Saturday, March 31, 2012

Savory Character

Think of an orange. The bright, pebbly skin. The sweet, juicy insides. Oranges pair well with foods like chocolate, toast and vodka. But, how about with mozzarella? Or tomato? Olive oil and capers? Garlic and red onion? Absolutely.

Do not be fooled by its breakfast and sweet persona. Oranges play well with more savory items also. In Sicily, from where a portion of my ancestors hail, oranges are used in salads with lettuce and shaved fennel. Since that salad is delicious, we decided to change it a bit.

My mom has the best food ideas. There are many times where we sit around and talk about different recipes. This recipe is one of them.

Take a Caperese Salad. All it is is sliced fresh mozzarella, tomato slices, fresh basil, and a drizzle of olive oil.

Now let’s look at our more Sicilian version:

Sure we have slices of fresh mozzarella and tomato. But we also have sliced red onion, black and green olives, sliced garlic, and slices of supremed cara cara oranges.

The cheese, tomato, onion and orange were shingled in the dish. Then, we sprinkled the top with slivers of garlic, olives, chopped red pepper, thinly sliced celery, a few capers, oregano, basil and crushed red pepper. The whole thing got a generous drizzle of olive oil before covering with plastic wrap and setting aside.

After about an hour sitting at room temperature, we served it with genoa salami, pepperoni, and ham.

Of course we ate it with some bread. How else would you soak up the olive oil and orange juice mixture?

The salad was phenomenal. The cheese soaks up all the surrounding flavors. Olives and capers give it a sharpness while the orange balances the oil well. Getting a firey piece of slivered garlic mashed into a soft milky hunk of cheese plays music in your mouth.

What is leftover will marinate even more in the fridge. Tomorrow, it will taste even better. This salad would be great as an antipasto or cut into chunks and brought to a summer party.

Keep drinking orange juice at breakfast. But once you bring oranges out after noon, savory will be supreme.

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Story behind Dogs Bark...

I can remember where I was when I wrote each of my favorite poems. This is the fun little story behind my poem, Dogs Bark off in the Distance.

During the summers of both high school and college, my family would spend a good number of evenings around the kitchen table playing games. Some nights we’d play poker. Some nights we would play board games like Sorry or Scattergories.

The kitchen table would be filled with snacks both salty and sweet. I was usually losing if we were playing Sorry. All four of my little plastic yellow game pieces would sit in the start while the other colors would grace the squares around the board. It became a running joke. I bet if we broke out the Sorry board today, we would have a good laugh as my pieces stayed stuck in start.

Our table sat in front of the sliding glass doors that went out to the deck. We would always have the door open, which would provide a great cross breeze with the open front windows. You could hear everything in our suburban neighborhood. During the day, the background noise was the squeaking of old swings in the park behind the nearby elementary school. At night, you could hear cars driving around the P shaped street and neighbors’ dogs barking.

One night, I was sitting at the kitchen table with my family feeling the breeze sweep through the house. We were sipping iced tea and talking. My ears picked up the barking of dogs somewhere in the distance. On the counter next to the phone rested a pen and a pad of blue post-it notes.

Bringing those over to the table, I penned the poem on about six or so blue papers. When I had finished, I read the poem aloud. Everyone loved it. I stuck the papers together in order then ran them up to my room before we started our game that evening.

Somewhere I still have those sticky little squares. Inspiration comes from many places. Make sure you keep writing utensils near, you wouldn’t want to miss hearing a thing.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

This Wednesday's Poem

Dogs bark off in the distance

As i look out my window at the trees swaying in my head i hear a music calling me and dogs bark off in the distance.

A light flashes above my head i think about the fan circling around its idol the statue june it gets hot and dogs bark off in the distance.

I sit and watch the cars swerve by monkeys climbing the sky falling on the hen laying eggs frying with bacon and dogs barks off in the distance.

I see people jogging on a trail left behind their back door where the draft comes in crowd being led into battle and dogs bark off in the distance.

