Too Old to be Generation X… Too Young to Be a Baby Boomer… Call Me a BoXer…

I don’t care what the cutoff date is, I’ve never felt like a Baby Boomer. I went to college late in life, surrounded by Generation X. They were younger, but they were my peers. Nonetheless, I wasn’t part of that classification, so I’ve decided to take it upon myself and create a new group. I’m going to call them BoXers. Boomers with an X. Here is a little criterion for being a BoXer:

You feel a generation gap between yourself and Baby Boomers.

You relate to both Generation X and Baby Boomer culture and music.

You panic when someone asks you to go in-depth about the politics of Vietnam. Watergate makes you waffle too.

You feel like a little kid around Boomers. They can be intimidating, especially if they ask what YOU were up to during the sixties. They’re proud of what they did. And should be.

In 1965, you stood in front of the dime store with a furry coat, tight, TIGHT pants and a rat-tailed comb sticking out of your back pocket.

You know what the Bump and the Hustle are, and you were a BG’s fan.

Your place in history is not behind the millions of Boomers, it’s at the beginning of another era. An era in which we embraced nature. Even hugged trees. Literally. We became vegetarians when no restaurants provided meat-free alternatives. We watched people die of AIDS. We stared at the TV when David Bowie did weird things on MTV and if we were lucky enough to afford a ticket to see the Rolling Stones, we watched Mick Jagger ride on a giant inflatable penis. We were children when JFK died, I remember, but I remember that I didn’t understand. We watched as colored people became Blacks who fought for their rightful place in American society. While Black musicians provided us with the best music to dance to. Ever.

I will never be a Baby Boomer. I have friends who feel the same way. And I cannot for the life of me, understand how such a cool, intelligent, fighting force of young people, allowed themselves to be called Baby Boomers. Perhaps the time has come for them to revolt against that title. Because as we all know, these were the young people who were excellent at revolution. I see them all the time. Still leading the way. I tip my hat to them. Better yet, I take it off and wave it. They knew how to create excitement and make change. They deserve a more dignified title. They are no longer babies. They never were.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Chimney Fire. Available here:



Mediterranean-Style Eggplant with a Vegan Twist

My mother-in-law makes delicious eggplant sauce. She bakes the eggplant whole, making sure to blacken the bottom to impart a smoky flavor. She blends it with lemon, salt, pepper, sour cream and a little mayonnaise. It’s very good.

My husband won’t eat even a little mayonnaise, nor will he eat sour cream. So, on New Year’s Eve, I baked an eggplant on a cast iron skillet (50 minutes in a 350 degree oven did the trick). Whirled it, skin and all, in the food processor. Scooped it into a bowl and added one-third a container of Tofutti (plant based) sour cream. That’s it. Only those two ingredients. The sour cream and eggplant were tasty enough, on their own. I served it with toasted sourdough, Greek olives and baby spring mix salad.

This Vegan version worked for both me and hubby. If you want to try my mother-in-law’s version, you can find it in my cookbook, “Poor Jonny’s.” Happy New Year!!!

Suellen Ocean is the author of the vegetarian cookbook, Poor Jonny’s Cookbook. Available here:





The Diversity Within Our Families… Americana 2019

American families are interesting. There is no shortage of diversity. My husband’s Jewish uncle, is married to the divorced wife of a Christian minister. Thinking she was an attractive Jewish girl, the former preacher’s wife caught uncle’s eye. “No,” she told me, “Polish ancestry. Not Jewish.” She descends from Polish immigrants who settled in Indiana in the 1800s.

Anyone who has read my books, knows that I raised an eyebrow and considered that uncle’s wife’s family tree might have Jewish roots. Whatever the family history, uncle married a beautiful woman, inside and out. Uncle is a proud Jew who loves to call and wish us, “Merry Christmas,” and the Christmas cards they send, leave me with the sense that he had more to do with it than she did.

When they called yesterday to wish us, “Happy New Year,” I grabbed the calendar to see when Passover was, so that we might meet up with our Jewish family members. To my embarrassment, Passover was not listed on the calendar. An error? I thumbed back to December and could not believe that Hanukkah had been omitted too. Christmas was there. Cinco de Mayo was there. “Oh,” I told them as they remained on speakerphone, “it’s an anti-Semitic calendar.” They laughed.

All my life, these two Jewish holidays have appeared on calendars. Even the White House has a Hanukkah party. I’ll bet that the individual who thought these two Jewish holidays were unimportant, descends from ancient Jews, somewhere on his or her family tree. Odds are high that they have an Old Testament name, like Hannah, David, Jacob or Rachel.

Yes, I called my favorite grocery store and spoke up about their calendar. Together, the customer service rep and I, constructed a letter to the president of the store. And the more I think about it, what about Kwanzaa and all the other days of significance? Doesn’t the store want everyone to feel welcome?

