Tequila Mockingbird by Rhys Ford and Cauliflower Rice with Baked Tofu…And MOAR Rosé

Tequila MockingbirdLG (1)WOW! Well it’s been a few weeks since I posted anything…Life takes over and I one ends up doing all the drinking and eating offline. The HORROR. To get me back in the groove I’ve got three posts planned over then next few days, the first is my review for the third installment of the Sinners Series by the most lovely Rhys Ford. This book Tequila Mockingbird brings us back to the unlikely tribe of Irish cops and wayward rock stars. We meet up with the guys in San Francisco a not long after the end of the second book and we get right into it.

This time around Connor the oldest of the Morgan boys gets hit hard by the love bug when he arrives at the scene of a crime and encounters Forest Ackerman the adoptive son of the man’s whose murder he is there to investigate. Forest is skittish and quiet and brings out Connor’s protective side like no one has ever done before. He wants to care for him, the thing is he is not really gay…

For this book I wanted to make something with and Asian flavor since so many of Rhys’ books are set in San Francisco with lots of glimpses from Chinatown I thought the Crispy Peanut Tofu with Rice Cauliflower from The Minimalist Baker would be PERFECT for this one. I paired this yummy dish with a lovely South African Rose wine that has made it’s way to my table many a time already this summer  the 2013 Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé quite frankly wins EVERYTHING. It is delicious, smooth to drink, fruity and fragrant without sweetness. For $9.00 a bottle it’s a win-win.

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Onto the story. So we catch up with the Morgan brood once more and this time the hot older brother is the star of the show. Connor Morgan meets Forest Ackerman while investigating the murder of the man’s father. From the get go Forest awakens feelings in Connor the he just cannot explain. Not only is the man clearly in need of someone to care for him, but he looks at Connor like he is the solution to all his problems. The sexy slight drummer is setting off something in Connor that so far he’s only “seen” happen to his brother and cousin with THEIR mates, but could never imagine happening to him. So when bad things start happening around Forest’s home and business, and it becomes clear whoever killed his dad is out to get him too, Connor steps in and takes the man to his home. No way is he going to stand by and let him get hurt. Sure it’s possesive and a little crazy since HE IS STRAIGHT, but who cares, it’s not like there isn’t a precedent in the family.

Despite the intensity of his feelings Connor is torn, he never envisioned himself with a  man. All he aspired to be was just like his dad, and being gay just did not fit with that plan. He has to make peace with this because there is no way that he will be the reason for more hurt in Forest’s life. The man has not had it easy, if it weren’t for Frank that man who took him off the streets and gave him the closest thing he knew for a home he would have never made it past his teens. There is a lot to soothe and clean inside of Forest’s heart and Connor knows he is the man meant to do it.

As for Forest never saw this Irish cop coming, one moment he was living his regular (well as close to regular as it was with Frank) and the next his whole life had been blown up, literally. He is all alone in the world(other than his mother who doesn’t exactly count as someone who would care)  and that feeling of being bereft and completely on his own makes him want to seek the protection he can see Connor wants to offer. He’s only ever had one person who ever cared about him at all, and putting his trust in Connor, the prospect of letting him know the ugly things in his past feels very scary. He feels like he has to though, the closer they get the more Forest feels like he’s found the man and the family he’s always wanted. He has doubts of course, because Connor and his family, they are AMAZING, so wholesome and perfect and how could he a rentboy whose own mother would sell him for a few bucks fit into that perfect picture? But the more he gets to know Connor, his family and the two men who have recently joined the brood the more he realizes these people could not have been more perfect for a family.

This book had all the elements that make Rhys’ writing so damn readable. Two heroes who are intensely into each other, good plot, interesting mystery and a lot of opportunities to visit with characters that we deeply care for. The erotica was top notch incredibly sexy and yet not even a hit of discordance to the tone of the book.  Solid writing as always. Will be anxiously waiting for the next one! At this point I’m hoping to get adopted by the Morgan clan myself!

‘Tis a good one. Recommend.

Tequila Mockingbird is available for purchase here.

Peanutty Sauce Bakes Tofu with Cauliflower Rice

This recipe was borrowed from the fabulous Minimalist Baker blog.

Ingredients:

For the stir fry:

  • 12 ounces extra firm tofu, organic & non-GMO if possible*
  • 1 Tbsp Toasted sesame oil
  • 1 small head cauliflower
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
For the sauce:
  • 1.5 Tbsp Toasted sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce (gluten free for GF eaters)
  • 3.5 – 4 Tbsp light brown sugar (or honey if not vegan)
  • 1/2 tsp chili garlic sauce
  • 2.5 Tbsp peanut butter or almond butter (natural, salted)

Add ons:

  • baby bok choy, green onion, red pepper, broccoli

Directions

Begin by draining tofu 1.5 hours before you want your meal ready. If your block of tofu is larger than 12 ounces, trim it down. To drain the tofu wrap in in a couple layers of paper towel and then into a kitchen towel. Put in under something heavy. I use a cast iron pan and weigh pan down with a bag of flour. Keep it like that for about 30 minutes

Whiele draining the tofu preheat oven t 400 degrees F. Once tofu is dry uncover it and cube it.  Place it on a baking sheet and arrange in a single layer. Bake for 25 minutes to dry/firm the tofu. Once baked, remove from oven and let cool.

Tofu after baking.

Tofu after baking.

Prepare sauce by whisking together ingredients until combined. Taste and adjust flavor as needed.

Add cooled tofu to the sauce and stir to coat. Let marinate for at least 15 minutes to saturate the tofu and infuse the flavor.

In the meantime, shred your cauliflower into rice in the food processor. You don’t want it too fine, sort of the size of cooked rice. Set aside.

Cauliflower after I pulsed it on the Cuisinart

Cauliflower after I pulsed it on the Cuisinart

 

Mince garlic if, and prepare any veggies you want to add to the dish. I basically cut the bok choy in half and brushed it with some soy sauce and sesame seed oil and sauteed them for two minutes on a skillet. Set veg aside and keep warm.

Bok-Choy

Bok-Choy

Use a slotted spoon to spoon tofu into the preheated pan. Add a few spoonfuls of the sauce to coat. Cook, stirring frequently for a few minutes until browned. It will stick to the pan a bit, just . Remove from pan and set aside and cover to keep warm. In a clean pan (could be the one you used for the tofu after a rinse) add a drizzle of sesame oil to the pan, then add garlic and cauliflower rice and stir. Put cover on to steam the “rice.” Cook for about 5-8 minutes until slightly browned and tender, stirring occasionally. Then add a few spoonfuls of sauce to season and stir. To serve top cauliflower with veggies and tofu. Serve with any leftover sauce, and enjoy with the your glass of Rosé.

Hope you enjoy the recipe and wine!!

Cheers and Happy Reading!

Laura

 

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Guest Post: Rhys on her Boys’ Toys,The Machines of Clockwork Tangerine

ClockworkTangerineLG

When the Tipsy Reader pinged me and said; “Hey, you know what would be cool for you to write about? The mechanicals Robin Harris creates in Clockwork Tangerine?” My first thought was, “Damn did I write about enough of them?”

And yeah, there were a few things I thought—you know, those would be good to talk about.

One mechanical object making an appearance in the novella actually plays a significant role although it does so off screen—well except for showing up on the cover; because it does that nicely.

It is the Skitter.

It has another name but that’s the term the general public came up with following its deadly appearance. A flying burrower, the skitter, was invented by a very young Robin Harris—and then used by a shadowy organization called the Heretic Society to sow chaos throughout the British Empire. Following the Society’s eradication, inactive or dud skitters were discovered. Oftentimes, something would trigger one, and it would complete its original mission; assassinating the nearest person.

In one case, this person was Marcus’ father, a duke giving a speech in the Saint Francisco Parliament.

The reader never actually sees this event, but it’s one that shapes both of the heroes’ lives. Marcus loses his beloved father but at the same time, this loss leaves him with a purpose of being. He is a man of his word and with strong ethics—which are tested when he rescues his father’s unintentional murderer, Robin Harris, from what could have been a fatal beating.

Robin, however, has spent his time since being betrayed by the Society rebuilding his life and also, trying to contribute to a world he nearly helped take down. Other mechanicals he created during the story include gyro-magical prosthesis limbs and a working eye replacement, although how well it works isn’t determined because well, issues.

Now packing this into a novella was difficult. Novellas, by their very nature, deal more with themes than characterization which makes building unforgettable and loveable characters difficult. What do you sacrifice in a story this short? I tried to sacrifice very little, and hoped I provided a good glimpse at these men who fall in love, despite the blood shed between them and the British social rules that keep their love hidden.

Building a steampunk world is not without its dangers. Too much “world” leaves the reader without a sense of people inside of it yet focusing solely on the characters means there’s not a whiff of that golden tea flavor one should get in an alternate universe story. In the end though, it is about these two men—Marcus and Robin.

I want to visit them again soon, and hope you’ll come with me.

Clockwork Tangerine Blurb

The British Empire reigns supreme, and its young Queen Victoria has expanded her realm to St. Francisco, a bustling city of English lords and Chinese ghettos. St. Francisco is a jewel in the Empire’s crown and as deeply embroiled in the conflict between the Arcane and Science as its sister city, London—a very dark and dangerous battle.

Marcus Stenhill, Viscount of Westwood, stumbles upon that darkness when he encounters a pack of young bloods beating a man senseless. Westwood’s duty and honor demand he save the man, but he’s taken aback to discover the man is Robin Harris, a handsome young inventor indirectly responsible for the death of Marcus’s father.

Living in the shadows following a failed coup, Robin devotes his life to easing others’ pain, even though his creations are considered mechanical abominations of magicks and science. Branded a deviant and a murderer, Robin expects the viscount to run as far as he can—and is amazed when Marcus reaches for him instead.

Order Clockwork Tangerine at: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4718

I’m Rhys Ford. I am an author and also a reader. You can find me at the following places:

My Blog: http://www.rhysford.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rhys.ford.author

Twitter: @Rhys_Ford

And at the Starbucks down the street. No really, they’re 24/7. And a drive-thru. It’s like heaven.

My books can be purchased, folded and first chapters read at Dreamspinner Press. http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com

Clockwork Tangerine by Rhys Ford and a Tasty Tempranillo

ClockworkTangerineLGRhys does steampunk…And she does it well. It is hard to believe Rhys Ford hadn’t dabbled in this genre yet. Her mind is so creative and her writing so vivid. Her style just seems like a match made in heaven for this genre. In this story she takes us to her beloved Bay Area.  San Francisco, actually, St. Francisco. We go to the city when it was part of the British Commonwealth. She takes us right into the thick of things, Little Orient, where our heroes have their fateful meeting. From the get go we are taken into a delightful adventure, with a good dose of political intrigue, very engaging characters (fiesty Dowager included!) and a vivid setting.  Marcus Stenhill, the Viscount of Westwood, happens upon a man receiving a terrible beating while on an errand in Little Orient. Marcus being a man who won’t sit idly while a gang of four, beat on a single man when he is down, comes to the fellow’s rescue. The man Marcus rescues should be his foe, a mortal enemy. Even though they have never faced each other their histories are bound in a sinister way. Robin Harris had a part in Marcus’ father murder, indirect, but a part nonetheless. He should hate him, but instead is flumoxed by his desire for the man. Things won’t be easy…Not only are his unnatural desires criminal in the commonwealth, but Robin himself is a marked man. Pursuing anything with him may be too much folly, even for someone with Marcus’ influence and wealth.

