Pumpkin Curry Chili

Oh look! It's 50's me!

Oh look! It's 50's me!

Pumpkin Curry Chili

You will need (organic is implied):

1 medium white onion - diced

1 can pinto beans (with liquid)

1 can red kidney beans (with liquid)

1 can black beans (drained)

2 cans corn (canned or frozen)

2 cups pumpkin puree

1 can coconut milk

2 Tbsp tomato paste

3 Tbsp Red Curry Powder

2 Tbsp Cumin Powder

1/2 Tbsp garlic powder

1/2 Tbsp Spike or Mrs. Dash

Salt and pepper to taste

Pinch of Tabasco peppers (or more if you like spicy!)

Splash of red wine

Goat cheese (important!)

TIP: I get my Curry Powder, Cumin and Coconut Milk at Trader Joe's and love the flavor and quality.

I love food. I love to think about it, plan for it, cook it and eat it. I like knowing where it came from, who grew it and what's in it. I like food so much that the preparation and enjoyment of eating often sneaks into my writing. 

If you've read Southern Solstice, you may like to know that the supper Bunny Ashby makes on Larken's first night home was a direct influence from a meal I shared at Hominy Grill with my sister in Charleston. Flavor has the ability to transport you and I continually turn culinary whenever I need inspiration for life. Plus when I get hungry.

A delicious meal stays with you like a favorite memory -- you may elaborate on it a little over time, knowing it cannot be topped, and that if you recreated it, it would probably come up short. 

I recently got the hankering for a hot, filling and interesting dish that would blend my craving for curry spices with the ease of a well-loved classic... and also use the last of my frozen pumpkin puree. Thus was born an original (veggie) pumpkin curry chili that had my husband and I scrambling for more. I knew I had to share it with you because it's easy and impressive. And it does not disappoint.

An ecstasy of exotic flavors finished with the comforts of home.


In a large pot, saute the onion in olive oil (or coconut oil) over medium heat for about 5 minutes. THEN, add in your curry and cumin to let them "blossom" for a few seconds--being careful they don't burn (your kitchen has now been transported to the magical land of spices). Deglaze your pan with a splash of wine (...and drink some, too. You earned it).

Add in your beans (remember to drain the liquid from the black beans), coconut milk, corn, pumpkin puree and tomato paste. Combine for several minutes then check out the salt situation -- add salt and pepper to taste along with your Tabasco peppers.

I check my food often for flavor, adding salt and pepper as needed. (plus I can't help myself)

Everyone has their own idea of how thick a chili should be. If you feel you need more liquid, add in some vegetable broth (or water and more Spike or Mrs. Dash). If you do this, consider adding another Tbsp of tomato paste. You need the acid of the tomato to help balance all of the other flavors.

Allow to simmer for at least 30 minutes (it's one of those dishes where the flavor is enhanced by time).

Serve in a large bowl and top with a generous helping of goat cheese (it's a must... I love Noble Springs Dairy).

I would serve this as a main dish for just about any fall/winter activity (Netflix. Netflix. Change of sweatpants. Pray for the return of summer. Netflix) and will always associate it with a lazy weekend bundled up with my boys. I hope you try it and love it as much as I did -- I know it's a new favorite in our house.










Black-Eyed Peas and Twenty-Sixteen

2016. WTF.

Well, I can't complain. I had an absolutely amazing year full of pretty unbelievable things. I released my debut novel, Southern Solstice, I met my brother (you wouldn't believe it if I told you) and I got chickens.

I wanted to share my favorite recipes for a traditional New Year's Day meal of black-eyed peas, cornbread and greens. The meal is meant to bring good luck and fortune and, since I ate it last year and that turned out pretty a-okay, I can testify that it works.

Black Eyed Peas

Fresh black-eyed peas are unrivaled if you find them available, but dried beans work just the same though they require a bit more preparation and even more forethought. You can always buy canned black-eyed peas, but if you go this lazy route, reduce the salt you use while cooking and don't add any water to your sautéed carrots/onion mixture.

You will need:

1 small onion

2 medium carrots

2 cloves garlic

1/2 pound black eyed peas

salt and pepper to taste

MEAT EATERS: Add ham if you want. I don't want and it's really a delicious veggie dish that I recommend trying meat-free.


Chop the onion and carrots in small pieces (try to make them the same size as the peas so it's uniform). Place in a medium/large pot with a pad of butter and sauté until the carrots are tender and the onions are transluscent (about 10 minutes).

Add the uncooked peas and pour in enough water to cover the peas, carrots and onions plus 2 inches. Add diced garlic, salt and pepper to taste. Brings to a boil and reduce, simmering for 30 minutes or until the peas are fork-soft.


Soak the peas overnight, rinse then bring to a boil and lower to a simmer for 1 hour. Drain and rinse.

Chop the onion and carrots in small pieces (try to make them the same size as the peas so it's uniform). Place in a medium/large pot with a pad of butter and sauté until the carrots are tender and the onions are transluscent (about 10 minutes).

