Evelyn Chartres Author

Moules à la Marinière

Mussels and clams are excellent appetizers. This recipe combines mussels or clams with an apple cider for an appetizer that has a pleasing flavour. This recipe can also be served with a garlic butter and lemon sauce to give it that extra zing!

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds of (900 g) of mussels or clams
  • 6 tablespoons (90 ml) of butter
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) of finely chopped onions
  • 3 cloves (9-15 g) of pressed garlic
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of herbes de Provence
  • ⅛ teaspoon (0.75 ml) of pepper
  • ½ quart (500 ml) of apple cider or dry white wine

Instructions

  1. Rinse mussels or clams. Brush shells to clear any excess material or grit, make sure the shell has not been broken or compromised. Soak in water until ready.
  2. Using a 4 quart (3.7 l) pot on medium high, add butter and melt.
  3. Add onions and garlic, sauté for 1-3 minutes or when onions are transparent.
  4. Add herbs and pepper to the pot and mix.
  5. Set to high and add apple cider or a dry white wine. Boil for 1-3 minutes to reduce or until alcohol has evaporated.
  6. Drain mussels or clams using a colander, place in pot and cover with a lid.
  7. Cook for 5 minutes, shake the contents of the pot every minute or so to ensure even cooking.
  8. Pull from heat. Place colander in a large bowl then strain the mussels.
  9. Place mussels or clams in a bowl. Strain some of the remaining sauce to serve as a side.

Beef and Barley Soup

Beef Barley soup is hearty and can heat the cockles of your heart; especially after a day out in the cold! It also happens to be a great way to make use of leftover steak from last night’s barbecue. This recipe can also be served as a main dish and is delicious when served with garlic bread!

Ingredients

  • 24 ounces (680 g) of uncooked beef or 18 ounces (510 g) of cooked beef
  • 10 fluid ounces (285 ml) of canned mushrooms (drained)
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons (30 to 60 ml) of olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) of ground cumin
  • 8 ounces (225 g) of parsnips
  • ½ cup (120 ml) of finely chopped onions
  • 2 cloves garlic (5-10 g) pressed
  • ½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) of thyme
  • ½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) of rosemary
  • 22 fluid ounces (640 ml) of diced tomatoes
  • ½ cup (120 ml) of pearl barley
  • 40 fluid ounces (1.2 l) of beef broth

Instructions

  1. Cook beef according to preference; I prefer to grill with seasoning and pepper. Cut into ¼ inch (0.6 cm) cubes then set aside.
  2. In a 4 quart (3.7 l) pot add oil and heat on medium.
  3. Add mushrooms and cumin. Sauté until they have turned a light brown.
  4. Add garlic, onions, thyme and rosemary to the pot. Sauté until onions are transparent.
  5. Add beef cubes and remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil.
  6. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook two hours or until parsnips and meat are tender.

Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna

Lasagna and the multitude of variants seems to be a staple for many families. While this variant does not have feature a meat layer, it makes up for it with flavour. The sautéed mushrooms, spinach and Ricotta cheese come together to create a delicious ready-to-serve meal!

This recipe feeds 4 to 6 people.

Ingredients

  • 8 to 12 of Lasagna noodles
  • 1 cup (235 ml) of shredded mozzarella cheese

Sauce Layer

  • 10 fluid ounces (285 ml) of canned mushrooms (drained)
  • ½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) of cumin
  • ½ cup (120 ml) of finely chopped onions
  • ½ cup (120 ml) of chopped roasted red pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic (5-10 g) pressed
  • 22 fluid ounces (640 ml) of diced tomatoes (drained)
  • 8 fluid ounces (250 ml) of tomato sauce (divided)
  • ½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) of Italian seasoning

Cheese Layer

  • 16 ounces (450 g) of Ricotta cheese
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) of grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 4 tablespoons of breadcrumbs
  • 5 ounces (140 mg) of chopped spinach.

Instructions

  1. Prepare noodles according to package instructions. Drain and rinse before setting aside.

Sauce Layer

  1. Using a well-oiled skillet add mushrooms and cumin. Sauté under medium-heat until mushrooms begin to brown.
  2. Add onions, red pepper and garlic to the skillet. Sauté until onions are transparent.
  3. Add diced tomatoes and tomato sauce to the skillet. Save 2 teaspoons (30 ml) for later.
  4. Add Italian Seasoning and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  5. Remove from heat and set aside.

