Brida Anderson

Urban Fantasy

Tag: Three Days of Christmas

DIY Fey Christmas Presents for the Adventurous Gourmet

Hey, how are you holding up in the mad rush of the pre-Christmas days?

We are flying out of Doha on Friday but the suitcases aren’t packed yet. Too much ginger bread house making events (every child has their own event at school because their age gap is so big), last Jiu Jitsu training before the Xmas break, Christmas concert for our young piano player …

While looking at last minute gifts, I just came across a product from a Dawanda-Shop that I thought you guys might like. The shop’s name is Erbstuecke which means “heirloom pieces” in German.

They sell a set with 6 vials with a dry dip base and 6 vials of olive oil. Each vial contains only 10 g (dip) or 20 ml (oil), so if you made your own,  you’d have a enough for several gifts from one mammoth fruit-veggie drying session.

erbstuecke_dip_set

Dips sold by Erbstuecke at Dawanda. Click on photo for link.

How do these dips work?

The Italian way to sample some nice fresh bread is: pour a very good olive oil into a small bowl or plate. Drop a few drops of a mild, good Aceto Balsamico vinegar into that, add a few sprinkles of ground sea salt (or another salt of your choice), stir with a piece of bread and enjoy.

For dried dips like this, you need olive oil as a base.

You can either dip bread in olive oil and then dunk it into the dip (which works but isn’t very pretty), or you dip the bread, then scatter a tiny bit of the dip powder over the bread. We use this kind of stuff the way Dukkah powder is used in the Middle East: you add a little bit of the powder to a bit of olive oil, stir it in well and then let it sit for a bit before you scoop it up with bread or use a teaspoon to transfer it to your bread.

What’s in a dip?

Erbstücke, the Dawanda Shop, combined some interesting stuff for their dips.

They say that their dips are made from dried and ground fruit and vegetables with NO ADDED ANYTHING. (Some of the dips have sugar and salt.)

I imagine if elves do the bread-and-dip thing, they’ll use exotic mixes like these for the dip. :-)

The 6 tastes at Erbstuecke are:

  • Carrot-Pineapple: carrot, pineapple, coconut, ginger, salt
  • Red beet-Pear: red beet, pear, orange peel, vanilla, salt
  • Red bell pepper-Mango: red bell pepper, mango, almonds, oregano, chili powder, sugar, salt
  • Pomegranate: pomegranate seeds, lemon peel, cardamom, cumin, cinnemon, cane sugar, pepper
  • Spinach-Ginger: spinach, garlic, ginger, vanilla, salt, pepper
  • Eggplant-Sesame: eggplant, white sesame seeds, black sesame seeds, salt, garlic

Since Dawanda is Germany’s answer to Etsy, Erbstuecke might not ship abroad, but if you have a dehydrator — or some time, patience and an oven– you can make these as Christmas presents at home.

All you need is dehydrator/oven, good quality fruit and veggies, and some nice containers with a stopper, like vials. We have also used the small jam glasses you get in hotels to the same effect. Sometimes you can buy a tray with 10 or 12 of the small glasses at the supermarket. Keep them when the jam is gone – they make lovely packaging for edible Christmas presents.

Dry the fruit/veggies in a dehydrator according to your machine’s settings. If fruit is very wet, use silicone inlays or baking paper that you poke holes into for circulation.

In the oven, heat it up to 330 degrees F / 170 degrees C, leave the door a bit open and stir fruit/veggies every 30 minutes. The slower you dry, the better the taste, but unless you have a dehydrator, you might go for higher temperature and be done in 6 to 8 hours.

Let the finished dried fruit / veggies rest for a day, then grind them in a food processor. Then play around, mixing and matching. :-)

I hope you enjoy — concoct something that would make Harcos, the elf, proud. ;-)

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If you’re wondering who Harcos is: He plays a big part in my 2012 Christmas novel “Three Days of Christmas”. At the moment, I took it down from Amazon because I’ve been trying to make it permafree, without success. You can find it on Smashwords and iBooks.

The spam trolls eat this blog for breakfast if I leave comments open, so I close them. But I’d love to hear what you think, so talk to me on Facebook or on Twitter instead.

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brida_anderson_photo_babs_huber_thumb Brida Anderson writes Urban Fantasy and Steampunk. Poison Patch just came out, Book 2 of the Astoria Files series. You can find Brida at www.brida-anderson.com, Facebook, and Twitter. She and her family currently live in the Middle East with the newest addition to their household, a kobold who still pretends she’s a cat.

Faerie’s Warriors of Faeruna

istock_000011375808“I want to know why they keep calling you the Judge. And a Warrior of Faeruna. Oh, and about that whole Silvermeadow thing. That’s a place in Faerie, right?”

“You hardly stop once you get going with questions …” Mattis chuckled, but his expression was serious. Would he try to brush me off again?

Apparently yes, as he didn’t say anything.

“Don’t you see how stupid I feel, running around with you and everybody goes ‘aha, Pix here, haha’ and ‘oh, the Judge? I’m going to piss my pants’, and I have no clue what they’re talking about?”

Mattis sighed. “Yeah, you’re right.” He looked into the distance.

“So?”

“So, the long and short of it is …” Mattis took a deep breath as if diving into a murky pond. He looked about as thrilled, too. “I did something that displeased the Queen. Since I am a Warrior of Faeruna, she couldn’t sentence me to death. The warriors are a precious commodity. So instead she gave me … a new job, as you’d call it. She made me Judge of Silvermeadow. It’s the only place in Faerie comparable to one of your cities. It isn’t allied to one of the Courts. Absolute freedom — and absolute chaos.”

“And the Judge upholds the peace?”

Mattis grinned. A vicious glitter had crept into his eyes. “The Judge’s ruling is indisputable. So every fae with a shady agenda has one goal once a new Judge is appointed: to kill him as quickly as possible. Because when he is dead, it might be a few decades before the next Judge is appointed.”

I gulped. “So what’s the average life expectancy of a Judge of that city?” It might not be so bad — we were talking about immortal fae, after all.

“One year. The Queen sent me to Silvermeadow to die.”

(from “Hedge Games“, Chapter 26)

One day, Mattis – oh, sorry: Mattis, Lightdefender, son of Dagani and Tyla, Judge of Silvermeadow, a Warrior of Faeruna – just stepped into my head.

While I wrote the story he and Alanna told me (which eventually turned into “Hedge Games“), I kept nibbling on that job description Mattis had so casually thrown out there. “A Warrior of Faeruna”. What the heck were they? Apparently precious enough that even if they pissed off an elven queen they were only banished … And who’s that Faeruna chick anyway? A goddess, perhaps?

Some months later, I was writing a fantasy short story together with a friend. And up popped another Warrior of Faeruna – Harcos Sunblade. (Harcos is Hungarian for knight.) Where Mattis lives in our times, an elf faced with urban cityscapes, Harcos lives in a medieval fantasy setting. When we first meet both men/elves, there is something sad and dark at the core of both characters, connected to their “job” as Warriors of Faeruna.

These warriors are chosen (nobody knows yet how, some say by the Goddess Faeruna) while they’re still in the womb. As children, their parents have to give them up, to be raised together, trained to be the fighting machines they are.

Each warrior has at least one special talent, often more than one. Harcos is a shapechanger (man and hound of the Wild Hunt), Mattis can switch between what he calls “dark form” and “light form”. What that is exactly, you can find out in autumn in the sequel to “Hedge Games“. ;-)

When a Warrior of Faeruna is fully trained, one of the Courts of Faerie claims him or her. They are that Court’s last line of defense. Originally, a Warrior served the Court he was born into — since the Goddess Faeruna obviously chose that court for him. Over time, this custom was changed and Courts exchanged their warrior for contracts with other courts. Since the Warrior belongs to the Queen of a Court she can deploy him wherever and however she sees fit.

As Harcos finds out when he protects his friends: disobey the Queen, and your life’s forfeit in Faerie.  The short-story “Three Days of Christmas” finds Harcos after he fell in disgrace and the Queen sent the Wild Hunt after him. Because for a Queen, a rogue Warrior of Faeruna is the ultimate threat, even more so than the fear of a vrall-invasion.

Giving you a fae-short story for free

Guys, a little update from Doha:

I’ve wanted to give you my short-story “Three Days of Christmas” for free ever since I wrote it. But Amazon changed to the minimum-price shortly before I first uploaded it there, so I stayed with that and set it to 0 Dollars whenever Amazon allows me to.

Recently, I came across a way to set it permafree in the Indie-Author-Survivalguide. Yay!

Have been battling all of this morning to do this. The eBook platform Neobooks was recommended to me for extended distribution and I signed up, uploaded all my stuff for “Three Days of Christmas”  and “Hedge Games“. Only to realize (duh!) that they don’t distribute to the English-speaking branches of known ebook retailers. So I signed up with Smashwords and put “Three Days of Christmas” and “Hedge Games” on there. So far, it hasn’t worked. Just minor tweakings are needed, but the parents among you know how long “a few little things” take if you’re working AND taking care of children. And a new cat!! :-D

Yep. She just arrived out of the blue to this household of dog-lovers. (We had to leave our dog in Germany because he was so sick with cancer and he died 2 weeks ago, very hard to bear. :-/)

My son and I found an almost skeletal kitten right outside 3 days ago. I knew the kitten didn’t at all fit in our plans for the summer or for living in Doha, plus we were still grieving for our dog. But what’s the alternative? I couldn’t walk away and leave her to die.

So, new kitten in the house, 4 or 6 weeks old … Gives new meaning to the joke on the internet: “I’m not easily distrac – oh, look, is that a kitten?” ;-)

She’s quickly adjusting to life with an author, though:

cat puzzled between keyboard mouse and ipod

Cat Puzzle (look at that perfectly fitting ear!)

We’re currently looking for someone in Doha (Qatar) to take good care of her while we fly back to Germany for 3 weeks. At the moment, that takes precedence over writing or tweaking files for Smashwords. ;-)

Until I resolve the file-tweaking with Smashwords, “Hedge Games” isn’t available as ePub on Kobo. On the up-side: Through Smashwords, it’ll be available and many more book platforms than I could manage on my own.

While you wait, you can entertain yourself with some eyecandy ;-) – Mattis’s very own Pinterest board. Or the nice photo a friend suggested for the new cover of “Three Days of Christmas”, tweaked to look medieval, of course ;-)

Mattis board on Pinterest

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