Cooking for the Sensitive Soul… Err… Stomach.

So those of you who know me may know that I have an increasingly dissatisfied stomach. As in every week I convince myself I have a new food allergy. Thank you but not really WebMD ;-). But actually, I know I’m lactose intolerant, and I’m fairly sure I have some variation of acid reflux (as in, I have a sip of alcohol, a drop of hot sauce, a cup of coffee, and my whole being stages a revolt). Or it could be a gluten intolerance. Who knows??? But the point is, I’m too lazy/unwilling to do an elimination diet right now to truly figure it out, so in the meantime, I’m left with trying to cook the basics without any of the possible problematic ingredients in question and hope for the best! Which leads me to….

Non-boring protein for lactose-intolerant/acid-refluxive/possibly gluten intolerant vegetarians!!!!

The recipe of the day, to any who might be interested, is sautéed, lemon herb tempeh!

Note (one more preface and then I’ll get on with it I swear): I could never write a full-on food blog because I use, as the french would say about it, pif-o-metre. As in, I cook by my nose. As in, pinch of this, sprinkle of that until it starts tasting good so…. good luck with this very general guideline of a recipe ;-).


2 packages of precooked tempeh (trader joe’s, costco… most big places have them now and they come in pretty standard 8 oz rectangular packages)

1 large yellow onion

5-7 cloves of garlic

3-5 tablespoons of olive oil

3 lemons, juiced

1-2 teaspoons of soy sauce

Various spices, including but not limited to: salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, cumin, parsley

^Note that I make this in a fairly large quantity because I save it to eat throughout the week, but you can easily cut this in half

1) Cut tempeh into about 1 by 1-2 inch cubes. I usually do one cut lengthwise down the middle then maybe 10 ish widthwise.

2) Put cubed tempeh on a flat plate or bowl and sprinkle with a teaspoon or so of soy sauce – the tempeh should soak it up pretty well. Set aside.


3) Chop however much garlic you’d like, set aside.

Oh hi garlic.
Oh hi garlic.

4) Chop onion. I usually chop it fairly finely, but coarse is okay too – it will be cooking long enough that it will shrink down a good deal.

5) Heat olive oil (2-3 tablespoons? enough to cover pan) in a large pan on medium heat. Add spices such as smoked paprika, cumin, onion and garlic powder now (I do a few shakes of each). As soon as the spices start to sizzle and shimmer in the oil, add the onions!

6) Stir onions and let cook until they start to soften and turn translucent. Note: if I have something else to do/dishes to clean up at this point, I’ll turn down the heat to low and just let them cook for a couple minutes, because either way it takes a while. The only key is to keep stirring every minute or two (especially if you keep the heat at medium) to make sure your onions don’t burn to a crisp at the sides.

Sautéing the onions.
Sautéing the onions.

7) If you haven’t already done this, remember to squeeze the juice from your lemons and have it ready!

8) Once onions are soft and translucent, throw in the tempeh. Try to stir it all as best you can, then turn it down to a simmer, cover and let cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. The cubes may break up as you stir, but that’s okay – it’s why I cut them fairly big to start with. Note: If you’re concerned about an even brown color, you can keep the heat at medium and flip the cubes more regularly, but there’s more of a risk of burning that way.

9) After a few (3-5?) minutes, taste the tempeh. If it looks a bit dry/onions are clumping, add another spoonful of olive oil and/or soy sauce.

10) Add lemon juice, garlic, parsley, salt and peper. Note: I add salt and peper to taste at this point, trying bits of the tempeh and adjusting as I go. And if you’re concerned with the presentation, consider waiting to add the dried parsley until the very last minute, as the less it cooks, the more of that nice green color will remain.

11) When it tastes good, it’s done! Eat it warm or stick it in tupperware and have veggie protein at the ready for the week. I use it in the same way many people use grilled chicken – on salads, a scoopful mixed into a soup, on noodles, with rice… just on the side of whatever vegetable I’m eating… And it’s great warm or cold! Hope you enjoy. 🙂

The finished product atop a bed of arugula!
The finished product atop a bed of arugula!

