Treva’s Children

New story up at Amazon. Treva’s Children

Baroness Talisa leads the last few surviving members of her household through the mountains in the dead of winter, fleeing the changeling hordes that have destroyed the kingdom. In that world of white and gray she stumbles on an oasis of green, a garden, sacred to Treva, goddess of the wild things of the world. There, Talisa encounters the mysterious guardian of the place who possesses great and mysterious magical power and who claims Talisa’s life as forfeit for trespassing in Treva’s Garden.

A snippet:


The wind howled down off the mountain, blowing snow into Talisa’s eyes.  She pulled her ice-encrusted scarf higher over her face and held up a hand to block the tiny frozen daggers. On the slope below the few remaining people of her household struggled single file through the knee deep snow.
“Milady!” Embron, her huntsman, shouted over the roaring wind. “We need to find shelter and build a fire.”
“Fire will draw the Schahi,” Talisa said. “They will…”
“This storm will kill us all,” Embron said.
Talisa found herself smiling despite their plight. Embron had grown bold in the last few days. “There are many ways to die, Huntsman.  Some better than others.”
Embron shielded his eyes and stared through the snow back the way they had come, as if to conjure an image of their pursuers. “The storm will have covered our trail.  Perhaps…”
“We must be sure.”
“Let me go back and check, milady.  I will be sure.”
Talisa considered. “And if you are seen?”
Embron bowed. “Then I will lead them away.  But I will not be seen.”
Talisa smiled again. “No, I suppose you will not.  Very well.  We will take shelter in the next copse…and build a fire.  I rely upon you.”
Embron bowed again and then hastened down their back trail.  The pine boughs tied to his feet allowed him to walk over the snow.  She turned and trudged down the hill, wishing she could use Embron’s trick.  Every time she tried, she tripped over the branches and fell.
“Kailin!” she called when she neared the first of the group.
“Milady?”
“Next stand of woods, Kailin,” Talisa extended her arm in the direction of their march. “We’ll take shelter there.  Hang on that far.”
“Yes, Milady.”
Talisa stood by and waited as each of her remaining people passed.  To each one she offered a few words of encouragement, telling them that soon they could rest.  When the last had passed, she turned and followed in their wake.

Blinking frost away from her eyelashes, Talisa dredged up the energy to break into a trot.  She caught up to Embron, her chest heaving with her labored breathing.
Embron pointed down the slope before them.  Talisa looked.  Her jaw dropped open.  She wiped her eyes and stared again.
White.  White, broken by an occasional bit of gray was the only color she had seen for days.  The greens and browns below her almost seemed to burn her eyes in their brilliance.  Trees in full leaf.  Grass, just coming into seed.  A brook that ran clear, not frozen.  A vision of spring, of summer.
“Sorcery, Milady.  It must be.”
“Sorcery,” Talisa agreed. “Or the Gods.  But to our salvation or our doom?” She looked back.  Even her eyes could now see the cluster of dots moving in the distance, the Schahi on their trail. “We have no choice.  Onward.”
Embron cast a fearful glance into the valley below.  He wiped his hand across his mouth, then looked back.  He picked up his pack and looked back again.
Talisa placed a hand on Embron’s shoulder. “If it scares you, if it scares me, how much more will it scare the Schahi?  Perhaps they won’t dare it.”
Embron just looked at her.
“No, I don’t believe it either.” Talisa shrugged. “But what choice have we?”

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Feeding the Active Writer

Creamy Garlic Chicken

This is a simple little recipe that I’ve developed.  Easy and tasty.

Ingredients:
6 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
optional 2 Tbsp olive oil.
2 Tbsp xanthum gum.
2 Tbsp finely minced garlic
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup heavy cream

If desired, start by browning the chicken breasts in the olive oil.  If you do that, you may want to cut them into large chunks.

Place the chicken breasts in the slow cooker.  As you’re putting them in, dust them thoroughly with the xanthum gum.  Scatter the garlic overtop the chicken, then top with the onion.

Cook on low 6-8 hours.

Turn off the heat, and stir in the heavy cream.  The chicken will break apart from the stirring.  Depending on the effect you want, you can stir just enough to mix the cream leaving the chicken in larger chunks or stir thoroughly to make a more shredded chicken.

The only problem I find with this recipe is the tendency to eat too much at sitting because it’s so good.

Chains, a poem

I wrote this back in 2010, partly in response to the so-called “Affordable Care Act”.

Chains
By
David L. Burkhead

©2010 David L. Burkhead, all rights reserved.

 Wear your chains lightly, about neck and legs and wrists.
They are not so heavy these chains, not now anyway.
But chains they remain.

Dress up your chains in fine designs and smith-wrought filigree
Paint them gold and call them gorgeous jewelry.
But chains they remain.

Exhort others to share your chains, every man and woman and child.
For how could they be chains, if shared all equally?
But chains they remain.

Raise your voice in anger, at those who deplore your chains.
Say they are not chains you’ve taken on willingly.
But chains they remain.

Take pride in your chains.  Stud them with rhinestones.  Polish them with care.
Rejoice in your chains, in raucous revelry.
But chains are not for me.

