Wednesday, December 7, 2011

December Joyathon: Guest Post + Giveaway with Delphine Dryden

Meet Delpine:
recent release
After earning two graduate degrees, practicing law awhile, and then working for the public school system for over ten years, I finally got a clue. I tossed all that aside and started doing what I should have been doing all along, writing novels! In hindsight I could see the decision was a no-brainer.

Because which sounds like more fun? Being a lawyer/special educator/reading specialist/educational diagnostician…or writing spicy romances?

When not writing or doing “mommy stuff” I read voraciously, noodle around with html and css coding, and play computer games with my darling (and very romantic) husband. I am fortunate enough to have two absurdly precocious children, and two delightful mutts. My family and I are all Texas natives, and reside in unapologetic suburban bliss near Houston. (source)

Where To Find Delphine: Twitter | Facebook | Author Site | Goodreads

I adore the holidays, and always have. My husband and I both have a lot of family nearby, and we're insanely fortunate in that we get along with all these people and love spending time with them. Now we do that all year long, but at the holidays we do that plus special foods which makes it even more awesome. My mom and his are both excellent cooks (my mom on the gourmet end, and his mom in that comfort-food way), and rare is the December I don't pack on a pound or two.

But I think my favorite holiday food-with-a-story is one that, sadly, I can't really share a recipe for. And therein lies the story.

My mother-in-law's family is mostly Sicilian, and since before anyone can remember, the folks in this family have always made cucidati at Christmas time. These are spiced fig "cookies" that consist of a pastry shell and a fig-with-other-stuff filling. They're devious little suckers, because the first one you eat to be polite, and think, "hey, not bad." By the fifth one, you're thinking, "I may regret eating this much fig". It's been my experience that after six or seven, my mother-in-law takes the plate away from me, saying something about "the others" and "sharing"…so I can't really tell you what happens after that. But I doubt I'd regret it all that much.

These things are good stuff, seriously…on a good year. On a "bad" year, they're still pretty tasty, and every few years there's a batch that comes straight from the Gods. And that's the thing--you never know until you eat the cookies, because it all depends on whether my husband's Grandpa (the cookie-maker-in-chief) eases back on the cinnamon or adds that bit more clove. It depends on the fig harvest, because he only has those few trees and some years the fruit just isn't as juicy-sweet. He learned to bake these cookies from his own grandparents and parents, and that was long before Epicurious existed; they've never written it down, and every family adds their own little twists, which is why there are so many variations in the versions you can find on the internet. Grandpa has it in his head, and it's not the same recipe now that it was back when he learned it.

click to read excerpt
Grandpa is also no spring chicken, and these past few years my mother-in-law has been studying his technique pretty closely just in case she has to step up at some point. So have some other folks in the family - these things take quite some time to make what with harvesting the figs and all, so people drop in over the course of a few days to help. But so far, he's going strong and what's more (possibly the best part of all) he is STILL fiddling with that recipe. A different rum, a different source of walnuts. A new food grinder (he has the commercial model) or a new crop of grandkids, come to help roll the filling into the dough.

Every year is a different batch. Every year, you have to eat the cookies to learn how they turned out. The talk around the table as we help is always reminiscent, recalling that one year when the fig mixture came out too dry, or another year when the filling was unbelievable but the dough didn't quite match the standard. The baking cookies smell like the holidays, all warmth and spice and anticipation. We don't want to wait for them to cool to test them. The crust should be firm, not too sweet, with a texture between a crunch and a crumble as your teeth bear down. The filling should taste like Christmas. In the good years, it's like the taste of every happy moment spent with the people you love most in all the world.

But even in those bad years, hey…those cookies are still pretty damn good.

click to read an excerpt
My love of family at the holidays inspired my first published novel, Snow Job, which features an estranged couple forced back together by mutual necessity to spend Christmas at the family cabin...pretending to be the happily married pair they once were. Skiing, firelight, cold feet and hot shenanigans abound (spanking says “Merry Christmas” to everyone, right? That's not just me?).

If you're a little braver, check out my other holiday tale, Xmas Spark. It's short and sweet and full of familial affection too, but be warned - it's in the “Merry Kinkmas” collection for a reason.

And if you're interested in cucidati, just Google it! Recipes are everywhere, so find one you like and experiment. If it doesn't turn out the way you want, there's always next year.

Whatever your reading pleasure, and whatever your favorite holiday fare, I wish you all the best of the season. Happy Holidays!

So there you have dear readers. Sounds like a yummy recipe. Right? What about YOU? What do YOU like to make during the holidays?

When lawyer Elyce Anderson threatens to sue her estranged husband to stop construction on a environmentally fragile inlet, he proposes a deal. If Elyce attends his family’s annual Christmas vacation—playing the role of dutiful wife—he’ll save the inlet from development.
Once at the vacation cabin, the guise of happy couple takes a turn—particularly in the bedroom. Karl wants Elyce back, and wastes no time demonstrating how much. He’s forceful, demanding…taking her in the bed, in the bathroom, against the wall—even administering a “punishment” that leaves them both breathless with lust.
Elyce is shocked at Karl’s new approach to sex—and even more shocked to find her mind losing the battle with her body as she succumbs again and again. Intense and erotic, the long, hot winter nights leave her struggling to adjust. But despite her husband’s sudden and sexy change, Elyce knows some things remain the same…perhaps even her love for Karl.
Where To Buy: Amazon | Kindle | B&N/Nook | Ellora's Cave
Book Extras: Read an Excerpt

Delphine is giving away a copy of SNOW JOB to one(1) lucky reader. Here's how to enter and get your kink on:
  • Share your favorite holiday recipe in the comments along with your email addy, ninja style: yourname at gmail dot com.
  • Fill out the rafflecopter form below. You must share at least one holiday recipe you like (you don't have to give step by step instructions on how to make it). All other entries are optional.
Easy peasy right? Don't forget to enter for the awesome super secret prize here.

A huge thank you to Delphine for participating in the Joyathon and for giving away a copy of her book, SNOW JOB.

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