Feeding the Active Writer

To Maim for Pasta Sauce

Most commercial pasta sauces are full of sugars.  Not good if you’re on a low-carb diet.  I found one available locally but it’s ridiculously expensive–something close to three times the cost of typical national brands.

So I’ve come up with this one.  It’s a meat sauce but if you prefer you can leave out the ground beef and it’s a pretty good marinara.  As it is, I won’t say it’s quite good enough to kill for, but maybe good enough to maim for. 😉

Ingredients:

1 28 Oz can diced tomatoes (no sugar added) undrained  divided
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried parsley flakes
2 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 lb ground beef
1/4 cup red wine
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil.

Preparation

Combine half the can of tomatoes and the next eight ingredients in a blender and puree.
Mix in the remainder of the tomatoes but do not blend (I like to keep it a little “chunky”.
In a saucepan brown and crumble the ground beef.
Add the wine and olive oil to the saucepan.
Heat, stirring frequently, until the wine begins to simmer.
Add the tomato mixture to the pan and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat, simmering for about 15 minutes to combine the flavors.

Works well with spaghetti squash.

Enjoy.

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They Who Fell, a review

I’m not big on reviews.  To be honest I don’t think I do it well.  Still, from time to time I make an effort.

They Who Fell is a rarity:  a book I purchased based on a paid advertisement.

There has been another revolt in heaven.  A new crop of fallen angels has been cast down to Earth.  Generally of the traditional winged human form, the fallen angels are of surpassing beauty except where scars from their fall mar their features.  Not just their bodies are marred, but also their hearts.  A fallen angel can appear gentle and kind one moment, and fly into a rage the next.  Other’s are driven by cruelty or paranoia.

The fallen angel–strong, fast, many with powers, many armed with swords of flame–have become the overlords of the Earth.  Cities are largely deserted wastelands.  If I was reading the population figures correctly, more than ninety percent of humanity was slaughtered.  Some of the remaining people serve the fallen, hoping to avoid their wrath.  Others still eke out an existence in the countryside, always fearful that the fallen might come across them and use them for “sport”.

Jana is one of the servants of the fallen in their primary “Tower” in New York.  Her first task is serving table at a dinner party of the fallen, terrified that any slight misstep, even the noise of a plate tapping another, might draw the fallen’s ire.  Hoping for withdrawn anonymity she instead draws the attention of two of the fallen and is called up to be the personal servant for one of them, but it is the other who seems to have her interest.

Holt leads a cell of partisans, an assassination team.  Angels are extremely hard to kill.  A Stinger, anti-aircraft missile merely stuns one.  Yet a sufficiently strong electric shock can kill one.

As Jana faces dangers and intrigues within the tower, Holt leads his cell in a quest for the means to effectively fight the fallen angels.  These two threads of story remain mostly separate until the very end of the book.  Along the way we get hints of the reason for the angels’ rebellion; a promise broken by “The Maker”.  In the end, when that is explained, well, it was one of the fallen who related the story and the story might have been more self-justification than truth but it does give motive to their actions more than just a lust for power.

To be honest, the beginning of the book read a little slow and there were several times I considered dropping it.  However, it did pick up and I was glad I stayed with it.  The book had a good, solid ending, completing the current story while leaving hooks for the continuing series.

In the end, I used the “Buy the next book” option at the end to get the next book of the series so I did consider it worth continuing.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Saw this on a Christmas showing.  Theater was packed.  When I walked in, there were three empty seats.  I held three tickets:  Me, my daughter, and my wife (who wasn’t with us–she wasn’t feeling well and stayed home).

I’m not going to give a plot summary here.  I’m not going to discuss the characters, whether Rey is a “Mary Sue” or not.  And I’m certainly not going to give any spoilers.  Instead, I’m going to talk about the emotional effect of the movie.

Let me start by saying that in the days since then, I’ve seen a lot of criticism of “The Force Awakens.” Some valid and some off base. But even the valid stuff? Well…

Back in 1977 I was “that kid”. I took every opportunity to see Star Wars. I had the novelization and read it until it fell apart and was held together by rubber bands. I bought all the toys I could (which wasn’t much–poor. Really really poor.) I got the Marvel comic.

I got together with friends and made “blindfolded kendo” a thing (a wonder we didn’t maim each other). I tried to invent the lightsaber (not laser, I knew that you couldn’t make a laser go out a particular distance and stop, and I also knew that the beam of a laser wasn’t visible unless there was smoke or something to scatter the light to your eye, but I thought maybe an electron beam, “tuned” so that it would reach about a yard before the anode in the handle pulled it back. And two negatively charged “blades” would repel each other so one could block another. Okay, none of the numbers work on that in the real world, but that was still pretty good for a high school freshman).

I was that kid who tried to “anticipate” traffic lights and the other things in an effort to figure out “the Force”.  After all, I figured that short term precognition is probably the “secret” behind being able to block blaster bolts.

Well, when I went to watch The Force Awakens, all the movie’s flaws aside, for two hours I was that kid again.

And I don’t think you can get higher praise than that,.