Categories
3. Other Things Whimsy Writing Life

Just the facts this time: scones my way

My last baking adventure post wandered into a rantlet about scientific method, so for this one I’m sticking to Talking About The Recipe.

Here be my current “scone” recipe. It’s a blend of several scone & buttermilk biscuit recipes because that’s how I roll. PUN INTENDED. HA.

Before you begin:

  • preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • If you’re adding dried fruit, set 1 cup’s worth of fruit to soak in hot water.
  • Find your Really Big Bowl. Getting the dough to behave & fold into yummy layers is MUCH easier in a big bowl than on a counter. Plus then you don’t have to clear as much countertop to work on.

1. mix together in your Really Big Bowl (I use a whisk)

3 c flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2-1 tsp salt
*plus ONLY IF you’re doing a sweet scone: 1/4-1/2 c sugar

2. add in 1 super-cold stick of butter.

recommendations I ignore: cut the butter into small chunks & work into the flour mixture with your fingertips or fork or pastry cutter until it’s all in flour-coated teeny pieces. Being me, I often use soft butter (GASP) and I think the results still come out tasty not “tough,” but YMMV.

* also toss in 6-8 oz shredded cheese at the same time as the butter if you’re craving cheezy/savory scones.

3. add in 1 cup milk or cream or buttermilk or milk mixed w/unflavored yogurt, all the variations give slight differences in final flavor. The important thing is, add about 1 cup total liquid.

*if you’re making sweet fruit scones, drain most/all of the soaking liquid & add the fruit at the same time as the milk.

4. mix it all up in your Really Big Bowl with spoon and then hands until it comes together as a dough. It might be sticky, especially the fruit version if you left a lot of water in the fruit like I do when I don’t feel like being patient/thorough about draining it.

4.1 If it turns out especially pain-in-the-ass wet, at this point you can plop spoonfuls on a cookie sheet and make drop scones out of it.

4.2 Otherwise for shaped treats, keep pressing it all together with floured hands until it just barely holds together in a ball. Fold the shaggy lump of dough in half in the bowl, then gently flatten it out again. Do that three or four times total — the dough gets easier to work each time.

5. Squish out/roll the flattened dough until it’s about 1/2″ thick and cut into your preferred shapes. I like triangles because it’s the most efficient use of the dough, and I can twist up the edge trimmings into freeform weirdling shapes. If the dough has worked up well, I shape & cut it in the bowl so I don’t have to bother flouring the counter.

6. Place treats on parchment papered cookie sheet & slide into the oven to bake.

7. IMMEDIATELY DROP THE OVEN TEMP to 400.

Yes,  I did say pre-heat to 425. You can even pre-heat to 450. Biscuits & scones need the high temp to rise well. But I drop the temp as soon as they’re in because if I leave the temp up, I always misjudge the shorter cook time and overcook the bottoms. Lowering the temp and cooking longer gives me a bigger “done” window.

8. Bake for about 15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean/tops turn golden brown. (You can do fancy shit like paint the tops with milk or egg to make them brown up more. I can’t be bothered. Cheezy scones get browner faster than fruit ones, go figure.

FULL DISCLAIMER: the cook time can be vary by plus OR minus 10 minutes depending on the size & shape & variety & oven quirks. That’s nearly a 100% over/under, so keep a close eye on them the first few times.

That’s it. The recipe is super-customizable and you can get a sheet’s worth ready to bake before the oven finishes pre-heating once you get the hang of it. Plus it dirties only 1 bowl & 1 measuring cup and makes anywhere from 10 to 24 scones, depending on how BIG you like them.

Happy experimenting, that’s all until later!

Almost forgot! Here’s my obligatory promotional blurb:

My  fantasy & SF novels make GREAT gifts. Or, y’know, you could buy them for yourself. Order from your favorite local bookstore or choose from online retailers behind this link: My Books2Read.com Author Page

 

Here be more pictures of tasty treats, just for added entertainment value:

yes, I overbaked some of these, but look at those triangles!

 

Categories
3. Other Things Book reviews Media Consumption

What I did while I wasn’t gone

I took myself on a writing retreat last weekend. It was mostly a mental trick to take advantage of physical preparations for travel to a convention I ended up not attending.

Since I had planned and prepped be away from home for a four-day weekend, I figured that meant wasn’t responsible for anything at home those fourdays. I could ignore my whole Regular Life guilt-free and wander off to my computer any time the urge hit.

