Thursday, July 29, 2010

Win a Book Set in Florida

Florida’s Islands are this week’s subject, and I’m excited to begin by announcing a newly released book from Port Yonder Press, written by an author who specializes in books for boys. Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy.

Lost Island Smugglers is the first book in a series of Sam Cooper adventures geared toward boys ages 8-13, written by veteran author Max Elliot Anderson. It is set in a fictional Florida town where three boys go deep sea diving and face a ferocious tropical storm which leads them to uncover a drug smuggling ring. Max is the author of 35 books, including Terror at Wolf Lake, Mountain Cabin Mystery, Newspaper Caper, Legend of the White Wolf and Northwoods Poachers.

Q. Max, since Taste the World readers are interested in travel, tell us more about the setting of your story and if it is similar to someplace you have visited or lived.

A. Through more than forty years of film, video, and TV commercials production, I’ve had the privilege of traveling across the US, Canada, and throughout the world. I have to confess that a number of the locations where I’ve visited do tend to find their way into my stories. Big Rig Rustlers takes place on a 50,000 acre ranch, in Wyoming, where I shot a film. Northwoods Poachers is set in a remote area of northern Saskatchewan where I shot two films.

Lost Island Smugglers is probably a compilation of a number of trips that I took to Florida with my family as our children were growing up. My wife’s mother still lives there. But the island is fictional, and represents a kind of classic story of what it would be like to be stranded on a remote island.

Q. What are a couple of the adventures the boys experience?

A. They have to find the basics of food, water and shelter. Their shelter and fire building are detailed in the story. When they locate a damaged cabin cruiser, Sam’s the one who swims out to investigate. He can’t enter through the hole in the side, so he has to go under water and swim in through the cabin door. There he’s faced with an upside down, underwater world where the floor is the ceiling and the ceiling is the floor, along with a few more surprises.

When they hike through the jungle, to investigate the other side of the island, they encounter men in jet powered speedboats with sharks teeth and blood painted on the sides. That’s when the real fireworks begin.

Q. Why do you write primarily for boys?

A. My father published over 70 books during his lifetime. Yet, I never read any of them because I grew up hating to read. After considerable research into this, I decided to try to write the kinds of stories that I would have read as a boy. The reason I like to write books for boys is because, in reality, I’m still writing to myself as that child.

A second reason is that I noticed something while working on dramatic films for children. I learned that girls enjoyed action-adventure and mystery stories with a boy as the main character, but boys wouldn’t go near a girl’s story. That’s the template I used when I began writing about nine years ago, and I find that same principle to be true with books. There are plenty of books for girls, but I still see the need for more books for boys.

My books are middle grade, for readers 8 – 13. After that age, the interest in reading, on the part of boys, drops off significantly.

Q. What are some of the key ingredients for keeping a tween or teen interested in a book from beginning to end?

A. The main ingredients I use include believable characters, a fast pace, humor, lots of dialog, along with heart-pounding action and excitement. I don’t use toilet humor, which has become more prevalent recently. Kids tell me that reading one of my books is like “being in” an exciting or scary movie. And though my stories are frightening at times, it’s a good scary that isn’t dark. Most of my chapters end with a cliffhanger, often compelling the reader to continue.

Q. How can we purchase Lost Island Smugglers?

A. The book has distribution through Ingram, so it can be ordered from any bookstore. It is available from, Barnes & Noble online, and others. I also offer to sign copies, which can be good for birthdays or Christmas. Anyone interested in details should email me at Additional information about the books coming next is available at Author Web Site and Books For Boys Blog

There are two other books written in the Sam Cooper Adventure Series; Captain Jack’s Treasure, and River Rampage. A second publisher will release Barney and the Runaway this fall, followed by republishing my previous 7 titles. Additional, new titles will follow next year.

Thank you, Max. Lost Island Smugglers sounds like an exciting book and I can’t wait to receive the copies I’ve ordered!

Comment on Max’s interview, the recipe that follows, or anything related to this blog to be entered into a drawing for a copy of Lost Island Smugglers. Your son, grandson, nephew or neighbor kid is sure to love this book. (And by the way…girls can read it too!)

Florida’s Famous Pie
Time for a recipe, and nothing says Florida like Key Lime Pie. This is the real deal, so please don’t add green food coloring or use regular lime juice. Authentic key lime pie is pale yellow and flavored with the juice of Florida’s famous key limes. It’s a bit tangy, so be sure to add a nice dollop of whipped cream. Here’s my favorite recipe from the back of the bottle of Nellie and Joe’s Key Lime Juice.

Nellie & Joe's Key Lime Pie

9" graham cracker pie crust
14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk
3 egg yolks (whites not used)
½ cup Nellie & Joe's Key West Lime Juice

Combine milk, egg yolks and lime juice. Blend until smooth. Pour filling into pie crust and bake at 350ยบ for 15 minutes. Allow to stand 10 minutes before refrigerating. Just before serving, top with freshly whipped cream or meringue, and garnish with lime slices.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Kangaroos, Koalas and Endless Beaches

Kangaroo Island, located about 70 miles southwest of Adelaide, Australia, is the featured destination this week. (Adelaide is the capital of South Australia and is located on the coast.) The island is a pristine wilderness where you’ll find sea lions basking on the beach and furry koalas peeking out from eucalyptus trees. And kangaroos, of course – plenty of those!

