Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day via Aspasia S. Bissas

Stay safe…

Aspasía S. Bissas

Aspasia S. Bissas's books: Love Lies Bleeding, Blood Magic, Tooth & Claw
Distract yourself from terrible reality with free books…

Love Lies Bleeding: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
Blood Magic: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
Tooth & Claw: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books

If you prefer a good paperback to an ebook, then order Love Lies Bleeding from an independent bookshop and support small businesses when they need it most. Click here and scroll down for the full list of available online shops.

Vampire’s Garden: Garlic

Vampire's Garden: Garlic, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
Photo by Nick Collins on Pexels.com

Love Lies Bleeding‘s readers know that main character Mara is both a vampire and a botanist. Trained in botany and herbalism when she was still human, she continues to study plants and have a garden. This post is eighth in a series exploring Mara’s plants. Are you interested in botany, gardening, or plant lore? So are some vampires…

Please note: Medicinal uses are given for informational purposes only. Always consult a medical professional before diagnosing or treating yourself or anyone else.

COVID-19 Note:

Vampire's Garden: Garlic, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Read more of the WHO’s coronavirus/COVID-19 advice here.

Botanical Name: Allium sativum

Common Names: Ajo, Allium, Clove Garlic, Camphor of the Poor, Poor Man’s Treacle, Stinking Rose, Serpent Garlic, Spanish Garlic, Common Garlic

History: Native to Central Asia, garlic has naturalized in many areas and can even be a weed in some places. Garlic has been used in food, medicine, and in religious rituals for thousands of years. Ancient Greeks left it at crossroads as an offering to the Goddess Hekate. Medieval European folklore claims that garlic can be used to repel demons, vampires, and werewolves. Historically, garlic has been used to improve strength and endurance; to treat snake bites, arthritis, and respiratory illnesses; as a cure-all; and as an antibiotic (it was used in both World Wars to prevent gangrene in wounds).

Victorian Language of Flowers Meaning: Courage, strength, or as a ward against illness or “evil spirits” (unwanted suitors).

Cultivation: Perennial. Hardy in Zones 4 to 9, but can be grown in Zone 3. Prefers full sun and loose, dry, well-drained soil high in organic matter. There are two sub-species of garlic: hard necked and soft necked, as well as hundreds of varieties and cultivars. Hard-neck garlic generally grows in cooler climates and produces larger cloves; soft-neck varieties are smaller and tend to be grown in hotter climates. Garlic can be grown year-round in milder climates. In colder climates, plant individual cloves about 6 weeks before the ground freezes. To plant, loosen soil to a depth of 8 inches and plant cloves (pointy end up) 3 to 4 inches deep. Garlic can be planted close together (as long as there’s room for the bulb to mature) and can also be grown in pots. Cover planting area with about 6 inches of straw to help protect the cloves over the winter. Harvest in late spring or early summer. Garlic bulbs are susceptible to a few diseases, as well as to leek moth (AKA onion leaf miner).

Uses:

Culinary: The bulb and scapes are edible and used in a wide variety of savoury (and some sweet) dishes. The flowers are also edible, although they have a much milder flavour than the bulb or scapes. Immature (or “green”) garlic can be pulled and used like scallions. Black garlic is heat aged over several weeks to create a subtle sweet flavour that can be slathered on bread or added to vinaigrettes and sauces. Garlic can be dried or stored in vinegar, but storing in oil can result in botulism poisoning (see below for link on safely storing and preserving garlic).

Some popular garlic recipes include:

Garlic Knots

Pesto

Harissa

Pickled Garlic

Aïoli

Chimichurri

Roasted Garlic Ice Cream

My Mom’s Skordalia

Traditionally served as a sauce with fish or roast meat, skordalia is also good as a dip with vegetables, french fries, and pita bread triangles.

2-3 medium to large potatoes, peeled, and cut in half

10 large cloves garlic, minced or grated finely

scant 1/4 cup white vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup olive oil (or vegetable oil for a milder flavour)

1/2 cup reserved cooking water (optional)

Place potatoes in medium saucepan over high heat. Add enough water to cover. Bring to boil and lower heat to medium. Cook until potatoes are soft (about 30 minutes). Drain potatoes, reserving cooking water. Leave potatoes in saucepan and mash. You should have about 2 cups of mashed potatoes. Add minced garlic to mashed potatoes. Add vinegar and salt, stirring briefly after each addition. Add oil. Stir well. If serving as a dip, no further additions are necessary. If serving as a sauce, add reserved cooking liquid, a little at a time, until desired consistency is reached. Serve at room temperature.  Note: This keeps well refrigerated for 4-5 days.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

 

Tip: Garlic breath can be most effectively minimized  by drinking milk with the garlic (it doesn’t work if you drink milk afterwards or with skim milk).

Companion planting: Garlic is said to repel rabbits and moles, and to improve roses when planted near them.

