Massaman Curry Paste

One of my all-time favorite dishes is curry. Whether it’s green, yellow, Panang, or red. There is something warm and soothing about the blend of spices. But when I think of curry, I think of Massaman curry. It’s known as a Thai dish, but many of the spices were originally from Persia and India. In my opinion, it’s the mildest of the curries, with little heat but a mouth full of wonderfully bright and aromatic flavors.

It’s difficult to find Massaman curry paste in the supermarkets, but if you do run across it, and are sensitive to garlic or onions, beware. These store-bought cans are loaded with the stuff. My love of Massaman curry has taken me on a quest to create a homemade paste that rivals anything you can get at a Thai restaurant and I’m sharing that very special recipe here with you today.

6 dried Thai bird chiles

3 lemongrass stalks (I used the canned variety that’s in a water brine)

1 one-inch piece of ginger sliced thin

1 tablespoon of canola oil

1 teaspoon of ground cardamom

2 tablespoons of ground cloves

1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

2 1/2 tablespoons of ground coriander

2 ½ teaspoons of ground cumin

1/3 cup of dry roasted peanuts

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon ground turmeric

½ teaspoon of salt

Place all the ingredients into a food processor or blender and process until a smooth paste forms. You will have to add water (1 tablespoon at a time) to get the smooth paste.

The paste can be stored in the refrigerator for 1 month or 6 months in the freezer.

Release Day for Stitched.

Terror comes in all shapes, sizes, places, and people. Today, I have released Geraldine Flanders into the world. Be prepared to visit Winthrop Falls, Texas. It’s like no place you’ve ever been. There are no streetlights or stop signs, and there is one way in and one way out – Main Street. The problem is no one usually gets out.

Winthrop Falls is the birthplace of Geraldine Flanders. She’s not your ordinary mayor of a small southwestern town. She has a very dark past and an even darker soul, and she’ll do anything to keep her secrets hidden.

In honor of Geraldine’s “coming out,” I wanted to talk a bit about where Geraldine Flanders came from, not in the story, but in my mind. The idea first came to me in The French Quarter at the annual Saints and Sinners Literary Festival back in 2014. My writing partner in crime, Dale Chase, and I were sitting on the balcony of my hotel room one evening, hatching ideas when we started talking about older adults in fiction, and it was something we were not used to seeing or reading. That led to a discussion of death and dying, which led to Dale coming up with a brilliant story about an older man who wants to arrange his death on his terms, called Journey’s End. It’s a fun, twisted tale.

In our usual way, ideas started flowing. From those conversations, laughter, and moments of grossness, we created Geraldine Flanders, an eight-five-year-old woman who could be anyone’s grandmother. Sweet, endearing, and utterly charming. However, she has a strange passion or obsession for making scarecrows. It wasn’t until later that I discovered her secrets and what she would do to keep them.

Initially titled The Last Straw, the short story was published in 2015 by Fireborn Publications (now defunct). After some deliberation, I decided to rewrite it and make it into a novella. It was in 2020 that Geraldine Flanders captured my heart. She haunted my sleep and my waking hours. I couldn’t get enough of her. In some ways, I became obsessed with her, much like her obsession with the scarecrows. The harder I tried, the deeper I found myself wallowing in her lies, deceit, and spiraling down into some very dark and disturbing places. What started as a short story seven years ago is now a trilogy—The Geraldine Flanders Series.

I hope you like Book One, Stitched as much as I do and that you come back for the second, Tangled Threads, and the last installment, The Final Stitch. The last page of the final book, I hope, will leave you speechless. Trust me. Geraldine is many things, but the one thing she is not is predictable.

Thank you to Dale Chase for sixteen incredible years of conversation and laughter. This trilogy would not be here today if it weren’t for you and our extraordinary friendship.

Absolute Unit by Nick Kolakowski

Okay, this one takes the prize for being the strangest most bizarre thing I read in 2020. There are no words to describe how addicting, over-the-top, and utterly freaking weird this book is.

Parasites are living inside Bill and his nephew Trent. Bill, a Health Inspector, is hated by everyone, and Trent is a young con artist. The parasites are sarcastic, funny, and unapologetic as they go from learning the joys of human consumption to the terrifying realization that they can control our every move. If you think that the parasites living in Bill and Trent are strange, wait until you get farther into the story with sex addicts dressed as furries, drug dealers, prostitutes, and an angry girlfriend, all of whom are trying to get their hands on these two men.

It’s not us who will end the world, and it might very well be something darker, something that comes from inside of us. The book makes me wonder how much control we have over ourselves. Or do I or we have some alien or biological creature running through our bodies?

This book is truly a gripping, bizarre, and bonkers experience. I loved every moment of this story. Do yourself a favor and dive in, you won’t regret it.