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Spiced Roasted Chicken.

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Spice rubbed roasted chicken plated for dinner.

Recently, I’ve been in a ‘time-to-try-new-things’ mood in the kitchen. My parents are out of town, so it’s been three of us girls in the house with no food issues except for one with a semi hate relationship with veggies and two of us looking to eat more healthily – again another reason to get new ideas for the kitchen.

I, for one, love chicken while my oldest sister gets pretty picky over it, so finding a new recipe which keeps the bird breasts moist, flavorful, and versatile is high on my list.

My particular style of dry rub/soak has been great on chicken but I’m also looking forward to trying it on cod (for when my dad gets home as he is a pescitarian) as well as in ground turkey for turkey burgers. I’ve become an expert in birds and fish, though my red me is far from dinner ready so this is not the rub for that! (also I would add some Worcestershire sauce but I’ll talk about this recipe at a later date).

I hate it when blogs go on and on and on when all you are actually here for is how to cook the dang bird breast so here we go:

Ingredients/tools:

  • 6 Chicken Breasts – the non-frozen one’s have worked the best with the most consistent sizing and a lack of freezer burn issues!
  • 1 Tbsp Cayenne Pepper (This gives a serious kick as well as flavor so lessen for more sensitive palates!)
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil (divided into 1 Tbsp parts)
  • 1 Tbsp Lemon Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Seasoning Salt
  • 1.2 Tbsp Minced Garlic (this really needs to be fresh cut or from a jar but not dried)
  • 1 2/3 Tbsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 2/3 Tbsp Onion Powder (These powders let the spice really coat the bird)
  • 1/2-1/4 cup water
  • Big enough bowl for mixing
  • Tin foil to cover bowl
  • Cast iron skillet big enough for breasts when scrunched together
  • Oven (with a broiler is nice but optional) and stove top

How to:

  1. A few hours before cook time – I’ve averaged 2-4 hours of fridge time, but longer won’t hurt – you’ll mix all the spices in your large mixing bowl so there are no flavor clumps.
  2. Add chicken and half (1 Tbsp) of the olive oil and massage mix into the chicken making sure to avoid any (too) hard spice packs in the ridges – the flavor of spice packs are intense but can also make you cry!
  3. Once you pack spiced chickens as tightly and as evenly as possible in the bowl, add the 1/4-1/2 cup of water (just enough that you can see the liquid puddled between the breasts but not covering the top layer).
    • You can massage the spices bake in to the chicken again of you feel like the water has washed it off the top layer.
  4. Put foil over the top of the chicken bowl without it touching the chicken. When sitting in the fridge, the mixture with thicken as well as absorb into the chicken creating a great coat and glaze sauce.
  5. About 30 minutes before you are ready to be finished cooking, pull out the chicken and heat the other half of your olive oil in the cast iron pan at mid- to high-heat as well as set your oven at 400F.
  6. Sear each side of each chicken breast until they are slightly browned – you aren’t trying to cook the chicken fully just make a nice outer layer! – which should take about 4-6 minutes per side.
    • Some of the spice will come off but just try to keep too much of it from becoming charcoal in the process – scrape regularly!
  7. After searing, place all breasts in skillet and spoon any extra spice sauce from the mixing bowl over the top of the breasts and then place skillet into the oven for 20 minutes.
  8. When those 20 minutes are up, check that the birds are fully cooked and then (if you want a slightly crustier top), you can set the boiler for another 2-5 minutes watching closely.
    • This shouldn’t be enough to dry you out but again, watch your timing.
  9. Plate the birds with a side salad (I like an apple cider vinegar, mixed green and veggie salad I will definitely write up with variations later) and some other sides (I voted tater tots in lieu of mashed potatoes).
    • If there is extra spice drippings in the pan (while avoiding charcoal), you can top of your birds with a little extra roasted spice mix.
  10. Finally, eat well, think milk, and enjoy!

Any leftovers can be heated up in a myriad of ways but my favorite is cold and diced over that salad I talked about earlier which I’ll post about next week .

