Grace's Mosaic Moments

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Comfort Food - My Favorites

 A couple more English bloopers found on Facebook:

Only a close reading will reveal the true horrors of "acyrologia."

Easier to find the single blooper in this one


My Favorite Comfort Foods for Winter

 It's very likely I have posted these recipes before, but they bear repetition. If you'd like to move beyond Spaghetti or Chili, below are two great suggestions. Growing up in a predominantly French town through high school, followed by a predominantly Italian town in my twenties, I did not learn about Picadillo until I moved to predominately Spanish East Orlando. But Wow! it's definitely a need-to-know mélange of flavors. The Cassoulet recipe, however, I've had for umpteen years, although not as far back as the Connecticut town of my childhood where the local Catholic school was taught in French and nearly all my classmates spoke French at home. (Their grandparents had been imported from Quebec Province to work in the mills in our area - seven of them.) In any event, a Cassoulet is French in origin, the wine a "must" to get the flavor right (although chicken or veggie broth can be substituted, if preferred).

The recipes below are copied from the Cookbook I created for my grandgirls for Christmas 2021.


This is a really great-tasting meal. Freezes well. (Ingredients and Seasonings are flexible, depending on the amount of meat and your personal taste.)

Note: Although this is an easy recipe, there a lot of ingredients. Things will go more smoothly if you prepare all the additions ahead of time: chop the onion & garlic; lay out all the other ingredients like soldiers on parade.

olive oil or olive oil spray
1 - 1½ lbs. ground beef
1 onion, chopped or sliced into small bits
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (14½ oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
¼ - ½ cup golden raisins*
¼ - ½ cup sliced green olives
¼ - ½ cups slivered almonds
capers, to taste (optional)
½ - 1 tablespoon chili powder
½ - 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
c. ½ teaspoon salt - less if using capers
c. 3/4 cup beef broth - or heaping teaspoon of beef granules + 3/4 cup water
White rice

*Regular raisins can be substituted, but it’s just not the same.

Brown ground beef in small amount of hot olive oil in large nonstick skillet, adding onion & garlic when beef is nearly brown.Turn down heat to medium. Cook until onions are soft (translucent). Drain liquid.  Add tomatoes with juice, raisins, olives, almonds, capers & all seasonings. Add beef broth. Stir to mix well. Simmer c. 30 minutes for best mix of flavors

While picadillo simmers, cook enough white rice to serve each person. Serve picadillo over rice, with added almonds, if desired.

Note: picadillo varies according to who makes it - some add apple, some use tomato sauce, some use tomato paste, etc.  Add the amounts of raisins, olives, almonds, & capers that suit your family’s taste. 



This is one of those recipes that appears to be completely ordinary but has an extraordinary flavor. Well worth trying.

½ lb. bulk sausage*
1 small onion, sliced (½ cup)
1 clove garlic, minced
½ lb. (1½ cups) cooked ham, cubed
2 tablespoons snipped parsley
1 bay leaf
2 15-oz. cans navy beans
¼ cup dry white wine
Dash, ground cloves (not too much!)

*I use Jimmy Dean.

In skillet, cook sausage, onion & garlic until meat is lightly browned and vegetables are tender; drain off excess fat. Add ham, parsley and bay leaf; mix well. Stir in undrained beans, wine & cloves. Pour into 1½-2 qt. casserole. Bake, covered, at 325° for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake 40-45 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Remove bay leaf. Serve in bowls. Serves 6.

~ * ~

Below, my one and only attempt at Steampunk/Alternative History. Since I love trains, I had a ball writing it. [Certain people I know will be thoroughly shocked that I turned Wellington into a villain. (Well, almost.) Frankly, I've never been a fan of Victoria, so I almost played with history even more severely . . .]


