It Takes Skill to Kill a Cabbage

It Takes Skill to Kill a Cabbage

It really does take skill to kill a perfectly grown cabbage, but I apparently have that skill down pat.  But let me ease you into the horror…

Here’s a photo of my beautiful ruby cabbage, just after being picked.

The garden haul on June 8th. Ruby red cabbage, squash, potatoes, and bell peppers. Yum! (Tomatoes in the background are from the 7th of June)

The garden haul on June 8th. Ruby red cabbage, squash, potatoes, and bell peppers. Yum! (Tomatoes in the background are from the 7th of June)

It was a great day to harvest in the garden. I decided that the cabbage was looking a bit “done” with growing, so decided that Sunday was The Day.  I didn’t have a clue as to what to do with it, but I didn’t want the bugs or whatnots getting to it before I could, so I decided to deal with how to fix it later.

When I picked said cabbage, I found the plant marker that came with it when we bought it, and on the back side was a delicious recipe for sweet and sour ruby red cabbage. Perfect! The Answer to my Prayer! How could I go wrong?

It’s An Art. Ruining Cabbage.

No, seriously. I can usually make anything taste good, but I’ve found you need to pretend  to follow the directions. Especially in regards to proportions. (Who knew?!)

Okay, so the recipe goes like this – 1 2lb red cabbage, sliced thin (about 12 cups); 1/4 c butter; 6 Tbsp sugar; 2/3 c balsamic vinegar; salt & pepper. And proceed as you would expect.

I fell in love with the patterns inside the cabbage.

I fell in love with the patterns inside the cabbage.

The problem? I had one cabbage. Not two pounds. Certainly not twelve cups. But I forged ahead anyway. Pan? Check. Melted butter? Check. Cabbage? Check. In it all went, along with the sugar.

Cabbage, simmering in butter and sugar.

Cabbage, simmering in butter and sugar.

Six tablespoons of sugar didn’t seem like a lot until I was on tablespoon four. And then suddenly, six seemed like too many. But I’d put in the requisite 1/4 cup of butter, so the six tablespoons of sugar seemed necessary. So I went ahead and did that. As well, I added the 2/3 cup of balsamic, stirred it, put it on low and covered it. Thirty minutes? Seemed like a lot of time, but okay.

By this time, the house started to smell like cabbage. With a heady balsamic scent, yes, but…unmistakably cabbage. I began to remember why I liked my cabbage in salads.

I’m not totally sure what happened after that, but I think I was on the computer. Or maybe I was reading…At any rate, the buzzer went buzz and I went to check on my masterpiece.

Um. Well…crispy. Crunchy. Kind of like molasses-covered, fried-in-butter cabbage, only not really. The juices were thick and black as tar. The cabbage was either burned, crispy, or raw. (Not sure how that happened.) I served it at the dinner table, because I wanted the boys to understand that even Mom has a bad day cooking but you should try everything once.

We tried it. I tossed it. A novelty dish that threatened the health of your teeth AND tasted of cabbage? Yeah, no.

(I will say the EPA came around that night, having got wind of something unusual on their smell-o-radar coming from my house. After insisting it wasn’t my youngest son’s room with its dirty laundry, I confessed about the cabbage. They took it away to study. Better them than me!)

Here’s the sticky mess, in all it’s glory…I snapped this photo before the EPA took it away.

Carmelized cabbage. A new taste treat? Prolly!

Carmelized cabbage. A new taste treat? Prolly not…lol!

Eldest son spent most of Monday afternoon scrubbing the tar – I mean, the carmelized balsamic – out of the pan I cooked it in. He napped for almost two hours afterward, poor dear. And so the carmelized cabbage goes into the family notebook about bad dishes served with enthusiasm. My hubby still teases me about the Spam casserole, and that was 35 years ago!

So what disaster in the kitchen have you had recently, or has someone served you? Let’s laugh!

And just for fun, ANYONE who wants one can have an e-copy of either one of my books (or both!), Demon Soul or Demon Hunt, and my short short, Blood Dreams. Just let me know, leave me your email address, and I’ll send it to you!

