Food For Love Guest Author C.L. Hart and how to turn less into more13 Jul 2022
Today's guest writer is C.L. Hart. Come and learn a little about her, discover how she makes tasty food with limited resources, and why she writes Fantasy Romance. There’s also an excerpt from her short story, Nyarlathotep’s Journey.
C.L. Hart: writer of Fantasy Romance/Lovecraftian Fiction
Food: How to Make More out of Less
by author C.L. Hart
I am not a great chef by any stretch of the imagination. My son and I live on my disability payment. I do not have access to top-of-the-line ingredients. We get most of our food from the little food bank in our town, plus I make a monthly run to a local butcher who only gets his meat from small farms with ethical practices.
As I have to stay under $100 per month for my meat budget, I buy cheap cuts. Ground beef, round steak, stew meat, a couple of pork chops. This probably sounds like hell for people who are used to working with high-end ingredients. My secret to making cheap ingredients more palatable is spice. One doesn't actually need an entire cabinet filled with exotic spices. The spices I use most are salt, pepper, and dehydrated garlic for savory foods and vanilla extract for sweet foods.
Growing up in the American Southwest, I developed a taste for green chili early on. Southwestern cuisine tends to be very forgiving. My other secret weapon is my Instant Pot. However, the setting I use most is not the pressure cooker setting, it's the slow cooker setting. I retired my crock-pot because the Instant Pot cooks the food more evenly and it stays cool on the outside.
To make a tasty stew, I take a half-pound of stew meat and whatever canned vegetables I may have on hand. Corn, potatoes, and beans are frequent additions. I also like to keep canned tomatoes and green chilies (also known as Ro-Tel, although there are off brands) handy. The acid in the tomatoes breaks down the tough stew meat, making it tender.
Once the meat and vegetables are in the pot, I stir in a tablespoon of chili powder, a teaspoon of cumin, and a hardy sprinkle of salt, pepper, and dehydrated garlic. I don't measure the last three ingredients. You can play around with them to suit your taste. If you want the stew to be vegetarian, just leave out the meat.
If you're lucky enough to have fresh vegetables handy, either steam them and stir them into the pot at the end of the cooking process or add them during the last half hour. Vegetables such as frozen broccoli or green beans should be added during the last hour as well to avoid turning them mushy. If you use fresh rather than canned corn, add it during the last hour to avoid turning it rubbery.
I've learned by trial and error. For many years I worked 60-hour weeks, then I worked sporadic hours. I didn't cook, I brought home takeout and relied on frozen meals. After becoming disabled, it was necessary for me to learn to cook. I'll never be a great chef, but as long as what I prepare is edible and reasonably tasty, I consider it a win.
My main cookie recipe is one that many people probably already know, but it contains only three ingredients.
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
In a large bowl, beat softened butter and granulated sugar with a spoon until well mixed. Stir in flour until moistened, using your hands to mix if needed (dough will be crumbly). Knead 5 to 10 times or until the dough is smooth.
Divide the dough in half; shape each half into a log, 5 inches long by 2 inches in diameter. Wrap the dough logs tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about 1 hour 30 minutes or until firm.
Heat oven to 350°F. Unwrap 1 of the dough logs; cut into 1/2-inch slices. On an ungreased cookie sheet, place slices 2 inches apart, reshaping if necessary. Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until edges are set. Cool 2 minutes; remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack.
The cookies can also be sprinkled with a little colorful sugar before baking.
Nyarlathotep’s Journey: Fantasy Romance, Lovecraftian Fiction
by C.L. Hart
I am happy living in a remote rural town of 134 people on the plains of northeastern Colorado cooking meals from ingredients procured at the monthly food bank. Why do I write what I write? My late father was a professor of literature and the humanities. He taught me to read by the time I was four years old.
At six, I was reading Edgar Allan Poe and horror comics with a flashlight under the covers. I also discovered the writings of H.P. Lovecraft in my early teens. I found Nyarlathotep to be the most nuanced and intelligent of Lovecraft’s creations. He is a shapeshifter who, as I noted in the poem Sympathy for Nyarlathotep, is not a person although he could appear to be one.
