What's Cooking

Cooking

One thing I do and do well is cook. Check out Studly’s waistline if you don’t believe me. Yet it has always frustrated me to read a delicious-sounding recipe and then have to figure out what to serve with it. Beans or peas? Fried or boiled potatoes? To salad or not. You get the idea. We’re not talking rocket science, but a clue or two from those big-buck chefs, whose books I constantly buy, would sure help.

So today don your aprons and grab those skillets because we’re taking a giant step to ease the burden of the overworked woman.

Every month a new menu will be posted. Please feel free to email me your thoughts, suggestions, or your favorite recipes. We’re all in this cooking thing together and might as well help out each other.

October’s Choice

Longtime author friend Catherine Castle is here with a recipe to help make fall a little more festive.

Halloween is coming and lots of people are planning parties. I thought it would be fun to share my recipe for popcorn balls. Most popcorn balls are made using corn syrup, but in our family, we adjusted the recipe since we weren’t keen on how the corn syrup stuck to our dental fillings, especially after a corn-syrup-based popcorn ball pulled out a loose filling.

Additionally, this popcorn recipe brings back memories. The day our daughter was born I had made popcorn balls to take to a Christmas party. Instead of making the party, we ended up in the delivery room. Hubby missed most of the party, but he had the popcorn balls in the car. So, when after her birth, instead of passing out cigars (which he wouldn’t have done since he doesn’t smoke), he passed out popcorn balls to the hospital staff.

This is a simple and fast recipe and was a staple at our house for a long time at Christmas. It’s good other times, too, and will make a sweet treat for any time you need to reward yourself.

Catherine’s Popcorn Balls

¼ cup margarine
4 cups mini marshmallows
5 cups popped popcorn. Don’t use pre-bagged, pre-seasoned popcorn for this. Pop the whole kernel corn instead.

Pop the corn as directed on the package. Set aside each popped batch in a large bowl until you have 5 cups of cooled popped corn.

In a large saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows. Stir until melted.

Pour over the popcorn and stir well to mix.

Working quickly, with lightly greased hands and helpers if you can get them, form the popcorn and marshmallow mix into balls. Let balls cool completely.

Serve right away or store by wrapping each ball in a square of plastic wrap.

Serves: Who knows? It often depends on how much you, or your helpers, can resist eating as you roll them into balls.

While you’re waiting for the popcorn balls to cool, check out Catherine’s romantic comedy with a touch of drama, A Groom for Mama. There’s no popcorn in the book, but there are plenty of laughs.

Beverly Walters is dying, and before she goes, she has one wish—to find a groom for her daughter. To get the deed done, Mama enlists the dating service of Jack Somerset, Allison’s former boyfriend.

The last thing corporate-climbing Allison wants is a husband. Furious with Mama’s meddling, and a bit more interested in Jack than she wants to admit, Allison agrees to the scheme as long as Mama promises to search for a cure for her terminal illness.

A cross-country trip from Nevada to Ohio ensues, with a string of disastrous dates along the way, as the trio hunts for treatment and A Groom for Mama.

 

Buy Now

Amazon | Barnes and Noble

 

Multi-award winning author Catherine Castle loves writing. Before beginning her career as a romance writer, she worked part-time as a freelance writer. She has over 600 articles and photographs to her credit, under her real name, in the Christian and secular market. She also lays claim to over 300 internet articles written on a variety of subjects and several hundred poems.

In addition to writing, she loves reading, traveling, singing, theatre, quilting, and gardening. She’s a passionate gardener whose garden won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club. She writes sweet and inspirational romances. You can find her award-winning Soul Mate books The Nun and the Narc and A Groom for Mama on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, or her blog.

September’s Choice

Carol Browne is an Epic Fantasy author who also works magic in the kitchen. You’ll agree after you try her Blackberry Sorbet. 😊 The kitchen is all yours, Carol.

In the USA, it’s Fall; in the UK, Autumn. Whatever you call it, it’s that time of year for mists and mellow fruitfulness and it’s the fruit that takes centre stage. We harvest an abundance of russet-coloured apples and use them for apple-bobbing and cider. Their colours echo the colours of the leaves. But Autumn has one other iconic fruit and that is the blackberry. It is dark and rich and guarded by thorny brambles, a treasure in the hedgerows that we must take care to harvest. For centuries this fruit has been picked and enjoyed in a variety of ways. It is an ancient source of nutrients and is extremely beneficial to health; the berries’ dark purple colour created by the antioxidants they contain.