So that’s it, my roast your mouth roasted chicken and spice mix. I’ll be trying it over the thick cod in a few weeks after my parents get home and I’ll let you all know how that goes.

But once again, until that time, eat well, live well, and enjoy!

  • Taylor Gallagher
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Fashion, Uncategorized

Easy Dressing.

If you live anywhere in the Southern California area, you know how hot it’s been and even if the temperature falls like it has this week, we still have quite the toasty summer ahead of us. Therefore, this summer is most definitely a major dress season.

hmprod (1)One particular dress that I have fallen head over heels for is this purple number from H&M.

I bought this dress on sale two weeks ago for $10 and have alread worn it out 3 times.

I love that I can pair this dress with black, brown or colors; tennis shoes, flats, sandals, heels, booties or tall boots; and choose to belt it or leave it’s natural fit and keep the collar loose and open or tied up with a keyhole slit. I can wear this dress to the park, to the beach, or to work with little adjustment.

It’s just so versatile!

I’m a curvy girl and I had to buy this the second I slipped the dress on. The collar gives room for my bust while clipping in perfectly at the waist. Finally, the extreme a-line – almost tulip – skirt gives great movement and room for us hippy girls.

The material is so light and breathes really well which has been amazing on these boiling days. I do really recommend wearing light pj shorts under this dress – they don’t show because they’re not bulky but cover you in the case of a Marilyn moment!

The sleeves have a floatiness to them which is nice but they are also thin enough around that I have been able to roll them above my elbow – my prefered length.

So yes, I am so in love with this beautiful dress and all the things I have been and know I will be able to do with it. If you are just as in love, go out to your local store or order quick – they’re on sale and won’t be around for too much later!

  • Taylor Gallagher
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Uncategorized

Beach Day Prep.

So tomorrow marks our first beach day of the summer and I cannot wait! After spending all of last summer in the UK (and wider Europe) which is not known for the sunniest summer temperaments, I am beyond excited for the sun, salt air and warm sand beneath my feet.

As the temperatures soar and the beach/pool season comes into fruition, you’ve got to make sure you are packing your bag and prepared for all contingencies.

There are a lot of different kinds of beach people; sport people, tanners, readers, photographers, ect. so it’s really up to you what you bring in terms of entertainment.

The things you really don’t want to miss – and by this, I mean the things you want to prep and pack the night before – are the essentials.

It’s getting hot so sunscreen, sun glasses and water is an absolute must. Remember, no matter how much fun you are having – or what kind of tan you are looking at building, you must reapply sunscreen! Any change in skin color, intentional or not, is bad for you. As a Southern California native, I love my summer tan and the glow it gives but remember that every time you tan you are doing damage.

Your eyes are just as or more sensitive to sun damage that anything else so sunglasses with protection, please! Even if your eyes are closed, you are being effected so sleeping and tanning without a pair of glasses won’t really help you out.

In terms of this damage, remember to take care of yourself after being in the sun. Drink a lot of water, eat healthy vegetables to replace vitamins, and apply both lotion and aloe vera (I absolutely love my fresh aloe from my plant) to re-hydrate your skin.

In terms of food prep, we’re trying to get better about eating and money management so we’re looking at packing easy lunches – diced veggie and turkey sandwiches with humus spread with extra vegetables on the side plus a piece of fruit for some balance. keep things simple and remember to always clean up after yourself. I know a lot of people like to grab chips for the beach but I’d actually steer clear. Birds know a chip bag when they see one and the birds at beaches are some of the most aggressive you will ever find – you have been warned.

For my day, I’m planning on a little photography, a little reading and a little water polo. It’ll be a early start – another reason you really want to pack up what you can the night before – since trying to get to the beach a little before non and into the later hours is crazy in terms of fighting families for position (or really any kind of space).

If you are looking for a mellow beach trip, I always recommend Zuma for Valley residence but heading down to post 9 to 11, far from the teenagers and snack stands. That’s where we’ll be and I can practically smell it sea salt air already!

  • Taylor Gallagher
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Books, Uncategorized

From an Editor: On Conduct and Money…

I’ll just say it: it is always a crap shoot unless everyone involved is flexible.

But to start us off, for those not aware, this ended up being a follow up from last week’s post. Therefore, for those of you who’ve already heard of my newest potential client (the one who inspired my last post), I’ll be continuing my story from there.

The past week has been troubling to say the least.

First, I had family members try and reject the book for me based on content they “didn’t think I would be comfortable with”; guys, I can turn down my own work if necessary, thanks. The bigger issue here is that you’ll find that a good amount of editors are less concerned about content – we just want people who will work well with us, take our criticism, and will pay us our due. Again, this doesn’t mean some editors won’t cringe at having the next 50 Shades cross our desk, but for me the content wasn’t the issue, the quality of the work was (since it was published!).

I’m getting off my soap box now, I promise!

Once I got word through the phonetree – again the 4 person communication relay team is not how I enjoy doing business – to my author, I eventually got a single block paragraph note. For those keeping track, this is the second impression that does not bode well for this relationship.

The positives:

  • He was polite in a minimalist, succinct manner (I mean he did say thank you for my time).
  • He gave me information about his book including his intended style, word count, and page length, as well as a basic description of the kind of service he was looking for.

The negatives:

  • This is an introductory business letter and all I received was a block of text rather than a letter introducing me to who the writer is (in either description or in style).
  • Very little concern over who I am or my expertise (which would be critical to hiring me and a point I take pride in).
  • From what I could gather of his style (a repetitive block of text, as it were), he’s looking for a quote (monetary) for the most basic editorial review which won’t be enough to make his book work.
  • But I can only assume this because I was not sent any kind of preview pages – again from what I’ve seen, this isn’t promising.

Lets take each of these negatives at a time:

First, if you write to someone you want to hire to work with you (especially if you are a writer), you must show that you are worth the time by making sure they know that you have taken your time in asking for their help (because even if you are paying them, it is their help you are paying for!).

As a writer, you are your own company so you are supposed to be professional enough to write a multiple paragraph letter (this includes a stand alone salutation, an introduction to you and your work, what you are looking for, and finally signed by you – at least the first time around) seeking said help. You are your brand so don’t make a mockery out of either of us by sending an underwritten email – again, especially if you are looking to hire me to edit a couple hundred pages of your work.

Secondly, even if you have heard of your editor’s work, you really should want to know more about the person than what they are going to charge you. You are handing over something that – more likely than not – you have put your heart and soul into. You don’t want that person to not know what they are doing – a fact which you won’t know unless you actually find out their credentials! The  easiest way to go about this? Ask them about it!

Thirdly, yes, it is possible to get a quote and a time frame based on page numbers, but it doesn’t necessarily work well for either party. As an editor, there is a basic fee you can charge either by hour or by page based on the service being sought out. The problem is, if I as an editor don’t know what your style is or what your pages look like, my hour of work estimation will likely be inaccurate meaning you’ll have to pay more than originally planned, or if charged by page, I might get screwed over if your writing is denser than anticipated. Also, I won’t know how much editing – despite a writers assurance of needing a simple, light hand – I will actually need to do until I get started which can also effect my time and cost estimation.

Which leads us to point four: I need to see sample pages. Here’s the thing, I am not going to steal your story. I’m not going to read a page of your book and say: that’s awesome but I could write it better; let me do that. I just want to gauge what I’m going to be expected to do and what my return should be.

In my first job, I edited an entire (already published) book as an audition piece without compensation, not only to get the job but to better understand the kind of writer I would be working with in both personality and style. While I will not be going to those extremes again without getting some compensation for my work, it is necessary for me to read an author’s creative work to get a handle on what we are both expecting and what can actually be done with those expectations. This first read through can also help me gauge the time needed to read your entire work so I’ll be able to give you a better return date.

Basically, especially in cases where you aren’t meeting (or really talking at all), this means I need some introductory pages.

For those interested in the numbers: cost by the page spans from $3-$7.50 depending on the depth of editorial work; cost by the hour spans from $20-$100 depending on experience, type of work, and personal negotiations.

Again, we work hard and so do you, make a good impression and work with us, or no one is going to get anything done!

  • Taylor Gallagher
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Books, Uncategorized

What You Need to Know When Working with an Editor

For anyone who is not aware, one of my jobs – my many, many jobs – is working as a freelance book editor. I’ve just recently passed my third anniversary as such and while I don’t get to do much on the regular – at least since moving to London and back – I love getting to read and correct someone else’s work.

The problem is, as a young person who works with writers, not only is work hard to come by, but when you have possible clients – sorry, authors – many of you haven’t learned how this business works. I will never blame an author for this – especially you young ones out there – but as someone working on both sides of this industry, there is a lot that you need to know.

I was recently approached through an emissary of an emissary of an emissary – for those of you trying to keep up, that is a five person game of telephone – to edit a young man’s manuscript.

That’s it.

I wasn’t given a name, the type of book, a length, fees or payment; nothing except that family members had mentioned to him that I do editorial work and would I be interested.

Author’s and editor’s alike: there is no way of answering this question!

So here’s the big point that I need authors to really think about when approaching anyone that they would like to help them polish up their work: you are an artist but so is your editor!

Editors (and I’m talking copy editors and storyline editors) don’t get much credit – we don’t have our names printed anywhere unless an author thinks of adding us into their list of acknowledgements  (which most people don’t read) but we are there for every step of making your baby/manuscript shine.

As an author, you most likely won’t make much money but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to really think about how you pay and work with an editor.

So here’s my quick how to:

If you need an emissary, make sure they are a good one – an editor’s first impression of you can be directly correlated to the impression left by the person who introduces you. Give them some information about you and your work but, most importantly, your contact information and a proposed sit down where you can talk through everything.

If you don’t trust your messenger (which may be your first problem) to get through that information, see if they can e-troduce you through email (this is where they email you both, addressing – in this case – the intended editor with a quick note where you can then follow up with all your details) and go from there.

When it comes to the actual terms, these can vary but I really recommend having a no-strings attached meeting over lunch or coffee to get to know each other, the project, and discuss the nitty-gritty details without  either of you committing.

You’ll want to hash out:

  • Time Frame: Is this something finished that they’ll be leafing over briefly, a full editorial attack/editorial rewrite, or are they working with you as you write/rewrite? Do you have a specific deadline and have you given them enough time to meet it and give you work the full attention it deserves?
  • Payment: Again, in our way, we are artists too, so if you want to get paid, we need to get paid. Costs are usually negotiable, especially when both parties are younger but some suggestions: look up the industry/guild standard and work from there (this is usually hourly); offer some other exchange – making sure all things are equal! – to make up some of the cost; or some up front and a later payment system based on later sales. This last should only be offered if you already have some kind of deal with a publisher lined up; you only get about 1 of every 10 dollars as an author so paying an editor out of that can do more harm than good to both of you.
  • Editorial Method: Are you going to keep meeting every day/week to go over and deeply discuss edits and needed rewrites or are you working completely through digital means? If the latter, do you both know the programs you’ll be communicating the edits through? If not, you’ll need some tutorials!

The only other thing that you may need to think about is what to do if you aren’t getting what you need – or they aren’t- from your editor. These are two basic choices if you don’t want to be miserable: 1. Talk it out so you both understand what is going wrong and work through it; or 2. Break off the contract while paying them up to that point -and seriously pay them for the hours they did put in as you don’t want an issue later down the road.

I would try option 1 first and then move on to the second if terms cannot be met.

This goes for editors working with writers as well! If your author isn’t doing their part, you can’t be paid. It is part of your job – unfortunately an unpaid part – to bug them until you get pages to work with or answers to your questions.

Basically, the editorial process is a conversation. You’ll be spending days and weeks of your life on this project working with this person – make sure everything fits and remember a good editor knows what they’re doing (that’s what you’re paying them for) but it’s your baby so feel free to go with your gut and don’t be afraid to hash it all out!

Finally, feel free to shoot me questions about anything, I’m here to help!

  • Taylor Gallagher
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