My last post provided some info on the animals and wildflowers you can see on this exotic island. If you go, you’ll probably find exploring and photography to be two of the key activities, but there’s so much more. Swimming, fishing, sailing, SCUBA diving, surfing, biking, camping and horseback riding are all at your fingertips. In short, this place has something for just about everyone, in one of the most beautiful settings imaginable! Make sure to stay no fewer than four days to really experience this amazing island and its wildlife.

How To Get There
If flying is your preference, there is air service from Adelaide airport. Once on the island, you’ll find shuttle service between Kingscote and Kingscote Airport. Book in advance. There is also a ferry called Kangaroo Island Sealink that runs between Jape Jervis (a peninsula town about 67 miles from Adelaide) and Penneshaw (town on Kangaroo Island). Passengers and vehicles are accepted. The following note appeared on one of the Kangaroo
Island websites: “Major roads between Penneshaw, American River, Kingscote and Prndana are sealed, most others are
unsealed.” No idea what that means. If anyone knows, toss me a comment.

Where to Stay
You can camp, stay at a luxury hotel, a B & B or something in between. Here are a few links to get you started:

If you go, let me know! I’ll do the same. I’m hoping to cross this one off my bucket list in the next couple of years.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Kangaroo Island

I first heard about Kangaroo Island from the late, great Steve Irwin. And yes, I do think he was amazing – probably one of the most heroic protectors and defenders of our natural resources and the creatures God gave us. More importantly, he opened up the eyes of the world to the damage being done to our fragile planet and its inhabitants. But I digress. When I saw his footage of Kangaroo Island, I knew it was someplace I had to go. Sadly, it still remains one of the best places I’ve never been…but I will get there.

The island is located about 8 miles offshore of Cape Jervis, South Australia. It is a long, thin, pristine wilderness – beautiful, peaceful and full of the native Australian animals people like me find irresistible. Kangaroos (of course) koalas, sea lions and pelicans dwell on the island in abundance. The landscape is surprisingly diverse, with towering sand dunes, soaring cliffs, wetlands, forests and pure white beaches.

In the spring (September to November), wildflowers color the landscape like a painter’s palate, with 40 different species growing on the island. Eucalyptus oil is at peak production in the spring, which makes me think its wonderful scent would gently perfume the island’s breezes.

In summer (December to February), kangaroos, wallabies and koalas give birth to their blind and furless babies, while the little penguins are molting their feathers. This is also the time of year when the New Zealand fur seals give birth to chocolate-brown pups.

My next post will provide info on how to get there, where to stay, and more about the island. For now, enjoy this local recipe. (I’ll probably try it without the anchovies.)

Kangaroo Island Chicken

1 Lemon
4 boned chicken thighs; cut in pieces
10 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves; peeled and crushed
Salt and pepper
2 anchovy fillets
1/2 cup pitted and finely chopped green olives
1 garlic clove; minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley;
1 Tbs. white wine vinegar
1 Tbs. red wine vinegar
2 bulbs fennel
4 lemon wedges
Parsley leaves for garnish
Black olives

Zest the lemon. Marinate the chicken with the lemon zest, two tablespoons olive oil, crushed garlic and salt and pepper for two hours or overnight. To make relish: mash the anchovies and place in a food processor with the green olives, minced garlic, parsley, vinegar, juice of lemon and another six tablespoons of olive oil. Mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Grill chicken, preferably over charcoal. Remove the chicken from the chargrill, cut into small pieces and toss with the relish. To accompany this dish, slice some fennel into large wedges and pour over a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, a little sugar and a tablespoon of red wine vinegar. Cover in foil and cook in the oven for about fifteen minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature garnished with lemon and parsley leaves and scattered with black olives around the dish.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Awesome Ozarks

I recently returned from a family trip to a part of the country we've never visited before: The Ozarks. What are the Ozarks, exactly? To me, they're something halfway between hills and mountains, woodsy, green and gorgeous. One of the coolest things about this area is the caves. It's like God's hand came down and just scooped out all these dark, damp, mysterious places full of amazing rock formations and little waterfalls. Many of them are open to the public, as long as you are willing to climb up and down hundreds of stairs. We visited Marvel Cave as part of our day at Silver Dollar City, a huge amusement park built above the cave. We were glad for the opportunity to spend time in the coolness of the cave, but those 750 stairs seemed to never end. Our home base for the week was a lodge on Table Rock Lake, just 10 miles south of Branson and a stone's throw from Arkansas. On the way there from Illinois, I saw the famous St. Louis Arch!

One of our favorite activites on the trip was zip lining. You climb up a tower that is higher than any human should be without an airpline, attach your harness to a hook contraption and zip across a cable to the next tower. Scary...but fun!

In Branson we went to a shopping area called Branson Landing. Lots of great specialty shops and restaurants, but the highlight was a fountain show during which flames shot out of wooden columns behind the dancing water. I had to come back another night to see it again!

I hope you enjoy this recipe from


One 9-inch pie crust
1 teaspoon flour
1/3 cup flour, divided
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup light corn syrup
3 large eggs
3 cups fresh peach slices, chopped
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans

Sprinkle bottom of pie crust with 1 teaspoon of flour; set aside. Beat 3 tablespoons flour, sugar, salt, nutmeg, corn syrup and eggs at medium speed with an electric mixer for one minute. Stir in peaches and 1/4 cup butter and pour intoprepared pie crust. Combine remaining flour and brown sugar in a small bowl. Cut in 2 tablespoons butter with pastry blender or two forks until mixture is crumbly. Stir in chopped pecans and sprinkle evenly over peach mixture in pie crust. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes or until center is set, shielding edge of crust withaluminum foil after 35 minutes to prevent excessive browning.