Monday, November 29, 2021

Potpourri


HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: I was going to write about leftovers. About how powerful and clever I feel when I make something wonderful out of leftovers. Take leftover vegetables or chicken or both and make a delicious pasta. Or stir fry. Or casserole. Leftover turkey, of course is legendary, with soup and tetrazzini, and, I was thinking this year, turkey tacos. Wouldn’t that be good?


(And our turkey turned out just fine, after I realized the gorgeous new pan I bought two years ago did not fit into our oven. Ahhhhh. Luckily I had other pans. I tried to post a photo but this perverse and persnickety blog thing will not let me do it.)


ANYWAY. But then I honestly started thinking about eggs. Someone the other day was talking about deviled eggs, was it  here on Jungle Red? And I started thinking how good they were. Then I thought: wow. An egg can be hard boiled and it does one thing, the yolk and white are separate and solid. Soft boiled, it behaves completely differently; the white gelatinous, the yellow almost liquid. Scrambled eggs, stirring the two parts together,  altogether different. You can make meringue out of egg whites. And hollandaise out of egg yolks.  And if you use a wash of beaten eggs to coat chicken, it does not taste like chicken coated in scrambled eggs.   Isn’t that amazing? What do you think about eggs?


And I am also writing a blurb for someone’s book, several in fact, and I wondered – – do readers actually care about blurbs? Reds and Readers, do you buy a book based on what another author says about it? I was laughing at someone on social media who said hey, no one is going to put a bad blurb on the cover so— take that for what it is worth.  

Leftovers, eggs, blurbs. It’s a potpourri kind of day here on Jungle Red. Who wants to weigh in?


RHYS BOWEN: What I was thinking about is what ever made Americans think it was a good idea to fly home hundreds of miles essentially for one meal? It’s just not practical to spend so much money and time to eat turkey. Do I sound like Scrooge? Actually I love Thanksgiving with family but it’s not a holiday that makes sense.

Except…. And here comes the segue—leftovers. We love turkey curry and turkey soup.

And blurbs? I have become the blurb queen for historical mystery. I am happy to do it because people were generous to me but it means I never read a book I choose. I have three lined up right now. I am scrupulous about reading the whole book and always try to say something positive but I’m not going to gush over a book I thought was just okay.


HALLIE EPHRON: Eggs truly are a little miracle. They’re the main ingredient in the vanilla custard pie we have only on Thanksgiving. They’re what make popovers puff up the next morning.

And this year kudos to Amtrak who got me to NYC Tuesday on time in a *reserved seat!* train positively packed with college students. I’m so happy not to have to drive, because as crazy as plane travel would be on this weekend, the great Thanksgiving migration turns a 5-hour drive to THE CITY into an 8-hour endurance run… add another hour if you’re headed down to Brooklyn.


JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: And eggs help save lives! Yes, it’s true - flu vaccines are grown in chicken eggs, and scientists are exploring using them to grow human cytokine proteins, which boost our immune responses. Thanks, chickens!


Hallie, I am a big train fan, and was excited so much money was (finally) going to Amtrak. Maybe I’ll be able to travel by train to San Diego for Bouchercon 2024. It’s such a civilized way to travel, and I feel train riders are a little more chill than folks squeezing onto planes. Or, considering some of the deranged behavior on flights making the news, a LOT more chill. And with more space and fresh air being let in at every stop, it also feels safer, Covid-wise.


Which makes me think of a happy discovery I made. A neighbor had an extra ticket to a matinee at the Portland Symphony Orchestra, and I went along (Elgar’s cello and Dvořák’s 8th.) The Merrill Auditorium had ushers stationed at every door, and everyone crossing the threshold had to show proof of vaccination. These weren’t the retired folks volunteering for free symphonies; these guys looked like very well-dressed, polite bouncers. Of course, everyone was masked, and despite the fact everyone is pretty much cheek by jowl (you know those early 20th century theaters) it was delightfully worry-free.


LUCY BURDETTE
: Speaking of food (segue from leftovers LOL), I love how many cookbooks and websites and newsletters are dedicated to helping us find just the right thing to eat for any occasion. One of my new gurus is Jennifer Segal with her website and wonderful cookbook called Once Upon a Chef. I made the most amazing pumpkin cheesecake with gingersnap crust, caramel drizzle, and whipped cream for Thanksgiving. Though quite a project, it was universally adored!

Rhys I agree that traveling across the country for a meal seems a little silly. Since we’ve started spending 6 months in Key West, which is challenging and expensive to get to, we mostly have Thanksgiving with neighbors and friends. I miss the family, but know I will see them in a couple of weeks.

DEBORAH CROMBIE: Eggs really are nature’s miracle, aren’t they? And a cook’s dream, but do you ever wonder what prehistoric person cooked the first egg? I’m sure our forebears ate them raw whenever they could scavenge them. But that first cooked egg… Did one get left too near the campfire? Or accidentally broken on a hot stone? However it happened, from that first scrambled or fried or hard-boiled, probably tiny, egg, the sky was the eggy limit.


