Welcome to my Friday bonus feature called Karen’s Killer Fixin’s **Author Special**!! Today, in lieu of one of my own recipes, I’m going to introduce you to a new author who will share one of her favorite recipes. Not only will you and I occasionally learn how to make something new and delicious, but we’ll get a chance to check out some wonderful authors. Introducing author, Paula Rose Michelson, and her favorite recipes for EMPANADAS and SCHMALTZ as shared by her character, Naomi!
NO OTHER CHOICE
The Naomi Chronicles, Book One
BY PAULA ROSE MICHELSON
Fleeing Spain to live her faith in public can Naomi overcome or will she always be…
An Illegal Immigrant ~
Bound by Secrets ~
Trapped by Choices ~
This is Naomi’s journey from adolescence to womanhood, from frightened isolation and captivity to the noble status of heiress. Trapped in a life where all who know her think her a saint, saddled with a mission and responsibility many would shirk from placed upon her shoulders, Naomi agrees to marry to sidestep more issues and discovers…
NO OTHER CHOICE
The Naomi Chronicles, Book One
BY PAULA ROSE MICHELSON
A Portion of Chapter 9 ~ Gifts of Love
“Oh, la casa needs some attention. Why did you not tell me?”
Chaz squeezed Naomi’s hand and smiled. “Amor, because this is your home, I have always seen it as a thing of beauty. After all, the one who lives within its walls cares for and loves all who cross her path.”
“I know that you love me, but look at the shingles, the front door, and the porch. They all need repair.”
“These things can be taken care of. Do not worry. Because the property across the street fronts on this and the main street, I plan to buy it, restore its exterior, and build out office space for my charity. While the workers are there, I will have them fix whatever you want. Perhaps you would like to have a new casa. My workers are at your disposal. What is your pleasure, my beloved? Tell me what you want and I will make it happen.”
“You have made arrangements to buy the place?”
“I hoped to do so. However, I have been unable to find the owner. No one knows who has the deed to the place. From the looks of it, no one has lived there for many years. Do you know who owns the property?”
“Yes, you do.”
“I own this property? How is it possible that I own this place since I have not bought it?”
“It is all legal, my husband. One of the Tías bought the place many years ago in case one of us should marry. She knew that a man around the house all day was not a good thing, especially with the niñas there. When she purchased the place, she reasoned that if one of us married, a man could pursue what men do. She knew that a man should not be forced into a harem of woman, as she supposed a man might look at the situation we Tías are committed to.”
“This is wonderful!” Chaz picked Naomi up and caught her to his chest.
“This rundown rubble of a shed that might have once been called a house is wonderful? What, my husband, is so wonderful about this?”
“Do not look with the eye but with the heart. Can you not see it as I do?”
“I do not know how. Mi mamá taught me to be practical. In this I find assurance.”
“I know this about you, but feeling secure is not a life. It is a mere shadow of what life can be. Come, let me show you.” Chaz took her by the hand and led her up the path to the little house. He put his hands to his forehead to block the sun’s glare and tried to peer into the front window. Years of dirt obscured his view. He tried to see into one window then another.
Naomi almost laughed when he tried to wipe away the years of grime with the sleeve of his jacket. “Do you really want to see this place?”
Chaz turned toward his bride and smiled. “Sí, one should always visit whatever inheritance one has been given.”
“Wait here. I will bring you the key.”
“Wonderful! And bring back a flashlight.”
“I do not have one. Will a candle do?”
“Yes, but hurry before we lose the light.”
Naomi hurried across the street and noticed the sky was beginning to color. Though she loved to view sunsets, she kept her thoughts on Chaz and his house. Everything pales when I compare it to the day I have spent with Chaz, she thought. Mi esposo has given me more than a wonderful day. He has given me a sense of myself that I have never felt before. Now I will give him a place for him to be himself, away from the niñas and me.
She hurried through the vestibule, crossed the kitchen’s threshold, and smelled something sweet and spicy. Lola stood at the stove where several pots simmered. The teenager looked up and saw Naomi. “I hope you don’t mind me cooking. I got hungry, looked for something to eat, and decided to make dinner. I thought you and Chaz would come home hungry. I’m starved, but I’ll wait until the two of you are ready for dinner.”
