Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Katla’s Skyr — A Viking Age Dish served at the Barony of Valsemé


    

As we meet the Norsewoman Katla in the pages of THE VALIANT HEART there is no doubt that she schemes to ensnare Rurik’s heart and to one day preside at his side as his wife and the future Baronne of Valsemé. But his father yet lives. Katla bides her time, making herself indispensible in the running of the keep and overseeing food preparations for the castle folk. She is especially known for her cheese making skills and for skyr, a thick, creamy, yogurt-like dish that can be enjoyed as a dessert or served as a beverage.

Mr. KK and I discovered skyr while living in Iceland. This highly nutritious staple of the Icelanders’ diet was brought with the settlers from Norway in the ninth century and continues to be made today. Naturally, while penning my tenth century novel, featuring Norsemen as they founded the duchy of Normandy, I happily included the dish in my story.

Skyr (pronounced skeer), is technically a cheese, made from skim milk and with rennet. (Without rennet the end product would be yogurt). The origin of the name skera — meaning “to cut” or “slice” — suggests the firmness of Viking Age skyr.  Indeed, modern day skyr is far thicker than typical American or Greek style yogurts. Traditionally, skyr would be thinned with milk and stirred to a creamy consistency, then sweetened with honey (sugar today) and served with seasonal berries for a satisfying dessert. Skyr can also be thinned further and made into a drink. Today it is sold in Iceland in a variety of flavors such as strawberry and pear which seems preferable. Plain skyr can be quite tart. Leastwise it is an acquired taste.

The virtues of skyr are many. It is not only low-fat but contains three times the protein of ordinary yogurts (higher even than Greek yogurt), is loaded with probiotics, and is high in calcium. Skyr has long been recommended for pregnant women, is favored by athletes, and is a go-to food for dieters. It is also a healthy choice for growing children and teens and helps guard against osteoporosis.

Skyr continues to be made in Iceland today, but availability outside the country is limited. It can be found in Britain and Scandinavia. In America, look for “Siggi’s Icelandic Style Skyr” at premium grocery stores, including Whole Foods. Siggi’s Home Page has a link named “stores” on the upper right that will determine where you’re located and show the stores in your area that carry it.

If you are dauntless in the kitchen and would like to try your hand at making skyr from scratch, check out the links below for recipes and instructions. They also have some additional historical notes on this fascinating and amazing dish.

As for me, I’m sending Mr. KK out the door to look for Siggi at Whole Foods …




Enjoy!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Kathleen Kirkwood News Blast and New Promotion

Hi everyone, this is Mr. KK, putting up a blog post for Kathleen . . .

Thanks to all of you who subscribed to Kathleen Kirkwood's Mailing List - we sent a News Blast out to all subscribers yesterday. For those of you who would like to join, but haven't yet, here's the link to do so.

 
http://www.allromanceebooks.com/
On the first day of Summer (June 21), we will be participating in All Romance eBooks’ (ARe's) Summer Promotion with SHADES OF THE PAST and HIS FAIR LADY. Those books will be on sale one day only and only through ARe at half price (for $1.99). So, if you or any of your friends have been eying either of these two books to purchase, this Saturday is the day to buy it from ARe (available in ePub or Mobi formats). Again, these books will be on sale only through ARe and only for one day – June 21). They will remain at their regular prices ($3.99) through all other vendors.

 

A knight returned from Crusade . . .                                        
A maiden robbed of her birthright . . .                                    
Mysteries to be solved . . .                                                        
Wrongs to be righted . . .                                                           
And love to be fulfilled, fated long ago . . .








A widowed Victorian Lady . . .
A mysterious Viscount . . .
A remote and ancient castle . . .
Where ghostly residents stir anew . . .

Monday, June 2, 2014

Ancient Ghost Towns in Pre-Conquest Britain

Roman Wall Ruins of Silchester

Author Confidential: the story behind the story – THE CAPTIVE HEART

Friends, as I blogged many moons ago (April 25, 2012), it is my desire to bring you some of the interesting tidbits, trivia, curiosities and sundry things that went into the creation of my novels, many items having never made it into the finished pages — in other words, the story behind the story — an “Author Confidential” in the tradition of the delightful “Dr. Who Confidential.” (Yes, I’m a huge fan of Dr. Who and longing for the series to begin once more.)

