Saturday, December 24, 2011

Even more cookies

Shortbread cookies are as necessary to Christmas celebrations as a decorated tree, in my humble opinion. I make these every year, as does my mom, as did her mom. Simple, easy, a delicate, vanilla flavoured cookie that's a cinch to roll out and cut in shapes.

Here's the recipe:

Shortbread Cookies
1 cup (two sticks) butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 tsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 300 F.
Cream butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in vanilla. Combine flour, cornstarch and salt, and stir into butter mixture until well blended. Roll dough to approx. 1/8 inch thick (err on the side of thicker), cut in shapes and place on parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes (no colour on edges). Transfer to rack and cool.

These cookies are perfect with a nice hot cup of tea. Or a glass of cold milk. Or a splash of sherry or port. Ooh, the hint of nutmeg in eggnog is a lovely accompaniment to the vanilla in the cookies. And if you put a splash of brandy in the eggnog, you're golden.

Here's hoping that whatever tradition you celebrate, you find joy, peace and love.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Pecan Pie

I visited the family folk this past weekend for an early Christmas celebration. My sister-in-law requested I make a certain pie for after the big turkey feast. This is evidently a very special pie, since it's been about five years since I made it and S-I-L remembered how good it was and wanted MORE. The pie did not disappoint. Rave reviews. So I made another yesterday. The recipe is at the end of this post.

The other reason for the trip north was to fetch the college boy. He is home safe and sound for Christmas. Huzzah!

Pecan Pie with Kahlua & Chocolate Chips (Bon Appetit magazine)
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
1 T. flour
3/4 c. dark corn syrup
1/4 c. Kahlua or other coffee liqueur
1 t. vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 c. chopped pecans
1/2 c. chocolate chips
1 9-inch unbaked pie crust

Preheat oven to 375 F. Beat sugar and butter until smooth, beat in flour. Gradually beat in corn syrup, then Kahlua and vanilla. Mix in eggs, then chopped pecans. Sprinkle chocolate chips over bottom of crust. Pour filling into crust. Bake pie until filling is puffed around edges and just set in center, covering edge of crust with foil if browning too quickly, about 45 minutes. Transfer pie to rack and cool completely. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


I'm declaring that fruitcake is a good breakfast food. First of all, eating fruitcake makes me feel good and puts a smile on my face. How can that be bad for me?

Secondly, fruitcake is loaded with fruit. Mostly raisins and currants. There must be tons of antioxidants in each bite. To say nothing of all that vitamin C preventing scurvy. Scurvy is a nasty affliction.

Thirdly, and lastly, there are nuts in fruitcake. Nuts are a good source of protein. Protein keeps my muscles strong, so I can lift the fruitcake. It's like the circle of life.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Party time

I hosted the Maine RWA holiday party on Saturday. Dang, we are a bunch of good cooks. Casseroles, salads, nibbly bits, desserts, and chocolates.

I ate far too much but I had to try a bit of everything. It was my duty as the hostess. Much like I need to taste-test the dough when I'm baking cookies.

We did a Yankee gift exchange, and even though my first gift was ripped from my hands *giggle*, I came away with a lovely collection of writerly bits and bobs.

The highlight of the afternoon, in my opinion, was the company. We chatted and laughed, and shared the joys and tribulations of being writers.

Friday, December 9, 2011

More cookies!

Today I'm visiting the blog of the lovely and talented Sandra Sookoo and sharing another heirloom cookie recipe, again from my mother-in-law.

In other news, I'm getting the house ready for my RWA chapter holiday party tomorrow. I was hoping to the have the tree decorated, but given the kitten's interest in all things shiny/sparkly/dangly, the ornaments will be confined to the top half of the tree.

I predict the tree will look strange.
I predict a few broken ornaments despite preventative measures.
I predict lots of "Grizzly, NO!" yelling.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

For supper last evening

I made this pork roast. I'm afraid I can't share the recipe. I'm doing some recipe testing for fellow author Carolyn Hughey for her upcoming Romancing the Chef's Toque series. If you want the recipe you'll have to buy the book. :-)

What I will share is that this was scrumptious. The stuffing was addictive - any bits that escaped during the carving were gobbled up by the cook. Not pictured is a raspberry/brandy sauce to accompany the pork. The combined flavours of pork, stuffing and sauce were positively orgasmic.

I've got a couple more recipes to test, which means we're eating really well this week.

Monday, December 5, 2011


‘Tis the season to get fatter, fa la la.

