Sunday, 26 June 2022

A Unique Summer Pairing at Picnics: A Keto-Friendly Deviled Egg Recipe and a Spiritual Odyssey Novella by Author Linda Lee Greene...

My friend Carol called me a few mornings ago to tell me she loved my latest two books. I had given her paperback copies of them for Christmas. During the conversation, she mentioned that she and her husband were attending their grandson’s 16th birthday party later in the day. She was making deviled eggs to take along. I said to her, “You’ve given me an idea of a way to use some of the three cartons of eggs stacked up in my refrigerator.” Why I had three cartons of eggs in my refrigerator is another story I will not go into at this time. “Tell me your recipe,” I begged, making the excuse that it had been so long since I had made them that I simply forgot how to do it. Truth to tell, I am paranoid about boiling eggs. It is the reason I have avoided doing it for a coon’s age. And a further truth to tell is that I don’t know that I ever had made deviled eggs, again for the simple reason that boiling eggs terrifies me. I fibbed to her about it though, because no self-respecting female, if she wishes to remain a member in good standing of my particular circle of girlfriends, would ever admit to never having made deviled eggs. Such a thing is positively antithetical to the group’s creed. 

Ever enthusiastic about sharing her recipes with any interested party, Carol spilled forth, “Oh! Well, you have to make my recipe. Actually, it’s my mom’s recipe. Anyway, you will love it. But after you boil the eggs, let them sit in the hot water for a few minutes. And then put them in cold water to cool down before you peel them.” She rattled off the actual recipe. We hung up, and I hurried to my kitchen. 

Carol’s recipe calls for mayonnaise, cane sugar, and white vinegar. I knew right away I would have to substitute those ingredients to make the recipe Keto-with-a-kick-friendly. First though, I had to tackle hard-boiling the eggs. I’ll call Karen and ask her, I whispered in my mind. My friend Karen almost always answers her phone right away. “Quick question! How long do you boil eggs for deviled eggs? It’s been so long since I’ve done it, I forget,” I lied and then pumped Karen as soon as she said, “Hello”. “I boil mine for ten minutes,” she responded. I believed her, because Karen makes deviled eggs rather often. Karen’s membership in our circle is never in jeopardy. “Thanks. I’ll call you later,” I said and hung up. 

I placed a dozen eggs in a pan, covered them with cold water, and set the pan over high heat for ten minutes. And as instructed by Carol, I turned off the flame and let them sit in the hot bath for about five more minutes. I poured them into a colander and then returned them to the pan, covering them with cold water. After about ten minutes, I decided to start peeling the shells off them. I cracked the shell all around an egg and held it under the faucet of cold running water. That darn egg just would not give up its shell. Memories of other failed attempts to peel hard-boiled eggs flooded my mind. An angel of boiling eggs felt sorry for me I guess and whispered in my ear, “Eggs have to be pretty darn cold before they will let you peel them nicely. Put them back in another cold bath, and be patient!” I did as I was told, but not exactly as I was told, apparently, because my second attempt at peeling them was almost as failed as the first. “Okay, I guess you need another cold bath.” I was speaking out loud to the eggs by then. I drained the water of the second cold bath and filled the pan with a third cold bath. That time, I waited a good long time until those darn eggs were good and cold. And wallah! They finally let me peel them. 

A couple of them were a little stubborn, though. They looked like pallid orbs of Swiss cheese by the time I finished manhandling them. There was no way they would show well on the plate. I sprinkled them with a little salt and scarfed them down for my lunch. 😊 


Keto-with-a-Kick Deviled Eggs
12 eggs
¼ cup mayonnaise made with olive oil
¼ cup spicy brown mustard
1 tsp. red wine vinegar
1 packet (o.o7 oz) Stevia (sugar substitute)
Salt and pepper to taste
Your favorite spices, optional
Minced capers for more kick, optional

Boil eggs and peel them as instructed above. Cut each egg in half lengthwise. Scoop out yolks then place in a mixing bowl. 

Arrange whites onto a plate. 

Mash yolks with a fork then add mayo, mustard, vinegar, Stevia, salt, pepper, and optional spices. 

Spoon mixture into whites and enjoy!

