Welcome EJ Knapp

Now y’all I know after my last gripe slamming Yankees you kinda figured I would not have one in my kitchen sipping my coffee. Well, I sorta feel sorry for the boy and thought I would help him out some.

EJ Knapp is his name and is from Detroit, Michigan. Now you can’t get more Yankee than that.

Now he started out with a right nice life, but EJ took a turn somewhere that led him down the road to driftin’.

Hell, sittin’ in this kitchen listening to him tell the story of his life it’s a wonder the boy survived at all.

Why when in high school shop class he learned how assemble zip guns. Now, I am tellin’ ya, I am glad I did not go to his school. He admitted to me in great confidence that he even took to carrying a 10-inch switchblade, and a bike chain belt. Bless his heart I guess at that time gettin’ your bike a new chain was important to him.

After rumbling around drinkin’ beer and something to do with pettin’ someone real heavy EJ acquired a 1960 Chevy and hit the road. Doing the odd job to get cash EJ has worked as a bagger in a grocery store, a roofer, a forestry ranger trainee. Hell, y’all he even tried being a college student. I guess he quit that cuz he couldn’t find the bike he lost and just had the chain. He has been a Navy Squid; yes, he does have that many arms. Why else would our Navy take someone like him.  Some of the other odd jobs he has confessed to are a peer counselor in a street clinic, a drug dealer, an ice cream truck driver, an audio/visual technician, a professional photographer and the IT manager for a San Francisco law firm.

 Moving back to his home in Detroit he finally settled down and became a writer. Putting his life experiences to paper, he is the author of the novel Stealing The Marbles, released by Rebel ePublishers in 2010, and Meter Maids Eat Their Young, also published by Rebel ePublishers. He is the author of a book of short stories titled The Dance and Other Love Stories as well as the non-fiction book Secrets of the Golden Gate Bridge. I did ask him what else he was working on and y’all know what he said to me after I was kind enough to give him my coffee? He said, “None of my business, he can’t tell anyone.” Well I never, but I guess his Yankee roots drifted back into my kitchen.

EJ did give a nice interview and I must admit it gave me a chuckle.


1. Earliest memory of your Mothers or Grandmothers kitchen.

Well, I had no mother to speak of and my grandmother was an evil witch so most of my early memories are scary ones. I know now, of course, that the big black cast iron pot that sat on the stove was a dutch oven. At the time, though, I lived in constant fear of the worst parts of the Hansel and Gretel story. I do have one rather fond memory, probably fond because I was half asleep. Going down to the kitchen early in the morning while my dad was having breakfast and getting a very small amount of his coffee loaded with milk and sugar.

2. Do you like to cook?

I love to cook. I especially love baking. I do all the cooking all the time. I love to experiment. I’ve been doing a lot of gluten free, sugar free (stevia) baking lately. My cookies are killer!

3. If not why not? No Answer


 4. What recipe of your mother or grandmother do you make that sends you back in time watching (whichever one) in the kitchen?

Well, any time I witness someone cooking meat to the consistency and texture of hardwood flooring or boiling vegetables until they dissolve, I’m instantly transported back to my grandma’s kitchen. I was nearly an adult before I learned you didn’t need a hammer and chisel to cut a steak nor have to chew it until your jaw locked up.

5. What is your favorite herb or spice or both?

I seem to be on a cumin kick of late. Don’t know why. Been trying it in most everything, not always with success. It was coriander before that. I may be going through a middle eastern crisis here.

6. If you could be a ghost in that kitchen and watch yourself as a small child, what would you tell that child today?

Run, would be the first thing that came to mind. Meat can be tender, vegetables crisp, mashed potatoes don’t have to be lumpy. He might like to know that, a little something to look forward to.

7. Outside of your own country/county, which country’s cuisine do you like or prefer?

I love Greek food, and middle eastern dishes. Cook both quite often. I keep telling myself I’m going to start cooking more Indian food. I absolutely love Indian food but have never really attempted cooking it myself.

8.  What is your families favorite dish?

Well, back when I actually had a family, I suppose it was my Italian dishes. I used to be real big on Italian. There was one dish everyone loved. I’d cook up a batch of spaghetti, sauce from scratch, mix it all together and let it sit overnight. Then, into a large casserole dish, top it with about an inch of sharp cheddar and into the oven for a half hour/45 minutes. Today, my favorite dish is falafel I make from scratch.

Love that stuff.

9. Since you taught yourself to cook – Of all  the kitchen gadgets invented OLD and NEW which OLD and NEW are you favorite?(One old and one new)

Old would have to be the whisk. I have several different kinds and use them all the time. As for new, would a mixer be considered new? As I bake a lot, I couldn’t make half of what I make without a good, high-speed mixer.

10. I have a old fashion pantry.. (larder to you brits)… Do you recommend people start one and what would be the most important thing in that larder..

I don’t really have room for a pantry but if I did, I would keep various kinds of flour and spices in it. I enjoy making things from scratch which requires a lot of different mixes.

11. If you could teach cooking to the high school level students today… what would be the most important and the least important thing to teach them.