“How thoughtful of you, Lola.” Naomi pulled out a kitchen drawer, found the key, and picked up a candle and matches. “The food smells good. We will be over in a few minutes. Take some time to freshen up. When I get back, I will set the table on the patio. Then we can sit down and eat dinner together. Now please excuse me, I must get this key to Chaz. He is waiting at the house across the street.”
Chaz fished out a pencil stub stuck in a windowsill, dug into his pockets, and found the receipt from the morning’s purchases. He whistled as he walked the property and scribbled notes about the dimensions and condition of his house. By the time Naomi crossed the street, he was beaming. He had already decided it was, as he had suspected, the perfect location for his office.
“Here.” Naomi placed the key in the palm of his hand. “This is what you have been waiting for.”
Chaz looked her up and down. He allowed his gazed to intensify as he looked at her face with a desire that she had assumed no one would feel for her. “No, you are what I have been waiting for all of my life. This key will allow me to work close to you. I am thankful for the property, because I had thought I would need to find office space far from you and travel time would eat into our lives. But never forget you are more valuable to me than anything I will ever own, be given, or achieve. Naomi, you are my whole life, as I hope I am yours.” He bent down and kissed her passionately. Naomi felt her body ignite with pent-up longing. She gazed at her husband, and sighed aware that she did not want her world to return to what it had been before his love and kiss claimed her. I never want things to be as they were before, she happily admitted to herself, as she stood encircled by Chaz’s loving embrace.
Paula Rose Michelson began her writing career at age fifteen when she agreed to write a weekly ‘Teen Scene’ column for a San Diego paper. Married to the love of her life at 20, Paula is the mother of two, grandmother of seven, and the wife of Lutheran Pastor and Chosen People Field Missionary, Ron Michelson. Ron continues to encourage Paula to write flinch-free Christian fiction and nonfiction. He recently applauded her desire to write books dealing with life issues from a more secular viewpoint, so those who seek will find.
For The Naomi Chronicles saga, Paula researched what befell the Jews during and after the Spanish and Mexican Inquisitions, thinking to use that background in her heroine’s story. Aware that life, love, choices, and forgiveness were what she wanted to write about, Paula was surprised and blessed when Naomi shared her harrowing story with her. Readers who like inspirational fiction with a Messianic twist and a hint of history, will enjoy ‘The Naomi Chronicles’.
Recently, feeling a heart-call to write shorter works of fiction, Paula realized her books are about choices, how they challenge and change us and help us develop wisdom and insight. In her soon to be released short novella ‘The Time Between’, readers looking for a more real and raw story will find one. The compelling characters draw the reader into what one reviewer called, “A riveting can’t put down, fiction that only the head of LAMB Ministries could write in such a compelling way that you become the characters you are reading about, which is a complete departure from what this author has written before.”
Having been called by God in 1988, Paula stopped working in the medical field as Chemical Dependency – Lifestyle Disorder Councilor, to found LAMB Ministries, where women are equipped with biblical tools to recover from trauma and abuse. Some of those tools are found in the pages of her books, for Paula knows the issues her characters deal with are seen in survivors trying to hide their pain. Thus this author continues her work by writing books to inspire others to overcome.
Links to Paula Rose’s website, blog, books, etc.
Amazon’s ASIN: B00O9LIA9O
This Kindle is listed on Kindle Unlimited
Twitter: Paula Rose Michelson:
I hope you enjoy the recipe Paula Rose is sharing with us today on Karen’s Killer Fixin’s. Happy eating!
P.S. We’re at 193 recipes and counting with this posting. Hope you find some recipes you like. If this is your first visit, please check out past blogs for more Killer Fixin’s. In the right hand column menu, you can even look up past recipes by type. i.e. Desserts, Breads, Beef, Chicken, Soups, Author Specials, etc.