Here’s a peek at multi-award-winning author and artist Linda Lee Greene’s latest book, Garden of the Spirits of the Pots, A Spiritual Odyssey. It is a blend of visionary and inspirational fiction with a touch of romance. The story unfolds as ex-pat American Nicholas Plato journeys into parts unknown, both within himself and his adopted home of Sydney, Australia. In the end, the odyssey reveals to him his true purpose for living. The novella is available in eBook and paperback.

Driven by a deathly thirst, he stops. A strange little brown man materializes out of nowhere and introduces himself merely as ‘Potter,’ and welcomes Nicholas to his ‘Garden of the Spirits of the Pots.’ Although Nicholas has never laid eyes on Potter, the man seems to have expected Nicholas at his bizarre habitation and displays knowledge about him that nobody has any right to possess. Just who is this mysterious Aboriginal potter? 

Although they are as mismatched as two persons can be, a strangely inevitable friendship takes hold between them. It is a relationship that can only be directed by an unseen hand bent on setting Nicholas on a mystifying voyage of self-discovery and Potter on revelations of universal certainties. 

A blend of visionary and inspirational fiction, and a touch of romance, this is a tale of Nicholas’ journey into parts unknown, both within his adopted home and himself, a quest that in the end leads him to his true purpose for living. 

AMAZON BUY LINK 


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. Linda loves to hear from readers so feel free to email her.

Sunday, 19 June 2022

Mystery in the Garden by Author and Master Gardener Emma Lane...

For years I chastised myself for the plants that died in my little kitchen garden. Located outside my window, I envisioned enjoying the beauty of the perennial flowers as I sipped my morning tea and ate breakfast. (I gave up coffee years ago.) Year after year I tried many plants and shrubs: roses, coneflower, coreopsis, it didn’t matter what I tried. Even the Bradford tree we planted a few years ago failed to thrive. It hasn’t died yet, but not a healthy branch on it. This story has different characters that all play an important part in the mystery. 

1. Elm trees   2. Spirea shrubs  3. Bearded iris  4. A wild flower called ‘Elecampane,’ an elegant, tall perennial in the sunflower family. They all combine to hint at a solution that should have occurred to me years ago but didn’t. 

Everyone knows of the sad demise of the majestic elm trees. This property, an older home, had stumps in both front and back yard. One of the neighbors suggested they were once the poor dead elms. On the way ‘back forty’ there were piles of huge trunks which we assumed were the elms. 

The kitchen garden was formed in an oval adjacent to one of those large stumps. Chipmunks made happy trails all through and I imagine underneath. They played riotous games of tag visible out my over-looking window. It was such a perfect location to build a garden already growing in my imagination.


Now on the edge, native winterberry, male and female, reside happily with pink spirea, a low shrub, one of the first to bloom in the spring.

An offshoot thrust out from the oval is planted in happily thriving deep purple iris. That's it. Nothing else has survived over the years. The center is full of opportunistic with no redeeming traits. 

I have a fondness for wildflowers and have gathered enough seeds over the years that many thrive around the yard. Enter our last character in the mysterious failure of my kitchen garden. Elecampane colonizes, slowly and non-invasive, but it likes company. I welcomed each and every single one of those graceful and elegant tall perennials as they established themselves in a circle around my non-existent kitchen garden.

As I sipped my tea, with chin in hand, I studied those plants. “Like guardians around the failure of a garden,” my muse whispered. Epiphany is a strange word with unclear meaning in my opinion. However, I do think I had one as I gazed at my poor weedy garden in which nothing much ever grew. That was NOT an elm tree stump.

Recently an enormous walnut tree had had to be removed. I learned the meaning of the word ‘allopath,’ a chemical repellent emitted by the roots of the walnut tree and select other plants. Even after the tree is removed, the chemical will remain in the soil effectively repelling, or even killing most plants that try to invade its perimeter. I knew of that wicked talent. It never occurred to me that an elm. . . .it wasn’t an elm, was it? That stump was clearly something different and more ominous. It was obviously a walnut or some other species with the same ability to deter any invading plant.           

There stood the soldiers (large stalks of elecampane) arranging themselves just on the edge of the bed broadly hinting to me the root (sorry) of the problem. I am not a terrible gardener, just a bit dense. Once I dismissed the idea of that being an elm stump, everything else fell in place. Shew. Now for the solution.           

