For more than three remarkable years of my life I lived in North Africa and the Middle East — specifically Morocco, Algeria and Saudi Arabia. Those adventures, both wonderful and not so wonderful, formed the person that I am today, and most especially, the woman who wrote Isis Trilogy. Drawn from my own personal experiences hitchhiking across the Sahara, surviving sandstorms, sleeping under vast desert skies, wandering from oasis to oasis, my books are a fanciful retelling of my life in settings right out of 1001 Nights.
Isis Trilogy: The Red Mirror, The Emerald Tablet, The Black Scroll.
Click Here for the March 18 2016 KVEC am radio podcast that retraces some of those adventures in an interview conducted by Deborah Bayles. My reminiscing lasts about 40 minutes. Commercial breaks have blessedly been removed.
The Spring Quarter issue of Life Choices Magazine pp 30-32 features a new article by me on making killer tajines and setting beautiful tables.
Check out pages 30-32 for my now-not-so-secret recipe for tajine (also spelled tagine). This is a basic recipe that can be adapted to any kind of protein – or just veggies – mixing up the spices and herbs for a different result each time. You’ll also find ideas for what to serve with a tajine and tips on how to set a drop dead gorgeous table.
Link here – See pp 30-32: Life Choices Magazine feature Beauty and the Feast
When I wrote The Red Mirror, I held an image in my mind of the interior of an Egyptian temple far different than anything I’d ever seen in photos or real life. The walls pulsed with a color palette so vivid that the strange giants with human bodies and animal heads with mystical crowns leapt from the stone to dance in the still air.
Here’s a quick excerpt from Chapter Three – The Temple:
Simmering hieroglyphs in colors bright as neon exploded from every surface. Giants with mystical crowns or the heads of animals performed strange rituals in soaring murals painted in vibrant red, yellow and blue.
I resisted leaning my head back to take in the vast ceiling with its elaborate geometric designs, absorbing as much as possible without being obvious. But I couldn’t stop my eyes from traveling everywhere at once.
As if in answer to my imagination begging for manifestation, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York recreated by magic of light projection what archaeologists believe are the original colors of one vignette in the Temple of Dendur. The scene couldn’t be closer to what I saw in my mind’s eye when my character, for the first time, walks back in time through the shadowy incense-fogged chambers of a temple on the Nile. Of course, in my vision, every square inch of the walls and ceiling throbbed with the same bold colors as you see in the photo.
Although the beautiful Egypto-Roman Dendur Temple relocated from Egypt is about 500 years “younger” than my temple in The Red Mirror, it reflects the stature and majesty of the setting in my novel. There, among the polychromatic neon gods and goddesses, Isenkhebe Nefrusobek (Isis) experiences her first encounter with Egyptian mysticism and sacred sexuality.
See the New York Times article here: NY Times article on Metropolitan Museum of Art Color the Temple Scene I
Every year we put on a smashing party and pack in 50 or 60 friends to imbibe Danish spiced (mulled) and fortified warm wine known as gløgg. In case you’re wondering, it’s pronounced a little like water gurgling down a blocked drain. Glug. Glug. But with a kind of caveman growl. Put your whole body into it! Imagine how a Viking would sound.
We bottled the remainder, and I created some labels. Voila! Hostess gifts for those lovely friends who invite us this season.
Merry Christmas! Glaedelig Jul! Skål! Godt Nyt År. Happy New Year!
Cautionary note: Gløgg must be served warm – but never boiled. The boiling will not only burn off the alcohol but also dampen the spices. We’ve learned the hard way.
In each glass cup, put a spoonful of raisins and blanched almonds that have been soaked for days in brandy.
The key to the spicing is to use only fresh, be very generous, and let “mull” for at least two days. note: I buy only from Penzeys which sells the best spices in America. If you can’t make it to one of their many shops, order on line Penzeys.
Ingredients in our gløgg:
Red wine (mainly)
Port wine (generously)
Brandy (a little less than port)
Rum (go easy as this is what gives it real punch. You want your guests coherent)
Fresh ginger root
Sugar boiled in water to create syrup
Instead of wracking my brain to think of yet another Christmas gift for my 90 year old mom and 91 year old dad who don’t need anything, I was inspired to cook up a bunch of homemade meals. The chicken in sherry and mushroom sauce is my mom’s recipe. I’m thinking they can have that for Christmas Eve. Or maybe the stuffed Cornish hens. The soups will be perfect on those cold winter evenings when the ground outside is icy. Ozark winters can be br-r-r-r cold.
It’s a win-win-win kind of gift. My dad will be happy eating. My mom will be free from cooking. I had a lot of fun in my kitchen, listening to Gregorian chants and filling the house with delicious aromas.
What’s in the box?
– Chicken in sherry mushroom sauce with wild rice (enough for at least 2 meals for 2 people).
– Italian meatloaf (2 meals for 2)
– Mexican meatloaf (2 meals for 2)
– Bolognese spaghetti sauce (2 meals for 2 – probably 3-4)
– Cornish hens stuffed with cornbread, scallions, celery, sage, mushroom, raisins, walnut & water chestnut dressing. (2 hens) Sides of sweet potato delight with garnish of cranberry chutney.
– Turkey soup (1 liter)
– Minestrone with beans and ham (3 liters)
– Split Pea soup with smoked bacon (2 liters)
I put 10 lbs of dry ice to keep the already frozen meals icy cold for the 2 day UPS air trip from Coastal California to the Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri.