Tag Archives: cooking

“A Hundred Different Skies” Preorder Update

“A Hundred Different Skies”? What’s that?

It’s a poetry collection I’ve been working on since 2007. I initially published it in 2008, then pulled it immediately after receiving the proof copy. This time I’m trying to do it right. I have beta readers, I’m editing my poetry, and I’m getting a proper cover designed by a childhood friend.

I promised my grandmother I would properly publish the collection at one point. While I still plan to publish one off poems on occasion, I’m not sure I plan to publish another poetry collection for another 12 years or more.

What Kinds Of Poetry?

My poetry is influenced heavily by the works of Billy Collins, e.e. cummings, Allen Ginsberg, Emily Dickinson, Pablo Neruda, Maya Angelou, Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson, Esther Popel, Philip K Dick (yes he wrote poetry too), Sylvia Path, and probably any other poet I learned about.

An incomplete list of the styles of poetry include:

  • avant garde
  • free verse
  • blank verse
  • tanka
  • cinquain
  • sestina
  • free verse – word art

For more information on types of poetry, Writer’s Digest has a great list here.

Do You Consider Yourself A Poet?

Kind of? I used to consider myself primarily a poet, but over the past 10 years I have found myself more drawn toward writing. I’ve been writing non-fiction for quite some time and then switched to writing fiction. I tend to isolate my poetry to specific places, such as my author page on Curensea. They even interviewed me back in 2019.

What Publishing Method Do You Plan To Use?

Initially I had planned to publish through Inkshares. This meant that even though I said “Coming Summer 2020” that was for preorder.

2020 has thrown curve balls for us all. If I wanted to increase turn around time I would self publish instead of going through a hybrid publisher, but I am notoriously an overachiever in most aspects of my life if I’m in complete control of the deadlines. I’m considering what other options there are and am also considering completing the manuscript and submitting for traditional publication given that many of these poems are submitted for publication elsewhere.

Part of why I’m reconsidering using Inkshares? Inkshares is a hybrid publisher that requires authors to achieve a minimum number of preorders for the book to go to press.

Is This Why You’ve Been On Hiatus From Reviews?

Partially. Some of the hiatus has been related to other aspects of life as some people may have gathered. Some of the hiatus has been related to focusing on my writing because creating has been more helpful for sanity than consuming media.

Some of it has also been avoidance to see if a separation period improves this automatic response I keep having. When I try to write a review or read a book with the intention to review, my heart races and my mind clouds. Taking a break has been essential to review books fairly and honestly.

I have been constantly afraid of encountering more authors that aren’t looking for honest reviews from people that use their own money to buy their books. Or ask for honest reviews from people they send books to.

Perhaps I do not have the spine needed to write book reviews. I have a commitment to finish the books I currently have. This was never meant to be a source of stress or anxiety – it was meant to be a source of interaction with a community I love.

Other Projects

There are other projects in the works besides “A Hundred Different Skies”:

  • Additional chapbooks
  • Short story collections
  • A biography
  • 4-6 shelved novels
  • The “descendants project” – the digitizing of old photographs with names and evidence associated with them used to archive it to allow those searching to see the faces of their great-great-great grandparents for the first time as I come across these photos in my historic photograph projects
  • A book on historic photography techniques and the link between photography and American religious/spiritual movements (as well as the earliest examples of the American manufacturing of false evidence).
  • An ever growing personal photography portfolio that needs to be curated and shared in a gallery show. I recently obtained my first set of prints for framing.
  • Gluten free recipe development
  • Two “toy” / “art” manufacturing projects (I will be running contests for giving away prototypes as I perfect the process).

Not to mention Jacob and I are landscaping the yard and redecorating the house.

If you are interested in supporting or following any of my other projects please let me know which of the above interests you most. I’m happy to post more information and updates. I’m curious what formats people would prefer these updates in, so please include that information in comments below. Liking and sharing helps to get the word out about the upcoming release of A Hundred Different Skies as well as my other projects, but this post is mostly for the people who already read this.

