Recipes for the Perplexed: Deadline Chicken (Nano special)

***Note: this essay and recipe first appeared in the wonderful collection Cooking Up Stories, published by Lucky Bat Books and edited by the delightful Louisa Swann and Dayle Dermatis. If you like writing, cooking, or both, check out the whole collection***

I made a whole chicken yesterday, and the burnt little things are carrots...

I made a whole chicken yesterday, and the burnt little things are carrots…

(In honor of National Novel Writing Month, I offer for your procrastinating pleasure a short meditation on family, eating, and the things that matter…plus a bonus recipe that actually rocks. If you are writing a novel this month, try this recipe. It might save your life!)

In days of yore (like, when I was in my 20s) when any kind of deadline loomed, my food choices quickly devolved to, in order: (1) delivery pizza; (2) hard boiled eggs; (3) chocolate and (4) nothing. Though this sad diet kept me more or less alive when chasing a deadline, the headaches, dizziness, etc did not do much to help me to hit my target.

Then I started having kids (I have three hungry, growing boys now) and the above strategy no longer worked. No matter how heinous the deadline, those little guys had to get something good to eat or a mutiny would soon be on my hands! The pizza worked once or twice, but after that…oh my.

The following recipe emerged in the midst of my desperation. It was 2008, and I had a two-week old baby at home when I got my edits for my first NY published novel.

I had two weeks to edit the whole kahuna. No brain cells, certainly no time to cook a lasagna and throw it in the freezer for just such an emergency. A houseful of hungry guys. AND my husband worked long and hard hours, so he did his best to bring groceries in but wasn’t around to help any more than that.

This chicken dish is amazing. I have made it while bleary-eyed, feverish AND nursing a baby at the same time…and it came out fine. I originally named it Coma Chicken for truly many a time I *was* nearly in a coma when I made this, and it comes out great even if you are barely alive when you cook it.

My dear husband begged me to change the name, because he hated the thought of me being in a coma even as a joke, and it messed with his appetite, which is a real crime considering the tastiness of this dish. So I happily re-named it Deadline Chicken. Now when this dish appears on the table, there’s an added benefit — my little guys know that a deadline is looming once again, and they know to back away slowly once the dishes are done.  What’s not to love!

And now, my friends, I give to you my secret, easy recipe for Deadline Chicken!


1 three pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces

1 baking sheet


Kosher salt

Garlic powder


Dried rosemary (or fresh thyme if you have some)


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees (traditional chicken temp is 350 but I like the crispiness when I cook it a little hotter than that)
  2. While oven is firing up, put chicken pieces on the baking/cookie sheet. Do not oil the sheet — you are dry roasting this bird. If the chicken is damp for any reason, pat dry with a paper towel.
  3. Sprinkle spices over the pieces, and use a heavy hand. Simple salt and pepper would be enough, I guess, but I enjoy these four: kosher salt, garlic powder, paprika (for lovely golden color) and dried rosemary.
  4. When oven is at the right temperature, pop the sheet with the chicken into the oven. Middle or lower-middle rack is good. Set your timer for 50 minutes.
  5. When your timer goes off, take out the chicken, put it on a serving plate. That’s it!

Every time I have cooked this dish, the pieces come out crispy and flavorful, with moist, juicy chicken inside.

  1. OPTIONAL: for added nutritional goodness, once you’ve thrown in the chicken, get another baking sheet and cover it with some nice roasting vegetables. Here are some suggestions:

*cauliflower, cut up and sprinkled lightly with sea salt and olive oil

*onions, carrots, and celery, cut up with a little salt. If you dry roast these they get all crunchy and sweet and yummy

*some sweet potatoes, scrubbed and as is

*acorn or butternut squash, cut in half with maybe some oil or butter if you want (I do it plain)

Throw in the vegetables once you’re done cutting them up and let them cook at the same time as the chicken.  When the chicken is done so are the veggies. (The potatoes might take a wee bit more time, so if you have big potatoes throw them in as the oven is warming up.)

