In my romances, many of my heroes or heroines are vegetarian, and this reflects what’s happening all around us: more and more people are eating less meat or no meat at all. I find it’s so much easier to serve meatless meals in the summer when there are so many wonderful vegetables around. Some vegetables do seem to grow with more enthusiasm than others — zucchini and cucumbers, for example, and if we have these in our garden, we might just feel overwhelmed by their sheer number. So what can we do with the glut?
Freezing zucchini is easy: just slice the vegetables, add a garlic clove or two, salt and pepper, and cook everything on low heat in a little olive oil. When they vegetable is soft and much of the water has evaporated, let them cool, then put them in a container (old ice cream containers are perfect) and freeze them. You’ll be happy to take the cooked zucchini out in winter when tasty vegetables are hard to come by.
What I like best, though, is making wonderful end-of-summer chilled soups with zucchini or cucumbers. They are so easy to do, and there are many ways of going about it. One way is to start with a bouillon cube base, then roughly chop your raw (seeded) cucumber or (unseeded) zucchini, add it to the broth, add either natural yogurt or sour cream, nutmeg, chives and/or mint, if you have any, a little lemon juice, salt and pepper. Put everything into a blender and grind it until it has become a very fine purée. Serve chilled. An alternative is to leave out the broth and just add yogurt or sour cream — it’s up to you. What about quantities? It doesn’t matter. Just taste it from time to time and decide if these lovely easy soups need more of anything.
In my contemporary romance, A Swan’s Sweet Song, the playwright Carston Hewlett has been learning about vegetarian cooking in the hope of impressing country singer, Sherry Valentine. He knows she’s a vegetarian, and he also knows it was his fault that their romance got off to a bad start a few months earlier. Now he’ll do anything to make up for his bad behavior.
Men cooking to impress women? It can happen!
A Swan's Sweet Song
The air sizzles when a country music star and renowned playwright meet, but can opposites fall in love?
The instant Sherry and Carston meet, there's desire and fascination in the air...but they're complete opposites. Smart-talking Sherry Valentine has fought her way up from poverty to stardom as a country music singer. Now, ever in the limelight, ever surrounded by clamoring fans, male admirers, and paparazzi, her spangled cowboy boots carry her from one brightly lit stage to the next. But Sherry’s been on the star circuit for far too long now, and she wants a change: is it too late for her to begin an acting career?
A renowned, but reclusive playwright, Carston Hewlett cherishes his freedom, the silence of the deep woods surrounding his home, and his solitary country walks. Long-term commitments have been out of the question for many years, so why is he so fascinated by a flashy country music singer? Perhaps a very short, but passionate, fling will resolve the problem.
When their names are linked in the scandal press, and Sherry's plans to become an actress are revealed, Carston is furious. Is their budding relationship doomed?
More About J. Arlene Culiner
Writer, photographer, social critical artist, musician, and occasional actress, J. Arlene Culiner, was born in New York and raised in Toronto. She has crossed much of Europe on foot, has lived in a Hungarian mud house, a Bavarian castle, a Turkish cave-dwelling, on a Dutch canal, and in a haunted house on the English moors. She now resides in a 400-year-old former inn in a French village of no interest and, much to local dismay, protects all creatures, especially spiders and snakes. She particularly enjoys incorporating into short stories, mysteries, narrative non-fiction, and romances, her experiences in out-of-the-way communities, and her conversations with strange characters.