Most important would be regulation of heat. Not everything needs to be cooked on high, especially meat, a common error with inexperienced cooks. Least important is following the recipe exactly. A recipe is a guideline. I tend to follow one pretty closely the first time and then start experimenting with it.





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Carolyn Burns Bass

I have had many talented people visit me here in my kitchen.  Creative in their endeavours as writers, but never one that admits to having kissed a frog in 1967. Y’all know I would not joke about such things but Carolyn Burns Bass admits to doing such a thing, let’s just hope Peta doesn’t find out.  If that is not enough, she told me in the strictest of confidence, that her daddy was a sword swallower and her momma was a repentant chanteuse.  She admitted, admitted y’all that her momma could sing right nice and pretty but her belief had no ambition and lacking in confidence.

All this might explain why she felt she had to wonder the Earth. Travelling to Yorkshire to walk the moors,  bicycling around the rice paddies of Japan, riding elephants in Thailand and worst of all she stalked Kangaroos in Australia. 

Now don’t get me wrong, Carolyn has her talents.  Over the years, she has been assistant editor of a national music magazine (CCM), written magazine cover features, personality profiles, music reviews and food features. She has had her short fiction published in MetroMoms Fiction, The Rose & Thorn (Spring, 2007) and Breath & Shadow (October 2007). She is an active member of the Backspace writing community, where many of her short stories have placed within the top 3 in the Backspace Short Story Contests not to mention her personal blog Ovations 

Trying my Southern best to be polite to a fellow food blogger, and that’s not easy y’all let’s get on with the interview.

1. Earliest memory of your Mothers or Grandmothers kitchen.

As a child, my family moved to a new rental place about every year until I was seven years old. With each move went my mother’s huge white stove, the double-door refrigerator, and the lime green Formica table and the slick vinyl chairs that made our legs sweat during the hot Southern California summers. My mom cooked with heavy cast iron skillets and Revere Ware pots, some of which she handed down to me and which I still use. My fondest memory of my mother’s kitchen was the old Autumn Leaf dishware she collected from yard sales and second-hand stores. I thought the Autumn Leaf dishware was the ugliest stuff ever made. My mother collected it because it was what her mother had used when she was a child on the farm in Iowa. Funny, I still think the Autumn Leaf dishware is hideous, but whenever I see a piece at an antique store, I fight with my inner child not to buy it. I inherited my grandmother’s teapot and a few other items and proudly display them in my dining room.

2. Do you like to cook?

When I have the time and inclination, I enjoy cooking. The preparation is not as important to me as the product. Since the process is important to certain recipes, I’ve learned to be patient with all of the steps necessary for great food preparation. I come from a long line of creative and inventive cooks. My grandmother took a job in a diner when she was a very young girl after her father died in the Spanish flu epidemic of 1917. During the depression, she cooked huge meals for farm hands and her growing family. When she scandalized the family by divorcing my grandfather in the early 1950s, she moved to California and found a job doing the only thing she knew to do: cook. My mother learned to cook good, old-fashioned comfort food from my grandmother and augmented her skills from reading recipes and watching early cooking shows such as Julia Child and The Galloping Gourmet. When she and my father divorced when I was seven, she also got a job doing what she did best: cook. Among my earliest kitchen memories are my mother calling me into the kitchen to do the odious things a cook must master before attempting to create a meal. I resented these prep tasks for pulling me away from whatever book I was reading at the time, or if I had no book underway, from the Gilligan’s Island reruns my younger sister watched every day. A wonderful thing happened while I was peeling potatoes or grating cheese, however. A magical thing really. Something neither my mother nor I expected. Without realizing it, I soaked up what my mother was doing to the food. Years later, when I began cooking for my future husband, the memories of which spices she used and in what combination, how she browned the meats, thickened the gravies, seasoned the vegetables, and roasted the beef flooded back as if by instinct.

3. If not why not?

While my children were young and I cooked a full meat, vegetable and potato/pasta dinner six nights a week, I wearied of cooking. The repetition of cooking the same meals for picky appetites every week became tiresome and I went through a phase of telling my kids that we were having “rocks and dirt” when they asked what we were having for dinner.

4. What recipe of your mother or grandmother do you make that sends you back in time watching (whichever one) in the kitchen?

I enjoy making all of our traditional Thanksgiving foodstuffs as I’d seen my grandmother and my mother prepare for years and years. My grandmother and mother are both gone now, but when I’m cooking Thanksgiving (and Christmas) meals, I feel their presence with me in the kitchen. I begin with the turkey, which I always brine, then bake unstuffed in a cooking bag. I make corn bread stuffing with pecans and cranberries in half of the dish (some family members don’t like the fruit and nuts), family favorite of green bean casserole (the kind with the fried onions on top), candied yams with browned mini-marshmallows, mashed potatoes, turkey gravy, corn pudding, and a garlic-onion bread ring we call “Robbie Rolls” after my sister who introduced the recipe. Then, of course, there are the pies. Always two pumpkin and one pecan—with real whipped cream. I wrote about my grandmother making the Thanksgiving turkey in the first draft of my yet-to-be-published novel, The Sword Swallower’s Daughter, in a scene that has since been cut from the manuscript. The scene appears in my blog:Ovations

 5. What is your favourite herb or spice or both.

My single favourite herb is garlic. I use it frequently and abundantly. My favourite combination of seasonings I’ve dubbed, the Italian Trinity: garlic, olive oil and basil. This combination is the basis for all of my favourite Italian foods.

 6. If you could be a ghost in that kitchen and watch yourself as a small child, what would you tell that child today?

My mother had a hard life. I wish I could tell the child summoned to the kitchen what a privilege it is to help her mother prepare the family’s daily nourishment. I’d tell that child that one day she will look back at those times as blessed moments of mother-daughter companionship, that one day she will cherish the time spent with her mother in the kitchen and wish with all her heart that her mother was still here to share in the joy of cooking.

 7. Outside of your own country/county, which country’s cuisine do you like or prefer.

I am a huge fan of Mexican food and can make a good, hot salsa. Born and raised in Southern California, we had many friends who shared their regional specialties, and there are outstanding Mexican restaurants everywhere. My biggest challenge since moving to North Carolina a year ago is finding good Mexican food and food products. We stumbled into a fantastic place outside of Chapel Hill called La Fiesta. The owners are originally from Tijuana, but grew up in San Diego. Everything they prepare is authentic and delicioso—like a taste of home.

 8.  What is your families favourite dish.

My family is divided on what their favourite dish from my kitchen would be. Ask my husband, and he would probably tell you a good pot roast with gravy and roast vegetables. He’s a meat and potatoes kind of guy. A meal my whole family always loves is the Japanese feasts we have several times a year. I came to enjoy Japanese food of all kinds while living there for three years when my husband was in the Marine Corps. We had a favourite restaurant called Sanzoku, which the Americans barbarously called the Chicken Shack. Their grilled teriyaki chicken was crispy outside and moist inside, seasoned with a thin salty-sweet sauce. I’ve recreated their teriyaki sauce as best as I can, and my husband does a good grilling of the chicken. To this, I also make musubi à la Sanzoku (large rice balls stuffed with pickled plum, smoked salmon, stewed seaweed, wrapped with seaweed); rolled sushi with tuna, salmon and other veggies; udon noodles in fish broth, and chicken or pork gyoza (Japanese version of potstickers). We eat the feast with chopsticks in the Japanese dishes I bought while in Japan.

9. Since you like to cook, do you have a old fashion pantry, larder to you Brits… Do you recommend people start one and what would be the most important thing in that larder?

My mother had a well-stocked larder which consisted of a wide variety of canned goods and baking ingredients. I’ve tried to maintain the same, although I prefer using fresh vegetables rather than the canned varieties. I can’t imagine a functional home without a well-stocked pantry that contains flour, sugar, salt, olive oil, butter, garlic, onions, potatoes, pasta (pick your favorite), tomato sauce/paste/puree, and wine. Yes. Wine. Inexpensive bottles of both white and red for cooking. I’m sure I’ve forgotten something that my mother and grandmother would have had in their pantries, but oh well. It’s only eight miles to the nearest supermarket.

 10. Of all the kitchen gadgets invented OLD and NEW which OLD and NEW are you favorite? (One old and one new)

Other than a good sharp knife, I couldn’t do without my cast iron skillets handed down from my mother. The new gadgets are hard to select a favourite among. I love the electronic rice cooker I bought in Japan more than 20 years ago that is still going strong. I would not have survived the rocks and dirt days of cooking every day for fussy children without my Crockpot. My automatic bread machine is the family favourite, hands down, and I really enjoy experimenting with breads. My Rabbit-style corkscrew is the smartest thing to happen to wine since corks. So there. Asking me to pick one is like asking a mother to pick her favourite child.

 11. Having wondered the Planet what is the strangest food that you have eaten?

We were served some squiggly eel (unagi) concoction in Japan that I don’t remember the name of, so it doesn’t count. It was slimy, smelly and just plain gross. My husband, who can eat just about anything, couldn’t stomach whatever it was.

At a dinner with colleagues in Queretaro, Mexico, I enjoyed a delicious appetizer of small fried tostadas, with beans, lettuce, guacamole, cheese and bacon bits. Except they weren’t bacon bits. My colleague sitting next to me inquired if I liked the tostadas. I nodded enthusiastically, and took another bite to show my approval. He said, “Oh

good. This dish is from my home state of Oaxaca. The chapulines really give the tostadas their distinctive flavor.”

            “Chapulines?” I ask.

            “The brown crunchy things,” he replies.

            “Oh, yes. They’re really smoky and good,” I say, taking another bite.

            “So you’ve had them before?” He gives me a quizzical look.

            “Oh, yes. I put them in salads and on baked potatoes.”

            “Chapulines? You use them in the States?” At this point he looks across me at the man sitting on my other side.

            My friend on the right, who is widely traveled in the US, looks to me and says, “I believe you’re thinking of bacon bits.”

            “And these aren’t bacon bits?” I say, taking another tostada.

            “No.” He and the other man exchange wry smiles.

            “They’re deep fried grasshoppers,” says the Oaxaca man. “Chapulines.”