Yes, I know, Israel uses a completely different calendar. I can’t do anything about that. Although, I could call the grocery store and shout, “Don’t forget to  include Jewish New Year!”

2019 promises to be interesting, doesn’t it? Hang tight and have a happy one.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Secret GenealogyA How-to for Tracing Ancient Jewish Ancestry. Available here:

Quick Baked Potatoes in the Microwave

It’s hard to imagine that potatoes would taste fine cooking them in the microwave instead of baking them but they’re wonderful once you get the knack. The first time I tried it, I almost blew out my microwave. The reason? The potatoes were too dry. The microwave thought it was on fire. It almost was. That problem was easily solved. I put the potatoes on a plate and added a little water. I experimented slowly with the timer and now I’ve got it down.

This method is perfect for making hash browns without really frying them. Microwave the potatoes until soft. Cool, then slice them and throw them into a cast iron skillet with a little olive oil on the bottom. You might want to throw chopped onions into the skillet first. Because the potatoes are already cooked, you don’t need to cook them very long. The more oil you use, the browner and crustier the potatoes will be but oil is high calorie so be careful. They’re just as tasty with a little bit of oil. Once the onions have been cooked, crack your eggs and stir them in. Keep the heat down on the skillet. The hotter it is, the more the eggs and potatoes stick to the skillet.

This microwave method is also effective for baking yams. I love yams. Not just because they taste good but because they provide nutrition galore. They are the ultimate fast food. We must eat vegetables and we must get our vitamin A. Put two yams on a plate with a little water on the plate and press start. For those days when we’re too lazy to make a salad or chop and steam broccoli, yams are a blessing.

Suellen Ocean is the author of the vegetarian cookbook, Poor Jonny’s Cookbook. Available here

Avoid Post-Holiday Fatigue: Cook Beans and Legumes for Quick and Easy Wholesome Meals

If we let our diet slide during the holidays, it’s important to get back into the swing of things. Beans and legumes are a great place to start. When I’m fatigued, a bowl of chili gives me strength. This time of year, when it gets dark early, we need all the help we can get. Help yourself by keeping them around.

Those of us who prepare the meals, love it when we have ingredients in the fridge that we can whip up. Problem is, prepared foods are expensive and probably not as fresh. Vegetarians rely on beans, legumes, nuts and grains as staples. Keep containers of cooked beans and legumes in the fridge. Knowing that there’s a container of cooked lentils in the fridge that you can turn into a nice easy meal, might keep you from eating unhealthy fast foods. Here are some ideas:

Lentils: a can of tomatoes and a bag of frozen vegetables, seasoned with a
bit of olive oil and soy sauce, make a nice soup. Or roll them into
tortillas with salsa.

Garbanzos: Throw garbanzos in with spring salad mix, tomatoes and avocados. Or make a soup from cooked garbanzos whirled in the blender with a big chopped onion. Simmer it and season with a spoonful of olive oil and soy sauce. Serve with a tasty bread.

Black beans: these cooked beans make great burritos but another options is
to serve them with cooked brown rice. They’re a little bit dry so load them up with salsa and add soy sauce. Sour cream and black beans are also tasty.

There are days when we don’t feel motivated. When it happens, remember… beans and legumes are our best friends.

Suellen Ocean is the author of the vegetarian cookbook, Poor Jonny’s Cookbook. Available here

Have a Very No-Nazi Christmas, Thank You Very Much…

When my family was visiting London in 2006, my son’s girlfriend Marla insisted on seeing Trafalgar Square. It was a long walk from where we were but fair is fair. It’s what she wanted to see, so we obliged. She was vague about why she wanted to see it and no one asked. We were all too busy taking in the sights that London offers. When we got there, no one was there. I remember cement and statues amidst a quiet atmosphere. Since then, I’ve heard Trafalgar Square mentioned many times in the news. It’s the location of numerous historic demonstrations and the site itself pays tribute to a sea battle where Britain fought French and Spanish fleets (at the same time) on the Southwest coast of Spain in October of 1805. Britain lost no ships and demolished a substantial amount of those belonging to France and Spain.

Fast forward to today. No wait, let’s go back to 1947, after World War II. This was the first year that Norway, grateful for England’s role in defeating the Nazis, presented Britain with a Christmas tree. Today, Norway’s continued gift of a Christmas tree stands in Trafalgar Square as a testament to the friendship between the two countries and a world free of Nazism.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Herr Boy, available here:

What Kind of Men Write Romance?