And for a little more happy potpourri, this year’s cast of the New York City Ballet’s Nutcracker grew taller! Twelve has always been the cutoff for the children’s parts, but this year the entire cast had to be vaccinated which meant that only kids OVER twelve could participate. All the costumes have had to be remade, a huge and expensive undertaking. But for the kids who thought they would never get to dance the Nutcracker again, a little Christmas miracle, indeed.


HANK: Yes, I saw that, Debs! SO interesting! And they were worrying about The Mouse King being too tall.


And maybe it was a HUGE egg, like a pterodactyl egg. Omelettes for everyone!


Jenn is traveling, and I hope she will show us her photos soon!


And I tried to post a photo of Lucy's gorgeous cheesecake, but see persnickety blog reference above.  But you can see it HERE on Facebook! 

As I said...Leftovers, eggs, blurbs. It’s a potpourri kind of day here on Jungle Red. Who wants to weigh in?

128 comments:

  1. Leftovers . . . we’re making white chili with turkey [instead of chicken] . . . .

    Eggs . . . . definitely a little miracle . . . make mine soft scrambled for breakfast; deviled eggs are a favorite around here, too. And yum for egg custard . . . .

    Blurbs . . . yes, I read them, but I have to admit that they carry much more weight when they’re written by a writer whose name I recognize [and even better, by a writer whose books I always read] . . . .

    Flying home for one meal is probably quite a bit over the top, but I’d do it to see my kids and my grandbabies . . . .

    And trains are great!

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    1. Joan , you are such a treasure. Xxx White chili! I think we have just enough leftover turkey for that… Tell us more !

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    2. White Chili

      Dice one small onion; cook in one tablespoon olive oil. When soft, add two minced garlic cloves; cook one minute.

      Add :
      2 cups chicken broth
      one small can [or more, depending on how hot you want it to be] diced green chilies
      1-1/2 teaspoons cumin
      1/2 teaspoon oregano
      1/2 teaspoon coriander
      Salt and white pepper to taste
      Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low; simmer fifteen minutes

      Drain and rinse two cans cannellini beans [or other white beans of your choice] measure out one cup of beans, add 1/4 broth, puree in food processor until smooth

      Add to broth:
      8 ounces cream cheese [cut into cubes]
      one 14-ounce bag frozen white shoepeg corn [or use regular corn if you prefer]
      the pureed beans and the whole beans
      Stir well; simmer about ten minutes longer

      Add:
      2-1/2 cups cooked turkey, diced
      1-1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
      Simmer, stirring occasionally, until heated through.

      Serve with sour cream, cilantro [if desired] and warm bread.

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    3. JOAN: Your white chili is definitely more decadent than the recipe I use...cream cheese in the broth and lots of Monterey Jack cheese...yum!

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    4. Thank you for the recipe, Joan! Am saving.

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    5. Hmmm, I think I have everything except the Monterey Jack...

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    6. Wow, thank you! That sounds absolutely incredible!

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    7. Wow, Joan, that sounds amazing. I have cream cheese AND Monterey Jack that I didn't use at Thanksgiving. Hmm.

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    8. I have saved this recipe. Perhaps in the run-up to Christmas.

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    9. I love white chili and your recipe sounds delicious!! Must save

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  2. I usually like turkey anytime, but by today (Sunday) I was sick of it. We finished off leftovers yesterday (Saturday) and had roast beef, potatoes, and carrots today. I am in a food funk right now and nothing sounds especially good to me. However eggs are a favorite of mine, in so many forms. I think I'll scramble me some for lunch today (now Monday).

    Joan, I've never made white chili, but I ate some once and really liked it. I will have to try your recipe when I get my food mojo back.

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    1. I was in a food funk too after Thanksgiving. Luckily John made gumbo!

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    2. Food mojo! Yes, sometimes it just seems like the options have run out… But that is so silly! Sometimes I can get inspired just by one ingredient. I had too many tomatoes… And I thought what can I do? So I made chicken with tomatoes and capers and white wine and shallots it was delicious. Or sometimes after a food funk, something will just sound good and it is over!

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    3. Food funk! What a great description! I have those all the time, but there is always something to cook.

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    4. Glad to know that it's not just me who can be surrounded by food and not think of anything I want to eat. I do expect the food funk to pass, as the little food wheels in my brain never take much of a rest.

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  3. Blurbs - I take them with a grain of salt, and they usually aren't going to change my mind about a book. After all, they are never going to be bad.

    On the other hand, if several authors I like are quoted, I'll consider the book more strongly. (So does that mean they make me change my mind after all? I'm too tired for this.)

    And, I look to see if any non-author I know is being quoted from a review as well. It puts an even bigger smile on my face if I see my review quoted.

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    1. Oh yes, I so agree! That is the other side of the equation… When you see your own name! Love that!