And that’s all there is to it. If this dish doesn’t work for you, please write to me and let me know what happened because I am a primitive cook and this recipe has never failed me. Enjoy!





Recipes for the Perplexed: A Blog Manifesto

Hello, all :)

So, I’ve decided to start something new, and before I get to it, I’d like to tell you what I’m up to, and why I’m doing this.

I am a terrible cook. Actually, I take that back…I have become a cook, but will never have the grace to become a chef. After a lot of life experience, I have gone from somebody who had trouble boiling water to somebody who can cook up dinner for 8 without activating my higher brain function.

I did not think this ability was any kind of superpower, just a survival strategy since I have a bunch of kids and a husband, who all get hungry and do not have the kitchen access that I do. But a couple of conversations have changed my mind.

I was on the phone recently with my wonderful mother-in-law (no sarcasm there at all…seriously, she is magical) and we were talking about a hapless child of a friend who did not know how to cook and who hated to cook. At the time, I was in the middle of hacking up a small mountain of eggplant and zucchini to make roasted vegetables with balsamic vinegar (OMG yum but that is a recipe for another post).

I heard myself saying, “oh, she can do it. She just needs to learn some simple recipes that are impossible to mess up, get some practice cranking them out using her lizard brain. Then start branching out. Next thing you know, she will have the superpower and can get dinner on the table at any and all times.”

I hung up with her, watched the zucchini broil, and started thinking. How did I learn what I know? I never wanted to learn how to cook, and had zero native ability to boot. And yet here I was, having a good time cooking up good eats for the people I adore.

So how did I learn to cook, anyway?

The second conversation got me even harder. My oldest son is an amazing cook…he inherited my husband’s chef genes.  One night, after a long and bruising day, I grimly made my turkey meatballs, one of my go-to meals. And this teenaged boy, who’d had his own hard day to deal with, beamed at me as I served it up. “I love your meatballs. And I always will.”

That just slayed me. Because he knew I made them out of love and he received them with gratitude, and that is one of life’s beautiful little moments of miracle.

So I replied, “They are easy, totally. I’ll teach you to make them and then you can have them always, whenever you want. I’ll make them for you anytime but you will have the secret knowledge too.”

At that point the light was slowly dawning. I really had learned something. Something that other people like me could use.

So that’s why I am starting this blog series. Because, dear reader, food is great. If you are also the kind of person who is freaked by the idea of cooking, I want to share all I’ve learned with you.

And also, some of my meals are hilariously bad and proudly I will share my flameouts as well. Because the first lesson of learning to cook is:

It’s okay to make a mistake. Mistakes are how you learn.

A good lesson for cooking, and for life.

So, for the non-cooks out there, what do you wish you knew about working the kitchen?

And for the great cooks of the world, do you have a favorite recipe that you consider a fail-safe? Please? My kids are getting sick of hamburgers this week LOL




Uncollected Anthology Issue 5: Magical Libraries

It’s here!

The fifth issue of the quarterly Uncollected Anthology is here…and I’m especially happy about the theme this time around. This time, we all wrote about Magical Libraries, and I had such a good time with it. If you’re not familiar with the series, please read on below…

My story “Kitty of Death” is included in this uncollected collection and I hope that you enjoy it!

Lang Libraries cover small

When you lose a Library Cat, the late fees are murder…

Corrie the Cat Librarian leads an orderly life in the strange little town of New Castle, Connecticut. As Keeper of Feline Deities at the Royall School for Litigomancy, Corrie lends her cats out to magicworkers who need a familiar to complete their spells.

A safe and rather boring existence…

But when Idris, a minor Egyptian deity, goes missing, Corrie and the formidable litigomancer Elizabeth Royall must battle an evil, medieval necromancer bent on capturing death itself. And in the process, Corrie discovers the deadly power of a quiet magic.

“Lang is a writer to watch.” — Booklist

Buy “Kitty of Death” —


Barnes & Noble



Uncollected Anthology

uncollected: not collected or gathered together.

anthology: a collection of selected literary pieces.

oxymoron: a combination of words that have opposite or very different meanings.

