I’m still in the baking doldrums, although I recently purchased a jelly roll pan that I’m looking forward to using. I’ve been busy encouraging my crafty side and nurturing my green thumb as my new escape from writing and editing the past couple of months. You better believe, keeping anything alive in this Florida drought is a real challenge. I thought I had it figured out while my dad was visiting and he set up a drip hose that hit all the scattered pots. Things were going great until he left and the hose stopped dripping in all the right spots. Fixing that’s on my never-ending to-do list. (more…)
Memories Created February 20, 2017
This blog isn’t about cooking, but it does take place in my kitchen, so I hope you’ll pour a cup of coffee (or tea), sit back and enjoy a story.
Traveling in the Clouds July 9, 2015
I had the pleasure of spending my Fourth of July weekend in North Carolina. The weather was 20-30 degrees cooler than
Florida and I basked in every minute of reprieve from the heat. Usually when I go to NC I spend most of the time working on my next book, but this time I only had time to cram in a few hours of work time.
Another Florida friend was already staying with my family and we had made arrangements to drop her off with her sister in Banner Elk, NC on July 2. This should have been about a 3-hour drive, but it ended up being more like 5 or 6 hours. I’m beginning to learn to be wary of anything that says it’s 3 hours. One day I’m going to be on a 3-hour trip and become the next Gilligan! (more…)
Bakingpalooza December 20, 2014
We’ve had almost two glorious weeks of cool weather here in Florida. I’ve enjoyed having the windows open and a fresh breeze drifting through the house. It was on one these lovely days last week that I decided to crank up the oven and do my Christmas baking. I had several recipes I wanted to get through so I started as soon as I finished my coffee and bagel.
My parents have been staying with me since Thanksgiving, so mom offered to run out to the store to pick up a couple of items I didn’t have on hand. While she was out, I made the easy cookies, the ones from a mix that didn’t require anything extra. I found a pumpkin spice cookie mix that I have fallen in love with and I decided to add some chocolate chips. They were the perfect addition and I tucked some of the cookies into a tin for my parents’ drive back to North Carolina.
The house quickly filled with the smells of fresh baked treats. By the time I turned off the oven I had five types of cookies, gingerbread cupcakes, and vanilla-sour cream tea loaves. My kitchen is tiny, so having more than one person working at a time can be tight, but toward the end of the day, mom, dad and I were all working together to clean up the dishes and put everything away.
I hope you have a wonderful Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year with those you love.
Birthdays and Markets August 29, 2014
Sunday was my mom’s birthday so I flew to North Carolina to spend the weekend with her. The moment I stepped outside the airport I was welcomed by a cool breeze and the fresh, woodsy scent that always makes me smile and fills my heart with peace. I inhaled deeply while I waited for mom and dad to arrive from the nearby McDonalds and could feel the muscles in my body unwinding.
There weren’t any real plans for the weekend, but I was looking forward to visitng the Farmer’s Market Saturday morning. I was delighted to find out it was customer appreciation day and there were tons of free samples- garlic cloves, organic coffee, pastries, homemade pesto, homemade soaps, there was even a chance to win $200 worth of fresh produce and a fresh pie of our choosing. Sadly we didn’t win.
My own hometown has been trying to get a farmer’s market off the ground, but with only one produce vendor and a handful of other non-food related booths, it hasn’t gained much traction. This North Carolina market, though, it was what I always envisioned. Knots of people gathered between each booth to catch up the week’s events; multiple farmers with their fresh-picked crops; a table piled high with delicious-looking homemade bread that reminded me of a scene from a French movie; a cooler with fresh, free-range chickens; a table of fresh pastries, a lady with homemade soaps and other bath products, and even flower vendors. We bought some ears of corner and a couple of huge tomatoes before wandering into some nearby antique shops. Looking back now, I’m surprised that I can’t remember any sounds or smells and can only guess my eyes were so overwhelmed all of my other senses were dulled.
That evening I had a yummy tomato sandwhich, and was actually able to tell a difference between this tomato and those from my own garden. I had read that basil is an excellent companion plant and added one to my tomato area. There definitely is a difference.
Making Old Traditions New Again July 7, 2014
With Jessie finally written, edited, formatted, and awaiting launch on July 20, I have started research on my next book in the Seasons of Faith series. A new character began tickling my brain a few weeks ago. He’s a blues singer and I know virtually nothing about blues music so to the library I went.
I didn’t know what exactly to look for, but managed to find a couple of books to get me started. When I was working on Jessie I found simple biographies in the children’s section on Neil Armstrong and Gus Grissom that provided a quick snapshot of information. I found a children’s book on blues and jazz on this trip to the library and again, it gave me a good basic understanding of the roots of both genres and ideas on where to go from there. The next book I started reading was by George Mitchell, Blow my Blues Away. Mitchell’s book is a collection of interviews with African-Americans in the Mississippi Delta region compiled during the 1960s.
I only had time to read one interview before I had to return the book to the library, but I was struck by the discussion of working in the fields, mostly cotton, as well as the home garden, which provided most of the family’s food. As I read, I thought about how the settlers of America had to rely on their home gardens until towns grew and markets could be established. Through the years home gardens continued to fall by the way side and many traditions were lost.
Over the past ten years or so there has been a movement to organic foods and more people are tying to grow their own vegetables. Large cities have started community gardens and those with tiny balconies as well as those with small yards are doing container gardening. Do a search on urban gardening and you will find pages of websites with educational videos and how-to articles.
My grandparents had a garden that grew a bit every year. Even when my grandfather’s health was failing, he still spent time in his garden, perhaps remembering his youth in the fields of North Carolina.I’ve been trying my hand at gardening the past couple of years. I don’t quite have the green thumb by grandparents did, but I am learning.
Last weekend I took some of my fresh tomatoes to a friends’ house and taught them how to make and can salsa. It made me feel closer to my roots, sharing an old practice that is being made new again.