"I cannot live without books: but fewer will suffice where amusement, and not use, is the only future object." -- Thomas Jefferson

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Stovetop/Hotplate: Bean, Potato, and Bacon-flavored Chowder

In this recipe, I have married recipe tactics from two of my favorite authors, Jack Monroe (The Tin Can Cook) and Amy Dacyczyn (The Tightwad Gazette).

Because I live in Mexico, I often do not have access to several ingredients called for in many recipes, so I make substitutions.

Also, in Mexico and in the United Kingdom, they use the metric system. So, I convert the grams, liters and milliliters into ounces etc. But, do not take the ounces literally, generally, just find a can of whatever in the general range of the ounces noted.

Stovetop/Hotplate:  Bean, Potato, and Bacon-flavored Chowder
(Adapted from TWG Bean-Bacon Chowder P160)

(Flour not pictured)

3 cups Milk (I used 1/2 dry milk mixture and deslactosada milk (Lactose-free milk))
2 TBspns Flour
1 TBspn Imitation bacon bits
1 TBspn Onion powder
1 430g / 15.16 oz Can of potatoes, diced or sliced, rinsed in can
1/2 Tspn Thyme, dry, crushed
1-5 dashes of hot sauce (Optional)
S/P to taste
1 560g / 19.75 oz Can of Charro beans (contains pork bits), drained
Garnish: Parsley, dry, crushed


Add milk to medium sized pan.
Bring to a simmer.
Add flour slowly.
Stir and mash flour into milk.
Smash any lumps with a spoon or other utensil.
Stir thoroughly to mix flour into the milk.
Add bacon bits.
Add onion powder.
Simmer mixture.
Add potatoes.
Add thyme.
Add S/P to taste.

Stir thoroughly.
Cover and simmer 12-15 minutes to soften potatoes.
Add beans.

Stir mixture.
Simmer until mixture is warm throughout.
After making a serving, garish with a sprinkle of crushed parsley.

Recipe made four bowls of soup.

I am a great believer in freezing additional servings for future meals, I got that idea first from Peg Bracken in her, I Hate to Cook Cookbook.

Freeze individual servings you want to save for later.


TWG: The Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Stovetop/Microwave: Pattypan Squash with Cheese

My friend Lucy wrote a cookbook, Recetas de una Mujer Maya Modern. Lucy is a good cook.

Here is one recipe not in her cookbook. I love it not just for the taste but for the ease in making it.

Stovetop / Microwave: Pattypan Squash with Cheese

(1 dragonfruit, 1 chayote, 2 patty pan squash, 1 zucchini, 1 camote, and 1 beet)


1 Pattypan (Scallop) squash
Cheese, white or other type, grated
Ground black pepper (Optional)
Parmesan cheese, grated


Put squash into a pot or pan on hotplate/stovetop.
Fill the pan 1/2 full with water.
Bring water to a boil.
Put lid on pot.
Simmer about 15 minutes or more until squash is soft.
Remove squash from pot.
Set aside on a plate.
Let the squash cool until it is cool enough to touch.
Slice squash vertically.
Place slices into a microwave dish.
Sprinkle cheese over the slices.
Sprinkle with black pepper.
Heat squash in microwave on high for 2 minutes to melt cheese.
Remove from microwave.

Sprinkle with crushed parsley and Parmesan cheese.
Serve warm.



Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Toaster Oven/Stovetop: Fishy Snacks - Anchovy Savories and Deviled Eggs Stuffed with Sardine Mash

During the last few weeks of recipe frustration, I did make two recipes that came out well but only for people who like sour and salty snacks.

I like anchovies, so I had to try Jack’s recipe Anchovy Savories from Cooking on a Bootstrap (eBook version).

While it looks like a simple recipe, it is, but the whole melting butter mixed with flour thing intimidates me.

Toaster Oven / Hotplate: Anchovy Savories
(From Jack Monroe’s Cooking on a Bootstrap (eBook) )

Makes enough sauce for 2 slices of toast.


1 tspn Butter
1 tspn Flour
A little Milk
A small lump of hard Cheese, grated
A few drops of hot sauce
2 pieces of multi-grain bread
Parsley (optional)

1 36g (1.25oz) Can of anchovies, drained


Make toast, first, either in a skillet or in a toaster oven.

In a small skillet, add butter.
On a low heat, melt butter.
Add flour and stir.
Keep stirring as you slowly add a bit of milk.
Keep stirring to avoid lumps.
Add grated cheese.
Keep stirring.
Add a bit more milk, if needed.
Add hot sauce.
Keep stirring, scraping the bottoms and sides of skillet.
Sauce should be slightly thick.
Spread a layer of sauce on toast.
Top with a few anchovies.
Add parsley (optional).
Eat immediately.

