Curation Corner: Look into MasterClass Live

As I’m writing this, Dan (The DaVinci Code) Brown is the middle of his 50-minute YouTube video that includes a Q and A session with students who had signed up for his MasterClass course.

Here is the link to MasterClass Live on YouTube. Lots of excellent free knowledge being shared by the experts.

I was going to post this next week, but I’m going to squeeze this in today to promote their 2-for-1 annual membership offer through Nov. 30. (Nope, not getting any $$ for doing this. Just wanted to pass this along. I’m inches away from ordering myself, as it opens me up to send a free year as a Christmas gift.)

I should be writing.. Instead, apple crisp…and apple cake.

This off-kilter shot is all about featuring our beloved former dog Bear’s watchful eye.

I really had no choice.

It’s officially apple season and the golden delicious tree is burgeoning.

So, last Sunday I slapped together an apple crisp sans recipe, though my trusty assistant in culinary crimes–my wife and herder of Buddy the Rescue Dog–pulled up an Epicurious recipe for a crust topping as a guide. For the filling, I just knew what ingredients I wanted and went from there.

Result: a caramelly ooze —gee, go figure, when the cook indiscriminately tosses in plenty of brown sugar and enough flour…well, there were the sweet cherries and their juice, and the chunks of golden delicioius–well, you get the picture… and the crust was as good as the apple-goo. 

Autumn…I love you.**

***

A few days later, within hours of finishing the crisp, and with plenty of Act of Kindness Writing chores I could/should be dealing with, it was time for an apple cake…or, as the recipe calls it, a ‘moist’ apple cake.

On its own, this is a ‘will bake again’ item. As always, though, I did stray ‘just a bit’…

  • I added allspice to both the apple mixture and the flour mixture.
  • When it comes to cinnamon, I just don’t get the low doses in most recipes. Can’t remember the last time I actually measured cinnamon.
  • I added rehydrated Craisins.
  • I made my own ‘apple sauce’. I just mashed away at, and then seasoned, chunks of golden delicious with the pastry cutter. And mashed away some more.
  • Figuring on a more moist result, I used a loaf pan instead of a 9” x 13” pan.
  • Fearing there might be spillover, I scooped out about a cup of the mixture and slathered that into a greased pie pan. Gotta say, when revisiting this recipe, I’ll be tempted to go exclusively with pie pans. It’s a quicker bake and four smaller cakes open the door to more experimentation, say a little creme de cassis reduction for one of them…and Ree Drummond’s Easy Caramel Sauce for another. Come to think of it…I guess it wouldn’t hurt to have those on hand for slices of this current version…

The problem with a spillover cake is its insistence on immediate measures for quality control.
Buddy anxiously awaiting ‘his’ afternoon coffee time.
He fully approves of fall flavors.

**“No, deeeear! I don’t know anyone named Autumn!”

I should be writing. Instead, drifting…toward chocolate cake.

  1. Raise your hand if:
  • you’ve ever left a measuring cup in the bag of flour or sugar.
  • you’ve intentionally left a measuring cup in the bag of flour or sugar for the next baking venture.
  • you skipped the ‘firmly pack the brown sugar’ step and instead just poured in an extra tablespoon or two of the stuff.
  • you would consider breaking off a hunk of this cake rather than resorting to a [pinkies up!] utensil. Recipe below…Note: Feel free to overdo both the chocolate chips and the cocoa.

2. Best way to get rid of the redolent odor of wildfire smoke in your kitchen? Four batches of roasted tomatoes, with generous supplies of garlic chunks, rosemary sprigs, etc. [It ain’t pretty here in Oregon right now…]

3. And then there’s this: Do you think dogs lying peacefully on the floor know the difference between our giving them half our attention [one hand scratching their chin and one hand clicking links or entering a passcode] vs. our full attention? Do we send out a ‘semi-distracted’ vibe when we are, in fact, semi-distracted?