Final note: if you made it through my messy instructions, congratulations. If you’re never going to dare attempt this but enjoy the case study of how my weird mind works (and barely manages to produce directions in a linear order) that’s cool too. And if you just skimmed pictures and are wondering where the stuff about reading/writing is – I got you! Coming at you tomorrow or Monday. 🙂

Recharge and Keep Writing

Life: Hi all! I’ve been trying to do blogging on Sundays, but I was so exhausted last night that that was so not gonna happen… so you get one now! I was wiped out, in a good way, because I spent the weekend in Galena, IL (western illinois) with some good friends. I was getting a little anxious on Friday about going out of town again when I’m just sinking into revisions fully, but honestly I think it was a great recharge. Short, sweet, and packed with meaningful interactions. Here’s a picture of the vineyard we visited while there.


We got to take a tour of the wine lab/machinery/beautiful barrels (so cool – I want a wine barrel!) do some tasting (so yummy), soak up the scenery (gorgeous rolling fields) and even catch glimpses of the wedding going on in the middle of the vineyard!! Seriously, I joke a lot about being a hermit in the cave, and sometimes I am… but even I know that time out in the world can be great for recharging the muse :-). Honestly, before I left I felt kind of like this –

IMG_8481BLAHH REVISIONS BLAHH (who said writers weren’t melodramatic??)!!!

And now I feel a little closer to this –



Reading: on the book front, I flew through four of Sophie Jordan’s books last week – her Ivy Chronicles three part series (NA romance, GREAT reads) and Off Base, a set of two short stories she wrote with Tessa Bailey centering on military romances (also fun). ANNND I don’t think I posted this yet, but I finished Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta and OH MY GOD.

Seriously, this woman is a genius and her books are beautiful. I loved each one on its own, but the trilogy as a whole (The Lumatere Chronicles) was masterfully done. It’s dark and twisty and complex at every turn, and I loved every minute of it. I am using the second book, Froi of the Exiles, as one of my comp titles, but really that’s flattering myself because if one of my books can remotely be compared to hers I think I might collapse in to fits of happiness for the rest of my life. If you like dark, complex YA high fantasy, go read now!!!!

Writing: I finally hit a benchmark Friday at 1/3 of the book (rewriting/revising) complete!! This may seem slow, and it does to me sometimes, but… it feels so good to be solidly in the middle third of the book now. After such a slow start in revisions, it’s good to be moving steadily forward again. More updates to come soon!

Oh, and obligatory writer cat picture below as well. Because I think she’s happy for me too!


An Ode to Revisions. Sorry not Sorry.

Summary of the following ode:
I think I should do revisio-SQUIRREL!

Ahem. Without further ado, An Ode to Revisions:

At journey’s beginning
Our grass shimmered in gold.
Dreams: ours for the winning.
Plans: impossibly bold.

And again and again
Those fingers lithely flew
‘Cross keyboards, end to end,
Each line glowed fresh and new.

But we were young and unafraid
And dreams were made and used and wa-
Wait, wait, wait. This sounds familiar. Have I heard this before? Read this before? Seen this before? Oh, you mean my novel is simply a compilation of every story I’ve heard/read/seen in my life rolled into one, and not some fantastical entirely original next big thing? Ah, I see. Well, in that case, plugging my ears once again. LALALA I’M NOT LISTENING!!! Anyhoo:

Summer left, autumn came.
With finished books to tote
The excitement remained,
And so, onwards we wrote.

Winter raced by us too;
In a storm, came and went.
Two more books were now through,
Though our poor wrists were spent.

Then spring! swept in at last –
A dear, lovely season –
Except… when writing’s past…
And beyond all reason,

You think it may be time
To go back to the start,
To gaze on word and rhyme,
Just – reviewing your art.

And fixing – no. No, no.
Stop and run away there.
Do these words have no flow?
Does this style have no flare?

What’s that awk run-on line?
Did I really write that?
That book just can’t be mine –
That character’s too flat.

Where’d that cliché come from?
That theme’s laid on heavy
And you want this book come –
June?? No! Stop! Not ready!

Can’t I just write some more?
A new sequel, or two?
What? “REVISIONS!” you roar?
Odes will just have to do.

