Fiction Faith & Foodies

Fiction Faith & Foodies: August 2015

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Excited about Eating by Ernie Hiers

This edition of Excited about Eating spotlights a couple restaurants in Michigan, where we visited for a NASCAR race.

We discovered a gem, the Breakfast Club in Farmington Hills, a home town family restaurant serving up breakfast and lunch to the locals.

I chose the Meat Lovers Bowl. Sausage, bacon, ham, and eggs topped with cheese and served over diced potatoes with a side of sausage gravy and fresh fruit. This breakfast was great! Crispy potatoes, perfectly cooked poached eggs, and a hearty heaping of meat and cheese. I used the sausage gravy for dipping the crispy potatoes.
Meat Lovers Bowl
Dora here. I ordered The Greasy Spoon. Hash browns, melted cheese, caramelized onions, topped with two eggs and served with toast and fresh fruit. Let me say I’m not a huge breakfast fan. I’m usually quite happy with a bowl of cereal. And this was so much food! Everything was tasty and filling, but I could’ve made a meal on the walnut cherry toast. Yowza! Crispy yet chewy, and buttery with bits of fruit and nuts. Delicious! 

Service was quick and friendly, and hubby’s late special order of a poached egg rather than scrambled didn’t upset. Actually, the waitress responded that they take care of their customers. And that was obvious with the chocolate covered strawberries that come complimentary with the checks. YUM! What a sweet way to start the day. And we can certainly understand why this restaurant is a local favorite.
Complimentary chocolate covered strawberries
We rate this restaurant 5 forks out of 5 for a family friendly restaurant serving outstanding food.

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The next day we scouted out a local pizza place. Buddy’s Pizza in Livonia, with their deep dish offerings, sounded right up our foodie alley.

Be warned, though. Don’t wait until 7 PM on a Friday night and expect to get right in. This place was jammed!

Their pizzas come in squares of 4 or 8. We opted for 2x4’s, a Meat Deluxe with pepperoni, Italian sausage, ham, bacon, and seasoned ground beef, and a Pepperoni. Both pizzas were outstanding, not greasy, and full of flavor.
4 sq pepperoni
4 sq Meat Deluxe
Dora here. I confess that I tend to be somewhat of a pizza snob. I don’t like pizzas smothered in sauce or cheese, and my fave is thick and doughy. These pies were not doughy, but crispy and not too cheesy or saucy. Surprisingly awesome, and I can definitely understand why they were packed! Slice out a wedge of time, though, because the pies took forevah!

We rate this restaurant 5 forks out of 5 for a family friendly restaurant serving outstanding food.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

6 Tips when Faced with Difficult Decisions

Isn't it crazy how you can read a Bible passage several times and then one time it suddenly speaks to you? Not just whispers, but actually roars? 

Lately I've been camping out along with Moses and the Israelites as they contemplated entering Canaan (Num 13-14). 

God promised this land to them. Actually led them to it and gave them a green light. Moses sent a posse of twelve to spy out the land and report back. Only two of the twelve recommended that they move forward. Really? 

God promised. God delivered. God was with them, but they refused to go? Mind boggling!

But, what a fabulous road map for us today. Here are six tips to consider when faced with difficult decisions:

Ask God to lead. I cannot imagine traveling this life journey without Him.

Research. Moses picked one leader from each tribe to explore Canaan. The scouts were tasked with finding out how many people occupied the land, how strong the people were, security measures, whether the land was fertile and the types of crops grown there. 

Report. Ten scouts voted no, afraid of the giants that lived in the land. Caleb and Joshua voted yes, confident that God would keep His promise.

Evaluate. Will fear hold you back or will you step forward in faith?

Decide. Focus forward, on the blessings that await, not on your past. Act with confidence, and stamp out negativity. Ten men influenced the entire camp, and they all paid the price. 

Accept consequences. Because of their lack of faith, God banished the Israelites to wander the wilderness for 40 years. Only Caleb and Joshua would actually enter the land that God intended all of them to enjoy. 

Lord, forgive me when I don't step out in faith, when I turn and hide. 
Help me choose obedience and blessings over doubt and fear because You are so worthy of my trust. Amen.

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Saturday, August 22, 2015

Excited about Eating by Ernie Hiers

This edition of Excited about Eating takes us to the Northlake Mall area and to Fox and Hound Pub & Grille
This tavern features typical sports bar food, including chicken wings, fish n chips, and burgers.
Dora here. Early birds again. Instead of closing the bars, we open them. :)

Because of that, service was attentive and the food arrived before I guzzled half my iced tea.

The Biergarten pretzels, two baked and salted Bavarian-style pretzels with a side of queso were soft, not overly salty, and the queso kicked in a good way.
Biergarten pretzels appetizer
I ordered the Blackened Fish Tacos, cod fillets with coleslaw, cilantro-lime sour cream and pickled red onions. 
Blackened Fish Tacos
These tacos were great. The spices on the fish and the freshness of the coleslaw caused the whole taco to work together. My only regret with these tacos is the cilantro-lime favor should be more prominent. 

Dora here. I. Love. Chili. So if a restaurant offers chili nachos on a menu, I'm all over it. But these Nacho Muchos were mucho on the cheese, slim on the chili. No layers of flavor, in some spots globs of cheese. Cheese lovers will be in heaven with this nacho platter, but I prefer a bit more...beef. I salivated over tasting the lime sour cream, but that didn't materialize. Overall, good nachos, but didn't quite quench my chili taste bud.  

Nacho Muchos Platter
We rate this restaurant 3 forks out of 5 for a family friendly restaurant serving good food.
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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Rejection...NOT the end of your dreams!

12 books. That's how many inspirational romances I have contracted and/or published with Pelican Book Group. Twelve. 

Over the last year or so, I have alluded to a tug to write mainstream romance, stories minus a distinct faith element. Sometimes I feel as if I'm the middle of the rope in a tug-o-war. Each side jerks my arm in their direction with equal intensity. 

So, last year I dived in to clean and wholesome romance. No sex scenes, no cursing, no need to hide the books from your kids or grandkiddos. But definitely a tad more heat than most Christian books.  

I finished the first book in the Kester Ranch Cowboys series, Roping the Cowboy, and sent it to four mainstream publishers and two agents. Nine months, four rejections and two no responses later, I finally acknowledged defeat. 

Rejection is NOT the end of your dreams!

Because after reading through the story again, I deserved the rejections. Yes, the romance lacked fullness. Long sentences slowed it down. The first kiss came too late in the story. The heroine wasn't likable. I could go on...

One publisher cited a detailed list of where it fell short, and awesome crit partners offered critical input to strengthen the story...

If I was willing to invest the time and sweat equity.

Was I? 

We're not just talking a few hours of edits. This involved a total remodel and would take an entire month, probably more.

At this point, some writers toss their manuscript in the recycle bin or hurl it into the deep recesses of their closet, and wave the white flag. Others sob buckets and fling fiery insults toward the publisher/agent who rejected them. 

Not me. I am forever grateful!

Because their valuable input...

1. Pointed out serious flaws in my manuscript and offered the chance to fix them before throwing my baby out into the world.

2. Provided the impetus and lit a fire for me to go indie.

3. Proved that I can do this. That I'm in this writing gig for the long haul. That sometimes the old way is not necessarily the best way for me. That rejection isn't necessarily a bad thing...

Rejection is NOT the end of your dreams!

God uses our negatives, our perceived failures, and creates something beautiful, life-changing, and totally mind-blowing.

Like a new author name for my non-inspirational titles. And why not a publisher, too? 

Roping the Cowboy by Tori Kayson
Coming OCT 1 with
Grace Legacy Publishing

More on my new name and the steps to create a business later. For now, just know that rejection does NOT have to mean the end of your dreams. It could be the beginning!

You can do this!

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Saturday, August 15, 2015

Excited about Eating by Ernie Hiers

This edition of Excited about Eating takes us to East Charlotte to Mily & Lalo Peruvian Restaurant. 
Mily & Lalo Peruvian Restaurant

The last time we visited a Peruvian restaurant, we really enjoyed the food, so it was an easy choice to try another one. We weren’t disappointed.

Dora here. The empty seats alarmed us, but we visited on Sunday after our early church service, and figured we beat the crowd for lunch.

For starters, all guests receive a complimentary basket of Yuca bread. This bread was great, much like a yeast doughnut without the sweetness, very light and melt in your mouth.
Yucca Bread
Dora here. Yuca bread? What a surprise! We've eaten Yuca on several occasions and especially enjoy it fried like french fries. Loved it served this way. But see that sauce? Mercy! That fire burns all the way down! Don't dip your bread in that sauce. Phew.

For my meal, I chose the Arroz Con Mariscos, yellow rice with seafood and a blend of spices, sometimes called Peruvian paella. This dish was very good with just the right amount of spice and loaded with seafood. Adding a gravy for moisture would've nudged this dish to great.
Arroz Con Mariscos
Dora here. The Milanesa de Pollo...Yum! The fried chicken breast, tender and moist, takes up plenty of real estate on this plate, doesn't it? I didn't touch the fries, tucked under the chicken, and only nibbled on the rice because I ate every bite of that juicy chicken! Even if they served gravy or butter and brown sugar on their rice like I prefer, I probably would've skipped it in lieu of the chicken. Delish!
Milanesa de Pollo

All that food (with leftovers!) and the bill was less than $28, including tip. Definitely budget friendly, and the service, attentive and quick.

We rate this restaurant 4 forks out of 5 for a family friendly restaurant serving great food.

What's the most unusual bread you have you tried?
What's the last food you were surprised to find out what was in it?

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Saturday, August 8, 2015

Excited about Eating by Ernie Hiers

This edition of Excited about Eating takes us not far from home to On The Border Mexican Grill & Cantina in Concord.

According to the restaurant, “Border-style means mesquite-grilled meat, fresh ingredients, hand-pressed tortillas, and sauces made in small batches.” 
Dora here. Definitely a kid friendly establishment. Visitors to their tortilla prep station at the back of the restaurant receive a ball of dough to take back to their table. Great strategy to entertain the kiddos.
Kiddo friendly
I was looking forward to tasting the Grilled Mahi Tacos. A few minutes after ordering, though, the manager approached the table and informed us that they were out of Mahi. She apologized and offered the fried fish or salmon as a substitution. Salmon tacos? Hmmm. No thanks. I opted for the fried fish. 
Fish Tacos
The fish was good, crispy on the outside. The cabbage and red chile sauce complemented without taking away from the flavor. I liked the crunch of cabbage over ordinary lettuce. I'm on a healthy kick, though, and would've preferred the grilled Mahi over the fried alternative, but appreciated their coupon for a bowl of queso for the inconvenience.

Dora here. Good thing they had my Brisket Tacos. I didn't have a Plan B. :)
Brisket Tacos
Pretty, right? Just invites you to dig in. I don't know what's going on with hubby's plate, but they lost points for presentation.

My brisket was tender. The onion strings added a great textural element and the jalapeno in the BBQ sauce a little kick. The vegies were firm and colorful. Overall, I enjoyed the fresh, vibrant vibe, and I didn't leave stuffed like some Mexican restaurants. Maybe that's because hubby sampled one of my tacos? :)

We rate this restaurant 4 forks out of 5 for a family friendly restaurant serving great food.

What's your favorite Mexican dish?

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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

5 Tips to Restore Your Balance when Your World’s Off Kilter

Two days and three nights. That’s all it took for five-year-old Little Man and Teen Girl to hurl my organized world into an alternate universe.

By Monday morning when the alarm blared at 5:30, I was whipped, and I still had one more day and night to go. Usually, I shower and dress, and then leave the bathroom for the big guy while the dog and I head downstairs. The dog doesn’t say much, and hubby knows not to ignite any worthwhile conversations until I’ve consumed one cup of coffee. But the miniature chatterbox? He didn’t get the email.

Just hook me up to a caffeine IV!

I’d lost my equilibrium, my patience, and yes, my sanity. Even the dog scouted out a dark, quiet space, away from flying objects, runaway bikes and thousands of Lego pieces.
He's ignoring me.
 God bless daycares and the kind souls who work in them.

It’s not like we hadn’t kept the grandkiddos for an extended period before, but this time prior commitments kept hubby busy, away from home, and red ink splattered this particular chunk of time across my calendar. Two of my books just released, three more scheduled to release from July through October, and one more in December. Did I mention that the October book, Roping the Cowboy, is my first self-published venture? Neck-deep in edits and cranking up a new business, exhausted was too mild an adjective.

But life doesn’t always cooperate, does it?

Whether you’re a new caregiver or hurled into a temporary situation, here are a few tips to restore your balance:

Pray. Before you crawl out from under the sheets, pray for strength and fortitude. And buckets of patience. 

Don’t slap the snooze. I could’ve slapped the snooze button or shoved hubby out of bed first, but I craved those few minutes alone and the comfort that comes with routine more than sleep.

Exercise. The Mayo Clinic lists seven benefits from exercise, like weight control, improved mood, energy boost, and…improved sleep? Ha! Who needs help improving sleep with a five year old around? But, the energy boost I could use and there’s something about the peace of an early morning walk that calms an anxious spirit. 

Adjust your schedule. How can you maximize your efficiency? Arrange your day/week/month accordingly. My creative muse comes out to play in the mornings, so for me, this meant working primarily on non-creative writerly tasks for a couple days. What could you give up to make the day go more smoothly? Scale back to the bare minimum. Don’t stress yourself by worrying about tasks that aren’t important in the overall picture.

Caffeine. A giant cup in the morning chased by another in the afternoon provided just enough juice to power through without making me jittery.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. What tips would you add?

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Saturday, August 1, 2015

Excited about Eating by Ernie Hiers

This edition of Excited about Eating takes us to Block & Grinder in the South Park neighborhood of Charlotte. 

This farm to kitchen restaurant's philosophy is "Back to Basics" with a menu "structured around appreciating every fresh ingredient."

One option was a Wild Game Burger. This day's choice? Kangaroo served with a tomato aioli. Now I have never tasted Kangaroo but I am always open to trying a new taste. 

They import their Kangaroo from New Zealand and serve it along with other wild game including camel and elk. The Kangaroo burger was outstanding, cooked perfectly and serve on a toasted bun imprinted with a B & G. 
Kangaroo Burger
Instantly, you know it is not a beef burger with the distinct “wild” flavor, much like a venison burger, but earthier. The homemade fries were crispy and just the way I like them. 

Dora here. It was the day for trying new things all around. Topped with feta cheese and served with curry aioli, the Lamb burger could've passed for beef. I'm not sure if that's good or bad for Lamb lovers. :) 
Lamb Burger

I just know that I enjoyed the lean, smoky flavor and I'm a huge fan of feta. I tried the aoili, but preferred it without. And I'm with Ernie. The fries were perfect.

Service was attentive and for the most part quick, and the wait staff helpful and knowledgeable.

Just a note. When you order unique options, they tend to be a bit pricier. 

Dora here. Gulp. You're not kidding. Two burgers, one iced tea, and no appetizers = $47. Yowzee! Better save up your pennies.

As I was saying, don’t let that discourage you. Go for it! 

We rate this restaurant 5 forks out of 5 for a family friendly restaurant serving outstanding food. 

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