~ Until the next time, cheers! ~


Demon Soul and Demon Hunt are available for the Kindle and Kobo! Have you fallen into the Caine Brothers’ world yet?

Looking Back – Looking Ahead

Looking Back – Looking Ahead

It’s here, finally. The end of 2012. We’re on the cusp of 2013, a bright, shiny new year not yet failing to meet our expectations. I’m looking back on my writing year, and then taking a look ahead at 2013. Come along, and see what I’ve been up to!

So in Looking Back, this year I’ve:

Turned in the manuscript for DEMON HUNT – it pubbed 7/16 of this year.

Cover for Demon Hunt

Cover for Demon Hunt, by Taria A. Reed.

Turned in the short story BLOOD DREAMS – it pubbed 6/1 of this year.

Invited to write a short-SHORT play based on The Rose, by the Brother’s Grimm; wrote it, rewrote it, rewrote it again; turned it in; it had it’s debut at the Crescent Heights High School in the Spring. Totally delighted.

Went to Desert Dreams Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona in April; got to hang with old friends, meet up with new ones, and began a relationship with the amazing Brenda Chin of Harlequin. Also met up with Beth Yarnall of OCC RWA and Debra Mullins of EVA RWA; they both asked me if I would be interested in speaking at their chapter meetings. I said yes, of course. ULP!

Worked on “A Run for the Money” and “Evie’s Song” and “Jesse on the Verge”; pitched them, sent them off ; got rejected.

Joined in with friends for a Summer Camp writing group for the month of June. We still meet – Summer Camp has changed into Boarding School. Some of the most creative, intelligent, fun, supportive, and wonderful women – I’m a lucky girl!

Started “Weightless”, a YA story set in a ballet company; wrote 50k on that. Needs a rewrite and it needs to be finished. BUT – pitched it, sent it off, got rejected. I’m okay with that. Sent it in to a contest – and got great feedback.

Got a phone call from Brenda Chin on the last Monday in July (just before RWA National Conference) – she requested a manuscript that I pitched via a piece of paper!  Woo! Sent it off. Have refrained from stalking her via phone or email. Suspect it’s not her cup of tea but will wait for the formal decision on it.

At the conference, I had several delightful, informal bump-intos with Brenda (at the booksigning, in front of Kathy Lyons‘ table, I introduced myself – she said, “I know who you are.” Squee!) (The next day, she bought me a cup of coffee! Double Squee!) Had a hard time not acting all fan-girl on her, but I managed to not totally embarrass myself. Pitched a new manuscript (that wasn’t even written – a HUGE no-no, but since she’d just requested one, I felt safe enough doing that). Needless to say, she hated it BUT – liked a turn of phrase. Gave me a plot. Said “write me that”. So – that’s what I’ve been working on, novel-wise, ever since.

In October, I joined a group called Fierce Backbone; a play development group made up of writers, actors, and directors. They’ve been reading and commenting on my first play (written in 2010/2011); if it ever gets to a staged reading, I’ll be shouting about it from the rooftops. Two people, one set. Imminently produceable.

In October, I also got to be the guest of honor at a book club. They read my book, talked about it, asked me a bunch of questions – it was fantastic and I learned a lot. Thank you Tabitha! And along with Lisa Kessler, I did a booksigning down at Starcrafts in San Diego – Teresa See and friends were lovely and gracious.

Because Fierce Backbone sparks creativity, I wrote a play for my husband for Christmas. Money being not floating from the sky, I needed to get darned creative. He loves it (whew!), and it needs rewriting – but that’s what I worked on almost exclusively from October to Christmas Eve. Dialog comes easy to me, so I’ll get more work done on it and submit to Fierce Backbone to get it into the Monday readings, and we’ll see how it goes!

In November, I gave my first-ever talk to East Valley Authors chapter of RWA. People took notes! They came up afterwards, thanked me, and asked questions! I shocked myself by actually being able to talk for an hour. But yeah, my inner actress was totally stoked.

