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“Bookshops are the most valuable destination for the lonely, given the numbers of books that were written because authors couldn’t find anyone to talk to.”
–Alain de Botton
is a valentine to booksellers and a testament to the power of love and the mysteries of fate and happenstance. It has a lot of ground to cover.
In the midst of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, unconventional debutante Lucy Hathaway risks her life to save a baby girl, raising the orphan as her own while running The Firebrand, a bookstore that caters to suffragettes and free thinkers. Five years later, fate throws her into the path of Randolph Higgins when she discovers the scarred, bitter, divorced man believes his baby died in the fire. She realizes Maggie, the child she saved that terrible night, is his lost daughter.
Now the conservative banker and the fiercely independent Lucy must deal with each other for Maggie’s sake. Despite the resulting clash of wills and differing political views, the powerful attraction that drew them together five years earlier still exists. Can these two stubborn, opinionated people find a way to create a family for the sake of Maggie, risking their own battered hearts?
I would love to meet you! Please mark your calendar for these upcoming events:
1 October 2010 – Poulsbo WA
- Chocolate and Wine with Romance Authors: Susan Wiggs, Sheila Roberts, Kimberly Fisk, and Julia Templeton
- Kiana Lodge, Poulsbo, WA
- Ticket Price: $25.00
- Join Susan Wiggs, Sheila Roberts, Kimberly Fisk and Julia Templeton at Kiana Lodge to support your library! An evening of chocolate, wine and words in a romantic setting. Discuss their writing styles, careers, and stories for an unforgettable evening of fun.
- Click here http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/109614 for tickets and more information.
11-16 October 2010 – Seattle WA
- “The Novel: LIVE!” event to benefit literacy. 36 authors. 6 days. 1 blockbuster novel. For more info please see Words4Women-subscribe.
Firehouse Veggie Chili (adapted from www.marthastewart.com)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 bell pepper, chopped
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 1 jalapeno pepper, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 pound dried lentils, rinsed
- 1/3 cup tomato paste
- 1 (15-ounce) red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 (15-ounce) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 stewed (28-ounce) tomatoes
- 1/3 cup chili powder
- 4 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
- salt & pepper to taste
- toppings of your choice–sour cream, chopped green onions, cheddar cheese, etc.
In a large pot, warm the oil. Saute onion, green and red peppers, carrot, jalapeno pepper, and garlic. Stir in 7 cups water, lentils, tomato paste, kidney beans and pinto beans. Add stewed tomatoes, chili powder, cumin and pepper flakes. Bring to a boil; cover and simmer until lentils are tender, about an hour. If the chili starts to dry out, add hot water as needed. Season with salt and pepper, and serve immediately with toppings and corn bread.
When the peaches are this good, you don’t need a fancy scone recipe. Just this one. I’m posting it here because I can never find mine but I can always search my blog. Bon appetit.
- 2 cups flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick cold unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup plain Greek yoghurt (Fage), buttermilk or sour cream
- 1 egg
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Mix flour, 1/3 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Chop butter into flour mixture.
- Whisk together yoghurt and egg until smooth.
- Stir yoghurt mixture into flour mixture and form dough into a ball.
- Place on a lightly floured surface and pat into a circle about 3/4-inch thick. Sprinkle with coarse sugar. Cut into 8 wedges; place on a cookie sheet (preferably lined with parchment paper). Bake until golden, about 15 to 17 minutes.
Okay, listen up. This is one of my most asked-for recipes so here goes. Sorry about the uninspired title of this post, but it makes it more findable when I search.
You can substitute any summer fruit you like–rasperries, strawberries, blueberries, nectarines…all your faves. I used peaches because this batch was amazing, from an orchard in Oregon.
Shortcake Recipe …kind of adapted from www.foodnetwork.com. I decreased the salt and increased the sugar, and used all butter, added the plain yoghurt because I didn’t have half and half, and suggested the romanov sauce. Changed the oven temp, too. So sue me.
- 2 cups flour
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup tablespoons butter, chilled
- 3/4 cup plain yoghurt or half and half
- Melted butter to brush shortcakes + coarse (demarara or however you say it) sugar
- Faux Romanov sauce
Heat oven 400 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Cut in butter and shortening. Mix in half-and-half. Form cakes about the size of your palm. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake for 15 minutes or until brown. Cool and eat with summer fruit and Romanov cream.
