Veni, Vedi…and Valentine Wiskits

Phillip is getting ready for continuing his adventure. He has come across many new and fascinating creatures! 
Have you ever heard of “fainting” goats? Well, they are real! But not the kind that Phillip, Edward and Stinky come across. These, belong to LLamont and LLemura and have 2 heads! Oh! And they’re pink and purple polka dotted. Not the nicest little creatures. If they get upset, their milk turns sour and LLemura can’t make her famous Wiskits.
 
So, Veni is the lead goat, and very bossy.  Vedi, unfortunately, is the more reasonable one, but doesn’t get far.  Still, it doesn’t take much to make them faint.  Especially, when a big, “Hey, watch those feet!” dinosaur comes up beside them.
 
The lavender goat’s milk is pretty sweet and LLemura makes the best Wiskits out of it.  I’m sure, LLamont will get them, in the shapes of hearts, tomorrow!
 
Happy Valentine’s Day, from LLemura, LLemont and the Goats of Phillip’s Quest,  Book II, Above the StarsImage
 
 

Welcome to The Ragworts of Brokenfell

I promised a story, and a story, it is!  This is an excerpt from the new book, an interim book, one might say, between “WInterfrost” and “Above the Stars.”  For those of you have read “Winterfrost” you have met this family on the way to the Farmer’s Market. For those of you who haven’t met them before, BUY THE BOOK! Actually, it can be a stand alone book about these charming gnomes and they will have an interaction with the gnomes of Twistedoak. So, for now, meet Rawlink Ragwort…

” Rawlink was small, for a gnome; rather boney and slim.  He had a short dark beard and the sharpest emerald-green eyes. Sometimes, he wore a cap, rather than the normal, pointed, gnome hat.  All of his ways were quiet, he didn’t speak much.  Rawlink’s quietness was very useful. He could sneak up on an animal or one of his brothers and they’d never know he was there. Even though he was small, he was quick. That quickness let him run and hide in the woods when he and his brothers would play “chase and hide.”  He could lead them on a chase for hours.

From the time he could hold a book, Rawlink read incessantly. He’d just as soon read one of Poppa’s books, or whittle something, than go out and play with his brothers. He read anything he could find about the tales of the warrior dwarves and their weapons. It was told that the dwarves used special weapons during the Blue Azuric Wars, against the Red Witch.  Interested by the dwarves bows and arrows, Rawlink spent most of his time carving pictures on the bows and setting stones in the arrows he made.  As he got older, his carving became much finer.  “That Rawlink whittles just like his Poppa,” his dad would proudly say.

Rawlink loved the legends of the Warrior Dwarves and would make up his own stories about them.  He wrote about their riding on giant dragonflies, with purple wings that glowed, even in the dark, and flew faster than an eagle, or of the dinosaurs that they rode into battle and their tails, that with one swipe, could crush a battalion of goblins.  The pick axes and sabers the dwarves used would be made of silver and gold and inset with the most precious of gems. They wore armor crafted by the finest metal smiths and it was so polished, that shine would burn the eyes of their enemies.  He would later read the stories to his sons.

By the time he was ready to go to school, he already knew how to read and write. The gnome had all his stories written in a little book hidden under the straw mattress of his bed, tightly wrapped in an old shirt of his, so his brothers wouldn’t find it.  Rawlink just knew that those dwarves were real.  He carved arrows from the twigs he would find in the Dark Forest and arrow heads from smooth, flat stones.”

Truth or Dare…A Gnome’s Recipe

Is this recipe a fantasy?  Maybe, maybe not.  It sure sounds good, especially on a very cold Virginia day.

Phillip made this sauce in the Vast Enchanted Forest after he and Edward hadn’t eaten for a whole day. They had just left the Farmer’s Market where Phillip said his “good-bye” to a very unhappy Ivy.  What had happened afterwards, Phillip did not know until Azur broke the news.

It was evening when Phillip and Edward entered the Forest and they were exhausted.

There were many Tree Folk in this part of the forest.  Groups of them line the curvy path and appeared to be engaged in important conversations with one another.  Their twiggy hands pointed and gestured.  One of them glanced over and gave Edward a little wink as the travelers walked by.

