (All of these things I added.) And there is lemon balm coming up, even though I tore it all out! Wildflowers from the woods snuck onto my lawn. Spring beauties dared me to stop them. Who could?

Because of my attitude change, I am looking at things in a whole new way. As I sat on my front porch, my back ached from the digging. I tried to relax and just looked. I looked out and for the first time that I can remember since moving here, I saw beauty. Maybe it's because I have changed my eating habits, am being faithful to riding my bike and hiking outside, that my whole attitude has changed about this house, this place.

Change one thing, and look what happens. Even a black kitty, torn up and shy, is trying to make friends with me (and yeah, I'm feeding it.) Cats at my old house were everywhere, and I had an indoor cat there--but she died before I could even get her here.

What do you need to change in your life? Be careful, because when you change it--one thing--those other things might sneak up on you and your life will be different. Different can be beautiful, too.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Whisper of Freedom :A Chest Full of Gold

Tricia Goyer's latest book A Whisper of Freedom has just released. This book is a wonderful conclusion to her Spanish Civil War series.

To celebrate the launch, she's having a fun MEME contest. Here are the questions and my responses, but be sure to read to the end to see how you can participate and win some great prizes. And click on the other blogs listed to see how they answered the questions!

A. List three things you would do with a chest full of gold (assuming you got to keep it!)

1) Buy a house. (We have a house, but buy (cash) the one I am dreaming of, complete with library and music room.)

2) Buy plants for my new garden.

3) Let Chris retire and build his band/music to tour.

B. List three charities/missions/organizations you support (and why).

1) High school band--all four of my boys have been in this fabulous program and all four are involved in music even now. Save the music! The school board continues to try to cut it from our school curriculum.

2) Prison Fellowship: I was involved in Angel Tree in my former church in another town and continue with the national organization. My heart is always for kids.

3) Various medical research organizations: Because of my husband's work in medicine and the many friends and family who have needed cures.

C. List three ways you have volunteered your time/services.
1) Judged in writing/book contests.

2) Spend my time with high school and junior high kids in band, and organize the volunteers at state solo and ensemble contest held at our school in January.

3) Helped writers in the American Christian Fiction Writers as a state officer. Promote Christian authors (like this MEME.)

D. List three things you keep "hidden" when company comes over.
1) Well, if it were hidden, would you look for it when you came over???
2) Drumsticks for drum set.
3) Ant poison.

E. List the last three things you've lost.
1) Fifteen pounds (so far.)

2) Desire for eating meat, sweets and chips.

3) Good skin and flexibility in my fingers. (Battling a chronic disease in my hands.)

F. List the last three things you've found.

1) My hip bones!

2) A love for cozy mysteries.

3) Time on my stationery bike for an hour a day!

During the tour, you can enter to win one of FIVE signed copies of A Whisper of Freedom by signing up for Tricia's newsletter here.

Three brave "players" will be selected at random to win their own lost gold (Gourmet chocolate coins and all three books in the Chronicles of the Spanish Civil War series).

To enter all you have to do is answer the MEME on your blog and then leave a comment on Tricia’s blog tour post here that you’ve posted your MEME. Easy.

About the Book:

Battles heat up…not only those being waged by the soldiers on both sides fighting for Spain, but in the hearts and minds of the men and women who must sacrifice more than their dreams to save the lives of their loved ones.

In this meticulously researched novel, brave and idealistic Sophie, Philip, Jose, and Deion realize their only hope for freedom is escaping Spain's borders.

By continuing the story of this band of volunteers during the Spanish Civil War, A Whisper of Freedom proves that there are whispers of hope and liberty that resonate through even the darkest night.

Now it's your turn to answer these questions. Then leave a comment here, as well, and let me know that you're playing and I'll enter you in a drawing for this book if you link your blog in the comment or answer in the comments.

Thanks all so much for your willingness to play along!

To see others participating in this MEME, see below:

May 12
Trish at Books for Moms

Jennifer at So Many Books...So Little Time

Angie at God Uses Broken Vessels
Susan at His Reading List

Tiffany at Amber Miller

Brittanie at A Book Lover

Heather at Mumblings of a Mommy Monk

Pattie at Fresh Brewed Writer

May 13
Jenny at My Buckling Bookshelf

Stacey at Jamee Forever


Erica at On the Write Path

Linda at 2nd Cup of Coffee

Jennifer at Snapshot

Jamie at Surviving the Chaos

May 14
Tabitha at I Make It Up As I Go Along...

