Clearing the Cobwebs & Seeing 2020 Clearly

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One of the amazing things I did last year that kept me from writing…

Happy 2020!

Reflecting on the last year, there’s not much to show for it here on my blog, but that’s because it’s easy to see that 2019 was a year of transition, a year of change, a year of growth, and a season of sacrifice. All of it to bring me to this point where I recognize that all I want is to creatively produce and I don’t have to limit myself, but I do have to be disciplined about it.

2019 saw me writing more than I had since 2017, when Wilderness Rim first hit the streets. The second in the series, Tanner’s Landing, is with beta readers currently and will be out this spring — hopefully sooner rather than later, barring any cover art gremlins, which I plan to post about in due time.

And if you’ve been following me at least on social media, you are well aware that The Viking (my term of endearment for my husband) bought a blue-water sailboat, sold our house, and bought an RV, all in the span of 2019. We now live the life of constant travelers, albeit keeping the Cascade Foothills as our home of record. Those events, all done with a goal to live a life on our own terms had some major impacts on my creative output and helped fuel the fire that is my 2020 resolution to create, produce, and move forward with making art and more importantly making it a priority in my life.

At one point I used this blog to keep myself accountable. I hope to do that again this year.

Typing that sentence above, I recognize that I am setting myself up for a big fall if I don’t do what I set out to do. Yep, that’s the whole point. I can’t let others expectations or what the “experts” say I should and shouldn’t do interfere with MY creative process. I have to keep true to what I know works for me and just keep moving forward, no matter the speed — sometimes fast, sometimes slow. It’s the speed I need it to be. Blog posts may come slowly, they may come quickly. Edits may come easily, or they may come painfully. Publishing may come swiftly, or it may stall. Regardless, I’m going to keep focusing, refocusing, and keeping my inner radar on the prize that is just creating.

On Monday I said I’d do this blog post, and woo! Here we are. Not too shabby for someone trying to edit books, produce videos, paint, and exploring constantly. Now if I could just figure out how to get the dogs to make lunch so I could keep being creative.

What’s your creativity goal for 2020?

I Swear, It’s Coming: Tanner’s Landing, Echo Falls Book Two

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Facebook has this great way of reminding us of things. It’s probably the one thing about it that I’ve started to like best and why now I’m really only posting good benchmarks over on that social media platform. “Memories” reminded me that people are waiting for the next book in my Echo Falls series. 

I’m here to tell you it’s getting close. We had planned originally in October of 2017 to have the next one out, but plot bunnies had different ideas. But, the final editing is coming to a close and hopefully by October 2018, you’ll get to find out what happens next to C.J., Janey, and, of course Stinky.

As before, the fabulous art of Leslie Moon will grace the cover of TANNER’S LANDING: ECHO FALLS BOOK TWO.

Don’t know what I’m talking about? You need to check out Wilderness Rim first.

Inkster Dispatch: Changes Coming…

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For those who have been paying attention, my microfarm pretty much closed up shop in November 2017. I still have a reasonable sized garden: however, it will be harvested likely by the new owner of my property come fall of 2018. Hubby and I have hatched a plan, for which you can see here:  Proteus Rising. For those struck by tl;dr, we’re selling the house/property, buying a boat, and going from land to sea and all around the world.

I’ll likely keep my own personal website for all projects that are “just Casz,” because I won’t stop writing. But I don’t know what this change here at casondrabrewster.com is going to look like. It will still cover my creative life — whatever that ends up looking like. Not really sure.

But, now you know there are changes coming.

More soon.

Thanks for reading all the way.

 

Harvest Creations: Seafood Stock ****

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Making stock is simple.

Please, please, please, whatever you do. Don’t buy stock, especially not seafood variety from the market. It’s so easy to make at home and costs a fraction of the store-bought kind and is so much yummier and nutritious.

I can my stock  in a pressure canner in quart jars for 35 minutes at 10 lbs. of pressure. But you don’t have to can it. You can freeze it for up to six months (mine rarely lasts that long), or use it fresh within two days. Chicken, Pork, or Beef, or I’ve even made Lamb or Duck, stock lasts a bit longer than seafood in the fridge — about two weeks –, but it’s still the same in the pressure canner.

However you decide to store it — it’s super easy to make. You’ll never want to use store-bought stock again, especially when making chowder, seafood stew, paella, or the like.

Take the time to bake/roast the shells. It gives the stock a richer flavor and decreases the “fishy” smell while the stock cooks.

Notes on the Recipe:

I use a giant pasta pot with detachable strainer. That way you can pull the shells out and cook it down for the long version of the recipe. Short version, mostly noted here, takes three hours. For the long version, you just cook it down a bit longer before canning.

Many people say that the roasting of the shells is not necessary; but, I feel like it gives you a better flavor and minimizes the “fishy” smell while you’re brewing up a batch of Seafood Stock. My advice? Don’t skip it.

Ingredients:

about 5 cups (or about 1 1/2 lbs) seafood shells (shrimp, lobster, crab, or fish skeletons)

The ingredients are easy and don’t require a whole lot of prep.

1 yellow onion, unpeeled and quartered

2 carrots, unpeeled and cut into chunks

1 garlic clove, unpeeled

1/2 cup  dry sherry or dry white wine

1 TBS tomato paste

2 sprigs of rosemary

1 handful of parsley

1 bay leaf

10 peppercorns

Directions:

If you have an insert strainer for your stock pot (I use a tall spaghetti pot combo), it makes this task even easier.

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Place shells in a baking pan and roast for 5-8 minutes, until they begin to turn golden.

Place shells in a large stockpot (if you’ve got the stockpot/strainer variety, I highly recommend it), cover with water no more than half an inch above the level of the shells. Add onion, carrots and garlic.

Heat on high until small bubbles rise to the surface. Reduce heat to medium and cook for one hour. From time to time remove any scum (gray bubbly foam that stays on the surface) by scooping it off with a spoon.

After one hour, add wine, tomato paste, rosemary, parsley, bay leaf and peppercorns. Cook for another 30 minutes.

Strain the stock (If you don’t have the pot/strainer combo you’ll do it through a fine mesh strainer, discarding the solids). If you’re doing the all-day method, just cook down after you strain the stock at least about an inch in the pan. The result for this extra time investment is an even richer stock.

Refrigerate for up to two days, or pour into plastic containers with at least one inch of head room and freeze up to six months. If you pressure-preserve can, it will last in the larder up to a year. Again, it never lasts that long in my house.

This recipe is a four-star recipe because the rosemary and parsley were picked fresh right before, and the bay leaf is from my microfarm, too. Lastly, the shells I harvested myself as well. During the summer, it would be easy to have the carrots and onions at my disposal — so this recipe has the capability of being a six-star recipe. Again, for those new to the blog, each recipe gets a star for each item that I have grown/harvested/cooked myself — hence, Harvest Creations. This stock, in turn, will turn into a star for other recipes.