(Recipe Courtesy of “The Empanada Man Pizzeria”)
Note from Paula Rose: This Empanada recipe is one of Naomi’s favorites, which she makes on Friday night for the couple’s first Shabbat together though she fears him finding out that she is not like him will…. The recipe is a famous Sephardic one that the owner of ‘The Empanada Man Pizzeria’ in Lake Forest, California let me use. He also hosted a great book signing when this Inspirational Romance first released. Since making this food creates a sweet moment between this couple who wed and haven’t consummated their vows, I hope you enjoy this snippet which shows how Naomi marrying to stop people from finding her a husband, now finds herself falling in love with a man she is forbidden to love. The second recipe you’ll read is for Schmaltz which Naomi’s Ashkenazi friend (a European Jew) taught her and one most Jews throughout the world make.
Naomi began to clean the vegetables. A few minutes later, she heard Lola singing the song Chaz had given her. Though the teenager’s rendition sounded crass, she found herself unable to ask her to stop. The more she listened, the more the song’s message of love seemed tainted. That upset her. She knew that if Chaz heard it, he would have stopped Lola. However, Chaz was not there. And Naomi feared that if she asked Lola to sing the song as it had been sung the night before, the teenager might rebel against her authority.
Forcing herself to think of all she had to do to prepare this first Sabbath meal for Chaz, she poured oil into a pan and heated it. She planned to use one of her mother’s favorite recipes, which she knew from heart. While she waited for the oil to heat, she remembered her mamá saying, “Some spices create satisfaction or contentment, others create heat.” Naomi was aware that her mother’s words were true and now more than ever before, she wished she were there. When the sautéing was done, she added the beef and cooked the mixture for ten minutes. Adding a bay leaf, salt, pepper, and cumin, for flavor, she lowered the flame, and let the ingredients cook for five more. She removed the empanada dough and hard-boiled eggs from the refrigerator and began to cut the dough into circles. Each time Naomi cut the circles to just the right size, she remembered how her mamá had praised her. It had been a long time since she had heard the words and she usually worked at a snail’s pace so she could savor her memories. But that was not the case today as she hurried to finish the task, peeled the hard-boiled eggs, and cut some into small pieces. By the time that was done, her filling was ready, so she spooned a teaspoon on top on each circle, placed a slice of egg on top, added a slice of green olive, and crimped the edges. She placed her main course aside until the oven reached three hundred and fifty degrees and put the additional eggs in the refrigerator. Her mind drifted to all the ways eggs were used for the Shabbat meal and the next day when Torah laws forbid Jews to cook. She looked at the leftover filling and remembered how her mamá had loved it when her papá teased, “How is it that the Lord—blessed be He—could create the world in six days, making everything perfect, and you always have leftover filling,” as he took a big spoonful and smiled.
She opened the package that contained the liver. Carmen meant to give me beef liver but handed me chicken instead and wings and thighs as well. Pleased with this unexpected Sabbath blessing, she cleaned the chicken pieces and livers and placed them on a paper towel to wick the moisture away. The heat in the kitchen and the memory of chopped liver, made with schmaltz the way her English friend Rhoda Sternberg had taught her to make when she had traveled with Abuela Sosa, reminded her of how fortunate she had been. Using her friend’s recipe, she cut an onion, placed it and the small pieces of chicken skin in the skillet, and covered them with a glass lid. This allowed her to watch everything simmer and see when the mixture turned a golden brown so she could remove the skillet from the stove. She pulled out the slotted spoon, the schmaltz jar from the refrigerator, and placed them on the counter. I never believed I would meet Jewish people who were able to talk about their belief in God and own a Bible without being afraid of reappraisals, she thought. What wonderful cooks they were.
Chaz entered the kitchen. “Amor, why have you cooked so much? Have you invited guests?”
“No.” She pushed a wayward tendril behind her ear and returned to her task.
“Then why do you cook so many things at once?”
She turned to answer him and smiled. The sunlight from the kitchen window illuminated his rugged good looks, and she was proud that he was hers.
“I do not want to spend time in the kitchen during the weekend, so I do as much as I can on Thursday in preparation. And, of course, now I have an additional reason to not be in the kitchen.”
He picked up a big spoonful of her empanada filling and looked at her questioningly.
“I have kept it on a flame, so it is still hot. Better blow on it before you taste it.”
“Am I a mere child? Do I not know how to eat?”
“No, indeed you are not! Do you think I would marry someone who could not stand toe to toe with me?”
