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Excitement from diverse places February 6, 2018

For an author to be without words is never a good thing, but AND today I am struggling to find the right words to describe the emotions coursing through me.

 

It started this morning when I woke up grumpy. I’ve been fighting some type of sinus/cold virus for almost a month and I’m at my wits end. I wanted to whine, but didn’t want to subject anyone I love to that self-pity so I cocooned in my room, putting away laundry and trying to pray.

 

When my cell phone started chirping with text after text I grabbed it in frustration, then smiled. A dear friend was announcing the release of her first book. She’s been working on this for quite some time and I’m delighted it has all come together. The multiple texts from other members of our writers group showed all were just as happy. Reports of orders being placed on Amazon warmed my heart and energized me to get dressed and head out the door.

 

It was 10:15 and I wanted to see how many people were already in town for the much anticipated SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket. Growing up during the Space Shuttle program, I admit I grew jaded with the crowds that tromped into town for launch days. Cars clogged the roads and every empty field along the river. Families wandered into the road without looking and causing us locals to be extra vigilant as we went about our daily lives. This morning, though, I reveled in the cars parked along the side of the road and the visitors milling around. I ached to stick around and be a part of this historic day, but work called and I had to get home to get ready.

  

Early birds get the best views

The large building across the river is the Vehicle Assembly Building. Until December there was a boat from Hurricane Irma where this RV now is

Be careful, eager spectators crossing!

By the time I arrived at the office, the launch had been pushed from 1:30 to 2:20 due to upper level winds. I felt a selfish sense of hope that the launch would be scrubbed and rescheduled to tomorrow when I would be home to see it. When the next delay pushing back to 3:45 was announced, again that selfish spirit perked up.

 

As 3:00 approached, I prepared to access the SpaceX livestream. The minutes ticked down and there was no announcement of another delay or a scrub so I chose to hope that all would go well. My pulse quickened when we reached five minutes before launch. I focused on my work until we were just under two minutes then my eyes couldn’t be torn from the video. Steam billowed around the three rockets strapped together and I clasped my hands in front of my face, whispering words of encouragement as if the machine could hear me. 

 

With the last seconds my throat tightened and my breath caught. Would it fire? Would it rise off the ground? Would it explode on the spot or a few seconds into flight? Memories of Challenger gnawed at the back of my mind. The rocket rose higher and higher, three flames of fire blended into one. The excitement of the SpaceX team was tangible as each milestone was ticked off. I watched in awe, knowing how unheard of a successful test flight such as this is. I felt the tears gathering in my eyes and longed to share the excitement with a crowd of like-minded spectators. 

 

The adrenaline has faded away and I think about how long it has been since the American people had a hope for exploration beyond our own planet. We have sent machines to gather data, but we need to send people to experience the outer regions first hand, to provide information only a human can express. Today, was the first step toward sending humans beyond the International Space Station and I feel an excitement that I hope you all can share.

 

In case you missed the launch, you can watch a replay below.

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Memories Created February 20, 2017

Filed under: DIY,Family — itsrebekahlyn @ 7:00 AM
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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.

Tea Table

(more…)

 

Simply Southern April 7, 2016

Pimento cheese sandwiches are one of my favorite simple southern foods. As a child I would sit at the kitchen table watching my grandmother mash up a block of cheese then mix in the mayonnaise and pimentos. When I got older she let me do the cheese mashing and there was something gratifying about it. The sandwiches we made weren’t anything fancy. Sometimes we might toast the bread a little, but this was a simple meal served with an ice-cold Coca-Cola.
The past few years, I’ve noticed a number of restaurants making more gourmet versions of the sandwich. Probably the most unique twist was at the Little Switzerland Cafe, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, where the pimento cheese was served as a dip with grilled French bread and celery sticks. It was so good I wouldn’t mind making the two hour drive back to the cafe for another serving. A few weeks ago, I was in North Carolina taking some time to work on my new book, Virginia, and had the chance to visit a new restaurant in downtown Franklin called The Bowery. It opened last year and I’ve wanted to visit ever since I noticed it during my trip in December.
Once inside, I immediately liked the place. The decor is a perfect balance of elegant and rustic. The booths have high backs, made from boards that look like they were reclaimed from a barn, that provide a feeling of privacy. The chairs were plush and upholstered in a cappuccino suede. Bare light bulbs hung inside simple glass jars. The lunch menu was simple and there were the pimento cheese sandwiches again. One was served with fried green tomatoes and the other came with a bowl of soup. It was a chilly day, so I opted for the butternut squash soup and pimento cheese sandwich, while mom ordered the smoked chicken sandwich with pasta salad.

The Bowery

The Bowery

Our meals arrived quickly and I was impressed with the taste of everything. The soup was creamy and the sandwich was warm, the cheese melted just right. I wish I’d taken a picture, but it looked so good I couldn’t stop myself from digging in. I’m not sure why this simple sandwich is showing up on so many menus, but I plan to enjoy them as often as possible.

 

Not My Daddy’s Shrimp September 11, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — itsrebekahlyn @ 7:15 AM
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I grew up on the coast and I have many fond memories of seafood. My grandfather, Papa, would go to the beach several times a week and come home with loads of fish. One night I devoured eight whiting filets. I was off fish for about a month after that, but they were delicious at the time.

