Evelyn Chartres Author
Evelyn Chartres – Page 4 – Author (Nom de Plume)

French Onion Soup

French onion soup is known for its ooey-gooey goodness. With its simple ingredients and straightforward recipe, this dish is sure to be a crowd pleaser! This recipe makes enough soup for six bowls and it keeps well, so it works as a leftover.

Ingredients

Soup

  • 2½ pounds of (1130 g) of sweet onions
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) of butter
  • 4 cloves (10-20 g) of pressed garlic
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of thyme or 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoon (30 ml) of flour
  • 1 quart (900 ml) of beef broth
  • ½ cup (120 ml) of dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of brown sugar

Bread Layer

  • 1 baguette of French bread
  • Garlic butter

Cheese Mix (Per serving)

  • ¾ ounce (20 g) of shredded swiss cheese
  • ¾ ounce (20 g) of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 3/16 ounce (5 mg) of shredded parmesan cheese

Preparation

Soup

  1. Cut the onions in half lengthwise, then slice. Set aside.
  2. In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat.
  3. Add onions and garlic. Let the onions sweat, until they are translucent and soft.
  4. Add thyme (or bay leaves), then sprinkle softened onions with flour. Mix until you have an coat.
  5. Pour in beef broth, wine, balsamic vinegar, and brown sugar. Stir occasionally, bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer.
  6. Simmer for about an hour.
  7. Taste the soup. It is done when onions are very tender and the broth has a balance of sweet and savoury. Add more brown sugar or balsamic vinegar to balance if needed.

Bread Layer

  1. Cut ¼ inch (0.6 cm) slices of baguettes. Enough to cover surface of your French Onion soup bowls (varies on size).
  2. Spread with garlic butter.
  3. Broil in oven or use a toaster oven to toast the slices. Ready once you have a golden brown finish. Set aside.

Cheese Mix (Per serving)

  1. Mix swiss, mozzarella, parmesan cheese. Set aside.

To Bake

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C)
  2. Oil bowls or coat with a non-stick spray. Fill bowls with soup. Leave about ¼ inch (0.6 cm) of space from the top.
  3. Layer in bread, try to avoid leaving gaps.
  4. Cover with cheese mix.
  5. Place in the oven on broil for 10 minutes. Ready when the cheese layer is bubbly with golden brown accents. If you are reheating the soup, bake in oven for 20 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven, then serve on a plate.

Null and Void

“What happens when you die, Momma?” Clara once asked.

Her mother looked down at those big steel-grey eyes and paused. For a moment, the pain in her mother’s eyes was visible, perceptible even to someone so young.

“Well—,” her mother said before wiping her eyes. “People who pass away go to heaven.”

Clara continued to look into her mother’s eyes even as the predictable question came to her lips, “Heaven?”

What is heaven? Not the easiest concept to explain, especially when one’s husband had just been lowered into the cold hard ground. Questions were natural and to be expected, but this was a daunting task for a mother who could barely keep it together.

“Well—,” her mother said. “Paradise, a place where all your loved ones are waiting for you. Where you will wish for nothing as everything you desire will be there.”

* * * *

“Almost had it right,” Clara said in response to that faded memory.

Clara was perched at the edge of a balcony. This particular vantage point gave her a pristine view of the mortal realm below. Even from this distance, she could make out individual landmarks and people going about their lives.

This was her favourite hangout, enabling her to see how chaos still reigned on the mortal plain. People continued to be born, grow up, fight wars, and die. The only difference was advancements made in technology and medicine. Funny how those advances only made life more complex.

That curiosity and drive to understand the world is what interested Clara. She often wondered how life would have turned out if she were born in the twenty-first century. All of that knowledge available at her fingertips, but would she use it?

Everyone here had access to the knowledge of creation, but many remained blissfully ignorant. Would she do any better without her educational foundation? Or would she achieve her goal of committing the perfect crime?

“I thought you’d be here,” Gabriel said.

Clara did not turn around. Instead she continued observing the world. Wait! Were her eyes deceiving her? Clara could have sworn that she had just seen a shockwave emanating from North America’s Eastern seaboard.

“The easiest way to be found is to stay in one place,” Clara said with a smirk. “What brings you here Gabriel?”

The man was tall and built like a Greek god. There was not a single flaw to be found. His hair was always perfectly trimmed, his muscles developed and cut. Even his wings were flawless, white and without a single feather out of place.

Was he the angel Gabriel from scripture and lore? Clara did not know and had never asked. Curious how that particular question had not come to her until now.

“There’s been a violation,” Gabriel said flatly.

Clara raised an eyebrow. Any violations on the mortal plain meant that someone was not playing by the rules. Free will was an aspect respected by both sides. Violations meant that someone had not been given the opportunity to choose.