Leticia at My Daily Trek

Beth at The Write Message

Melodee at Actual Unretouched Photo

Miralee at Coming Home

Lena at A Christian Writer's World

Laura at Lighthouse Academy

Deborah at Books, Movies, Chinese Food

May 15

Lashaunda at Sormag Tours

Lori at Laurel Wreath

Tara at Piano Girl

Vicky at Savvy Reviews

May 16







Cee Cee

May 17






May 18








Thursday, May 15, 2008

Busy Month for Cara Putman


Both have been notified and will be receiving their book after the booksigning in Lafayette, IN at The Carpenter's Son Bookstore, May 31, 2008.

A Chat with Cara C. Putman

CLM: Cara has a teaching job at a university, works as an attorney,is on the board of the American Christian Fiction Writers, teaches Bible study at church, scrapbooks, is married with now three children (the newest Putman baby arrived just five days ago!) and she runs--and I'm not just talking from one job to another!She runs for fun and relaxation.
(She missed the Indianapolis 500 13K Mini-Marathon this May because of her new baby.)

New Baby Putnam: See Cara's blogspot for more news

Then on top of that, she has books coming out left and right--two from two different publishers this month! This woman has a lot of energy and intelligence. I was curious as to how she balances her writing career along with everything else she does--all important jobs, so here she is to tell us how she does it.

CLM: What are three key elements for you in getting into your writing mode? (after juggling many other jobs?)

1) Turn on the right music. If I’m working on a historical, plug in Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy or related music. If it’s a current time period, I usually start with praise and worship. Either way, this signals to my brain which time to step into.
2) Clear some clutter from my desk, so I can focus on writing.
3) Get out any research materials I’ll need. I have some great books for the 40s that help me get right back into that time period and frame of mind.

CLM:Can you tell us how you decide on a character for (the particular series)? Are there certain types of characters whom you gravitate toward for heroine/hero more than others?

CARA: What a great question. I tend to find characters in two ways. One: in my historicals, the historical thread and setting are two strong threads, so the characters tend to grow out of those areas. For example, Fort Robinson had war dog training. I knew I wanted to highlight that aspect of the camp, so built my hero out of that…why if you came to work with the horses, and the army in its wisdom assigned you to the dogs – but you’re deathly afraid of dogs? The heroine had appearances in Canteen Dreams, but I wanted to deepen her. So in the interim, what if she’s been training to go overseas as a nurse, and then gets ill and can no longer ship overseas? What would she do?

With my suspense, I tend to start with the career (journalist, attorney, etc.) and build a character from there. As I get to know the details of the character, their goals and motivations become clearer. I have found with the modern characters that they tend to have some spark of me in them to get started. But as I write more, I have to look for inspiration from other places.

CLM: How do you decide on your setting?

CARA: This was easy for my historicals. Heartsong Presents was looking for stories set in Nebraska. Since that’s my homestate, I dove into the opportunity to share some of the cool World War Two stories from that great state. I’m working on a second series set in Ohio, and picked the locations based on the cool World War Two stories I uncovered through my research.

My first suspense series is set in Lincoln, Nebraska. Again, a location that I know well. A series I’d love to write is set in the mountains of western North Carolina.

CLM: What is your favorite period of history?(for the historicals)

CARA: World War Two. I have always been fascinated by the history of the war, but also the culture of the time.

CLM: What process do you go through to brainstorm a new book? How do you come up the idea? (Do you keep an idea file? Or use photos? News items?)

CARA: Often I realize it’s time to start a new proposal, and start looking for ideas. I do have an idea file that I throw stories in as I’m going. I’ll often start with location, and what I know about that aspect can then direct the plot. I often start with online research, reading chamber of commerce websites, looking for historical museums, and reading newspapers from that location. Out of that research, I’ll get the idea that makes me hungry to write a book, or I’ll look at another setting. Usually at some point, I get that fire in my belly which tells me I have to write this book!

CLM:When your well runs dry, how do you recharge your creativity?

CARA: I read books. I spend time with my kids. And I pray – with a certain amount of desperation. I seriously do not want to spend my time writing if God has something else for me to do.

CLM: Answer this...The only thing I know for sure about my creative process is....

CARA: That it is a gift from God, and I want to flow in it in lockstep with Him.

CLM: What's your favorite way to celebrate after a project is complete?

CARA: Take a deep breath, pray in celebration, and do something special for the kids, since they’ve had to put up with a schizophrenic mommy.

CLM: Where is your favorite place to work on your writing?

CARA: My desk, though with my laptop I am mobile. If I get stuck, I leave the house for a couple hours to change environment and get away from email LOL

CLM: What are your favorite things to eat while in the creative process? Or do you forget about eating and drinking? (This is a cafe', afterall!)

CARA: Depends on the day, since I’m writing at night, but I love to have Wheat Thins and cheese. Drink Dr. Pepper and lots of water. Sometimes I’ll treat myself to something sweet like Smarties. But I try not to fall into the trap of having to eat to be able to write.

