Wednesday, September 2, 2020

BON APPETITE - A WEEKEND TREAT: Pumpkin Cake

September is here and so are the pumpkins. Leaves are beginning to dry or take on color, sumac is turning red--and all the smells of autumn waft in the air. Everyone knows I’m a fan of the taste of pumpkin whether it's pumpkin cookies or pumpkin pie (with lots of Kool Whip or ice cream to accompany it). Here is a little recipe for pumpkin cake.

  

Pumpkin Cake with Apple Cider Glaze

 
For the Cake:
1 Yellow Cake Mix
1 15 ounce can of pumpkin puree           

For the Glaze:
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 Tablespoons apple cider
3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Empty the contents of the boxed cake mix and pumpkin puree into a large bowl. Using a hand-mixer or stand mixer beat until well incorporated. The batter will be very thick, but will come together nicely.

Pour batter into a greased 7 x 11 X 2 pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Do not over bake.

Let cool for 5-10 minutes in the pan, then flip onto a platter.

Make the glaze while you're waiting.

Combine powdered sugar, apple cider and pumpkin pie spice. Glaze should be thick but pourable. Add more sugar or cider if needed. Pour over the cake while still warm. Reserve some to pour over each slice when served.
 
Finalist in the American Fiction Awards 
for Historical Romantic Mystery

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Welcome August!

Welome August! Along the roadways of Pennsylvania, goldenrod and salvia have begun to bloom in yellows and purples.

For many people, the month of August signals the arrival of the end of summer in the Northern Hemisphere that includes the Dog Days of Summer. The eighth month of the modern calendar, August has thirty-one days.

In the original ten-month Roman calendar, August was the sixth month (with 30 days) and was originally named Sextilis. In 8 BC, the Roman Senate rewarded Octavian Augustus a month in his honor. The founder and first emperor of the Roman Empire, Octavian Augustus, selected Sextilis, which under the Julian calendar was the eighth month with the addition of January and February. An additional day was tacked on to August to balance the total days in the year.


Best known for its hot and humid days, August lures people to pools and beaches to cool off before schools begins at the end of the month—or the beginning of September.

 

August’s birthstones are the peridot and spinel. Peridot is a semi-precious olive or lime-green stone found in lava flows and veins from the United States to Finland and Pakistan, among others. In shades of pink, red, blue, violet and lavender, spinel is a more recent addition to the August birthstones.

 

Flowers for August are the gladiolus and poppy. The gladiolus is sometimes referred to as the sword lily because of its long, skinny shape. Both flowers are said to reflect strength of character and imagination. 

 

And during these trying times, as we enter the sixth month of the Coronavirus pandemic, strength of character and imagination may be what we need the most.


Check Out a Fun Summer Read!                                                      

Thursday, July 2, 2020

HUCKLEBERRIES - A 13,000-year-old, Pennsylvania Native Bush


My latest novella, Huckleberry Happiness, was recently released. It’s the historical story of a young woman, Emelia Stone, who runs a bakery and her best friend from childhood, Joe Sawicki, who owns an ice company with his brother. Amelia bakes pies from native Pennsylvania huckleberries and buys ice from Sawicki Ice Company. She wants to make a special huckleberry ice cream to enter in the Pennsylvania Railroad’s dessert contest.
 
Huckleberries are edible, small, round berries resembling blueberries. In fact, in some parts of the United States, huckleberries might be called blueberries and blueberries might be called huckleberries, although they’re not the same fruit.

The various species of huckleberries range in color from bright red to dark purple to blue. The purple and blue huckleberries taste sweeter. In addition to humans, many animals enjoy huckleberries, including bears, red foxes, opossum, skunks, squirrels, chipmunks and white-footed mice.


Huckleberry bushes are native to Pennsylvania and stay green all year. A patch, discovered near Losh Run, north of Harrisburg, has two plants that botanists determine are 13,000 years old, older than the Sequoia trees of the West. The gigantic patch sprang from the same plant thousands of years ago as the ice cover was melting. 

Huckleberries also grow wild in many different parts of the U.S. Perhaps this is why the huckleberry inspired many different phrases dating back to the 1800s.