They really were delicious.

I’ve also had veal pancreas. Of course, it’s not called pancreas on the menu. It’s sweetbreads. This dish was served at a chef’s table dinner at the superb five-star/five-diamond Addison restaurant at the Grand Del Mar Hotel in San Diego. The sweetbreads were gently sautéed and topped with a white wine reduction. So tender were the sweetbreads, they literally melted in your mouth.

Thank you Carolyn, as polite as you were for your Southern California roots, Olives Gripes is proud to help your lil ole food blog along.


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Interview with Maureen Ogle

I would like to introduce to y’all my good friend Maureen Ogle. She pops in once in awhile to chat and have a glass of wine. This time I told her that she gets no wine until she agreed to an interview. Before we get to the fun stuff, allow me to tell you a little about her.

Maureen is an accomplished non-fiction writer. Having written books on Key West, Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer, and her third book, Meat: An American History, assuming no major disasters – that it will come out in 2013.

Maureen is a one-woman operation doing her own research and writing. Know her she prefers it that way.

She has contributed to Fox Business Network, and written opinion pieces for the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post. Maureen has also appeared in a number of documentaries, including “Modern Marvels: Plumbing” (History Channel); “Ultimate Factories: Budweiser” (National Geographic Channel); “The American Brew” (Florentine Films); “American Originals: Budweiser” (CNBC); and “Beer Wars” (Ducks In A Row Productions).

As busy, as she is Maureen has time to cook and share her thoughts and memories of her childhood.

Don’t believe me well just read for yourself.

 1. Earliest memory of your Mothers or Grandmothers kitchen.

Hmmm. Gravy. Watching my grandmother make gravy. She’d put milk and flour in a small glass jar (one she kept for that purpose) and shake it and then add to the pan. YUM.

2. Do you like to cook?

Love it. Do it every day. We rarely go out to eat.

3. If not why not? N/A

4. What recipe of your mother or grandmother do you make that sends you back in time watching (whichever one) in the kitchen?

Three things: Gravy (see above!). Fried chicken (although mine has NEVER tasted as good as my grandmother’s. And cinnamon rolls (made with potato dough). I’ve eaten those rolls at Christmas for more than fifty years.

5. What is your favorite herb, spice, or both?

Hmmm, again. But probably cumin (whole, not powdered) for the spice, and parsley (believe it or not) for ht herb.

 6. If you could be a ghost in that kitchen and watch yourself as a small child, what would you tell that child today?

Pay CLOSE ATTENTION when she’s making the gravy — and be kind to yourself.

7. Outside of your own country/county, which country’s cuisine do you like or prefer.

Hmmm, again. Honestly, there’s not much I don’t like. But when I cook, I often seem to end up making foods in an Italian vein. But lately I’ve been on an Asian kick.

8. What is your families favorite dish.

Oh, lord. Depends on who you ask. My husband would say “Whatever she’s cooking tonight.” The kids (all of the grown) would probably dither among cinnamon rolls, chicken potpie, and nachos. It’s all good, right? As long as you remember to add the love, it’s all good!

9. Since you like to cook, do you have a old fashion pantry, larder to you Brits… Do you recommend people start one and what would be the most important thing in that larder?

Pantry. Would that be the staples? If so, olive oil, good salt, canned beans, pasta. If you’ve got those, you’ve got a meal.

10. Of all the kitchen gadgets invented OLD and NEW which OLD and NEW are you favourite. (One old and one new)

Hmmm. I’m not big on gadgets. Old or new! I do love my lemon zester and my tomato knife, although I’m not sure that’s a gadget. I have a heavy-duty Kitchen Aid stand mixer that I bought about 12 years ago, and I’ve got to admit that I’d hate to give it up. I also have a hand-crank sifter that belonged to my grandmother and I love it when making cakes (which I do often; love making and eating cake). So that’s old and new. I think…

11. I noticed that you state on your site that you are interested in Alien sightings. Why do you think they are coming to this planet and do you think it has to do with stealing our recipes? If so what food do you think they would like when they land?

Boy, if they DO come to this planet, I’m first in line to go aboard. So get outta my way! I don’t think they’ll want to steal my recipes, but I’m happy to share them in exchange for a ride on their ship.

12. While the world awaits your next book on meat, just what is your favorite meat? Ya, know Steak, Chicken, Fish, so y’all get your minds out of the gutter.

Do I have a favorite meat? I don’t eat very much meat, so I don’t think I’ve got a favorite. BUT: I do love fish (not shellfish; the kind with fins). But my husband hates it, so I only eat fish when we go out to eat. But we rarely do that, so fish feels like a Special Food to me. When I’m eating that, I know it’s a special occasion.

Maureen thank you for the interview, now let’s enjoy a quiet glass of wine.

Thanks for having me.

You can find Maureen on facebook and twitter.


Interview with Ian Barker

I would like to welcome Ian Barker to have a sit and a cup of coffee in my kitchen. Yes, ladies I know it is a male. Brave I know, but I will be gentle. But before the questions begin a little bit of history on Ian.

