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Judy Alter

Author

Judy Alter has been writing fiction and nonfiction for young readers for twenty years. She has a Ph.D. in English with a special interest in the history and literature of the American West. Alter is the director of a small academic press, and writes in her spare time. She is the mother of four, and now lives with her dog, her cat, her garden, and her books.

Judy's Books

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Discovering Australia's Land, People, and Wildlife

Discovering Australia's Land, People, and Wildlife

A MyReportLinks.com Book

Judy Alter
In this new edition of the Continents of the World series, author Judy Alter uncovers the land and climate, plant and animal life, scientific discoveries, and history and exploration of Australia. This book offers fun and interesting facts about the planet’s smallest continent...Read More

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ISBN: 978-0-7660-5207-9
Binding: Library Ed.
List Price: $26.60
Discount Price: $19.95

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Judy's Latest Blog Entries

A new world of sound




Ring the bells! Bang the drums! Clash the cymbals! Let the music begin. I have new hearing aids! They’re half the size and half the weight of the ones I’ve had forever—and the tone is so much better. I spent most of the morning in the audiologist’s office learning how to use them. One huge benefit--I can now talk on the phone while my cell phone is lying on my desk. I don’t have to hold it up to my ear.

One thing I’ve learned with my medical troubles of late is that assistants in medical offices tend to chatter way too fast and talk way too softly. I’m hoping the new ears will mean I don’t have to keep saying, “Whoa! Slow down!” I’m so tired of saying, “Pardon me. Would you repeat that—slowly.”

I also expect these new aids to allow me to enjoy music more, especially church music. Hope to try it out on Sunday.

Other than that lengthy appointment, today was a work day, and I made good progress on the Alamo book. But last night I had one of the best dinners I’ve had in a long time. Betty, Jean, and I went to Paris Seventh, a spin-off of Saint Emilion, the fanciest French restaurant in town (maybe the only upscale French one). At Paris Seventh they offer a bistro menu on Tuesday and Wednesday nights if you have a reservation and get there before 6:45. The cost for three courses is $30 including tip but not wine.

I try to remember to watch the menu, because it changes every week. This week, the three courses were cream of mushroom soup, salmon en croute, and crème brulee. There’s a lot of cream and richness in those dishes. I ate all the soup but could only manage half the salmon, which was in a rich cream sauce with a bit of spinach. Absolutely delicious, but so filling. I brought half the salmon home but enjoyed the crème brulee which was lighter than many versions.

Had the leftover salmon tonight. Still good, but not as good as when it was fresh, hot, and finished with that good sauce.

Service was courtly if a bit slow—everyone seems to hit the restaurant at the same time to take advantage of the bistro menu. But I will continue to watch for the weekly menu and go back for the bistro dinner. Great experience.

But there was restaurant chatter. I need to go back with my super-sensitive aids which constantly check and adjust for the environment. So excited to hear the world again.

Soup’s on! (on the hot plate, that is)






Our chilly damp weather continues. Yesterday afternoon it occurred to me that it is definitely soup weather. So I made a clean sweep of the freezer, scooping up a bit of corn, both beef and chicken broth, a serving of beef and barley soup, and I’m not sure what else. This morning I added a can of tomatoes (turned out to be whole plum tomatoes when I wanted diced, but I didn’t discover that until I’d opened the can), some egg noodles, the peas and carrots combo from last night’s supper. Cooked it all morning at a low simmer—I have to watch because the hot plate turns itself off every so often and for long cooking, I have to go re-start it.

When my kids were young, we called this soup of the week. They used to identify Monday’s meal, the stew from Tuesday, the hamburger casserole from Wednesday. And it always came out sort of tannish brown, often that muddy color author Dan Jenkins called the color of Texas food. Today my soup was a rich brown because of the tomatoes and beef broth.

A good friend was coming to pick me up for lunch, but I surprised her with my pot of soup. She appeared delighted, and we had a good quiet visit without contending with restaurant clatter and chatter. She said her late husband used to make what they called “leftover soup,” and if it came out especially delicious, she warned everyone to enjoy it now because it could never be duplicated. It never does come out quite the same way.