A willing creator of a mini patio for plants only has just finished placing the last of the concrete blocks. It’s still a work in progress. I need to move the large blue birdbath and more pots of flowers, but at last, I have a kitchen garden. Already I sigh with pleasure at the sight first thing in the morning.



Here is a glimpse into my latest Cozy Mystery. It is the 4th in the Detective Kevin Fowler series.

When is it not fun to be a blond? 

What happens when a blond beauty hits town like a tornado stirring up memories and causing turmoil? Detective Kevin Fowler and his wife, the former Beverly Hampton, owner of the local newspaper, are settling into blissful married life. Although Beverly is sanguine over the demand on Kevin’s time by the good people of Hubbard, she is more than dubious when his duties include the escort of a drop-dead gorgeous female from his past.

There is some concern over the persistent vandalism of residential mailboxes, but an infamous arsonist has decided peaceful but dull Hubbard would make a great place from which to operate. He brazenly locates down the block from the detective and his wife.

What bait and tackle shop in the village has a dual purpose? Kevin ponders why two goons have invaded town shooting at and attempting to kidnap and murder three women. A state patrolman, aptly nick named Rooster, teases Fowler at the riotous scene of a traffic accident where the press, not the police, wins the day.

Another mystery and adventure with a satisfying ending that unfolds in peaceful Hubbard, New York, small-town Americana, where Detective Kevin Fowler keeps an ever-vigilant watch.

Amazon Buy Link

Emma Lane is a gifted author who writes cozy mysteries as Janis Lane, Regency as Emma, and spice as Sunny Lane. 

She lives in Western New York where winter is snowy, spring arrives with rave reviews, summer days are long and velvet, and fall leaves are riotous in color. At long last she enjoys the perfect bow window for her desk where she is treated to a year-round panoramic view of nature. Her computer opens up a fourth fascinating window to the world. Her patient husband is always available to help with a plot twist and encourage Emma to never quit. Her day job is working with flowers at Herbtique and Plant Nursery, the nursery she and her son own. 

Look for information about writing and plants on Emma's new website. Leave a comment or a gardening question and put a smile on Emma's face.


Stay connected to Emma on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to check out the things that make Emma smile on Pinterest.

Sunday, 12 June 2022

This Year, Celebrate Father's Day with a Meaty Treat and a Time Travel Read with the Kids...

This recipe is one for the guys. And I’m sure the fellows on The Last Timekeepers team would wholeheartedly agree. After all, Jordan, Drake, Ravi, and Professor Lucas will tell you that they build up quite an appetite traveling into the past to keep time safe. So instead of settling for something like rabbit stew or salty cookies, these brave lads would rather sink their teeth into a strip of melt-in-your-mouth beef jerky. Plus, this healthy, high-protein snack won’t spoil when you’re traveling to faraway places—like Nottingham in 1214 or Amsterdam in 1942.

Easy to prepare with a prep time of 15 minutes, marinade time of approximately 3 hours, and cook time of 3 hours, you’ll discover making your own beef jerky is not only fun and relatively quick, but also something you can do with your favorite person! You can have your butcher slice the beef for you, or do-it-yourself. BTW—this makes a great Game Day snack or fabulous Father’s Day gift.

 
Hubby’s Homemade Beef Jerky

¾ cup Worcestershire sauce
¾ cup soy sauce
1 tbsp. smoked paprika, or to taste (we use regular paprika)
1 tbsp. honey, or more to taste
2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
2 pounds of beef, top round, thinly sliced

WHISK all ingredients, except the beef, together in a bowl.

ADD beef to bowl and turn to coat the meat completely. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator 3 hours to overnight.

PREHEAT oven to 175° F (80° C)

LINE a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a wire rack over the foil.

TRASFER beef to paper towels to dry. Discard marinade. Arrange beef slices in a single layer on the prepared wire rack on the baking sheet.

BAKE beef until dry and leathery, 3 to 4 hours. Cut with scissors into bite-size pieces, and enjoy!

Since you’ve got 3 hours to do whatever your heart desires, why not check out what those time traveling guys are up to by perusing one of my books from The Last Timekeepers series? Happy eats!
  

The Last Timekeepers and the Noble Slave, Book #3: MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE 

The Last Timekeepers and the Dark Secret, Book #2 Buy Links: MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING - AMAZON - AMAZON.CA - BARNES & NOBLE 
 
The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis, Book #1 Buy Links: MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING - AMAZON - BARNES & NOBLE

Legend of the Timekeepers, prequel Buy Links: MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING - AMAZON - BARNES & NOBLE 

BONUS: Download the free PDF short story The Terrible, Mighty Crystal HERE.