This is the life saving device opening the garage where mechanics work on planes flying overhead that is spinning a web of life as dogs bark off in the distance.

--IE Castellano

Friday, March 23, 2012

My Second Interview

The new Make Your Offer website is great community of readers and writers where we can chat about anything under the sun and offer to buy most the e-books below retail.  The site's founder interviewed me for MYO's blog.  Read the interview here.

My Author Interview by Kate Aaron

Check out my interview by author and blogger, Kate Aaron.

It's my very first author interview and I couldn't be more excited.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

This Wednesday's Poem

Eulogy From A Late Arrival

by Anne Mikusinski

It must have been some party
The afternoon you left
And I, tardy as always,
Caught up in ephemera,
I came too late to say goodbye.

I wanted to be there
To see you off
And wish you a safe journey
As you left for parts unknown.

Being late is not fashionable
When goodbyes are involved
The loose ends that are left
Dangle like shoestrings
And lie in wait to trip me up.

The unsaid words hang in the air
Unspoken thoughts haunt me in late hours.
Nothing to do but remember
And hope I run into you again.

May 15, 2011
For Warren. RIP
I wish I'd known sooner.

About Anne Mikusinski:
I have been writing stories/poems since I was seven years old. Some of my influences are Robert Frost, EE Cummings, and Dylan Thomas.

Find Anne on Twitter

Friday, March 16, 2012

Independent Thinkers

I was reading an article in the Christian Science Monitor today about “boomerang kids” – adults who move back home with their parents after living away for either school or work.

The article says that the move back home is an upward trend. And it claims, “surprisingly, most ... don’t mind living with mom and dad.” The trend, according to the article, has taken hold because of poor employment options and economic situations. Adults without families of their own move home to save money, not live in squalor and to stay off the government doll.

Then, the article takes a more sinister tone. It says, “it also means young adults are caught in a murky phase between adolescence and adulthood.” They ended the article with a quote from the co-author of Not Quite Adults: Why 20-Somethings Are Choosing a Slower Path to Adulthood and Why It's Good for Everyone, Barbara Ray. Ray states, “‘If the “launch” feels blocked for too long, will this generation's optimism curdle into bitterness and skepticism? .... Will a ding to their wages at an important juncture haunt them for years? Will a generation that has been told they can be and do anything – without many challenges as of yet – be resilient enough to withstand this setback? .... Only time will tell.’”

After reading this article, I felt bothered. Whatever happened to adaptation? In nature is the rule not, those who do not adapt to their surroundings die? Why should these adults choose a path that has led others to financial ruin?

I am mixed into a generation who have been told that you go to college (usually with a loan or two), get a job, and if that job keeps you where your parents live, you get a place of your own with a roommate or two. Then, you begin to pay back those student loans and use all those credit cards that you signed up for in the student union to fund your living habit of buying “entertainment” like expensive clothes, going out on the town, etc. Once you get into your late twenties/early thirties, the only roommate you should have is a live-in whatever (if you’re not married). Don’t forget the car with the exorbitant payment too.

Those who do not follow that model get shunned. Funny thing is is that many of the above wouldn’t be able to find independence in a paper bag.

As someone who did not follow my peers down a path most of them later regretted, I applaud these adults. They are thinking independently of the institutionalization that was force fed to them.

Multigenerational households are more prevalent in other cultures than in this modern American culture. Some cultures live with their parents during their married lives as well. Does this make them less of an adult? Are they not able to be responsible for themselves and the decisions they make? To suggest such things is preposterous. Even in America, somewhere in our distant memories, multigenerational homes were commonplace. Today, this practice lives on among many of America’s “old families.”

What this article failed to recognize is that independence begins in the mind. Living with your parents as an adult is completely different than it was as a child. The dynamic has changed. You are now a group of adults who share living quarters. Adolescence is more commonly found in middle aged men, single or not, who play video games to their hearts’ content. Even if these “kids” contribute very little financially to the household, they are ahead of the curve.