It’s sort of appropriate that I made soup on the hot plate today because I’m excited to announced that my new cookbook, Gourmet on a Hot Plate: Tiny Kitchen Tips and Recipes is now available for pre-order on Amazon. Here’s the link: https://www.amazon.com/Gourmet-Hot-Plate-KItchen-Recipes-ebook/dp/B07JC75FC5/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1539811421&sr=1-1&keywords=Gourmet+on+a+hot+plateIt will be for sale November 15. Right now, you can only pre-order the digital version but on publication day it will also be available in paperback.

So if you’re wondering how I cook a full meal with a hot plate and a toaster oven or how I make tzatziki or why I put a pinch of sugar in spaghetti sauce, the cookbook has your answers.

In November, I’ll announce an ongoing blog page where I’ll add recipes and welcome your comments, recipes, and suggestions so we can have a conversation. Putting together a cookbook is fun but there are always those recipes you come across later and wish you’d included. And some I either haven’t had time or nerve to try, like Cacio de Pepe, literally cheese and pepper pasta—think Parmesan and Pecorino.

Stay warm and dry, folks.

News of the world




Yesterday almost everyone in the Metroplex braved their way through a day without the internet, due to a lightning strike that got a crucial AT&T station plus the backup, or so I heard. When I finally got email back, just before I went to bed, I had about 60 emails but at least half were people in my neighborhood complaining about the outage, counting the hours, etc. I heard on TV that it was such a major problem that AT&T is considering honoring discount requests.

So today we have wifi back, and it’s amused me to know what I learned, what I apparently missed yesterday. Harry and Meghan, Duke and Duchess, are expecting a baby. Jamal Kashoggi was probably killed by “rogue” killers—aren’t all killers rogue? Justin Bieber is conflicted over his romantic interests. The national deficit continues to grow, but McConnell knows how to fix it—just cut entitlements. That means your social security and Medicare—and mine but not that big tax deduction or the one percent. Ted Cruz is running doctored footage and telling lies about Beto. Maybe Trump was right when he called him “lyin’ Ted.”

I think in retrospect yesterday was peaceful. I need to keep the TV off, not check MSN and Facebook, and only use wifi for research.

Heavy rains this morning but it stopped in time for my doctor’s appointment—the nephrologist says I’m going to live, but when they gave me my paperwork I was startled by her initial diagnosis. For those who want to know what made me whine all summer it was acute renal failure. It sort of makes me feel like the hypochondriac whose tombstone read, “I told you I was sick.” Fortunately I feel a whole lot better.

Poor Jordan was caught in rush-hour traffic returning from a five-day trip to Cabo, and I am sure she was freezing. The trip was work for her but still pleasant, and the pictures she sent of food at high-end resorts were amazing. But it was 90 when she left, and she came home tonight, without coat or sweater, wearing flip-flops. She came into the cottage wearing a warm work-out suit and complained she was still cold.

More food thoughts: I got busy this afternoon and made tuna patties, with the goal of one for supper. And defrosted the makings of a pot of soup of the week—this is turns out will be heavily beef flavored. Some beef stock, some beef and barley soup, black-eyed peas, a bit of carrots and peas left from the can I opened for supper a little bit of chicken stock that will get lost in the beef flavor. Tomorrow I’ll add a half potato from the fridge, a half zucchini sliced, and some egg noodles. And then I’ll think about whatever else it needs, but it already threatens to be a huge pot of soup. It struck me today that cold and rainy as it was it’s a good time to make soup—and it’s also a good time to clean out the odds and ends in the freezer.

Neighbor Mary came for a happy hour glass of wine and brought me an amazing piece of pear and chocolate tart with an apricot glaze. Made up for my rather mundane supper. So delicious.

I’m so glad to be back to cooking and eating.

Lessons in the internet—and good food, good company




A one step forward and two steps backward kind of a day. I had a delightful lunch with my friend Heather, who cooks at the Modern and teaches at Sur La Table. I had whined to her that so many of the recipes I collect contain things my family won’t eat. She suggested I send her one, so I did—it was called spaghetti pie, though to me it was just a skillet spaghetti meal—and it had eggplant in it, a no-no in this household I’m sure.