Because huckleberries are small, the word “huckleberry" was often used as a nickname for something small, unimportant, or insignificant. Scholars believe this was the meaning Mark Twain had in mind when he named his Huckleberry Finn character. People at that time would have understood that “Huck" Finn's name was a clue that he was a small boy who was of a lower class than his companion, Tom Sawyer.

MY FAVORITE PASSAGE:

  Emelia jabbed furiously at the mixture inside the bowl with her pastry cutter. How could her very own sister abandon her without an ounce of misgiving? Couldn’t she have waited until the end of the month and, at the very least, earned her pay before leaving the bakery?
       Joe watched her work, his hands shoved in his pockets. “Are you trying to kill the lard…or is it the flour that has you so riled?” He peered over the rim of the bowl.
       “Be careful,” she shot back and gave him a lethal glare that would stop a rattlesnake from making a fuss. “This place is armed with sharp knives.”

Sunday, June 14, 2020

JUNE has busted out all over!


June has busted out all over. With all the wet stuff falling from the sky, the month has lived up to the phrase, “Rain in June is a silver spoon.”

The landscape centers and greenhouses are stuffed with trays of flowers and potted plants. My neighborhood is a kaleidoscope of flowerbeds, filled with marigolds, petunias, dianthus, and other vibrant blossoms  Even my frosted ferns have sent up fiddle heads that have unfurled into leafy fronds, ’though not as high and lush as in other years.

In the wisteria beside out backdoor deck, the robins have hatched three little ones and are busy feeding them. This year we have a robin's nest in the rhododendrons and bushes on four sides of our house. Here is a little one that fell into one of our buckets and was rescued by my husband. 
And speaking of birds, my feeders with sunflower seeds, mixed songbird seed, and Nyjer seed are emptied each day. The pesky, unruly grackles, perching in the adjacent treetops and singing their creaking, grating songs, have found a way to balance upside down on the suit cake and try their best to devour it before the woodpeckers.

I’m especially proud of my bucket garden which is thriving. It’s a work in progress. I’m learning the ropes and have my fingers crossed. We already have lettuce and parsley.  

What do I miss most about the month of June? The sweet smell of new mown alfalfa or clover drying in the farm fields.  Maybe it’s time to take a ride into the countryside nearby to find a hay field and get the repetitious, famous lyrics of Carousel by Rogers and Hammerstein out of my head:  just because it’s June, June, June!

Before I forget, HUCKLEBERRY HAPPINESS 
                                                             releases on the 24th as well. 
                                                     PREORDER:  https://tinyurl.com/y9q7lr33


Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Bucket Gardens in May


"It's May, it's May, the lusty month of May
That lovely month when everyone goes blissfully astray
It's here, it's here, that shocking time of year,
When tons of wicked little thoughts merrily appear."
                Lusty Month of May - from Camelot
Despite the snow, despite the rain, May is the time when those with a bit of farming gene in their blood start thinking about spring gardens as they sit in their recliners in the evening and pour over stacks of seed catalogs. They are anxious and ready, and they know there is magic in the month of May. Soon it will be planting time and the excitement of growing vegetables and flowers is as exhilarating today as it was for their ancestors centuries and centuries ago. Seeds are united with soil, sun, air and water to create the miracle of life.

This year, I’ve convinced my husband into making me a bucket garden stand from two-by-four lumber. It consists of two-levels of raised shelves where five-gallon, plastic buckets—filled with soil, seeds, or plants—stand above ground to make gardening simple and easy. I’ve added a picture here, but it’s not my stand.

I’m pondering what plants I want to grow, but I know for sure that two buckets will be filled with tomato plants, one will be a basil plant, and another will be seeded with yellow squash. Since mine is an eight bucket stand, I have time to come up with some other choices, including one bucket that may be filled with flowers. I can’t wait to smell the soil, stand in the sunshine, and get some dirt under my fingernails. As soon as our creation is finished, I'll be sure to post a picture.

Now, all we have to do is chase this rainy, cold weather away, and let the lusty magical month of May arrive with all its blossoms, bird songs, and beauty.  

Coming June 24th - HUCKLEBERRY HAPPINESS 
                        Other books can be found on my Amazon Author Page