The Uncollected Anthology series is indeed an oxymoron. Sprung from the minds of six fabulous authors who love fantasy, short stories, and each other’s writing, the series’ main goal is to bring you quality urban fantasy fiction.

To find out more about the Uncollected Anthology series, please visit us at

And please check out all of the stories in this volume of the Anthology series!




These Chains cover web (2) “These Chains,” Dayle A. Dermatis

Madeleine works at a secret library beneath the New York Public Library, serving her final magical-juvie sentence. If she keeps her head down and does her time, she’ll finally be free. But when the most prized—and most dangerous books—are stolen, the ancient ones affixed with chains, all eyes turn on her.

Because her girlfriend—the girl she thought was her girlfriend—clearly had her fingers all over the job.

The Magical Council tells Madeleine to sit tight; they’ll handle it. Madeleine, however, isn’t any good at waiting for someone else to solve a problem. She has to get involved, even if she ends up being found guilty for doing the wrong thing for the right reasons…yet again.

“…One of the best writers working today.” —USA Today bestselling author Dean Wesley Smith

Orphaned Hearts web v2

The Library of Orphaned Hearts,” Annie Reed

The books in Gretta’s library contain something far more precious than words. Something she lost herself in her youth and thought gone forever until a stranger made of shadows and smiles handed her a key and a book she couldn’t read.

The books in Gretta’s library can never be purchased, only loaned, and only to those truly in need.

The books in Gretta’s library can change your life.

If you’re brave enough to ask.

Buy “The Library of Orphaned Hearts” —


Barnes & Noble





All the Words in All the World UA cover reduced

“All the Words in All the Worlds,” Leslie Claire Walker

When Chris Garcia reads the magical morning Metro section of the newspaper, one and only one article stands out: a girl named Alice must find something precious she’s lost before nightfall or go to Hell. Chris figures his newfound magical skill of finding the lost will save her. Instead, he walks straight into a trap. If he fails to find a way out before the sun sets, he dooms Alice—and himself—forever.

“For more than a decade now, I have adored the work of Leslie Claire Walker.”— Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Buy “All the Words in All the Worlds” —



Barnes & Noble




The Midbury Lake Incident UA cover reduced

“The Midbury Lake Incident,” Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Mary Beth Wilkins knows she made a mistake the moment she sees her beloved library burn. She also knows what she must do next to protect herself and her secret. And although she failed to save this library, she has a more important purpose to fulfill—a magical purpose. If she acts fast.

“Rusch is a great storyteller.” —RT Book Reviews



Guest Author

The Library of Atlantis UA cover reduced


“The Library of Atlants,” Dean Wesley Smith

Poker Boy specializes in asking stupid questions. But sometimes even stupid questions need answers.

To save the fabric of all things from unraveling, whatever that means, Poker Boy must go to the Library of Atlantis and do something that no one ever accomplished before.

Poker Boy saves all things. Again!

“[The Poker Boy] series is unlike anything else out there.

It’s quirky and a lot of fun.” —Amazing Stories





“Kitty of Death” Coming Soon

So, I’m in this group of urban fantasy writers who publish stories every quarter to a different theme. We call our group Uncollected Anthology, and the theme for this quarter is Magical Libraries. My friends in Connecticut may especially like this :) I had a ton of fun with this one…it’s coming in August!

Here’s the blurb:

When you lose a Library Cat, the late fees are murder…

Corrie the Cat Librarian leads an orderly life in the strange little town of New Castle, Connecticut. As Keeper of Feline Deities, Corrie lends her cats out to magicworkers who need a familiar to complete their spells.

A safe and rather boring existence…

But when Idris, a minor Egyptian deity, goes missing, Corrie and the formidable litigomancer Elizabeth Royall must battle an evil, medieval necromancer bent on capturing death itself. And in the process, Corrie discovers the deadly power of a quiet magic.

“Lang is a writer to watch.”  — Booklist

Coming in August...

Coming in August…