Week of May 18 – Back to the Midwest

Life: A short update this week, because as mentioned last week, revisions are taking top priority at the moment. But in short –   got to see friends and family this week, go into the city for dinner with an old friend (hi Will, looking at you!) and tried kickboxing. Which was awesome. Except that that was Thursday, and abs are still sore. #unathleticpeopleproblems

Writing: Have I mentioned revisions lately? Or how they’re the spawn of the devil? Ah well. Moving onwards, and feeling good about what I have fixed/rewritten. Plan for this coming week (read: rest of my foreseeable life) – more revisions!!! Joy.

Reading: Finished the 11th in J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood (oops how did that happen?) and read Erica O’Rourke’s Torn (an action-packed YA Urban Fantasy set in Chicago with a super well done love triangle) as well as Sarah Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Rose’s (fabulous Beauty and the Beast retelling with dark twists, gorgeous writing and beautiful men). I love both authors – they are wonderful people, who also write incredibly well. Sarah’s books (Throne of Glass – go read now!) I have read before and adored. This is my first book of Erica’s, and I will definitely be reading the rest of the series and her next one – so good. And of course…. reading ACOTAR has not helped at all with my impatience for the next in Sarah’s Throne of Glass series, Queen of Shadows, out in September. Patience… what’s that again?

Week of May 11 – RT Booklovers Convention!

Life: Hello again blog world! After a crazy few weeks of travel, I am almost on my way back to Chicago – for the foreseeable future!! I know, I know, weird thing to be excited about, but truly, although the travels of the last month (two? eek) have been incredible… I am so ready to be home for a while. Things on the homebody’s horizon – revisions, organizing beautiful RT books on bookshelves, revisions, eating normal meals again, revisions, reading said fab RT books… did I mention revisions? On that note – 

Writing: Has been happening slowly. I think I’ve mentioned before that the revisions process is my arch-nemesis. The same is still true :0. However, I have to say that some of my slowness of revisions over the last two months mayyy have had something to do with the near incessant travel I piled onto my life this spring. But… on the moving forward in the writing process side of things… the RT Booklovers Convention (a huge readers and writers con with lots of authors, workshops, book pitching opportunities and general ridiculousness) was AMAZING. I cannot begin to say enough about the crazy helpful advice from writing panels, the sheer kindness of the authors, or how wonderful it was to finally hang out in person with my fabulous critique partners. So let me just say here – thank you Dallas, thank you RT, thank you everyone we met there… and Janella & Akshaya, we have sooo many skype CP dates in our future because I  about to miss you like crazy!

Reading: On the RT topic – just books on books on books. I think I am coming home with… 50? Maybe more? And around 300 free ebooks. So… yeah. And a lot of them signed! So if you don’t here from me for a while, I might be in a book cave. Oops. And in the last month… I’ve read a whole lot of J.R. Ward (still amazing) and a couple of other books but not sure I’ve finished any of them. Be on the lookout for a whole lot of new things in the next few weeks though. My book pile is now more than waist high. But actually.  And until next time… happy almost summer!!!! 😘



Week of April 20 – More Travels and Coming Home

Sorry it’s been two weeks! Travel took over life for a while, in the best way possible. 🙂

Life: Like I mentioned, lots of travel, but I’m finally back in the good old, bipolar spring-inclined Midwest. It was a wonderful few weeks, but I’m also looking forward to getting back to work. Hence this post being another short one! Also, I’ve included a few pictures below.

Reading: Ahem. Okay. The other reason I haven’t posted in two weeks. I like to read I travel. Shamelessly. So here goes nothing: about 6 romances… I think! A couple of JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series and the second of Thea Harrison’s Elder Races series. And also read Anne Bishop’s The Invisible Ring and Melina Marchetta’s Froi of the Exiles. All were great, and all were by author’s whose work I’ve read before.

In particular, Froi of the Exiles blew me away. I think I am actually going to need some time away from the trilogy before I read the last book (Quintana of Charyn). It just reached into my head and rattled my brain that much. High fantasy, pretty dark, but seriously good – great characters and incredible twists.

Writing: …Did I mention I’ve been binge-reading and traveling for the last two weeks? Oops. So yeah. A bit of rewriting and overall character/timeline planning happened… but now it’s time to get down to work for real. So without further ado… I’m gonna go write some things!!

