Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tuesday News—Eating and Writing

Two of my favorite things!

It’s been a good week. No, it’s been a wonderful week. Every day I have a little more energy than the day before, and at least some of that is thanks to all the farm-fresh food I’ve been buying at the local markets. Carrots, beets (tops and bottoms), new potatoes, and eggs from happy chickens. And lots of fresh herbs from my own potted herb garden.

This week I also bought a pot with five nasturtiums, already flowering. I still have to transplant them into their own pots. If you have never tasted a nasturtium, you must try one. Sweet and delicious, and such a pretty addition to a salad.

I hope you’ll join me at the Wet Noodle Posse on Thursday. To celebrate summer and the advent of picnic season, I’m blogging about hot dogs condiments.

To give you an idea of just how much more energy I have, I’m rejoining my critique group tonight after a hiatus of more than a year and a half. Let’s hope I can still write!

Until next time,

Monday, June 29, 2009

This Week with the Wet Noodle Posse

This week the Wet Noodle Posse wraps up its salute to fatherhood on Monday and Tuesday. Starting Wednesday, July 1, it’s all about Summertime and the Living is Easy. Please join us!

Monday: Guest blogger Marie Force—“One Magic Moment”

Tuesday: Delle Jacobs—TBA

Wednesday: Introduction to “Summertime and the Living Is Easy”

Thursday: Lee McKenzie—“How Do You Dress a Hot Dog?”

Friday: Noodler New Releases and Q&A—“What’s Your Favorite Summer Drink?”
Have a wonderful week!

Until next time,

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Food for Thought—Farmers’ Markets

This is my last farmers’ market post for this month, although I’ll be shopping at the markets all summer.

Last weekend’s expedition yielded carrots, beets, salad greens, rhubarb, and a jar of wildflower honey. The taste of this honey is practically indescribable. It makes me swoon. I used some to make granola the other day, and it is so good. The granola, that is. I’m not going to share the recipe, though. At least not yet. I’m still experimenting to get the right ratio of oil and honey.

A week or so ago I came across a rhubarb topping recipe in the newspaper. I tried to find a link to it, but I guess the paper didn’t put it online. Too bad, because it’s really, really good. I hope the author doesn’t mind me sharing it with you.

Rhubarb Topping (by Ingrid Vaughan)

3 cups chopped rhubarb
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup Grand Marnier
2 tablespoons finely grated orange rind
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
Put the first 6 ingredients in a pot, bring to a boil, and boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix the cornstarch with 1 tablespoon of water, stir it into the rhubarb mixture, and cook for 1 minute.

Hint: One of those little individual-size bottles of Grand Marnier is exactly 1/4 cup.

I’ve mixed rhubarb with strawberries, apples, etc., but never with citrus. We had it with pound cake for Father’s Day dinner and everyone had seconds. The author said it was great served warm with ice cream, and I will attest that it is. Apparently also wonderful with brownies, angel food cake, and as a topping for cheesecake.

In July, I’ll be posting some luscious recipes for cool summer drinks to serve on the patio or poolside.

Until next time,

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tuesday News

This month the Harlequin American Romance Authors are blogging about settings. Tomorrow (June 24) is my blog day and I’ll be talking about San Francisco—the setting for my next two books. Stop by and find out what inspired those stories.

In August I’ll be posting a series of blogs on Canines with Careers. Watch for more details over the summer.

For now I’d like you to meet Ida, a shepherd-lab cross who is the customer relations manager at one of my favorite little home decor stores. In this photo, she and her bunny are taking a break behind the service desk.

Although Ida is barely past puppyhood, she’s already a wise and gentle soul. She has a playful side, though, and...ah...yes...that’s a little bit of bunny stuffing on the floor by her cushion.

Many thanks to Ida and her mom, shop owner Kristiane, for letting me take this photo.

Until next time,

Monday, June 22, 2009

This Week with the Wet Noodle Posse

Join these Noodlers and guests for the Wet Noodle Posse’s last full week of “Father Knows Best” month:

Monday: Colleen Gleason—topic TBA
Tuesday: Guest blogger Gina Ardito—“Pride and Prejudice: It's Not Just the Tight Pants”
Wednesday: Debra Holland—TBA
Thursday: Guest Kendra Leigh Castle—topic TBA
Friday: Q&A Day
Until next time,

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday Food for Thought—Farm-fresh Caesar Salad

I only made it to one farmers’ market this week but still came home with a big bagful of fresh veggies, including a bunch of carrots with the tops still attached (guaranteed fresh!), tomatoes, cucumbers, a pint of juicy, plant-ripened strawberries, and a head of romaine lettuce.

The romaine made a delicious Caesar salad. I even made my own croutons and dressing. I start by marinating a thinly sliced clove of garlic in about 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil. The longer it marinates, the better.

Cut several slices of french bread into cubes, then heat a tablespoon of the garlicy oil in a skillet and saute the bread in it. The croutons can be seasoned if you like, but I prefer them plain.

Fill a bowl with romaine lettuce leaves that have been washed and torn into bite-sized pieces. Add the croutons and toss.

A traditional Caesar dressing is made right in the bowl over the lettuce, but I whisk mine in a separate bowl and then add as much as I need.

1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
freshly ground black, to taste
4 to 5 drops Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons white vinegar
6 tablespoons garlic oil, minus the garlic
1 egg
3 tablespoons lemon juice
Note: because the egg is eaten raw, I wash the shell with soap and warm water before I crack it open.

Whisk the dressing ingredients together, in the order listed. Pour over lettuce and croutons, and toss. Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.


Until next time,

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Castle—Let’s Hear It for Summer Reruns!

Last month I caught reruns of the first two episodes of Castle and got all excited, thinking I’d have something new (to me) and wonderful to watch this spring. But after those first two episodes, it disappeared. I figured I’d have to wait for the DVD release on September 22. Sigh. Those in charge of television programming are clearly not targeting me.

Just this morning, though, I discovered that this Saturday, June 20 at 9:00 pm, Castle will be back for the summer! They’re starting at the beginning with the first two episodes I’ve already seen, which is fine with me because I loved them that much!

Until next time,

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tuesday News—Author Runs Away from Home

That would me. Last Friday I packed a lunch, my laptop and my work-in-progress, and ran away from home.

This is where I went.

To my friends’ house. Make that cottage. This charming little cottage is in their back yard. I have fallen in love with it, and now I’m convinced that every home needs a cottage. It’s a perfect place for an author—or anyone, for that matter—to escape to. Comfy, cosy and no distractions.

Except the garden. A perfect place to take a break and admire the flower and birds. I was particularly intrigued by the antics of a male hummingbird, who feasted on flower nectar and intermittently flew loop-the-loops over the yard. He only weighed a few ounces, and yet I was a little intimidated.

In spite of some periodic birdwatching, I revised, wrote, and revised some more. Forty pages in all, and it felt wonderful to have such a productive day. I’m getting close to “the end” now, and this was just the impetus I needed to press on.

On Saturday afternoon I teamed up with my good friend and critique partner, Rachel Goldsworthy, to present a writers’ workshop on blogging. It was a lot of fun, we received some wonderful feedback, and we hope to have a chance to do it again.

Until next time,

Monday, June 15, 2009

This Week with the Wet Noodle Posse

This week the Wet Noodle Posse continues its exploration of the "Father Knows Best" theme. Please join us for:

Monday: MJ Fredrick on “Fathers and Sons”

Tuesday: Guest blogger Jeanne Adams

Wednesday: “It’s a Man Thing” with Karen Potter

Thursday: Merrillee Whren—topic TBA

Friday: Q&A Day

Until next time,

Friday, June 12, 2009

Friday Food for Thought—More Feasts from the Farmers’ Markets

I am totally loving summer and all the fresh produce that’s already available. This week’s shopping expeditions to two farmers’ markets yielded:

  • rhubarb (made a rhubarb-strawberry-apple fruit crisp)
  • mustard greens (braised in olive oil with a little garlic and hot sauce—so delicious!)
  • turnips (braised in butter)
  • striped beets (red and white and yummy all over!)
  • Swiss chard (more braising going on)
  • tomatoes
  • English cucumbers
  • mixed baby salad greens
  • red and yellow peppers
  • homemade granola
  • freshly baked bread
  • a bar of handmade Blackberry Bliss soap (heaven scented!)
This woman was selling beautifully arranged bouquets of peonies. So fragrant. I didn't buy one because I have peonies in my own garden but judging by the number of people carrying an armload of flowers, she was doing very well.

And now I'm going to treat myself to a bowl of granola.

Until next time,

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tuesday News

Last week we had a serious heat wave here in the Pacific Northwest, with temperatures soaring to 85 degrees. My potted sunflowers were a lot happier about that than I was. I’m happy to report that the weather is back to normal for this time of year.

I’ve started shopping at local farmers’ markets and my family is dining like royalty on wonderfully fresh, locally grown, organic produce. More about that on Food for Thought Friday.

This Friday I’m running away from home for the day and indulging myself in a solo writing retreat. Check back next Tuesday for all the details, including some photos. I promise you’ll be absolutely green with envy.

On Saturday I’m teaming up with Rachel Goldsworthy to present a blogging workshop for the Vancouver Island Chapter of Romance Writers of America. Guests are always welcome so please drop by if you're in the neighborhood.

Today you’ll find four great new Harlequin American Romances on the shelves. Don’t miss them!

The Chief Ranger
Rebecca Winters

Mommy for Hire
Cathy Gillen Thacker

The Texas Twins
Tina Leonard

Waiting for Baby
Cathy McDavid

Happy reading!

Until next time,

Monday, June 8, 2009

This Week with the Wet Noodle Posse

It’s week two of Father Knows Best month and here’s what the Posse has in store for you:

Monday: Lee McKenzie—“The Men in My Life”

Tuesday: Terry McLaughlin shares a story about a “Father-Daughter Dance”

Wednesday: Maureen Hardegree on “Dadisms”

Thursday: Trish Milburn/Tricia Mills talks about “Keith Mars, Fave TV Dad”

Friday: Q&A Day
Until next time,

Friday, June 5, 2009

Friday Food for Thought—Farmers’ Markets

I’ve been to two farmers’ markets this week, and have to say it’s one of my favorite things about summer. Everything is locally grown, organic and very fresh. Much of it is harvested the morning of the day it goes on sale.