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

**

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk

**

  • 2 and 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 4 TBLSP cocoa

**

  • 3 six-inch long zucchini
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Cream first four ingredients together in large bowl.
  2. Add next three ingredients and stir well to mix.
  3. Measure next six ingredients into sifter; then sift into bowl of other ingredients.
  4. Finely grate zucchini into bowl; stir until blended. 
  5. Fold in half of the chocolate chips to mixture.
  6. Pour into greased 9″ x 13″ pan –or- two 9″ cake pans.
  7. Sprinkle rest of chocolate chips on top of batter.
  8. Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes. [Check it about the 37-minute mark. Hey, different ovens, right?]

*Cutting the oil in half barely changes the final result.

Curation Corner: Erika Dreifus’ Practicing Writer

I’ve followed the work of Erika Dreifus’ work for about three years, further proof of what a slacker I’ve been for not passing it along to you folks sooner.

And so, still in ‘slacker’ mode, I’ll let her monthly newsletter’s table of contents do my work for me:

IN THIS ISSUE:

  1. Editor’s Note: What’s New
  2. Success Stories
  3. Featured Resource
  4. Upcoming/Ongoing Contests, Competitions, and Other Opportunities (NO ENTRY OR APPLICATION FEES; PAYING OPPORTUNITIES ONLY)
  5. Submission Alerts!!! (NO SUBMISSION/READING FEES; PAYING CALLS ONLY)
  6. Blog Notes
  7. Newsletter Matters

You can sign up for the newsletter here.

Curation Corner: A writing conference on one page

Fellow writers, in these pandemically, financially-challenging times, here–courtesy of BookBub–is your ticket to a writers conference and you can keep your bunny slippers on the whole time. [Hey, guy-writers, I’m not judging…]

The word cloud above supplies most of the topics. Check it out and run the sessions in the background while you’re baking writer’s block brownies for your self-selected ‘intermission’. Don’t forget the Italian roast, though I know some writers from the great state of Virginia prefer tea. ;-]

Telepathic writing…whoa!

Today I’m sharing an insightful 2014 piece by Jon Brooks entitled Quentin Tarantino’s Telepathic Writing Technique.

It is packed with concepts and ideas that I hadn’t before run across.

Brooks introduced me to ‘mirror neurons’, which “fire both when an animal acts and when the animal observes the same action performed by another.” [Wikipedia]

Okay, where does Quentin Tarantino come in?
From Tarantino’s 2013 Oscar acceptance speech: “You guys [friends] don’t realize how important you are to my process. I don’t want input; I don’t want you to tell me if I’m doing anything wrong. Heavens forbid. But, I write a scene and I think I’ve heard it as much as I can, but then when I read it to you – I don’t give it to you to read, I read it – but when I read it to you, I hear it through your ears. And it lets me know I’m on the right track.”

As he reads, then, Tarantino’s mirror neurons fire and he picks up the listeners’ reactions to his work.

What does that mean for the rest of us who are not quite chalking up multiple Oscars?

Take that one extra step beyond reading your work aloud–find an audience who follows the rule of: No feedback, please! Brooks justifies this rule with his observation that people often don’t effectively express their impressions and misguided feedback may well lead you to the toss the whole project.

Brooks closes with this: “You want to know what you think about your work as a first-time reader, not someone else.”

Considering our current pandemic conditions, you may be relegated to telepathic writing over the phone. Hey, it’s called playing the cards we’re dealt, right?

I also tried recording a piece of my writing aloud–and then listening to that recording. I’m not sure if that recreated the mirror-neurons experience, but I will try it again. It does add some distance between yourself and your work.

So, give it a try.

Let me know how telepathic writing worked for you.

“Nothing is as close to magic as nature.”

quote by Anastasia Bolinder

Here are some tips from Writer’s Relief on writing nature poetry.

Read its full discussion here.

I’m thinking this list would work for prose, as well. Come to think of it, much of this applies to writing in general. But hey, that’s just me probably overthinking…

  1. Avoid the expected.
  2. Be prepared.
  3. Personify with awareness.
  4. Don’t ignore the effects of human involvement.
  5. Be aware of your message.

Curation Corner: toasted-cheese.com

Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

Picked up on this interesting site via my weekly Internet Scout Report.

This link takes you to its calendar of writing topics/prompts, but check out the other menu items as well, including the Writer’s Excuse Bingo, which strikes me as potential Zoom meeting fodder for your writers group.

[Note: Ignore the ‘Resources’ menu item. Lots of dead ends there.]

Enjoy!