Blackberries are an image important to the childhood memories of one of my main characters in The Exile of Elindel. It is strange to think of people picking blackberries for so many centuries. The continuity of this seasonal practice has continued regardless of what else has happened in the world. I myself live in the countryside where the opposite side of my road is entirely hedgerow and as I write this, it is one huge blackberry factory! Strangers have suddenly descended upon us to fill their buckets and baskets with fruit. We won’t see them at any other time of the year. I just hope they leave some for the birds who need them far more than these humans!

I’m sure elves love blackberries too.

Blackberry Bramble Sorbet

900 grams (4.5 cups) blackberries
1 whole lemon, with peel, chopped, remove seeds
1 lemon, juiced
425 grams (2 cups) castor sugar (superfine sugar in the USA)

Purée blackberries in a food processor. Add lemon bits, juice, and sugar.

Blend until well incorporated. Set in fridge and chill for 2 hours.

Place in an ice cream maker and churn until set.

No ice cream maker? No problem. Freeze the bramble in a metal pan. Scrape and stir the mixture every half hour for 2 – 3 hours to create a fine ice.

Here is a little from my latest epic fantasy, The Exile of Elindel. I hope you enjoy it.

The Exile of Elindel cover

Godwin’s adventures in Elvendom left him a changed man, and now bereavement has darkened his world.

In another dimension, a new Elvendom is threatened by the ambitions of a monstrous enemy. Who—or what—is the Dark Lady of Bletchberm?

And what has become of Elgiva?

Reeling from the loss of their Elwardain, the elves ask Godwin for help.

Transported into a strange world of time travel and outlandish creatures, will he succeed in his quest against impossible odds, or will the Dark Lady destroy everything the Elwardain fought to preserve?

Excerpt

His heart thumping in his throat, Godwin took in all the details of the goblin’s appearance. The creature was probably four feet tall at most and was wearing a sleeveless leather tunic and short leggings over his skinny frame. His arms and legs were hard with thin bands of muscle; sinews moved like taut wires beneath the scant flesh. Godwin fancied that the goblin’s skin had a sickly, greenish tint, but in the firelight, it was impossible to be sure.

The goblin moved in an awkward manner, not upright like a man or an elf, but slightly stooped and with bent knees, as though on the verge of pouncing. The dome of his head was as bald and smooth as a pebble, and his very long, pointed ears were attached on either side like those of a lynx. His large eyes glittered like wet malachite and between them a long, sharp nose protruded with all the aesthetic attributes of a small parsnip.

The goblin’s large eyes widened as they swivelled in Godwin’s direction, making his stomach curdle in fear and revulsion.

“Only two of you, then?” said the goblin with a smirk. “Not much of a challenge, is it?” He beckoned with his sword and others of his kind began to creep into the circle.

Godwin glanced around. There were six more of them, each carrying a sword of a curious design, the blade like a thin, metal spiral with a very sharp point. A visceral fear welled up inside him at the sight of these weapons, but he didn’t know why.

Buy Now

Amazon

Carol Browne was born in Stafford in the UK, and raised in Crewe, Cheshire, which she thinks of as her home town. Interested in reading and writing at an early age, Carol pursued her passions at Nottingham University and was awarded an honours degree in English Language and Literature. Now living and working in the Cambridgeshire countryside, Carol usually writes fiction and is a contracted author at Burning Willow Press. Being Krystyna, published by Dilliebooks, was her first non-fiction book.

Stay connected with Carol on her website and blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

August’s Choice

Linda Lee Greene is an author friend who is also a noted artist. Another of her passions is creating and cooking new recipes. The one we feature today is especially close to Linda’s heart. It was one of her grandmother’s favorites to make for the family.

PEACH COBBLER

Lena’s Peach Cobbler

The Peaches
5 peaches, peeled, cored, and sliced*
1 cup sugar
¼ tsp. salt

Add peaches, sugar, and salt to a saucepan. Stir well to combine. Cook on medium heat for just a few minutes—until the sugar is dissolved and juices are drawn from the peaches.

Remove from heat and set aside.

*(If using canned or glass jar peaches in an amount of about 1 quart, skip the above step)

The Batter
6 tbsp. butter
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
¾ cup milk
Ground cinnamon to taste

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Add butter to a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Place the pan in the oven while it preheats, to melt butter then remove pan from oven.

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a medium-sized bowl. Stir in milk until just combined. Pour mixture over melted butter and smooth to an even layer.

Spoon peaches and juice (or canned/glass jar peaches, if using) over batter. Sprinkle cinnamon generously over the top.

Bake for about 38-40 minutes. Serve warm topped with a scoop of ice cream, if desired.

GUARDIANS AND OTHER ANGELS

I didn’t inherit my grandmother’s prowess in the kitchen but once in a while, I catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror, and I see fleeting fragments of her in me. I did inherit her affinity for storytelling. I hear her colorful depictions of local gossip so clearly in my mind’s ear. She was also a prolific writer of delightful and informative letters, the greater number of them penned during the Great Depression and World II. Many of them are transcribed in, and form the spine of, Guardians and Other Angels, my novel of historical fiction, based on the true story of three generations of my family. And of course, my formidable grandmother is a key figure of it.

One review of the novel states: “5 stars…Wonderfully Written! This was a thoroughly enjoyable book. I loved the Americana. [It] reached out and touched my heart, mind and soul. [It] provided tremendous insight into what many American families endured during the first half of the 20th century. It captures you and draws you in. This is most certainly a five-star novel.”

Read more on AMAZON.

Lee Greene

Multi-award-winning author and artist Linda Lee Greene describes her life as a telescope that when trained on her past reveals how each piece of it, whether good or bad or in-between, was necessary in the unfoldment of her fine art and literary paths.

Greene moved from farm-girl to city-girl; dance instructor to wife, mother, and homemaker; divorcee to single-working-mom and adult-college-student; and interior designer to multi-award-winning artist and author, essayist, and blogger. It was decades of challenging life experiences and debilitating, chronic illness that gave birth to her dormant flair for art and writing. Greene was three days shy of her fifty-seventh birthday when her creative spirit took a hold of her.

She found her way to her lonely easel soon thereafter. Since then, Greene has accepted commissions and displayed her artwork in shows and galleries in and around the USA. She is also a member of artist and writer associations.

Visit Linda on her blog and join her on Facebook.

May you enjoy all the days of your life filled with laughter and seated around a well laden table!

Sloane

July’s Choice

Our friend Ann Druetzler is an amazing cook who creates delicious recipes with just a few ingredients. Her easy tomato tart is just one example. Your guests will love this appetizer. Be sure to include this recipe in your summer meal plans. Add a crunchy salad, crusty roll, and dry white wine for a complete lunch or dinner.

Ann’s Fresh Tomato Tart

1 frozen deep-dish pie crust
1½ cups mozzarella cheese, grated
4 – 5 Roma tomatoes
¾ cup fresh basil, snipped
4 cloves garlic, chopped fine
¾ cup mayonnaise
½ cup parmesan cheese, grated
½ cup asiago or Romano cheese, grated
¼ tsp. white pepper*

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Place a cookie sheet in the oven to heat.

Use a fork to poke a few small holes on the bottom and sides of the pie shell. Place shell on hot cookie sheet. Bake 8 minutes. You only want to set the shell so it’s not soggy when you add the filling.

Remove just the shell, not the cookie sheet. It needs to stay hot. Sprinkle ½ cup mozzarella across shell bottom.

Cut tomatoes into thin wedges, scoop away loose seeds and gel. Lay wedges over cheese in a tight pattern of your choice.

Combine all remaining ingredients in a small bowl. be sure to include the remaining mozzarella. Spread mixture evenly over tomatoes.

Bake tart for 30 minutes or until it starts to brown and bubble.

Allow to cool a minute or two and then cut into slices to serve.

* No need to buy white pepper if you don’t have it. White pepper is stronger than black so use a little more black pepper to gain the same result.

May you enjoy all the days of your life filled with good friends, laughter, and seated around a well-laden table!

Sloane

June’s Choice

There are two ways to make and serve this delicious salad that boasts all the colors of the Italian flag. Both are easy and have the same great flavor. It all depends on the presentation you wish to use.

Caprese Salad

Caprese Salad

Plated Caprese Salad
2 tomatoes, sliced ¼ in. (.64cm) thick
8 oz. (225g) mozzarella cheese, sliced ¼ in. (.64cm) thick
2 tbsp. (30ml) olive oil
Salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
6 fresh basil leaves*

Alternate slices of tomato and cheese on either individual salad plates or a small platter. Drizzle on oil. Sprinkle salt and pepper across the slices.