Thank you for your support and for taking the time to read this. It really does mean the world to me.

Thoughts On The “Slow Food” Movement

This piece of prose is meant to serve a dual purpose: provide a life update and artistically reflect on 2020.


Have you heard of this thing? It’s called, “Slow Food.”

I shake my head. “Isn’t that cooking?”

“No, no. Not like that.” Judgmental tuts put me in my place.

People are always waiting to tell other people they’re breathing the wrong way because it isn’t the way they learned how to breathe.

I stare at my ceiling as my partner falls asleep. “Is my food meant to be causing constipation?” What is meant by slow? Sounds uncomfortable.

2020 distorts time like light passing through water and glass – the concentrated pockets brighten momentarily, but fade into the surrounding textures and patterns. I’m reminded of Bay Time – of a place in my past that no longer exists – when waking up during the blue hour meant a circuit of nets and crab pots, checking juvenile oyster baskets for conchs as they float tethered and returning by mid-morning on a clear day – when our family’s laughter sparkled off the water for hours as we chattered and picked steamed crab from exoskeletons. Hand-packed. Frozen. Thawed. Remembered.

Did I remember to respond to those emails last week? What about those interview questions I was going to write? What is Slow Food?

I create daily menus as my partner’s coworkers abandon ship for economic mirages. The grass is always greener… says the cow chewing cud.

What started as a chance to write 6 books turns into 6 unfinished books and 4 shelved ones. No one reads this. Why would anyone want to? Is there a world where my words matter?

“No, no. Not like that.” Say the rejections I receive.

I search for staff writing and editing positions at places that might acknowledge and apologize for microaggressions. Where I would feel safe bringing them up. I try to imagine a writing position where I could continue to find growth. I take two weeks off wondering if they’ve realized I’m the only staff editor they didn’t acknowledge the birthday of yet.

“No, no. Not like that.” Says the writing group I try out, but don’t feel comfortable going back to after the group leader says those that are talented at writing fiction are narcissists… after she compliments my ability to write fiction.

I read antique poetry books for inspiration and tell myself I’ll finish A Hundred Different Skies. I’ll finish at least one to be sure. But no one will read it. Why would they? Not even my family supports me anymore.

I stop getting on Twitter after our friend dies. He’s not the first death this year. My heart hurts. I’m told to take care of myself, but in isolation it’s not that simple. The words don’t come when I try to talk about the brick building on Poquoson Ave. I begin seriously considering mortuary school again.

“Have you tried Slow Food?”

“Isn’t that cooking?” I stare at these pages of unpolished text.

I lose a close friend to schizophrenia. She creates 15+ phone numbers and iMessage accounts to call and harass me about how I am the grey goo in her computer — about how I knew about the people living in her walls — about how the literary magazine I gave her in Summer 2018 predicted all of this. I try not to dwell on wedding pictures. My voicemail box fills regularly to the point my doctors can’t get ahold of me.

For the first summer since undergrad I lose count of the number of times I’ve been camping. This feels like the correct number of times. I start to wish I didn’t have to go home and find myself learning how to do seasonal prepping of food for the winter. I already knew.

“Have you tried Slow Food?”

“Isn’t that cooking?” My entire life has changed, but I haven’t found a new normal. Nothing is normal, and the only thing “slow” is Schrödinger’s Time in this box of a year trying to tell me everything is both fine and not fine at the same time.

But “No, no. Not like that,” says the world as it spins madly on.


Thank you so much for taking the time to read my writing today. If you enjoyed this piece, please like, comment, and/or share it. This helps me know which posts my readers enjoy the most.

Lo Is Domestic AF: Saskatoon Berry Biscuits

I love exploring new and unusual foods that break the normal monocultures people expect – particularly, wild edible foods.