Born in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, UK, and raised in the northeast of England. He has an honours degree in business studies from what is now Teesside University.

Since 1983, he has worked in information technology. Following a spectacular leap sideways, Ian moved to Live Publishing in 2003 as a staff writer on a range of computer magazines including the late lamented PC Extreme. Attaining the dizzy heights of editor on the Magnesium Media magazine PC Utilities and was a regular contributor to sister publications.

In 2001, He took another leap of faith and began to take his writing a little more seriously. He has succeeded in getting a few sketches broadcast on BBC Radio 2’s The News Huddlines, with short stories in magazines, and two pieces accepted for the Writers Net Anthology, published in autumn 2002. Further short stories have been published in the Web zines Starving Arts, and Crime Scene Scotland, along with a co-written tale in Admit Two. I also have a non-fiction article on the Backspace writers’ site. A collection of my short stories, Late Show, is available on Kindle.

His latest adventure is the two novels he has written, Fallen Star is out now and available on Amazon.

Now on with the interview.

1. Earliest memory of your Mothers or Grandmothers kitchen.

My grandmother’s house was late 19th/early 20th century. The kitchen had a big range-style cooker in a greeny-grey enamel finish with a double oven. She never had a fridge but there was a separate pantry with a quarry tiled floor and a big terracotta pot for things that needed to be kept really cool. There were always Christmas puddings hanging from hooks in the ceiling and a pot of dripping collected from various roasts.

2. Do you like to cook?

Sort of, but I don’t do complicated stuff. If you can just stick it in a pan or bung it in the oven then leave it to get on with it then it ticks the right boxes!

3. If not why not? N/A

4. What recipe of your mother or grandmother do you make that sends you back in time watching (whichever one) in the kitchen?

 My mother always used to make what was known in our family as a ‘hash’. Stewing steak slow cooked in a casserole dish with potato and carrot added later in the process. The potato absorbs the meat stock and takes on a lovely golden brown colour. You can add other veg to taste and if you’re lazy make it in a pan on the hob rather than the oven. Best served with fresh bread to mop up the gravy.

5. What is your favorite herb, spice, or both?

I’m very fond of mint, I always have a pot growing outside the kitchen door so you can reach out and pinch off a few leaves as you need them.

6. If you could be a ghost in that kitchen and watch yourself as a small child, what would you tell that child today?

    Pay more attention!

7. Outside of your own country/county, which country’s cuisine do you like or prefer.

     British food tends to be a bit of a mongrel anyway because as a nation we’ve imported dishes from the various bits of   the world that we used to own.  I do like Tandoori-style chicken with its lemon juice, yoghourt and ginger marinade.

8. What is your family’s favorite dish.

    You can’t beat a good old Sunday roast with Yorkshire pudding and all the trimmings. Yorkshire pudding is of course a culinary art form, as to how it originated there’s a famous comic monologue: here

 9. I have a old fashioned pantry, larder to you Brits… Do you recommend people start one and what would be the most important thing in that larder?

Actually, pantries and larders aren’t the same at all. In medieval times a pantry was for storing bread and a larder for meat. By the Victorian era in large houses the larder was used to store food and prepare it prior to cooking, the pantry (or scullery) served to wash and store dishes. In very large houses the “butler’s pantry” was used to store and clean silver. My advice? Get a fridge!

10. Of all the kitchen gadgets invented OLD and NEW which OLD and NEW are you favourite. (One old and one new)

In my experience, most kitchen gadgets end up being used once and then consigned to the back of a cupboard. Anything that takes longer to clean than it does to use isn’t worth the effort.

There’s no gadget older than the knife and it’s still an essential in any kitchen. If you can afford it splash out on a ceramic knife. It never needs sharpening and will make light work of any cutting task – just be careful not to drop it!

As for new gadgets, it would have to be the microwave – yes, I know they’ve been around since the ’70s! I resisted owning one for a long time but I wouldn’t be without it now.

Ians blog can be found here.

Thank you Ian for stopping by it was enjoyable.


Interview with Cat Connor and Ellie Conway

Now, y’all I really don’t know how to explain this. Cat Connor is a nice lady and very talented writer. When I invited her to sit for a while in my kitchen with a nice cup of the Irish, I had NO idea that she would bring her imaginary friend Ella Conway with her. Needless to say my cup of the Irish was a bit stronger after that introduction.

This might explain it better. Ellie Conway is the star in all Cats’ books in The Byte Series. Now, you and I know that Miss Ellie is just a personality that Cat writes about, but I do think it is time her publisher should explain that to her.

First about Cat, she lives in Wellington region of New Zealand with her husband whom she calls Action Man, their youngest children, aptly named, The Boy Wonder, Squealer, and Breezy. They all share the house with a fat gray cat named Missy and Romeo the rescued Greyhound.

Her current series is published with Rebel e Publishing is “The Byte Series” featuring Supervisory Special Agent Ellie Conway. When she is not playing around with Ellie all over Northern Virginia she divides her time with sewing, tie dying, reading and just hanging out with her family and of course the admins. Admins, you ask, yep admins, Admin One, Admin Bubbles, with all those people and animals around her you would think she just might want to be alone. Instead of bringing Ellie Conway with her everywhere, she goes. Yes, after another cup of the Irish I agreed to get Ellie’s bio and interview her.

