Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Kitchen Adventures! - Stuffed mushrooms

Any other mushroom lovers out there? The only person who can beat my love of mushrooms in my family is my father. The two of us can put a hurting on anything that involves mushrooms. My father had no idea that I liked mushrooms until I was a teenager. It was sort of a bonding moment.

Getting mushrooms ready for the oven

Until recently, I had only been using mushrooms as a garnish or a topping. I was very naive to all the other things you could do with them. I also discovered using fresh mushrooms instead of those in a jar. The difference was amazing. Coming across a stuffed mushroom recipe was an accident. I feel like this recipe was has been waiting for me to find it. I went ahead and tried it, because why not.

They are the best when they are warm and gooey!

The filling is mushroom stems, garlic, onion, cream cheese and parmesan cheese. My only complaints were the filling tasted a bit too salty, while the mushroom caps tasted a bit too fresh. I blame human error. I added salt when I sauteed  the mushrooms, onions and garlic, not thinking how much salt the cheese had. Also, I think the filling needs a bit more. An herb or something to brighten it up. I added crab meat to the filling, but it wasn't enough for me to notice it, flavor wise. Not sure how I'm going to remedy that in future.

The mushrooms did taste much better the next day. So, all in all, it wasn't a bad recipe. Just one that needs some tweaking. I have a feeling that once I get this right, it is going to become one of my quick and easy go to dishes.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Nightfall Saga: Secrets Revealed (Part 6)

Lord Jaias watched as the carriage that had brought his sister and estranged niece to his doorstep finally pulled away. Tobias stood a step behind him. There was an icy silence. Jaias’ normal countenance was marked with agitation, his brow furrowed and forehead wrinkled. But, he only stood there, hands folded behind him.

“What will you have done now, sir?” Tobias asked, watching the carriage disappear into the distance.
 

“For now, we simply sit and wait. Have Matthias watch Cixithara. I’m sure that she will be returning to House Silvacce."

The elven lord turned to head back up the stairs and into the house again, "My niece will come back, Tobias. She knows that she is one of us now.”
 

“The Heads of Council?” Tobias asked, "What will they be told?"
 

“I will do my duty as the head of this House and tell them what I found. Cixithara Daybreaker is a candidate to be the next Vessel and should be treated as such.”
 





The  inside of the carriage was silent. The only sound was the rolling of the wheels against the dirt roads that left Silvermoon City. Both Cixi and Alara had taken off the fancy clothes and make up they had been decorated in for the past several days. It was back to simple clothes and plain faces, but everything between the mother and daughter seemed changed somehow. Cixi didn’t speak to her mother. She didn’t even look at her. She simply stared out the window, pretending to pay attention to the passing scenery outside.
 

“You were never supposed to know,” Lady Alara said in a low voice.
 

“Know what? That I was forced to be something else that I was never any good at in the first place?” Cixi spat out, a tinge of bitterness edging her words.
 

“You are were chosen as Guardian for First Hunt. The Elders recognize you, just like they recognize your brothers and recognized your father. Do not let Lord Jaias’ words poison everything you know about yourself.”
 

“What about Zendier and Taulithran? Are my brothers the same as me?”
 

Lady Alara ran her hand over her mouth before she spoke. The words slowly came past her lips, obvious that she was measuring the weight of every word coming out of her mouth.
 

“They are gifted, but not like you. You were different. Even when you were little, there was something about you and magic that your brothers just didn’t have.”
 

“Why didn’t you give me a choice?” Cixi asked, finally turning her face away from the window, “If you knew what I could do with magic, why did you not give me the choice of being a mage?”
 

“Because I was afraid that you would chose to be one of them,”  Lady Alara answered back, "And you  have no idea what they would have made you become."

"At least they were honest."

Cixi didn’t bother going back home.  She wanted to be by herself for a while, Just to  at least straighten things out in her head. The carriage dropped her off at the front gates of the Silvacce Estate. Cixi didn't smile and wave as the carriage left. Instead, she shoved her hands in pockets and watched as the brightly colored hawkstriders pull the carriage away.

Cixi's mind raced with a thousand thoughts as she slowly walked down the dirt paths that laced the Silvacce estate. Most of them starting with “what if”. Then, it came suddenly. A sharp pain behind Cixi’s eyes. Unlike any headache she had ever experienced before, in a matter of moments, the pain became excruciating. Cixi’s head throbbed, like someone was shoving a spike between her eyes and into her skull. She grabbed the sides of her head and crumpled her to knees. Bright blinding lights streaked across her vision. The only thing she could hear was the thumping of her own racing heart beat in her ears. 