Wrap basil into a tight roll. Starting at the tip and working across the basil, cut into thin circles. This is called chiffonade. Sprinkle the chiffonade over the salad and serve.

*Use a sprinkling of dried basil if fresh isn’t available. The taste won’t be quite the same, but the salad will still be good.

Caprese Salad in a Bowl
½ pint cherry tomatoes
1 cup (113g) small fresh mozzarella balls
2 tbsp. (30ml) olive oil
Salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
6 fresh basil leaves*

Slice tomatoes and cheese in half then place into a bowl. Drizzle on oil. Sprinkle salt and pepper over salad. Toss gently.

Wrap basil into a tight roll. Starting at the tip and working across the basil, cut into thin circles. This is called chiffonade. Sprinkle the chiffonade over the salad and serve.

*Use a sprinkling of dried basil if fresh isn’t available. The taste won’t be quite the same, but the salad will still be good.

May you enjoy all the days of your life filled with good friends, laughter, and seated around a well-laden table!
Sloane

May’s Choice

Enjoy a Little Spice ala Catherine Castle
Mandarin Orange Spice Tea that is.

I don’t know about you but I love hot teas, especially when the weather is chilly. I have a whole cupboard full of teas. I’d like to share a spiced tea recipe I developed.

Years ago, in the 60s, Tang—the orange juice of the astronauts—put out a spice tea recipe using Tang (a powdered orange juice drink) and instant tea. Instant tea was a favorite of my mother-in-law’s. She served it all the time. I can say with absolute certainty that instant tea isn’t my favorite cup of tea, but when the Tang spiced tea recipe came on the scene, it wasn’t bad. Probably the sweet, orangey flavor of Tang made the difference. Back then my husband and I drank Tang all the time because it was much cheaper than real orange juice and we were on a tight budget.

As the years have gone by, Tang, which is full of sugar and off my diet now, is no longer an option for spiced tea. So, I came up with this spiced tea flavored with mandarin orange juice and warm spices.

Here’s my by-the-cup recipe that serves 1 in 3 easy steps. It, too, goes great with cookies and a good book read beside the fireplace. If you need to cut the sugar, substitute an artificial sweetener, or leave it out if the real juice makes the tea sweet enough for you.

Mandarin Orange Spice Tea (by the cup)

1 black tea bag
3 mandarin oranges, juiced
1/16th teaspoon ground cloves
1/8th teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon sugar

Place the teabag in a cup and add boiling water. Steep 3 minutes, less for a weaker.

Remove tea bag and then add the mandarin orange juice and spices. Stir well to mix spices into the tea.

Grab a copy of Catherine Castle’s award-winning sweet romantic comedy, A Groom for Mama, a blanket, and settle into your favorite reading spot for an excellent cup of tea and a great read.

Here’s a peek to further induce you.

One date for every medical test—that’s the deal. Allison, however, gets more than she bargains for. She gets a Groom for Mama.

Beverly Walters is dying, and before she goes she has one wish—to find a groom for her daughter. To get the deed done, Mama enlists the dating service of Jack Somerset, Allison’s former boyfriend.

The last thing corporate-climbing Allison wants is a husband. Furious with Mama’s meddling, and a bit more interested in Jack than she wants to admit, Allison agrees to the scheme as long as Mama promises to search for a cure for her terminal illness.

A cross-country trip from Nevada to Ohio ensues, with a string of disastrous dates along the way, as the trio hunts for treatment and A Groom For Mama.

Buy Now

Amazon

Multi-award-winning author Catherine Castle has been writing all her life. A former freelance writer, she has over 600 articles and photographs to her credit (under her real name) in the Christian and secular market. Now she writes sweet and inspirational romance. Her debut inspirational romantic suspense, The Nun and the Narc, from Soul Mate Publishing, has garnered multiple contest finals and wins.

Catherine loves writing, reading, traveling, singing, watching movies, and the theatre. In the winter she loves to quilt and has a lot of UFOs (unfinished objects) in her sewing case. In the summer her favorite place to be is in her garden. She’s passionate about gardening and even won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club.

