Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Balls, revisited

All right, I'm kind of hard headed sometimes. Really. Very hard headed.

So when I had my first golf lesson, and I hated the whole experience, I got pissed. Really, truly pissed. It galled me, first of all, that every muscle in my body hurt the next day, just from whacking a little ball around a park. Yeah, the golf course looks like a park to me. I know it's unpopular to say that among golfing enthusiasts, but it's the truth. A park. Then, it pissed me off that I looked like such a nincompoop chasing said ball around grassy park. I know I looked like a fool. I could feel it.

So I hired a golf teacher. Is that what she's called? The feisty sixty-something woman who is going to teach me how to whack my balls with finesse?

Whatever you call her, Jane is my new best friend. :)

Friday, May 25, 2007

Weekly lesson--Strawberries!

Yesterday was my afternoon at the bakery. We had strawberries, lots and lots of strawberries...

Nonna's Strawberry Tart

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tablespoons whole milk
1 pint strawberries, hulled and cut in half, plus additional whole strawberries for garnish
fresh whipped cream

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Lightly grease a spring-form pan

Mix together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.

In a separate bowl, beat the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and milk. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and stir by hand. Do not overmix.

Spread the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Press strawberry halves deeply into the dough in a circular pattern.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Serve warm with whipped cream and strawberries.

Nonna's Strawberry Drops

1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup strawberry preserves

Beat butter and sugar until creamy. Add egg yolk & vanilla.

Combine flour and salt then add to butter mixture and mix. Cover and chill for 30 minutes.

Lightly beat egg white with a fork and set aside.

Roll chilled dough into ½" balls and then dip them in the egg white. Roll the dipped balls in the pecans and place on cookie sheet.

Bake at 375° for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and make an indentation in the top of each cookie with the back of a spoon.

Bake an additional 10 minutes. Cool, then fill with preserves.


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Valentine's Day in spring

I don't know if non-writing people realize that writing people think ahead. Really, we do. For example, we haven't even reached the "official" start of summer yet but I'm thinking of Valentine's Day stories. Because really, if I want to offer stories to my readers for the romantic be-all-and-end-all holiday, I have to write them now.

So here I sit, watching daffodils dance outside my window, wondering when I'll first be able to go swimming without feeling my lips turn blue from the cold Atlantic Ocean, and I'm plotting Valentine's stories.

Weird, don't you think?

Sunday, May 20, 2007


Got your attention, didn't I?

Sorry to disappoint but I've got golf balls in mind while I'm writing this. Yes, golf balls. My darling man has decided that we would have a grand old time if we took up golf--together. What could I say? When I wanted him to take ballroom dancing with me, he did it. And when I thought we should try para-sailing, he did it. So golf? I've got to give it a go.

Today was our first official golf date. Who knew that chasing a little white ball around on the grass with a stick could use so many muscles? Who knew? And why on earth didn't they tell me before I agreed to do this crazy thing??!!??

All I can say is I liked driving the little cart. That's it. Just the cart.

We have another golf date on Tuesday. Let's all pray for rain. Golf gets cancelled in the rain, doesn't it? It does...doesn't it? Please, my aching butt, begs you...please say no one golfs in the rain.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

This week's lesson

Let's just say I was baked under the table by a little old lady, okay? In the hot kitchen I wilted while my baking mentor merely glowed. I'm sure I ate more of these cookies than we had left for the bakery racks, but here are the recipes. They're all good...

Sprinkle Cookies


6 eggs5 cups all-purpose flour2 cups confectioners' sugar2 tablespoons baking powder1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder1 cup melted butter11/2 tablespoon almond extract1 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
2 teaspoons lemon zest

1/2 cup warm milk1 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract1 (1-lb) box confectioners' sugarColored sprinkles (jimmies)
Beat eggs until light and foamy, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, sugar and baking powder. Add shortening and extracts. Gradually add beaten eggs and mix until stiff dough forms. Roll dough into 1" balls. Place on ungreased baking sheets and place in preheated 350 degree oven for 12 minutes.
Combine all glaze ingredients in small bowl. Dip warm cookies into glaze, top with sprinkles. Allow to set on wire racks overnight.

Hazelnut Puffs

1 cup softened butter
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, divided
1 tablespoon milk or cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup finely chopped hazelnuts or filberts

Cream butter with 1/2 cup of the confectioners' sugar until light and fluffy. Add milk or cream and vanilla. Mix well, then gradually add flour and hazelnuts. Again, mix well. Chill until dough gets firm, about 30 to 45 minutes.

Shape dough into 1" balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet, then place in preheated 375° oven for 12 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool for 10 minutes, then roll in remaining 1 cup confectioners' sugar.

Thumb Cookies

8 oz. softened cream cheese
3/4 cup softened butter
1 cup powdered sugar
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 tsp vanilla
fruit preserves

Mix cream cheese, butter and sugar until well blended. Add flour and soda; mix well. Add vanilla and pecans and mix well. Chill dough for 45 minutes, then shape into 1" balls.

Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Indent centers; fill with about 1 teaspoon preserves. Bake at 350° 14 to 16 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool on wire rack.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Eight Random Facts

Recently I was "Tagged" by Roxy Harte and Lisa Andel to play a game where you list eight random facts about yourself. Yikes! I've been thinking of it, wondering what facts anyone would find interesting. In the end, I decided they didn't say anything about interesting, did they?

So here they are, in no particular order, my eight random facts:

1. I can't stand the smell of radishes. Yes, they do have a smell. And it's disgusting.

2. In high school I went on a trip to Malta. I loved it so much, I went back for a whole summer after I graduated college.

3. When someone speaks in Japanese, I can understand what they're saying. Sometimes. I took three years of lessons with a tutor, loved every minute of it and wish I could find someone to "practice" with on a regular basis.

4. I juggle. Badly. But still, I have fun.

5. Can't stand checkered clothing. When I see someone wearing those tiny little squares I want to screech, run over and tear the offending garment from their backs. Or fronts. Or wherever they happen to be. But shh! Don't tell anyone that...people might think I'm weird. :)

6. Love to bake. But if you read this blog regularly, you know that already. Yep, I take baking lessons.

7. Love snorkeling. Really, really a lot. So many interesting things beneath the water's surface.

8. Before I die I have to jump out of a plane, at least once. Oh, with a parachute. I've always wanted to feel the sensation of dropping from an enormous height. The whole idea makes me smile, so I'm going to try it someday.

Thanks Lisa and Roxy!! I've had too much fun doing this.

Now, I get to tag eight people to play...

Friday, May 11, 2007

Little Known Fact (Or, what I hide from the world)

One thing that I don't generally tell people is that I take baking lessons. I don't hide this for any particular just seems sort of dull. Baking lessons? Who on earth does that, right? But I have a fab little bakery near where I live. Its owners are an older couple, Italian, and they know all kinds of mouth-watering recipes. I'm fortunate in that I've made friends over the years with them and a few years ago I expressed an interest in learning to bake--something that didn't begin in a box. So I began going there one afternoon a week, usually Thursday or Friday, and baking.

Want to know some of what I've learned? Today we made cream puffs, among other things. Here's the recipe. It's really not hard at all.

Cream Puffs


1 cup water
1/2 cup salted butter
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1 pint heavy cream
1 tablespoon white sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Bring water to a boil. Add butter and return to a boil. Combine flour and salt and add to boiling water. Stir briskly until mixture forms a ball.

Remove from heat and add eggs, one at a time, stirring briskly after each until mixture is smooth.

Drop by heaping tablespoons onto a cookie sheet, keeping "blobs" 4 inches apart.

Bake 15 minutes before reducing heat to 325 degrees F. Bake for an additional 25 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool completely on wire rack.

Whip cream with electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Stir in vanilla and sugar.

Fill puffs with whipped cream.

Drizzle with melted chocolate, if desired, or garnish with chopped nuts. Pistachios look festive and taste great, too!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Hot here

We wait for summer in Maine. I mean, we really, really wait for it. Don't get me wrong, I love winter but I adore summer. When I saw the weather for today a few minutes ago, I jumped. Up and down. Really, like a little kid. Honestly, I nearly kissed the tv screen. But the weather guy, he was kind of...well, let's just say he wasn't my type.

So what does a romance writer do on a hot, sunny day in May? HA! I'll bet you're thinking I've got something slinky to put on, someone hot and hunky to do something wonderfully exciting with, don't you? I do, but probably not in the way you're thinking. Today I'm going to pull on an old bathing suit, grab some frayed shorts and a holey tshirt and take my slobbery little dogfriends and go walk on the beach. During the winter all kinds of crap gets tossed up on the beach and early spring is a good time to go pick some of it up and throw it away. Because really, we only have so much beachfront in the world. Why not do my part to keep the planet clean? Are you doing your part? Hmm?

All right, so that's what I'm doing today. What about you? What are you doing on this hot, sultry day?

Whatever it is you've got planned, I hope you have fun. And if you see rubbish on the ground, pick it up and put it in the trash. Please?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Time lost

ACK!! I seem to have lost some time here. I've been so swept up by the foils of ordinary life that I've neglected visiting with all of you here, and I'm sorry. Mea culpa.

I can't get back lost time but I can tell you what I've been up to. Or at least tell you the fun bits about what I've been doing. Because some of it...well, it was like falling face first into a pile of slush. Ugh. We all have those times in life, though, don't we? The thing that matters is that we get up, swipe the slush from our faces and move forward.

So here I am. Moving forward.

Oh, right, the fun stuff. Well, see that sexy cover to the right? The Summer Scorchers Anthology from Whiskey Creek Press Torrid is going to be released on June 1st, just in time to tickle your fancy and stoke your fires during the long, sultry days of summer. Personally, that cover guy stokes my fires--big time!! My offering in the anthology is a story titled "Vows" and it's about a couple who are in a long-term relationship. A very, very, very long-term relationship. But really, what else would you expect from a couple of sexy ghosts?

I hope you all read it and enjoy it. And please, feel free to drop a note here and tell me what you think of it.

:) Rusty