Miss Araminta Galsworthy encounters a number of surprises at the home of her new guardian, an inventor like her father. In addition to a host of strange machines and attacks by people who think her guardian's invention, the airship Aurora, is the work of the devil, she is expected to play hostess to a bevy of guests, all of whom seem to be engaged in treason. And, oh yes, she is expected to marry her guardian. Immediately.

Minta struggles to adjust to a new husband, new enemies, and new friends—one a princess who must rise above her rivals for the throne of England. When the day of revolution arrives, Minta plays a vital role, but comes perilously close to losing her chance to live a life where she, not the airship Aurora, is the center of her husband's life.

~ *~

For a link to Blair's website, click here.

 For a link to Blair's Facebook Author Page  click here.


Thanks for stopping by,

Grace (Blair Bancroft)


Saturday, January 21, 2023

Stranger Than Fiction



Taken from my driveway, the trail of this week's Falcon Heavy launch and a pic I've never managed before, the plunge of the two boosters back to their landing pads at the Cape - a feat that boggles the mind. I saw them later on the news, sitting almost dead center on pads that looked to be not more than a football field apart. Amazing! (Although my camera didn't pick it up, I could actually see the course-correction burn on the boosters as they descended through that gray cloud.)

Launch trail over neighbor's house

Descent of Falcon Heavy Boosters

And for those of us who are constantly amazed by the language we speak . . .

~ * ~



The Remarkable Course of Justice

On the surface, this is a short blog. That's because I have a included a link to a 16-minute YouTube video I strongly feel is worth sharing. Why? Read on.

Every morning I make coffee, feed the cat, then sit down with a cup of coffee to watch the news on CNN and MSNBC before making the bed and walking the length of the house to my office and sitting down to write the next scene of whatever book I'm working on. But . . .

On Wednesday, January 18, the news was interrupted by a "Live from Quincy, Massachusetts," and there was the Probable Cause hearing for Brian Walshe, whom the police had just arrested for murdering his wife - an act some questioned as there was no body.

And there I sat, utterly fascinated, as the female Prosecutor began to read a litany of facts, timed out to the minute, that went on and on and on. If a mystery author used such a litany in a novel, no one would believe it. (Although I strongly suspect scenes of this type will begin to crop up in TV mysteries in the not-too-distant future.) 

The list - from google searches, to cleaning purchases ($450 worth, including a hacksaw) to bits of the wife's clothing and jewelry, to DNA evidence - was astonishing, damning, and a triumph for the investigators.

Why should we care? 1) a belief in justice; 2) interest in how the law works; 3) the sheer drama of the Prosecutor reading the list with Walshe's frozen face ever-present in the background.

Yes, the video is 16-minutes long, but it's well worth your time to take a look.


To access the YouTube link to Brian Walshe's Probable Cause hearing,  click here.

 ~ * ~


S A L E !

 After spending a lot of time at home over the past week, coping with the aches & pains of a fall suffered while scrambling out of the way of a falling 4-drawer filing cabinet(!), I realized I don't put books on sale as often as I should. So here is a 99¢ special for the next couple of weeks. (Usual retail - $3.99)

In this spin-off of the Blue Moon Rising series, the Crucible Kingdom, an obscure planet far, far away, is suffering from an ancient curse—periodic bouts of violent storms, earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, and wildfire. To break the curse, a widowed duchess and a starship captain from the disintegrating Regulon Empire (which her ancestors fled centuries earlier) are forced to work together. Although the duchess grudgingly accepts that the captain is highly capable in emergencies, she scorns the idea that a hard-headed Reg who does not believe in the power of sorcery can be helpful in breaking a curse. And then the captain comes up with an idea no one thought of, setting off a quest that turns out to be more dangerous than the curse itself.

For a link to The Crucible KIngdom on Amazon, click here.

For a link to The Crucible KIngdom on Smashwords & affiliates, click here.

 ~ *~


For a link to Blair's website, click here.

 For a link to Blair's Facebook Author Page  click here.