Well, Miss Ellie it is a pleasure to meet you, tell us a little about yourself. I am a Supervising Special Agent with the FBI. I have a teenage daughter – who keeps me on my toes. You think I am fictitious although Cat does not think so. So, the least said about that the better. I am the protagonist in The Byte Series written by Cat Connor and published by Rebel ePublishers. (killerbyte, terrorbyte. exacerbyte and flashbyte…)

I hope you enjoy the interview with Cat and Miss Ellie. I am getting another cup of the Irish.

1. Earliest memory of your Mothers or Grandmothers kitchen.

Cat Connor: Sitting in my highchair wearing my good white coat while eating vegemite on toast. Mum wasn’t there, I don’t know where she was but dad obviously couldn’t find my dressing gown and thought my good white coat was just the thing for a toddler to wear while eating vegemite on toast.

My next earliest memory of the kitchen would be me sitting at the breakfast bar watching mum bake. It would’ve been a Sunday. That was baking day because my parents worked. I was maybe 11. Mum would pass the beaters to me to lick when she finished mixing cake batter.

Probably why my kids line up for the beaters and the mixing bowl when I’m baking!

SSA Ellie Conway: Hiding in the pantry and hoping the crazy woman wouldn’t look in there.

2. Do you like to cook?

Cat Connor: Sometimes, I like to cook when everyone appreciates the effort gone to. I dislike cooking when there is a moaning whiny complainer at the table. Luckily the whiner has grown a bit older and is more willing to try things (plus her brother will NOT tolerate any complaining about anything prepared for family meals!). So I mostly enjoy cooking. I have to be in the mood to bake though.

SSA Ellie Conway: Don’t really get a lot of opportunity to cook. I tend to work some long hours. So in our house we do breakfast. It’s the meal I am most often there for and I do enjoy making breakfast for my daughter.

3. If not why not? NA

4. What recipe of your mother or grandmother do you make that sends you back in time watching (whichever one) in the kitchen?

Cat Connor: Mum makes this dish called hotdog casserole. I love it! My kids love it. Every time I make it it reminds me of winters when I was a kid and the smell of our kitchen. I still don’t know why it’s called hotdog casserole… it’s made with beef sausages not hotdogs!

SSA Ellie Conway: I try not to make anything that reminds me of my mother. Making scrambled eggs reminds me of mornings at home and the Spanish Inquisition all at once. Luckily, Carla rarely asks for scrambled eggs.

5. What is your favourite herb, spice, or both?

Cat Connor: I love sage. Sage is so delicious. Just the other day I made sage and cheese scones to go with roasted pumpkin and kumara soup… so delicious! Best of all the kids (all of them) loved the scones and the soup. As far as spices go, I really like nutmeg. Especially on pumpkin pie!

SSA Ellie Conway: Cinnamon and cayenne pepper. Cinnamon tastes great with apples – and apple pie is my favourite pie. Cayenne pepper doubles as a good weapon. Toss that in someone’s eyes and they are not going far.

6. If you could be a ghost in that kitchen and watch yourself as a small child, what would you tell that child today?

Cat Connor: Watch carefully. Ask questions. One day you’ll want to make all those dishes and teach your girls to make them.

SSA Ellie Conway: Run before the crazy starts.

7. Outside of your own country/county, which country’s cuisine do you like or prefer.

Cat Connor: I like most things. I don’t like Asian food. Never have but that could just be a self-protection mechanism, soy being used freely in Asian cooking and me being allergic to it!

SSA Ellie Conway: Like Cat I have no favourite but unlike Cat there isn’t a cuisine I don’t enjoy.

8. What is your families’ favourite dish?

Cat Connor: We have several family favourites. Almost everyone love smoked fish pie. I think almost everyone loves lasagne. None of them will ever turn down roast beef or roast chicken!

SSA Ellie Conway: I have a teenage daughter, as far as I know she’ll eat anything put in front of her. Her favourite meal is roast beef. I don’t make it. My father does. Dad does most of our evening meals as I work long unpredictable hours.

9. What is your favourite kitchen gadgets old and new.(one old one new)

Cat Connor: A really sharp paring knife. I love a good paring knife.

SSA Ellie Conway: My husband’s favourite store was Bed Bath and Beyond, I think we had every gadget known to man in the kitchen when he was alive. Dad rescued a few gadgets from our home after an explosion recently. Looks like I’ll have to replace most of my kitchen equipment. What I do have is Mac’s meat mallet and his hand whisk.

10. I have an old fashion pantry, larder to you Brits, (yes i will change that to kiwi) do you have one and Do you recommend people start one and what would be the most important thing in that larder?

Cat Connor: Us kiwis have pantries. I don’t know exactly what you mean by start one though – shouldn’t everyone have a pantry full of dry goods, jars of jam etc, and canned food? It’s not something I ever think about. It’s just where I store the food. I have no idea what the most important thing in my pantry is. It’s full of everything required to bake and make meals (obviously not vege or meat – that’s what the fridge and freezer are for!).

