Thursday, November 13, 2014

Writing for a great cause

Cookbook for a Bug is compiled and written by a group of gardeners who coalesced in a social media group called Gardenaholics Anonymous. I became aware of this group through Gardening Jones, a fabulous blog on gardening that I've been following for years now. 

One of the members has a daughter with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) type 1. This little girl's nickname is Bug and all proceeds from the book go towards helping with her medical needs, such as a chair or breathing hoses and monitors.

This is  a wonderful cause and so I was absolutely delighted that  Cookbook for a Book won Amazon's Awards for Best Books of 2014!  Click here to see the award.

Good for you Amazon for recognizing the great work these writers have done. And good for them on producing a fine book to raise funds and awareness for such a great cause. The recipes are inspiring, using up produce from the garden (though you can also easily buy the ingredients at the grocery store) and some are intriguingly unusual (Grape Salad - grapes mixed with cream cheese and sour cream), whilst others are comfortingly familiar (Lasagna - hard to beat!).

I particularly liked the recipe for Zucchini Burgers since I'm usually buried in zucchini during the summer. In fact, its quite gratifying that there are at least 7 recipes for things to do with zucchini - looks like I'm not the only one who loves zucchini but needs different ways to keep eating it all summer long. There are so many recipes I am dying to try out next summer - Tomato Marmalade - I have some frozen tomatoes from last summer. I wonder would that work...

There's a delicious and simple recipe for Beet Greens similar to one I use when I'm harvesting beetroot. It works a treat and even My Husband, who refuses to eat beetroot likes the greens done this way.

And oh my goodness - the baked goods section! I may have to actually cut those pages out and shred them....that is if I can separate them after all the drooling I've done on them. Cherry Chip Ba Da Bing Brownies, Chocolate Zucchini Cake, and (OMG) "The Fudge I Grew Up With" - YUM!

I've never had Baked Meringue Spice Cake, but I am so going to make it next...It sounds so good.

Consider getting some as a stocking fillers for Christmas gifts. 

You can find your copy of this cookbook-with-a-heart Cookbook for a Bug on Amazon. ISBN 9781502456267 

It costs $20 and remember the recipes will tickle your taste-buds, stuff your stomach and fill your heart knowing that you helped a brave and lovely little girl. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Breakfast - the most important meal of the day!

'Tommy followed her to the table where Molly was just bringing out the last of the food platters filled with bacon, sausage, potato bread, fried soda bread, mushrooms and eggs. The potato bread was crispy, golden – fried to perfection. The mighty Ulster Fry – heart attack on a plate – would keep their bellies full until dinner time. Tommy’s mouth watered.
      “There’s beans too, if anyone wants some,” Molly said.'
I was either very hungry or very homesick the day I wrote page 185 of March to November, but I know one thing for sure - when I wrote it, I had not figured out where to buy Irish bacon in the Bay Area, nor had I discovered the The Britannia Arms on Almaden and their Irish breakfast.

Saturday, October 18th marked the one month anniversary of the release of March to November and to mark the occasion Michael from the Britannia Arms  generously offered to recreate the breakfast from the book. He even requested that I send him the description as it was written.

I was very excited when he said he would make potato scones. I really hoped he was talking about what we called potato bread. Potato bread is my favorite item in an Irish fry, or more specifically, an Ulster fry. Our regional variation tends to include more breads than other versions of the Irish fry. It's really just potato, flour and butter, mixed together and fried (in bacon fat for the most delicious effect!) Click here for the recipe I use when making it because it's not something you can buy in the supermarket in California. You can see it in the picture below, the round farl on the right-hand-side of the plate.
My neighbors tucking into their first Irish fry!
Then there's black pudding. (Mid plate.) It's an acquired taste and maybe why my characters didn't bother with it in their breakfast. But I love it, especially when I can't have it.

The funny thing is that I generally don't like beans with my breakfast. When I left mine at the side of the plate everyone commented on how even in the book they were an afterthought!

About thirty people showed up.
It was great craic explaining some of the food in the fry. 
So the thing with the black pudding is....
Did I hear her right? Have I just eaten...

Yeah, I think that's what she said. Have you eaten it already?
They ate it!
Yes, black pudding is made from pig's blood - it's still delicious! And no, probably best not to order a potato "scone" by itself because it's not really like a scone.
At least the coffee is safe!
And yes, noon on a Saturday is a perfectly acceptable time to be eating breakfast in Ireland - especially one that has so much food.
Well, it's breakfast time somewhere in the world!
And yes, yes, yes, it probably does explain why there is such a high incidence of heart disease in Ireland. But it really, really tastes like a slice of heaven to me and once in a while it's a treat...right?

The Britannia Arms staff were wonderful, their food only surpassed by their service and hospitality. I'll be a regular there for sure.
After we'd eaten I signed books.
I'm pretty overwhelmed by the response to the book so far. My heart is full to the brim with gratitude and relief!
I still can't quite believe that I've done it - that my book is published and I'm an author, but for now I'll keep pinching myself and leave you with  the video!

All the photos and video on this blog post were taken by Paul Kavanagh. Thanks for everything Paul.

The music on the video is by Caolas.

Byddi Lee

Friday, October 3, 2014

Lost in the shuffel!

I lost my list of favorite blogs when I reshuffled this page to advertise the launch of March to November.

If you'll like to be reinstated... or added to the list leave me a comment.

In the meantime, I'll try to find my lost links...

Byddi Lee

Friday, September 26, 2014

The writing of March to November

My Mum has read it. She keeps saying things to me like, "I can't believe you did ..... in the book." (Note no spoilers!) And I keep stressing to her that it's not me! They are fictitious characters, Mum.

March to November is not biographical. None of the characters are based on anyone person.

March to November is however a kind of mosaic - a mosaic of events and themes and personalities that many of us ordinary people can relate to.

One of my life-long friends often says, "The world of full of the broken-hearted." This book is for those of us who have had our hearts broken. It's for those of us who have had a friend or family member who did something to let us down, but we chose to love them anyways. It's for those of us who feel like square pegs struggling to fit into the world we have to live in. It's for those of us trying to forge ahead despite the echoes of our past. It's for those of us who struggle with having our life plan turned on it's head. It's for those of us who choose forgiveness over grief.

Even though March to November is set in Belfast, I purposefully avoided the writing a book about oppression, bombs and barricades, but read deeper and you'll see the same message I would have written into any book about the Troubles - the power of forgiveness. Because forgiveness like love is a decision we all have to make, all the time, on many different levels of life. Forgiveness is hard, really hard, but really freeing too. We can do it if we try.

And finally, March to November is my way of saying, "Thank-you" to the heart-breakers in my own life, for making me better than I was before, for me giving the opportunity to enrich my soul and teaching me I could learn to love again - better.

I believe we are all a little bit of each character in March to November. 

To find out more about the book, the characters and it's setting, check out my author website -

Available in paper back on Amazon, and as an ebook on Kindle and Nook. For more outlets see the author website.