Learn more about Catherine Castle on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook (20+) and Twitter (21). Be sure to check out Catherine’s Amazon author page and her Goodreads page. You can also find Catherine on Stitches Thru Time and the SMP authors blog site.

May you enjoy all the days of your life filled with good friends, laughter, and seated around a well-laden table!

Sloane

April’s Choice

from Chris Pavesic

Is there anything better than homemade sweet and salty caramel corn? Not only does it taste delicious, the aroma that fills the air when you are cooking it is heavenly.

Baked Carmel Corn

Baked Caramel Corn

Nonstick cooking spray
24 cups air-popped popcorn
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine
2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
½ cup light or dark corn syrup
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 250°F.

Coat bottom and sides of large roasting pan with nonstick spray. Place popped popcorn in roasting pan.

In saucepan, slowly melt butter. Stir in brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Heat to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil without stirring 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in baking soda and vanilla.

Gradually pour over popped popcorn, mixing well. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

Remove from oven, and cool completely. Break apart and store in tightly covered container.

Why not try one of the books from Chris’s LitRPG series The Revelation Chronicles while you enjoy your popcorn treat?

In Starter Zone Cami kept herself and her younger sister Alby alive in a post-apocalyptic world, facing starvation, violence, and death on a daily basis. Caught by the military and forcefully inscribed, Cami manages to scam the system and they enter the Realms, a Virtual Reality world, as privileged Players rather than slaves. They experience a world of safety, plenty, and magical adventure.

In the Traveler’s Zone magic, combat, gear scores, quests, and dungeons are all puzzles to be solved as Cami continues her epic quest to navigate the Realms and build a better life for her family. But an intrusion from her old life threatens everything she has gained and imperils the entire virtual world.

Time to play the game.

Traveler's Zone by Chris Pavesic

Above the tree line floats an airship close to three hundred feet long with a slightly rounded wooden hull. Ropes attach the lower portion of the ship to an inflated balloon-like aspect, bright white in color with an identification symbol, a red bird with white-tipped feathers extended in flight, inside a round yellow circle in the center of the canvas. The deck is manned with archers and swordsmen. There are two sets of fore and aft catapults.

What I don’t see are cannons or any other type of a gun large enough to account for the sound of the explosion.

The ship pivots in the air, coming around to point directly at what looks like an oncoming flock of five large birds. Or creatures. They are too big and too strange looking to be birds. They drift closer, flapping their wings.

A moment passes before I realize that they are not creatures either. They are some sort of gliders. A person hangs below each set of the feathered wings, which flap and move with mechanical precision in a sky washed out by the morning sun.

The archers nock their arrows and aim at the flock.

The gliders draw in their wings and dive toward the deck, covering the distance in a few heartbeats. Most of the arrows fly uselessly past the attack force and fall like black rain from the sky. The archers aimed and released the volley too late.

The forward catapult releases a torrent of small rocks at the lead glider. It is a scatter-shot approach that proves effective. There are so many missiles that it is impossible to dodge them all.

But at the moment the stones strike, the other four let loose with fireballs. Spheres of crackling flame spring from their hands, glowing faintly at first and then with increasing brightness. The balls of fire shoot from their hands like bullets from a gun and fly toward the ship, exploding. Pieces bounce off the hull and fall to the ground, throwing hissing, burning globs of magic-fueled fire in all directions, setting everything they touch aflame.

Buy Now

Amazon | Smashwords

Want to learn more about The Revelation Chronicles? Click HERE for updates on this and the other series by Chris. Watch the video on YouTube.

Chris Pavesic was a fantasy author who lived in the Midwestern United States. She loved Kona coffee, steampunk, fairy tales, and all types of speculative fiction. Between writing projects, Chris most often enjoyed reading, gaming, gardening, working on an endless list of DIY household projects, or hanging out with friends.

Learn more about Chris on her website and blog.

Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and her Amazon Author Page.

March’s Choice


from Sharon Ledwith

Ready for some comfort food? I bet you are! So, let’s go with a fan favorite – PIZZA! Not just any pizza, but one so extraordinaire you’ll toss all those take-out menus and never order in again. The sauce is superb and flavorful, and is worth adding the numerous ingredients. This pizza is perfect for game night and gatherings on those cool or damp days at your vacation or stay-cation home. Now that’s Amore!