I’m now (with the help of a couple of wonderful pairs of eagle-eyes) back at work on the Brenda Chin novel. I’ve got so much of it written – now it just needs to get cohesive. I am SO thankful that I’ll be taking a plotting course in January!

Looking Ahead:

I’m taking on the mantle of President of the Los Angeles Romance Authors. I am predicting a calm, easy year (!).

I’m speaking at Orange County Chapter of RWA on January 12th; Los Angeles Romance Authors on January 20th.

I plan on finishing the Brenda Book in January and getting it off to her. Think I should really come up with a series idea to go along with this book and pitch that, too. Then, and only then, will I bug her about the other book. Just a friendly warning, Brenda. 😉

Then I really must get to Demon’s Rage, the final book in the Demon Trilogy. I’d like to get that one turned in by the end of March, then write two or three short stories in the world and turn all those in, as well.

Then back to Weightless, my Ballet YA. I’d love to get that one done up and send it around. If no one bites, I may just dip my toes into self-publishing. I love this book and it deserves to go somewhere.

So Cal RWA conferenceMarch 15 – 17,  I’ll be at the So Cal RWA Writer’s Conference, California Dreaming. Brenda Chin will also be there (according to the conference website). Stalking seeing her will be very cool. If I don’t have that book done and turned in to her BEFORE then, I will just be a failure so there’s that! A good prod to productivity.

I’m not looking too much farther ahead than March. I have a lot to do in the next three months – besides all of the above, I have two plays to re-write.

RWA National Conference will be held in Atlanta this year. Unfortunately, I don’t know if I’ll be able to go, even though I should since I’m chapter president and all. We shall see.

So, there it is – looking back, and looking ahead. How far ahead do you plan your year? Or do you let circumstances change your schedule?

Here’s hoping 2013 is your best year yet! Be safe out there tonight – remember there will be a lot of amateur drunks on the roads. Don’t drive if you don’t have to!

~ Until next year, cheers – and remember to drink responsibly! ~

Demon Soul, Blood Dreams and Demon Hunt are all available for the Kindle! Have you fallen into the Caine Brothers’ world yet?


COVER REVEAL – The Devil’s Triangle by Toni De Palma

COVER REVEAL – The Devil’s Triangle by Toni De Palma

Please give a big welcome to Toni De Palma the author of  The Devil’s Triangle!


When 17 year old Cooper dies in an attempt to burn down his school, he finds himself in the afterlife. Lucy, the Devil’s sister who has crossed party lines, decides to give Cooper another shot at heaven. The deal? Cooper returns to Earth and has to find a girl named Grace. The rest is up to him.

While Cooper figures out his mission, he’s thrown into the life he’s always wanted. Great parents, a spot on the Varsity football team and a real future are all within reach. But what he really wants is Grace, a feisty girl with an abusive boyfriend that can pound Cooper into pulp if he doesn’t watch out.

While Lucy plays demonic-puppeteer, clues to an unknown past between Cooper and Grace start to unravel. Cooper discovers that what’s keeping he and Grace apart is far more sinister than anything this bad boy could have ever imagined.

Doesn’t that sound cool? It’s coming soon from Crescent Moon Press, so keep a watch out for it!

 ~ Until the next time, cheers – and remember to drink responsibly! ~

Demon Soul, Blood Dreams and Demon Hunt are all available for the Kindle! Have you fallen into the Caine Brothers’ world yet?


People Watching – Santa Monica, California

People Watching – Santa Monica, California

So, the hubby and I were at a restaurant last week, in Santa Monica, on a weeknight. And while it was wonderful to spend some alone time together, we had a ton ‘o fun people watching.

Not Santa Monica. This is Laguna Beach, taken by me this past February.

The couple in the booth next to us didn’t seriously come to our attention until, as we were chatting with our waiter, we hear this querulous voice.

“Waiter, is my entree ready? Because we really have to go.”