It had been a while since I did a recipe comparable to the Ship of Theseus, so it seemed time to make that happen again. I hope everyone is ready 🙂

Pictured above are Saskatoon berries. While similar to huckleberries or blueberries, Saskatoon berries do have a higher quantity of amygdalin than some other fruits and this breaks down into hydrogen cyanide. Eating too much of any fruit containing large amounts of amygdalin will you sick, but heat will break this down easily.

But how do you use them? In baking! Today, I’m going to share my recipe for Saskatoon berry biscuits. I based the recipe on one for blueberry drop biscuits, but I made quite a few significant changes to all of the ingredients to the point that it’s no longer the same recipe. Additionally, please keep in mind that the baking process heats the berries to a toasty 500 F (260 C) for ~10 minutes and helps guarantee that the berries are safe to eat for sensitive populations.

It’s important that you always wash berries before you cook with them. I removed all kinds of twigs and things from these before I added these to the dough, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

So, besides approximately 1 cup* of Saskatoon berries, what other supplies will I need? You can replace 1 cup of Saskatoon berries with a cup of huckleberries or local wild blueberry relative – I’m sure Maine blueberries would be divine!

*I include metric measurements for all of my ingredients at the bottom of this post

Because I try to reduce the overall sugar content of these recipes, I use Truvia sweetener baking mix.

I make my own self rising flour using Namaste flour blend (though you can use any cup for cup gluten free flour blend containing xantham gum). You may find that you need to adjust the ratios depending on the humidity and elevation of where you are living. I baked these biscuits at 3500 feet (1067 meters) above sea level and about 30% humidity.

The next task is to combine all dry ingredients called for – in this case it’s the sugar substitute and the self rising gluten free flour blend. Make sure to take your time with this step because uneven mixing can create issues. The one thing I would have changed while making this recipe is that I would have added a sifting step (I do not own a sifter).

Before we go any further, make sure your oven is preheating to a toasty 500 F (260 C) and get a vent fan going. At that temperature if you have anything baked to the inside of your oven, your smoke alarms will let you know.

Next, we add the dairy free milk option.

Let’s make something really clear: I’m from The South. I like my fats. They make everything taste good. In the drop biscuits I grew up with we used butter and full fat buttermilk, so I thought why not use coconut oil and canned coconut milk?

It takes a bit more effort though – because canned coconut milk comes out looking like this:

Doesn’t that look appetizing?

To fix this, place the bowl in the microwave for 15 seconds, then stir, and repeat until smooth. You’ll end up with a homogenous and smooth coconut milk.

Okay! We have all of our wet ingredients, fats, fruits and dry ingredients. Before we go any further be sure to double check your berries for stems and ripeness.

Next, add the coconut oil and start cutting (with 2 knives) the coconut oil into the dry ingredient mixture until you end up with dry pea sized granules.

Next, slowly add your coconut milk little by little and continue cutting in until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and the majority of the mix looks moistened.

It should looks something like what I have pictured below:

Now, add your berries and very gently (as to avoid squishing them) fold in your fresh berries. I did the folding part with a flat wooden spoon.

Once fully incorporated, move to a plastic or silicone mat and get a wooden rolling pin (marble or silicone may work here too) and gently roll out dough mass into a 1 inch (~2.5 cm) thick mass. I used a medium sized biscuit cutter, but the choice is yours. A smaller sized biscuit cutter will likely double the yield.

Continue to cut, transfer to a greased cookie sheet. If you can’t cut, reshape and gentle roll out without pushing the dough down with force – you do not want to squish the dough particles together!

A medium biscuit cutter yielded 8 biscuits, but the small may yield closer to 12-16 depending on how big your small sized biscuit cutter is.

Once the biscuits have started to get a nice golden brown appearance on top they are cooked through. Go ahead and take them out of the oven, but let them cool to at least 100 F (37.8 C) before serving. Cook time will vary based on a number of factors – these took approximately 10 minutes in our gas oven.

