#DoingTheWriteThing Recap: August 24, 2014

The wind has been blowing here at Bedford Manor. At times its brought with it a cleansing rain, at others, it just stirs the dust. There’s been heat, sun, clouds, humidity, wind, and stillness. The weather just can’t make up its mind.

Raindrops on a green Sycamore leaf

Rain on a Leaf

It’s symbolic of how I’ve been feeling lately ~ uncertain as to my purpose. I hit a rather large wall of writer’s block last month and it’s taken me until two days ago to chisel it down.

I’d previously set a goal to have the first (and hopefully only) draft of NOLA finished by now. I’d wanted to start marketing it for sale in October. Instead, I’m rewriting the beginning and incorporating bits and pieces of what I’ve already done.

Most writers will advocate for writing the first draft in its entirety before starting any edits. I usually agree. Except NOLA needed a change. Without changing the beginning, I couldn’t coherently string those changes through the rest of the text. So I threw my self-imposed deadline out the window and, to the cheers of my writing mentor and critique group, am focusing on quality, not quantity.

I’ve been blessed with a friendship with Ms. New Orleans 2014, Lindsay Reine. Not only is she full of information on New Orleans, she’s become my newest cheerleader.

I still have my #DoingTheWriteThing fundraiser but I’ve amped it up a little. On the advice of several friends, I began a GoFundMe campaign. I like it for a variety of reasons. There’s no deadline, no all-or-nothing criteria. And it’s incredibly easy to navigate, update, and share.

I currently have three sponsors for a total of $110.00. It may not sound like much, but it’s eleven thousand pennies more than I had a month ago!

Pennies in a jar.

My Penny Jar

I must be doing something right, or should I say, write. I’m thankful for each of you, all of you, who believe in what I do, and who are helping me to achieve the goals of taking one step at a time. Some steps are bigger than others, and sometimes I have to take a step back. But a trusted person once told me

Two steps forward and one step back is still one step forward.

One Step Forward

Being a Christian and writing a murder mystery can be dichotic but not mutually exclusive. Ted Dekker does a fine job of weaving intrigue and sinister acts into redeeming storylines. I can do the same.

So I will continue to work on NOLA, and trust you’ll understand my delay. I’d much rather present you with a take-your-breath-away piece of writing in a few months or even a year or two, than to sell something now that you wouldn’t take off the bookshelf again, or worse, recommend to a friend.

I’m back in the saddle with blogging too, but I’ve a suspicion you may already know this.

During the holidays, I hope to add a few craft and decorating ideas as well as some recipes and reviews.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to pray, work, take care of Bedford Manor, and of course, I’ll keep #DoingTheWriteThing.

And Frankly, My Dear . . . that’s all she wrote!

You may also enjoy reading:
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My Real Italian Kitchen: Polenta and Sauce
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My Real Italian Kitchen: Polenta and Sauce

My Real Italian Kitchen: Polenta for Dinner

My Real Italian Kitchen: Polenta and Sauce

WinCo is still one of my favorite places ever. My last two grocery shopping trips stocked my pantry so thoroughly, I’ve not been back for well over a month. When you’re on a budget for time as well as money, that’s a big deal.

Last month, I picked up a tube of ready-made polenta, with absolutely no idea what to do with it. It stared at me from the refrigerator drawer every morning. It begged me for attention every evening. I still wasn’t sure how to prepare it. Luckily, WinCo directed me to their polenta recipes on their website, including how to make it from scratch. I also searched the internet for other creative cooking ideas.

Polenta is an Italian cornmeal that can be made into a porridge, or sliced for baking or frying. As a porridge, it’s a delicious breakfast or side dish. You can slice it extra thin to add to your deli sandwich. Fried or baked, it can replace pasta or rice for an easy lunch or dinner. It’s even a great mini breakfast when topped with maple syrup.

The Polenta I picked up was already seasoned with basil and garlic, so that ruled out a breakfast porridge. For my first experience, I opted to slice and fry the polenta on my stove, and top it with a blend of pasta sauce fortified with additional spices and an extra can of sliced mushrooms. I began by slicing the tube of polenta into 1/2-inch round slices.

Polenta, sliced

San Gennaro Polenta

My favorite pasta sauce is Newman’s Own Sockarooni. It has the perfect balance of seasonings and vegetables. I often add browned ground meat to the mix, or serve it over meatballs. For this polenta dinner, mushrooms were the extra touch.

Paul Newman's Sockarooni Pasta Sauce with added mushrooms and seasonings

Sauce and Mushrooms

While the sauce simmered, I heated up my large frying pan with about 1/2-inch of olive oil. Of course, Bertolli Extra Virgin Olive Oil is my favorite. It has just the right blend of natural oil and flavor without a heavy, greasy taste or feel.

Bertolli Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Bertolli Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Once the oil was nicely heated, I carefully placed the polenta slices in and covered them to minimize splattering. After five minutes, it was time to fry the other side. This was tricky, because even though I love being in the kitchen I’m not a big fan of cooking with a lot of hot oil. I managed to flip the polenta with very little mess, and after another five minutes of covered frying, I transferred it to a paper towel to absorb the excess oil. In just two more minutes, dinner was ready.

Served with a simple slice of garlic toast and a refreshing Pellegrino water, my Italian dinner was complete.

My Real Italian Kitchen: Polenta with Sauce

My Real Italian Kitchen: Polenta with Sauce

The polenta was on sale for less than $4. The sauce was $2.50. Mushrooms $0.69. Garlic toast $6 for 12 slices. The most expensive part was the Pellegrino, at an average of $0.83 per bottle. The polenta dinner, while small in size is big on taste. We were able to get five good meals plus a little extra for a small snack. (Dipping a fried polenta in sauce is heaven, in case you were wondering.)

That’s an approximate $2.75 per plate. Not bad for a delicious Italian meal.

Polenta is so versatile in both flavor and use, no wonder it’s the food of choice for Northern Italy. And, in My Real Italian Kitchen.

San Gennaro Polenta with Basil and Garlic

San Gennaro Polenta with Basil and Garlic

And Frankly, My Dear . . . that’s all she wrote!

You may also enjoy reading:
Stocking up the Pantry
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WinCo Wins