Saturday, January 02, 2010

Barbara O'Neal & The Secret of Everything

You can't go wrong with a Barbara O'Neal book--and you can treat yourself to another as THE SECRET OF EVERYTHING just hit the shelves. Luscious writing about women with provocative dilemmas set in locations just as original as they'll be transported in more than one sense of the word.

I asked Barbara five questions sparked by her latest novel and this is what she had to say:

1. Most important thing first: How does food play a part in THE SECRET OF EVERYTHING?

Tessa Harlow comes to the chic foodie town of Los Ladrones to try to discover the truth of her own life. The characters gather at The 100 Breakfasts Cafe, where they connect, rest, to refuel, to discover themselves. Breakfast is my favorite meal, so it was especially fun to chase down and test recipes for the 100 Breakfasts menu.

2. The heroine, Tessa, has been leading hiking tours and I know that you are also a dedicated hiker. Can you talk about that a little? What attracts you to the endeavor?
I had such a hard time formulating my answer--because I love hiking so much it's hard to get it into words. When I think of it, I feel the sun on my head and see the fierce blue sky and vistas of trees and valleys and mountains. I feel that little buzz along my legs from good hard exercise, and tickle of sweat on my back. I get an endorphin rush just imagining it. Hiking is vigorous but not punishing, like running. I don't really think that much, so it's like a moving meditation, and refreshing. I'm enough of a geek that I like having the right gear, the performance socks and tops and boots for winter and summer, and knowing how to use it, and knowing what to do if I get lost. I love being with the trail and aware that it doesn't care about me in the slightest.
And, most importantly, it means I can have pancakes for breakfast and not feel guilty about it.

3. Tessa has a mystery in her past this is uncovered during the course of this story. Are any family secrets worth keeping or should we strive for the deepest understanding of our pasts?

That depends on the person, I bet. Some people want to let sleeping dogs lie. Others want to put the pieces together. I fall in the latter.

4. Do you set resolutions for the new year?

Goals, not resolutions, which just make me feel like a big fat failure. Last year I walked a certain number of miles; this year I want to add more. Last year, I started dancing. This year, I'm focusing on more vegetables, fewer cookies.

5. The first meal of the day is given the spotlight in this book. What did you have for breakfast this morning?
Scrambled eggs with spinach, soy sausage and a tiny bit of goat cheese.

So what did you have for breakfast this morning? I confess I just scarfed down a day-old donut. Surfer Guy was picking up the used veggie oil from the local chinese food place yesterday for our veggie car and a worker from a nearby cafe handed him 2 bags of baked goods since they'll be closed today. I thought how fun and serendipitous until later he confessed they might have taken him for a homeless person as he was in his working-on-the-car clothes!


Debra Dixon said...

Hey, Barbara!

Great interview and reminds me that I hove a friend who needs this book! I need a gift and she's a foodie. Excellent!

Paula R said...

Hi Christie! Loved the responses given by Barbara. I must admit I have never read anything by her, but I am going to remedy that. Loved your hubbie's thoughts about why he got so many "gifts." LOL!!! Have a great rest of the day, and I hope you have a little more than a day-old donut. I had a small bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats with almonds for breakfast and a huge helping of Mark Harmon and the rest of the NCIS crew. Have a blast today!

Peace and love,
Paula R.

Betina said...

Barbara and Christie-- I LOVE breakfast. I'd eat it at least two of the three meals a day if I could. This morning, I had leftover breakfast casserole (egg, rice, sausage and cheese bake) from yesterday's New Year's brunch. And a flaky croissant. Nothing like ringing in the year in style. Oh and strawberries and fresh pineapple. . . also left over, but still quite fresh.

A restautant of 100 breakfasts. . . sounds like heaven. Congrats, Barbara! Sell a million!

Christie Ridgway said...

Hi, Paula! OK, went on to have half a day-old bagel and some cream cheese. I'm just starting to get into NCIS. Have always loved Mark Harmon (and I have the slightest degrees of separation from him, he and his wife own a house just a few doors down from my in-law's vacation house, we've nodded in passing a few times, tho they've not been around when we've been around in several years).

I know you'll enjoy Barbara's books. She also writes under the name Barbara Samuel and Ruth Wind.

Michele Hauf said...

Ah, I thought it was Barbara Samuel, but wasn't sure until I just read your comment. Anything by her is awesome!

