Wednesday, June 13

Shameless Summer Blog Hop Continues

The Shameless Summer Blog Hop Continues! 

Please leave a comment at the bottom of  this post  post for a chance to win my debut novel, Heart's Home

Heart's Home is an historical, paranormal m/m romance. For more information about it, either click here or slide down to my previous post. 

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Today is Wednesday... and that means it's, I mean Hump Day...

Okay, it's Hunk Day, too  :-)

The usual Wednesday format goes something like this: first I talk about something. Usually it's writing / creative life related (for those who have never been here / met me before--either in RL or virtually--I'm a full time writer.) Sometimes I blather on about life, occasionally I tackle something serious (which is on the agenda for today).  Of course, being Hunk Day, I also share some photos that I've found online, like the image below. (That one is actually out of my stash of photo reference images. I'm thinking hot mermen...)

The last order of business for Wednesday's blog is a recipe. Today, I'm celebrating my Russian heritage. 

My current WIP (work in progress) features a young man of Russian heritage, who is, in a lot of ways, just like me. Well, other than the fact that I'm not 25, male, or gay. Okay, so maybe Pasha is only  little bit like me  ;-)  I did borrow some traits from my grandmother for Pasha's father, Ivan--but only the worst bits. Her parents, my great grandparents, were original immigrants and while there are many wonderful things about Russia, there are a lot of not very wonderful things about the place, too--especially if you happen to be anything other than straight, white, and Russian.

One of the best articles for evidence of exactly how bad it is, can be found here. The nuts and bolts (so to speak) of the article are that the most common words for "gay" in the Russian language are pretty darned uncomplimentary. The article also reminds readers that up until 1992, homosexuality was punishable by PRISON TIME. And no, that is not a typo. 1992.

Early in 2012, the city of St. Petersburg, one of the largest and most popular tourist destinations in Russia, adopted a legislative ban on "homosexual, bisexual, transgender and pedophilia propaganda". There's two things going on here: One is that LGBTQ (or as I prefer, QUITLBAGS) folks are being lumped in with pedophiles (sadly NOT a new or unique phenomenon) and secondly, where you see "propaganda", read "literature" (i.e. both fiction and, more importantly, educational literature).

We are now entering June, a month often celebrated as "Gay Pride Month" -- and yet, earlier this month the governor of Moscow enacted a law that imposes a ONE HUNDRED YEAR BAN on Gay Pride marches/demonstrations. Think about that for a second. One HUNDRED years. Go here for more details... believe me, I had to read it for myself, too. Here's another article from the UK Guardian. If you look at the date, the article is only a month old. It talks about how 30 or so Gay Rights activists were detained after being attacked by members of the Russian Orthodox church--one activist was arrested simply for talking to reporters. Some of the church supporters were arrested too.

Part of what makes bile burn at the back of my throat when I read things like this is a conversation I had with a former housemate, a young gay man who stayed with us for a bit after losing his apartment. He said to me that "gay history doesn't matter". Why should he care about Stonewall? It didn't affect him. Yeah. Right. If it weren't for the people who spoke out in the '60's, we might have 100 year bans on Gay Pride demonstrations here in Michigan, in the United States, too. Instead, we have some of the biggest Gay Pride events in the world.

Too many people take too many rights for granted. (I'm guilty of that, too, it's easy to forget the suffering of other people when I'm sitting safely in my suburban home, typing away on my laptop, in my sun room, overlooking my garden... my roses and my primrose and my peonies that are finally blooming this year...oh those weeds over there, whatever they are, they're pretty so I'll keep them...)

It's even easy to forget, if only for a few moments, that right here in the US there are hundreds of thousands of same gender couples who aren't allowed to get married (i.e. have the same basic rights heterosexual couples have, rights as simple as hospital visitation). In 29 states, a person can be fired from their job for simply saying, "yes, I'm gay". This isn't the sixties, and we're not in Russia. This shouldn't be happening...but it is. Every day. Even while the roses bloom...

So I'd like to urge readers to do something to make a difference. It doesn't have to be something big. Sign a petition for a cause you care about. (Check out the sidebar for some of my causes, as well as petition sites.) Speak out, even if it's just in your own neighborhood--your own household. If someone tells an off-color joke or says something you find offensive, say so. Sometimes all it takes is someone saying "Do you realize how offensive that is?" to get another person to stop and think about how hurtful their words really are.