“Sounds serious,” Clara said in hopes of getting more information.

Gabriel chuckled before responding, “You look down all the time and yet you cannot see.”

“And miss out on this rare opportunity to learn from your wisdom?” Clara asked.

For a moment, there was silence and Clara’s discomfort grew. Had she managed to get under his skin? That would certainly be one for the record books.

Alas, Gabriel smirked before he broke the silence, which meant he had been playing her. Truly there was much to learn, even after death.

“A soul was torn away from the light of God,” Gabriel said.

Many choose to forfeit their souls for everlasting life on Earth. Their baptism of sorts, meant they turned their backs on the light of God. This bargain had been going on since time began.

“So what am I missing?” Clara asked.

Gabriel returned to that disconcerting silence from earlier. Given they were both immortal, there was no reason to hurry things along. Before impatience could set in, a flash of insight provided her with the answer.

“It was not voluntary?” Clara asked.

If their kind could banish anyone they wished at will, then that would change the balance. Balance guided all of their actions and a disruption meant a correction was due.

“What are the ramifications to our code of conduct?” Clara asked.

“Null and void,” Gabriel said. “We can wage war if we so choose.”

“I sense a but in your statement,” Clara said.

“It would forfeit the wager,” Gabriel said.

Clara knew very little about this wager. Many on the mortal realm had mused about a game of chance being played for supremacy over the mortals. Some aspects of these stories were likely true while others were a work of fiction. All Clara knew for certain was that no one talked about it.

“So the Council has decided to send an agent,” Gabriel said.

“Me,” Clara guessed. “Why me?” she asked.

“Can’t send one of the seven,” Gabriel said. “That would be tantamount to going nuclear,” he said.

“So why choose your most junior member?” Clara asked.

Silently, her mind was racing. The ability to taste life once again filled her with excitement. It would likely not be permanent, but nothing was in the mortal realms.

“You were mortal, you knew how to fight them,” Gabriel said. “Besides, we knew you’d be willing.”

“Can’t hide anything from you can I? And to think I once believed that nuns were unsurpassed at mind reading!” Clara exclaimed. “I’m in. So what do I do?”

“Fall,” Gabriel said.

“That’s it?” Clara asked.

“That’s it,” Gabriel replied.

“Anything I should know?” Clara asked.

“Keep your true nature concealed as much as possible,” Gabriel said. “Your powers will be limited. The degree varies from person to person.”

“So act and behave as though I were mortal and everything will work fine?” Clara asked.

“That would be a safe bet,” Gabriel said. “Ready?” he asked.

“Always,” Clara said.

Without hesitation, Clara looked down and leapt over the railing. At first she floated in mid-air while she freed her mind. On command, she dropped like a stone, reaching higher and higher speeds until she glowed in the atmosphere.

“What a rush,” Clara thought while tearing through the atmosphere like a speeding bullet.

The world before her grew in detail. While she did not have an idea about where she was headed, that did not bother her. Clara sensed that her drop was guided.

Smudges of grey against the terrain became cities, followed by streets, buildings, and finally, people. No one seemed to be aware of her descent even though she must have looked like a shooting star.

“Will a little girl’s wish come true if she wishes upon me?” Clara wondered with a giggle.

Clara made out her destination, a nondescript back alley nestled behind tall buildings. There would be no witnesses in that area once she made contact.

“Three…. Two… One…” Clara said.

Right on cue, her feet hit the ground and absorbed some shock. Unfortunately, that had not been enough, so the concrete beneath her deformed, cracked and became scorched from the heat.

She took a moment to adjust, stand up and straighten out her back. While no longer visible, a set of majestic wings could be seen folding in the shadows. Wings would certainly have drawn a few errant stares had they remained visible.

“Just as much as not wearing a stitch of clothing,” Clara said while eyeing her bare body. “At least I’m none the worse for wear.”

Gabriel should have mentioned that little detail before she fell to Earth. Then again, life on Earth was not without its challenges and this was bound to get a few laughs back home.

Disclaimer: This chapter is currently in development. There are likely typos, errors, omissions, inconsistencies and so forth. Please do not treat this as a polished and completed work!

Freyja’s Shieldmaiden – Part II

Time passed by and nothing changed, so Clara wavered between the presumption of madness and sanity. Each argument, when carried to its conclusion, could be used to prove either side.

Eventually, she gave up on this never-ending battle of wills, closed her eyes, and began to meditate. Given the lack of distraction, it was only fitting to relax her body and mind. Once her heart rate slowed, Clara began to recite a prayer.

“What’s the harm in meditating?” Clara asked. “None at all,” she answered.

“Quite correct,” a voice boomed.

Clara fought against her desire to confront the voice. If it waited this long to make its presence known, then she should not risk rolling back any gain.

