Saturday, October 13, 2012

Peanut Butter and Guava Jelly Bread Pudding

My culinary experiment this night was to dig up some nostalgic flavors and combine it with one of my favorite desserts to make and innovate: bread pudding. Here are the ingredients you’ll need:

·         About 2 cups of a nice, crusty bread cut into small cubes, a little larger than crouton size (we get loaves of French bread daily down here)
·         1 cup of milk
·         2 heaping table spoons of peanut butter (acts as a binder, so you won’t need eggs)
·         2 table spoons of guava jelly (homemade by my grandmother)
·         1 level table spoon of sugar
·         1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon (or another sweet spice preference)
·         1/4 teaspoon of black pepper (excellently heightens sweet flavors)
·         Pinch of salt (tiny pinch to balance sweetness)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Keep your bread cubes in a bowl that’s big enough to mix everything. A lot of folks make their bread pudding recipes with crumbier, older bread, but I hate the texture and consistency of the finished product in the end. Scoop in your peanut butter and guava jelly along with your dry ingredients. Add your milk slowly, mixing it in all the while. Use a regular table spoon to mix, and do it gently. You don’t want to lose too much of that nice cube structure of the bread or for it to become too soggy. A cup of milk may be too much in the end, so stop once it looks just mushy enough. The mixture should be soaked in milk, but not swimming in it.

Your ramekins should not be greased, but a very light application of cooking spray may be beneficial. Scoop your mush into the ramekins. The mixture won’t really rise so scoop it in right to the top. Depending on the size, you should be able to fill 2 or 3 ramekins with this recipe. Place your ramekins directly on the oven rack (a baking sheet may leave you with scorched bottoms for your bread pudding. Make sure they are stable on the rack and won’t fall over.

Bake in your preheated oven for 15-20 minutes. The tops should be a nice golden brown and have some slight charring on the edges when they are done. If you like them hot (which I recommend) let them cool for just a few minutes so that they are not scorching. One minute in front of a small fan should be perfect. Otherwise, refrigerate them for a few hours and serve cold (which is also very good for a late dessert).

Guava jelly may be hard for some of you to get your hands on. I recommend any other jelly with a more tangy or sour flavor to avoid the desert being overly sweet. Pineapple, passion fruit, orange, or quince jellies and jams make excellent substitutes. Some other interesting variations for this recipe are the “Elvis Bread Pudding” where you substitute sliced bananas for the jelly. The “Peanut Butter Cup Bread Pudding” is also excellent where you substitute some chopped dark chocolate (dark chocolate for a richer and more evident flavor, and it’s healthier) in place of the jelly. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Next Big Thing

I’ve been tagged by Erica Wagner to talk about the novel I have in progress in her Next Big Thing blog post. The Next Big Thing is where a writer answers ten questions about a novel he or she is working on, and then tags other authors to answer the same questions.

1. What is the title of your Work in Progress?

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
I’m a member of an online fantasy writers group. Some years back, the site held a writing challenge to write a flash fiction piece. I wrote a very short story about a boy who was transported to a pre-Colombian Caribbean island where he falls in love with a girl there and lives an entire lifetime with her among the people of the village. The story was originally rooted in a past-life regression session I had done and I was spiritually motivated to see it all the way through. I ended up writing an entire screenplay for the story, but screenplays are hard to sell for first time writers, let alone get representation. I then decided to write the story as a book. The draft is at novella length at approximately 25,000 words.

3. What genre does your book fall under?
I’d call it romantic fantasy since the love between the main person, Bori, and his wife, Cayuyé, is the primary story of the book.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I do like movies, but I don’t like actors. I had considered this when I write the screenplay and planned on casting local Virgin Islanders in the roles, maybe even some family members. If I had to pick actors, then I’d pick somebody like Rosario Dawson for Cayuyé. For Bori, I’m thinking somebody like Mark Indelicato (you might know him as the fashion forward younger brother from Ugly Betty).

5. What is a one-sentence synopsis of the book?
Tomas is a nobody fisher boy in his present life until he wakes up as Bori in a Caribbean, tribal village where he experiences spiritual growth as the shaman, loss of his family and friends all around him, and an epic romance that spans across lifetimes with his wife, Cayuyé.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Hoping to start out with a small publishing house and/or agency representation.
7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
About two and a half weeks. When it comes to writing drafts about something I am really passionate about, I crank them out really fast. The revision process, though, will probably take a year or so.

8. What other books would you compare this story to in your genre?
I’ve never really read anything like this one, although, after I wrote the flash piece and most of the screenplay, I did notice some striking similarities with an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation that I had never seen before at the time called “The Inner Light”. I have no qualms with my writing being compared to Star Trek, and I think my story is distinct enough to overcome the similarities.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I had learned about a Camp Nanowrimo project that goes on in the summer, and considering that prospects for the screenplay were looking pretty slim, I asked some friends online who had read the screenplay what they thought of turning it into a book, and they jumped on the idea. I then did it for my Nanowrimo project, even though it is far below the word count goal.

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
It’s an uncommon and interesting setting that has gotten some good reviews from folks who have read some of it. The simplicity of the lifestyle, and the personal development Bori has to go through appeal to many readers, I think. I’d like to think that the book will take a lot of people away to a world they may have a fledgling idea of what it’s about, but not what it’s like to immerse themselves in such a dynamic culture. Also, I think the ending will leave folks feeling really uplifted and probably with a few tears. I sure cried a lot writing this one.

Include the link of who tagged you and this explanation for the people you have tagged.

Erica Wagner tagged me:

I tagged Daniel Ausema:

Monday, October 8, 2012

Three Novellas

Figures a Santo-Rican guy is writing novellas, but I don’t quite mean Spanish soap operas. I have three short novels written out of approximately thirty thousand words each. 

The first is an urban fantasy called Glass City. It’s set in a pseudo real world city on an island off the East Coast. The city glitters like a diamond, but it has a dark secret. Races of dark creatures, collectively known as mongrels, roam the streets at night among the human populace. June is returning to her prodigal home to attend the university, but her childhood sweetheart has plans to make her into a vampire. David is a nerdy freshman at the university who falls prey to some vicious women who make him into a homunculus. Maya, one of the hotties who seduced and transformed David, is a reluctant member of a coven of shadowy warlocks and must decide how she will deal with such an evil alliance. Carlos is a bouncer at a local club who catches the eye of the werewolf matriarch and is transformed to join her pack. Their stories intertwine as they fight each other, find ways to work together, and maybe even figure out how to get out of this godforsaken city once and for all. Glass City is currently complete and fully revised and is in the works to be queried with potential publishers.

Glass City 2: Breath and Skin is the second installment in the series. It follows the stories of David, the homunculus, and Maya, the warlock who made him what he is. They narrowly escape Glass City only to find new enemies on their trail and a potential helping hand in New York City. Can they get over the twisted circumstances that brought them together and will the new romance budding between them survive? This book is a complete draft and is currently being revised and edited.

Cayuyé is an epic romance across eras. Tomas is a nobody in his present-day life. While out on a fishing trip, his boat capsizes and he wakes up in a Caribbean, tribal village where a young woman claims he is her husband, Bori. Unable to escape his new home, Tomas accepts his new identity and the simple joys his life on the island brings. He ends up living an entire lifetime discovering the spiritual side of his people, coping with loss and family conflict at every turn, and learning the mystery about the love of his life, Cayuyé. This book is a complete draft and is currently being revised and edited.

Those are my three big writing projects. Wish me luck.