Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

Today I’d like to share a couple of wonderfully helpful articles out there in teh interwebs/blogosphere relating to writing and submitting fiction (though some of the advice might very well apply to other forms of writing)…

First, let’s start with the writing, because if you haven’t written anything, you can’t submit it!  My favourite ‘crabbit old bat’ (her own words), AKA Nicola Morgan, has written a thoroughly bloody brilliant post about Story Structure and Shape.  She likens the peaks and troughs of a story’s structure to breathing – and she is completely right!  This is a truly top article from a truly top blogger.  Read it and follow her.  That is an order.

Next, we move on to the scary world of submissions… Now, as I haven’t finished writing a novel (yet), I haven’t started on that particular merry-go-round/rollercoaster/other speedy, spinney ride, but that doesn’t stop me (like other aspiring writers) from thinking about when that time comes and researching how it works.  Forwarned is forearmed.  Or something.

So, yes, let’s think about submitting our work to publishers…

Do the words ‘slush pile’ send doomladen shivers down your spine?  Don’t have a clue how to submit to one?  Want to know how to stand the best chance of getting that submission read?  Then Daniel Clay’s A Winning Strategy for Escaping the Slush Pile is just what you need.  It’s written in a very readable and humble style that imparts lots of useful information and offers that thing that us writers need to cling to – hope.  (Via Girl Meets World – an informative blog from a fellow aspiring writer.)

And finally, I leave you with something non-writing-related but which (I hope) will prettify this post and perhaps even tantalise your tastebuds… Here’s a very cute turtle cupcake and the recipe/instructions:

Turtle Cupcake


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I used to think of chilli as being too complicated to make without a readymade sauce, but it is so easy to make a really tasty sauce, which you can make as hot or mild as you like.  I made this at the weekend (and went off to do other things while it cooked – gotta love low-maintenance cooking), then had the leftovers the next day with a jacket potato – YUM!  I thought I’d share my recipe as it is easy, cheap (cheaper than a readymade sauce) and great for a big group of people, which can sometimes be daunting to cook for!

Ingredients (Serves 4)

1 red or white onion

1 pack of lean beef mince (500g)

1 pepper (whatever colour you like)

Couple of garlic cloves

Season All*

Bay leaf

1 tin of tomatoes (if you like it more saucy, you might want two tins – I find the sauciness varies depending on the brand)

1 tin of kidney beans or mixed beans

Tomato puree

Black pepper

Beef stock cube


Oregano (thyme will do if you don’t have the oregano)

Tabasco and/or flaked chillis

Olive oil

Rice or baked potatoes or potato wedges or whatever you want to serve with the chilli.

Optional extras: red wine, paprika

  1. Brown the mince off in a little olive oil in a deep frying pan.  Chop up the onion, pepper and garlic in the meantime.
  2. Once the mince is browned, I like to drain off the fat that comes from the mince as I prefer the taste and less grease.  Add the onion and garlic as well as a teaspoon of Season All, 2 teaspoons of oregano and a good grind of black pepper (I love the stuff, but it’s down to personal preference).  Fry off until the onion softens.
  3. Add the peppers, tinned tomatoes, beans, a bay leaf, a small pinch of flaked chillis (depending on taste), a small splash of Tabasco sauce (again, to taste), a tablespoon of tomato puree, 1/2 tsp of cinnamon, and the stock cube.  If you’re using them, I’d also add 1/2 tsp of paprika and a generous glug of red wine at this point.  If I’m not using wine, I add a couple of of tbsp of hot water.  Stir well and simmer gently, allowing the wine to reduce down if you have added it.
  4. Go and do something else.  The beauty of this is that you can leave it for anything between 30 mins and an hour (or more).  I generally leave it for about three quarters of an hour, occassionally stirring and tasting, perhaps adding some more hot water if it starts to dry up.  If it’s tasting bland at any point, I’ll add a fair sprinkle of Season All, more black pepper, more oregano.  If you like it hotter, just crank up the chillis.
  5. When you’re happy with it, fish out the bay leaf and serve your chilli with rice/tortilla chips/flour tortillas/jacket potatoes/potato wedges.  Optional extras: soured cream, guacamole, grated cheese, salsa, etc.
  6. Stuff your face, feeling that smug satisfaction that can only come from having made something easy and tasty that wasn’t from a jar.

*I love this stuff!  It’s great on potato wedges and my boyf sprinkles it over olive oil on the skin of a jacket potato before it goes in the oven.  It is quite salty, though, so don’t add extra salt on top of this.  If you can’t get hold of it, that’s not a problem, it’s just that you’ll need to buy the separate spices (which can work out more expensive): paprika, chilli (can used crushed chillis), nutmeg, coriander seed, cayenne pepper and finely-chopped fresh celery.  You also might want to add an extra clove of garlic and/or another onion.

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