Sunday, 5 June 2022

Moving On with my Writing Life by Author Alicia Joseph...

When I was in college, back in 1998, I took a creative writing course where I wrote two horribly written short stories and some really bad poems. The stories were called The Hideout and The Attic. Apparently, I wasn’t very creative with titles back then.

To this day, I don’t know why I didn’t toss those papers in the trash the moment the semester ended. But not only did those pages make the trip back home with me, they managed to survive a couple decades in a bin with so many of my other failed writing attempts. 

About eight years ago, (damn time flies) I pulled out that dusty bin and went through those old writings. It had been a while since I’d written at that time, and I wanted to get back into it. After all, being a writer was always my dream. Life, with all of its distractions, had pulled me off course for a little while, but I found my way back to it, and I thought past writings was a good place to start. 

Turns out, I was right. 


Even though those old stories were really bad, as I read through them, I found a storyline in each I could build on. I turned The Hideout into a novel titled A Penny on the Tracks that was published in 2017. It’s an LGBTQ coming-of-age story about friendship, loyalty, and the struggles of coming out. The story revolves around two best friends, Lyssa and Abbey, who discover a hideout near train tracks. They spend the summer before sixth grade hanging out and finding freedom from issues at home. But their innocence shatters when the hide becomes the scene of a tragic death. 

As for the other story, The Attic, that one went through many rewrites with two major plot changes and took me two extra years to write. It was frustrating and many times I wanted to give up, move on to another story, but it was contracted. The new name of that book is Annabel and the Boy in the Window. I’m unable to put into words the relief I feel in finally putting that story to rest. 

I am now in the process of revising what was my first attempt at writing a full-length novel that I wrote shortly after graduating college. I had finished it, but as with the short stories, the writing was horrible. 

So, in the bin those pages went. A couple of years back I fished the pages out of the bin. Just like the short stories, I found a storyline I could work with. I hope to be finished with the story my summer. After that, I have two more previous attempts at novels I will look at and see if there’s a storyline in them to work. 

Despite having a drawer full of new story ideas, I can’t leave my old stories behind. They take up too much space in my head. I need them gone before I can fully concentrate on new projects. 

If you’re a writer, do you keep old stories? How do you decide which ones to salvage and which one to let go? I now realize it’s not just old stories I have a hard time letting go. Past relationships, old friendships, cherished memories from a time that can never be lived again, all have a hold on me.

Here is a glimpse into my coming-of-age novel A Penny on the Tracks. I hope you enjoy it.

"When a train runs over a penny, the penny changes form, but it can still be a penny if I want it to be. Or, I can make it be something else." 

Lyssa and her best friend Abbey discover a hideout near the train tracks and spend the summer before sixth grade hanging out and finding freedom from issues at home. Their childhood innocence shatters when the hideout becomes the scene of a tragic death.

As they're about to graduate high school, Abbey's family life spirals out of control while Lyssa is feeling guilty for deceiving Abbey about her sexuality.

After another tragic loss, Lyssa finds out that a penny on the track is sometimes a huge price to pay for the truth.  

AMAZON BUY LINKS




Alicia Joseph grew up in Westchester, Illinois. She has many works-in-progress that she hopes to finish soon. Life permitting.

When she is not writing, Alicia enjoys volunteering with animals, rooting for her favorite sports teams, and playing “awesome aunt” to her nine nieces and nephews.

Learn more about Alicia Joseph on her blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter.

Wednesday, 1 June 2022

Meet YA Author Asa Rodriguez and his Amazing Coming-of-Age Fantasy Series...

Let me introduce myself, dear reader.  I am author Asa Rodriguez.  I find that art and all forms of self-expression are extremely important in life.  And I started this coming-of-age fantasy series about an orphan boy called Ben, because he is learning to discover himself throughout the journey, just like any of us.

#1 IN THE SERIES:  "THE CALL OF THE SHAMAN."

"Ben took a few steps forward and said, “Thank you! What I meant was, how is it possible that you can talk?!”

“What do you mean?? You can talk! Why couldn’t we?!” protested the willow tree.