To my mind, this is a snack food.

Note: You may have heard about the controversy over the contents of some Parmesan Cheese containers. Some companies were selling cheese flavored sawdust. Well, the same problem exists in the spice industry. I had a jar of Parsley that was more like twigs than parsley leaves. So, that is why I did not use parsley in this recipe

I credit Alex Fergus for the inspiration for the following recipe. You can find him at https://www.alexfergus.com/blog/51-sardine-recipes-for-the-fussiest-of-fish-eaters.

Deviled Eggs Stuffed with Sardine Mash


Make hard-boiled eggs via toaster oven. See recipe on this blog.

Make sardine mash. See recipe on this blog.


Hard-boiled egg(s)
Sardine mash
1 TBspn Mayo and a little more
1/2 Capful of lime juice
Ground black pepper to taste
1 TBspn of parsley, dry


Peel egg(s) and cut in half lengthwise.
Carefully remove the yolk(s) and put into sardine mash container.
Add Mayo into container.

Add Lime juice to mixture.
Add ground black pepper.
Stir and mix sardine mash and yolk(s) well.
Stir mixture until it is creamy.
Add more mayo if needed.
Take a Tsp scoop or more of mixture and fill the hollow in the egg halves.
Sprinkle deviled egg(s) with crushed dry parsley.

#GERD-friendly if you do not add Black pepper.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Stovetop: Salmon and Corn Chowder

I have a smile on my face. I made chowder.

For the last few weeks, my attempts at making several recipes from various sources failed.

I battled with making peanut butter ice cream. My first attempt had came out good but when I tried to make it again, it became peanut butter ice or a thick peanut butter cream.

My little white beans, while cooked, lacked flavor.

But, things began to change when I made a wonderful sesame sauce for cucumber slices. Ahhh.

Stovetop: Salmon and Corn Chowder
(Adapted from: Tin Can Cook - Salmon and Corn Chowder p110)

I have made adjustments to Jack's recipe based on ingredients I had available and also in an attempt to make the recipe GERD-friendly.

Also, while I converted the grams into ounces, the amounts are not exact to the quantity you will find in cans in your grocery store.


1 430g (15.16 oz) Can of potatoes, sliced or cubed, drained, and rinsed in can

1 and 1/2 Chicken bouillon cubes

10 oz Water

1 285g (10.5oz) Can corn, drained, and rinsed in can

4 oz Salmon paste see fish paste recipe below

2-3 TBspns Milk (I used powdered milk mix)

S/P to taste

2-3 TBspns thawed frozen spinach (Optional)

Fish Paste
(Adapted from: https://jackiem.com.au/2015/05/19/how-to-make-fish-paste/)


 1 140g (4.93oz) Can of salmon, drained
3+ TBspns of flour
and a bit of water
S/P to taste

Fish Paste Process:

Basically, in a bowl, add salmon and flour, mix ingredients thoroughly by hand until it is a smooth thick paste. Add water if needed. Store the fish paste in the frig until ready for use. This recipe makes about 8oz of fish paste.

Salmon and Corn Chowder Process:

Add potatoes to medium sauce pan.

Add bouillon cubes to 10 oz of water.
Boil water and cubes in microwave for two minutes.
When ready, stir to blend bouillon with the water.
Add bouillon stock to pan.
Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer.

Add corn.
Add fish paste.
Stir until mixture is smooth.
Simmer until vegetables are soft.
Simmer for 15 minutes.

Add milk.

After a minute or two, add s/p to taste.
Add spinach (optional)
Simmer for a minute or two until chowder is hot.

Note: I did not add spinach.


 Great with saltine crackers.


Sunday, September 15, 2019

Family Visits and Food

Family Visits and Food

Boy, when they say, food is a big part of vacations, they aren't kidding. On a recent family visit, I cooked, family members cooked and we went out to eat, alot!!!

We had deli sandwiches. Top chef dishes at great restaurants. Great cookout food. Starbucks drinks and more. One of my favorite finds was a Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream shop.

When we went grocery shopping, I enjoyed looking at how American and Mexican food choices differed. While Mexican chain groceries continue to offer a wider variety of choices, America seems to offer 10 flavors of just about everything.

One thing is amusing is when trying to adapt a Jack Monroe UK recipe using American or Mexican grocery choices. It is fun to look items like pease pudding or mushy peas and other things not typically found in America or Mexico, then wondering what to use as a substitute if you can't find an item.

 Then, I am amused by products that are new to me.

