Friday, April 30, 2010

Weekend Recipe: Texas Toast!

Honoring my sojourn to TEXAS, here's a little snack to spice up your weekend. Enjoy!

2 Servings Prep/Total Time: 15 min.


2 tablespoons butter, softened
4 slices French bread (1 inch thick)
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
Chopped green onions or parsley, optional

Spread butter over bread. Sprinkle with garlic powder and cheese. Place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 400° for 5-7 minutes or until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with onions or parsley is desired. Serve warm. Yield: 2 servings.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wild Rose Press Writers Retreat--Bandera, Texas, here I come!

Howdy! Sorry to miss Monday's Places I've Been. I'm waiting on the pix of the mud bath I took last weekend, (honest!) so be patient LOL (Remember my Wine Jacket Posse...well, we took a sojourn to a spa...but that's another blog...)

Right now, my imaginary spurs really are jiggling. I'm doing last-minute shopping and laundry so I can pack up for TEXAS! My publishing house is holding a writers retreat an hour out of San Antone on a real ranch, the Silver Spur, with real cowboys, horses, and rodeo. When I got the invitation, there was no keeping me away! Looks like I'll be staying in the Wild Bill Hickok cabin. Can't get any mow cowgirl than that!

Stay tuned, of course, for my pictures and accounts of my adventure.

In the meantime, here are some pix I lifted from their website.

With Lone Star temps in the 80's (we're full of gloom and fog here at home...) I'll likely be needing a dip in the pool after a long stretch of creating.

Most of all, I get to cross something off my Bucket List. I'll be learning how to ride a real honest-to-goodness horse!

See ya'll soon.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Weekend Recipe: Concord Grape Jelly

Yes, the Concord grape was developed and grown in Concord, MA. In fact, the company made and provided schools with a terrific video depicting a restless eenaged Louisa May Alcott on the Fourth of July that Henry David Thoreaou set up cabin-keeping at Walden Pond. Other characters were, of course, her mom Abba, Waldo, Nathanal Hawthorne. Oh, I miss that movie. (Thanks to Epicurious for the recipe.)

Yield: Makes 6 or 7 (1/2-pint) jars

Active time: 2 3/4 hr
Total time: 1 day (includes time for flavors to develop)

Use Concords at their peak for kid-friendly sweetness, lovely floral notes and a thick consistency.


5 lb Concord grapes, stemmed
5 cups sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Special equipment: 7 (1/2-pt) canning jars with lids and screw bands; a boiling-water canner or an 8- to 10-qt deep pot; an instant-read thermometer; a food mill fitted with fine disk


Sterilize jars:
Wash jars, lids, and screw bands in hot, soapy water, then rinse well. Dry screw bands. Put jars on a rack in canner or deep pot and add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, covered, then boil for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, leaving jars in water. Heat lids in water to cover by 2 inches in a small saucepan until thermometer registers 180°F (do not let boil). Remove from heat, leaving lids in water. Keep the jars and lids submerged in hot water, covered, until ready to use.

Cook jam:
Chill 2 small plates (for testing jam).

Slip skins from grapes and purée skins with 1 cup sugar in a food processor, then transfer to a 4- to 6-quart wide heavy pot. Stir in lemon juice, peeled grapes, and remaining 4 cups sugar and boil over moderate heat, stirring frequently and skimming foam, until pulp is broken down, about 20 minutes. Force jam through food mill set over a large bowl. Discard remaining solids. Return jam to pot and cook at a slow boil, skimming foam occasionally and stirring frequently as mixture thickens to prevent scorching, 35 minutes, then test for doneness.

To test jam, remove from heat, then drop a teaspoonful on a chilled plate and chill 1 minute. Tilt plate: Jam should remain in a mound and not run. If jam runs, continue cooking at a slow boil, testing every 5 minutes, until done, up to 25 minutes more.

Seal, process, and store jars:
Drain jars upside down on a clean kitchen towel 1 minute, then invert. Ladle jam into jars, leaving 1/4 inch of space at top. Wipe off rims of filled jars with a clean damp kitchen towel, then top with lids and firmly screw on screw bands. Put sealed jars on rack in canner or pot and add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, covered, then boil 10 minutes. With tongs, transfer jars to a towel-lined surface to cool.

Jars will seal; if you hear a ping, it signals that vacuum formed at the top of cooling preserves has made lid concave. Remember that you may or may not be around to hear that ping (some jars make the sound after you remove them from water, and others in same batch may take a few hours); the important thing is for jars to eventually have concave lids. Preserves will thicken as they cool.