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  4. On the breakfast menu this morning is scrambled eggs with cheese on an English muffin. Leftovers, especially Thanksgiving dinner, makes a great lunch the next day.

    Blurbs are cool to see, but I still judge a book by the visual cover, the synopsis, and word of mouth.

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    1. That breakfast sounds yummy’ And yes, someone in your echelon would understand what blurbs might be… Hard to get :-)

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  5. EGGS: Yes, they are so versatile, yummy and essential for many meals!
    I made an omelet last week with the last of my edible balcony green onions that never die (thanks Hank for that tip) and the first harvest of pink oyster mushrooms from my new grow kit.

    BLURBS: I do read them and notice when an author I like blurbs for another, especially a debut author. But the blurb itself does not usually influence whether I decide to read the book.

    TRAINS: Love trains. I took a VIA train to Montreal in late October, and I am going on another weekend getaway by VIA train this weekend (Friday-Monday). And trains in Europe are varied and great. But if want precision, take a train in either Switzerland or Japan.

    JULIA: Going by Amtrak to San Diego would be awesome but Bouchercon is occurring in 2023 (not 2024) so I wonder if the new infrastructure/trains will be ready a year earlier than you thought?

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    1. ROBERTA: Thanks for the tip about Jennifer and her Once Upon a Chef website.
      I love finding new foodie gurus to follow. I have bookmarked her page and found the pumpkin cheesecake/gingerbread crust recipe online.

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    2. So tempting, but I have already bought 5 cookbooks this month (sigh).

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    3. Oh my goodness! I have learned the joy of recipes on my phone… It works so well !

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    4. HANK: I agree it's so handy to have access to recipe digitally. My still blurry up-close vision prevents me from reading on my phone. I use my Samsung Galaxy tablet instead...propping it up on the kitchen counter while I'm cooking.

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  6. Yesterday I made a pot of beef barley soup, after having turkey something three days in a row. It was glorious. Julie had scored beef shanks, the only thing, in my book, for soup. And I cleaned out the veggie bin -- bok choy, fresh spinach, broccoli, onions, celery, carrots, and the last can of tomatoes (how can it be that I'm out of canned tomatoes?) The broth was glorious. And I'll never make it again, because I will never have the same ingredients in the same amounts, languishing.

    I made an impulse buy on Freaky Friday, which arrived yesterday. I can't decide whether to open it or just send it back now. I bought an Instant Pot air fryer. The box is as big as South Dakota. I've surveyed the kitchen, and yes, I have stuff on my counters that doesn't need to be there. If I'm to install this monster, I'll need a thorough clean out of accumulated crap.

    So what do you think? Does anyone have one of these? It was half price, probably because it's too big to be useful. However, I have this vision of air-fried chicken, quick meals -- as if I don't have all day to make something.

    What to do what to do.

    Comments are turned on!

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    1. ANN: I enjoy making those "clear out the veggie crisper" soups but I agree that it's hard to make the same yummy one twice.

      Instant Pot Air Fryer, so it's different than the original Instant Pot? I try to keep my large kitchen gadgets to a minimum since I have the smallest galley-style kitchen ever. My kettle, small food processor and blender already take up almost all of my tiny counter space, so I would have to put such a large item on the FLOOR to use!

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    2. Got up to let the dogs out at five, so I am going back to bed and stop obsessing over an air fryer. Maybe the big box is all packing and I'll be pleasantly surprised when I open it up. Either that or I'll leave it on the floor and use it for extra seating!

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    3. HA HA, that's a pricey ottoman! BTW, the only reason I even know what an Instant Pot is that the inventor (Robert Wang) is from Ottawa. Maybe you can borrow an Instant Pot/Air Fryer cookbook from the library?

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    4. Ann, speaking of eggs, my daughter swears by her InstaPot for making hardboiled eggs.

      And my son-in-law keeps making fun of her about the Air Fryer, because she keeps saying it's good for chicken. And vegetables. And then can't name one.

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    5. KAREN: Hmmmm, how much easier/better can it be to make HB eggs using an InstaPot vs a pot on the stove? Maybe, if she is cooking dozens of HB eggs...

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    6. Air fryer ... it's probably not as big as the box. Still... Dare I ask, whatever made you order it? Because I'm sure it made sense at the time.
      (I have a very limited amount of counter space to which I dedicate an 8-inch stretch to an antique milkshake machine (green porcelain) which I haven't used for decades but someday...)

      I am, however dying to know if it makes good fried chicken. And does "air" mean it doesn't require any oil to fry? Because... how could that be?

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    7. Seven minutes, Grace, and they peel super easy.

      Hallie, you do need a small amount of oil, as I understand it, and I've heard raves about the fried chicken it makes, but have not experienced it myself.

      Love those old milkshake makers!

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    8. We got a new toaster oven, since ours just corroded away, and it has an air fryer in it, somehow. Now what do I do?

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    9. HANK, wow really? I think of a toaster oven as a basic entry gadget so adding an air fryer feature is odd. Let us know the first dish you make!