Moments later, Cixi fell over in the grass, writhing, her screams of pain caught in her throat, the piercing pain only going deeper into her skull. The last thing she remembered before passing out was seeing an outline of a woman’s face in the blinding flash of light.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Nightfall Saga: Secrets Revealed (Part 5)

“Lord Jaias has instructed that he not be disturbed at this time, milady. He should be done very soon. If you would come back at that time, I am sure he will take an audience with you.”
 

The servants were not allowed to put their hands on Lady Alara. She knew that and they knew that. But it didn’t keep the servants from trying anything else they could in order to get her to stop. However, all of their efforts were for not. Lady Alara still pushed her way through, towards her brother’s study. As she entered the outer room, she heard something. Something very familiar. What was that? Was it music? Alarra hoped that it was just her frazzled nerves, creating the noise in her own head, playing on her worst fears. She remembered that song, quite well. What felt like a lifetime ago, her father had handed her a toy and told her to open it. She remembered the way he looked at her as those pieces slid across the sides.
 

She grasped the handle of her brother’s study and yanked it, barreling through the door as she did so. There was only quiet afterwards. Quiet that was fringed with a soft melody playing, the music that Alara had hoped she was only hearing inside of her own head. That dreaded song. That terrible song.
 

Cixi stared at her mother’s wide eyes with a startled stare of her own. She dropped the small box on the desk, music still continuing to play. Lord Jaias stood up from his chair and took several steps toward his sister.
 

“What…what have you done?” Alara replied, her stomach sinking with every second.
 

“It’s just a puzzle box…” Cixi started to explain.
 

“How long have you known?”
 

Cixi stopped talking. Lord Jaias had walked around his desk and was facing his sister. There were no pleasantries passed or civility faked. There was nothing but raw reality between the two of them now. It felt as if her mother and uncle had forgotten that she was even in that room. The conversation was now just them.
 

“You had absolutely no right! You had no right!”
 

Lady Alarra’s shouting had no effect on her brother. His voice only became colder and deeper.
 

“How long have you known?” he repeated,”How long did you keep this from the rest of us? How long did you keep it away from Father? From the Heads of the Houses?”
 

“Cixithara is a trained hunter, just like her father and his father before him…”
 

“…with Ebonlynx blood running through her veins! Something you can’t erase no matter how badly you want to! There is a reason that your daughter was never able to fit into that excuse for a House that you married into.”
 

“My daughter will never be one of you! Not as long as I have breath in my body!”
 

“Stop shouting!”
 

Alarra and Jaias turned from each other. Cixi stood there, opened puzzle box in hand. Alara half stomped, half marched her way over, reached for the toy and hurled it across the room. The box crashed into the wall. The music stopped, the glowing stopped. The box closed and relocked itself. As Cixi stared at the small toy that was now on the ground, Lady Alara grabbed Cixi by the wrist.
 

“We are leaving.”
 

Cixi yanked back.
 

“No we aren’t," Cixi replied, "Not until someone tells me what is going on.”

Story Finale: Secrets Revealed (Part 6)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Nightfall Saga: Secrets Revealed (Part 4)

“Where you any good at solving puzzle boxes?” Lord Jaias asked, moving the small cube from one hand to the other while he spoke.
 

“The pretty one I lost was simple.” Cixi replied with a smile, hands folded in her lap, “The newer puzzle boxes I got never came as easily to me as that one did. Especially as I got older. I always solved them eventually. It was probably the only thing I did better than my brothers.”
 

“This is going to sound like an odd request," Lord Jaias replied, "but I was wondering if you could do one thing for me.”
 

Lord Jaias stopped passing the puzzle box between his hands and held it out toward Cixi, the black cat facing her.
 

“Do you think that you could try solving this one?”
 

“Oh, Uncle,” Cixi said with a short giggle, “You want to see me sit here and struggle while you know how to solve it.”
 

“I have a feeling that you will probably have an easy time solving this one,” Lord Jaias replied, still keeping his hand outstretched, “Will you try it?”
 

Cixi reached her hand out and let Lord Jaias place the small cube in her hand, “Well, I suppose there is no harm in trying. But you are allowed to give me hints if it starts to take too long. Mother is expecting me out at the carriage pretty soon. She will lose her mind if find out I'm in here playing with puzzle boxes.”

"Of that I have no doubt."