Hi Paris... and delicious macarons in hand! :-)
Hi Paris… delicious macarons in hand. 🙂
Île Saint-Louis
Île Saint-Louis
Lady thinks she deserves a spot at the bfast table... complete with her own tea and book.
Lady thinks she deserves a spot at the breakfast table… complete with her own tea and book. 

Week of March 30 – Into the Neutral Zone

Life: Hello from Lucerne, Switzerland! It will be a quick post today because, well, it’s Switzerland and there’s hiking to be done, mountains to be seen, chocolate and cheese to be eaten, etc.… 😉 And I still need to do a little bit of work before we take off for a hike! But, I’ll just say that it is beautiful here, even in the rain, and more pictures will follow.

Writing: Still knee deep in revisions! I am going to try and do at least an hour a day even with the travels, because I’d like to have my MS ready to go by this summer. There are several reasons for this timeline, one of which is the RT convention in Dallas this May. I am so excited for it, in no small part because my lovely CPs, Akshaya and Janella, will be there! Also, there will be lots of published authors, aspiring writers, avid readers, and… editors and agents who could potentially request a full manuscript if they like the sound of your story. So it’s exciting. But slightly terrifying. But exciting. Did I mention I should probably get back to revisions now?

Books: Finished Erin Bowman’s Taken and Thea Harrison’s Dragon Bound this week. Both were excellent. Well written dystopian and dragon filled romance – need I say more? Really though, I’m not usually a big fan of dystopian, but I thought Taken was very well done – and great characters/captivating family relationships (though I may be biased because my own books revolve around close family ties as well). And Dragon Bound was so wonderful – such a quirky, unapologetic, original voice. Plus I love dragons. A lot. Reading about five books at the moment though (I may have a bit of book ADD) so should have more for next week. Be well everyone and happy Easter/Passover/Palm Sunday for Greeks/Orthodox Christians!

Zurich is pretty, even in the rain!
Zurich is pretty, even in the rain!
Fondue time :-) so much cheese!!!
Fondue time 🙂 so much cheese!!!
On the train from Zurich to Lucerne
On the train from Zurich to Lucerne

Writing and Adultness

“I’ve come to the conclusion that being an adult is not for me”

– My wonderful critique partner, Akshaya! 🙂 /story of my life.

Akshaya Raman

I was thirteen years old when I first decided I wanted to be a writer.

A girl I knew then—who is now one of my best friends—introduced me to the world of fanfiction, and I have no shame in admitting that some of the first things I wrote were indeed fanfiction. Harry Potter fanfiction to be specific. And if you know me at all, you’ll find that utterly unsurprising.

However, since that moment I decided I wanted to be a writer, something changed: I was told I had to become an adult. I had to do adult things like get good grades and go to college. Other adults—and peers who were aspiring adults—told me that I had to think about the future, pick a major that would guarantee me a job after graduation, make a lot of money to support the family that I would no doubt have one day…

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Week of March 23 – Traveling Begins!

Life: Hello from New Orleans! This is my life news for the week – visiting Louisiana these next few days with my wonderful mom. I’ll post a few pictures below. Overall, a few things I’m looking froward to: wandering the neighborhoods, eating beignets, and seeing the Bayous!!

Writing: Revisions are marching on! Entered into week 4 of revisions, and am diving into making the actual changes on my manuscript. Sometimes this is frustrating… like when it becomes clear that a rewrite is necessary/more efficient than trying to change two out of every three sentences. But hey, I like the drafting process more than the revising process, so rewriting is more up my alley. And as always, Susan Dennard’s website/step-by-step guide to revising is incredible, and so are my critique partners. They are the only reason that revisions have not completely eaten my soul.

Books: Mmm I think I’ve finished a few in the last week. The three that I’m certain about are: Maggie Stievfater’s Shiver, Alexandra Bracken’s The Darkest Minds, and Megan Whalen Turner’s The Queen of Attolia. All well-known YA books with some gorgeous writing. The Queen of Attolia in particular was incredible – I still feel kinda like a tornado ran through my mind and left an enchanting mess in its wake. It’s the kind of book you just keep thinking about for days afterwards. So satisfying. Definitely recommend!!!

And without further ado… a view of the city from above, a beautiful tree in the French Quarter, and the beads of Bourbon Street. Next stop – alligators. 😉