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    10. We have an air fryer. It’s good for bacon, for French fries and frozen shrimp. It’s noisy and smelly it was a gift so we have to use it occasionally. Let us know what you discover

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    11. I love my Instant Pot but am not tempted by an air fryer. I'd have to put it on the floor...

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    12. Ann, I think you now need to check the sales on kitchen carts or small tables. Hahaha! We do have an air fryer and really like it, but we haven't explored its use much yet.

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  7. I love eggs and get them from our local farm from May through now. I often poach one for my lunch. My goddaughter brought deviled eggs for Thanksgiving - from her own chickens!

    I'm reading a manuscript to blurb right now - first in a new series but not a debut author - and loving it so much, which is always a relief.

    Trains are awesome, but I wish we could take some lessons from Japan. Theirs were fast, clean, and on time even in the 1970s, when I first rode them.

    Funny train story - I took the train to and from Malice a few years ago (and might again next year). On the way back I settled happily into the quiet car and got out my laptop. The woman who sat next to me was reading a sheaf of papers that looked like a manuscript. I asked her if she was an editor or a writer. She turned out to be Julia's agent! We chatted until we got shushed, which gave us both guilty smiles.

    Now I need to plot whether it's curry turkey soup or Joan's White Chili for dinner tonight!

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    1. EDITH: I also rode my first bullet train in 1970. Fast, efficient and ON TIME. And think of how much faster the new generation bullet trains in Japan are now.

      The (VIA) Canadian train system is such a poor comparison. The problem is VIA shares the same track as commercial freight trains on some parts of the Windsor-Quebec City corridor and freight trains take precedence over passenger trains. So we often have to pull off onto a side track to "wait" until the freight train passed. So a VIA train ride can either be right on time or hours late! GRRR

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    2. Took the VIA from Montreal to Quebec several years ago. Luckily no wait on a siding, so it was a great trip.

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    3. Oh, the train to Washington DC… That’s eight hours though, isn’t it? I once Took the overnight version of that, Boston to Washington DC. It was glamorous for a little while, then incredibly bleak. We arrived at union station at I think 5 AM. but the train to New York is essential and fantastic! I would never take anything but the Acela.

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    4. Hmmm, I just checked the VIA rail web site this morning, and due to "operational issues beyond their control", they are cancelling half of the scheduled trains going from Toronto to Ottawa and Toronto to Montreal today, tomorrow and Dec 1! Hope they fix these issues by Friday when my train trip to Montreal is scheduled. That's another problem, if they cancel the trains, you are screwed. Canada shut down its entire Greyhound inter-city bus line last year permanently, so there are not a lot of options for cross-Canada travel for those of us who don't drive! I have done mini-van rideshares before the pandemic, but these are few and a bit dicey now too.

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  8. We crawled in from a week in Washington, DC last night. Masks everywhere: stores, Smithsonian museums, Metro. Outdoor dining in winter jackets next to propane heaters. We stayed in a COVID-cleaned Air B&B, a basement flat near our daughter. I browsed in a bookstore (Kramer's Dupont Circle) for the first time in almost two years. I shopped the outdoor Christmas market. We hiked the Maryland side of Great Falls, Roosevelt Island and bridge to Georgetown, and visited the Franciscan Monastery Gardens. And we encountered Kamala and Doug twice: after Sunday brunch, when 14th street was closed for their motorcade, and the outdoor Christmas market.

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    1. Almost like "normal" .... amazing how "special" it feels.

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    2. Time travel. The buildings and Metro were the same, but everyone (unlike Ohio) was masked. Restaurants and bars had sidewalk extensions framed with plywood and plexiglass.

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    3. This is how it is in the Bay Area. Everything is open, including indoor dining. We wear masks everywhere inside. Of course, we can still do outside activities easily, temperatures are in the seventies and low eighties. We never stopped wearing masks inside. Vaccination passports are required for concerts and large gatherings. Otherwise, life is back to normal, except no one is traveling to the south or Midwest for business trips because of the vaccination rates and lack of common sense precautions.

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    4. Oh Margaret, you've made me long for a trip to D.C. When my husband was at the Pentagon, I loved going to Kramer Books (and cafe, is it open now?) and the Great Falls and the canal path.

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    5. Susan, I have been bombarded with FB memories of past trips to the Bay Area in October & November. I had been going there at least once a year since 2005. 2021 is the first year that I will not be there in person. But it's good to hear that the Bay Area is mostly opened up with sensible COVID precautions still in place. We also use the vaccine passport system in Ontario for any indoor setting, including dining indoors at restaurants, gyms, museums, theatres etc.

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  9. Along with potatoes, eggs are the perfect food. Even fancy free-range eggs are cheap protein, and can make a jillion kinds of dishes. About the only egg dish I would pass on is custard pie. And eggnog. Yuck. I make a mean omelet, and have tried half a dozen different ways to poach eggs. Edith's microwave trick works great.