Gosh, you would think I knew how to cook. I was cooking up a storm. Some of the recipes were a success i.e. liked by others, and some were not.

Both my sister and my nephew have gardens. With my sister and her husband, we were overrun by tomatoes, at my nephew's we had loads of cucumbers.

My sister made BLTs with the fresh tomatoes.

At my nephews', I picked fresh cucumbers. I did not know cucumber had spikes.

My sister, my nephew and I made: pickled cucumbers; six-hand salad and other variations of a cucumber salad.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are wonderful!

I introduced my sister and nephew to Peanut Butter Mousse and dragonfruit.

Also, I made "Godzilla" Meatloaf. I used my meatloaf recipe and tried to double it. It came out a bit funny looking but still tasted good.

I also made two crockpot dishes, one with chicken from Mabel Hoffman's Crockery Cookery and Mushroom Sauce Pork Chops from The Big Book of Crock Pot Recipes. My nephew and his family liked them.

Slightly Obsessing Over Overnight Oats

Ok, Ok, I know this is a bit obsessive but the light bulb finally went off.

Ok, I can't use the canned carrots here in Mexico for Jack Monroe's Carrot Cake Overnight Oats because I can't wash out the spicy, sour flavorings.

So, I thought cooking a batch of snack carrots would be a good idea for two reasons.

I can make carrots soft enough for an overnight oats recipe and use up the snack carrots since I usually can't finish a small bag of snack carrots before they get stale.

So, I did, and along with other variations, I made Carrot Overnight Oats.

Carrot Overnight Oats
(Adapted from Jack Monroe's Carrot Cake Overnight Oats)


6-12 small snack carrots
Rolled oats
Milk made from powdered milk


In a glass bowl, add 12 snack carrots and cover them with water and a bit more.
Put the bowl in the microwave and use a plate as a lid.
Cook carrots on high for 6 minutes.

Get another small bowl with a lid.

 I eyeballed the measurement of the ingredients.

Drain carrots.
Add 6 cooked snack carrots.
Mash carrots with a fork.
Cover them with a layer of rolled oats.
Add raisins.
Add enough milk to soak the oats.
Add cinnamon and honey, then stir the mixture thoroughly.
Put the lid on the bowl and placed it in the frig.

  In the morning, upon making a serving, add more milk if necessary.


Friday, September 13, 2019

Print on Demand -- Some of My Experiences in Self-Publishing

Print-On-Demand - Some of My Experiences in Self-Publishing

Writing Gina's Dream and self-publishing it as an eBook on Smashwords was an education in: writing; formatting; finding and working with editors and book cover designers; learning new software and applications; ISBNs; distribution, and promotion.

Producing El Sueño de Gina continued my education in POD publishing and translation.

I was lucky, a friend had his book published through The Write Place (TWP), after a bit of research, I thought they did a good job printing and distributing his book, so I published El Sueño de Gina through them as a POD, in a dual book format, at a reasonable cost.

The dual book format is old school but as time goes on, it becomes new, again. Half the book is Gina's Dream, in English, the other half is El Sueño de Gina, in Spanish. It has two covers, one on the front and one on the back. Flip the book and you see the other version.

My education expanded into finding and working with a translator, producing and proofing a manuscript in Spanish and I don't speak enough Spanish to order a sandwich, so it was like diving into the unknown. But, it turned out well, particularly because I had a great translator and TWP handled the job professionally and with ease.

But, things in the POD/eBook Publishing world continue to change rapidly. That was in 2015, now in 2019, I re-researched my POD options for Recetas de una Mujer Maya Modern, a Spanish cookbook, by a friend.

I got a quote from TWP, while it was a reasonable quote, it was too much for me, for a small book.

Essentially, to save money, a self-published author needs to juggle a lot of tasks and learn a lot of skills in formatting for various publishing software and more.

A self-published author is not only a writer, but, an editor, publisher, researcher, marketeer, accountant, web/blog/graphic designer, administrator, and more. If you can't handle these tasks well and have to contract out for any of these services, that's how your costs increase.

Yet, these are decisions every self-published author faces, especially if they feel they have created a "bestseller."

In articles, surveys and reports on Self-publishing, it is often the "Best Sellers" that garner the attention but these same pieces often note that most self-published authors do not sell many books.

As seen in the Wikipedia's Topic on Self-Publishing :
"The largest, by far, percentage of authors are making less than $500 a year self-publishing, because there’s a glut. There’s over 350,000 books being self-published every year and readers are not finding them. There’s just no way to expose people to all of these books. — Novelist M.J. Rose in 2012” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-publishing)

Unless, the author makes enough income from their book sales to cover the expenses in creating their work and more, whether it's an eBook or POD, it is still vanity publishing.

