A Recipe From Sloane Taylor’s Cookbook: Date Night Dinners

Date Night Dinners

 

I volunteered to make a meal from Sloane Taylor’s new cookbook, Date Night Dinners, Meals to Make Together for a Romantic Evening . I chose the pasta dish, Whore’s Spaghetti, because I love pasta and follow a vegan diet, and this meal was perfect. It was suggested in the book to serve the meal with Parmesan cheese, but I left it off my plate and the meal didn’t lose any of its extraordinary flavor. I absolutely loved this dish and will absolutely be making it again.

 

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Whore’s Spaghetti

Sauce
¼ cup (60ml) olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 – 14.5 oz. can (411g) Italian plum tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped
1 tbsp. (15ml) capers, chopped
1 can pitted black olives, drained and chopped
½ tsp. (2.5ml) red pepper flakes
1 tsp. (5ml) dried basil
1 tsp. (5ml) dried oregano
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic, stir 2 – 3 minutes.
Stir in tomatoes, capers, olives, pepper flakes, basil, and oregano. Turn heat to low, and simmer 15 minutes.
Add pepper. Taste the sauce, adjust seasoning to suit you.
Reduce heat to low, simmer another 15 minutes.

Pasta
1 lb. (454g) spaghetti
1 tsp. (5ml) fresh or dried parsley

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Cook spaghetti according to package directions until al dente.
Toss pasta with the sauce, sprinkle on parsley.
Serve with plenty of Parmesan cheese on the side.

 

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According to the book, the reason this dish is called Whore’s Pasta is because there was a rumor going around that the Working Girls in Italy “prepared this dish for their late night customers from standard kitchen supplies. It was an added bonus for their clients and an easy way to keep business flowing.” I can’t speak for the Working Girls’ other “services”, but this dish definitely would have kept me coming back for more.

A couple family friends stopped over the night I prepared this dish. Though they had already eaten and swore to me they were so full they couldn’t eat another bite, I placed a dish in front of them and persuaded them to at least “try a little bit.” I put those words in quotes because that “little bit” turned out to be the entire dish, plus another serving. Like me, these friends are Italian, and we Italians can always eat, especially when the meal is a tasty pasta dish.

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There is so much I love about this recipe. I’m a huge fan of capers and black olives, another reason I chose this dish. But I also like a little kick to my food, and the red pepper flakes were just the right amount of heat to satisfy my taste buds.

What I loved about this sauce (or gravy as we tend to call it) is that it was more like a coating to the pasta rather than the typical thick marinara sauce of crushed tomatoes that drip off the pasta when you eat it.

 

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I prefer a thinner sauce, so this dish was perfect for me. I’m no cooking aficionado, but I’m assuming it was the olive oil that married this sauce together so nicely. I loved the way the flavors of the capers and black olives blended so nicely together.

I also chose this recipe because it appeared so easy to make, and it was. I love to cook and try new recipes, but I don’t like to spend too much time in the kitchen. I have my limits, and this dish was very quick and easy to make, but because it was so good, my guests flooded me with compliments because they assumed I had worked harder on it than I really did. I eventually shared with them the simplicity of the recipe, and one of them already said they’d be making it, but will add shrimp.

If I still ate shrimp, I’m sure that would taste really good.

Five Stars for this delicious recipe.

 

 

 

Sloane

Award-Winning author Sloane Taylor is a sensual woman who believes humor and good food are healthy aspects of our everyday lives and carries that philosophy into her books. She writes spicy romance. Being a true romantic, all her stories have a happy ever after. Taylor is also an avid cook whose recipes are featured in Divine Magazine.

Sloane was born and raised on the Southside of Chicago. She and her husband now live in a small home in Northwest Indiana and enjoy the change from city life.

Taylor currently has seven romance books, a Couples Coobook, and two free compiled cookbooks released by Toque & Dagger Publishing. Excerpts from her books can be found on her website http://www.sloanetaylor.com, blog http://sloanetaylor.blogspot.com/, and all popular vendors.

Stay connected on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AuthorSloaneTaylor, Twitter https://twitter.com/sloanetaylor2, and Google+ https://plus.google.com/116792660982628183855/posts?hl=en.

 

 

 

 

 

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Victor

Last week I went to the animal shelter I volunteer at and was meant with tragic news. A dog that had been with us for over a year had died some time during the night. The news was devastating, but not shocking. Victor had been going through medical issues for a while. The shelter had been asking volunteers for months if anyone would take him in an a permanent foster so that he could live out whatever life he had left in the comfort of a home. The problem was that Victor needed to be in a home with no other pets. Most volunteers, like myself, have pets at home.

