June 22

Steve’s Grace is now available on Kindle

My latest novel, Steve’s Grace, is now available on Kindle!

Steve Grace isn’t a bad guy. But he’s not a good guy, either. He’s an accountant for a crooked company. He hates religious people. He cheats on his wife, but he thinks every husband does.

A trip to Las Vegas isn’t unusual, but this one goes far beyond anything he imagined. Haunted by shame and with his marriage in jeopardy, he wonders if he’s been too quick to dismiss God.

With the help of a therapist, Steve’s memories begin to return, and he realizes he did something truly unforgivable. Overcome with horror, he has a psychotic episode and loses all memory of the trip and the weeks since he got home.

A stay in the mental hospital brings his memories back. Confronted with the magnitude of his sin, he decides to give his life to God. He gives out sandwiches to the homeless, joins a church, and rescues a young prostitute. But is his newfound faith real, or is he still crazy?

June 14

Review: Aroma Rice Cooker


I love to cook, but I’m not much on kitchen gadgets. Tomato corer? I use a knife. Egg steamer? What’s that even for?

But when it comes to rice, I really love a rice cooker. I had one that went in the microwave, and it worked okay. It was better than cooking it on the stove, where I always seem to either burn it or make it soggy.

When the old one died, my wife and I went shopping for a new one. We wanted it to be simple, small enough for a family of four (and easy storage), easy to clean, and cheap. You can easily spend over a hundred bucks on a rice cooker, but that’s not my price range.

We settled on the Aroma Housewares 8-cup model.  They also have 6-cup and 20-cup models, but 8-cups is about right for us, plus this model offered a steamer basket.

We were a little concerned because it claimed to do so much and yet cost so little.  We were pleasantly surprised!  It does everything it claims.  It’s easy to use and easy to clean.  And it makes perfect rice, every time.

It has settings for white rice and brown rice.  I’ve used the brown rice setting on Sri Lankan red rice, also called red samba rice, and it works just fine.  It also has a delay timer, so you can set it to start cooking later in the day, perfect for use along with a crock pot, for example, for a dinner prepped before I leave the house.

When it comes to kitchen gadgets, it takes a lot to impress me.  The Aroma rice cooker is one of the few I’ve gotten excited about.

June 10

Free Book and a Chance to Win an Amazon Gift Card!

Benji's Portal Cover lg front

Benji’s Portal is free on Kindle from June 10 through June 14!  Download it today!

Want to win an Amazon gift card?  Just post a review of Benji’s Portal on Amazon between June 10 and July 10.  One reviewer will receive a $25 Amazon gift card, and three reviewers will receive a $10 gift card!

If you post a review, please be sure to send me your email address so I can contact the winners.  Reviews will be chosen at random.  Prizes limited to one per review, and will be sent by July 31.

Send your email address to dj (at) djmitchellauthor.com. Or use this contact form. (Be sure to give me your Amazon handle in the comments so I can match email addresses to the winning reviews.)





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June 9

Relocation

Eastern Mennonite Seminary

Two years ago, my son was born. It quickly became apparent that my wife and I weren’t going to have enough hours in the day to make artisan cheese anymore. We shut down the business and sold off the equipment. And I began to contemplate what to do next.

There aren’t a lot of jobs in southern Utah.  It’s beautiful country and a great place to raise kids.  But jobs are few and wages are low.  The median income is well below the poverty line.

So I wrote, and I contemplated.

I did my undergraduate in Theology at Loyola Marymount University.  I loved it.  That’s where I was introduced to the Mennonite theologian John Howard Yoder.  His book, The Politics of Jesus,* completely changed my views on religion.

I’ve always felt drawn to do some sort of ministry, but that seemed impossible since I had never found a church I wanted to belong to.  Three years ago, during a trip to Denver, I attended my first Mennonite church (there aren’t any in southern Utah), and felt that I had finally come home.  It wasn’t long before the possibility of ministry started percolating again.

After my son was born, I talked to my pastor about ministry.  He suggested a couple of schools I could attend.  None of them were in Utah.  One of them, Eastern Mennonite Seminary in Harrisonburg, Virginia, had a website that really caught my attention.  I thought, “I wish I’d written that!  I want to be with these people!”

I talked about it to my wife.  She was raised in western Colorado and southern Utah and had never lived anywhere outside the high desert.  She said, “Virginia?  Are you crazy?”

So I contemplated.  I looked at some other schools.  They were schools.  None of them appealed to me like EMS.

Last fall, a year out of the cheese business with no alternative plans on the horizon, I told my wife that we really needed to revisit the EMS question again.  I suggested a trip to see what it was like.

To my surprise, she agreed.

To my even greater surprise, she loved Virginia.

Events moved quickly after that.  I applied to EMU, was accepted, and we found a place to rent.  May 1, we closed up a 26-foot U-Haul and set off across the country.

We’ve now been in Virginia for a month, and we love it.
*(The Politics of Jesus is available in paperback and ebook.)

June 8

Book Review: Thirty Days of Daal

Rating: ♦♦♦♦◊ (Four Diamonds)

30 Days of Daal – Simple, Healthy Daal Recipes from India by Pragati Bidkar is a cook book, but not ordinary in any sense of the word.  The author clearly knows her stuff, and communicates it well for a non-Indian like myself.

I love Indian food, and dal is one of the staples.  (Yers, I spell it with one “a.”  As the author notes, it can be spelled wither way, or “dahl.” All can be considered correct, since the word is transliterated from Hindi.)  Yet for me, dal has been one of the most challenging dishes to make.  It never comes out quite right.  The texture tends to be mealy, and the flavor is never quite right.

“It’s easy!” my friend Gia told me years ago.  “You just [blah, blah, blah].”  Yeah, whatever.  Mine still doesn’t come out right.

30 Days of Daal  reveals the secrets of how to get that signature creamy texture, and discusses seasonings at length.  Then, as promised, it provides thirty different dal recipes, some of which are very different.  They include the classics, like Yellow Moong Daal, Palak Daal, Daal Makhani.  There are also some exciting new recipes that I’ve never seen before, like Daal Holhapuri (spicy Maratha-style dal) and Methi Daal (dal with fenugreek leaves).

More importantly, the author gives step-by-step instructions for each recipe.  She does presume some familiarity with Indian cooking, which I have but others may not.  There are also a few ingredients for which she doesn’t give English translations.  It’s possible that there are no English translations, though in my experience, the Brits named pretty much everything while they were there.  And there are occasional phrases that are unfamiliar to an American reader.  These shortcomings keep me from giving the book a five diamond rating.

Nevertheless, this is a great book for those with some familiarity with Indian cooking.  I enjoyed reading it, and I can’t wait to try every one of the recipes!

Best of all, at least at the moment, the book is available from Kindle FREE.  How much better could it get?