For example, according to the Authors Guild's 2018 Survey of authors, it claims while the number of self-published authors has increased, their income has not, in fact, it has decreased.
"While self-published authors were the only group to experience a significant increase (up 95% in book-related income from 2013 to 2017), self-published authors as a whole still earned 58% less than traditionally published authors in 2017.

Among the authors surveyed who ranked in the top decile for author-related earnings, self-published authors earned 50% less with a median of $154,000 compared to traditionally published authors in the top decile who earned a median of $305,000. Note that the median 2017 author-related income of $10,050 for self-published romance and romantic suspense writers is almost five times higher than the $1,900 median author-related income for the next highest-earning self-published genre category of mysteries and thrillers.

Moreover, the median author-related income for self-published romance and romantic suspense writers was only $50 more in 2017 than in 2013, which may indicate that self-published romance writers as a group have reached a plateau for earnings under current business models."

Authors Guild 2018 Survey (survey based on 5,000+ published authors): (https://www.authorsguild.org/industry-advocacy/six-takeaways-from-the-authors-guild-2018-authors-income-survey/)

Yet, the number of self-published authors is increasing.

According to Bowker News, self-published print (POD) books increased 38% in 2017:
"Self-publishing of print books increased by 38 percent in 2017 for a total of 879,587. This is the fifth consecutive year of print growth – driven by a 50 percent increase at CreateSpace, a self-publishing platform. Self-published ebooks decreased by 13 percent, continuing a downward trend for the third successive year. Two service providers, Smashwords and Lulu, accounted for 105,037 ebook titles, 81 percent of the ebook total of 129,601." (http://www.bowker.com/news/2019/New-Record-More-than-1-Million-Books-Self-Published-in-2017.html)

I had already published Recetas de una Mujer Maya Modern as an eBook on Smashwords. Now, I wanted a POD publisher.

So, I continued to search for a POD publisher. I went through the usual suspects like: BookBaby, Blurb, CreateSpace, D2D, EBM, Gumroad, Ingram, Kobo, Lulu, and others.

Many of these vendors had made significant changes to their processes and offerings since I last visited their sites. Some had stopped offering PODs; some were too costly for me; with some their POD software was too complicated or had been suspended; and some did not make PODs in other languages.

But, one, Blurb, made a suggestion after I complained about my difficulty with their template. They referred me to MagCloud. I had never heard of MagCloud.

When I visited MagCloud's site, at first, they appeared to be a photo book publisher as well as a business publication publisher. But, they offered the option of producing a "Digest" sized book that fit my needs. Also, they offered saddle-stitching. All this and there were no upfront costs.

All I had to pay for was the copies I bought plus shipping and handling. In addition, MagCloud offered worldwide distribution. Many POD publishers leave it up to you to handle sales and distribution. I went forward.

MagCloud offered templates for a variety of wordprocessing formats including Apple's Pages. After downloading their template, I formatted Recetas de una Mujer Maya Moderna for publication with MagCloud. The template was easy to use.

While I did have a bit of a learning curve translating pixels and points and margin dimensions based on their format, I got it done.

They had an interesting online "Preview" option. You look at the final layout in an electronic proof format.

Using MagCloud's template and website illustrate how self-published authors/publishers are faced with learning to use unfamiliar software or apps. For myself, no matter how much I learn, there is always a learning curve as I get acquainted with various software, apps and websites.

I bought two copies of Recetas de Una Mujer Maya Moderna. One for myself and one for a friend.

For one copy of Recetas de una Mujer Maya Moderna, including one digital copy, and shipping and handling to MX, the cost was $16.81 US. That's steep for a saddle-stitched, 56-page (including cover) booklet, in black and white, and a PDF. But, it is available as a booklet for the enthusiastic book lover outside of the U.S.

The other copy was sent to a friend in the states. The cost was $13.51 US for printing, standard shipping and handling. It took 8 days to reach her. She said it arrived nicely packaged, in good condition and well-made.

Now, I am preparing another booklet for MagCloud publication. I do this because people ask for a physical book of my works.

For the second book, I only encountered one snag. I got confused about MagCloud's character limit in the description text. Once that was fixed, the process continued smoothly.

In addition, MagCloud's email support has been prompt and so far, my concerns have been addressed.

I will talk about MagCloud's promotional options as well as internet visibility and sales, in another post.


Authors Guild Author Income Survey 2018


MagCloud / Recetas de Una Mujer Maya Moderna


Bowker News


The Write Place

Wikipedia - Topic - Self-Publishing