It was sad to watch Victor spend his days in a loud and crowded shelter. It’s a stressing place to be. No place for any dog, let alone a sick, older guy. He was nine. He had come to the shelter when he was eight. The circumstances to how he ended up with us are not fair at all. Victor had been living a good life with his owner on property the owner managed. Then a new landlord came in, took one look at Victor (an American Bulldog) and said that dog’s got to go. Suddenly Victor found himself in a shelter where he stayed until the day he died.

Victor didn’t bite anyone. He didn’t attack anyone. He did no harm. Yet, still he got locked up. That’s what a shelter is to a dog. Even shelters like mine, who treat their animals with loving care and give them all the medical attention they need, are still prisons to these dogs. Shelters are not supposed to be permanent homes, but way too often, too many dogs die there. Either naturally due to medical/age reasons. Or by euthanasia because there is juts not enough space for all of them.

But there would be if more people got involved to help with this overpopulation epidemic this country has. I saw a picture on social media last week of a line of people waiting to foster dogs before hurricane Florence came. My first thought was, where are all these people when local shelters and animals controls have to kill dogs for lack of room? Why is the thought of a dog dying in a hurricane so much worse than a dogs getting a needle or the gas chamber that people flocked to line up to take these dogs in? I’m glad they did, but where are they all the other times a dog’s life is in danger, which is every day?

Maybe because there’s more hoopla with a hurricane. People feel like they’re doing a bigger deed when they foster or adopt a “hurricane dog” as opposed to just a regular dog from the local shelter. I remember when Hurricane Harvey happened and many local shelters, including my own, took in many of those dogs left abandoned and people came out in droves to help out.

Again, it’s great that they do that, but where are they when dogs are killed every single day? It is beyond frustrating. You’re not a bigger hero when you save a hurricane dog as opposed to a dog sitting in a kennel with the clock ticking against it. Most dogs run out of time. Maybe shelters have to be more vocal about what will happen to these dogs if they don’t get out. The shelter I volunteer at is no-kill. I have that luxury of knowing the dogs I come to love, like I did Victor, will get all the time they need to find a home. But they’re still racing against the clock because the older a dog gets, the less likely a person will adopt them. And as in Victor’s case, sometimes your health takes you before you find a home.

Victor deserved better than taking his last breath alone in a kennel. He deserved to be in a comfy bed or snuggled on the couch with his human who loved him, but he was cruelly taken away from his human. He just wanted a home with a bed and lots of hugs and kisses.These breed-specific-laws and breed discrimination has to end. Victor wasn’t a danger to anyone. He was a shelter favorite.

Victor was a goofy, gentle, and playful dog, despite the pain his condition put him through. Make no mistake, Victor was loved where he was. It’s hard seeing his kennel empty and will be even harder to see his kennel with another dog in it because for over a year I have been used to seeing his beautiful face. Miss you. Love you.

If you’re looking for a pet, please visit your local shelter. Please don’t go to breeders or pet stores while shelter animals die.

 

 

Save America, Vote

So much is at stake this November and this country can’t afford to have over a hundred million people sit another election out.

Our healthcare is on the ballot.

Corruption is on the ballot.

Freedom of the Press is on the ballot.

The survival of our land, air, and water are on the ballot.

Women’s rights are on the ballot.

Gay rights are on the ballot.

Consumer protections against predatory banks and lenders are on the ballot.

Human rights are on the ballot.

Education is on the ballot.

Labor rights are on the ballot.

Save our country. Register to vote. Already registered? Go to vote.org and make sure you haven’t been purged because Republicans are doing all they can to suppress our votes. Vote Democratic and stop the corruption. Republicans are doing nothing to stop Trump from his authoritarian ways. Keep democracy alive and vote to turn Congress blue this November and finally put a check on Trump’s overreach of power.

 

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Living Without Bottled Water

In my quest to decrease my carbon footprint as much as possible, at the start of this month I committed to not consume any bottled water.  I have a Pur filter connected to my faucet and use that as the source of all my water. It was very easy. When I was on-the -go I simply filled a reusable water bottle, and when I was home I drank from a glass– no plastic or Styrofoam cups.  Everything I used–dishes, cups, utensils–were reusable…..except when I went to a White Sox game.

This was the only time I failed in my quest. I wasn’t sure what to do because any drink I ordered would have been served in plastic, and I would have only ordered water since I rarely drink pop. I refuse to pay 5 or 6 dollars for an Aquafina (which has been confirmed to be just purified tap water, so buy a filter and purify your own tap water). Because of this ridiculous price, I regularly bring a small cooler of water bottles to games.

