Christine has a recipe to share with us, but first...
Three Random Questions for Christine MerrillWith two teenage sons and a husband at home, is it hard for you to find recipes that everyone will like? Or are the men in your house more of the "eat whatever's in front of them" variety?
The town boys have grown and flown the coop. As of this year, I we are officially empty nesters, which is weird. They are in college forty five minutes away, so we see them often.
But while they were here, they would eat almost anything put in front of them. The younger son had a difficult childhood, where he would only eat white things. And he still loves potatoes, rice, and cheese. But I taught him to cook as soon as he was old enough to see over the counter, and we watched a lot of Food Network and Cooking Channel. Alton Brown is great for boys, since he gets into the science of cooking.
And when puberty hit, Giada De Laurentiis and her low cut tops made both sons into foodies.
Generally, all three men of the family have been taught that the first one to complain is going to get stuck cooking. When I go wrong, like the time I made a Christmas goose that looked (and probably tasted) like a burned pterodactyl, everyone suffers in silence. Because, although they have kitchen skills, they are lazy.
St. Patrick's Day is coming up. Any Irish in you? Does your family celebrate St. Patrick's Day by doing anything special?
Not a drop. My relatives are a mix of Polish and German and maiden name is long and unpronounceable. But St Patrick’s Day is my mother’s birthday, and we used to spend it listening to her complain that there was nothing in the restaurants to eat but corned beef and cabbage.
I didn’t discover the corned beef brisket until after I was married. It’s delicious. And since you don’t have to do anything but add vegetables and boil it, it’s my kind of recipe. I make one every year for St Patrick’s Day, while listening to the Drop Kick Murphys.
Your latest book, LADY FOLBROKE'S DELICIOUS DECEPTION, is book 1 of the "Ladies in Disgrace" series of Regency romances. I can't tell you how much I love that series name. Ladies in Disgrace. It makes me feel all quivery with glee. How did you come up with the idea, and in what way is each of your three heroines disgraced?
I have to thank my editor for the trilogy name. She came up with it, and the book titles, since I didn’t realize I was writing a trilogy until after I had finished.
I am not much for long term planning. But things seem to work out in the end. I went from story to story, and they all connected.
In the first book, LADY FOLBROKE'S DELICIOUS DECEPTION, Emily’s husband. Adrian, has gone blind and doesn’t want anyone to know. So he’s abandoned her and is drinking himself to death in London. She tracks him down and has a torrid affair with him, even though he doesn’t recognize her.
The second book is LADY DRUSILLA’S ROAD TO RUIN. Dru is taking the mail coach to Scotland to stop her sister’s elopement. She’s traveling without a chaperone, and ends up hiring John, a character from the first book, who is heartbroken that Emily went back to her husband. They spend a lot of time alone, and of course, one thing leads to another...
The third book is LADY PRISCILLA’S SHAMEFUL SECRET, and is about Dru’s sister, who has ruined herself by eloping with a dancing master. Robert falls for Priss and courts her despite her reputation and the fact that she wants nothing to do with men, ever again.
Recipe: Christine Merrill's PosoleHi, everybody! And, thanks for having me, Susan.
My first response, on hearing that I could guest on a food blog was to laugh, since people rarely come to my house for the cooking. I tend to prefer my recipes filling, spicy and with minimal preparation and will double and triple the recipe to avoid cooking again the next day. My crock pot is my best friend. But I will throw her over in a heartbeat if anyone suggests we eat out.
But for you, I will cook. And it will not be a St Patrick’s Day corned beef. “Throw a brisket in a pot with water and vegetables” is kind of short for a blog entry.
Instead, let me tell you about Posole.
I am from Wisconsin, and had lived 50 years in ignorance of this wonderfully easy stew. Probably because there is no cheese in it. My ancestors were German and Polish, and judging by the family recipes, they came from a region that invented cream of mushroom soup. My mother viewed all ethnic food with suspicion. If a food had to be seasoned, she encouraged me to use paprika because it ‘had no flavor’.
But last year I was looking for some sort of food appropriate to celebrate Halloween that wasn’t chocolate. Google lead me to Day of the Dead which led me to Mexican food, and a delicious stew that seems to have even more versions than its name has variant spellings (pozolé, pozolli, posole). This is my recipe, if you can call a loose collection of inaccurately measured ingredients a recipe.
All ingredients can be adjusted, for personal taste and availability. But you must have meat, hominy and green chilies.
Two pounds of meat.
Chicken or Pork. For the picture, I used pork, since recipes involving chicken all seemed to have the word “shred.” This was an extra step I was unwilling to take, even with a camera present. I got pork stew meat, already cut up.
One or two onions, chopped.
Garlic: approximately 4 cloves.
Salt, pepper and about 2 tsp of oregano and ½ tsp of cayenne pepper.
Put a little oil in the bottom of a Dutch oven or large kettle, and throw everything in to sauté. When the meat has browned, add:
Diced canned green chilies.
One large can of hominy (aka white corn).
My proportion on this is usually one small can of chilies for every box of chicken broth, but an extra can of chilies wouldn’t hurt.
Add a bay leaf and ¼ cup of chopped cilantro.
People who hate cilantro are now complaining that I am trying to poison their food. They can add come coriander instead. Or maybe some cumin. Or all of the above. You can put some tomatoes in there, I suppose, if you like tomatoes (I don’t). Or use canned enchilada sauce to replace the chilies. Unlike my mother, I like spices, and am wide open to experimentation in the kitchen.
Leave it simmer, until you are tired of simmering it. An hour or so. Or dump it all in a crock pot and leave it all day. Either way will work.
Serve it in a bowl, garnished with chopped things to throw into it:
Lettuce or cabbage
And starchy things to sop up the juice:
Fried tortilla strips
Choose any or all of the above. At the end of the night throw the left over garnishes into the pot and stir it all together. It will taste just as good (or better) tomorrow.