I finished a short story I’ve been tinkering with for over two years and published it for my email list subscribers (I also set up that process from scratch, a post in its own right.)

I also made headway on a second short story and wrote about 5000 words in Ghost Town, my current novel in progress. I write slower than a Galapagos turtle walks, which is why I rarely post word counts (and loathe them as motivational tool)  For reference, that’s about a usual month’s worth of writing. In 4 days. Yeah. So mental writing retreat as a working trick…definitely helped. I plan to do it again. Sometime.

But writing isn’t all I did. This is a media consumption post too, so here’s what I took in.

Throne of Glass series. Sarah A Maas. Finished all the books currently published (yay!) now have to wait until at least October to read the one that’ll wrap up the current series. (BOO!)  There’s a lot I could say about her books, but I said most of it in a previous post. One thing to add: the things that bugged me in A Court of Thorns & Roses series are less overt in this one. No idea which came first, don’t care, just liking them more.

Gods, Monsters and the Lucky Peach. Kelly Robson. SWOON. So good. Go read it now. It’s a short book, (novella) but it will stick with you in the best of ways. I inhaled it over two meal breaks and a walk.

Yes, I read on walks. I was tripping off curbs and veering towards lamp posts long before it was trendy with Pokemon Go. Don’t worry, I’ve never run into anything, and I always pause at roadways to watch for traffic. But I digress. As usual.

Gods, Monsters and the Lucky Peach reminds me of Connie Willis & Kate Wilhelm ( two of my SFF favorites) at their very best. Not because it had time travel, although it does, nor because of the science, which it is ALL ABOUT,  but because of the way both those elements were presented: brilliantly, elegantly, and enjoyably.

Time travel was an essential element but not a pitfall of paradox or an excuse to wander into theoretical physics for far longer than the narrative could bear (Woo!) Science was at the center of the plot without ever stampeding over the characters or dragging the story into a slough of exposition, (WOO!!!) Plot & characters were also amazing.

Basically, if you want fresh, new classic-style SFF relevant to and written for today’s world, this is it.

A Divided Peace. Tanya Huff. Happy sigh. Always a joy to read her words.  Aaaaand now I have to go back and re-read all the Confederation novels. If I could write military science fiction a tenth as well as she does, I would do a whole novel about Mercury Battalion. But I don’t have the chops for making the Corps a realistic centerpiece. Maybe if someone with experience wanted to co-author…yeah, I would totally be up for that that.

ANYWAY. Onward.

In the viewing circle, I watched a fun season of superhero television show, Black Lightning, and a serious movie about a real world hero. Marshall. (it’s a biopic-style movie  about one of Thurgood Marshall’s early cases.)  

I enjoyed the drama of the movie, but it seemed bizarre to me that the titular character, an AMAZING human being who was part of so much civil rights history–who MADE so much history, was not even the narrative center of his own movie. (A white guy was.)  I am not surprised that was the angle Hollywood took, just angry and aggravated. They could have done so much better.

But I’m loving Black Lightning, so I’m batting over .500 in viewing satisfaction.

Still haven’t seen Deadpool 2 or Ocean’s 8, but they’re on my list. And Jurassic Park Episode whatEVER is next up in Major Hollywood Kaboom Movies.

So until then, it’s back to writing-writing-writing.

 

Categories
Authoring Detours Writing Life

making the best of bad times

My professional plans for this weekend imploded in a most frustrating way, and I’m…pretty torqued about it. Sad, frustrated, disappointed, you name it.

But…instead of seething about it, I’m giving myself a consolation prize: a Total Writing Retreat. ™

I was supposed to be out of town, so everything is set for me to be gone. It should be fun to see how much I can get written while I’m pretending I’m on the road, offline, cut off from the everyday routine & exempt from household responsibilities.

I’m still REALLY unhappy. But maybe I can make somethng of it? I dunno. I hope so.

Meanwhile, if anyone feels like helping cheer me up, you could always buy Rough Passages or one of my other books, leave an Amazon or online review for something of mine you’ve read already, send me a picture of my book in your collection or TBR stack…or heck, just post funny pictures on social media?  I’ll see ’em when I’m back online next week.

But reviews & sales would make me happiest. Yes, I am shallow and mercenary

Look. It’s simple. I  want to reach All The Readers Ever.