Mosquito repellent: Anecdotal evidence suggests that eating garlic makes you less attractive to mosquitoes. Research shows that garlic may repel ticks, although not as well as commercial tick repellents.

Crafts: You can braid soft-neck garlic (see link below).

Medicinal: Garlic supplements vary widely in quality and efficacy– make  sure to buy  one (preferably enteric coated to protect the stomach) from a reputable manufacturer. Cooking garlic may remove some of its medicinal benefits, while raw garlic can cause indigestion or gastrointestinal distress, although black garlic retains its medicinal benefits without causing irritation. Garlic is most commonly used to boost immunity against infection, for lowering cholesterol, to prevent atherosclerosis, and to both prevent and help recover from heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases. Research has shown that it may lower your chances of developing some kinds of cancer.

Caution: Don’t take garlic supplements if you’re taking anticoagulants (blood thinning medication) or have a clotting disorder. Garlic can also interfere with some medications, including some antibiotics and hypoglycemic drugs. Avoid taking garlic medicinally while pregnant or breastfeeding.

Caution 2: Applying raw garlic to the skin can cause burns, especially in children.

Mara’s Uses: Mara does not use garlic in any form because it is toxic to her and other vampires (find out why in Love Lies Bleeding). Blood from humans who take garlic supplements is unpalatable to vampires. Blades are sometimes coated in garlic oil as a way of exacerbating a vampire’s wounds.

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

Aspasia S. Bissas's books: Love Lies Bleeding, Blood Magic, Tooth & Claw
Don’t forget to download your FREE copies…

Love Lies Bleeding: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
Blood Magic: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
Tooth & Claw: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books

If you prefer a good paperback to an ebook, then order Love Lies Bleeding from an independent bookshop and support small businesses when they need it most. Click here and scroll down for the full list of available online shops.

 

Further Reading

Garlic Scapes FAQ

Green Garlic

Black Garlic

How to Safely Store and Preserve Garlic (pdf)

Wikipedia

What are the benefits of garlic?

WebMD

The Health Benefits of Garlic

Historical Perspective on the Use of Garlic

How to Grow Garlic

How to Braid Garlic (video)

 

Book Tag: Rapid Fire Book Tag

Book Tag: Rapid Fire Book Tag blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
Photo by Kehn Hermano on Pexels.com

How is everyone holding up? It’s funny how as soon as you know you shouldn’t do something, you suddenly want to do it. As an introvert, self isolation isn’t too far from how I live anyway, but now that I know I shouldn’t leave the house– well, the world outside my door suddenly seems so much more enticing (not to worry– I’m staying home).

I’m keeping busy with reading (The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett), writing/editing, playing games, packing (even though the move is on hold until…?), crocheting, and spending way too much time on Netflix and YouTube. What are you doing to entertain yourself?

It’s been a while since I’ve done a book tag, so I grabbed this one from A Geek Girl’s Guide. Feel free to answer the questions in the comments below, or leave a link to your own post…

Book Tag: Rapid Fire Book Tag blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
Photo by Emre Can on Pexels.com

1. E-Book or Physical Book?

Physical books for collecting, but an e-reader for reading. (I love physical books but my strained eyes like having the option of increasing the font size, and my anxiety likes not having to worry about accidentally bending covers, spilling on pages, or cracking spines.)

2. Paperback or Hardback?

Paperback for reading, hardback for collecting.

3. Online or In-Store Book Shopping?

Online. I love browsing in an actual bookstore, but they can also be overwhelming.

Book Tag: Rapid Fire Book Tag blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

4. Trilogies or Series?

Don’t care as long as the story is still good.

5. Heroes or Villains?

A complicated hero.

6. A book you want everyone to read?

Mine, of course. Did I mention that Love Lies Bleeding is available free for the first time? Click on the picture or go here for more info.

Aspasia S. Bissas's books: Love Lies Bleeding, Blood Magic, Tooth & Claw

7. Recommend an underrated book?

This Charming Man by Marian Keyes or Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer by Van Jensen.

8. The last book you finished

The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett.

9. The Last Book You Bought?

Mort by Terry Pratchett.

10. Weirdest Thing You’ve Used as a Bookmark?

Probably another book.

Book Tag: Rapid Fire Book Tag blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

11. Used Books: Yes or No?

Definitely.

12. Top Three Favourite Genres?

Fantasy (all sub genres), Magical Realism, Historical (really, it would be easier to list the genres I don’t like).

13. Borrow or Buy?

Mostly buy.

14. Characters or Plot?

Generally, I prefer characters.

Book Tag: Rapid Fire Book Tag blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

15. Long or Short Books?

Long.

16. Long or Short Chapters?

Short (or long ones with breaks).

17. Name The First Three Books You Think Of…

The Stranger (Albert Camus), Fifth Business (Robertson Davies), Horton Hears a Who (Dr. Seuss).

18. Books That Make You Laugh or Cry?

Not sure if I’m supposed to give specific titles or just a general type of book, but the last book that made me cry was Elizabeth the Queen by Alison Weir. The last one that made me laugh was The Colour of Magic.