Add the half-cooked peas and pour in enough water to cover the peas, carrots and onions plus 2 inches. Add diced garlic, salt and pepper to taste. Brings to a boil and reduce, simmering for 30 minutes or until the peas are fork-soft.


I won't pretend to be the authority on cornbread. So if your Momma and/or Granny don't have a recipe for you, ask Miss. Paula Dean.


This can be turnip greens, collard greens, kale, spinach... you see where this is going. Anything green (it signifies money, so don't skip them). I really like turnip greens and grow them in my (squirrel infested) garden, so clean 'em, rough chop them, put them in a pan with some butter and sweat them out. Greens do not take long, so you can make these last.

Hot sauce, vinegar and chowchow (relish) are favorites in our house for the perfect topping to this delicious, simple and quite frankly, important first meal of the year. If your resolutions were to lose some holiday weight, don't punish the cornbread by not slathering it with butter... it's just not fair. It's actually pretty rude.

Now for 2016... I will be potty-training a toddler, releasing a follow-up novel (Southernmost), resisting the urge to wear spandex on the daily (not really. I just want to sound like I'm kind of trying in the fashion department) and spending some time in Ireland.

Wishing you all luck, fortune, love and blessings!


Four Squares of Chocolate

STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS // The contents of my brain in a typical 5 minute span // How to balance writing, family, housework and girl stuff all at the same time...

"I'm gonna put this load of laundry in the wash then sit down and finish chapter two. I WILL finish chapter two today. I must. My characters deserve it. Oh my gosh. They're fictional. They don't deserve anything. I HATE THEM. How dare they put demands on me! I'm going to eat two squares of chocolate. I've earned it. Fine. THREE SQUARES OF CHOCOLATE BUT NO MORE. Wait, didn't I "ban" chocolate in our house weeks ago? HOW DID THIS GET HERE? No one listens to me! Oh, I remember now. It's from our anniversary. That's sweet. Oh my gah. Why is this shirt stained - he wore it for three seconds? What is that? Poop? Of course I just touched poop. But it's baby poop. Totally different. Oh. No, it's the chocolate I'm eating! Am I insane? Yes, that's why I write. It's fine. My sister says everyone is insane. Ohhhh, maybe my main character can have a sibling they don't know about -- WHO IS INSANE. See? I'm not insane. I'm Brilliant. ONE MORE SQUARE OF CHOCOLATE BUT THEN STOP IT. That's why you haven't lost any weight, Sadler. Unless I'm pregnant? No no no no no. But it totally makes sense though. I've been so emotional lately. Jim is such a great daddy. I should give him more children. Ugh. But the throwing up. Nasty. I can't. I WON'T do it again. Maybe my character gets pregnant! Yes, that's it. She's pregnant and finds a sibling she doesn't know about and he/she is INSANE and so so so emotional. Does anyone want to read that book? No. No one wants to read that book. Hmmmm. I set this load to large, but it's kind of small... Now there's too much water. Is that possible? Too much water? I swore we had more dirty clothes than this. Unless I'm wearing dirty clothes. How does this keep happening? Shit. This means I wore the same Lululemon outfit BOTH TIMES I saw our neighbor this week. Should I wash the white towels with the multicolors? What the hell... I'm going to start using fabric softener. Oh gag. Spring mountain - NOT. "Spring Mountain." That sounds like a Harlequin book title. Should I try to write a Harlequin book? COULD I write a Harlequin book? What would I tell people I do for a living? I would NOT say Harlequin novelist. Hahahaha. I wonder if Jim will mind that we eat fish again tonight... will he remember we had it two days ago? Did we even have it two days ago. No! We had pizza! We haven't had fish in weeks. I'm not going to ever eat shrimp again. "Cockroaches of the Sea." Disgusting. Oh, pizza sounds kinda' good now though. Yes! We will have pizza tonight. But I'll make homemake crust or something so that it's gourmet and like I didn't just think of it last minute. He'll be so impressed with me. He'll love me even more than he does now. Maybe my characters fall back in love? YEAH, RIGHT. AFTER CHAPTER ONE? But it happens in real life... I shouldn't do a word count, it's bad to constantly do work counts, but I have to. HOW HAVE I ONLY WRITTEN 147 words? Nap time is almost over and Corbin needs a walk. I think we're out of poop bags. Did I brush my teeth this morning? I did. That's right because I accidentally used Jim's toothbrush. Gag. ... Wait, why is that gag? We kiss all the time. We had a child together... so not gag. Romantic. Maybe we can put the baby down early tonight and just talk about stuff and drink wine. No, the Bachelorette is on. KAITLYN IS A TRAIN WRECK. I'll order in pizza. ... And I'll finish chapter two after the baby gets a bath."

The Kind of Woman You Name A Boat After

Edith Florence Matthews with fiance Raymond E. Darling, Jr. First Lieutenant glider pilot killed in Normany June 6, 1944 (Operation Neptune)

Edith Florence Matthews with fiance Raymond E. Darling, Jr. First Lieutenant glider pilot killed in Normany June 6, 1944 (Operation Neptune)

Who you are matters. For a long time.

Legacy: noun. "Anything handed down from the past; as from an ancestor or predecessor."