I brought a cooler when I went to the game and drank two bottles of water. It didn’t occur to me until later that I could have only drank one bottle and refilled it with water from the faucet. Ah well, next time. But two bottles of water for the month isn’t too bad. I know the month isn’t over, but I don’t intend for it to go any higher. It’s not the zero I had aimed for, but it’s a start.

My obsession with eliminating as much plastic from my daily life doesn’t stop at bottles, I also hate plastic bags and it infuriates me when I’m shopping and see carts pull away from checkouts filled with plastic bags. Reusable bags, people!

I was shopping at TJ Maxx a couple weeks ago and when I was called to the cashier I placed my reusable bag and items on the counter. I glanced up and saw the cashier looking for the price tag on my bag. I laughed and told him it was mine for bagging the items. He commented that he didn’t think it was one of the store’s items.

I was probably the only person that cashier rung up that day, or maybe even that week,  who brought her own bag, but I hope one day that changes. I hope using reusable bags becomes the norm. Every piece of plastic — cups, bottles, utensils, straws– that isn’t used is good for our environment and our oceans. Don’t think you can’t make a difference because you are one person. There are many others doing the same thing and together we can make a big change.

We have to.

Plastic is having such a disastrous effect on our oceans that the European Union is proposing a ban on plastics.

 

Of course, we won’t get anything like that here in the U.S because our leaders don’t believe in climate change, but they do believe in giving corporations free reign to dump their filthy wastes into our streams and pollute our land and air.

I was never the smartest student in any of my classes in all of my levels of education. I’m okay with that. We all do our best. But because it is so easy for me, not the sharpest tool in the shed, to grasp the dangers of climate change and the disastrous effects the heating of our greenhouse gasses is having on this planet–our only planet–I have to believe most of the global warming deniers understand this also, but choose to ignore the evidence because they are in some way profiting off exploiting our land.

Greed, especially corporate greed, is slowly destroying our planet and our lives.

 

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I do not own these pictures.

No More Bottled Water For Me

I started this blog four years ago with the intention to use it as a platform for my writing, yet I’m sure posts about animals outnumber posts about writing tenfold. And you know what? I’m okay with that. Nothing would satisfy me more than to be the reason someone saves an animals from a shelter as opposed to visiting a pet store or breeder.

Yes, there are reputable breeders out there, and in a perfect world I think shelters and reputable breeders would be the only places people would get dogs. But this isn’t a perfect world. It never was.  And people are greedy assholes and have no problem breeding dogs in horrendous conditions without proper care, all for the sake of profit.

It’s easier to over-breed a dog for 10 years, keep her in filthy conditions, make a ton of money off her, and then toss her in a shelter or shoot her and leave her in a ditch somewhere, (yes, this happens) than to get a real job and actually work for a living.

I know not all breeders are like this, but until we are no longer killing animals every year because there is no space for them in shelters, I’ll never understand why people would go to a breeder, or how a good person would ever think to add more dogs to an already over-populated world of canines and become a breeder.

You are part of the problem. As two of my favorite sayings go: “Don’t breed or buy while shelter animals die” and “Every dog bred is a shelter dog dead.”

These are slogans I have seen at puppy mill and pet store protests I’ve been to, and they’ve really stuck with me.

Wait, I seem to have gone on about shelter dogs again. I do that a lot. But this post was not supposed to be about animals. I wanted to blog about something I decided to do while I was the shelter today, playing in a yard with one of the dogs named, Sevvy.  It was pretty warm out, and I had a bottle of water with me.

I sipped my water and it was ice cold, even though I had filled the bottle over an hour ago. The bottle was a reusable container, not plastic, and it was the kind that keeps the water at a cold temperature for over 12 hours. The cold water was so refreshing I had to ask myself why I even drink plastic bottled water.

Like many people I’m sure, plastic water bottles became a permanent fixture in my refrigerator, and I used to think nothing to grab a bottle, sit on my couch in front of my TV, and drink away. After doing this for many years and thinking there was nothing wrong with it because I recycle, I finally asked myself the simple question, “Why”?

Why do I need to drink bottled water? A while back, I decided I wouldn’t drink any bottled water while in my house. I had installed a simple water purifier system to my faucet and drank water the old fashioned way – with a cup.

I made the “no drinking bottled water” rule at home for me, while nagging everyone else in my home to do the same thing, yet never asked myself why I thought it was okay to grab a bottled water when I was on the go, especially since I have about a dozen reusable bottles in my house.

So, I was thinking today at the shelter, as I was drinking from my non-plastic reusable water bottle, that I will make a pledge to not use one single plastic water bottle for the entire month and since this is the first of the month, it’s a perfect time to start.

