Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Recipe: Michelle's Favorite Stew- Guest Blog and Giveaway with Michelle Browne and Nicolas Wilson

Okay. Now, we're gonna have some fun today. One of the more intense facets of our book, Euphoria/Dysphoria, was the diet in such a closed-off environment. Society with no hunting or grazing grounds, limited growing space for agriculture, etc. And our people found some fairly disturbing workarounds. In honor of their-- and our-- creativity, we're sharing some of our favorite dishes--- with post-apocalyptic ingredient substitutions.

Recipe:  Michelle's Favorite Stew.

Season all sides of the beef with a fair amount of salt and pepper and other spices. In a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot that has a tight cover; heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over moderately high heat. Brown the meat on all sides, taking the time to get a nice crust on the outside. Pour in the tomatoes and the water. Scatter the vegetables around the pot roast, season with remaining herb mix; and drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of oil and balsamic vinegar. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to medium-low. Add more water occasionally if the level gets too low. Braise for about 3 hours, basting every 30 minutes with the pan juices, until the beef is fork tender.

Slice the pot roast and arrange on platter surrounded by the vegetables. Serve with the pot juices.

1 (3 to 4 pound) piece beef chuck roast, trimmed of excess fat
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (red wine can be used in case of allergy)
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
2 cups water
1 white onion, halved and chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
4 potatoes, sliced
3 carrots, chopped
1 cup button mushrooms, stems removed

Substitutions--mushrooms, potatoes, and tomatoes might be okay, and onions and garlic are probably accessible, but pepper and coriander and cardamom are probably out. Dill, rosemary, and thyme would work, though they’d be upper-class treats. Red wine would have to be any alcohol on hand. The beef would be a nice big rat--gutted and cleaned appropriately, or sliced into roasts, depending on the size of the rat. A whole rabbit would also be acceptable if possible, but that would be a Poca Nobilitas meal, not a worker’s dinner. For other spices, dandelion greens and oil would be acceptable. Water left in the Foundation levels and salt accumulations from water systems could be used for piquancy. 

Nic's bacony addictive pigs-in-a-blanket.

Nic says: Technically, this was an improvisational comfort food my wife introduced me to, along with such other abominations as kugel and sweet-and-sour cabbage stew (For the record, those are not euphemisms.). But when I asked myself “What would be the best translated into insects, meat-that-should-not-be-named, and minimal ingredients” this came to mind. Also, and huge disclaimer for this, I'm not a hobbying cook. This recipe is gonna be a child's scrawl next to Michelle's stew. And I'm less studied in which spices, specifically, would be gone from barbecue sauce in the Lower Blocks.

This recipe looks like it has the appropriate quantities. I just eyeball it. But for those of you who need something more precise.

BBQ Sauce of Choice
Water Chestnuts

Wrap bacon around individual chestnuts and place on a casserole pan. Pour sauce over top and bake until bacon is done.

So... for the substitutions.

Bacon. Would have to come from a rat, or possibly a goat that was no longer producing milk, and thus not earning its feed. Certainly a luxury. Substitute sliced parsnip for the water chestnuts, precooking a bit to make sure it's soft without overdoing the bacon. And- here's the clincher- you gotta have as much protein as possible for a hard day's labor. So to make this more filling, we'll ALSO wrap large beetles with the parsnip. Bonus extra crunch!
The barbecue sauce is a little bit of a trick one. It would be sweetened with beets, rather than cane sugar. Cane sugar requires a lot of water to grow. It would be vinegar heavy, since the spices and such in worchester sauce is rare. And I have to figure that the tomatoes used in place of catsup would be barely edible; either the parts of tomatoes that couldn't work for other recipes (for instance, the skins after the seeds are harvested), or tomatoes that were on the edge of spoiling. 

A recipe like this would be pretty easily served by street vendors, possibly even on kebabs that could let it be cleanly served. 

And now that we've done the literary equivalent of the haunted house game with the peeled grapes and spaghetti, we'll sign off with a good recipe for you. And let it go unstated that it would probably be yummy served over rat.

1 1/2 cup cheddar
1 bottle beer 
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 stick butter
2 tbsp worcestershiresauce
1 tsp Dijon mustard (or 4 tsp English mustard)
1 tsp horseradish sauce
2 cloves diced garlic
black pepper
Cayenne pepper


Melt the butter in a pan. Add the flour bit by bit. Stir very thoroughly and keep whisking to make a roux. When thick, add the beer—warm beer is better. It can be flat. Dark beer is usually what I use, but amber is apparently better. Keep whisking until the sauce thickens again. Add the garlic roughly now. Medium heat is best. It’ll probably bubble as well. Slowly add the cup of shredded cheddar—you may even need two cups—and keep stirring. As the cheese melts into the thick sauce, add the horseradish, Worcester, cayenne, black pepper, and stir well. 

Serve over boiled or roasted potatoes or over gigantic, thick slices of brown bread. 

Happy holidays, to you all!

Michelle Browne and Nicolas Wilson

Genre: Science Fiction/dystopian biopunk

Date of Publication: 11/20/2014


Number of pages: 252
Word Count: 63,000 words
Cover Artist: Katie de Long

Book Description:

Execution above or extinction below...

“Please help me. I'm pregnant.”

A chance encounter with a fugitive has turned Christine's life into a nightmare.

Survival is hard enough in the poverty-stricken streets of the Lower Blocks, and this woman is far from the first to flee the Engineers who oversee the City. But now Christine's a target: hunted by the aristocracy, her future uncertain, and past laid bare. And a person with Christine's powers can't afford to be caught.
Humanity built the Foundation to elevate themselves from the poisoned earth, but Christine and Ilsa must choose whether to descend to hell below, or remain in hell above.

From post-apocalyptic authors Nicolas Wilson (Homeless), and Michelle Browne (The Underlighters) comes Euphoria/Dysphoria, a biopunk dystopia.

Excerpt One:

Christine knew that with an Engineers’ blood on her hands, she’d be in for it. That was Three for her, for sure. More likely, she would be immediately taken, due to the severity of her transgressions. No reason to play it safe; best-case scenario, she’d probably have to hide out for months to work through all of the changes needed to disguise herself. She thought of the other grey-market acquirers she knew and wondered which of them liked her enough to shelter her.

She cursed the woman running alongside her and herself for getting drawn into this in the first place. It was too late now—she could only hope that she could make her downfall have as great an impact as possible by seeing Ilsa through this. Tearing her mind from the future, she looked at for exits. No time to worry and fuss. She just had to keep moving.

 About the Authors

Michelle Browne:

Michelle Browne is a sci fi/fantasy writer from Calgary, AB. She has a cat and a partner-in-crime. Her days revolve around freelance editing, jewelry, phuquerie, and nightmares. She is currently working on the next books in her series, other people's manuscripts, and drinking as much tea as humanly possible.

She is all over the internet, far too often for anyone’s sanity, and can be found in various places.

Nicolas Wilson:

Nicolas Wilson is a published journalist, graphic novelist, and novelist. He lives in the rainy wastes of Portland, Oregon with his wife, four cats and a dog.

Nic's work spans a variety of genres, from political thriller to science fiction and urban fantasy. He has several novels currently available, and many more due for release in the next year. Nic's stories are characterized by his eye for the absurd, the off-color, and the bombastic.

For information on Nic's books, and behind-the-scenes looks at his writing, visit

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1 comment:

Nic said...

Thanks for having us, Wenona.