    A new dish I want to try is baked eggs in an avocado half. Yum.

    I have been asked to blurb a couple books, but only one made it into the book. But the author said mine was the best one. I was really impressed with her work, because she compiled many hundreds of resources for it, pre-internet. Normally, though, unless I know the blurber I don't pay a lot of attention, and it almost never influences my choice.

    My dad and uncle worked for the Pennsylvania and B&O Railroads. I got to travel overnight on a train when I was small, about three, and it's one of my earliest memories, sleeping in a lower berth with my mother. Train travel is so much more relaxed than driving or flying, and I wish it were both more available and more affordable.

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    1. Leftovers: love them. Today I'll dismantle what is left of the bird and make tetrazzini, soup, and chunked meat to freeze. And then make bone broth from the giblets I cooked and the carcass. I've done this a couple times now, and it's so much better than storebought broth. A lot lower sodium, too, since I don't add salt.

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    2. KAREN: I tried making that avocado/egg dish last year, and it was a fail. The egg never set properly even when I extended the time in the oven.

      As for trains, not sure how expensive AMTRAK is? But my last trip to Montreal was under $100 CDN and my upcoming VIA train trip this weekend is only $42 (CDN) return in escape (economy). They had a "comeback" sale where you could use 30% less points to book your travel so one way was free, the other was $39 + tax.

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    3. FYI, as of October 29, only fully vaccinated passengers can board a plane, train or ferry in Canada. This policy was not in effect when I went by VIA train in late October, so we'll see how their QR code vetting/check in process varies this week.

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    4. Oh yes! Potatoes! A whole additional blog, maybe, potatoes are incredible!

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    5. Wow, that is cheap, Grace. I'll have to look into traveling that way.

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    6. KAREN: Yes, it is ridiculously cheap to take the VIA train right now. I was soooo annoyed that Ottawa's LRT was broken down for 54 days starting in September. I had to take an $14 Uber ride to get to the Ottawa VIA train station. If the LRT was functioning, it would have only cost me $1.75.

      VIA has still has Cyber Monday deals until tomorrow (Nov 30) for travel until next spring.
      Generally they are reducing fares by 25% in economy.
      https://www.viarail.ca/en/fares-and-packages/deals-discounts

      After that, Discount Tuesdays happen every week but the savings are more in the 15% range.

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  10. No leftovers here this year because we spent T-Day with Jonathan's family. The food was delicious but non-traditional because they have allergies to many foods. So, last night, I made us a pumpkin pie!! Seasonal food cravings need to be satisfied! My recipe calls for 3 eggs;-))

    I do read the blurbs and frequently recognize the authors who have written them. Usually, I have already decided to read the book before I see the blurbs, because JRW and FCF. I do have questions for the JRW authors, is it your publisher who is pushing you to write the blurbs? Can you write a blurb for a friend's new book even if it is a different publisher? What do you do if you are asked to write a blurb and you think the book is "meh" or worse?

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    1. Judy, I'm actually asked for more blurbs from other publishers than from my own, especially if it's a debut book. Often the process is: author suggests read-alike books, editor contacts the read-alike author, author agrees OR is too busy (which definitely happens!)

      Other times, friends ask friends to blurb, or the blurber asks to get the job because they are so excited about an upcoming book!

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    2. Yes, great questions! Anyone can blurb anyone’s book. And you are very wise, the worst situation is to agree to read a book with an eye to a blurb, and then it’s… Not great. A very touchy situation..

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  11. Julia, Maine to California on Amtrak sounds like a big commitment. If you decide to do that, we all want to hear the details from planning to travel.

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    1. Agreed, we want details! I recently saw a Youtube video about an Amtrak trip from Chicago to San Francisco which sounded tempting...only 2.5 days.

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    2. As I said to Amanda below, I'm actually starting to consider it. A cross country train trip with a sleeper is definitely on my bucket list.

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    3. I took the train from Boston to Chicago once. I think it was 23 hours. 23 hours is a long long long long time.

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    4. I have taken the train from San Francisco to Kansas City several times. The northern route has great scenery. The entire trip is a bit longer than 24 hours. Your need to book a sleeper cabin, sleeping in a train seat, no thanks!

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    5. OH, definitely! No way I;d do it in a seat. Yeesh. But even in those cute little rooms, it's not like the orient express, just sayin.

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    6. My London photographer friend got to take the Orient Express from Venice to London. He sent me pics--it was amazing. That's a bucket list item, for sure.

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    7. I've taken the train from Seattle to Oakland, once. My sister made the trip a couple times. One trip had a death on the train so it was stopped in the nearest station. Unfortunately, those waiting to pick up passengers were not told why the train was so late. We just had to wait. This back in the olden days, before cell phones.

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  12. I am enjoying this pot pourri conversation this morning :)

    Eggs anytime in our house, though I've never even heard of baking one in an avocado half. Must look that up. Sounds odd to me: Whatever happens to the avocado?