Thanks for stopping by,

Grace (Blair Bancroft)




Saturday, January 7, 2023

Our Changing Language


Pardon me for heading this blog with a meme whose humor only musicians will understand.


 My Facebook Comment to the above was a round of applause for the joke and a hope that it wasn't so. I'm really looking forward to a better year and a better me.


 As anyone who ever tried reading Chaucer or Shakespeare knows, our language is constantly changing. But, let's face it, there are a lot of winces from purists along the way. I'm still a strong supporter of going with what's often called "Oxford English"—doing my bit to slow down the massacre of the language—but when I keep reading certain mistakes over and over . . . When I hear these mistakes coming out of the mouths of television anchors . . . And don't get me started on sports broadcasters who seemed to determined to craft entirely new meanings for words we thought we knew and understood . . . I decided I should add one more voice to those crying in the wilderness for a return to the English our teachers taught us, or attempted to teach us, way back when.

So what are my pet peeves? At the head of the list . . .

1. Alright.  "Alright" is not a word. (Yes, I see it constantly on Closed Captioning. That still doesn't make it a real word.) The correct term is:  All right. As in "Are you all right?"

2. Misuse of pronouns is my second-worst complaint. As in "It's him." "It was her." The correct use:  It's he. It was she. And yet . . .

Let's face it, if I picked up the phone and said, "Hi, it's I," I'd likely encounter a stunned silence. Or someone would think I'd been watching too much Brit TV. "It's me" has become an inextricable part of our daily American English. There's no way to change it, even if we wanted to. And I suspect the constant use of "him" and "her" in place of "he" and "she" may go the same way. It's simply too prevalent to fight it, having reached the point where you sound wrong when you are actually saying, or writing, the phrase correctly.

3. More misuse of pronouns.

In an almost funny reverse of the above, many people, recalling being told not to say something like "Him and me went to the store," go over backward on the use of "I." Just yesterday I heard an announcer say, "Between you and I," when, of course, the correct English is "Between you and me." Sigh.

4. And still more messed-up pronouns.

Words like "but" and "than" also go in need of the proper pronoun. To make sense of it, check out the progressions of sentences below.

Everybody but Ed ate the grapes
Everybody but he ate the grapes.
NOT - Everybody but him ate the grapes.
Jane is smarter than Mary is.
Jane is smarter than she (is).
NOT:  Jane is smarter than her.
5. Was and were in "If" clauses. (You may notice I am confining myself to as few "grammar" words as possible to keep from sending readers into a flight of panic.)

Like the misuse of Pronouns, using "was" instead of "were" after "If" has been slipping out of proper English at a stunning pace. As much of a stickler as I am, I often find myself using "was" instead of "were."  Examples:  

Wrong:  If I was properly dressed for the occasion, I wouldn't be so embarrassed.

Right:  If I were properly dressed for the occasion . . . .

Grace note:  I suspect many authors who write for teens and twenty-somethings deliberately misuse pronouns and "If" clauses so they will fit in with the modern vernacular. I am grateful that as a "mostly Regency" author, I am not forced to compromise my standards.


I have a friend who is even fussier about English than I am, and I asked her for a list of some of her pet peeves. Linda is the ultimate proofreader. She can spot an error in English or a plain old typo from twenty paces. So, from Linda Wightman of Altamonte Springs, Florida . . . 

In addition to the problems above, Linda hates:

1. "Different than" instead of the correct "Different from."

2.  "Thru" instead of "Through."

3. The confusion over Lie and Lay. These have to be among the most abused words in the English language, confused by even some of the best-educated among us.

I want to lie down. (in the Present)
I lay down on the couch. (in the Past)
I laid the book on the table. (meaning to put something down)

Wrong:  I want to lay down.