CARA: Thanks for having me, Crystal! It’s always fun to come visit.

CLM: I always love any time I spend with you. Check out Cara's new additions to her two series with Heartsong Presents and with Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense:

Order Deadly Exposure here.

Deadly Exposure (Steeple Hill, 2008)


How could a killer have struck in a crowded theater? That was the question plaguing TV news reporter Dani Richards. She'd been in the box next to the victim -- and hadn't heard or seen a thing. Now the very man who broke Dani's heart years ago is investigating the murder. And when her coverage of the story led the killer to stalk her, police officer and former flame Caleb Jamison insisted on protecting her. Dani was afraid to let Caleb close again. Yet she had no choice. The killer's sinister phone calls left no doubt that he'd come for Dani next.

Sandhill Dreams (Heartsong Presents)

With her dreams shattered, will Lainie Gardner allow God and a soldier at Fort Robinson to breathe life into new dreams that will bring her more joy than she imagined?

Lainie has no dreams left

Lainie Gardner dreamed of becoming a nurse. Of serving her country. Of doing something important in the war. But rheumatic fever changed all that, and instead of running home, Lainie is determined to find a job at Fort Robinson in Nebraska’s sandhills.

Tom Hamilton had dreams, too. Dreams of preparing the horses at Fort Robinson for duty on the warfront. Instead, he is assigned to train war dogs and their handlers, meaning that each day he must face the fear he’s had of dogs since he was bitten as a child.

Lainie and Tom wonder why God seems to have denied them their dreams. But is it possible new dreams will bring them more joy than they ever imagined?

Want to win an autographed copy of either of these books? May 31st I will be getting autographed copies of both books, and will draw two names from the comments on this blog entry for them to win!

Leave a comment or question for Cara and you are entered. (Be sure to leave your email address so I can contact you.)

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Taste This

It's no secret that what you eat can win you friends or lose you friends. Ever heard the ditty--"Nobody likes me, nobody loves me, guess I'll go eat worms?"

What you eat can either bring friends together, or separate you from people. I grew up with this extreme belief that what you ate might even affect your salvation! And there were people who called the kids "cabbage eaters" but I also had friends who were called "mackerel snappers." (Based on their food laws of their religion.) Prejudice was dispensed by what you ate. This goes back to the beginning of time when the whole fall of the world was based on picking a fruit from a tree that God forbade. Maybe eventually, when Adam and Eve were ready for it, God would've allowed them to eat it, but at the time, they were not ready for it. Sad, but true. Nothing brings us together or separates us more than the dinner table.

My friend, Sabrina,(see the previous blog entry's comment) was kidding (I know her personally, she really is kidding, so don't worry,) but there is a little bit of truth in jest. I've actually known people to disassociate from people because of their diet.
("I can't be with you if you won't eat broccoli, dahling.")

Lately I've been studying diets and what are the best things to eat. One of my exercises was to use these tasting strips to see if I am a taster, super taster or non taster. This is genetic. This may explain why you love the cuisine of a certain culture--you may be genetically predisposed to certain diets. They are still studying this. Also, on some diets, you may lose weight, but on others you can't shed a pound, while your friend is melting away. Why is that? Is it true that some foods are toxic to you? It is true that some people are allergic to certain foods. My friend, April, seems to be allergic to mushrooms (and maybe Sabrina is too! Sorry, April, I heard it through the family grapevine--nothing is sacred. Ahem.)

My brother is allergic to shellfish. Interesting, as I do think my mom's sister, though she never ate a shellfish in her life (due to religious reasons) was also allergic, because she wasn't able to have a certain dye injected for heart studies. My son, Jordan, (the oldest) when he was under 2-years-old, couldn't eat strawberries. He broke out in the worst hives. There are certain foods that I just hate. Maybe it's because of texture or because of the appearance, or the smell--whatever the reason, you do know when you dislike the taste of a certain food. (Ask Sabrina about mushrooms! ha)

My husband is considered a super taster. He can tell certain nuances in foods and know exactly what is in there. When we were first married, we had a strict budget and I had to be careful not to burn or mess up recipes. One day, in a hurry to get a pot of chili on, I accidentally threw in some cinnamon instead of chili powder (similar-looking boxes, OK?) I scraped as much off the top as possible, but of course, some had already sunk into the mix. Sigh. Not able to throw out the whole batch, I decided to "doctor" it as best I could, and then, a plot hatched for me to try and outwit my husband, not wanting to admit what I'd done.

I had some applesauce, so I served a small bowl alongside the chili. On top, I sprinkled it with, you guessed it, cinnamon. As we ate, Chris paused to really "taste" what he was eating.

