Saturday, July 4, 2015

More Kind Words

Well, would you look at this! A very nice review of What Took You So Long...

Thank you, Shauna!

For those of you in the Portland area, I'll be signing my books at the Lake Oswego Deseret Bookstore, 15010 SW Bangy Road, on Friday, July 10 from 5 to 8 p.m. It would be great to see you!

Aunt Sophie wanted me to pass on this great idea for a variation on everybody's summer favorite, S'mores:

Find some vanilla or chocolate waffle cones (or some of both) and fill them with a mixture of chopped strawberries and bananas, miniature marshmallows and some chocolate chips or broken Hershey bar pieces. Wrap them in foil and put them on your grill or campfire for about five minutes or so. They're going to be less messy than the flat graham cracker version. What a treat!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Have you read it yet?

Rumor had it that What Took You So Long hit some kind of a best seller list recently. Have you read it yet? If you like a grown-up love story, you'll like this book. When you read it, go to and and put a little review on there so you'll help other readers know what they're getting into.

To celebrate, I fixed a chicken dish for my family that I'm going to share with you. It came from my mother-in-law who raised seven children but was never a confident cook. This proves she was wrong about herself.

First you grease a 9X13 pan. Don't you just love that new pan spray product that makes greasing a pan so easy? I use that all the time. Well, next you spread a cup and a half of raw rice in the pan. It can be white, but I used a mixture of brown and wild rice that turned out great. Then you sprinkle about a cup of shredded cheese on the rice. Next you lay eight boneless skinless chicken breasts over the cheese and season them with salt and pepper. Sprinkle a packet of onion soup mix over the chicken.

Next you pour two cans of chicken broth over that, and then you spoon here and there a can of cream of chicken soup. Although the recipe says to put it in the oven for an hour at 350 degrees, then take it out, add more cheese and cover it with foil for another half hour of cooking, what I did was put the foil on and bake it for two hours at 325. That second layer of cheese is just not necessary.

My timing was off so it was done way before the guests got here, but I took the foil off and left it in the oven on the "warm" setting until they arrived. It was still nice and tender, both the rice and the chicken. I served it with green beans and a green salad and we all enjoyed the meal. You ought to try it.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Trying Something New

My granddaughter Corky likes to come over and cook with me occasionally, and it's a good way to pass along tips and shortcuts that I've discovered over the years. You can tell tell tell, but unless you show show show, things just don't get passed on to the next generation like they should.

We made this unusual Buttermilk Bran Loaf, and it turned out just great so I thought I'd pass the recipe along. It's heavy and moist and delicious, and it doesn't have any eggs in it. Yep--the only moisture is the buttermilk. Here it is.

Heat the oven 350 and oil a loaf pan. Mix 2 cups wheat bran cereal (like All-Bran, but I guess you could use flakes, too) with 2 cups whole wheat flour. Add 1 teaspoon soda, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1 cup brown sugar. Then you stir in 2 cups of buttermilk. That's it. Oh, you can add a cup of raisins if you like, but it's good if you leave 'em out, too. Corky found golden raisins in my pantry and that's what we used. Turned out great. Anyway, let the batter stand in a warm place for half an hour before you scrape it into the pan. Bake 30 to 40 minutes until a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean. This is so sweet and nutty tasting you don't need much more than butter on it when you serve it, although peanut butter would be good, too.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

It's Still Soup Weather

We're having an early spring out here in the West, though a cool snap this week is giving fruit growers some concern about their crops, but I say it's not too late for soup. In fact, you could probably get in to the last of your potatoes you stored over the winter and use up the last of them for this, except if they're Russets. Most people like those for bakers or hash browns, but for me they're too mealy in soup. Suit yourself. As my father used to say, to each his own said the farmer as he kissed the cow.

Back to the soup. It's best to use Yukon Gold or Red for a good creamy soup because the texture is smoother and they get soft and mushy easier, which thickens the soup. Innyhoo, chop up a pot full of those (you don't even have to peel them if you don't want to, but remember that the longer they're stored the thicker the skins get and maybe you don't want that in your soup) and cover them with water. Boil till they're good and mushy, adding some chopped celery and chopped onion too. When it all looks yummy, drop in a cube of butter--the real thing not that one-molecule-away-from-plastic stuff known as margarine.

