Visiting the Bakery

When I was a child in the 1950’s, our small town did not have a bakery. Therefore, one of the highlights of a shopping trip to a larger place — we often drove about 25 miles to a sizable town just across the Mississippi River — was a visit to the bakery.

My father liked the French bread in the long, narrow loaf with lots of crust. Depending on the day of the week, we often purchased a stick. (Yes, today I know them as baguettes — but we were neither French nor sophisticated.)

A loaf of Swedish limpa, rich, dark, and round, sometimes came home with us. Potato bread, looking very much like mother’s home-made bread was also an occasional purchase.

Decorated cakes and cookies in the glass case with Danish pastries always deserved a long look. “May we get Long Johns?”

Scents of frosting, fruit, and yeast filled the air and competed with the verbal exchanges of customers and clerks. And a little magic the first time I watched an entire loaf of bread go through the slicer — WOW! That’s how they get the slices even.

When writing about a baker living a century prior to my bakery visits — I skipped the decorated cakes and cookies and concentrated on wheat bread, rye bread, fruit Kuechen, and cinnamon rolls/buns. This apricot Kuechen, baked in a modern oven may have been a special treat on the table in fictional Elm Ridge, Illinois.

New Dreams, a sweet romance set in 1851, introduces the reader to Louisa and Hans. She’s a baker. And he’s…well, it’s complicated. Check out the book at your favorite on-line retailer. Official release date is March 22! Available for pre-order now.




Holiday Treat

Have you remembered? What other name does February 14 go by?

Tuesday is both correct and not what I’m looking for.

Do you have a Valentine? A spouse or sweetheart? A special person in your life?

Treat them special on this Valentine’s Day. Let them eat cake!

Black Forest Cake makes a special treat – rich chocolate with a hint of cherry. Check at your local bakery.

Or…if you fancy yourself a chef or baker…find a recipe and bake up a surprise.

The heroine in COMFORT ZONE baked the treat for her mother’s birthday — with a test cake for the hero. (He pronounced it delicious.) To learn how more than a cake was involved in the journey to “happily ever after” for this couple check out the book here: The Kindle edition is currently on sale for .99 — that’s less than a dollar!


Feast Day

Our alphabet is nearing an end on November 25. Did you feast yesterday? Did you eat at the home of friend or relative? (A friendly relative is best.)

Were these on the menu?

I’m trying a new recipe with YAMS this year. I hope it turns out delicious and pretty as the picture in the cookbook. (I won’t hold my breath for the second part of that statement.) (Writing this entry before the holiday — so still hopeful.)

In most places, these are available all year long. My favorite way to cook is to bake and eat hot with liberal amounts of butter. I often pair with a piece of chicken or a pork chop. Yum — a feast for anytime of year.

The clean & wholesome romance, HIDING PLACES, features a culinary student as the heroine. How many ways do you suppose she can prepare yams? For a romance with a dash of danger check it out here:


The Color of Fruit

Today, the 15th of November, is time to give thanks to something beginning with the letter “O”.

My choice is ORANGE. You may decide if I’m talking about the color or the fruit.

Do you like the color red? What’s your opinion on yellow? As you probably learned as s child with a paint set — mix them together for orange. Perhaps it was a short time later you were introduced to the “color wheel” the diagram where orange shares the status of “secondary” color with purple and green. Don’t forget the rainbow — with the same colors arranged by wavelength.

Then we have the fruit. It’s pretty much the same color – varying shades and if picked a little early with some green visible. Do you like them large? Or smaller to fit in a petite person’s hand? Seeded or seedless? How much effort to you want to peel?

Having fun with an Octet of Oranges before the first one fell victim to a snack attack!

When photographing a sunrise (or sunset) the heroine in MORNING TRYST pays close attention to the angle of the light. To follow a few of her adventures, check out the clean & wholesome romance. Kindle:


A Basket of Treats

Autumn. Harvest time. The orchard trees bend heavy with fruit.

What do you like to do with a bowl (or basket) of apples?