In this blog, I’m returning to the third book of my Heart trilogy, THE CAPTIVE HEART, when my hero and heroine, Garreth and Ailénor, stop overnight in Silchester. The city was built (70 – 80 A.D.) and later abandoned by the Romans (410 A.D.) when their armies hastened to defend Rome against the onslaught of the barbarians. Garreth and Ailénor arrive centuries later (933 A.D.) to discover a city in ruins and, for the greater part, uninhabited.

Amphitheatre at Calleva Atrebatum, Silchester,
© Pam Brophy, licensed for reuse under Creative Commons

In recreating Silchester, I followed old maps and worked in features of the ancient city that my couple would have encountered — sturdy defense works, the actual streets, a small Roman temple, a restored mansio that serves travelers as an inn and stable, and an early Christian church, no longer in use, where Garreth and Ailénor seek shelter for the night.

For a closer look at the ghost city of Silchester, stop by The Medieval Chronicle website and check out my article, “Silchester: Ghost towns in pre-Conquest Britain? How fascinating!” Indeed, enjoy all the articles TMC offers. It is a fabulous resource, offering articles on an array of topics stretching from the fifth century to the death of Elizabeth I.

Here is a snippet of my article. Cheers!

While mapping the route my characters would follow from Winchester to London in the mid-tenth century, I discovered the old Roman roads led inevitably to the ancient city of Silchester—a major crossroads for armies, travelers and pilgrims.
   
To my surprise, by 933 A.D. Silchester (known by the Romans as Calleva Atrebatum) had already stood empty for over four centuries. But its decaying ruins had not been reduced by sword or fire. Rather, by time and neglect. As in other places, such as Winchester, the inhabitants fled during the Teutonic invasions of the fifth century. Some cities remained deserted for centuries. Others, like Silchester, remained so forever. . .

The complete article can be found by clicking on this link: http://www.themedievalchronicle.com/3rd%20year/Silchester_JanFeb2012.html

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Burrowing Bunny “Archaeologists” of Cornwall


 

Bunny “archaeologists,” how delightful. When the current (July 2014) issue of British Heritage arrived, its brief announcement on page nine — “Burrowing Rabbits Unearth Ancient Treasure” — had me (forgive the pun) digging for more.

It seems a year ago, in 2013, a family of wild rabbits showed up in Lands End, Cornwall. Charmed, Eddie Williams, a Land’s End staff member, adopted the furry creatures who quickly set up housekeeping creating a network of tunnels near the site’s Greeb Farm attraction. Soon Eddie noticed more than soil being tossed out of the burrows, but a variety of flint objects that appeared manmade. He contacted archaeologists at Big Heritage who in turn confirmed the items to be flint axeheads, hide scrapers and arrowheads, at least 5,000 years old.  

As reported by Christopher Klein in History in the Headlines, “Land’s End then commissioned a thorough archaeological investigation that revealed a Neolithic passage grave, burial mounds dating to the Bronze Age and a hill fort and a series of field systems dating to the Iron Age.”

“It’s amazing how a family of rabbits have set in motion an incredible journey of discovery, says Dean Paton, who runs Big Heritage and is team leader of the Lands End project. “A family of rabbits has just rewritten the history books.”

For more information, photographs and to keep updated on the “archaeobunnies,” check out these links:

http://www.history.com/news/rabbits-unearth-ancient-treasures-at-english-landmark

http://www.westernmorningnews.co.uk/Burrowers-uncover-ancient-treasures-Land-s-End/story-20550127-detail/story.html

http://www.cornwalllife.co.uk/home/have_rabbits_re_written_land_s_end_s_history_1_3283081

http://www.countryfile.com/news/rabbits-find-hidden-treasure

Monday, April 28, 2014

Night of the Blood Red Moon


Copyright: Adam Block/Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter/University of Arizona
 
Once every quarter of a century, on the night of the blood red moon, a ghostly ship returns to the waters of the great Chesapeake, tracing and retracing the courses she once sailed...

When I spun this otherworldly legend for my forthcoming book, PIRATES’ MOON, a “blood red moon” seemed a perfect and gorgeously romantic backdrop for the return of The Destiny as she sails from the mists of time. Beyond photographs of stunning red moons, I confess I knew little about them, or the circumstances that create them. Research quickly revealed that only a Total Lunar Eclipse will produce a “Blood Moon.”