Our waiter apologized to us, appeased the woman, and disappeared. About 2 minutes later the manager appeared, bearing a steaming hot dish (which looked delish!) to the woman who complained. She complains at once – shrilly – at “all the heavy sauces” (we’re in an Asian Fusion restaurant) and since “nothing suited me, just charge us for what we ate and leave it at that”. The manager, in a calm, low-voiced manner, thanks her and goes off to prepare her check, the steaming dish still in his hand.

She tells her husband, in piercing tones we cannot avoid, “the dishes were all right, tasted good, but the sauces were just so thick.” Um, seriousWhen they get up to leave, her husband has an embarrassed air about him and she has that discontented look about her eyes and mouth that tell me nothing, ever, will be good enough for her to accept. It makes me pity her husband. They were close in age to me and hubby, but I really just wanted to smack her.

After they are well gone, our waiter comes back. Apparently that couple is the talk of the staff – she had sent back four – FOUR – kobe beef dishes. And didn’t pay for a single one. That’s beef down the drain since it hit a customer’s table. That made me want to doubly smack that woman.

And here’s a flower from my back yard, around Mother’s Day. Epithilium.

A much more humorous (and oddly sad) attraction at dinner was the couple at the bar. He was in his early 50’s; thick, curly gray hair, slightly portly but well within attractive, nice gray suit. She was blonde, tanned, young – mid-late 20’s – in a figure-hugging black strapless dress, shirred front, back and both sides.

We first noticed them because he was fondling her hand, which she had hanging from the back of the bar stool. But her hand was limp – she was not returning his affectionate caresses. For the hour or so we were there, it was an interesting interplay – his eyes would light up, he’d speak, fondle, she’d turn away pick up her drink, turn back, say something.

He was slugging back glasses of red wine. She was sipping what looked like Cosmopolitans. We couldn’t tell if they were conducting a clandestine affair, if they were co-workers, or if she were trying to sell him something (get your mind out of the gutter!).

For awhile, he stood at her side, pressing kisses to her hair, before gazing down into her eyes. He tried to kiss her mouth but she kept ducking him, once even putting her hand over his mouth. He finally did land one, and sat down in triumph. Then she started showing photos to him from her cell phone (which made me think she was selling something) because she was talking non-stop while he was drinking.

I caught a look at her when she went to the ladies’ room. Creamy skin, big tits, smallish waist, big hips all wrapped in a come-get-me package including CFM pumps in a beige that just didn’t go but whatever. The jarring note was the ever-so-slightly pissed off look in her eyes, the tight way she held her mouth.

While she was gone, he ordered new drinks for them. Then when he went to the bathroom? He took his wine with him. Um, REALLY??? People are weird.

Soon after that, she became much more affectionate, leaning her hand on his thigh, touching his face. He chugged his wine down and most of her last drink while she put on more lipstick, then they got up to go. As they walked away, her left hand was in his left hand while his right hand was firmly planted on her ample bottom. What a fascinating peek into other people’s lives…the stories I could make up!

And about our waiter? He’s a new stunt guy in town trying to break into showbiz. We are now Facebook friends, and will help him as much as we can with our limited stunt people knowledge, lol.

We left the restaurant thoroughly entertained and very happy to be together. When was the last time you did some people watching?


Demon Soul, Blood Dreams and Demon Hunt are all available for the Kindle! Have you fallen into the Caine Brothers’ world yet?

Cameron Hughes Wines

Cameron Hughes Wines

In these days of high unemployment and global financial crisis, it’s nice to relax with a bottle of wine that doesn’t break your pocketbook. I’m here to sort out the memorable from the truly awful, and each bottle is either under $10 or close to it.

As we’re always looking for a bargain, when hubby stumbled on a Cameron Hughes wine in the 50% off bin at Vons, he promptly picked it up. Then a day later, there was a spread on Cameron Hughes wines at Costco, with a spokesperson there hawking the wines. He said basically that Hughes gets “first pick” of grapes from many different growers across the world, and then makes his wines based on the grapes he buys. So he doesn’t actually grow his own grapes (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

One of the issues, however, is that he doesn’t produce in quantity in any one year. So the wine at Costco was running low – and Costco likes volume. So Costco was selling the wines at a discount.