Is pie your favorite? Or Cobbler? Or Applesauce? Fresh and crunchy? Baked?

One of the favorites when I was a child was a cake. Mother only made it in the fall. And when I was an adult and asked for the recipe… the reply was — their never was a recipe for that cake.

But like the good person she was, my mother gave it her best attempt. So I ask for pardon in advance — all measurements are approximate.

1 cup sugar, 2 eggs, 1 cup cream (heavy whipping cream), scant teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 2 cups flour. Mix by hand, adding dry ingredients to sugar and eggs, then add cream. Batter is thicker than cake mix cake. Pour into greased/floured 9×13″ pan. Top with rows of peeled apple slices — place slices touching but not overlapping. Top with generous amount of cinnamon sugar. Bake at 350 until toothpick in center comes out clean — 40-60 minutes.

For a modern story of a culinary student who finds more than expected in an apple orchard owner — try the sweet romance HIDING PLACES.



Top Reason to Eat Cake

Have you eaten cake recently? Within the last month? Week? Yesterday?

Perhaps you seldom bake. That’s fine. Many restaurants offer cake on the dessert menu. Too full after a meal out? How about a “to go” box?

A cake exists for almost every taste. My brother’s favorite is chocolate. I prefer Angel food. Lemon is a beautiful flavor for summer. Perhaps carrot cake is more to your liking.

Just in case you need a reason…



Friday Treat

Congratulations! You’ve made it to the final day of the modern work week!

During my working years, Fridays were important, but did not always signal the end of the week. That’s the thing about working in health care — it’s one of those 24/7 occupations. More than once, when working on a national holiday, I wondered out loud if we could convince people not to have accidents, heart attacks, or babies for a set time so we could take the day off. Hint: It didn’t work.

So you’ve been good — worked all week — want to treat yourself to something special.

Are you hungry yet? This is Black Forest Cake — perhaps you can find one at a bakery on the way home from work. Or some other flavor of cake. Then this evening — prepare your favorite drink, cut a piece of cake, and settle in with a good book. (If you select Comfort Zone you can read why the heroine makes a Black Forest Cake, why, and who she shares the first attempt.)

Kindle readers:

Nook readers:


Grandmother’s Pantry – O

When the day begins early you need a good breakfast — something with “staying power”

So in the pantry and fridge I began the day with Oatmeal and Orange juice.

What’s for later?

You’ll like it, Grandmother replied. I’m trying something new: fried Oysters with Oregano garnish.

My taste buds danced in anticipation. For as always at the table with such a meal, I’d find:

Olives of two different degrees of tart and Olive Oil to add sass to the salad.


Grandmother’s Pantry – E

In Grandmother’s Pantry I found…. Yes, in the “trunk” version of this game “elephant” and “eagle” were common.

Call me fussy — but I don’t care to eat either of those animals. (Okay, I’ve seen the recipe for elephant stew, but really, how many people are coming to dinner?)

The letter does give us a few other choices. The colorful eggplant comes to mind. I went looking for an eclair, but the supermarket bakery did not have any that day. So once again, I found myself going very conventional.

Eggs, chicken eggs, are a staple in most American kitchens. Good source of protein. Versatile. Boiled, fried, scrambled, or poached they make a fine dish for breakfast, lunch, or supper. And they are in important ingredient in many recipes. This handsome pair ended up next to last Friday’s dates in cookies.

Grandmother’s Pantry – C

What can we find on the shelf that begins with the letter “C”? Can we make a meal?

We have carrots and cucumbers in the fridge. Oh — I see grated coconut in the cupboard. Does the can of clam chowder count twice?

Yes, I’ve settled on a menu. I’ll make a meal of chili, crackers, and cheese — then wash it down with creme soda.

For today’s photo, I reached into the freezer (but this tasty food at various times can be found in a can, or in the produce drawer or garden fresh on the cob.

Yum! Sweet corn is a nice addition to lunch or dinner. I like mine with just a dab of butter.