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that not one, not two, not three, but four Total Lunar Eclipses would be occurring over the next 18 months and that all would be visible across most of the United States – a tetrad of Blood Moons! Add to that, I learned of the events mere hours before the first eclipse was to take place, shortly after midnight, Arizona time, April 15. To be sure, I stayed awake, bolstered by mugs of hot coffee while I ran in and out of the house, alternating between my front yard where I had a clear view of the moon, and inside at my computer monitor where I watched a live video stream, broadcast from the U of A’s Mt. Lemmon Sky Center (“Skywatch”).

What creates a coppery-red “Blood Moon”?  Imagine standing on the moon, looking back at the earth as it moves directly in front of the sun and transforming it into a “ring of fire.” What you are viewing is all the sunrises and sunsets in the world at one time. (Standing back on earth), it is that same fiery red glow that is being projected upon the moon’s surface, turning it blood red.


Copyright: Adam Block/Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter/University of Arizona
The Total Lunar Eclipse that occurred on April 15, 2014 lasted 78 minutes and was a wonder to behold. If you missed it, check out the video which can be found on either of the two links below.



For more information on the UA Science Sky Center – to learn of its mission, programs and to view the astonishing images of astrophotographer Adam Block visit:


 
In my last blog there was a “tease” about a curious connection between the events in PIRATES’ MOON and that of the tetrad of Total Lunar Eclipses we’re experiencing.

In the book, my ghostly ship, The Destiny, returns once every 25 years – this time in the September/October timeframe of 1864.  The story is linked to historical events and, therefore, the year and date cannot be changed. Naturally, when I learned of the series of eclipses, I did the math to see if 2014 might be one of the years in which my ship might theoretically return.  The result took my breath away.  Not only is 2014 one of the quarter-century years in which it could reappear, but according to NASA, the next Total Lunar Eclipse will occur in October - October 8, 2014, to be exact! (Is anyone besides me hearing music from the Twilight Zone!)

To be sure, I’ll be watching for the next Blood Red Moon, and maybe for Captain Damian Winters as well.

For more information on the tetrad of lunar eclipses that will be visible in 2014 and 2015 visit NASA’s Science News at:


Enjoy!
Kathleen
www.kathleenkirkwoodhistoricals.com

To sign up for my mailing list, please click on the link below:


 

Monday, April 14, 2014

From the Desk of Kathleen Kirkwood ... Heading Forward



Friends,

Due to the recent loss of my brother and the ongoing family health issues that need my personal attention and presence — all gladly given — I confess, my writing has been greatly slowed.

Mr. KK has brought to my attention the many visits to my website and especially the numerous views given to, PIRATES’ MOON, my upcoming book. Be assured this work is indeed in progress, and I’m quite excited about bringing it to you and the light of print. It is truly a book of my heart. Hopefully, PIRATES’ MOON will be available soon, though I cannot offer a date at this moment.

Meanwhile, with Mr. KK’s assistance, the Kathleen Kirkwood Historicals website will be “refreshed” with new additions, putting you in closer touch with my novel’s characters, real and fictious, plus offering extra bits of interesting background information, and even recipes enjoyed by the characters in their respective stories.

Also, my blog will return, the goal being weekly postings. Mr. KK strongly suggests I keep the blogs short and fun (in other words “get back to writing the book!” as he’s always nudging me).

Aye, aye, sir. Sounds like a plan. My next blog post will be on the total lunar eclipse that will visible tonight across the U.S. I’ll be watching. Will you? Or did you not realize — tonight is the night of the Blood Moon? Could Captain Damian Wynters and his crew be sailing from the mists of time once more? Follow this link to discover the Legend of the Pirates’ Moon, and in my next blog I include a most curious connection between the events in this novel to tonight’s lunar eclipse .
 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!



As I wrote in my previous post, St. Patrick’s Day holds a warm place in my heart, not only for the saint himself and for the wee bit of Irish blood that runs in my veins, but because it was on St. Patrick’s Day that I received “The Call” and was offered my very first publishing contract with New York — this for THE VALIANT HEART. Remarkably, all of my published works that followed are also connected to St. Patrick’s Day in one way or another.

Here are some fun links on St. Patrick (and his day) for your enjoyment:


StPatricksDay.com - 50 facts about St. Patrick

Thanks to all who participated in the St. Patrick's Day sale! The promotion is now over and all pricing has returned to normal.

Visit the Kathleen Kirkwood Purchase Links Page for links to all of my works, available from All Romance eBooks, Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, Kobobooks and Createspace.

 Sláinte!