“Good!” He gulped down the mixture. His face flushed red. “Water!” he croaked.
Naomi filled a glass with water and handed to him. He gulped it down. Once he had regained his normal color, she asked, “How did it taste? Not to spicy, I hope.”
“No,” Chaz rasped. “It is just as good as my madre used to make on the rancho.”
“Good.” Naomi laughed in spite of herself. “Are you certain it is not too hot?”
“Oh, I like things hot!” He smiled at her.
“I guess you do.”
“Sí, I do!” Both of them laughed while she turned to her cooking.
Chaz nuzzled the back of her neck. “My wife, I like you like this!”
“Good, I like us like this too!”
NOTE FROM PAULA ROSE: If you’re checking out this blog post, you might like to know that for Naomi and Chaz Spanish is their native or first langue and English their second. With this Saga set in El Barrio or Spanish Harlem in New York, which is what the Spanish called it when they settled there, and others moving in called Harlem this and the other books in ‘The Naomi Chronicles’ were researched to the nines. However, these are not historical novels because the characters are living with the fallout but not in the time period that created the horrid fear and hiding called the Spanish and Mexican Inquisitions. Although Naomi knows her history and Chaz thinks he does to one of them will get the shock of a lifetime and so will the reader in Book 2.
Naomi’s Recipes from NO OTHER CHOICE
Empanadas are made by Sephardic (Spanish) Jews
2 hard-boiled large eggs
½ medium onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon dried oregano
¾ pound ground beef chuck
2 tablespoons raisins
1 ½ tablespoons chopped olives
1 (14-ounce) can whole tomatoes in juice, drained, reserving 2 tablespoons juice, and chopped
1 package frozen empanada pastry disks, thawed
About 4 cups vegetable oil
- Cut each egg crosswise into 10 thin slices.
- Cook onion in olive oil in a heavy medium skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until softened. Add garlic, cumin, and oregano and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in beef and cook, breaking up lumps with a fork, until no longer pink, about 4 minutes.
- Add olives, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, and tomatoes with reserved juice, then cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced but mixture is still moist, about 5 minutes. Spread on a plate to cool.
- Preheat oven to 200°F with rack in middle.
- Lay a large sheet of plastic wrap on a dampened work surface (to help keep plastic in place), then roll out an empanada disk on plastic wrap to measure about 6 inches. Place 3 tablespoons meat mixture on disk and top with 2 slices of egg. Moisten edges of disk with water and fold over to form a semicircle, then crimp with a fork. Make more empanadas in same manner.
- Brush with oil and baked on an oiled baking sheet in a 425°F oven until golden, about 10 minutes.
Aschanazie (European Jews) render of chicken fat as a staple in cooking.
¾ pound chicken skin and fat, diced (use scissors, or freeze then dice with a knife)
¾ teaspoon kosher salt, ½ medium onion, peeled and cut into ¼-inch slices (optional).
- In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, toss chicken skin and fat with salt and 1 tablespoon water and spread out in one layer. Cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes, until fat starts to render and skin begins to turn golden at the edges.
- Add onions and cook 45 to 60 minutes longer, tossing occasionally, until chicken skin and onions are crispy and richly browned, but not burned.
- Strain through a sieve. Reserve the schmaltz. If you want the gribenes to be crispier, return to the skillet and cook over high heat until done to taste. Drain gribenes on a paper-towel-lined plate.
- If you’d rather make the schmaltz in the oven (less splatter), skip the water, spread salted skin and fat on a baking sheet, and bake at 350 degrees, stirring every 10 minutes. Add onion after 15 minutes. The timing will be about the same for both methods.
**SPECIAL GIVEAWAY**: Paula Rose is giving away a FREE Kindle download of NO OTHER CHOICE. If a person says she’s asked others to read this blog, and knows how many did, she will give the person with the highest number of referrals, a download of the three NAOMI CHRONICLES: BOOK 1, ‘NO OTHER CHOICE’, BOOK 2, ‘CHOOSING TO BE’, and BOOK 3, ‘BEGINNING ANEW’. Comment on her Karen’s Killer Fixin’s blog for a chance to win. Don’t miss the chance to read this great story. Thanks, Paula Rose, for sharing your story and recipes with us!