On of my favorite memories is of my dad trying to cook frozen shrimp. Mom worked the night shift at the hospital leaving dad our cook for evening meals. We had a lot of frozen pot pies and fish sticks. I still love a good pot pie. (more…)

 

Winter Wonderland February 18, 2014

Filed under: Baking,Family — itsrebekahlyn @ 8:19 AM
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The first time I saw snow falling was on a high school band trip to Washington DC over Spring break. The cherry trees were in bloom and the weather was beautiful when we arrived. Two days later we awoke to flakes falling outside our windows and kids running down the hotel hallway shouting “It’s snowing! It’s snowing!” (more…)

 

Cooking up Memories December 10, 2012

Filed under: Baking,Family,Tea — itsrebekahlyn @ 11:55 AM
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What is it about fall and winter that make us want to bake? Why do Thanksgiving and Christmas seem to revolve around sweet treats? Maybe its because the weather is turning cooler and it isn’t so dreadful to have the oven running for hours on end. Of course, in Florida, it is still in the 80s and we have to run the air to battle the heat of the kitchen, but it is worth it for the joy of holiday baking.

Image from Amazon.com

Image from Amazon.com

I have many fond memories of Christmas baking with my mom. We would spend an entire day making M&M cookies, Peanut Butter Blossoms, Chocolate Chip, and Lemon cookies. I loved mixing them up, rolling them in colored sugar, licking the bowl clean, but I also loved packaging them up to give to friends and family. These days, between work, writing, and marketing I don’t have much free time, but I decided to make time over the weekend to do Christmas baking.

I subscribe to Tea Time Magazine and the November/December issue is full of wonderful new recipes. I started with the Double Chocolate-Cranberry cookies and Dark Chocolate-Pistachio Toffee. Both of these were incredibly simple and made me nostalgic for those childhood recipes. I found one for M&M cookies, and used mint M&Ms for a more contemporary flair.

Double Chocolate-Cranberry Cookies

On Wednesday, I am going to tackle Vanilla-Sour Cream Tea Bread and Cherry-Hazelnut Scones (if I can find hazelnuts). If these turn out well, I can see them turning up in a future book. If I can find the lemon cookie recipe, I think I will make some of those as well. All of these treats will make a nice gift bag for my friends and coworkers. What are your favorite Christmas treats?

Double Chocolate-Cranberry Cookies

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup salted butter, softened

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup dark chocolate morsels

1/3 cup white chocolate morsels

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup chopped, toasted pecans (I used pistachios)

Preheat oven to 375

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt, whisking well. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine butter and sugars. Beat at high speed with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla extract, beating at low speed until combined. Add flour mixture at low speed until incorporated. Add both dark and white chocolate morsels, cranberries, and pecans, stirring to combine.

Using a levered 1-teaspoon scoop, drop batter 2 inches apart onto prepared baking sheets.

Bake until golden brown, approximately 7 minutes.

Dark Chocolate-Pistachio Toffee

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons salted butter, divided

3/4 cup finely chopped, roasted and salted pistachios, divided

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate morsels

Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat. Spread 1 tablespoon butter in a 9-inch diameter circle on baking mat. Sprinkle 1/2 cup pistachios over butter circle in an even layer.

Coat the inner top 2 inches of a large microwave-safe bowl with 1 tablespoon butter. Place remaining 1/2 cup butter in bowl. Add sugar and water. Do not stir.

Microwave on high until mixture turns very light brown, 6 to 8 minutes.

Immediately pour hot mixture over pistachios, covering nuts in an even layer. (Spread quickly as sugar mixture sets quickly.)

Immediately sprinkle chocolate morsels over sugar mixture in an even layer. Let sit for 1 minute to melt, then spread evenly, using an offset spatula.

Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup pistachios over melted chocolate.

Refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until candy is firm.

When firm, cut into pieces, using a long sharp knife and pressing down.

 

Dad’s First Brownies October 19, 2012

Filed under: Baking,Family — itsrebekahlyn @ 11:55 AM
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It has been entirely too long since I last blogged, but I have been so involved with editing Winter’s End and working with my cover designer, there hasn’t been a free creative moment. However, when my dad announced the other night that he wanted to

The cover for Winter’s End compliments of Laura Wright LaRoache at LLPix.

bake a cake I knew I had to carve out some time to document this moment.  Let me set the scene. When I was a kid, my mom worked the night shift at the hospital and dad was responsible for making dinner at least a couple of those nights. While he was no chef by any means, I have fond memories of him standing three or four feet from the stove and tossing frozen shrimp into a pan of hot grease or pulling out a baking sheet that our frozen pot pies had bubbled over onto. Give the man a grill and he has more success, but he has never in his life tried to bake anything that I am aware of.

Fortunately, I keep a good stock of baking mixes in my pantry in case I need a quick fix without all of the scratch fuss.  I decided it might be better to start him off with something simple and pulled out a box of Ghirardelli brownie mix. He managed to locate the brownie pan with minimal instruction from me, then, he proceeded to ask if he could just mix everything up in the pan. At the time, this gave me quite the chuckle, but looking back it really is a reasonable question. I suppose if it wasn’t necessary to spray the pan so the brownies wouldn’t stick you could mix everything up in there.

Mom and I needed to run to the grocery for some other items and we left dad alone to make the brownies. Five minutes later, he was calling to see where my vegetable oil was. Turns out, the last had been used a couple of days earlier so we added that to our shopping list and returned home. Dad took the oil, finished mixing things up, and figured out how to set the timer on the oven. Forty-five minutes later the house smelled divine and we had gooey, hot brownies.

Dad’s First Brownies

I have to say I am rather proud of my dad for being willing to learn something new. Maybe I can get him to try out some of the recipes I found when writing Winter’s End. I will definitely be sharing some of those in the coming weeks, it just needs to get a little cooler here in Florida to inspire me to cook more.

 

 
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