Patrick’s Smashed Potatoes

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This post continues a series of posts I have done featuring recipes from characters from my horror novel Maledicus: Investigative Paranormal Society Book I. Patrick Franklin, along with his twin brother Michael, is a secondary, but important, character in this book. He is a retired Marine Corps Officer who fought in the first battle of Fallujah in 2004 in the Iraqi War. He is the protagonist’s—Roosevelt Theodore Franklin—nephew and a strong supporting element in the story.

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(https://en.wikipedia.org)

Like his uncle, Patrick prefers rustic and basic meals to that of haute cuisine. One of his favorite is what he calls smashed potatoes.

The recipe: (intended to feed 8-10 people at a large meal)
5 pounds of red potatoes
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup heavy whipping cream
fresh paprika
fresh dill
fresh black pepper
coarse sea salt

*Rinse, clean, but do not peel the potatoes. Cut away any bad spots.
*Cut the potatoes into small irregular pieces.
*Boil in dutch oven until fork tender.
*Drain and rinse potatoes.
*Place in mixing bowl.
*Add the rest of the ingredients.
*Using a hand masher, not a mixer—Patrick says too much air is incorporated, which makes the potatoes look pretty, but they lose some flavor. He is not a believer in the phrase “we eat first with our eyes.” Like his uncle, he believes we first notice smell, then we taste the food. Its appearance is irrelevant. Mix with the hand masher until blended together and serve hot. If desired, serve with gravy.

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(http://thrivingvegetarian.com   flickr.com)

Enjoy!!

Helen Murray’s Peanut Butter Cookies

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I have shared some recipes from the three gentlemen who make up the ghost hunting group in my horror novel Maledicus: Investigative Paranormal Society Book I. These are the main characters in my novel, but there are other very important people also, and they will also share recipes with you.   Today, I wanted to offer a baking recipe from Helen Murray.

Helen Murray, one of the main secondary characters, is a high school history teacher and the guardian of her niece Helena who was named for her.  Helen became the child’s guardian when her sister and brother-in-law were killed by a drunk driver.  The child was an infant when this tragedy occurred, so she has grown to the age of 5 thinking of Helen as her mother.  One of the tasks involved with caring for the little girl that Helen embraced was baking.  Previously, she had done very little of it, but after gaining the responsibility for taking care of this little girl, whom she loved, she found a passion for baking.

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One of her simple recipes is also one of Helena’s favorite treats: Helen’s peanut butter cookies.

1/2 cup peanut butter (creamy)

1/2 cup butter–softened

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla (or 1 vanilla bean if adventurous)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1&1/4 cups all-purpose flour

Put peanut butter and butter into mixing bowl. Use medium speed, and beat until the mixture is smooth (about 1-2 minutes). Add sugar, egg and vanilla.  Use medium speed, and beat about another minute.  Scrape bowl and combine together.

Add all the other ingredients for about 1 more minute of beating.  Roll the dough into one inch balls.  Press flat with a fork into a criss-cross pattern.

Bake at 375 degrees until golden brown.  In Helen’s oven, that takes about 10 minutes.  It could vary by a few minutes.  Remove from baking sheets and let cool. This recipe will make about 33-37 cookies.

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As an extra treat, Helen sometimes will dip half the cookie in melted chocolate and add rainbow sprinkles and let them cool.

Helena always loves these!

More recipes from characters to come in the future.

A Little About Helen Murray

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I have been giving tidbits of backstory about the three retired gentlemen who are the focus of my horror novel Maledicus: Investigative Paranormal Society Book I. In the next few posts about characters in the novel, I will write a little about a few of the secondary, but important characters, of the book.

Helen Murray was a high school history teacher, the kind of teacher who caught her students’ attention and engaged them in the lessons. She understood that for many teenagers, history began the day there were born, and that it required a great effort to engage her charges’ minds.

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She would often wear clothing or costumes of the time period when teaching about the Civil War or the Victorian era for example. Many of her fellow teachers looked at her as an eccentric, but she didn’t care, because her pupils had learned to be interested in history. Reaching her students, and instilling in them an interest in history was far more important to her than what others thought about her.

Her life had been an ordered one, but that changed with a series of terrible incidents, including the deaths of her sister and brother-in-law. As a result of a terrible car crash, Helen became the guardian of her very young niece, Helena, who was named for her.

I don’t want to reveal too much about the plot of the book, but I will say that Helen showed herself to have the heart of a tiger and to be a warrior.

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Roosevelt Theodore Franklin’s Humanism

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( by Raphael ~1510)

“Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.”

