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About Kristine Smith

About Kristine Smith

Award-winning author of the Jani Kilian series. Retired scientist. Owned by a dog.

blogging food

Dreams and other things

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I have heard that folks aren’t all that interested in hearing about other people’s dreams, but last night I had a weird one and I am posting it here as much for myself as for public consumption.

I usually don’t recall my dreams as a whole piece. I will remember bits and pieces–the sensation of flying, the fact that I’m being followed by a vampire and WHY AM I NOT SCARED?? But this was fairly intact from beginning to end, so, here goes.

I’m on a plane. Literally. The jet is at cruising altitude, above the clouds, and I am outside, wrapped in a blanket, tethered in place, and hanging on. I think I’m nestled where the wing and body meet, but I’m not sure. I just see the endless blue overhead, the clouds beneath. I don’t feel the wind in my face, or the cold or vibration. I don’t see any windows, and have no clue whether anyone can see me or not. Someone has to be flying the jet, but I can’t see them. I’m alone.

Except for King. My dog, that passed away over two years ago. He’s lying on a dog bed, either atop the plane or gliding beside it. He seems pretty laid back, considering that he’s 35K feet above the ground with nothing holding him in place. Given that he was never the calmest dog in the world, it’s worth noting.

Time passes. Then for some reason I can’t recall, I untie the rope that’s holding me in place. I’m still wrapped in the blanket, but damn, I’m gripping whatever I can grip and holding on tight. Then I hear barking, and I look to my left and see that King has lost contact with the jet. He’s not falling, but drifting farther and farther away on his bed. He’s barking–I’m not sure if he’s afraid, or trying to get my attention, or what. I don’t know if I can find him, because I don’t know where the jet is going or when we’re going to land. I’m not panicked, though. Something in the back of my head tells me that I will be able to find him.

And that how it ends. I’ve lost my dog and my rope, but I’m still hanging on. I’m sure this somehow relates to things going on in my life right now. I’m contemplating changes and anticipating others, all of which will lead to some degree of upset. Funny, the way the brain deals with things like that.


In other news, I found I had a few overripe bananas in the fruit bowl. That could mean only one thing. BANANA BREAD. I fell back on my basic recipe, which is like the easiest thing ever. But along with being basic, it’s also incredibly forgiving and flexible, which gives me a chance to play.

This time, I was going to add chocolate chips and stop there. But then I remembered Aarón Sánchez’s Mexican Brownie recipe, which I had made before and liked. The main addition there is a quarter teaspoon of cayenne pepper, which adds just a touch of heat to the brownies. I decided what the heck, and gave it a try.

I didn’t stop there. In addition to the cayenne, I added about a 1/3 teaspoon ancho chili powder for smokiness. A teaspoon cinnamon because that works with just about everything. A teaspoon of espresso powder to boost the chocolate. About 2/3 cup bittersweet chocolate chips.

As usual, I used whole wheat flour instead of all purpose. This time, I used 1 cup whole wheat + 1/2 cup white whole wheat, both King Arthur brand. I added an extra half-teaspoon baking soda to give the heavier dough a boost. And as always, more salt than was called for, about 1/3 teaspoon instead of a pinch. I’ve found that savory recipes often call for too much salt and sweet recipes for too little. You can cut back on sugar sometimes if you lean on the salt to boost flavors. Plus, you wind up with more varied flavors than simple sweetness. Plain ol’ sugar sweetness is boring at best and sickening at worst.

Anyway, I just had a piece, and it worked. A lighter crumb than you’d expect from a whole wheat quick bread. The heat is subtle–it takes a few bites to build, then hangs around until the end. The espresso boosts the chocolate, and overall there’s a nice, deep, full flavor. As usual, the banana flavor is pretty much buried, but I make this recipe so often that I need to mix it up every once in a while. Besides, I eat a banana most every morning with breakfast. I know what they taste like.

books News! writing


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I’ve hinted for a while that I would have news to report and well, here it is. CODE OF CONDUCT will be reissued on December 1 through the good offices of Book View Cafe! It will be released in both ebook and POD formats, via the usual outlets. Further details as the day draws near–the production wheels are still turning.