For breakfast I had...two chocolates from the huge box of chocolates still left over from Xmas, and apple juice. I know.

Christie Ridgway said...

::snort:: Michele, I love it. Chocolates and apple juice.

I made a lovely chicken piccata dinner last night and creme brulee. I considered eating one of the leftover creme brulees this a.m.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Barbara, I'm dying to read this book! I love all your stuff.

When I make breakfast, it's oatmeal, which is why Clyde often makes breakfast. We had bacon and eggs this morning. Corned beef hash is his favorite side for breakfast. Oddly, he had no cholesterol issues, but I really have to watch it. I can easily do just an egg or two a week, though. My weakness is stuff like Belgian waffles, Swedish pancakes, French toast--the whole breakfast tour.

Christie Ridgway said...

Okay, I confess I've never eaten corned beef, hash or otherwise. I have no idea what it tastes like. OTOH, I'm well acquainted with every kind of sweet, bread-y breakfast dish.

Kathleen Eagle said...

No corned beef and cabbage, Christie? What do you eat on St. Patrick's Day?

Wait, haven't you ever had a Reuben sandwich?

Christie Ridgway said...

On St. Paddy's Day--green beer? (Kidding.) Don't eat anything special even though I have Irish blood (the Shannons and the Rileys). And no, never a Reuben sandwich.

I like pastrami. Is it like pastrami?

Paula R said...

Hi Christie, glad you graduated to at half-a-day-old choices on the menu...LOL!!!

Barbara Samuels is more familiar to me now. WOW...I heart Mark Harmon, since I was a kid. I just drown in those eyes. I am feeling uber jealous of you!!!

I had a cinnamon raisin bagel sans cream cheese, butter or anything else...and a bowl of chicken flavored Ramen noodles.

Peace and love,
Paula R.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Pastrami and corned beef--hmm. I think they come from the same part of the beef--brisket? A cheaper cut, so they're both cured in brine. I think pastrami is smoked and maybe spicier. They use pastrami in "Rachel" sandwiches, which is not as good as a Reuben, IMO. But pastrami on rye with mustard--mmm.

Have you ever had New England boiled dinner, California Girl? That's made with corned beef. It's all about the Irish influence. But pastrami is Jewish, so there's probably some cross-over right around New York City, where people from all over the world have been coming together from way back and flavors meld and food is spectacular.

I don't know how much Irish I am--Mama used to say "Scotch-Irish" which is probably Virginian for "It's so far back, we don't really know." But it interests me. The whole cross-cultural thing fascinates me.

If you like pastrami, try some corned beef. Maybe wash it down with some green beer.

Christie Ridgway said...

Kathleen: Nope, no New England boiled dinner. On one side of fam, recent ancestors are from MN (Swedish) on other side, the Scotch-Irish thing too, but recently from Pacific NW. And then there's the CA thing. We BBQ a lot.

Srsly, cannot think of "nationality food" that my fam eats unless you count Italian & that is made by my mom's sis who married a Sicilian. Rest of time it was always chicken & beef, prepared with a minimum of fuss. My mom is a pretty unimaginative (sorry, Mom) cook.

I'm better!

Barbara Samuel said...

I have been remiss in getting back here. The weekends are always insane around here, since I'm in charge of the post-services fellowship food at my (metaphysical) church, so one day is spent shopping & cooking, the other serving.

Thanks for the reminder that Barbara Samuel and Barbara O'Neal are the same person. Kind of. The current books are food and dog-centered, with a heavy helping of the right man as reward.

Christie, thanks for having me. I didn't know you had any Irish! That's me, Irish Irish Irish, though we never had a lot of food traditions, unless you count Southern US. Biscuits and gravy, grits, pecans in all varieties. Also, I made black-eyed peas for New Years.

Corned beef is fantastic. Ruebens...oh, my heavens!

Cindy Gerard said...

The book sounds fantastic, Barbara and I have to agree with the others - anything by YOU is great!

As for breakfast - we had the 4 grand kids here for the New Year's weekend - 8,almost 6, 4 and almost 2. Nothing cuter than seeing them all sitting on the tall stools at the kitchen breakfast counter with Grampa Tom cooking sausage and scrambled eggs and them waiting with forks in hand for him to scoop them up. LOVE seeing those babies eat a good hearty breakfast. Good on their mommy and daddy for making it an important meal every day.