I have been incorporating Nyarlathotep into my own work for many years. I feel that Nyarlathotep’s Journey is a worthy tribute to both Nyarlathotep and to Lovecraft’s poetry, which tends not to receive as much acknowledgment as his stories.
EXCERPT from Nyarlathotep’s Journey
Azathoth, the embodiment of primordial chaos, tended to spawn chaos. Because it required a way to bring balance to the chaotic forces it spawned, it created Nyarlathotep.
Nyarlathotep sprang from the writhing mass of Azathoth fully mature. Unlike his siblings, he possessed the power of reason and quickly learned that an attitude of benevolent leadership was the most effective approach. Nyarlathotep could assume any form, and he used this ability to his advantage.
Once the worlds he had helped form and populate were autonomous, Nyarlathotep moved on. As he traveled, he contemplated his nature. That he was necessary delighted him without making him prideful. That he was different from his progenitor and siblings was evident, and he desired to understand this difference.
“Azathoth is a powerful energy that forms other powerful energies,” Nyarlathotep speculated. “The needs of Azathoth are creation and domination. Like Azathoth, my siblings are powerful beings wielding powerful energies. I possess attributes that they do not. I am adaptable, orderly, and reasonable. I am powerful yet peaceful. I love the worlds that I assist and the creatures that dwell therein. Yet despite my satisfaction with my accomplishments, I feel an emptiness within. I am lonely. I wish I might find someone who would understand me.”
Nyarlathotep wandered through the cosmos for many millennia, observing countless worlds and wondering how it would feel to have someone understand him. One day he walked into a black hole that took him down countless long, dark paths through multiple dimensions until he emerged in a garden filled with climbing vines and glorious white flowers.
Nyarlathotep paused to smell and touch the flowers. The air was warm, and he heard melodic tones blending to create a soothing song. The phosphorescent suns were low on the horizon, and he looked forward to meeting the creatures that thrived in darkness.
“I know not why, but in this strange world, I feel a peace I have not previously known,” Nyarlathotep realized. “I will stay a while and offer my assistance to whoever may need it.”
A beautiful, sloe-eyed woman with hair the color of the darkest starless night approached. Her full, red lips curved in a gentle smile. Her fingertips softly touched the back of Nyarlathotep’s hand. Although she had not spoken a word, Nyarlathotep realized by the awareness and compassion in her sad eyes that she understood what he was. Tears flowed from his eyes, black as time and space itself, and he took her hands in his.
This story reveals the origins of the ancient cosmic sorceress Yadira Root, daughter of the Outer God Nyarlathotep, and Queen Nathicana of the doomed world of Zaïs. It provides a unique interpretation of Nyarlathotep, the most nuanced and intelligent of H.P. Lovecraft's Outer Gods.
Length: 3000 words
Free to read with Kindle Unlimited
Purchase for 99 cents from Kindle https://bit.ly/NyJourneyAZ
Purchase the PDF for 15 LBC (approximately 45 cents) from Odysee https://bit.ly/NyJourneyOd
Purchase the PDF for 45 cents (plus tip if you wish to help offset Payhip & Paypal fees) https://bit.ly/NyJourneyPH
Purchase from other sources (Apple, B&N, Kobo, etc.) for 99 cents. https://bit.ly/NJB2R
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
C.L. Hart is a 57-year-old disabled former nurse living in a remote town on the plains of Northeastern Colorado with her adult son and three cats. When not writing gloomy Lovecraftian fantasy or doomy dystopian fiction with the occasional sweet romance thrown in to shake things up, Ms. Hart enjoys baking (results may vary) and drawing (admissibly badly.)
Here's where you can find C.L. Hart
Naughty Netherworld Press Official https://bit.ly/NaughtyNetherworldPress
Poetry of the Netherworld https://bit.ly/POTNOfficial
Readers Roost https://bit.ly/ReadersRoost
Naughty Netherworld Press and Readers Roost Twitter https://twitter.com/ReadersRoost
Naughty Netherworld Newsletter https://bit.ly/NaughtyNetherworldNews
Books 2 Read http://books2read.com/clhart