Below is my take on two of the wines of Cameron Hughes.

Cameron Hughes Evergreen Series 2006 Chardonnay Carneros Alcohol 14.5% by Volume; $4.50 at half price sale from Vons.

On The Label: “Cameron Hughes Wine is a trading company sourcing ultra premium wines from wineries and growers around the globe. Our Evergreen Series represents year-round availability and demonstrates our commitment to environmental sustainability.

“Our Carneros Chardonnay is sourced from the finest growers and winery partners. Because they produce wines for much more expensive projects they must remain anonymous. A rich multifaceted Chardonnay featuring bright layers of pear, apricot and honeysuckle flabors. Hints of toasted hazelnut and holiday spice complete this elegant wine.

“Through our partnership with, we purchase carbon offsets to ensure our Evergreen Series has zero net carbon impact on our environment. For more information visit”

My Take: I find the label high in the snob factor (“Our Carneros Chardonnay is sourced from the finest growers and winery partners. Because they produce wines for much more expensive projects they must remain anonymous.), plus the lack of commas is appalling. I guess they didn’t think to have anyone look at the label from a grammar standpoint. I guess you could say I’m a label snob; the less on the label, the more I like it. This label gets a huge D- from me.

That said, six years is about the limit you want to take a Chardonnay, especially one under $10 not on sale. This was just on the line of a respectable Chardonnay. I am not sure, though, if I’d waited even a week, that the wine would have been any good.  It was an acceptable accompaniment to the panko-fried fish we had for dinner.

However, I was very surprised at the high alcohol content of this wine. I prefer my whites in the 13% range, and did find this wine a bit astringent.

My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~  Though I suggest finding a 2009 Chardonnay, and avoiding the 2006 at this point. The good reviews I found were from 2008.

Cameron Hughes Lot 234 2009 Meritage Atlas Peak, Napa Valley Alcohol 14.2% by Volume; $11.99 at Costco.

On The Label: “Cameron Hughes is an international negociant, sourcing and producing small lots of high quality wine from the world’s best regions. Cameron offers a diverse range of wines uniquely represented by the Lot number on this label.

“Lot 234 is rich with wild berries, violet and herbacious flavors. Exotic fruit and savory notes compete for attention. True Atlas Peak. Outstanding.”

My Take: Regarding the label, the snob factor is still there. Plus I’m irritated that they didn’t list the types of grapes melded in this “meritage”. Just because they say it’s one doesn’t mean it is, especially if they don’t name the grapes. Makes me suspicious, but that’s me I guess.

That said, I did enjoy this wine. It’s got a nice flavor, is juicy and big, and went perfectly with our grilled steaks and corn on the cob. I bought two bottles, thinking this is a wine I’ll like, and I’m glad I did as there aren’t any more in Costco.

My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~

Overall, regarding Cameron Hughes wines, I will not go out of my way to find, or consume, any more. The labels with their snobbish attitude were a huge turnoff. I’d much rather press the hand of the winery owner as I stand in their tasting room, and hear his stories of the latest harvest. I’d much rather stroll the vineyards on a chilly spring morning.  Maybe that’s the California girl in me, but I like having that connection, even when buying wines in the grocery store. Cameron Hughes wines doesn’t go out of their way to reach me as a consumer. They’re targeting someone with a bigger wallet, I guess. And that is totally their prerogative.

Cameron Hughes feels like a big wine corporation, not a person. I prefer my wines to be personable. Am I being unreasonable? Perhaps. But I doubt my opinion will matter that much in the grander scheme of things.

As usual, this is just my honest opinion and depend upon my mood, the weather, and what cycle the moon is in. Your taste buds will differ.

~ Until the next time, cheers – and remember to drink responsibly! ~

Demon Soul, Blood Dreams and Demon Hunt are all available for the KindleHave you fallen into the Caine Brothers’ world yet?

My Rating System: Undrinkable, Barely Drinkable, Drinkable, Very Drinkable, and the ever popular Stay away! This is MY wine, you slut!