I love the holidays. My tummy loves the holidays. Any hope of sticking to a sensible diet hates the holidays. But since it’s only one month of the year, plus or minus a few weeks, I figure I’m entitled.

I baked cookies today. These pecan fingers are a staple on my holiday cookie plate. I got the recipe from my mother-in-law, Bea, along with her recipe for sugar cookies. Which I also made today. The third batch of cookies was a completely new recipe, one I taste-tested for a fellow author. Scrumptious oatmeal/raisin. Big and soft. Way too good. I may have to eat one right now.

Here’s the recipe for the Pecan Fingers. Use with caution. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Also, I need to find a better camera.

Pecan Fingers

1 cup butter, softened

¼ cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon water

2 cups flour

¼ teaspoon salt

2 cups pecans, finely ground

Cream butter, sugar and vanilla until well blended. Stir in water. Add flour, salt and pecans, mix well. Chill for one hour.

Preheat oven to 250. Form a tablespoon of dough into a log the size of your finger. Place on parchment lined cookie sheet, and bake for one hour. Roll in powdered sugar while still warm.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

This morning

The DH and I walked up to the Junior High School this morning, to the tree and wreath sale that benefits the music program. The tree is gloriously fresh with nary a spilled needle. The house smells lovely.

Oh, and this is NOT a picture of our tree. Ours is up in the living room, but not yet decorated. I want to see what the kitten does before I risk ornaments.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

In the dryer

Long ago, when I was in elementary school, our male orange tabby cat, Chippy, got into the dryer while Mom was doing the laundry. Luckily she heard him yowling after only a few seconds of tumbling.

Over the succeeding decades, none of my cats had a propensity for dryer habitation. Not the Maine Coon, not the white/orange gal, neither of the grey tabbies (one male and one female), and neither of the calicoes.

This is Grizzly, son #1's male orange tabby, helping me with the laundry today. I'm wondering if the desire to sleep in the dryer is a function of his orange-ness.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Glorious fruitcake

I love fruitcake. I always have. To me the holidays wouldn't be correct without certain foods. Shortbread cookies and fruitcake are the most important.

Mincemeat, the real stuff, made with real ground beef, apples and raisins, is almost required. I feel bereft if I go an entire year without tasting mincemeat, but it doesn't spoil the season if I don't make some.

Store bought mincemeat is foul.

Just thought I'd get that out there.

If all you've ever tried is the store bought version, and you say you don't like mincemeat, then I must challenge you to try the REAL mincemeat before you can claim to not like it.

That is all I have to say about mincemeat. Except now I really want some.

Back to the fruitcake. Last evening I assembled all the fruits in a large bowl and poured on the brandy. Brandy makes the fruit happy. This morning I mixed up the batter, combined all the good stuff, and baked it for four hours. Yes, four hours of the gorgeous smell of baking fruitcake.

My mouth watered.

I might be dehydrated now.

Once the cake cooled completely, I poked holes all over the surface and dribbled on more brandy. This is called feeding the cake. Now the cake will sit all wrapped up snugly in its tin, maturing. And getting fed regularly.

I love fruitcake.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Good morning, everybody. I'm hanging out today with Rachel Brimble at answering probing questions, and
Sarah Grimm at talking about tooting my horn.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Coming Undone is here!

Happy dance. My novella, Coming Undone, is available from The Wild Rose Press.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Book Release Eve

Today I'm guest blogging at the lovely internet home of fellow Wild Rose Press author, Nancy Jardine. And I'm giving away a copy of the book that releases tomorrow, Coming Undone.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Time flies

I remember as a kid, probably age 12 or 13, finding out that we were still using some of the stuff my parents got as wedding gifts. And I thought it was weird. All kinds of stuff that wasn’t broken or worn out even though it was so old!

Fast forward a bit.

Yesterday I had to buy a new coffee maker, the old one went kaput. And no, the old one wasn’t a wedding gift. The new one works fine, and is even programmable so once I figure out how that part works I’ll be able to wake up to coffee that’s ready and waiting.

This morning I discovered another feature of the new coffee maker – it turns itself off after two hours. I take longer than two hours to get through a pot of coffee (minus the cup hubby put in his travel mug). I like my coffee to be hot. I needed a receptacle that would keep my coffee hot. So I opened the cupboard over the fridge and pulled out the insulated carafe, the one we got for our wedding, all those years ago. It still works fine.

Sunday, July 17, 2011