Author: judyhudson@shaw.ca

Bingeing on Comfort Food.

Today it is bright and sunny. A real gift in late November here on Vancouver Island. But cloudless days mean cold days, and that means soup for lunch.

I surprise myself by how often I write about food and cooking in my Fortune Bay books! It seems when I want to show a connection between characters or a sense of stability, I often include comfort food in the scene.  

I don’t consider myself a foody, but we have always enjoyed big family meals, and all of our family gatherings seem to happen over a meal.

Last winter my sister came out from Ontario for a visit here on the Island, and together we went to visit our brother on Salt Spring Island, a short ferry ride away. Because our elderly mother lives near me, we usually visit here, so it was nice on that sunny January, pre-Covid day, to go to his house in the forest for lunch. His wife Susheela served a hearty soup that was a revelation to me. Although I often make soup, it’s usually chicken-noodle, and now that my husband and I are on a strict no-wheat diet, the soups were looking a little thin.

The soup Susheela served that day was wonderful. Thick and creamy with aromatic eastern spices. I phoned her the next day to get the recipe and was happy to learn it was perfect for my husband’s Parkinson’s-fighting diet. Since she gave me  the recipe over the phone, it may have changed a bit in the sharing, but I’ve always been a what’s-in-the-fridge kind of cook anyway, and so is she. 

I called it Coconut Lentil Soup. Now, don’t let the coconut part scare you. It’s the secret ingredient! It refers to the canned coconut milk you stir in at the end to thicken the soup and make it deliciously creamy. 

Here’s the recipe: (Print it out here.)

Sauté, in lots of ghee (Susheela) or olive oil (me) –
1/2 a large onion – chopped to dice
2 cloves of garlic, diced
2 tbsp curry powder – or to taste. (Our new curry powder is really hot! so I’ve since reduced the amount.)
1 tsp ground cumin 

Add 4 cups chopped vegetables – Winter vegetables like carrots, turnip, cauliflower, celery, broccoli, kale, potato or sweet potato work well. Whatever you have in your fridge.
Add broth (home made is best of course. I save chicken bones and veggie bits in bags in the freezer and cook them up every few weeks. Makes the kitchen smell devine!)
Then add the lentils. Red or brown. Canned would be fine. 

I like it a little chunky so when the vegetables are soft I put about 1/3 of it in the blender, or use my immersion blender until the soup is the thickness and smoothness I like. Then add
½ a large can, (or one small can) of high fat coconut milk to add the final creaminess.  
Season with Salt and pepper.

A hearty soup, made from scratch, it warms you from the inside out. I think I’ll make some today.

Find the print recipe here.

Do you make soup from scratch? It’s not as hard as you may think. What’s your favourite?

Canadian Thanksgiving was in October, but I want to wish all our American friends a happy holiday. We used to be 14 for Thanksgiving, always at our house, but now our numbers have dwindled and this year we were five. Probably a good thing in these days of Covid lockdowns.

And next month will be Christmas! Oh my! 

A lighthearted, Fortune Bay, Christmas novella.

To get a jump on your Christmas reading get Starlight and Tinsel, a Fortune Bay Christmas novella, on sale on Amazon from now until Christmas for 99¢.

Stay home, keep your gatherings small and above all, stay safe.

Have a happy Thanksgiving.

Judy Hudson

Coconut Lentil Soup

This recipe was shared to me by my sister-in-law Susheela one cold day last winter. Might be perfect to share with your family this cold Covid long weekend too.

Don’t let the coconut scare you – coconut creme is just the last ingredient to thicken and add creaminess to the soup.

Location is where the story starts.

A story idea has to start somewhere, often with a random thought or image. For me, it is usually a place, or more specifically, an old building. In my current work in progress, it’s a hunting lodge. So far, predictably, I call it The Lodge.

This image is sort of what I had in mind, only bigger and more elaborate because it was built by the protagonist Holly’s great grandfather who was a lumber baron in the Pacific Northwest at the turn of the last century. A Victorian monstrosity, in Holly’s own words.

All of my stories seem to center around these buildings, and I have to wonder – what is it about old, derelict buildings and ruins that intrigues me, and how do they impact the people in the story?  The more I think about it, the more I see it is the history of these places and the stories they tell that gives my imagination flight.