Feeding the Active Writer

I do a lot of different variations on meatloaf.  Previously, I did an “italian meatloaf” that was pretty good.  I’ve just developed a new recipe that falls under the “ridiculously easy” category.

My wife likes to have spaghetti and meat sauce from time to time.  I can’t eat the spaghetti, of course, but she suggested I could have the sauce with something else.  So, reading labels in the Italian foods aisle I discovered a brand (local or national, I don’t know) “Rao’s” that was quite low in sugars and net carbs.

I was planning a meat loaf to portion out and take as my lunches to work the last time my wife asked me to do the spaghetti thing and I had a thought.  I bought a second jar of the spaghetti sauce to use in place of the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, etc., I previously used in my “Italian meatloaf.”

So, Italian Meatloaf II (or, as I like to call it, “Spaghetti and Meat Loaf”).

Ingredients:

3 lb lean ground beef.
4 eggs
1 28 oz jar Rao’s (or other low sugar/carb) pasta sauce
2 cups flax meal (optional, use whole flax seed for a somewhat different texture).
Optional, 1 cup shredded mozzarella and Romano cheeses.

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  It really is easiest to just get in with your hands (gloves save a mess of washing up here).
Put the mixed ingredients into a 4-5 quart slow cooker.  Cook on low 8-10 hours.
If using the cheeses, spread them over the top while the meatloaf is still hot and let them melt.

Since I do this for lunches, I let it cool thoroughly before removing from the slow cooker.  It’s easier to handle cool than still hot.  Divide into eight portions, place each portion in a freezer container and freeze.

Enjoy.

_____________________________________________________________

Are you ready for a zombie apocalypse?  How about a zombie apocalypse in space?

If the idea intrigues you, you might like Plague Station:

Feeding the Active Writer

Some time in the past I had a recipe for Chicken Molé that I loved.  But the commercial molé sauce that it used has a lot of sugar in it.  I have done some searching and have found a recipe which I adapted to my own requirements.

Ingredients
4 lb chicken (boneless, skinless)
1 tbsp xanthum gum
1 1/2 cups chopped onion2 tbsp minced garlic
3 tbsp sugar equivalent sweetener (I use store brand Sucralose–the name brand is Splenda)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 Tbsp chipotle chili powder
1 Tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp salt
2 28 oz cans diced tomatoes
3 4 oz cans diced green chilis

Place the chicken in a 5-6 quart slow cooker.
Sprinkle with the xanthum gum.
Combine the remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
Pour over the chicken.
Cook on low 6-8 hours.
Mix before serving.

The Chicken Molé as done above is just a bit spicy, about where I like it.  You can adjust the amounts of chili powder and cumin to suit your own preferences.

Amazing phone story

Last week I went on a trip for business (related to my ‘day job”).

Well, I got out of the car in “economy parking” at the airport, took my phone off the car charger, stuck it in the pocket on the computer bag (more on this later) and headed into the airport.

Get inside, check in and check one bag (small enough for a “carry on” but with toiletries and stuff that can’t go through security). Open the computer bag pocket to get my phone for reading matter while waiting or the plane.  No phone.

Panicked, I went back to the car looking to see if I left it behind. Didn’t find it. Person at the counter was able to have my checked bag sent back up and I checked that.. No phone. Well, I was out of time so rechecked the bag and off to the trip.

Fast forward to my return. Got my checked bag and returned to the car.  What should I find but phone, lying on the pavement in the parking lot next to my car. How did it get there, you ask? Well, remember I said I put it in a pocket on my computer bag? Behind that pocket there’s a “sleeve” that goes straight through (stupid feature on that laptop bag–too lazy to sew up the bottom end and make an open-topped pocket.?) I think, instead of putting the phone in the pocket I accidentally put it in the sleeve. It slid down and hit the ground ending up underneath the car parked next to me (consistent with where I found it).

There was no visible damage to the phone–some scuffing in the corner which could have been from where it hit the pavement. It wouldn’t start, of course, but that’s no surprise considering it’s been five days, lying on the ground in the weather. (I found out we had two significant rainstorms here while I was gone.

Went home. Put it on the charging cable, not really expecting anything but there was nothing to lose at that point, you know.

It. started. charging.

A few minutes later I turned it on and it worked fine.  I’ve been using it ever since.

Five days on the pavement in an airport parking lot. Rained on twice.  Had to have been run over at least once. And. it. still. works.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini.

Their motto could be “built Samsung tough.”

Feeding the Active Writer

I’ve been a bit remiss in doing these.  So here’s a new one.

Rosemary and Garlic Chicken.

This is another where I’ll use the cheap “bagged” chicken.  You can certainly use better chicken if you wish but the cheap stuff works well if you’re on a tight budget.

Ingredients
2 Tbsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp dried rosemary, crushed between your fingers
1/4 cup olive oil
1 lemon, pierced 12 times and cut in half
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup white wine
4 Tbsp water
4-5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken.

In a small mixing bowl combine all the ingredients except the chicken and mix well.

If using the bagged frozen chicken, thaw and drain.

Place the chicken in the slow cooker.  Pour the mixture over top of the chicken.  Toss to ensure the chicken is thoroughly coated.

Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Enjoy.