Q:  In the story, we see Ben struggle so much with himself, perhaps confused about his own journey and who he is.  So, what is the main character's greatest fear??
  
A:  Ben is a member of an indigenous tribe.  He's lost his parents mysteriously, and this has brought him a lot of doubt and anger.  And now, not accepted by his own tribe because they think he's cursed, he's been taken to the White man's orphanage.  He finds himself rejected, neglected, lacking belief in who he is.  We can say he feels lost.  He secretly fears himself, and what he might become, in this sense.

Q:  In the start of the book we find out that a spiritual leader visits the orphanage and employs Ben.  Then we discover who he really is, and he takes Ben on a great journey, which is the beginning of the adventure.  Why is Adit Acharya taking Ben on a journey of self-discovery??

A:  Adit Acharya is a spiritual seeker, guru, and spiritual author.  Adit was the good friend of Ben's father.  And he knows how special Ben is, so he's trying to help him find himself and discover all that he needs to discover about his parents' death.

Q:   What can you tell us about Shadow...??  Shadow is a magical, very unusual creature.

A:  Yes, Shadow is exactly that, a shadow turned to life.  Shadow is Ben's shadow.  And Shadow is the same as Ben in every way, but he is a baby.  A baby in the sense that Shadow is just learning about his own emotions.  Now that he is a living being he feels joy, sadness, excitement, misery, and all these human emotions Ben feels.  

And this is why Shadow is needed by Ben's side, because he represents what Ben truly is.  Shadow is a perfect reflection of Ben--spiritually, emotionally, psychologically.  And if you follow the series, then you can see that Shadow is there in each adventure, best friends with Ben.  

FREE DOWNLOAD:

I've made a serious effort with these following retailers to offer the book for FREE for whomever feels interested. So if you seek a coming-of-age story that brings fantasy and insight, gods and demons, and more, then you will absolutely enjoy this read:

All I ask is that you support me by posting a brief review on Amazon, Goodreads, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, or your blog if you have one.





COMING MAY 31st:

Also, I wanted to take the opportunity to let the reader know that #3 in the series, titled "The Book of 1st Witchcraft," is ready for preorder May 31st.





Where you can find Asa Rodriguez:




Author's website:  https://asarodriguez.com





Sunday, 29 May 2022

The Death of Customer Service by Guest Author Anne Montgomery...


Yep! It's gone the way of the dinosaurs.

Now listen, children, as we discuss a strange phenomenon that existed many years ago. It’s not exactly extinct, but it's so rare today, most people haven’t ever experienced it, save for those of us who are…um…old.

I’m talking about “customer service” which, by definition, is the support a company offers their customers. Support both before, during, and after one purchases a product, which makes being a customer, well, nice.

Once upon a time, kind workers hurried to assist shoppers with their acquisitions and if you called on the phone an actual person – who was generally very sweet – would work hard to help a buyer overcome any problems or concerns.

But somewhere along the way, customer service went the way of the dinosaurs.

“Excuse me sir,” I said holding out a bill that I’d received from AT&T. "I was accidentally charged for two cellphones instead of one, so my bill is double what it should be.” I smiled sweetly.

A long time later, while I watched the gentleman poke his tablet, he threw up his arms. “I can’t help you.”

I then requested to see the manager.

“I’m very busy right now,” the young woman said in a huff. “I will get to your problem tonight after five. I’ll call you.”

Think about it. When was the last time you felt like a company cared about your satisfaction?

Though my first thought was to mention that there seemed to be no unattended customers in the store, I acquiesced. That evening, I waited. No call. So, I returned the next day and the whole scenario replayed itself. I felt like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. I smiled. “You didn’t call me,” I said in my most honeyed voice.

“Yes, well…” she sputtered. “I’ll get to it later.”

I am loath to admit that the not-so-nice version of me began leaking out. “I think you should sit down and we can take care of it now.”

She stared around the room, as if looking for cover. Then, to my surprise, she sat. Still, the outcome was not what I expected. After fussing with her tablet, she called over the first guy I’d dealt with and insisted he would fix the problem. Then she promptly disappeared. I’m not sure what she thought had changed from his inability to help me the day before, still I found myself facing him again.

Finally, with my day slipping by, he stared at me. “You should call AT&T’s customer service line.”

"I don't want to wait on hold. Couldn't you call for me?" I folded my hands and batted my eyes.