    Trains are a terrific mode of travel. At the end of my year working as an au pair in Grenoble, France, I traveled to Italy to see friends. My train in that country started out on time but arrived late for no discernible reason; Mussolini's influence had clearly long evaporated!

    Long journeys by train take a bunch of things, including money and time. If you make that trip to Bouchercon, Julia, I'll happily read every detail you experience. I wonder how many days' travel it would be across the country?

    And blurbs: Yes, they catch my eye but are more curiosity than compelling sales feature.

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    1. Amanda, I just looked it up; the trip takes three days and a bit from Boston to Chicago to LA and then down to San Diego. Only $278 one way, although if I did it, I'd pay for a bedroom, which kicks it up quite a bit. You know, I'm going to have to really think about this - I've always wanted to take a cross-country train trip, and this might be the perfect chance!

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    2. JULIA: Not bad, in terms of length and price.
      Just note that San Diego Bouchercon is in 2023 not 2024!

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    3. The scenery is gorgeous, and it is in someways a wonderful experience. I speak from 23 hours worth of it. But remember, train sleeper cars, no matter how cute, and no matter how expensive, in my experience, are not comfortable. The train is rackety, and there is really no way to avoid it. it’s a funny combination of fabulous glorious beautiful scenic and… Annoying.

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    4. Julia: Please do this!

      Hank: I agree that it's a combo of fascinating, fabulous and frightful. That said, one of my most vivid memories of my early university days is of the train trip from Ottawa across the vastness of northern Ontario and then across the prairies to Edmonton (Alberta). The scenery has stuck in my mind and informs my sense of this huge country I call home.

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    5. Yes, SO agree. It is totally immersive.

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    6. Julia, I've done Dallas to LA, the southern route, then LA to Seattle, which is fab. We slept in the seats, though, not so fun. I do not recommend that!

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    7. HANK: The video I saw on the Amtrak trip from Chicago to SF, the four people slept in different classes of sleepers (roommette, which was tight for even for 1 adult male) and a full sleeper room, where the 4 of them could meet together at the end of the day. The trip across the US Midwest did not seem so bad. I have taken train trips in Europe and when you're crossing the Pyrenees or Alps while sleeping, you do notice the incline!

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    8. Amanda: Here are two baked eggs in avocado recipes.

      I forget which one I tried last year. It was a total recipe failure, which is why I remember it.
      The eggs never set properly, and I remember keeping them in the oven several minutes longer than the recipe suggested.

      https://downshiftology.com/recipes/baked-eggs-in-avocado-two-ways/
      https://tasty.co/recipe/baked-avocado-eggs

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  13. We don't travel much for Thanksgiving these days. We did when the kids were younger, but it was by car and we stayed the whole weekend so it seemed less wasteful. Of course then we had to do it a few weeks later for Christmas. Nothing like driving to Buffalo, along the lake, in the winter.

    Eggs, love 'em. End of story.

    Blurbs: I really hope people read them. I do read them, although like Joan I place more weight on ones from authors I know whose books I read. I'm waiting (on pins and needles) for one now.

    The Hubby flew to Florida this morning. I wonder how it went.

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    1. Liz, when I was a sophomore in high school, we moved from my grandmother's small town in far eastern New York to Syracuse. EVERY year from then until I left the state for grad school, my dad drove us across NY on Christmas Day, back before 24 hour gas stations and ATMs. I enjoyed it as a teen, but now I look back as an adult and a parent and I think, holy cow!

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    2. Oh, eager to hear about the travel! I wonder… It’s very scary out there.

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    3. I'm flying to SF Friday, my first plane ride since COVID hit. NOT looking forward to it, but direct flight to my elderly last uncle? Gotta do it.

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    4. Julia, yes. I remember spending one memorable Thanksgiving eve at a rest stop on I90 - with infant and dog - because the NYS Police had closed the highway. After several hours, we tailgated a tractor trailer to the next exit and got off. Ugh.

      Hank, I got a picture of him in sunny Ft. Lauderdale, so I assume it went okay. He left at 3:30am for a 5:25am flight. Maybe it wasn't too crowded.

      Edith, yeah, The Hubby went to see his dad, who turned 90 last March so I completely understand. He flew direct to Ft. Lauderdale. Me, I don't feel I want recirculated air in the winter. But I'm going to LCC in...April is it? So fingers crossed for that. Unfortunately, there are no direct flights from Pittsburgh to Albuquerque.

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    5. EDITH: Good luck with your flight this week to SF.

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    6. Edith, mask up, glove up, sit quietly, and reassure yourself that you are vaxed. I find going to different stores and inside restaurants scarier. Take good care

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    7. LIZ: Your going to LCC in April? That's great, see you there! I have not booked my flights yet either. No direct flights to ABQ for me, too. I would have to connect via Toronto or Montreal and right now there are still very few flights to the US on the schedule for Air Canada or Westjet. So I have to wait a while longer before booking my trip.

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  14. Love leftovers. But I’m lazy in the kitchen, so I’m happy to eat them as is.