Be sure to season it with salt and pepper. I use white pepper so people don't think their food has fly specks in it. Potatoes absorb a lot of salt, so be careful not to overdo it in that department. You can add some cream or milk for taste, and if it isn't thick enough already, sprinkle in a little bit of instant potatoes. That's easier than making a cream sauce to thicken it, but you can do the cream sauce if you like.

For a special protein touch, fry up some thick-sliced bacon or chop up some ham. If you're planning to use that, go easier on the salt earlier.

So that's a great spring soup to make before the crocuses are gone and the daffodils all die off. Let me know if you enjoy it or if you have your own special ingredients you like to add to it. I know some people like to throw in a handful of fresh spring peas. That's always good, too. I've been known to dump in a little leftover corn or a bit of shredded carrot. It's all good, but just remember it's potato soup.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Just to Let You Know...

It has come to my attention that What Took You So Long, my new novel now available in paperback and as an ebook on, is also the title of a collection of steamy lesbian erotica. Pretty funny, huh. Just don't get 'em confused. My book already has a five-star review. You can add yours later. It really is a good book--not the typical LDS romance, but a grownup love story.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Listen Up!

If you haven't picked up that new book yet, the story of how John and Lainie got together--it's called What Took You so Long--you'll have a chance to get it and meet the author at a book signing event on Saturday March 21 from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Pioneer Book store, 450 West Center in Provo. She'll be there with two of her writer friends, too. So that's Pam Williams, Janet Jensen and Robin King all at one time in one place. They're going to have some goodies made from my favorite recipes, too, and drawings for prizes. Put it on your calendar. You'll be glad you took some time to go meet all those interesting people.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Another Recipe to Celebrate With

When you get Lainie and John's story book, make up a batch of this delicious bread before you sit down to read. It'll go great with a cup of hot chocolate.

Be sure to let your 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt and your egg come to room temperature before you start. They just work better that way. Oh, and you'd better grate up your 1 cup carrots while you're at it. Wouldn't hurt to chop 1/2 cup maraschino cherries, too. Then they'll be ready to dump in later. Anyway, when you've got that done, heat up your oven to 350 and prepare a 9X5 loaf pan. I like to squirt mine with pan spray and line the bottom and side with waxed paper--ends don't need it. Then the bread comes out of the pan easier. Anyway, whisk the dry ingredients to mix 'em up good--it's just as good as sifting--3/4 cup white flour, 3/4 cup whole wheat flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg. You can even add 1/4 teaspoon allspice if you like the spiciness a little brighter. Then in another bowl mix 1/4 cup melted coconut oil, yogurt, egg, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and 1/4 cup white sugar. Now you can stir in your shredded carrot, the chopped cherries, and 1 cup shredded coconut. I like to use unsweetened--you've got plenty of sugar in this thing already. Mix it all into the flour, dump it in the pan, and bake it 50-60 minutes until you test it for doneness--touch the top to see if it bounces, or stick it with a toothpick, whatever floats your boat. Cool it in the pan on a rack for about 10 minutes, and then take it out and finish cooling it on the rack. When it's cool you can slice it and serve it with butter or cream cheese. Expect rave reviews.

When you try this, let me know how you like it. Sometimes another cook might have another idea for making a recipe even better, and I'm not opposed to suggestions.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Good news...

Don't want to start any false roomers, but just heard that 'What Took You So Long,' is now on shelves at Deseret Book stores, so trot right out there and get it. You can probably get it from Amazon, too, if you like doing it that way, and pretty soon you can even get it for your little electrical reader thingy. It's the story of how John and Lainie got together. You're going to love it. It's always good when you see two nice people finally find their glitch in life.

To celebrate the book, I'm passing along a real fine recipe you'll want to add to your collection. It'll be a special treat on these cool winter mornings. (Some great recipes in the book too. Knew you'd want to know that.)