“I’m Clara Grey,” she said.

A weak opening move, but she had no precedents on how to approach such a situation. How did people normally introduce themselves? They provided their identity and waited for a reply.

“Ah yes,” the man said. “Just as my register states.”

“Saint Peter?” Clara asked.

“Of course, child,” Saint Peter replied. “You can open your eyes now.”

When Clara complied, she found herself in a world of dreams. Clouds, angels frolicking in a bright blue sky, golden gates, and a wise old man behind a podium looking through a ledger. It was perfect, too perfect.

“Had I guessed Osiris, Aeacus, or Freyja, would you have replied accordingly?” Clara asked.

The old man quirked a brow while his deep blue eyes twinkled. Even now, she saw that he was concealing a slight smirk.

“Of course, child. That is, if you had been Egyptian, Greek or Norse,” Saint Peter said. “Freyja would have been proud of her latest shieldmaiden.”

“To ease my transition?” Clara asked.

“In a way,” Saint Peter replied. “Unlike your faith, death has always been a part of life.”

“Will I be judged?” Clara asked.

Saint Peter chuckled then said, “You were judged before you reached these gates.”

Clara’s eyes widened in surprise. While technically an answer, it did not address the how. Did that matter?

“You were expecting different surroundings?” Saint Peter asked.

Clara shrugged because she honestly had never thought about it. If one followed the tenets of a Franciscan monk, then Clara was far from immaculate. Her list of sins was rather extensive.

Saint Peter flipped a few pages. He appeared to be pensive as though he were absorbing a large amount of new information quickly.

“Projections indicate that you might have lived for thousands of years had you accepted Hecate’s proposal,” Saint Peter said.

Clara remained quiet. The idea that she could have lived a long life if she acquiesced to that goddess was astounding. She had been so certain in her convictions that she would end up as a chew toy to be tossed out once threadbare.

“You were given a sixty percent chance of ending up a goddess in your own right,” Saint Peter added.

“What happens in the other forty?” Clara asked.

Saint Peter cringed before he said, “Less than desirable.”

“Just ducky,” Clara said.

“Although, you did cut short Drusilla’s forecasted lifespan by two thousand years,” Saint Peter said. “I can also assure you that she won’t be passing by these gates.”

It was Clara’s turn to quirk a brow, even if the news did not come as a surprise. Although, it was still a point of pride that Drusilla’s reign of terror warranted a different locale.

“You only talk of probabilities,” Clara said. “Why is that?”

Saint Peter leaned in nice and close from his podium before he said, “Free will tends to wreak havoc on predicting the future.”

Until now, Clara had equated omnipotence with all knowing. Admittedly, it would be difficult to account for over a billion people on the planet. Accounting for every action and thought accurately over time meant there were no random elements to life. In hindsight, Clara thought that reality would turn out to be quite boring.

“Were those two choices the reason I am here?” Clara asked.

“You were judged on the whole of your life,” Saint Peter said. “Those were merely recent highlights.”

The gates opened, but Clara did not move. She was not quite finished with this conversation.

Sensing this, Saint Peter said, “Those highlights did not tip the balance of where you’d end up. However they did a great deal in determining your role in the afterlife.”

Clara looked puzzled when she said, “Role? What role?”

“All in due time,” Saint Peter said while directing her through the gates.

So Clara smiled, curtseyed smartly, and walked on through the gates. She wondered what she would find on the other side.

“All in due time,” Clara said.

Disclaimer: This chapter is currently in development. There are likely typos, errors, omissions, inconsistencies and so forth. Please do not treat this as a polished and completed work!

Freyja’s Shieldmaiden – Part I

Clara’s eyes opened in a flutter and revealed an immaculate world. Not only were the walls a pristine white, but so was the ceiling, floor and, alarmingly, so was her gown. Everything was imbued with a white so intense that she had trouble focusing.


“Just ducky,” Clara said although her voice did not echo back. “I’m in the nuthouse.”

Clara had been in sanatoriums before, places where colour and style were relentlessly shed away to avoid upsetting a patient’s fragile psyche. Of course this was the first time that Clara was there as the patient.

Occurrences were rare, but from time to time one of them would wind up in an institution. Normally they were newly turned, still clinging to their unravelling humanity. Hunters would pose as doctors or nurses to infiltrate the site and deal with the threat.

“Mister Jones,” Clara said. “The doctor feels that some fresh air would do you wonders,” she chuckled.

Sometimes these sanatoriums would suffer a devastating fire in the early morning, a side-effect of not reaching these patients on time. There were no official causes in the reports, but those from the order had their suspicions.

“Am I mad?” Clara asked.

That was an interesting question. Would someone suffering from a sickness of the mind be able to answer? Would they even be able to formulate the question?

