To Menage or Not To Menage

I’ve been a terrible blogger lately, I know. November has been a killer month. Losing most of the first week for Disney, my son’s birthday, which involved two parties, my daughter getting sick, budget time at the day job and Thanksgiving really sucked up tons of time. Add to that my official participation in NaNoWriMo, and the month literally slipped through my hands at lightning speed.

It wasn’t a bad month, just busy, and I did finish the story for NaNoWriMo. Right now, the first draft comes in at about 52K words, and it is complete. It’s the shortest book I have ever written, though it will likely end up a little longer than that by the time the revision process is complete. But the plot changed a little bit from my first vision for this story.

During all the madness of the month, I managed to find myself some snippets of time in which to read. Trusty Sony Reader in hand, I took advantage of smoke breaks at work (and home), sitting in the car waiting to pick up kids, or in the doctor’s waiting room, etc. In typical fashion, I focused on a certain genre, glutting myself on it. It started a couple of months back, when I read Kari Gregg’s “Lovely Wicked” and HC Brown’s “My Purr-Fect Alphas.” Both of them featured ménage plotlines, and the emotional depth of both just blew me away. And they got me to thinking.

Now, I’ve read just about everything you can think of, and there is very little that bothers me, and a whole lot that just sucks me in and gets my mind going. For some time, I’d been toying with the idea of a ménage storyline, but haven’t really given it a go, because I honestly don’t feel I can do it justice. And there are variations, though I’ve mostly read m/f/m books. But it complicated how I wanted to go with it. Sometimes the men have a sexual relationship with each other, sometimes they don’t. I don’t have a preference as far as what I want to read, but again, don’t really think I have what it takes to write the m/m relationship the way it deserves.

But, inspired by the superb books I recently devoured, I did finally take the plunge and added some ménage scenes to the story I just completed. In this case, the third partner is actually the hero’s brother, and he’s invited to participate by the hero, who doesn’t have the best intentions. In fact, his intentions are pretty rotten. But the men do not have any sort of sexual contact, because incest is one of my personal squicks. The bottom line though, there was never any plan to have the three of them permanently together, and I wonder if I made the right choice including that part of the plot. Specifically, the way it came about – it will likely be viewed by some as occurring in a truly un-heroic way, to the point where the consent is dubious. Though, as my critique partners can attest, I like my heroes to be villainous in some ways.

I’d love to hear some opinions on this from those who read and write m/m or ménage books. I haven’t really looked at any stats, what’s popular? I realize there’s no right or wrong, but what seems to be the most common variations? I’ve noticed that everything I’ve read involves BDSM as well, and I wonder why that is? Is there such a thing as a vanilla ménage? I haven’t come across any yet, but would love to check some out.

And of course, I’ll take any and all reading recommendations! 😉

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Adventures in Cooking

Every year, on my son’s birthday, I make a very special meal. It started several years back, when my in-laws were discussing their favorite sauce, called Genovese. Now, if you’re Italian (which I am not, my husband is, and this is my MIL’s recipe. She’s about as Italian as you can get) and your family comes from the Naples area of Italy, you may have heard of it. For some reason, this sauce recipe is pretty much exclusive to the Naples area. I’ve never been, but from what I understand, if you ask for it anywhere in Italy outside Naples, most Italians haven’t even heard of it. It’s actually a rather simple sauce, it consists if browning an eye round and then removing it from the (huge) pot so you can sauté diced prosciutto in the juices. Once that’s done, you add about 15-20 lbs of sliced Spanish onions, so the pot is full. The only other ingredient is water, which you fill to the brim of the pot. The sauce then literally cooks for about two days, until the onions caramelize and break down, making a delicious, rich brown sauce. About two hours before completion, the eye round is added back in to finish cooking before serving over pasta.

Here’s a visual to give an idea of how the process goes:

Because of the time involved, this is a sauce that’s usually made once a year, and usually in the colder months, because the house gets really hot when you’re cooking giant pots of sauce. As you can see, I use a giant roasting pan on two burners, plus another very large sauce pot, or Dutch oven, on a third. Since I usually end up feeding 25-30 people, I need to make a lot.

This year will be a little different though. My daughter has requested I make the Genovese for her birthday, which is in January. So we are merely postponing it, but now I’ve had to come up with another idea to feed 30 people next week. And it’s not easy planning such a meal – my family has issues with what they’ll eat or not eat, and while just about everyone else doesn’t have such issues, the two or three people who do make it complicated. But I think I’ve come up with just the right recipe, which should make everyone happy.

Chicken Cacciatore

What could be easier? Chicken stew, Italian style, basically. The worst part is probably the chopping that’s involved. And to make it easier for everyone, I will be making the chicken off the bone. Easier for me to prepare and cook, easier for my guests to eat. I will probably also make a pan of sausage and peppers, since that’s always popular. And of course, 10 pounds of pasta! But the trick now is what to serve for appetizers. Other than cookies, appys happen to be my specialty, I usually bring one to every function I go to, they’re fun to eat, and my favorite parties have always been the ones where I made nothing but appys. Normally, with the Genovese sauce, I put out a traditional antipasto platter, with sausages, cheeses, olives, roasted peppers and the like. But I think I need to do something different with the Cacciatore. I am going through lists and trying to select a few faves that always go over well. But so many of my favorites, while technically easy to make, are time consuming to prepare. So I’ve that dilemma to solve – I have a week before I must shop, so that helps. A little.

Anybody have any easy faves that are crowd-pleasers? I enjoy the cooking, but my time is limited, since I like to put out at least three or four dishes for my guests to nosh on. Of course, the real benefit to making so much food is the leftovers we’ll enjoy for a few more days. 😀