John Donne from Meditation 17 (1624)

Roosevelt Theodore Franklin, the protagonist of my supernatural thriller and horror novel Maledicus: Investigative Paranormal Society Book I, is a retired history professor whose main area of study was the occult during the Renaissance. He paid special attention to Marsilio Ficino, Giovani Pico della Mirandola, John Dee, and Giordano Bruno. The work he holds in the most regard is Pico’s “Oration on the Dignity of Man,” a piece often considered to be the Humanist Manifesto, and one in which Pico asserts that human beings have the capacity to rise like eagles or sink into the muck like insects.

For Roosevelt, the Renaissance represents a time with an explosion of new ideas, confronting the status quo and forcing the exploration of new forms of knowledge. In many ways, he believes it was similar to the 20th century.

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(https://es.wikipedia.org)

Perhaps the most crucial and important element from this period for Roosevelt was the creation of Humanism, a philosophy that he considered to be central to his way of life and consideration of the world. He rejects post-modernism and its denial of truth; he sees the existence of truth, but that it is a search one must continue throughout the entirety of life. He denies the idea that humans are disconnected; he perceives the connection among people of which Donne spoke in the Meditation 17. If he is confronted by other academics about his ideas which are often considered out of fashion or outdated, he replies that he is not a slave to fads and that he is proud to be a humanist.

Roosevelt holds that despite our many and varied differences, we are all ultimately connected as human beings.

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The Importance of Revision in Writing

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“Interviewer: How much rewriting do you do?
Hemingway: It depends. I rewrote the ending of Farewell to Arms, the last page of it, 39 times before I was satisfied.
Interviewer: Was there some technical problem there? What was it that had stumped you?
Hemingway: Getting the words right.”

(Ernest Hemingway, “The Art of Fiction,” The Paris Review Interview, 1956) 1

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The act of revision is an absolutely necessary part of writing, no matter what kind. Essays, stories, novels, books all require that the author not be satisfied with initial drafts. “Re-vision” means to re-see, or to look at the work from another perspective. This idea is something I try to teach my students in College First Year Writing classes, and it is crucial that I apply the ideas myself to my own work.

When I look back over my writing of the last few years, I can see that I employ this practice. I wrote at five-seven drafts of the chapters of my dissertation for my Ph.D. in English, and I continue to revise with the novels I am currently writing. I wrote 13 drafts of my horror novel Maledicus: The Investigative Paranormal Society, Book 1; I did six drafts of my second novel, a young adult speculative work.  The second book in my supernatural series is almost ready to be released at 6 drafts–Gallow Hill: The Investigative Paranormal Society, Book 2. I have learned to be more focused in my revisions, so I have been able to cut down the numbers a bit.

Of course, the writer can revise in several ways. Do we do a complete rewriting of the draft trying to deal with everything, or do we focus on a particular aspect of the novel, for example structure or characterization? I do not pretend to know what each writer should do. I suspect that it varies according to project and writer.

What I am certain of is that we must continue to work on the writing, trying to see it in new ways and looking for various problems to fix.

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The most important point is for writers to keep writing and revising!

1. From http://grammar.about.com/od/advicefromthepros/a/rewritequotes.htm 3/28/2015.

Jeremy’s Ham and Cheese Omelette

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I will continue to give background information on the characters in my horror novel Maledicus: Investigative Paranormal Society Book I in a variety of posts in this blog. This entry focuses on Jeremy.

Jeremy Roche, the third member of the retired gentlemen who make up the central figures of the IPS, like his friends Roosevelt and Samuel, loves to cook and has amassed many recipes over the years. This one is one of his favorite breakfast dishes.

Ingredients: (For one person; if more are there, make each omelette separately.)

3 large eggs
2-3 slices of good ham (may be cut into small pieces)
2-3 slice of good Swiss cheese
Two tablespoons milk
2 oz. unsweetened butter
Salt and pepper
Cayenne pepper

Preheat a well-seasoned cast iron frying pan. Melt the butter into the pan, and swirl to distribute it evenly. Be sure to melt the butter, but do not burn it.

In a bowl, break the eggs, season with pepper, salt, a touch of cayenne, and add the milk. As the pan melts the butter, using a large whisk, beat the eggs until whipped, and then pour into the pan. Tilt the frying pan to distribute the eggs evenly.

Add the ham slices and then the cheese slices evenly in the middle of the eggs.

As the egg mixture begins to solidify, gently fold one side with a spatula and wooden spoon over the middle. Then do the same with the other, creating a three sided envelope.

When nearly done, gently flip the omelette onto the other side to finish it.

Then place on plate, and serve with rye toast.

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Enjoy! This is Jeremy’s favorite breakfast meal to cook.

Roosevelt Franklin’s Guilty Pleasures

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Roosevelt Franklin, the protagonist in my horror novel Maledicus: Investigative Paranormal Society Book I, is a man who does not allow himself many indulgences. Despite being able to afford almost any whim he might desire, he does not grant himself many. He does, however, have two guilty pleasures that he loves to enjoy: fine cigars and good whisk(e)y. The spelling depends on if the alcohol is American, with an “e” or Irish or Scotch without the “e”.