Each sale and especially every Amazon review causes a real and dramatic boost in my visibility. Support from you, my loyal & astonishing followers, makes the party even bigger.

And sometime bigger really is better. 

.

Categories
1. Storysculpting Cons & Appearances nuts & bolts Whimsy Writing Life

Quotes & story ideas & other miscellany

This blog has been languishing a bit. When my time isn’t disappearing down the side roads of  life detours, it gets sucked into wrap-up for the next paperback release (Rough Passages. COMING SOON! Woo!)  and cleanup work on the current WIP.

All the blogging-type energy has gone to writing five-minute  free association word riffs, and those get posted in the Other Things Blog. (Click HERE if you’re feeling brave.)

I can’t stand the idea of letting any creative space sit idle, though, so here:  have some random phrases gleaned from conversations during the Nebula Awards conference weekend. Presented without rhyme or reason and mostly without attribution to protect privacy.

These would make good story titles:

  • Barbie & Ken Doing The Kama Sutra In the Basement
  • A Big Cloud Of Foot Flakes
  • Going To the Aviary To Hug the Owls

And some phrases:

  • “One man’s dirty underwear is another man’s shooting star.”
    from Dr. Kjell Lindgren’s presentation about Life on the International Space Station.
  • “In war there are no winners, only widows.”
    not attributing because spoilers, but is that a great saying or what?
  • Ocean gyres
    that one might also make a good title.
  • “Fairy tales are all bone and no meat.”
    Seanan McGuire, during a panel on fairy tale themes in speculative fiction

More random notes from the conference will appear as time allows and the mood strikes.  Stay tuned, bookmark, follow the blog, whatever.

 


Not tired of my words yet? My published works are available on Amazon and all the other usual online retailers. Handy link: https://books2read.com/ap/xqvlwR/K-M-Herkes

Categories
Authoring Whimsy Writing Life

I write, therefore I…what?

 

This post could just as easily be titled, “Why I Am Uncomfortable Being Called A Writer.”

I admit it’s an odd quirk, what with the two novels, three novellas, four novelettes and assorted short stories available for purchase or download. Add in this blog and my old livejournal, three more complete novels in various stages of revision and one consigned to Limbo abandoned on Wattpad, and it’s obvious I write. A lot.

Ay, there’s the rub. I write. Writing is a thing I do. It is an activity I enjoy…well. True confession, I don’t always enjoy it, but I do always love its results, and often it is joyful work. Sometimes writing can consume my every waking moment.

But WRITER is a term of identity, and I don’t meet the minimum metrics. This is not a case of impostor syndrome. It’s more of a semantic issue. I do writing. I also do gardening, but I don’t call myself a gardener. I bake, but I do not claim to be a baker. I work in a library, but I am not a librarian.

The writing & publishing community packs a lot of baggage about personality traits, habits, likes, and dislikes onto BEING a writer that don’t fit me.  I’m okay with that–except when people refer to me as A Writer. Then I feel the squeeze and start to squirm.

How can I be sure I don’t fit?  I’m so glad you asked. I’m sure because I know many wonderful, talented, inclusive people who do identify as writers. These days it’s simple to find and bond with a tribe of like-minded folk online.

Let’s take a look at the attributes these writer-souls share. The internet is full of helpful materials. There are memes galore. Check this image search here:  You know you’re a writer when

Or check out the multitude of lists in the blogosphere

Oh, and QUIZZES!  I love quizzes.

How did you do?  Me, I scrolled down four lines’ worth of image memes  before I found a single one applicable to me. Lists are no better. I rarely match more than one or two items. And the quizzes? “Not a good fit.” “Not your strength.” “Writer probably isn’t a good career choice.”

(Hah! Too late.)

I do match a few writerly qualifications.  I read a lot. I can get lost in writing. I could happily be a hermit. I adore blanket forts and office supplies. But I don’t buy pens & journals and such, and that’s just the first of the long list of writer traits I do NOT have.

Thusly by the standards of identity, I am not a writer.  I can rove with writer wolves, I can howl and hunt and play with them like a labrador retriever who got loose and was adopted by the pack, but I am unmistakably Not The Same.

I  am…me. I am not a thing I do. I am a collective of ALL the things I do and remember and learn and more. Being is its own verb. I am Karen Elizabeth Morris Herkes.

What do I do? Among other things, I write. And that’s more than enough to bring me happies.