After all, believing she was a well-travelled flapper who cleansed the world of the undead was bound to have people contact the nearest nuthouse. Clara could just as easily be suffering from a psychotic break. After all, she did remember being burnt to a crisp in a fiery inferno.

As the memory of Drusilla’s final moments filled her mind, she had to ask what was going on. Clara reached for her face and felt her smooth clean skin. She sighed in relief, thankful that while perhaps insane, she had not been mutilated in the fire.

“That still doesn’t mean that I’m sane,” Clara said.

In fact, her steady heartbeat, pristine skin, and surroundings did more to lend credence that this had been nothing more than a drug-addled dream.

Clara checked her arms for needle marks but found none. At least the staff did not have to inject her with drugs to keep her docile. However, that did not preclude a steady diet of mind altering pills.

For a moment, Clara seemed to find the idea of being institutionalised somewhat alluring. A world without a care, all thanks to a state sponsored high that she could never afford at an opium den.

While she had never tried to kick the gong around, the idea of being in a blissful drug induced haze did have some perks. But were the monsters encountered throughout her life brought on by her addictions? Did they not refer to it as chasing the dragon? Could it be that for the first time in her life she was actually seeing the world clearly?

The reasonable thing for her to do was to wait for an answer. A doctor or nurse would eventually come through that door to check up on her. Wait? What door?

Clara examined every surface of this room and found it free of seams or imperfections. For lack of a better term she was inside a geometric shape. Fortunately, it was too big to be a coffin.

“So where is this light coming from?” Clara asked.

There seemed to be no specific source. It was as though she were being immersed in pure light. It certainly explained how everything was a pristine colour of white.

Where was she now? Where to begin?

“First off,” Clara said. “Light.”

A pure white light, flawless in every way. True perfection was often used to describe art and architecture, but perfection was a myth. People were imperfect beings who subsequently passed down their flaws to their creations.

Some occasionally told her how she was beautiful and perfect in every way. Of course that was a lie, most men said such things to get a girl in bed. She had her flaws, everyone did, so to witness true perfection was almost…

“Like being touched by God,” Clara said.

Clara looked from side-to-side half-hoping that her current reality would change to reveal the truth of her situation. She supposed that simply invoking his name was not enough.

“Two,” Clara said. “Trapped in a perfect geometric shape.”

Again, the element of perfection implied the presence of God. Clara seriously doubted that Hecate could manage such a feat. Those three personalities would never be able to work together long enough to make such a construct possible.

“Construct?” Clara asked.

In this particular case, a blank slate. Clara was quite literally in a world without a basis in reality. She was not thirsty, hungry nor uncomfortable. How long had she been standing? Where was the fatigue? Her need to pee?

“Curiouser and curiouser,” Clara said.

Alice had the benefit of transitioning from one world to the next. As she fell through the rabbit hole, Alice knew that change was afoot and she was now in unfamiliar territory.

If this was a precursor to reality, then who controlled the settings? Now that was a question that deserved an answer.

If Clara were truly insane, then the control of this construct rested with her. That meant things would be getting rather interesting. To her, it might have appeared normal, but for some hapless witness it would be a rendition of Through the Looking Glass on Opium.

If she were sane and in control, then Clara hoped she could imagine something more entertaining than this sterile scene. A mind this empty spoke volumes on the personality that spawned it.

That meant someone else was pulling the strings. Who and why were questions that she could not easily discern. She needed to peer beyond this construct to gain insight.

“What a shame,” Clara said. “Yet another challenge,” she sighed.

Disclaimer: This chapter is currently in development. There are likely typos, errors, omissions, inconsistencies and so forth. Please do not treat this as a polished and completed work!

Yet Another Quick Read Before Christmas

A gal has to look out for herself after all.

You still have enough time to enjoy my Dark Fantasy novel before Christmas. Teats, a drink and the Van Helsing Paradox! Discover the life and times of a femme fatal hunter. What better way to bide your time before you unwrap some books?

Get it now!

Want to know more about the story? The synopsis follows!

Clara Grey’s parents once said that the world was a dark and dangerous place. There was more truth than fiction to those words. There were things that lurked in the shadows which defied the laws of nature: perversions that fed on the dead, terrorised the living, or escaped the chill touch of the grave.

Clara is a member of the Tower, a religious order of hunters who work outside the confines of the Church. As keepers of the arcane, her order takes an active role to counter these threats. The life of a hunter can be short, and many disappear before their training is completed. So, what does it take to succeed against all odds?

Explore Clara’s origin, a child born before the dawn of the twentieth century. Witness her rigorous training, how she faces adversity, and fights in the Great War to become the derringer wielding flapper she is.

Throughout her tale, keep in mind that no matter the threat, a gal has to look out for herself after all.