Pizza Extraordinaire

Pizza Extraordinaire

SAUCE
1 – 6 oz. can tomato paste
6 oz. warm water (110° F/45° C)
3 tbsp. Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tsp. garlic, minced
2 tbsp. honey
1 tsp. anchovy paste
¾ tsp. onion powder
¼ tsp. dried oregano
¼ tsp. dried marjoram
¼ tsp. dried basil
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
⅛ tsp. cayenne pepper
⅛ tsp. dried red pepper flakes
Salt to taste

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Stir well, breaking up any cheese clumps.

Allow the sauce to sit for 30 minutes to blend flavors. Spread sauce evenly over the dough. Add any of toppings you like.

CRUST
2¼ tsp. active dry yeast
½ tsp. brown sugar
1½ cups warm water (110° F/45° C)
1 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. olive oil
3⅓ cups all-purpose flour
Vegetable or olive oil

Use a large bowl to dissolve yeast and brown sugar in the water. Let sit for 10 minutes.

Stir salt and oil into the yeast solution. Mix in 2½ cups of flour.

Turn dough out onto clean, well-floured surface, and knead in more flour until the dough is no longer sticky. You may or may not use all of the remaining 1⅓ cups of flour.

Place dough into a well-oiled bowl and then cover with a cloth. Let dough rise until double, approximately 1 hour. Punch down dough and then form it into a tight ball. Allow the dough to relax for a minute before rolling out.

Preheat oven to 425° (220° C).

If you are baking the dough on a pizza stone, you may spread the sauce and add your favorite toppings on the dough, and bake immediately. If you are baking your pizza in a pan, lightly oil the pan, and let the dough rise for 15 or 20 minutes before topping and baking it.

Bake pizza until cheese and crust are golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes.

While you’re enjoying your slice of mouth-watering, made-to-order pizza why not put your feet up and relax on the couch with a good book? May I suggest a visit to Fairy Falls, or if you’re feeling really adventurous, a trip back in time with The Last Timekeepers? Whichever you choose, I assure you that either series will take you on a journey far away from the chaos and problems of your world.

Here is a brief intro from Book 2 of my Fairy Falls series.

The only witness left to testify against an unsolved crime in Fairy Falls isn’t a person…

City born and bred, Hart Stewart possesses the gift of psychometry—the psychic ability to discover facts about an event or person by touching inanimate objects associated with them. Since his mother’s death, seventeen-year-old Hart has endured homelessness, and has learned ways to keep his illiteracy under wraps. He eventually learns of a great-aunt living in Fairy Falls, and decides to leave the only life he’s ever known for an uncertain future.

Diana MacGregor lives in Fairy Falls. Her mother was a victim of a senseless murder. Only Diana’s unanswered questions and her grief keeps her going, until Hart finds her mother’s lost ring and becomes a witness to her murder.

Through Hart’s psychic power, Diana gains hope for justice. Their investigation leads them into the corrupt world threatening Fairy Falls. To secure the town’s future, Hart and Diana must join forces to uncover the shocking truth, or they risk losing the true essence of Fairy Falls forever.

Buy Now

Amazon

Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/YA time travel series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, and the teen psychic mystery series, MYSTERIOUS TALES FROM FAIRY FALLS. When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, exercising, anything arcane, and an occasional dram of scotch. Sharon lives a serene, yet busy life in a southern tourist region of Ontario, Canada, with her hubby, one spoiled yellow Labrador and a moody calico cat.

Learn more about Sharon Ledwith on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook (20+) and Twitter (20), Goodreads, and Smashwords. Look up her Amazon Author page for a list of current books. Be sure to check out THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS TIME TRAVEL SERIES Facebook page (20+).

May you enjoy all the days of your life filled with good friends, laughter, and seated around a well-laden table!

Sloane

February’s Choice

My niece JJ is an excellent and creative cook. This past Christmas she gave me a roll of garlic herb butter that is to die for. Not only is great on cooked steak and veggies, it’s delicious spread on crackers and fresh bread. Of course, I had to make another batch right after the holidays because we devoured her amazing gift in a flash. I am confident you and yours will like this recipe, too.

Herb Butter

Garlic Herb Butter

½ cup butter at room temperature
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp fresh rosemary or ½ tsp. dried, chopped fine
1 tsp. fresh thyme or ½ tsp. dried, chopped fine
2 tbsp. fresh parsley or 1 tbsp. dried, chopped fine

Cream butter in a medium-sized bowl with a spoon. A handheld mixer works too.