Cheese Layer

  1. Carefully drain spinach and add to a large bowl.
  2. Add ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, egg whites, bread crumbs to the bowl.
  3. Mix until you have a consistent finish at set aside.
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F (180°C).
  2. Use remaining two tablespoons (30 ml) of tomato sauce to coat the bottom of stoneware casserole dish or pan.
  3. Layer three noodles at the bottom making sure they overlap slightly. Cover with half of the cheese layer.
  4. Layers three noodles to they run perpendicular to the earlier layer, ensuring they overlap. Cover with half of the sauce layer.
  5. Repeat previous two steps to make up remaining layers.
  6. Top with shredded mozzarella cheese then place in the oven.
  7. Bake for 45 minutes, remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes.
  8. Cut into appropriately sized slices. Ready-to-serve.

Mobile Manuscripts

The earliest instances of writing were done by hand and any copies were made by scribes so every book was unique. Many such manuscripts included doodles or annotations that either hinted at the scribe’s creativity or provided insights on their inherent boredom.

Portrait of a man in clerical dress being hit on the head with a sword, from a book of treasury receipts.

The printing press increased our opportunity to get published works to the masses. The advent of eBooks further accelerated this phenomenon.

Authors are as varied as the stories they tell. Some still write by hand, channeling the spirit of monks and scribes of old. Others prefer the feel of a typewriter, an aspect often portrayed in movies and novels.

Technology has allowed writers to venture into the digital age. While some authors like George R.R. Martin remains stubbornly entrenched on the technology they adopt, others embrace tools to lend aid. Now it’s common to see people in coffee shops writing away on their laptops, feeding from the raw energy that permeate such places.

Advances in technology are not exclusively confined to software, computers have gotten smaller and more compact. Many of us own phones that have more processing power than was available for NASA during the Apollo program. However, this technology has not been wildly adopted as a convenient way to create content. I mean for more than keeping notes and jotting down ideas, but for writing a whole manuscript from start to finish.

Screenshot of Google Docs and the auto-correct feature

A week ago, I completed my first review of a manuscript, written entirely on my smart phone. To note, I did not use a Bluetooth to make typing easier, and used software readily available on most Android phones.

So Why Did I Do It?

Tools are at my fingertips. Auto-correct features are available on every device, a capability which is invaluable. We can fire up a browser to confirm details, after all Wikipedia is just a bookmark away. Revision history on Google Docs allows is great for collecting statistics on updates and changes over time.

Backup and share live. Basic tools like Google Docs can back-up and share work live. Unless disconnected from the Internet, the manuscript will be available on any device. How often did you have a stroke of genius, but forgot most of it before you got home?

I can take it wherever I go. While the same can be said about pen and paper, many carry their phones where they go. Given a spare moment, pull out your phone and continue adding to a chapter. This is an aspect that I found to be indispensable, especially as a parent who works full-time. After all, finding a moment to sit in front of your laptop can be a daunting task.

My manuscript was 65,643 words over 165 pages when I finished the review which generated 8,384 corrections. Tools inherent to Google Docs allowed me to generate statistics. In turn, this information enables you to gauge your revision cycles and later focus your goals.

So What Did I Learn?

Auto-correct is invaluable. Typing on a virtual keyboard will generate errors. Perhaps your thumb struck a letter instead of the space bar, or the auto-correct interpreted a word differently than anticipated. However, disabling the auto-correct it is not an option, since you’d end up with large swathsnofnmyspelednwords (swaths of misspelled words) that make no sense.

Not portable by default. If you forgot to set your document to be available offline, then you will not be able to update existing chapters until you have an opportunity to connect to the Internet.

Working Offline. A lot of auto-correct features built into Google Docs are unavailable when offline; phones will then revert to their built-in system. Checking on your progress after you reconnect, will show a slew words that were misinterpreted.

Reviewing your manuscript is critical. This process is critical for any manuscript to confirm your work. During this cycle, I came across words that made no sense and needed to decipher their meaning. While this happens with content creation method, errors are compounded by speed and relying on auto-correct.

Overall I found the advantages of using my mobile device to outweighed the disadvantages. While my writing is not as fast on a virtual keyboard, it’s close enough to push through. Additionally, I can use my time while on a bus, while waiting for my child to finish her extra-curricular activities.

Even at locations that do not have reliable Internet, my smartphone provides me with a quick and easy way to continue with my work. While laptops have their own charms, the battery life and size make them impractical for day-to-day usage.

Perhaps a better technology will come along within the next couple of years. I’ll be sure to re-evaluate and might even take the plunge. Who know? For now, I found a tool that works for me!

Message Received

Well I think I found a trend for my reviews on Amazon.

“I was a bit put off by the use of italics for slang words, but understood that it was to emphasise that the word was slang for the roaring twenties.”

–and–

“I couldn’t get past the first few pages because of all the random words that were unnecessarily italicized. Really drew me out of he story and made it impossible to read.”

I got the hint. Just had all of those italicized words removed from my manuscript and uploaded a new version to Amazon, Smashwords, and Draft2Digital. Fortunately Microsoft Word made that operation fairly painless!