In this economy, it may take a while for adults young and old to be financially independent. However, intellectual independence already has taken hold. Survival of the fittest is the way of the world. The generation about whom Ray expresses concern will be better off in the long run because they found sufficient shelter to weather this storm.

Money, like news articles, comes and goes with the tide. Decisions stick with you. Think independent – therefore you are.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Traveller

Since the day he was born
it was always there
ingrained in the deepest part of his soul
the instinct that drives him

To be all alone
in a world that rejects him
going against the grain
the most important thing to him

To be accepted by himself
in order to love
what he does
in his mind, heart, and soul

Living, learning and teaching
he, himself all his life
without knowing
but finally understanding

Something he feels
his heart knowing
his head spinning
his legs moving

Never stopping
not complaining
finally telling
his never-ending story

--IE Castellano

Introducing Poetry Wednesdays

Every Wednesday I’ll be posting a poem written either by me or from a submission. See the Poetry Submission page for details. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Signs of Spring and Sunday Brunch

Like the swallows returning to Capistrano, the robins have returned to my little area. My cats are having a field day watching them peck at the morning grass from the safety of a window ledge.

On a gorgeously clear Sunday, like today, the motorcycle brigade roars down Main Street off to some point in the mountains. Over the low rumble of engines, church bells call their congregations inside their stained glass houses.

Inside my late Victorian, butter bubbles brown in a pan over a low flame. The robust aroma of coffee permeates the kitchen before escaping down the hall. Ham is sliced off the bone waiting to be reheated in a pan. Eggs, fresh from the farm, are cracked into the bubbling butter.

My family and I sit around the table to eat. Soft butter melts into toasted bread while the pulp floats on top of the orange juice. My dad and brother crack open the egg white allowing the golden yellow yolk to run all over their plates. My mom and I savor well fried ham slices as well as solid eggs through and through. The dogs congregate around the table just to be with us. Over our large meal, we discuss springtime projects.

When will it get warm enough to paint the kitchen cabinets? The first of our seeds will be planted after the rain tomorrow and the next day. Then, we can liberate the grills from storage under the house. And even though it is a month away, we start contemplating Easter dinner. What fun we have.

I revel in the change of the seasons and all the little things they bring. And yes, I know that the seasons change every year. That doesn't deter me. I enjoy noticing all these things. Besides, each year they are different, even if only slightly. The key is to know where to look.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

March into Somewhere

Ah, March. Spring is well on its way. Of course some of us could argue that winter never really made an appearance. This morning, the snow jokingly played in the air only to melt on contact. However, this evening snow blankets with a vengeance.

I missed the snow this winter. I missed the entire month or so of days in the 20s. Some would call me crazy. They loved the mild winter. These will be the first people to complain about our extra buggy spring. Every action has at least one reaction. Sometimes good, sometimes bad and sometimes a mixture of both.

The whims of March can bring us snow, rain, sun, warm, cool and pretty darn cold. It can fake the trees into early bloom only to encase the flower show under a coating of ice. Reports of crocuses blooming have sprung around the area. I have pretty lemon yellow daffodils planted by a previous owner that have yet to show their green leaves.

Regardless of what the weather brings, this is the time of year I anticipate planting my garden. Over the coming weeks I will collect seed packets and plan my trip to the various local nurseries. My family and I plant vegetable favorites of previous seasons and a few experimentations. This year’s garden experiment will be turnips, long beans and perhaps onions grown from sets.

After all the hard work of tilling and amending the soil, serenity finds me as I watch what I planted grow.


For all those who missed my birthday ebook coupon, I am participating in Smashwords’ Read an Ebook Week. The coupon code you need is on my book page. The site-wide promotion runs until March 10th.

My next book, a dystopian science fiction, is coming along well. The projected release date is sometime in late April. I am trying to push to make that happen, but it might get moved into May. When the date gets closer, I will set a more concrete release date.