I’m so happy to have been able to share this recipe of Theseus with you today! While none of the ingredients matched the original version I based this on, it turned out fantastic. Therefore, I am going to put it out into the world and call this one a success.

Ingredients (Summary)

  • 2 cups (480 g) gluten free self-rising flour
  • 1/3 cup (80 g) truvia baking sugar substitute
  • 1/4 cup (60 g) coconut oil, non-melted
  • 2/3 – 3/4 cup (160 – 180 mL) canned coconut milk, warmed and blended smooth
  • 1 cup (240 g) fresh Saskatoon (or other local wild) berries (frozen may work too)

Did you give this recipe a try? What did you think? Have you ever cooked with Saskatoon berries? Are you a fan? Let me know in the comments below!

Thank you so much for taking the time out of your day to read about this recipe. If you enjoyed this post, please like, share, and/or leave a comment. This helps me know which posts my readers like best. I hope you are well and I encourage you to try new things, experiment, and don’t be afraid to replace ingredients if you’re allergic to them. You’d be amazed what you might discover!

Today in “Lo Is Domestic AF”: Will It Chocolate Chip Cookie? Part 1

That’s Thai Basil Lemonade – I can do some things

I’m going to let everyone in on a little secret:

I’m not a domestic goddess

But I really like cookies and my sister has gotten me craving cookies. I blame you dear sweet sister, Becky.

Except, unlike her, I am not an angel of the kitchen. No. I create abominations behind closed doors. I present to you:

The Pillsbury Gluten-free [Cayenne Surprise] Chocolate Chip Cookie*

*not sponsored – this is what we had in the pantry

“But Lo,” You ask, “What’s the surprise if you tell us the cayenne is in it?”

Well, most people aren’t prepared for a cayenne chocolate chip cookie made with coconut oil instead of butter.

Don’t forget to preheat your oven to 375F because Pillsbury says,“🦆 the metric system!”

That’s 1/2 cup of softened coconut oil, couple dashes cayenne pepper, 1 tablespoon tap cold water, and an egg.

Blend until decently homogeneous such that unsuspecting husband cannot see the cayenne pepper flakes.

Advise him that he can taste how spicy they are if he would like. Watch as he makes his “ew that has raw egg in it” face.

Laugh on the inside as you taste it and suggest adding more. He says, “No.”

Elevation seems to impact cooking time a lot for this baking mix. At 3205 feet elevation (at MSO) the cook time is approximately 10 minutes. I have made this recipe at 6000+ feet elevation and 10 minutes was not the correct time. Both were gas ovens, but there are other variables to be aware of.

Listen, gluten-free baking is weird and I’m constantly whispering incantations like “you better work you 🦆ing box of baking soda tasting 💩 “ over it. I’m not a wizard, contrary to what my last name may lead some to believe.

Once the cookies are out you have to let them cool a little, then detach them.

Next comes the fun part – the cayenne.

Dust the cookies with cayenne then transfer to a rack to finish cooling because I obviously trust you to do the right thing. Right?

Psych! Get that second batch in the oven and get your favorite homogenized nut juice some weirdo is insisting you call nut milk. Pour a glass and get a plate with at least 2 cookies.

If you are using horchata instead, you’re the true goddess, my friend.

Like that glass? Sales of it support the survival of a community gathering place important to me. You can buy that glass here.

Are you ready?

Yay! 2/2 approve! Cayenne Surprise is the good kind.

So What’s The Surprise?

The spice sneaks up on you. The tingling starts around your lips and crawls around in your throat balanced with the flavors of chocolate and cookie. It’s subtle, but you can’t eat too many. The cayenne isn’t super noticeable visually. It adds a brightness close up. Overall, I’d say this was a success. Have you tried similar with a different chocolate chip cookie mix or recipe? How did it turn out?

What should I try to add to cookies next? Do you have another domestic potential disaster for me to attempt? Comment below!