Again, I don’t use a lot of plastic water bottles to begin with, but I don’t see a reason I should use any at all.  I will drink from the faucet with my purifier and use reusable bottles when away from home.

Recycling is great and something we all should so, but reducing our waste is even better. It uses up a lot of energy to recycle, and it’s better for the environment to reduce first. So that will be my goal this month, to not just reduce my bottled water consumption but eliminate it.

My other goal is to finally finish that novel I’ve been working on for almost a year…right almost forgot about that.  Priorities.

 

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Give a Shelter Dog a Look

I was talking to a fellow volunteer at the animal shelter tonight and with a very somber tone she told me that fifteen of her friends have gotten their dogs from breeders, some just recently.

She was disappointed because everyone who knows enough about her to be considered a friend, knows that she volunteers at a dog rescue. Yet, not one of those friends had inquired about any of the dogs at the shelter.

She expressed to me her disbelief that her friends had not considered giving a home to a shelter dog since millions of dogs are killed each year because shelters run out of space to keep them. “They all want purebreds,” she’d said hopelessly.

I knew what this woman was feeling. I have friends, family, and neighbors who got their dogs from breeders, and I have a hard time with it too. I know everyone has the right to get their dog wherever they want (a breeder or those dreaded pet stores), but it’s so hard to understand why a person wouldn’t jump at the chance to save a life.

When you’re involved in rescue and see these amazing animals that are so deserving of loving homes, as well as being around other volunteers who also see adoption as the only option, it’s easy to forget there’s a whole part of the population that has never stepped foot into an animal shelter or have any consideration for their lives.

People in rescue think about the lives of these animals all the time and want to save them all, and it’s easy to assume everyone else does too, because…why wouldn’t they? These are homeless dogs we’re talking about.

Yet, there are people who think shelter dogs are broken and dirty and don’t live up to the status they feel having a pure-breed brings. Not everyone is like this, but I’ve seen and heard stories about enough of them to know there is sometimes a stigma attached to rescue dogs.

I’d like to help break this. If you’re reading this, and you have never considered rescuing a dog, please do. Give a shelter dog a try.  I promise, it will quickly become the best thing you’ve ever done.

I have a pit bull mix that I adopted. I would say pit bulls are my favorite breed, but really, rescue is my favorite breed.

Please rescue your next pet.

 

This is Sevvy. She’s a dog who has been at my shelter for almost two years. She is great with people, but has issues with other dogs. Still, she is so deserving of a loving home because she is am absolute sweetheart.

When searching for your next pet, please don’t overlook the ones who may not be perfect on paper, like Sevvy. She may need some extra work and patience to overcome her dog aggression, but she is definitely worth it.

Thanks for reading.

A Night of Nostalgia

Today was Major League Baseball Opening Day.  This day is always a bit nostalgic for me because baseball makes me think of my father. Not only did he take me to games when I was a child, but it was with him that I watched my first Sox game on TV, and after that, watching games with my father became a normal thing.

Me on the floor, him in his chair. I’d always ask him who the crowd was rooting for. He used to think that was cute of me. I didn’t know back then the team wearing white was the home team.

But baseball wasn’t the only thing that brought me nostalgia today. I went to a concert tonight of a band I absolutely adored when I was an early-teen. My walls were covered with this group, and my tape deck wore out their music daily.

Yes, I said tape deck. It was 1989.

I’ve seen this band perform before, but it’s been a while. I haven’t listened to some of their songs in over twenty years, yet the moment the first chords were played, I was back in my childhood room, sitting on my bed next to the radio, belting out every lyric to every song. It’s crazy how your brain doesn’t let you forget words to old, favorite songs no matter how long it’s been since you’ve listened to them.

It was a good time, but as much as I love this band, I hesitated buying a shirt at the show because I wasn’t sure how often I’d wear it. The band isn’t exactly popular anymore and for about two minutes I thought that would deter me from wearing the shirt in public.

I was wrong, and it only took me two minutes to realize it. I’ve never been a trendy person, and most people would say I have taste for shit when it comes to clothes, so I will wear my new shirt proudly and ignore any side way glances that may come my way.

While I was watching this band play, I thought about my thirteen-year-old self and wondered what she’d be doing right now if she were watching her favorite band play in a small theater like the one tonight. She’d be going absolutely nuts. Back in the day, I’d seen this band perform in big venues, 30,000 plus seating.  And tonight, I watched them play in a theater with an 867 seat capacity.

And they didn’t even come close to selling out.

Ah well. Such is life. No one can stay on top forever, but they’re still enjoying their ride. And that’s all that matters.