    Cannot imagine ever being tired of eggs.

    I would enjoy taking the train to San Diego, but it would involve going 30 minutes in the wrong direction to get to Union Station in LA. But I do love the train systems in other countries. I have a great travel planning map showing the major train routes in Europe with times from before when the info wasn’t readily available on the internet.

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    1. Oh, what a treasure! That map must be endlessly interesting !

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  15. And a minor Hanukkah miracle, after a week of the blog swallowing all of my comments, I thought to switch from Safari to Chrome and voilà!

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    1. Congrats on finding your way through that quagmire, Lisa! I made that same trip myself on the advice of a (much younger and more tech savvy) colleague who explained the rivalry and thus commenting-wall between Apple owned things and Microsoft owned things.

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    2. Yes, Chrome works. I have no understanding of it, but there it is.

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    3. Yes, always Chrome, or another browser that shakes hands with Google. I use Brave.

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    4. I've almost never had an issue with Firefox.

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  16. I actually like leftovers as a smaller version of the original meal, especially Thanksgiving. Just heat and eat. I'll make a mandatory turkey sandwich, which is very simply turkey, mayo and cranberry relish on bread. I usually go for sliced sourdough. Eggs make a great glue and wash when making turnovers. I love those little meringue cookies. crispy on the outside and chewy in the middle. Hmm, I should see if I can find a recipe. I've only traveled once for Thanksgiving, and we drove. My sister took me to her home for Thanksgiving when I had my second carcinoma surgery. Since it was my vacation, not just a day there and back, we took the time, drove the coast route, stayed one night in a nice hotel and then I spent a few days in her home before we made the return trip traveling the inland route on 5, which can be done in one day, a little long, but it's doable.

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    1. Yes, we had a smaller version meal, too...delish. And yes, SO agree, that turkey sandwich is so legendary. And always one of a kind.

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    2. The only leftovers I really like are turkey sandwiches--turkey, mayo, and my fab cranberry-jalapeno relish on good sourdough. Yum.

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  17. Julia, I agree about a cross-country train trip - something I've wanted to do for a long time. I would definitely want a bedroom, too. I'd also like to do the Pacific Coast trip!

    As for blurbs, they are most interesting to me after I have read the book. And if the book was not quite as good as I was led to believe I like to think what the blurb-er was saying between the lines.

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    1. Yes, I always think about that, too. "I've never read anything like this!" Hmmm.....

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  18. My oldest sister wanted me to come to her home for Thanksgiving. I was considering going for Christmas, until I got home from the store and found the 10-12 lb. turkey I ordered was 17 lbs! It would have been a major hassle to get it swapped, so the decision was made--go to Bev's where there would be more mouths to feed.

    Turned out to be divine intervention. No way to board Jax at that late date, so I decided to take my shelter dog. Four hour drive--no problem. He snoozed most of the way. Arriving at an unfamiliar house--a bit nervous. Unfamiliar people, again a bit anxious, some barking and occasional growls, but he calmed down surprisingly well. His biggest disappointment? Their cat was mean to him, growling every time she saw him. Poor guy is used to his cats snuggling him.

    So, turkey leftovers even with the addition of a couple Bev and Ron have been friends with for years. (Who were lovely folks, so I gained new friends, another unexpected blessing.) Smaller amounts of turkey, as opposed to multiple packets going in my freezer. And I brought the carcass home and put it in the crock pot for bone broth. I made it multiple times when my Jax dog hurt his leg, very bland for doggy digestion. Making this for me, so I added seasonings and plenty of veg for tasty consumption.

    So an over-sized turkey that barely fit in my fridge fed five, my bone broth will be done today, Jax had his big adventure, and I spent three days with my big sis. Best Thanksgiving in years!

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  19. I love leftovers for certain things. Turkey leftovers are AWESOME. But I can't do leftover pizza.

    I love eggs.

    I read blurbs but don't necessarily buy a book based on a blurb. Sometimes if a new author has a blurb from an author I read I may pick it up.

    And like Mark Baker, I do love when I see one of my own blurbs used in a book.

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    1. Oh, I am a big fan of leftover pizza. xx Why don't you like it? It's not AS good, but it's pizza. :-)

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    2. Hank,

      I've just never liked it cold like I was living in a frat and I don't think it tastes as good when you heat it back up.

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    3. Oh, I agree. But "not that good" is still okay if it's pizza! You re more of a connoisseur than I am! :-)

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  20. A bit more food potpourri--I made a pecan pie without corn syrup! I found a recipe for Maple Pecan Pie. This baker said the secret to getting the filling to set without using corn syrup was to add a tablespoon of flour to the maple syrup/egg mixture. And it worked! Pie was delicious and not disgustingly sweet.

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    1. Debs, I would be skeptical of a pecan pie without corn syrup except that my daughter taught me that pies can be delicious with less traditional and more healthy ingredients. We have a pumpkin pie recipe that comes from my MIL and everyone loves, but my daughter dared to mess with that recipe and use honey instead of all the sugar it calls for. The result was a delicious pumpkin pie.