3.  Who/whom.

Admittedly, this is a doozie. There are times when even I have to stop and think about it. And, like those pesky pronouns, sometimes we ignore the rules because we sound impossibly precious if we do it correctly. For example, the correct way to ask who is calling on the phone is: To whom am I speaking? But in a manner similar to "It is I" vs. "It's me," if I actually said that to someone, they would think me either impossibly snooty or just plain weird. So we settle, at least in American English, for the in-your-face, "Who's this?" A very definite move away from what is correct to words we are comfortable with. 

In its simplest form, "Who" asks a question. "Whom" is the object of the question.

Examples from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition:
Who washed the dishes today? It was who?
Whom did you see? For whom is this building named?

Grace note: I can't get excited over Linda's objection to Halloween, as opposed to Hallowe'en, but I do understand her objection to doing away with the masculine pronoun used as a general term for "mankind" (which, to some, is objectionable in itself). Some of the attempts to replace masculine generalities work; others are simply absurd. Women can assert their rights without destroying generic pronouns. (Fortunately, I'm well hidden behind my computer screen when the rotten eggs start flying.)

4. Apostrophe Abuse.

 I strongly concur with Linda on this one. There is NO WAY the misuse of apostrophes should be allowed to creep into our language. They are wrong, wrong, wrong, and no amount of misuse can make them right. I actually received a Christmas card this year with the family's name signed:  The Smith's Oh, horrors. Sigh. 

Apostrophes DO NOT make a plural! The signature should have read:  The Smiths

The only time an apostrophe should be used in a plural is to indicate ownership: I like the Smiths' new SUV. I am going to the Smiths' house tomorrow. And just to be precise, if only one of the Smiths owns something, the apostrophe comes before the "s":   Bill Smith's phone fell in the mud.

 4.  Linda also cites "Neither/nor" as in danger of extinction. Since I use them all the time in my historical novels, I wasn't aware of that, but they, too, are useful bits of English that should not fall by the wayside.

SUMMARY.  I am certain there are many more egregious manipulations of the English language out there, but I hope these are enough to make all of us—not just the authors among us—stop and take a second look at what we've written before we end up making our names a nonsensical possessive instead of the gracious signature we intended.

 ~ * ~

 Time for a plug for a book with one of my all-time favorite covers - and my only book written especially for Young Adults (although I hasten to add that it's a fictionalized account of a true story which should appeal to anyone who enjoys a rousing bit of history from the time of Henry II, father of King Richard and Prince John - made famous in the tales of Robin Hood). 


 Alecyn de Beauclaire, an orphaned heiress, is taken captive at age nine by the Earl of Rocheford who wants to enjoy the income from her estates. Her first friend in the strange new world at Castle Rocheford is Ranulf Mort à Mer, a descendant of Vikings and a penniless squire with no hope of ever being able to afford a horse and armor so he can become a knight. As the years go by, their friendship is unwavering, even when tested by the preaching of monks who declare that all women are evil and should be shunned.

When Alecyn is almost fourteen (a marriageable age in Medieval times) King Henry II makes Alecyn his ward. She is thrilled because she knows the king will want to keep her money for himself and, therefore, will not marry her off for several more years. Perhaps there is still time for Ranulf to become a knight and distinguish himself in battle.

In her position as companion to the royal children and songstress to the royal court, Alecyn learns not only the epic romance of chivalry, but the dark side of romance as she witnesses the love/hate relationship between the king and queen. Ranulf, meanwhile, learns to fight side by side with a new friend, William Marshall. But even Ranulf's eventual elevation to knighthood is not enough to qualify for the hand of an heiress to four fine estates.

Until, one day, Queen Eleanor goes for a hunt on her lands in the Aquitaine, and Ranulf and his friend, William Marshall, are among her escorts. Perhaps, just perhaps, if the three young people survive captivity by Eleanor's rebellious knights, they may have a future after all. But which young knight will King Henry choose for Alecyn?

~ *~

For a link to Blair's website, click here.

 For a link to Blair's Facebook Author Page  click here.


Thanks for stopping by,

Grace (Blair Bancroft)