And no, it isn't always easy. But it IS worth it.

Today's Recipe:
Beef Stroganoff

Beef Stroganoff is a traditional Russian dish...but as with everything else that I make, I put my own little twists on it.  ;-)  My recipe is a tad more work than those calling for canned soup...but the pay off is SO totally worth it!

You'll need:

A pound or so of lean beef; I tend to go with whatever pot roast is on sale. (For those who haven't visited my site before, very few of the measurements I use when I cook are "exact"; my grandmother cooked "by feel" rather than by measuring cup).

The beef needs to be cubed up; I like bite sized pieces. (Hamburger may be substituted and I've done it with ground beef in a pinch. It's not my favorite, but it works).

A head of garlic--from that head of garlic, select as few as 2 and as many as 6 nice big cloves. Some people like a LOT of garlic; others prefer a hint. Go with what YOU like. (When it doubt, split it down the middle and go with 3; you can always add a little garlic powder later, if you want your stroganoff a little more garlicky)

Four packages of mushrooms (they're usually what? 12 or 16 oz? The bigger packages)  I like to split it half and half between white and crimini (or baby portabella--or even grown up portabella) mushrooms. If you're feeling really daring, you can add wild (STORE BOUGHT wild) mushrooms to the mix (unless you happen to be a mushroom expert and can SAFELY gather your own). The goal is to have in the neighborhood of 4lbs of mushrooms (or roughly a one part beef to four parts mushroom mix).

6 oz. sour cream. Feeling like being a little healthier? Try low/no fat yogurt. I loved it so much the first time I made it with yogurt, I almost *always* make it this way. Want to strike a balance? Go halfsies. (Or top the stroganoff with a dollop of sour cream). I am told that non-dairy (vegan) sour cream is quite good... no, not for vegans (in this case), but to make the recipe Kosher friendly.

1 cup of cream OR half and half OR milk (low fat or whole, I do NOT recommend skim...). For a Kosher alternative, I would go with soy milk over any other non dairy alternative. Not being Kosher, I usually go with whole milk; half and half is yummier, but I'm trying to keep my arteries fairly unclogged...and when I do Italian, I go all out, so I try to cut back in other places for balance! (I am told that hemp milk has a great consistency, I'm just not familiar with how it tastes).

A half a tablespoon of corn starch. (Most recipes call for flour. I like the way corn starch thickens better. Feel free to take your pick).

Some recipes call for a sauteed onion. Mine doesn't. If you like onion, consider sauteeing one small, finely chopped onion in butter (or olive oil) before beginning. If you really like onion, consider making it a medium onion.

Sautee the mushrooms and garlic together with a tablespoon or so of butter (or olive oil). Remember that butter requires a MUCH lower temperature than olive oil (although you want a low temp, anyway).  If you're adding onion, sautee the onion first (until pieces are translucent), then add the mushrooms and garlic.

It will take the mushrooms to do their thing. While they're going, whisk the corn starch into the milk/cream/non dairy alternative.

get your mind out of the gutter!
It's a mushroom
When the mushrooms are nice and tender, gently stir in the milk/cornstarch mix. Simmer until thick, and set aside.

In a separate pan, sautee your beef. Add the beef to the mushrooms/garlic (or pour the mushrooms/garlic over the meat, whichever way works best). Stir in sour cream/yogurt. All done.

By the way, that sauteed mushroom part? That's how you make homemade mushroom soup! So, I guess you just got two recipes for one, today  ;-)

Serve over noodles, rice, gnocci, or potatoes (boiled or baked). If you're feeling decadent, add a dollop of sour cream before serving.

Hey, aprons are mandatory in the kitchen. Everything else, well...


I'd like to end on another good (more serious) note.

As many of you know, I try to write my blog posts ahead of time and schedule them, so they can actually go live when they're supposed to. After writing today's post, I was understandably a bit down in the dumps (even after writing up my recipe and finding my cute chef up above there)

Then I read one of my fellow Dreamspinner Press Author's posts.

It's short and sweet and made me feel better:


Astri Nasthasia Videlia said...

aaahh... this is my Fave genre...I'd love to win Your book... If I could win... :D

Thank's so much to this chance... and thank's for making it International Giveaway... ^^

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the giveaway.