CanvaCOVERMississippiWildBlueWhat kind of men write romance? The answer is simple. As my mother used to say, “It takes all kinds.” Male romance authors are highly represented, especially among Indie authors but you might not notice because they use female pen names. My own personal belief is that their romantic notions differ from women’s, which is a good thing. I’ve always enjoyed a male’s perspective in the crazy realm of love. Men do that “tormented thing” quite well, you know they’re speaking from the heart. I wonder though, are male author’s stories more inclined to feature unrequited love? Rumor is, women read the most romance and for them, a “happy-ever-after” is essential. Or is it? I like a happy ending but is it essential? I’ve heard authors say that readers get angry without a happy ending, or HEA as they say in the publishing world.

A lot of men write erotica. I won’t comment on why I think that is, nor do I know if the writing is any good because I’m not drawn to erotica. I spend enough time with my head in my own old-fashioned bodice rippers. (Probably considered tame by today’s standards but maybe a little naughty by yesterday’s.) When my octogenarian friend Jean, who is the most prolific reader I know, said she doesn’t like to read love scenes, I cringe every time she asks to read one of my books. I wonder how much of a love scene she puts up with. And does the gender of the author affect her opinion? Jean comes from an era when women used male pen names, so that their writing would be read.

Great stories are written by any gender. The only thing I might say about male romance authors is that they are probably hesitant to admit it. Those old stereotypes always get in the way. But romance is full of stereotypes. And a good author will use them to his or her advantage and in today’s political and social climate, play around with those stereotypes. Because really, whether the story is an historical or a contemporary romance, there have always been those who deviate from the norm. Good characters are like that.

Suellen Ocean is the author of the series, Civil War Era Romances. Available here:

Book One, Black Pansy:

Book Two, Blue Violet:

Book Three, Black Lilac:

Book Four, Ellie:

Book Five, Rose Thorn:

Book Six, Mississippi Wild Blue:

Book Seven, Dandelion Lane:

Book Eight, Scarlet Lobelia:

Sewing… Hemming Pants by Hand While You Watch TV

If you can figure out how to do a backward stitch, by hand, they’re great for hemming pants. First, using your machine, run a zig-zag along the bottom of the pants. Next, fold and press where you want the hem. Next, start your hand stitching about a quarter inch below the zig zag. (Starting a quarter-inch down keeps shoes from getting caught and pulling the hem out.) You’ll be doing a backward stitch with your needle and thread. (Think of it like how Michael Jackson used to dance backward.)

I learned this backward stitch from an expert dressmaker in Reno, named Audrey. She hemmed men’s dress trousers like this. It makes a nice, flat hem.

Suellen Ocean is the author of many books on diverse topics. Her books are available here:

Fashion and Sewing… Shopping for Fabric

One of the nicest things about sewing is shopping for fabric and notions. If you’ve got the sewing bug, you get really excited in a fabric store. Maybe even hyper-active. You’ll look at a bolt of fabric and know exactly what it would be good for. A dress, a pair of pants, a nightie. Something for your niece. Or you don’t know what you could possibly make out of it, but you want it, now.

Because seamstresses (dressmakers/tailors) like to have fabric on hand, we’re free to shop fabrics for any season. Spring fabrics to work with during the winter, heavier fabrics during the late summer for wearing in the cold weather. Sometimes our projects take several seasons to complete, sometimes they take years. It doesn’t matter what season it is. It will be a custom-made garment, fit to order. By us and for us. We get elated working on it and we may even get sick of working on it. But it’s a good idea to make a rule of finishing it before we start another sewing project. Starting a new project is our reward for finishing the current work-in-progress. That’s how I do it.

On Saturday, I’ll be exploring a new-to-me fabric store. I hope it has colorful cottons for blouses and colorful corduroy and stretch denims for pants. I hope they have big spools of strong thread and buttons so attractive they make my head spin with creativity. And most importantly, I hope they have good prices. The only thing better than getting a bargain on clothes, is getting a bargain on fabric to make clothes. As my grandmother used to say, “I’m not happier than when I’m sewing.”

Suellen Ocean is the author of many books on diverse topics. Her books are available here:

Are Blue Jeans a Good Gauge of How Trim We Are?

Old blue jeans that we’ve had for years will have shrunk. So if we can fit into them decades later, we should feel pretty good about that, right? Yes. Maintaining the same weight through the years is desirable but not always easy. It’s a struggle for most of us.

I started wearing tight blue denim so long ago, I hate to admit the year. But let’s just say that I loved denim then and I love it now. Especially the new stretchy denim that’s been popular these past few years. With that fabric, we can all look good in blue jeans, right? Right.

Tight jeans are like corsets for the lower half of our body. And if we can squeeze into them, they fit, right? It’s not good for us to wear clothes so tight it cuts off our blood circulation but in my book, if I can wiggle myself into an old pair of “jeans” life is good.

Suellen Ocean is the author of many books on diverse topics. Her books are available here: