Friday, September 30, 2011

Meet Jaleta Clegg & try her tasty CN soup recipe

Hi! This is Jaleta Clegg, mom of eight, writer of science fiction adventure and silly horror stories. I teach astronomy and physical science to grade school children, collect cool rocks, and dabble in lots of crafty hobbies although I stink at all but cooking and sewing. Nexus Point: The Fall of the Altairan Empire Book 1 is available online in print and ebook formats. Book 2, Priestess of the Eggstone, is in final edits. I've got lots of short stories either out in anthologies and magazines or coming soon. My website,, has links to everything. Some of them are even free.

This is one of my favorite recipes. Fast and easy, tasty and delicious, easily adaptable if needed, and great for sick kids, this is my version of Chicken Noodle Soup
1 lb chicken, boneless skinless breasts preferred, cut in small chunks
1 onion, chopped
2 T. butter
4 c. carrot slices
2 c. celery slices
2 T. candied ginger, minced fine
1/2 t. black pepper
1 t. dried parsley (or 1 T. fresh, chopped fine)
1/2 t. garlic powder
2 T.. chicken soup base (I like the vegetarian version Blue Chip Baker makes) OR 4 chicken bouillon cubes
8 c. hot water
2 c. egg noodles

Melt butter in large pot. Add chicken and onion. Saute until meat is almost cooked and onion is soft. Add everything else except noodles. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes until carrots are soft. Adjust seasonings, adding salt to taste. Add noodles, cook 3 - 4 minutes longer. Serve immediately.

Chicken with Rice: Substitute 1 c. uncooked rice for the noodles. Add with the carrots. Cover and simmer soup for 45 minutes. Season to taste and serve.

If you were marooned on an island, and Pots & Pens granted your wish for only one book and one food, what would you choose? CHOCOLATE. That part was easy. I can always catch fish or find coconuts or eat grass, but I can't live without chocolate. One book? Are you really going to be that cruel? I'm going for the Compendium of Every Science Fiction/Fantasy Novel/Story Ever Written, with an Appendix of Mystery Novels, Religious Tomes, and a Really Nice Print Version of Wikipedia that also includes Blogs Updated Daily. It would be nice if it existed. I can't choose just one book. I love them all. I need them all.

Share your favorite literary feast or treat. What makes this food and/or writing so memorable?
Any of the Redwall books by Brian Jacques. All of his characters obsess over food, pages and pages of description for their elaborate feasts. I have to read those sections with a drool towel handy. I've even come up with my version of a couple of his feasts. Very tasty food. They're memorable because they sound so different from our normal foods, all of them are vegetarian because they're being cooked and eaten by mice, squirrels, rabbits, moles, etc., and yet so much the same. I love the version of meadowcream I came up with: 1 8 oz block of cream cheese, 1/2 c. of butter (real stuff, not pretend), and 1/2 c. honey. Blend it all together and serve over hot scones or pancakes or waffles or toast or just about anything.
The Redwall books are also lots of fun - adventure, excitement, fights, good and evil, magic, everything I want in a good book. Plus a teensy pinch of romance in some of them.
Tell about a time when food inspired your writing or a book inspired your cooking. Can this one be an "and" instead of "or"? I wrote a short story (coming out soon in Monsters & Mormons anthology) about what happens when too many of those hideous, nasty green gelatin-with-carrots salads get in the same place at the same time. Attack of the giant gelatinous green blob! I still giggle every time I read that one. As far as cooking being inspired by books, those cookbook mysteries had me going for a long time. I can't remember titles or authors, but I remember finding the recipes printed inside and trying them out. Most of them weren't very good. I set out to improve on them and came up with a lot of my own versions that are really tasty. Chocolate cherry chunk brownies are one that my kids still ask for occasionally.
Too much salt can ruin an exquisite meal, and the perfect dessert tempers earlier mistakes. What ingredients can destroy a book through overuse or salvage a book despite its flaws? Too much profanity ruins even the best story for me. Same goes for gratuitous sex and/or violence scenes. If they don't really have anything to do with the plot, why are they there? To make it feel more real? *eye roll* If that's what it takes to make it real for the author, I'll find another book to read.
Great characters and ideas can salvage even poorly written books. I can overlook a lot of flaws if I care about the characters and the story has me asking what happens next. If the author loves their characters and their story, it shows. If you give a character morals, they're more interesting. I want to fall in love with them, take them home for dinner, introduce them to all my friends. I want to look up to them, too. Give me good guys who are good, not just morally conflicted. And vice versa, give me villains who are bad but not just for the sake of being bad. Well, sometimes that works.
Let’s say a couple of your characters are raiding your fridge right now, what are they most likely to eat? Are they disappointed or excited about what they find? Good thing I've been shopping recently. It was pretty bare in there a few days ago.
Dace would eat anything in my fridge. She's not picky. She's gone hungry too much in her life. She'd probably most enjoy the Asian pears and the chicken. She likes tasty food and is willing to try just about everything.
Jasyn would eat salad and hummus. She's a bit more health conscious. She'd devour my key lime pie yogurt.
Leon would eat hummus and goat cheese wrapped in bologna. He's weird.
Thanks for letting me stop by your blog. It was fun. Food and stories always go together. What's a role-playing game without a big table of snacks? Telling stories for me is like role-playing, only all the players are in my head. It gets noisy in there some days.

Thank you for joining us today, Jaleta!

Check out my stories at
And my recipes at The Far Edge of Normal
Mmm, dinner is smelling delicious. I think it's time to try my Moroccan pumpkin and lentil soup now...


  1. A fun and informative interview. The recipe sounds yummy!!

  2. Hi, Jaleta,

    Wow, eight kids! I'm impressed. That's a lot of chicken soup. You know what they say about chicken soup--it's Mom's cure for everything.

    Jacqueline Seewald

  3. Hi Jaleta. You are an inspiration to all of us - teacher, mother of eight, author and a cook. Since we're coming into flu season it's the perfect time to sample some of your chicken soup. I swear chocolate and chicken soup can cure almost anything.

  4. Wow! Cindy is RIGHT! Mother, Teacher, Cook and you still make time to write! I especially like your comment, "The perfect dessert tempers earlier mistakes."

  5. Hi, thanks for stopping by the blog. And thanks for letting me join you here today. Nice to meet all of you.

  6. Jaleta, I really enjoyed getting to know you better. Like everyone said,WOW! You are an inspiration...and lots of fun, too.

  7. What a great post! I have three kids and am overwhelmed, so I can't imagine having eight and still finding time to write. The soup sounds great, but I really want to whip up some of that meadowcream!

  8. Wow, eight kids - that is a LOT of children! Thanks for the great interview and recipe!

  9. I'm always excited to try a new chicken soup recipe. Looking forward to reading Nexus Point! Very impressed with the 8 kids as well. :-)

  10. EIGHT kids?!? And you've still managed to find time to cook for them AND write?!? You truly are an inspiration!