Even though he has a heart condition and is 68 years old, he refuses to give up smoking one cigar and drinking a couple of fingers of whisky each day. He knows that he is on the downslide of life, but he does not intend to give up these enjoyments.

Roosevelt prefers strong cigars. He is a lover of strong flavors, from coffee to whisky and cigars. His favorite is a CAO Brazilia Churchill length. This cigar is intended for experienced smokers, with a deep, rich flavor and powerful smoke. Roosevelt chooses the Churchill length because he likes to make the experience last, usually at night and paired with a good whiskey.

Roosevelt enjoys good American bourbon and Irish and Scotch single malt whiskys. His favorite bourbon is Maker’s Mark, a standard of excellence. It is rich with a strong flavor, but it is also very smooth. His preferred Irish whisky is John Powers, a very smooth drink. His favorite single malt Scotch whisky is the 18 year old Macallan, as Roosevelt calls it—the finest whisky in the world. It is smooth, rich, and strong, with no bite. It is a perfect dram of whisky.

At the moment, Roosevelt is drinking a rare single malt Scotch whisky–the 15 year old Macallan, which is very smooth and has extremely deep and complex flavors.

Roosevelt certainly understands that not everyone will agree with his opinions on these cigars and alcohol, and he respects others’ views, but he holds firm on his sentiments.

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(images from personal photographs)

Roosevelt Franklin–Anglophile–from Maledicus: The Investigative Paranormal Society Book I by Charles F. French

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Roosevelt Franklin, the protagonist of my horror novel Maledicus: The Investigative Paranormal Society Book I is a self-admitted anglophile. While a proud American with a very American name who loves his country, he is drawn to the manners and customs of England and the British Isles.

He embraces courtesy and dignity, but he despises snobbery and bigotry. He was raised in a very wealthy family, and he rejects their view that people in the classes below them are intended to serve as underlings. He loves British customs, but he abhors the rigid class system of that culture. He is more comfortable with his friends from varying backgrounds than he is enduring an evening of cocktails with his family, most of whom he has distanced himself from.

Roosevelt loves old-fashioned, hand tailored British wool suits. He feels the most at ease when he wears them. “They may look old-fashioned, but that is completely appropriate, because I am very old-fashioned,” he would say about the appearance of his attire.

He insists on showing courtesy, not as an act of thoughtless and forced behavior, but as a conscious attempt to provide a touch of civility in a decidedly uncivil world. He still handwrites thank you notes for any gifts or kindnesses he has received. “Using pen and paper shows more consideration than simply typing a note on the computer screen.” He definitely is not a fan of the contemporary so-called connected age.

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Roosevelt’s favorite authors are also British and have stood the test of time: Shakespeare and Chaucer. “To read Shakespeare is to glean what it means to be human,” was one of his favorite sayings about the Bard.

And one of his favorite meals was a traditional British style breakfast, complete, with tea or coffee, toast and jam, eggs, and rashers of bacon and sausage.  In the evening, an after dinner relaxation was drinking several fingers of excellent single malt Scotch Whisky and having a fine cigar.

For travel, no place in the world rivaled London for Roosevelt. It was simply the City to him. In his very American soul also resided an old-fashioned British gentleman.

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Please follow the following links to find my novel:

ebook

Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

My radio interview:

interview

Response to Evil

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Maledicus Final

Copyright @ 2016 by Charles F. French

Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” This issue is one of the central themes of my horror novel Maledicus: Investigative Paranormal Society Book I and is also one of the main issues that has faced humanity in the last one hundred years. From the consequences of millions slain in the Holocaust to one single person murdered on the streets of New York City while many watched and did nothing, humanity has been confronted with this dilemma. When finding evil threatening others, what do we do? Do we ignore it and pretend that it is not there? Do we call authorities to try to handle the situation and hope they arrive in time? Or do we inject ourselves into situations that for both individuals and nations could be filled with the worst kind of danger?

It does not take much effort to find contemporary examples of such circumstances. In all of these situations, the observers are faced with a moral quandary, and in my novel, it is that circumstance which drives the central conflict. What do three retired gentlemen who are trying to find the answer to the ancient question—is there life after death?—do when they are confronted with sociopathic supernatural evil that threatens an innocent? It would be easy for them to turn aside and say—this isn’t our fight, or this doesn’t concern me.

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These three retired gentlemen do decide to fight this evil, even at the potential cost of their lives and perhaps souls.

In our cynical so-called post-modern world, I feel that I am a bit of a dinosaur, because I am an unapologetic Humanist. I still believe that our connections as people are more important than that which disconnects us. My three central characters believe this ideal also. Hence, they understand Donne’s admonition—“Never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” And they understand that whatever threatens an innocent must be opposed.