For the men of Clockwork Tangerine I chose a lovely Spanish Tempranillo, which if not a super popular wine in most of the British Empire, certainly a common one to find in territory so close to the Spanish Empire’s holding a bit to the South. The 2011 Dacu Tempranillo from the Ribera del Guadiana in Spain, is an absolute WINNER.  It is very earthy and smooth with a distinct flavoring that will appeal to Zinfandel lovers. At about $10.00, you cannot go wrong with this bottle.

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Now back to the story…Once Marcus takes on rescuing Robin, he goes all the way. He takes Robin back to his house, and does not leave his side until he is recovered. From the moment Marcus steps into Robin’s home he can see that the inventions which were taken and bastardized by the Society to bring down the Empire were not the last Robin’s mind had to give. There are all kinds of magical contraptions all over the house. Harris has apparently successfully developed prosthetics that are aiding people to walk and see. Marcus is enthralled. By the time Robin comes around a few weeks later after the beating, Marcus is a mainstay in his life.

Robin is taken aback by the kindness, by the presence of the man. Of all people, Marcus should loathe him, yet he gives him nothing but gentleness. There is also the issue of the man’s beauty. Robin can barely take being close to him without working himself up to complete discombobulation. Robin just does not understand what the man could be after…Maybe he feels the same, there have been hints here and there…But, but…No it can’t be, there is no way possible that someone as tainted as he could end up with a man like Marcus in his bed and a life of happiness. Robin can have his doubts, but Marcus will show Robin to never underestimate a man who knows EXACTLY his worth, his position and his heart, and what he is willing to do for those he loves.

For the length of this novella, all in all, we get quite the story. Not only did we get a very strong sense of the place and world, but we got to know both men and their individual stories pretty well. The world was solidly set as well, we got a good understanding of how the society works, and the foes who have and could threaten their world. I would love to see a sequel for this book where Robin and Marcus united to defend their beloved British Empire. There is a lot to love about the world Rhys created, but at the nucleus it is a strong love story. Marcus saves Robin from a life of isolation and guilt, and together the life they will build will make them both whole.

Lovely story. Totally recommend. Stop by tomorrow to read more about Clockwork Tangerine and Robin’s inventions. The lovely Ms. Ford wrote a bit about Robin’s machines and their relevance to her story!

Clockwork Tangerine will be released tomorrow from Dreamspinner Press.

Cheers and Happy Reading!

Laura

Whiskey and Wry by Rhys Ford and Vegan Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes (Very Un-PC name I know..But they’re DELICIOUS!!!)

Whiskey&WryLG This was a VERY anticipates sequel…I loved loved Sinner’s Gin and that cliffhanger at the end left me BREATHLESS with wanting Damien’s story. This book is the second in the Sinner Series and it’s the story of Miki’s (who we met in Sinner’s Gin) best friend and band mate Damien Mitchell. Damien’s has been recovering from an accident in a mental institution in Montana and NOTHING about what he’s being told adds up, not his name, his parents, what they tell him about his life before, none of it makes sense…So after an unlikely escape he heads out to San Francisco to find Miki.  While trying to find his friend, Damien runs in to some Irish hotness by the name of Sionn Murphy…These men were so sweet and delicious together I HAD to make something decandet and amazing for them. Irish Car Bomb Vegan Cupcakes is what I came up with, totally politically incorrect name but they are SO GOOD!!!! I promise!! In terms of alcoholic beverages all the booze for this post are actually IN THE CUPCAKES, since we will be using Guiness, Jameson and Bailey’s to make these bad boys!

So GOOD!

So GOOD!

Now on to the story…Damien has been in a mental insitituion where the staff keep telling him he has a different name, history, family and nothing, NOTHING adds up. In the middle of a fire he manages to escape, but before he’s in the clear he has a run in with someone who is obviously trying to off him.he remembers things though he KNOWS who he is and even though his life is completely out of control, and he’s not even sure his memories are real, he must try and find his friend Miki. Miki and music are the two things that no matter who he’s supposed be are real to him as his own skin and bones. he’s got scars and he knows something bad has happened, getting to Miki will help answer those questions.  He’s not sure how or why i, but he heads to San Francisco anyways. He is sure that once he is back with his friend everything will make sense again. Damien makes his way to California, he ends up playing in front of an Irish pub that somehow calls to him. He remembers being there before and he’s drawn to it and it’s owner, Sionn Murphy.  The Irishman is gorgeous and kind to him. So kind, and Damien has been on the road by himself for a long time. A little kindness, some human touch is something HE CRAVES. He’s not even sure he’s gay!! But something about Sionn keeps Damien coming back.