Stir in garlic and herbs until just blended.

Tear off 6 – 7 inches of wax paper. Lay butter about 1½ inches from the edge. Use your fingers to shape into a log about 1 inch thick. Cover log with that bit of extra paper and roll, shaping the log as you go. After butter is wrapped, twist the ends tightly.

Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.

Herb butter lasts 2 weeks in the fridge and up to 6 months in the freezer.

Oregano and basil are excellent replacements for rosemary and thyme.

May you enjoy all the days of your life filled with good friends, laughter, and seated around a well-laden table!

Sloane

January’s Choice


from Chris Pavesic

January is National Soup Month. Since I live in the Midwest, I have created a vast collection of recipes to ward off those northerly winds that attack us from Canada. This one is hearty, delicious, and healthy. Hard to beat a trio like that. Add a crusty roll, salad, and your favorite beverage to create a superb lunch or dinner.

Kale and Butternut Squash Minestrone

Kale and Butternut Squash Minestrone

1 tbsp. olive oil
¾ cup diced onion
½ cup thinly sliced celery
2 cups butternut squash, peeled (reserve rest of squash for another time) cut into ½ inch cubes
1 can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can no-salt-added diced tomatoes
3 cups water
¾ tsp. dried rosemary
¼ tsp. salt or to taste
⅛ tsp. black pepper or to taste
2 cups coarsely chopped kale leaves (lightly packed) stems removed
4 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oil in soup pot/Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and celery; cook and stir 5 minutes or until onion is softened.

Stir in butternut squash, beans, tomatoes, water, rosemary, salt, and pepper in a Dutch oven. Cover and bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes.

Add kale. Cover and cook 10 minutes or until tender.

Ladle soup into bowls and then sprinkle with cheese.

Why not read a good book while you enjoy your soup? May I suggest one of the books from my LitRPG series The Revelation Chronicles?

In Starter Zone Cami kept herself and her younger sister Alby alive in a post-apocalyptic world, facing starvation, violence, and death on a daily basis. Caught by the military and forcefully inscribed, Cami manages to scam the system and they enter the Realms, a Virtual Reality world, as privileged Players rather than slaves. They experience a world of safety, plenty, and magical adventure.

In Traveler’s Zone magic, combat, gear scores, quests, and dungeons are all puzzles to be solved as Cami continues her epic quest to navigate the Realms and build a better life for her family. But an intrusion from her old life threatens everything she has gained and imperils the entire virtual world.

Time to play the game.

Traveler's Zone

Above the tree line floats an airship close to three hundred feet long with a slightly rounded wooden hull. Ropes attach the lower portion of the ship to an inflated balloon-like aspect, bright white in color with an identification symbol, a red bird with white-tipped feathers extended in flight, inside a round yellow circle in the center of the canvas. The deck is manned with archers and swordsmen. There are two sets of fore and aft catapults.

What I don’t see are cannons or any other type of a gun large enough to account for the sound of the explosion.

The ship pivots in the air, coming around to point directly at what looks like an oncoming flock of five large birds. Or creatures. They are too big and too strange looking to be birds. They drift closer, flapping their wings.

A moment passes before I realize that they are not creatures either. They are some sort of gliders. A person hangs below each set of the feathered wings, which flap and move with mechanical precision in a sky washed out by the morning sun.

The archers nock their arrows and aim at the flock.

The gliders draw in their wings and dive toward the deck, covering the distance in a few heartbeats. Most of the arrows fly uselessly past the attack force and fall like black rain from the sky. The archers aimed and released the volley too late.

The forward catapult releases a torrent of small rocks at the lead glider. It is a scatter-shot approach that proves effective. There are so many missiles that it is impossible to dodge them all.

But at the moment the stones strike, the other four let loose with fireballs. Spheres of crackling flame spring from their hands, glowing faintly at first and then with increasing brightness. The balls of fire shoot from their hands like bullets from a gun and fly toward the ship, exploding. Pieces bounce off the hull and fall to the ground, throwing hissing, burning globs of magic-fueled fire in all directions, setting everything they touch aflame.

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Chris Pavesic is a fantasy author who lives in the Midwestern United States and loves Kona coffee, steampunk, fairy tales, and all types of speculative fiction. Between writing projects, Chris can most often be found reading, gaming, gardening, working on an endless list of DIY household projects, or hanging out with friends.

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