SSA Ellie Conway: Pantry – that would be the thing Dad stocks for me. I go into it and pull out whatever I want; when things get low or run out, they are magically replaced. I love my pantry. I have pantry elves. Carla has a thing about earthquakes at the moment, so probably the most important things in the pantry are canned food!

Cat is a member of Kiwiwriters.org, Backspace.org, The New Zealand Society of Authors, and International Thriller Writers,Inc.

You can find her on MySpace, Google +, Twitter @catconnor, Good reads and Face book.

Interview with Ellen Arnison

So just, who has dared step into Olives Kitchen this time? None other than Ellen Arnison. Ellen has worked as a journalist for the Daily Star, and Daily Mirror, not to forget the Sun just to name a few. I have discovered Ellen is a like many journalist, she just can’t hold a steady job. She then ventured in to PR and only held that position for a year before deciding it wasn’t for her. As I said, steady jobs do not come easy for a journalist.

She now stays at home and writes for people who pay. Having discovered the internet, she quickly learned there is money to be had, and steady I might add. Finally, the work-life balance is within reach. Her book, “Blogging for Happiness” was published in December. It’s about the benefits of blogging. She has 3 sons, aptly named, Boy One, Boy Two, Boy Three a husband, the Panther of News. She lives in Scotland, and writes about anything that take may take her fancy this includes autism, feminism and journalism. You may contact her at:  ellenarnison@hotmail.com 

Ellen Arnison

Enjoy the interview.

1. Earliest memory of your Mothers or Grandmothers kitchen.

Of my mothers, it was more an aura of warmth and good smells. We lived in a draughty farm house and the kitchen had an AGA – it was the centre of the home.

My grandmother had a big kitchen with a large pine table on castors in the middle. I have numerous memories including her showing me how to take the fat off lambs kidneys and how lovely it made your hands feel.

2. Do you like to cook?

I love to.

3. If not why not?

See question 2

4. What recipe of your mother or grandmother do you make that sends you back in time watching (whichever one) in the kitchen?

For granny it’s soup with sherry in it. She believed that most things were improved by a big slug of sherry in them, I have to agree.

For mum it’s baking – she’s an expert.

5. What is your favourite herb, spice, or both?

I love ginger most of the time and I currently have a thing for smoked paprika.

6. If you could be a ghost in that kitchen and watch yourself as a small child, what would you tell that child today?


Probably to learn to savour what she eats and not to consume stuff for any reason than it’s delicious and she’s hungry.

7. Outside of your own country/county, which country’s cuisine do you like or prefer.

I lived in the Canary Islands for a while so I love Spanish food. I’m fairly keen on Mexican, but I think that a place’s cuisine works best in the context of the country so I’d have to say it depends.

8. What is your families’ favourite dish?

Currently, pancakes made by my husband.

Just a few more questions. Please…

No problem.

9. What is your favourite kitchen gadgets old and new. (one old one new)

I’m a bit of a magpie when it comes to kitchen gadgets so the newest is always the favourite. Currently I’m infatuated with a halogen oven. Longer term, probably my most faithful devotion is to a coffee pot. Does that count?

10. I have a old fashioned pantry (larder to you Brits) do you have one if not why not?

I grew up on an old farm and it still had the old dairy – a large cool room with marble shelving. This was where all our food was stored. It would be lovely to have something similar, but I think modern living means we simply don’t have the space any longer. When I get my dream home – it will have one.

Thank You


Interview with Hulya Erdal


Interview with Hulya Erdal

Born and raised in East London, Hulya Erdal takes her heritage beyond the shores of her English homeland to Cyprus and Turkey. Hulyas parents arrived in the U.K. in the early 1960’s with a suitcase full of Turkish and Cypriot food supplies. Now I am just sayin’ y’all that Hulyas parents might have googled the store shelves to see what they would need because they brought with them in that suitcase Halloumi, walnut jam and dried goats’ meat. None of which sounds good, but bless them they felt they needed it.

As you can tell food dominated this mixed heritage, her life and her culture it gave her a sense of history as well. Hulyas recipes are based around what she was taught by her momma, aunts and of course her Nan. Now I ask you for one moment to think about this. She could not have paid that much attention if she felt the need to attend Waltham Forest College, qualifying her for a City and Guilds diploma in culinary skills, the highest you can get in relation to a chef’s qualifications.

Another thing I noticed is how proud she is of her East London roots so in my research to discover just who this acclaimed Chef is. Therefore, I set out to find more about East London and made a startling discovery.

White Chapel is in East London and Jack the Ripper roamed White Chapel and was prolific with knives. Hulya is from East London and was trained to use knifes, hum I wonder if in my interview she will reveal herself. I may have just solved a crime y’all.

1. Hulya, what is the earliest memory of your Mothers or Grandmothers kitchen?

My mum making the traditional Cypriot Roasted lamb and potatoes (called Firin Kebab) in my grannies old metal baking tray that we call a Tepsi or Sinni, it’s made of Aluminium and full of dents and scratches! If you mean, what the kitchen looked like, I remember more my Nan’s old battered pots and pans, missing handles, bits of aluminium wrapped around trays and dented cooking trays and lots of 70s kitsch!

