Cross-Posted: Food In Fiction, Underway Recipes

Cross-posted from What’s 4 Dinner Solutions.

One of my favorite things is recipes in fiction novels. I’ve featured quite a few of them here. 

So when I began to write my own fiction, I wanted to include recipes. Run Aground (Book 1 in the TJ Wilde Trilogy – for sale here) featured Smashed Potatoes and Lemon Piccata Chicken

My newest book, Underway (Book 2 in the TJ Wilde Trilogy) features two recipes.  Tahini Walnut Rolls (recipe here) and Sausage and Grapes below.

Underway is on sale now, here. You can read Chapters 1 and 2 here.

From 2015:

…I decided to experiment with flavors I would have never thought of on my own. Facebook and blog friend Michael F, shared a recipe on Facebook from Italy, in Italian no less, and the photo intrigued me. I let google translate the recipe (which was a hoot) and went about putting my touches into it.

It was so unusual, my most reliable recipe testers politely declined my dinner invite. Totally understandable. But I will tell you I was pleasantly surprised how well this turned out. If you like pork and apples, this has a similar flavor palate. It was also quick and easy to prepare. I’m glad I decided to experiment.

All right, if you’re up for something new and different, here you go, tonight’s featured recipe.

Sausage and Grapes

  • 8 links Italian sausage (I used spicy, but you could use any style sausage you favor)
  • 1/2 sweet onion, finely diced
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 cup green seedless grapes, washed, dried and halved lengthwise
  • 1 cup red seedless grapes, washed, dried and halved lengthwise
  • salt and pepper to taste (I used none, didn’t need it)
  • angel hair pasta
  • freshly grated Parmesan


Slice sausage links into four pieces each, add to skillet and fry on medium high for about 10 minutes. Add onion and fennel seeds, cook another 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until onions are translucent. Add grapes, stir until well mixed, cover and let simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes while pasta cooks.

Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain well.

You can toss with the sausage mixture, or serve separately. Serve with Parmesan.

The pasta was my addition. When I asked Michael what would be a good side, he suggested eggplant or roasted potatoes. Roasted zucchini spears would probably work well, too.


Cuba: A Love Story

I am still trying to process Cuba and Havana. But I will tell you I left a bit of my heart there. It began with a snafu with our room reservations that showed us the heart of the people of Cuba. We were without a place to stay for all of ten minutes.  And our new hosts not only found room for us but made us feel like family before the day was out. Casa de Sergio y Miriam was only the beginning.

To a person, every Cuban we encountered was kind, helpful and full of joy. We were never lost for long or without a suggestion for something new to see. Someone always stepped in to help. And along the way shared their story with us.

And so many places to see. We spent our first day exploring the neighborhoods around our apartment. People watching as everyone went about their day in the narrow, colorful streets. I believe one of the reasons we met so many wonderful people was because we wandered the streets away from the tourist areas.

Havana is the perfect illustration of the idiom, “Don’t judge a book by its cover” because behind the aging facades were beautiful apartments, restaurants and shops. Hurricanes, age and economic downturns have taken their toll on these beautiful buildings, but the intelligence, ingenuity and hard work of the people of Havana have kept them, not only functional, but warm and inviting on the inside.

And even those that are completely abandoned hold their own fascination and tell a story, surrounded by the hustle and bustle of city life.

I traveled to Havana for research and by the second day had found most of what I had in my mind for locales. Art is everywhere, galleries are everywhere, both traditional and decidedly abstract and I filled my camera and notebook with examples.

This guy was ubiquitous

Once I felt I had what I needed, then I relaxed and soaked in Havana and all its charm.

There was the food:

Of course, the coffee.  Loved this presentation with coffee beans and sugar cane.

I found myself eating mostly vegetarian meals because everything was so fresh and tasted amazing.

VanVan’s was one of my favorite places – and had the best lemon pie ever, not to mention the great musical decor.

And speaking of music, it was everywhere. In the streets, on the buses (which we mastered), in the restaurants, on the plazas. It became the soundtrack of our days.

And then there was the architecture:

Plaza  Vieja is one of the tourist hangouts. It is almost completely restored, colorful and bustling with people from all over the world. We would hang out there at the end of our days, soaking it all in.  We walked miles each day exploring the rest of the city.

We took a double-decker bus one morning to explore areas outside Central and old Havana. We toyed with taking an old car, but opted for the open air bus instead. Riding in one of the 1950 cars was on my list, but our days were so filled, we were never able to fit it in.

We did find time to spend a day at the beach. Baby soft sand, clear blue-green water and palm trees. It was also fun to take the bus there, see the sights outside the city.

There is still so much to absorb from our trip. More story to tell and hopefully, I can do it justice in Underway. A special week for sure. And it is the people who I will carry with me. Kind, intelligent, hardworking and proud. And I feel like I have family there that I would happily return to visit.