This week I bought red and yellow peppers, English cucumbers, baby salad greens, asparagus, baby bok choy and a bunch of turnips. I also bought delicious herb-and-cheddar focaccia bread and a whole wheat bagette from a small, local bakery.

All week we’ve been eating 100-mile salads, and the baby bok choy made its way into lemon chicken stirfry. The focaccia is long gone. It was so good, I wished I’d bought two.

We marinated some of the asparagus in equal parts olive oil, balsamic vinegar and soy sauce, and grilled it on the barbecue for a couple of minutes. Yum. But this week’s favorite find was the turnips.

The turnips were still attached to their crisp green tops, that’s how fresh they were. I peeled and diced the turnips and braised them in a 50:50 blend of butter and olive oil till they were tender and a little golden on the outside.

Since the green tops looked so lovely, I decided we might as well eat those, too. While washing the leaves, I discovered the tiniest of baby slugs.

A good sign that these veggies were definitely organic.

At first he wasn’t moving, but then I realized the poor little guy had been in the fridge overnight. So I waited a few minutes and, sure enough, he stretched himself to his full length—about one-quarter of an inch—and waved his minuscule antennae around.

I couldn’t bring myself to wash him down the drain, so I took him outside and gently shifted him from the turnip to a dandelion leaf. Then, with a clear conscience, I sliced the leaves into thin strips and sauteed them with a clove of minced garlic in a little olive oil and several dashes of hot sauce. Delicious.

Tomorrow I’ll be shopping again at one of my local farmers’ markets. Next Friday I’ll let you know what I find.

Until next time,

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

More Nature Notes

It’s June, spring is starting to feel as though it’s ready to morph into summer, and flowers and flying insects abound. All this has me turning once again to Edith Holden’s The Nature Notes of an Edwardian Lady, and she has some delightful writings and watercolors for us this month.

June 2nd: Went down to a little stream...Found a great bed of Yellow Irises in Blossom.
Her illustration includes a dragonfly, and just last weekend I caught a glimpse of my first dragonfly of the season.

June 4th: Picked Yellow-Rattle, Pink and Scarlet Clover and saw some Moon Daisies in a field. Gathered Foxgloves.
June 9th: Saw a Painted Lady and a Small Blue Butterfly. Rowan-tree in blossom and Elder-tree.
The name Painted Lady makes me smile.

June 15th: Went to Lowry Crossing to sketch pony and foal.
Her sketch of the pony and foal appear in the July chapter, so you’ll have to come back next month to see it.

Edith cites numerous poems for June. This one is by a poet I’m not familiar with, but I love the rhythm and rhyme.

by E. M. Heath

Wreathing honey suckles winding
with the westering sun
Self entwined and twig entangled
bush and briar o’er run,—
What a mass of yellow bloom!
Clustering beads of sweet perfume!
Finger-buds of rose unfurling
Clariontrumps their tips uncurling
Opening to the azure sky
Waxen throats of minstrelsy!
This is pink honeysuckle instead of yellow, and only here for illustrative purposes.

I’m trying to recall if I’ve ever encountered the word “minstrelsy” before this, and I don’t think I have. It refers to a troupe of minstrels, and a clarion is a clear, rousing sound. Both fitting descriptions for honeysuckle of any color, don’t you think?

Until next time,

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Tuesday News—You’re Invited to a Picnic!

This June we're celebrating Harlequin American Romance on the eHarlequin forum and we thought, what would be better than having a virtual picnic—a scrapbook of memories, photos, recipes and your favorite things to do to commemorate America's birthday?

It's your turn! Give us your recipes, what you can't live without at your 4th of July picnic, your most requested item, traditional items on the table, tips for keeping away the bugs, your favorite spots and memories—we encourage pictures—and your favorite books to sit outside and read.

Watch for some of your favorite authors and discover new authors this month as we chatter while sitting on our virtual checkerboard blanket!

And there's an added bonus! You’ll also find an online read—What Happens in Texas by Cathy Gillen Thacker.

I hope someone’s bringing marshmallows!

Until next time,

Monday, June 1, 2009

This Week with the Wet Noodle Posse

June is Father Knows Best month. Join the Wet Noodle Posse as we celebrate the heroes in our lives. Here’s what’s on for this week:

Monday: Introduction to “Father Knows Best” month

Tuesday: Priscilla Kissinger talks about “My Father; My Romance Reading Hero”

Wednesday: Guest blogger Caroline Fyffe asks “Does Your Hero Deserve a Happily Ever After?”

Thursday: Maureen Hardegree shares “Dad’s Favorite Dessert—Pineapple Upside Down Cake”

Friday: Noodler June Releases and Q&A Day
Until next time,