My grandmother, Edith Florence (Matthews) Sadler, was a beautiful, captivating woman. She loved formal affairs and proper social etiquette, Opera, sacred music, classical piano and the ocean.

Oh, how she loved the ocean.

Edith grew up in Stuart, Florida, the darling only child of Sam and Edith Matthews--kissed by the South Florida sun and groomed for a life of admiration. She was the kind of woman you name a boat after.

I dreamed about her last night. Not something I've experienced a lot of considering she died when I was 11. I'm fortunate to still have my grandmother on my mom's side and was very close with my great-grandmother until she passed away when I was 25, but this woman - this fascinating, proud, resolute woman Edith Matthews Sadler - even dreaming about her has rattled me.

College girl "Edie."

College girl "Edie."

She left behind three children (my dad, aunt and uncle) who speak of her with such a sparkle in their eyes - still completely charmed by their mother, that it's no wonder I feel this way. I am charmed, too. 

I remember the tight grip she would take on your hand when she held it, her rich vocal texture and perfect pronunciation of each and every consonant, I remember her teaching me the scales on piano, her trained Opera voice singing out each note, the click of her long fingernails on the ivory. I have a memory of her on the beaches of South Carolina, hair blowing in the wind and laughing that infectious, echoing laugh while we watched the fishing nets be drug in. I can still see the color of her Estee Lauder corel pink lipstick and the mark it left on her coffee cup. These are the smallest of memories of her, clips of memories really, but they mean so much to me. They are what I have of her. 

Her legacy to me was love of music and musicality, my love of horses and riding comes from her, I can only assume my love of proper social etiquette comes from her, too. I hope that in time, I will see even more of her in me -- those inspiring qualities that stay on long after you are gone. A lingering charm. And I hope that one day, I will be the kind of woman you name a boat after.

The Complex Duplicity That Is A Southern Woman

My Momma - The Pageant Girl

My Momma - The Pageant Girl

"Maybe she was praying for us cause we was gossipin. Maybe she was praying because the elastic is shot in her pantyhose." 
- Truvy, Steel Magnolias

I gave quite a lot of thought to the beautiful complexity of southern women while writing Southern Solstice. A flowery cocktail comes to mind. The sweet kind; masking alcohol with intoxicating fragrance and the allure of swirling pink liquid making you lose count ("I don't even feeeeeeel anything!"). You don't know it yet, but you are drunk on sugar and presumption. (wink)

There is a duality that southern woman are able to maintain on a daily basis, flowing seamlessly from comforter to unwavering disciplinarian, short-order cook to effortless hostess, gardener by day, belle of the ball by night, secret vault and biting linguist. (Come to mid-town in Nashville sometime and see some of the prettiest little Chi Omegas in their floral rompers shotgunning bud lights at the Tin Roof).

In my barre3 class last week, there was a beautiful older woman wearing massive pearl earrings and bright red lipstick that matched her LuluLemon perfectly. It was the 6am class, y'all. Was it unnecessary? Yes. Do I want to be her? 100%. Bar: set higher (I'm currently just focused on not having that child who is always barefoot and sticky - #toddlerprobz).

When our family moved from North Carolina to Wyoming when I was almost ten, I saw this same duplicity recognized by other women as they observed my own mother, often commenting on "how she did it all" and asking "what don't you do?" I had never heard much talk of "being southern" until that point, but that title is what they believed authorized her with the ability to throw a dinner party and look completely untroubled. 

One of my best friends is an Italian spitfire (surely her people hail from southern Italy...). Last week she came over for dinner and said, "You are every women.You are what Whitney was singing about."

Jaw. Dropped. Ultimate compliment. And so so so so so very far from true. 

I haven't even gotten my azaleas in the ground yet.

Music Is My Hot, Hot Sex

Music is an integral part of my writing process. From dreaming up the summary to typing the very last word (and all of the copious amounts of editing in between), I keep the same songs playing over and over again--lulling me into a trance-like state. (oh. and it drowns out my son's Daniel Tiger obsession--which, by the way, I fear is teaching him that as long as you're wearing a grandpa sweater, no one will notice you are just living life without pants).

My author playlist for Southern Solstice is heavy on melody and light on lyric (Ben Howard, Andrew Shapiro, Bon Iver) so it doesn't interfere with my own train of thought or give me tourettes while I'm helicopter ... writing. 

The same playlist I used while writing is (IMHO) a great one to read the book to as well, BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE! Similarly to how a middle school girl might make a mix tape for her crush so that she can feel connected to him every. waking. hour. (Cue K-Ci & JoJo's "All My Life" and Savage Garden's "Truly Madly Deeply" because this was 1998 and those songs were MY EVERYTHING), I made character playlists for Larken, Jackson and Miles. 

So in review:

 give a listen to the

Southern Solstice Author's Playlist

while reading and then check out the 

character playlists

And then if you want to make a mixtape playlist for me, I'd be flattered (but please include more than Jamiroquai and Third Eye Blind because then I'll realize we aren't soul-mates after all and I'll ask for my mix tape back and go alone to the Homecoming dance where I'll meet whats-his-name and get a complex about my height).