Today she brought it for lunch, and I fixed a quick green salad. We feasted, and we talked about dogs, cats, politics, TCU, and all things irrelevant. I enjoy our occasional lunch visits. My turn to cook next, so I will have to find another recipe I want to try that the kids wouldn’t like.

And speaking of things the family won’t eat: Jordan being out of town, she picked our Sunday night menu—hot dogs with a semi-Korean topping of cabbage, cilantro, onion, kimchi, a sauce of mayo, lime juice, sesame seeds, and scallions, and grated cheddar. Too me that was more than one poor hot dog could bear, so I simplified. I had never tried kimchi—to eat or to cook with—and I was apprehensive about Christian’s reaction. I bought “mild cabbage kimchi”—he doesn’t like cabbage, but hey! He said he loved it. I thought it was pretty good. Jacob ate his hot dog with ketchup and cheese. Strangely enough, the recipe said to sauté the kimchi—Heather said she’d never heard of cooking it. Now I have half a bag of kimchi—any takers?

Tonight’s experiment was a gourmet pizza of crème fraiche, smoked salmon, and caviar. But for two people I decided to make individual pizzas on lightly toasted flour tortillas. Lesson learned: flour tortillas puff up like sopapillas when you toast them, but they deflate quickly. And crème fraiche is a bit sweet. Still, my dinner guest raved about it. Good quick easy meal. Served with Caesar salad.

But on to today’s frustration—in mid-morning, I suddenly had no wifi. Unbelievable how that hampers you—I couldn’t send or receive email or Facebook messages, and, most important, since I was working hard on the Alamo project, I couldn’t do online research. So I still don’t know who General Andrade was and if he really tried to destroy the Alamo after San Jacinto but was met with flaming swords, nor what happened to the chapel during much of the nineteenth century—did it just sit vacant and decay? And other questions—I’ve made a list. Most frustrating was that somehow, I would get notices that someone had posted on Facebook—but I couldn’t see the posts. My cell phone tells me I have fifty invisible posts. Who knows how many emails?

I did find that I could text Christian, and he reported that the outage is all over the Metroplex, the results of a lightning strike to one of AT&T’s motherboards. No estimated repair time. Twenty years ago, this wouldn’t have bothered me much; now it makes me frantic. Ah, technology. Save a little time and waste a lot more.

That verboten subject




We’re always cautioned not to talk about politics and religion. But our minister made a strong argument this morning for talking about politics—and doing something about it. The root of the word is the Greek “polis”—it literally means city, or citizenship. We are encouraged to become active in our larger community, to do something for the common good. That should hit people who scorn politics and refuse to “get involved.”

On the other hand, the word partisan comes from the military and means to separate or divide. It can also mean to be prejudiced in favor of a particular cause. Ideally, we should be political but not partisan. These days I find that a hard distinction to make.

To avoid being partisan, I sometimes like to identify myself as a liberal—but that choice is fraught with peril. Conservatives use it s a term of scorn and distort it to libtard (the etymology of which I don’t which to explore, thank you). But maybe we wouldn’t be so divided if we could think of ourselves as liberals and conservatives.

There is much to admire about ideal conservatism—fiscal responsibility, holding to old values. I have trouble with their ideas on the distribution of wealth and opposition to change and progress.

But today, the conservative party in power has so twisted and abandoned the ideals they espouse that their philosophy is not recognizable. If you hold to traditional values, you don’t elevate an accused sexual attacker to the Supreme Court; you don’t tear families apart and lock children in cages; you don’t wantonly pollute the environment and kill God’s creatures.

Maybe if we thought of ourselves as liberals and conservatives, we could hold a conversation without resorting to shrill shouting matches and exercises of power. I’d like that.

Meantime, as I reflected to myself in church this morning, my faith determines my politics. I believe God loves a people and creatures, and he gave us enough wealth on this earth to take care of all. It’s how you treat others that matters. And if there is a judgment day—I’m not sure about that—how you treated others will be how you are judged.

Sermon over.
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