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Lady Alarra clutched her skirt in both hands, sprinting as quickly as her heeled shoes would allow. She ignored the sideways glances from those she pushed her way through the corridors. She had this panicked feeling in her chest. Why hadn’t see been told about the extension? Even the servants knew? He wouldn’t. He couldn’t.
 

Lady Alarra continued running, now catching the attention of the servants that lined the hallways. They tried reaching out and stopping her, asking what it was that she was in such a hurry to get. They would be more than happy to have her wait and they go off and get it for her. But she pushed them aside just as she did everyone else.


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Cixi stared at the shiny moveable pieces, sliding one piece across and then sliding it back.
 

“You are concentrating too hard,” Lord Jaias said, seeing the furrowed lines of frustration starting to crease Cixi’s face, “Why don’t you try closing your eyes while you move the pieces?”
 

“You can’t solve a puzzle if you can’t see it,” Cixi said, still sliding the pieces around to no avail.
 

“Sometimes it’s our eyes that make the puzzle harder than what it is. Come on, Cixithara, close your eyes.”
 

Cixi twisted her mouth in disbelief but closed her eyes anyway. Lord Jaias looked down and watched as the outline of the black mountain cat emblem began to glow softly. This was quite the unexpected turn. She had done nothing more than close her eyes. The glow became brighter and Cixi slowly pulled her fingers away from the small toy. The sliding pieces started moving themselves as the puzzle box sat nested in Cixi’s hand. After a few moments, with her eyes still closed, Cixi pressed the emblem with her thumb and the box came open.
 

“You were right,” Cixi replied, opening her eyes again, “That was simple. You didn’t tell me that it was a magic puzzle box. Those are always easy to open. But if yours was anything like mine, it usually does something after you open it.”
 

“You are correct. This one plays a song. Do you think that you could get it to play?”
 

Lord Jaias leaned forward, a new intrigue sparking in his powder haired niece.


 Story continues: Secrets Revealed (Part 5)

The Nightfall Saga: Secrets Revealed (Part 3)

Lady Alara made sure that all of her things were being sent to a carriage outside and then went to make sure that Cixi's things were taken care of as well. She had expected to see Cixi sitting in her room. However, when she opened the door, there were only hand maidens packing up the few things that Cixi had brought with her and cleaning the room up.
 

"Where is my daughter?" Lady Alara asked, scanning the room.
 

The young elven women averted their eyes, more to avoid answering the question rather than out of customary habit. There was silence as the servants exchanged glances between each other. Lady Alara noticed that Matthias also sitting quietly in the corner, not making any eye contact.
 

“I am going to ask one more time and only one more time,” Lady Alara said, in a sterner voice, “Where is my daughter?”
 

“The young ma’am wished to say goodbye to Lord Jaias before you left,” one of the handmaidens answered, “We warned her that it was against your explicit wish. However, she believed that saying you all were leaving would not be so terrible. We are really sorry, Lady Alara. There was nothing we could say that would stop her.”
 

“It is quite alright,” Alara replied, slightly upset but keeping her composure, “It is only polite, I suppose. And with the testing coming to a close, I am sure that my brother would notice our absence. I just wish I had been informed of my daughter’s actions before this.”
 

“Milady, were you not told?” the handmaiden asked,” Testing is going on for one more day. The Council extended it late last night.”
 

Lady Alara’s eyes widened, “Extended it? Why?”



Story Continues: Secrets Revealed (Part 4)

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Nightfall Saga: Secrets Revealed (Part 2)

Just like that, the Testing was over. There was no more calling of names, no more sitting in hallways, no more secret meetings behind closed doors. Everyone went back to socializing, eating, gossiping and whatever else they had occupied themselves with doing before. Lady Alara busied herself with packing. She was leaving as soon as possible and taking her daughter with her.

In the middle of the frenzied rush, Cixi snuck away. She was just as happy to leave as her mother was anxious to get her out. Nothing would make her happier than to be rid of these ridiculous clothes, ridiculous people and be back in her hammock at the clinic with Nic and Erad. But, there was one person she had to see before she left. After making her way quickly and quietly down the maze of corridors, Cixi lightly knocked on the familiar study door. She knew that she was supposed to have Matthias do all the knocking and introductions for, but that just seemed so silly. Besides, she was on her way home. What could possibly be done to her now for knocking on a door?
 

The door opened and Cixi met the rather stunned gaze of Tobias, wearing his long brown robes as always. He looked past Cixi, obviously searching for the servant who was supposed to be accompanying the young lady elf. Cixi spoke up, directing her question at Tobias
 

“Is Lord Jaias busy?” 
 