The cabin in the Fortune Bay series is a good example.

This building was around the corner from a house I lived in for a number of years, and I set the Fortune Bay stories around it. In the first story, the cabin has been empty for years, since Aunt Augusta died, but the spirit of the old lady is still active and eager to interact with the new story residents. 

In Temple of the Jaguar, the first Rocky and Bernadette mystery, it was a visit to an ancient Mayan ruin in the jungle that set my mind racing.

Beginning to see the pattern? The Lodge started out with the idea of the lodge itself, loosely patterned on a few old lodges I’ve visited here on the Island and in Washington State. In this book, Grandad has died and left it to two granddaughters he’s never known, and who don’t know him. Holly, the protagonist in book one, has only a vague memory of a long ago visit when she was a very young child. Now he’s gone, and she’s left to piece together the family history through  secrets hidden in plain sight in the rundown old mansion. 

Of course, there are more pieces to the story puzzle, but that was the start. There was Covid, and family interruptions, but now I’m glad to be back in the story again!

As a reader, I’m also often drawn  to old house settings, going right back to Nancy Drew and The Mystery at the Moss-Covered Mansion. What kind of books are you drawn to? Do you find yourself returning to the same kind of story again and again? Does setting play a part?

If you haven’t check out Goodreads, it is an amazing community, designed specially for readers and writers. Please find and follow me on Goodreads for more updates on how the new book is going.

That’s all for now.


PS – The ebook of The Good Neighbor, book two in the Fortune Bay series, is on sale on Amazon for 99 cents until the end of the month! You can read the books in any order.
See you on Goodreads!

Check out the new covers!

I’m so excited! I’m rolling out a whole new set of covers for the Fortune Bay series. I loved the old covers when I first put out the series, but lately I’ve noticed they are not at all like the covers of the books Amazon says my readers like, known as the “also boughts”.

The list shows up on my Amazon author page and changes all the time. At this point it’s writers like Kay Correll, Judith Keim, Annie Rains and Pamela M. Kelly, books with covers more like this –

Not at all like my “woman alone” covers.

Does it matter? You bet it does!

Think about when you are searching through Amazon for your next read. The thumbnail photos of the covers are tiny, especially if you are on your phone. I feel lucky if I can read any of the print.

So all you really have to go by is the image, the mood it evokes and maybe the author’s name. Hence,

It was a lot of work, but I’m really happy with the result. I hope you like them too.

So next time you buy a Fortune Bay book, don’t be fooled by the cover. (Luckily amazon reminds us when we’ve bought it before, regardless of the cover.)

And for the time being, all the Fortune Bay books are only available on Amazon, but CLICK HERE to see how to read them on your tablet or phone too.

PLEASE LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU THINK IN THE COMMENT BELOW!

How to start reading e-books today on your phone or tablet.

Right now, the Fortune Bay e-books are only available on Amazon. But I’ll show you how to get the Kindle app on your phone or tablet and start reading e-books today!

Bonus – e-books arrive germ free!

Don’t have a kindle e-reader? Don’t panic!

You can download a free kindle app (circled in the picture above) for your phone or tablet (or computer for that matter) and read the books there. To get set up, go to your apps store on the device of your choice and find the free Kindle app. Or click on the link, like the one I’ve circled on the example above. (Of course, my ebooks and print books will still be for sale on Amazon if you decide not to join KU.)

I am doing the reverse myself – reading my kobo books on my phone and tablet these days. It works great too.

Already have a kindle?

Then do as I’ve done and install an app on your phone, too. That way you can Sync with your e-reader and pick up the story any time you have a few minutes to fill – in line at the bank, waiting for kids after sports, wherever you are.
And, of course, if you have already subscribed to Kindle Unlimited, you will be able to read the whole Fortune Bay series for free! (Except Lake of Dreams, the book I save exclusively for members who join my readers group)

(To find out how to join Kindle Unlimited CLICK HERE)

Summer of Fortune

The Good Neighbor

Home for Christmas

Family Matters

Starting Over

Starlight and Tinsel