The cover was designed by Dave Smeds, and I am so, so happy with it.

code of conduct cover


I’m also working on a new Jani novella, but that likely won’t be released until the first part of 2016. I can say that it takes place after the events in ENDGAME, and some of the usual suspects–Niall Pierce, Lucien Pascal, Hiroshi Mako–will make appearances. Check back for the occasional snippet.


Accidents in Baking

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Sometimes they work out.

I was excavating the baking section of the cupboard–checking dates on flour and whatnot–when I came upon a box of corn muffin mix that was a little past its Best By date. By over two years. May 2013, to be exact.

I debated simply dumping it. But I had most of a can of cream corn leftover from dinner, and decided to experiment. I made the mix using the cream corn instead of milk, then added the required egg along with a tsp of dried dill and a tsp of “Southwest Seasoning,” which is a combo of various peppers and herbs. Spooned the mess into muffin cups, and baked for about 35 minutes (instead of the recommended 18-20 if I had followed the recipe).

I knew things weren’t quite working out as hoped when the muffins failed to rise. I had filled the cups about halfway, and halfway was pretty much where the muffins stayed. However, they smelled lovely–think ‘buttery tortilla chips.’ I took them out of the oven after the tops turned a bit more than golden brown, and tried one with butter after it had cooled.

Verdict? Still very moist inside thanks to the corn. Think corn hockey pucks. But they’re tasty–I just had one that I had stuck under the broiler and topped with smoked white cheddar, and it was great. Hint of dill. Hint of heat. They’d be great with chili or bean soup, anything spicy/tomato-based.

If I had it to do over, I would have added about half the specified amount of milk, some shredded cheddar, and some baking powder or baking soda. I know the stuff loses its punch over time, and that might have happened with this mix.

Corn pucks

Corn pucks

In other news, Alex Gordon is still getting the bulk of the attention these days. The release date for JERICHO has been pushed out to April 2016, which allowed me more time for revisions. Ain’t ever gonna turn down more time. That’s not in my DNA.

That said, there may be Kristine Smith news in the coming months, and that’s all I can say now.


books conventions gaby writing

Drive-by post

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Still alive. Currently revising JERICHO, a book by Alex Gordon, aka My Alter Ego. In a little over two weeks, both of us will be at Thrillerfest X in NYC. Looking forward to meeting folks, meeting with my editor, and maybe getting out of the hotel and checking out a few food trucks. Given how much will be going on, getting away may prove difficult, but I will try.

Not much else to report besides the usual–working, cooking, baking, losing the never-ending battle with weeds. For a change of pace, here’s a photo of Gaby exploring the very edge of Lake Michigan.

Gaby meets the Lake

Gaby meets the Lake

around the house gardening

Flowers, wild and tame

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Not sure if I’ve ever mentioned my shady side yard before. I had it mulched a few years ago when it became obvious that the lawn would never fill in–too much shade from the ash and spruce and oak. The mulching proved expensive enough, but the cost of letting the landscaper fill in the area with plants was prohibitive, so I decided to do the best I could with what I had. I have added a couple of white hydrangeas; one is an Annabelle, but I’ve forgotten what the other is (ed. it’s a Limelight). Lots of hosta. Ferns and wild ginger donated by a friend​.

I’ve also let some native wildflowers encroach. Wild violet have started showing up along the edges. Wood anemones:

wood anemones

wood anemones



I’ve spotted trillium leaves, but no flowers. I hope they make it. I’ll welcome either purple or white, but I’ve seen the purple variety in the nearby woods and hope that’s what’s trying to grow.

Smooth Solomon’s seal have pretty much taken over the area around the gutter outlet. A member of the lily family. I used to pull them out every spring until I realized that 1) they were pretty, 2) they hid the gutter outlet, 3) they were free and 4) thriving.  So I let them go, and they have spread over the last two years:

Smooth Solomon's seal

Smooth Solomon’s seal

I added some non-natives as well. The astilbes are coming up gangbusters, but have yet to bloom. I also planted a couple of origami columbine**. The blue one didn’t survive the winter, but the red one did, and has put forth several blooms:

Origami columbine

Origami columbine

It’s nice to see a spot of color against all the green and white.

There’s still a large area of blank waiting to be filled in. I will probably stick with hosta, maybe a dozen or so planted in a ring. Another hydrangea in the middle? I will also let the wildflowers spread. They bring the woods close to the house.

**columbine are apparently native, but these are a hybrid variety