“You know that you never have to ask that.”
 

The answer came before Tobias could form one of his own. He quickly moved out of Cixi’s way, allowing her to come inside of the study. Lord Jaias was sitting behind his desk, as it seemed he always was whenever Cixi had come to see him. He rolled up whatever it was he was working on and placed it to the side. His eyes had dark circles beneath them and the lines in his faces seemed deeper than they had been before. A grin crossed his lips as Cixi came into the room.
 

“Has my sister allowed you to come and see me?” he asked, leaning back in his chair and placing his arms on the armrests.
 

Cixi shook her head, as she took a seat on the opposite side of the desk, “No, she doesn’t know that I have come here to see you. But I thought it was only polite for me to come and say goodbye. 

"Goodbye?" Lord Jaias asked, "Rushing off are we?"

Cixi shook her head again, "My mother and I are leaving today. In fact, we are leaving pretty soon. My things are probably being loaded on a carriage as we speak.” 

Lord Jaias took a deep breath,”I had hoped you would have stayed for a bit longer. But once my sister has made up her mind, there is no unmaking it," Lord Jaias paused for a moment.

"You have a position in House Silvacce, I heard. You should take a few of those outfits that you wore while you were here. I’m sure that you will have use for them again.”
 

“I really don’t think my mother would let me keep them,” Cixi replied, “It would probably be best if I just let them remain here.”
 

Lord Jaias nodded, pursing his lips slightly at the thought. There was silence for a few moments. Cixi started picking at the frills on her dress. What it was that had driven such a wedge between her mother and her uncle? He seemed genuinely nice and understanding. And her mother was usually sweet, despite her stern streak. Cixi could feel her curiosity churning away in her head. However, she wasn’t entirely sure if it was something that she wanted to ask. At least not right now. Looking to change the subject, Cixi eyed something in front of her.
 

"Oh!" Cixi exclaimed, seeing the small object on Lord Jaias desk, "I used to have a toy just like that one!"
 

Lord Jaias sat forward in his chair and moved some papers around to see what Cixi was talking about. Nestled next to some ink bottles was a cube. It was constructed out of polished wood and metal with shifting pieces on each side. With a grin on his face, Lord Jaias picked the cube up and slowly turned it around in his hand.
 

"Really?" Jaias replied, interest causing his ears to perk up, "I didn’t think that you would have any interest in puzzle boxes. Especially ones like these. Do you still have yours?"
 

Cixi shook her head, "No, I don't know what became of it. I used to play with it all the time and then I lost it somehow. My brothers were going to let me play with theirs, seeing how they didn't really care for it. But oddly, they lost theirs too. Just figured they were given away or something."
 

"Did your puzzle box have any special markings on it, like this one does?"
 

Lord Jaias turned the box over to reveal a black cat etched into one of the sides. Again Cixi nodded her head.
 

"Yes, it did. All of ours did, actually. They all had silver crowns etched into the side. We never knew what they meant. Just figured it was a toymaker mark. But I have never been able to find a puzzlebox like that since. It was so pretty, like yours."
 

Lord Jaias grinned, “Yes, this particular one is quite special. It was a gift. My father always kept it right here on his desk. I find myself doing the same thing.”


Story continues: Secrets Revealed (Part 3)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Daily Write - Belong to You

I want to pen this letter to you. Share my deepest feelings. But I don’t know how. How do I paint my heart in ink? And paint it in such a way that you can understand these thoughts and feelings that I barely understand myself. Even now, I wonder if I should burn this letter and give up on this endeavor. 
How is it that you can make everything so intoxicatingly confusing? How can you give my world such calm and clarity. And in the same moment, make everything so chaotic and uncertain? My head swims. My pulse quickens. I cannot rid myself of this ever present smile you put on my face. I am powerless to undo this unyielding and wondrous net I have found myself entangled in. I am captured, captivated and entranced, as if wandering in a dream that I never want to end.
 

My first waking thought is of you. And you are the last image in my head before drifting off to sleep. Your eyes, your smile, your laugh , my head is filled with thoughts of you. Like a lingering pleasant memory constantly revisited.
 

Perhaps I am nothing more than a fool. A fool with a pen, making a poor attempt to give voice to my heart and my soul. I hope I can convey at least a whisper of my heart. I want you to know this part of me. The part that springs to life when I am around you. This flickering light that glows for you. And every second it continues to swell in my chest.
 

This is my letter. This is my heart in ink, painted on paper for you to read, and hopefully for your heart to understand. I want for nothing more than to belong to you.