Book Tag: Rapid Fire Book Tag blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

19. Our World or Fictional Worlds?

A fictionalized (or past) version of our world.

20. Audiobooks: Yes or No?

Not for me (listening is too passive– I end up zoning out).

21. Do You Ever Judge a Book by its Cover?

Isn’t that the entire point of covers? Although a beautiful cover can definitely contain a terrible book.

Book Tag: Rapid Fire Book Tag blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
Photo by Bruno Massao on Pexels.com

22. Book to Movie or Book to TV Adaptations?

Movie (they have better production values and shows start taking liberties with the story and characters once they’ve covered the source material– or even when they haven’t).

23. A Movie or TV Show You Preferred to its Book?

The Princess Bride (if I’d read the book first, I’d never have watched the movie).

24. Series or Standalones?

If it’s a great story that can’t be fully told in one book, then a series is great.

 

What do you think? What movie did you prefer to the book? Share in the comments…

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
–Stephen Colbert

 

A reminder that all my ebooks are currently FREE. Lose touch with reality for a while…

Love Lies Bleeding: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books

Blood Magic: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books

Tooth & Claw: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books

 

Aspasia S. Bissas's books: Love Lies Bleeding, Blood Magic, Tooth & Claw

If you prefer a good paperback to an ebook, then order Love Lies Bleeding from an independent bookshop and support small businesses when they need it most. Click here and scroll down for the full list of available online shops.

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

A Corona of Bees

A Corona of Bees, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I have melissophobia– the fear of bees. I’ve suffered this intense fear since I was 3 or 4 years old, when a bumblebee chased me and wouldn’t leave me alone (eventually my sister told me to stand still, which I did, and the bee flew away, but the damage was done). If I see a bee now I keep my distance. If it’s flying near me I instinctively freeze in terror. If I can get inside I’ll walk as fast as I can without “provoking” it, all the while too afraid to look back to see if it’s following. If one gets in the house, I’ll hide in the farthest room with a door and wait until someone can come take care of it. The first time I realized I was having a panic attack was when I heard buzzing in the living room curtains (it turned out to be a fly). Basically, I react to bees the way other people react to axe murderers. My logical mind loves bees: they pollinate flowers; make delicious honey; and are symbols of orderliness, productivity, and a peaceful garden. But phobias aren’t logical, and on a deeper, baser, level within me, bees are the incarnation of danger and chaos. Even looking at the photo at the top of my post makes my stomach twist with anxiety.

Last night I had a nightmare about bees that wasn’t about bees at all.

It started when one of my cousins pointed out a swarm of bees in a tree. I knew we had to get out of there, so I started running. But my SO said we should find somewhere quiet to hide and let them pass us by. When I saw bees overtaking me as I ran, I knew he was right. I tried hiding.

The next thing I knew, my scalp was crawling (in the dream I could actually feel the physical sensations) and I heard buzzing. I asked my SO if they were on me and he said he would go get help. While I waited for what seemed like ages I tried to think of a way to get them off me. I kept moving near flowers, hoping they’d prefer the blossoms to me. But nothing I did helped, and they started moving down. They clustered around my eyes, ears, and mouth. They crawled down my neck and settled on my chest.

Suddenly my mom was there, smiling. My mom died 9 years ago, but has been visiting my dreams lately. She saw I was in distress (and I really was, having been crawling with bees in the dream for what seemed like hours) and took charge. Suddenly people were there trying to help. I woke up before the bees were removed, but the dream ended on a hopeful note, and I was confident the situation would get resolved.

I was covered in bees, but this was a dream about my anxieties over coronavirus (COVID-19).

The swarm of bees represents the virus: a massive danger off to the side that I didn’t immediately notice and then couldn’t get away from. Trying to hide from the bees is my self isolation (I have an underlying condition, so I need to avoid people as much as possible right now). Every time I hear the word “coronavirus” I’m reminded that corona means crown, so of course the bees started in my hair. Then they moved to my face, which is the area we’re constantly warned not to touch. From there to my chest, the part of the body the virus attacks. I hope the appearance of my mom means I’m being watched over. The hopeful note at the end gives me a little hope in real life too.

These are scary times. Nightmares are coming to life and threatening us all. But there’s still hope. Sometimes you can’t avoid being stung, but staying calm will help you get through it. And if you’re lucky, there’s still flowers and honey in the end.

A Corona of Bees, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Because so many people are stuck at home right now I’ve decided to make the ebook of Love Lies Bleeding free for the next few weeks. Books can help us get through the worst situations, and hopefully my books can help you.

Get Them Free

Love Lies Bleeding: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books

Blood Magic: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books

Tooth & Claw: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books

If you prefer a good paperback to an ebook, then order Love Lies Bleeding from an independent bookshop and support small businesses when they need it most. Click here and scroll down for the full list of available online shops.

Stay healthy ♥

Aspasía S. Bissas