Phillip’s Quest, Book 1: Winterfrost, “The Staring Statues”

Edward, the squirrel was always hungry and enough was enough.  He knew that Phillip could not go much longer without food so,

He jumped from tree to tree, for a good hour, while Phillip looked over his maps (they were lost, at this point).  One of the Forest Fathers even helped by shaking his branches and allowing Edward to gather all the fallen nuts!  Phillip then made the sauce with some maters he bought from a dwarf at the Farmer’s Market.

Five or six small ripe maters will make enough for one gnome and one hungry squirrel.

Finely chop the maters up into a hollowed out rock or a saucepan that’s been coated with a little oil.  Simmer the maters until some of the water cooks out.  Put a handful of crushed hazelnuts into the mater sauce with some salt and a bit of black spice (if you have it) and cook until thick.

A perfect meal for day old tater buns and if you’re lost in a vast forest.

…Appendix F: Phillip’s Mater Sauce with Hazelnuts

 

The Appendices, B-F are recipes that I adapted.  Some important ingredients have been omitted and revised to coincide with the story. Still, an experienced cook could improvise and make with his or her child. Actual recipes will be reprinted here or in an upcoming cook book!

By the way, the artwork for The Vast Enchanted Forest is brilliant!  Please look at the Twisted Oak Press website: twistedoakpress.com, where you can by beautiful art prints from Phillip’s Quest, as well as other art from my collaborator, Dean Kuhta.

The Care and Feeding of Gnomes

When writing my first children’s book, Phillip’s Quest, Book 1, Winterfrost, I found it was necessary to spend many hours at the main library in the Village of Twistedoak, to research the species genomos or “earth dweller.” One cannot simply look at the commercialized and sometimes obnoxious “garden gnome” as popularized by a certain travel company and think, “Ugh! Why would you write about those creepy creatures!”  Mais, non! To know a gnome, is to love a gnome.  And so, my love of Phillip began.

Gnomes are self-sufficient and resilient, by nature.  Very easily pleased, their normal psyche is that of loving, caring beings, with huge hearts and a general joie de vivre. Although small in stature, smaller than their dwarf counterparts in height, their hands and feet are disproportionately larger.  Requiring very little physical care, the gnome is naturally quite healthy due to its diet, rich in organic fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts and  occasional raw dairy and eggs. Even though rarely sad or depressed, a tasty cookie or wiskit, will change the mood of the gnome from sad to glad! Not comfortable with confrontation, the gnome is a master diplomat.  One of the favorite gnome mottos is, “Don’t worry, be happy.” (Yes, it originally came from the gnome community and found on Rune stone in 1579 A.D. by Swiss alchemist, Paracelsus.) Since the gnome is not normally equipped for protecting itself, it has many natural predators; goblins, trolls, orcs, snakes, wolves, giant spiders, bats, ice hornets, etc… and evil witches. Their only means of protection comes from the help of a higher being, i.e. humans, blue witches, wizards.

The gnome’s eating habits differ, slightly, from region to region.  The gnomes of Twistedoak are vegetarians while other gnomes add dairy, fish and poultry to their diet.   The female gnome, given to having a large family, are excellent cooks.  They can turn anything into a feast.   The gnomes of Twistedoak arrived from their Old Country as mushroom farmers, many millennia ago. They “settled at the edge of the Great Granite Mountains and the Vast Enchanted Forest… They grew the most lovely mushrooms.  Some looked like little white pearls.  The farmers called them ‘candy ‘shrooms.’ They were as sweet as sugar and the wee ones would steal them as quickly as they popped out of the ground.  Their mothers and fathers always knew when they’d eaten too much, because they would come running home, crying, with tummy aches.  Some of the mushrooms were golden and big enough to feed a family of four…” However, due to circumstances beyond their control, these resilient gnomes have learned to adapt their diets to the main crops of  “taters and onions.”

Not for a lack of recipes, the female gnomes are very sharing, often having recipe trading parties.  Before the passing of Ivy, she was kind enough to share some wonderful recipes that she loved, as well as recipes from the Great Granma Polli. A recipe from Oli, the squirrel and a favorite of Phillip’s were also shared for our book.  They are:

Ivy’s Tater Buns

Ivy’s Tater Dumplings

Ivy’s Tater and Onion Pancakes

Oli’s Nutty Cakes

Phillip’s Mater Sauce with Hazelnuts

All recipes can be found in Phillip’s Quest, Book 1: Winterfrost.  An upcoming cookbook, adapted for human consumption, is in the works!