He refused.

Now, I’m not the type to get loud or angry in public. After all, I was a sports official for 40 years and, in that capacity, I wasn’t allowed to lose my cool. Still, when I stood and followed him to a payment kiosk, he barked. “You stay six feet away from me!”

I squinted. I was doing my social-distancing due diligence. Did he think I – a little, 65-year-old woman – might kick his ass. (Yes, it occurred to me, but I promise you I did nothing untoward.)

Soon thereafter, my sweetie pie and I were searching the isles at Home Depot. He asked one of the employees for help and the man shouted, “I’m having a bad day!”  After which, he threw his clipboard and stalked away, leaving us to fend for ourselves. Then, one of our favorite restaurants, which we have patronized for years, gave us poorly done take-out and refused to replace it. And I can’t count the hours I spent on hold with Amazon and Social Security and Medicare and Cox Cable, often not connecting with a single human being and getting little or no satisfaction in regard to the issues I called about. "I'm sorry. I can't help you. I'll connect you with someone who can." Then click, you're disconnected after waiting on hold for half an hour and you're forced to begin the whole dreary process again. 

Here’s the thing. All of this pretty much happened in the same couple of weeks.

So, the question is, why are we, the customers, being treated so badly? Companies are shunting their customer service responsibilities as they hide behind technology. “Please listen to this recording as our options have changed.” “Please go to our website.” “We are experiencing very long wait times, so call back later.”

Eieee!!!

Imagine the joy if you got to speak with a real person who actually solved your problem in a reasonable amount of time.

What can we do? Not much probably, though it would be nice to see a website that listed corporations according to their customer-service amenities. Just think, wouldn’t it be lovely to be able to choose companies with which to do business according to their efforts on our behalf? Imagine the joy if a real person answered our call promptly, sincerely listened to our complaint, and kindly rectified the issue in a reasonable amount of time.

Bliss!

Sadly, that probably isn’t much more feasible than bringing the dinosaurs back to life.

Still, a girl can dream.

Here's a brief intro to my latest women's fiction novel for your reading pleasure.


A reporter seeks information on an eleventh century magician and discovers that black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.

In 1939, archaeologists uncovered a tomb at the Northern Arizona site called Ridge Ruin. The man, bedecked in fine turquoise jewelry and intricate beadwork, was surrounded by wooden swords with handles carved into animal hooves and human hands. The Hopi workers stepped back from the grave, knowing what the Moochiwimi sticks meant. This man, buried nine-hundred years earlier, was a magician.

Former television journalist Kate Butler hangs on to her investigative reporting career by writing freelance magazine articles. Her research on The Magician shows he bore some European facial characteristics and physical qualities that made him different from the people who buried him. Her quest to discover The Magician’s origin carries her back to a time when the high desert world was shattered by the birth of a volcano and into the present-day dangers of archaeological looting where black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.

Amazon Buy Link


Anne Montgomery has worked as a television sportscaster, newspaper and magazine writer, teacher, amateur baseball umpire, and high school football referee. She worked at WRBL‐TV in Columbus, Georgia, WROC‐TV in Rochester, New York, KTSP‐TV in Phoenix, Arizona, ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, where she anchored the Emmy and ACE award‐winning SportsCenter, and ASPN-TV as the studio host for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Montgomery has been a freelance and staff writer for six publications, writing sports, features, movie reviews, and archeological pieces.

When she can, Anne indulges in her passions: rock collecting, scuba diving, football refereeing, and playing her guitar.

Learn more about Anne Montgomery on her website and Wikipedia. Stay connected on Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter.

Sunday, 22 May 2022

The Perfect Dessert for Victoria Day Weekend: Cupcake Fantasy by Author Helen Carpenter...

The day was perfect; one of those low humidity, blue sky, breeze-off-the-lake days that made tourists flock to central Florida. Green and yellow tents filled the park and costumes were the attire of choice. Dogs in costumes, babies in costumes, teens in costumes, turtles in costumes; every life form Andi encountered wore a costume.

Her own costume was her usual jeans and boots, topped by a red tank and a red cap to match the red linen covering the platter of cupcakes in her hands. This year the cupcakes were salted caramel apple. The recipe was new and the friends who’d taste-tested had raved over them. They were sinfully delicious and should easily be the best cupcakes in the park.