2. Is it true that you really like to cook?

Ahem, well, yes! I trained as a chef so guess I love cooking! Always have done, ever since I was very little. Sadly, cooking for a living was frowned upon as a very basic career choice and so I was pushed to pursue other areas of work until I was able to finally break away and go back to college to study catering!

3. What recipe of your mother or grandmother do you make that sends you back in time watching (whichever one) in the kitchen?

It’s the most basic dish but just makes me think of my granny or Nene as we called her in Turkish. It is a traditional Cypriot village dish of Minty scrambled eggs and potato. Slow cook diced Cyprus potatoes then whisk up some eggs and pour in, sprinkle over dried mint and season with salt and pepper then mix until eggs are only just cooked. Serve with salad and bread. My Nan used to make this for us each time we went to see her. It’s such a nostalgic dish, almost brings a tear to my eye! The Turkish name is Yumurta Patates (literally Egg Potatoes).

4. What is your favourite herb, spice or both?

Aaah, well, it’s so hard but probably Cinnamon! It’s so prevalent in Turkish food and used to season absolutely anything! I also love Thyme, again another Turkish thing but also because every time I smell Thyme it reminds me of when I trained as a chef, the kitchen always smelled of Thyme and softened onions

5. If you could be a ghost in that kitchen and watch yourself as a small child, what would you tell that child today?

Learn all you can and write it down! Document it all as once the older generation has passed, the old recipes and techniques will be lost!

6. Outside your own country/county, which country’s cuisines do you like or prefer?

Has to be Japanese, I can’t get enough of it! There is no comparison to excellent sushi and Tepanyaki

7. What is your families’ favourite dish?

Turkish style Macaroni and Cheese. I know you Americanos love a good mac and cheese! Ours is made using thick long macaroni, halloumi and cheddar cheese combined, eggs are added to the cheesy roux mixture so it sets when finished off in the oven and the middle is filled with fried onions and lamb mince with parsley and seasoned with cinnamon of course! In Turkish, it’s called Firin Makarna (literally Oven Macaroni).

Just a few more and I will let you go.

8. Of all the kitchen gadgets invented OLD and NEW which OLD and NEW of those gadgets are your favourite?

Oooh, good question!!! OLD – I have owned the same Kenwood Mixer for the last 20 years. Although, I still beat cake batter the old-fashioned way, for larger cakes and lots of bread dough etc. I use my trustee Kenwood; it’s just the most awesome piece of kitchen gadgetry I’ve ever owned! I love it! And so hardy! I love making meringues with it!! Forget Kitchen Aid, Kenwood is where it’s at!

NEW – The newest piece of gadgetry was my hand blender, Swiss made by Bamix…..and let me tell you…..this is just first class. It grinds down granulated sugar into icing sugar! It makes peanut butter, it purees soup to as smooth as a baby’s bum! I mean, seriously, this is so awesome and makes wicked pesto.

9. I noticed on your website http://madebythechef.com that you teach at Braxted Park Cooking School, what is one thing that frustrates you the most.

The person that spends most of the lesson telling you they’ve done that before and that they cook this and that, don’t stop talking and are basically a know it all…..Really…..So, why are you here?

10. I like the idea of teaching 11 to 16-year olds to cook. What prompted you to teach such a young student? Are you teaching them to cook from scratch as you and I were taught or dare I say, use a microwave?

LOL! Fell into the teaching game. Just happened to be in the right place at the right time and the school was looking for an expert to teach the kids. I only teach from scratch and we never use the microwave! I loved teaching the kids, they were very responsive to the practical lessons. So interested in learning how to do stuff and loved it when I showed them new techniques. I always make them call me “Chef” and wear chef uniforms. They love it, plus I’ve been on TV so that always added a little kudos.

11. I have a old fashion pantry, larder to you Brits, Do you recommend people start one and what would be the most important thing in that larder?

Oooh, you can’t beat a larder!! I have one, it’s the best. I encourage anyone I teach to start a larder, even if it’s just a small space in their kitchen cupboard. There are so many important things to put in there but Flour would be way up near the top of my list! Plus a good selection of dried pulses, grains and rice. Also, jars of sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, always great for salads, quiches etc. I’d even encourage some cheats like tins of chopped tomatoes, and even sweated onions in olive oil (yes, you can buy them in tins here, known as Eazy onions and the Spanish housewives have been using them for years!)

Hulya I want to thank you for being the first to being interviewed here at Olives Place. You still have not given me any insight into that White Chapel thing, but you never can tell what you will reveal the next time you visit.

Thank you.


Below is a recipe that Hulya allowed to steal from her website: http://www.madebythechef.com/

Marinade for chickenthis marinade works for both chicken legs, thighs and breast meat but make sure to leave the skin on. You will need: a little olive oil, fresh parsley and sage, some lemon juice and the grated zest, salt and pepper to taste and a pinch of nutmeg. Rub well into the meat and use more or less as needed. Leave to marinade overnight before cooking and make sure the chicken is slow cooked and white right through.

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