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    2. Oh, Debs, I am so going to try that. I love pecan pie in concept, but the corn syrup, nope.

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    3. Here's the recipe: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/maple-pecan-pie/

      My daughter really wanted pecan pie but we don't eat anything with corn syrup, ugh. I was so pleased that this recipe worked.

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  21. I love EGGS! Sorry I went MIA for a few days and unplugged so hard I forgot to plug back in. IT WAS GLORIOUS! Now I'm back from San Diego and I just got my booster shot :( Life certainly doesn't let one sit on the sidelines for long. *sigh*

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    1. JENN: Your San Diego pics were fabulous. I could totally see myself there since the last big trip I did was to San Diego for LCC2020, where I also saw you in person (sigh).

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  22. This year we chickened for Thanksgiving as no unsalted turkeys were available. Hubs decided to take charge of the leftovers and made spectacular chicken salad. I don't know how he does it, it's his only dish, and I'm content to simply reap the benefits!

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    1. Chicken salad is SO good, and I always forget about it. With grapes?

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    2. Not in but on the side. :)

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  23. I forgot to comment on trains in my first commenting above. I love trains, certainly the idea of trains, which I realize isn't always as accommodating as I dream (see Debs comments above). Julia, my husband and I have talked about taking a cross-country train trip, northern route, too. And, now you have me interested in one for the San Diego Bouchercon, Julia. I'd also have to have a sleeping car.

    Philip and I did take a train trip for our anniversary a few years ago, just a short one. We drove to St. Louis and got Amtrak to Kansas City where we spent the weekend going to the WWI Museum and seeing the beautiful book artwork on the outside of the public library. We had the first class or business seats, which are large, comfy, reclining ones, and the car had fewer people than the general sections. It was definitely worth the difference in price. It was in the fall, and the scenery was gorgeous. Another fall train trip I took was with a friend from Williamsburg, VA to D.C., and it was fantastic, too.

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    1. First class on trains. The ONLY way to go! A completely different experience. Except I always go to buckle my seat belt--so funny!

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    2. Agreed, it is nice to travel by train in first class. Environment Canada allowed us to travel first class on VIA trains for work. By contrast, we could only fly economy class on flights shorter than 9 hours duration (most of North America and Europe).

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  24. I do notice blurbs by authors I know and love, a good sign that I'll like the book. I once had part of a letter to an author appear as a blurb OUTFOXING FEAR came out in paperback. A storytelling friend alerted me when he asked, "Are you the Mary Garrett . . . ?" I had given Kathleen Ragan permission to use my words in any way they could help . . . as I happily do for any writer. Small repayment for the hours of reading pleasure.
    I did decide in college that travel for Thanksgiving was frivolous, then was a bit sad to be alone in my dorm . . . but Christmas comes so soon after. Time for more leftover feast! Hugs <3

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    1. Hugs! And oh, that must have been so much fun to see!

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  25. OK, you made me hungry. I'm going to get my lunch!

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  26. OK. You have changed my mind. I will start paying attention to blurbs.

    We live in Canada so no holiday this week but I cooked anyway. I don't like turkey. Instead, I found a couple of massive lamb shanks in the butcher's freezer. They needed to be braised in beef stock and red wine. I made the stock (roasted the bones, parsnips, onions, garlic and carrots for taste and colour. Cleaned the fond off the roasting pan, boiled it all down and strained it. No salt in my stock.) Browned the shanks, sweat some onions, carrots and parsnips. Added a bit of wine to clean the pan, then tomato paste, 2/3 bottle of baco noir and enough of the stock to cover. Put in some rosemary and thyme. Brought it up to boil and stuck it in the over at 350F and forgot about it for the afternoon. Well, not quite. Had to take the cover off at mid point. Lamb shanks, sweet potatoes and leek/potato soup with enough left over to do it again the next day. A straight repeat and almost as satisfactory.

    Potatoes are simply a source of joy and I don't know how people live without eating eggs. Sugar is another one of those things that morphs.

    Thanks for the pointer to Once Upon a Chef.



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    1. I am SWOONING! YUM! (What is baco noir?)

      And also, yes! Sugar. Amazing item. We should talk about this!

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    2. A vintage out of Niagara. like a pinot. Deep dry red...that's about as sophisticated as my wine tasting gets!

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  27. I went from Orlando to Boston on Amtrak a few years back. Actually that was 2014 so perhaps I should say several years back. Excellent trip. I strongly suggest springing for the sleeping compartment which was pretty comfortable. It comes with a tiny shower/toilet room ( do not attempt if you are claustrophobic).

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  28. Thanksgiving, the only time I make turkey salad. Simple with Blue Plate mayo, chopped celery and a dash of mustard. Hubs also loves turkey sandwiches (with Wonder Bread) and a slice of cranberry jelly.

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