She’d still baked three batches before she was satisfied. Competition in the Cupcake Wars at the annual Cooter Festival was always fierce.

She signed in, took her number, and walked to the table at the end of the tent. To get to her assigned spot, she had to step around a lumbering turtle. The damp lettuce leaf draped over its shell was only partly a costume. The real reason for the decoration was that the turtles—or cooters as the locals called them—were well cared for and the festival organizers were making sure this one stayed cool.

Andi put the cupcakes and her bag on the table and took her place beside a leggy teen. The girl had crafted sugar lily pads, fairy wings, and miniature frogs to go with her mint and chocolate cupcakes. With their pink frosting and blue polka dots, the cupcakes seemed ready for an impish tea party as she positioned them on a miniature tree-shaped stand.

After Andi finished setting her cupcakes on the upended crystal goblets she’d brought, she walked along the exhibit table to greet the other contestants. The confections were as varied as the bakers. Classic vanilla, red velvet, peanut butter truffle, tiramisu, banana walnut, double maple, pumpkin spice—all mouthwateringly scrumptious and worthy adversaries. With luck the proud presenters would not be sore losers.

When the judging began, Andi took her assigned place and handed out samples to the judges. As her friends had proclaimed, her cupcakes got high marks for taste. But when all the votes were tallied, the leggy teen’s presentation won the blue ribbon.

Andi congratulated the young baker and admired the silky ribbon. Then she distributed the rest of the salted caramel apple cupcakes to the passers-by and packed her goblets. As she stepped past the exhibit table, she hooked her boot around the metal leg and tugged. The table tipped. The teen’s beautiful display landed in the dirt with a splat, icing-side down. The other contestants gasped. The lettuce-draped turtle moved in for a taste.

Andi settled her hat more securely over her hair so her horns wouldn’t show and elbowed her way through the crowd.

There might have been better cupcakes than hers in the park that day. But she didn’t think so.

Sinfully Delicious Salted Caramel Apple Cupcakes


Batter

1 stick plus 1 tablespoon butter, softened to room temperature
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2-3 apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
¼ cup heavy cream
1 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Put ¼ cup apples and 1 tablespoon butter in a bowl and microwave for 1 minute at 50% power to soften. Mash with a fork (lumps are okay). Let cool.

Cream together the stick of softened butter and brown sugar. Blend eggs and vanilla into the creamed mixture. Add the mashed apples and heavy cream to the batter and mix well.

In a small bowl stir together flour, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice. Add to wet ingredients and mix thoroughly. Batter will be thick.

Fold chopped apple pieces into batter.

Line a 12-muffin tin with baking cups. Spoon batter evenly into the cups.

Bake 20 minutes.

Let cupcakes rest in pan for five minutes. Transfer to baking rack to cool completely.

Frosting
1 stick of butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream
¼ tsp. salt
2 cups powdered sugar

Melt butter in pot on stove over medium-high heat. Add brown sugar and heavy cream. Stir constantly until sugar is dissolved. Stir in salt.

Let mixture bubble for 2-3 minutes without stirring. Remove from heat. Stir in powdered sugar and mix until smooth.

Frost cooled cupcakes.

Caramel Sauce
1 cup white sugar
¼ cup water
¼ cup butter
2/3 cup heavy cream

Heat sugar and water in pot on stove over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved and mixture boils.

Let mixture boil without further stirring until it browns to the color of caramel. Add butter and stir until butter is melted.

Remove from heat. Add heavy cream. Stir until the bubbling stops and the sauce is smooth. Drizzle over cupcakes.

Remaining sauce can be used for other recipes.

For additional flavor, garnish cupcakes with a sprinkle of salt.

Makes 12 cupcakes

Once upon a time there was a mother/daughter author duo named Helen and Lorri, who wrote as HL Carpenter. the Carpenters worked from their studios in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like their stories was unreal but not untrue. Then one day Lorri left her studio to explore the land of What-If, and like others who have lost a loved one the magical place lost much of its magic. But thanks to family, plus an amazing group of wordsmiths named Authors Moving Forward (AMF), the magic is slowly returning.

Helen Carpenter loves liking and sharing blog posts from other authors. She lives in Florida with her husband of many years  and appreciates everyday, especially those without hurricanes.

Stay connected on her blog and Facebook.