"What'd you do to the chili?"

"Nothing. Same ol', same ol'. Eat your applesauce."

"I think it has cinnamon in it."

"Oh, ridiculous! It's your cinnamon on your applesauce."

"No, no," as he pushed the applesauce as far away as he could reach," I taste cinnamon." And he tasted the chili again, not like shoveling in the daily gruel, but as a connoisseur, or worse, a food critic, would try and distinguish each morsel.

Accusingly, he looked at me as I tried to concentrate on my spoon.
"Did you put cinnamon in the chili?"

At that point I broke down as I've never been much of a liar. Obviously, it never works out for me. This story has stayed with me for 27 years. Oh, yeah. But if you want to know the truth, I kind of liked the cinnamon in the chili. I understand that this is the Cincinnati way of making chili.

Anyway, my point is that we all have certain tasting capabilities. My husband reacted horribly to the taste strips. The bitterness applied to the strips is not unlike broccoli. When you were a kid, did you absolutely hate broccoli? You may be a super taster. You are going to react differently to foods than a mere taster. And I suspect that my friend, Sue, is a super taster, as well. She is quite discerning (and could even throw up! ) is something doesn't taste quite right to her. Her husband, Gary, is a non taster, I'm thinking. He could taste a stick and say, "It's not too bad." (LOL)

Think about the foods you absolutely love. Think about the ones that if you never ate again, you would never miss them. As I look over the types of foods that are supposed to be detrimental to me, and the foods that helpful to me after this taste test, I realized that I've been eating a lot of foods that are toxic to me, and may have contributed to my winter blues and weight gain. I felt sluggish and fatigued. So, I'm revamping my diet, and in order to do that I have to also look at my family and their best foods. I've been eating what is best for them, not for me. Long gone are the days when I have to squeeze every lemon for it's last drop of juice. I am more comfortable now and have a wider margin of error for meals. (My husband praises God for this.)

It's wonderful to live a cross-culture of many foods and tastes. Even in Bird's Nest, Indiana we have a wide variety of types of cuisine.

So, name the food(s) you hate the most. Now, name some things you absolutely love. Is it good for you? Do you feel better having eaten it? Now, here's the surprising thing I have discovered in my reading. You know how they say, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away" ?? Well, turns out, for some types of people, apples are actually not good for them. Apples can be toxic to certain types of people. Ask Jordan if he wants a strawberry. He has long outgrown the allergy (no hives) but I would guess he still doesn't eat strawberries because he doesn't really like them!

There have been kids who came to my home who didn't like the taste of meat. Now, for many years, we based our entire menu on various meats. Made it tough for those who just didn't like meat, or for whatever reasons were vegetarians. When I went through my 10-day detox, I didn't eat meat. Guess what? I found out I didn't miss it. And it may turn out that meats are toxic to my particular type of system. But for some in my family, meat is a beneficial element to their diet.

Anyway, don't judge a person by his plate or cup. You just never know. God made us unique and gave us each our own set of taste-genes to keep us safe and healthy.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Stalking the Wild Mushroom

When I married into my husband's family, there were a lot of things different and new, even though we had much in common. One of those things was that they played football on Thanksgiving Day. Another thing was that they played euchre in a family tournament on New Year's Eve (including all the kids.) They got together on Memorial Day for a big family barbeque at Aunt Carolyn's and Uncle Ronny's house. AND in the spring they had a big mushroom hunt in the woods surrounding Aunt Marilyn's house. In fact there were times that so many gray and yellow/cream morels would be found, that her back deck would be covered!

So much has happened in our family since those fun, happy days, but we still have many in the family who go out looking for mushrooms this time of year. Everyone has their secret places (this is part of shrooming) and they all have their secret techniques and special walking sticks (the better to move leaves, plants to see if there is a mushroom hiding!)

There are some master shroomers in this family. This year the first report of successful mushroom hunting hit the Family Talk email loop--and it's a whopping 500 found! What's so funny is the subject line was "We hit the Mother Lode." At first I was thinking someone got some major money or something. But I should've known. There have been more and less than that found over the years in one day, but everyone is whooping it up. The hunt is ON. That is another thing when you go mushroom hunting--you give out a shout when you find one (more like a whoop, to your companions) and start looking for his "brothers" (fellow mushrooms.)

So, it's mushroom season in Indiana. Officially. If you'd like to see the varieties that my husband's family searches for, check here. I'm going to have to dig out some past hunts' photos.

And you really need to be an expert at spotting mushrooms. Not all mushrooms are safe to eat. But boy, howdy, the ones that are safe, yummm. Like Hoosier Manna.

Fire up the frying pans....