After jars have cooled 12 to 24 hours, press center of each lid to check that it's concave, then remove screw band and try to lift off lid with your fingertips. If you can't, lid has a good seal. Replace screw band. Put any jars that haven't sealed properly in the refrigerator and use them first.

Cooks' notes:
· Let jam stand in jars at least 1 day for flavors to develop. · Jam keeps in sealed jars in a cool dark place 5 to 6 months.

Read More

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Author and the Frog: Mark Twain at Petticoats and Pistols

Hey, don't miss my blog today on Mark Twain at the all-Western romance site, Petticoats and Pistols. Today marks the centenary of his passing on April 21, 1910. And The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County is the one that started his fame going.

Hope to see you there!

What Twain works have you read?

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Shot Heard Round the World...Concord, Massachusetts

Current read: Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, Seth Grahame-Smith


By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.

The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set to-day a votive stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

Spirit, that made those heroes dare
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.

Yup. April 19, 1775. Yet still so real.

And being there, on the North Bridge, seeing the gentle flow of the Concord River...feeling the heroism that still lingers...seeing the Old Manse where Waldo's grandfather watched those first fired shots was a moment to encapsulate in my head and relive over and over.

Oh I loved this poem the first time I read it. Taught it. When a student essayed on the "Conquered" Hymn on a test, I hardly minded.

Forever and ever. Amen.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Christmas for Ransom...available November 5, 2010

Well, if you don't know what to get that special someone for Christmas, the perfect stocking stuffer will be available on November 5, 2010. I'm thrilled to announce the release date for the Lawmen and Outlaws Christmas Anthology, of which my novella Christmas for Ransom is a part.

The happy news arrived in my inbox during our recent vacation to Point Arena! The book will also be available in e-form for those of you with Kindles and iPads.

Mercy me, was I ever excited when the editors at The Wild Rose Press asked me to contribute to this holiday, even more excited to write the story during the last holiday season! Really got me in the mood.

Here's a teaser:

Outlaw "Canyon" Jack Ransom grows a conscience after thieving
horseflesh from a sweet old lady who reminds him too damn much of his own gram-maw.

The deathbed promises he made to her --to live a good life and
learn to read-- have come back haunt him.

Taking a holiday break from the outlaw gang that's been his family for a dozen years, he heads to Pleasure Stakes in West Texas, and hires Eliza Willows, a beautiful schoolmarm, to get himself some learnin'.

Turns out she's the old lady's granddaughter. Believing the handsome cowboy is a "tracker", Eliza hires him to find Granny's missing horses.

Ransom has to decide…
run away or run straight into her arms.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Up in the Air at Point Arena

It's a Bucket List thing...climbing up a lighthouse. I've visited several in my life but none let me up into the tower. Not until Point Arena.

That's where we spent Easter after several days in San Francisco. Yep, hanging out with two of our favorite people. Hubby's sister (well mine too!) and bil, Roberta and Tim who helped us through his cancer ordeal. It was more than significant, more than a miracle, that they were with is on April 8th. His second "birthday". Year #2 of his remission anniversary. Glory hallelujah!

Well, back to the lighthouse. This "smokestack" style light in northern California, first built of bricks and lit in 1870, was devastated by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Hence its modern construction in concrete. It's 115 feet to the top, and I made every single step.

Well, the going up wasn't too bad. I didn't even mind walking around outside at the tip-top. It was the going down that had me white-knuckled and sweating buckets of ice...

But I made it!

One more thing to scratch off my list!
The northern Coast is so glorious, so wild and craggy and full of wind and dreams. There's a ton more to tell about those ten wonderful days but hey, I've got a ton more Mondays left to tell you of places I've been.

Good-night now.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Tidbits is Taking a Spring Break....

He is risen indeed!

Have a blessed Easter, a glorious Springtime, and (if you're a writer...), happy creating!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Weekend Recipe: Russian Easter Bread

In honor of my Russian heritage, I thought I’d share a recipe today for Paska, otherwise known as Easter Bread.

2 1/2 cups bread flour
1/4 cup light cream or half and half
1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoon yeast
1/2 cup raisins and glazed cherries, mixed

Heat milk, half and half and butter till butter melts. Add to
remaining ingredients in the order your machine requires. Add the
raisins/cherries when your machine stops for adding "extras".

Use the dough setting. Punch down. Traditional way to bake is to place dough in a coffee can to make the traditional "top hat" shape to bake, but it also works as a round loaf when baked on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350F., about 25 minutes. Cover top with foil for last 10 minutes if it appears to be browning too quickly.
Will make two small loaves, or one large one.