Monday, December 24, 2007

Naked Authors in the New York Times and Christmas Dinner

Patty here...


Check out this December 20, 2007 New York Times article by Amy Virshup, in which she displayed her impeccable taste in books by mentioning two upcoming releases written by the Nakeds:

By Cornelia Read
328 pages. Grand Central Publishing. $23.99.

At the start of Cornelia Read’s new novel Madeline Dare is teaching at the Santangelo Academy, a “therapeutic boarding school” for troubled teenagers run by the charismatic if more than a bit loony Dr. David Santangelo. Madeline is not without troubles of her own, as she tells readers early on: “I wanted to believe Santangelo could fix me, while he was at it. Who among us does not want to be shriven, to confess all, in the hope of being made clean and whole and new?” But when two of her students reveal their secret to her, Madeline gets drawn into a whole new set of complications.

By James Grippando
326 pages. Harper. $24.95.

After taking a break from his Jack Swyteck series, James Grippando returns with another tale featuring Swyteck, a defense lawyer in Miami, and his best friend, Theo Knight, a former gang member, falsely convicted death-row inmate and now owner of Sparky’s Tavern (“a true dive, but it was his dive,” as Theo thinks to himself). Theo’s life seems to be on track, until Isaac Reems, one of his former gang compatriots, shows up at Sparky’s, fresh out of prison. (“I put myself on the early-release plan,” he tells Theo in the course of robbing him.) But who is going to believe that Theo had nothing to do with the jailbreak? Certainly not Andie Henning, the F.B.I. agent who just happens to be Jack’s former girlfriend. Both Mr. Grippando and Cornelia Read are members of the Naked Authors blog group.

Yay!!!! Go Team!!!!!! You make us proud. Coming up: Jacqueline Winspear's next Maisie Dobbs novel AN INCOMPLETE REVENGE and James O. Born's BURN ZONE are both set for release in February 2008.


Every year I throw a dinner party on Christmas day for a group of friends—the same friends. This has been going on for more years than I can count. And every year I waste a good deal of time reviewing recipes and contemplating a menu that I will never serve. This year I seriously thought about spiced crown pork roast with glazed root vegetables, mainly because of an article by Russ Parsons in the Los Angeles Times that began like this:

“It’s late Christmas morning and all of the presents have been unwrapped. Even if just for the moment, the kids are lulled into quiet. Southern California’s bright winter sunshine floods in through the window. Now it’s time for the grown-ups to relax into a long, slow afternoon celebrating their own holiday. And that, of course, means dinner.”

His scenario sounded so much like Walden Two, that it almost lulled me into a butcher shop. But who was I kidding? That doesn’t even come close to describing my household. Relaxed? As if. There's food flying in my kitchen. The floor, not to mention my apron, is crusted with gravy, flour, and olive oil residue. The green food coloring I just added to the frosting on my Christmas ginger cookies has gravitated beneath my fingernails, resembling jolly holiday fungus. Trust me. It's not a pretty sight.

The truth is I always serve turkey with Mrs. Cubbison’s dressing, cranberries, and Minnesota wild rice with mushroom duxelles. I make the gravy from scratch, starting with the stock. The only thing I change from year to year are the vegetables and the dessert. I'm feeling a little green beany this year, and instead of my usual plum pudding with rum sauce, I’m making a traditional pumpkin pie.

Perhaps the reason I never change the menu is that my friends seem to love the food. I'm not a brilliant cook, but I know how to follow a recipe. I find most of mine in Julia Child's book The Way to Cook.

Of course, the positive reviews of my cuisine might be attributed to all that vermouth Julia makes me add to almost every dish. By the time my guests leave the table, they’re so tipsy they can’t remember what they ate, only that they want to eat it again and again. And it's all good.

Wishing you peace, health, and happiness this holiday season and always. And here's hoping you've made your LAST last-minute trip to the grocery store before tomorrow's dinner.

Merry Christmas Eve!


  1. Yay on the NYT articles!

    And can I come over for leftovers?

    Happiesst holiday to all you Naked Authors.

  2. I saw that in the NYTimes!

    Have a wonderful holiday, all of you Naked Authors!

  3. Is that one bottle of vermouth for the dishes, and one for the cook? Who is, after all, a real dish herself. ;-)

    Eep--you just reminded me that I should be on the way to the grocery store! My Christmas cooking adventure won't be nearly as complex as yours, but it'll be fun.

    Merry Christmas, all of you Naked Authors!

  4. Way to go Cornelia & Jim!

    And Patty, may your Christmas be green beany and fun!

  5. Thank you all. I haven't found that one grocery item I failed to buy yet, but I know I will sometime during the day. Forgetting some essential ingredient is what I do best. Is there a metaphor in there somewhere?

  6. May the joy and love of Christmas be with you, Go-Lo, and to all those on this blog......Allah willing.

    Your Julia Child refererence reminded me of a SNL skit with Dan Aykroyd as Julia.....


  7. The interesting thing about having a write up in the Times is that you find out who actually reads the Times and who only pretends to read it. The only person in South Florida who mentioned the piece to me was an investment banker who rises every morning at 5 a.m. and reads the Times religiously before eating an arch rival's first born child for breakfast. I have to say I was quite impressed that he reads the arts section. So what are all my "artsy" friends in Miami reading--People?

  8. Jon, you gave me a laugh thinking about that SNL skit. Did you ever see Julia on the TV special with Martha Stewart, building that cream puff Christmas tree? I almost died laughing.

    Congrats again, James. The only important question is if that investment banker is going to buy your book.

  9. Aw Patty, thank you for running this. And I hope your Xmas dinner is the best ever--with the mostest vermouth.

    I want to show up with Louise for the leftovers!

  10. Merry Christmas, Patty.

    Jim Born

  11. Well, I already know that I forgot to get orange juice. Is it really worth going back out for? Perhaps I can mail some belated Christmas cards when I go...

    That Julia Child skit was hilarious, yet hypnotizingly horrifying. What a squirter!

  12. You're all invited over for leftovers and after that we'll have Limoncello and make New Year's resolutions...or not.

    Jeff, you MUST have OJ. Get out your snowshoes and trudge to the market.

  13. Feeling a little green beany, eh, Patty? I'm feeling a little gin and tonicky myself ...

    Well, sounds like the best food is to be had at your house! We'll be wandering around the corner to my brother's house, where his wife - a fantastic cook, I might add (he did well there) - is cooking the Christmas dinner. I'm bringing the traditional British Christmas pudding, well-laced with brandy. My mother always made the puddings in August, so that they would have a good few months to stew in their alcoholic juices. One year she took to injecting extra brandy in every few weeks, so that when the pud was lit on Christmas Day (traditionally, you pour brandy over the hot, steamy pudding and then set it aflame before your already-full guests), the thing just exploded. We scraped our pud off the walls that Christmas.

    Good tidings to one and all.

  14. I tried to flame my plum pudding one year and nearly set the house on fire. Now I just douse it in rum sauce.

  15. Merry Christmas, everyone

  16. Thanks, Rae. I thought of you while I was baking my pumpkin pie because I'm using non-fat half and half. GAK!

  17. The sled dogs didn't appreciate it when I called them out of their warm and cozy iglettes (Inuit dog houses) for the trip for OJ, but as we mushed along, I explained that Patty had urged me onward--and they were okay with that.

    (How many Westies does it take to pull a sled, anyway?)

    Fortunately, just before the market closed, I also found a number of other items that I had "forgotten", so the sleigh was well laden for the trip home.

    Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

  18. A very merry Christmas you lot! WOnderful people, everyone of you. :-D

    Westies?? Poor puppies. It'd probably take about fifty of them to pull a sled with you in it - provided they didn't determinedly chew on your ankles first. Single minded, are terriers.

    Oh, I love the plum pudding stories! Just found out that my parents are back home in Australia, in the WARMTH, noshing on a kilo and half of fresh cooked 'prawns' (shrimp) and cold ham off the bone and leg of roast lamb with all the veges and gravy. Sigh.

    Have a great one, chaps and I'll catch you all on the flipside...

    Hugs and Dark and Stormies all round,

  19. Oh:

    Yeee-HAH, Miss C. and James.

    Brilliant stuff!


  20. Cheers to you Marianne! Westies might agree to pull the sled, but only if there was roast lamb and gravy at the end of the trail. Mush.