Heat your oven up to 400 degrees and get your muffin tins ready. This recipe makes 18. Put 2 cups flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a big mixing bowl. Kind of whisk it around so it's mixed together. In a smaller bowl mix 2 eggs, 1/2 cup cooking oil, 1 teaspoon lemon zest, 1 cup milk, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Stir that into the dry ingredients and mix until the flour is moist, but don't overdo it. Then stir in a heaping cup of fresh or frozen raspberries. Scoop the batter into the muffin cups and bake for 18 to 20 minutes. Keep checking so they don't get too brown on top. Cool them on a rack. Mix 2 tablespoons lemon juice with a cup of powdered sugar (you may want to sift it if it's too lumpy) and drizzle that over the muffins. You'll have a hit on your hands when you make these. Let me know how they turn out for you.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

People Are Nice

Since I've been handicapped with the pulled muscle (which happened when I was righteously exercising) I've been the recipient of many kindnesses as people watch me negotiate my way through the world on a wheeled walker. Elegant little contraption--aluminum, adjustable, and stylish now that we added the "ski" sliders on the back. It folds nicely to fit in the car.

Whenever people see me hobbling around on the walker, they hold doors for me, stand by so I can pass, and offer to hold or cary things for me. One friend even offered to clear a crowded hall for me at church, and as a large person with a commanding voice, he could have done it easily. I think he was disappointed when I declined, saying the hall would soon clear and the class wouldn't start without me. In fact, I went through the entire pre-holiday season going to church and special choir practices inching my way along because I'm so stubborn that I won't say "I can't do this." During the Christmas choir fireside performance, I was given permission to remain seated for the entire program--thoughtful choir director.

My friend Donna had a health crisis (she's in her 80s) so I loaned her that walker and now use my four-wheeled version that scoots me around much faster. It has a seat so I can sit in the kitchen and fix meals, and pockets to let me carry things I need, like a book or a bottle of hand lotion, so I don't really miss the other one.

However, I'm quite frustrated at the lack of progress as I go to physical therapy a couple of times a week, come home tired, and don't really notice much improvement. I refuse to think this is My Life from here on. In the meantime, I am sometimes moved to tears by the kindnesses and thoughtfulness of people who smile, hold the door, and say an encouraging word. Maybe being handicapped this way--temporarily, I insist--has its advantages.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Does Color Matter?

I see by the headlines that Oreo cookies are coming out in a new flavor--red velvet. Actually it isn't flavor as much as color that's changing. I've never been able to understand the charm of red velvet food. It doesn't have a distinctive flavor. It's just red. But it's in vogue right now, so I guess that's the point.

Fashions in food come and go, just like fashions in clothes and shoes. When I was a kid, it was all the rage to make layered Jello by setting one color according to the directions on the box, and then preparing the same color, only whipping the dickens out of it until it became airy and pastel, and then layering the two in a parfait glass. My college roommates called it fluffy Jello. Impressive served with a dollop of whipped cream, yes, but beyond the three-minute thrill of eating a non-nutritious food, where do we go from here? Now the trend is only a memory.

If you sit for any length of time and people-watch, you start feeling the same way about stripes. Fashion designers have plagued women now for several seasons with this unattractive fad. I've see horizontal stripes that aren't flattering even on skinny women. What's attractive about dressing like a football referee? Those guys with ample bellies running around on the field should feel embarrassed about wearing a uniform that emphasizes their least attractive feature. Women with infirm hip muscles (read "flabby glutes") should definitely not wear horizontal stripes. Just sayin'...have you seen yourselves walking away? If your Aunt Sophie won't tell you, honey, who will?

Let's hope that as a people we develop the good sense to let stripes go the way of fluffy Jello.

By the way, if you insist on eating those chemically-flavored Oreo cookies, at least get it right. Stick a fork in the frosting to dip them in milk--a lot less messy.

Here's a much better cookie recipe that you may also have to eat with a fork because it's a little bit sticky:

Grease a 9X13 pan and heat the oven to 325. Stir 1 egg and 1/2 cup melted butter into a yellow cake mix. Press it evenly into the pan. Blend 8 oz. softened cream cheese, 2 eggs, 1/2 teaspoon lemon flavoring, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla flavoring, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla flavoring, and 2 cups powdered sugar. When it's nice and smooth, spread it over the layer in the pan. Bake 40-45 minutes until it's firm and a little bit golden brown. Try to wait until it's cool before you dig in. You can also try this using other cake mixes--chocolate, lemon, spice, even red velvet if you want--and adjusting the flavorings accordingly--you know, add some cinnamon or nutmeg if you use a spice cake mix. Lots of possibilities here. However, if you eat too many of these, you should definitely not wear horizontal stripes.