The thing is the dude that tried to kill him getting out of the hospital DOES not give up easy and is on his tail not long after he meets Sionn. Things progress fast, Sionn and Damien are getting much closer and feelings are running deep, but this killer is not only a butcher but he’s FULL ON CRAZAHAYZAY and it becomes personal REAL QUICK. He wants to off everyone in Damien’s life…Damien has a lot of people on his side, but those who want him dead are willing to do what they have to, to get him out of the way.

There’s a twist though, Sionn is in the Murphy family, the same Murphy family that Miki esentially married into recently and once he makes the connection with Damien and Miki he arranges a reunion for his guy with his best friend. This book is a melange of twists and turns. The killer and the man who has hired him seem to stop at nothing to get to Damien and those he loves. It was an intense ride with moments that were gruesome and scary.  Sionn was solid though, once he found Damien and their relationship started to blossom he stood by him until the very end, and Damien let him. This book in so many ways is a straightforward romance, but in the style of this author the mystery and the darkness were just a little disturbing  and a lot engrossing. San Francisco was again perfectly showcased, which I loved. I enjoyed this novel. It was a strong follow up to a very excellent start to this series.

I am looking forward for the next installment and hoping that there are a few more in store.

Whiskey and Wry is for sale at Dreamspinner.com

 

Now the CUPCAKES!! Be warned people these go FAST!

Whiskey and Wry Teaser Pic

For the Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes

1 cup of Guinness

1/2 cup plus two tablespoos of unsweetend almond milk

1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 cups of cake flour

2 tablespoons of cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon of baking powder

1/2 teaspoon of baking soda

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

3/4 cups of organic cane sugar

1/4 of bittersweet cocoa powder

1/3 cup of canola oil

1/2 teaspoon of salt

Directions

Prehear oven at 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients in a bowl, adding the beer last and scoop into a lined cupcake tin. Bake for 12 minutes or until done.

 Irish Whiskey and Chocolate Ganache

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate

2 tablespoons of almond milk

2 teaspoons Irish whiskey (I used Jameson)

Directions

Put ingredients in a microwave safe bowl and heat one minute at a time until all ingredients are melted and mixed in. Let cool before using.

Baileys Frosting

3 to 4 cups confections sugar

1/2 cup or 4 ounces of vegan margarine (I use Earth Balance) at room temperatue

3 to 4 tablespoons Baileys

Directions

Whip the margarine in the bowl of an electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, for several minutes. You want to get it very light and fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar and Bailey’s, a few tablespoons at a time. When the frosting looks thick enough to spread, drizzle in the Baileys (or milk) and whip it until combined. If this has made the frosting too thin (it shouldn’t, but just in case) beat in another spoonful or two of powdered sugar.

Special equipment: 1-inch round cookie cutter or an apple corer and a piping bag (though a plastic bag with the corner snipped off will also work)

To fill the cupcakes (Used the Smitten Kitchen recipe for directions) Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped (the fridge will speed this along but you must stir it every 10 minutes). Meanwhile, using your 1-inch round cookie cutter or an apple corer, cut the centers out of the cooled cupcakes. You want to go most of the way down the cupcake but not cut through the bottom — aim for 2/3 of the way. A slim spoon or grapefruit knife will help you get the center out. Those are your “tasters”. Put the ganache into a piping bag with a wide tip and fill the holes in each cupcake to the top.

These cupcakes go best with an awesome cup of coffee or by themselves, while reading Damien and Sionn’s book of course! They are DECANDENT and DELISH!!

Cheers and Happy Reading!

 

Laura