Recipe: Faux Romanov Cream (healthier than the real thing, which involve creme fraiche which you probably don’t have anyway). I don’t have a photo because it was slurped down so fast.
- 1 cup Greek style nonfat yoghurt (like Fage brand)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 tablespoon Cointreau, triple sec or some other orangey liqueur.
Whisk everything together and serve over shortcake and fruit.
So the lovely and talented Lindsey has made something for you. A downloadable, print-outable reading group guide, with a favorite recipe. Because we all know that a book club meeting without food is like a day without sunshine, eh? Enjoy!
My book club has trouble staying on topic. It’s such a great time to get together with friends. The one thing that excites us, though, is a really great read, one we can’t stop talking about. This fall, I convinced my gang to adopt When Autumn Leaves by Amy S. Foster for an upcoming meeting. I adored this debut novel and want to make all my girlfriends read it. I’m also excited about Tell Me Something True by Leila Cobo (yes, THAT Leila Cobo). Interesting that both Leila and Amy have strong, strong ties to the music industry. Look them up and see what I mean.
I would love to hear about your book group. What are your meetings like, do you get in cat fights, are Cheetos involved, what?! Inquiring minds want to know. Post in comments below.
Nothing fancy, just a nice recipe for something called Irish Soda Bread, which has nothing to do with Ireland but it’s simple and delicious, so here you go. If you’re like me, you don’t keep buttermilk around so use yoghurt or cream or something, and a squeeze of lemon.
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons butter
2 eggs, beaten, optional
1 1/4 to 2 cups buttermilk (use more if you omit the eggs)
1 cup raisins or currants, soaked in hot water
Combine dry ingredients. Cut in butter, add eggs and buttermilk. Stir in raisins. Knead a few times and let rest 10 minutes. * Shape into an 8- or 9-inch round. Score top with a knife in the shape of a plus sign. Place in 9-inch cast-iron pan and bake at 375 degrees until top is brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes. Remove and cool on rack.
Serve toasted with butter. Try it with a wedge of sharp cheese and a bit of hard-smoked salmon. Good luck!
Speaking of luck, I have written several books about Ireland because I love it there. I love the people and their history and heritage. Irish Magic and Irish Magic 2 are anthologies written with some of my favorite writers–Roberta Gellis, Morgan Llywelyn, Barbara Samuel. The Mist and the Magic takes place in Tudor Ireland. And the late, great Dancing on Air will be republished this year with a new title: At the Queen’s Summons. Good luck with that, too!
Three things I’m grateful for:
1. The Internet, for enabling foreign publishers to inquire about translation rights to my books. I’m also grateful to my foreign rights agent and publisher for following up on each inquiry. Thanks to these connections, I’m going to be published in a bunch of new foreign countries.
2. My favorite Italian food site, by Deborah Mele, with recipes like Winter Minestrone and links to Italian pottery.
3. Sweet videos like this, a global performance of “Stand by Me.” First seen (I think) on Bill Moyers Journal. Be sure to watch to the end. Four minutes of fun!
What are you grateful for right now?
I love my readers. I love the honest and heartfelt posts they leave on my message board. Like this one:
I just wanted to let Susan know how her recipe for “Morning Muffins” couldn’t have come at a better time. My son was diagnosed with Leukemia in September of 07. One of the side effects of all that chemo is constipation. Which is one more complication that we could do without. Your muffins took away that potentially serious problem (also tasting great!). He also has Down Syndrome so it is even more important for him to “move” things out! I shared one of those muffins with one of my sons nurses and she was amazed at how well they worked. She even commented to me later that she thought about my “Magic Muffins” when a few days later another patient was having to take even more drugs to try to help alleviate her constipation.
I’m so grateful that I found that recipe! I’ve made it so many times that I know it by heart. Thank you for putting recipes in your books!
In honor of Anne and her son, here’s the recipe. You can tweak it any way you like, substituting craisins or dried cherries, sunflower seeds, etc. I like to add craisins and grated orange or lemon peel sometimes. Enjoy!
Morning Muffins from the Sky River Bakery (from Snowfall at Willow Lake)
1-1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup ground flax seed
3/4 cup oat bran
1-1/2 cups brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup vegetable oil
2 cups peeled and shredded carrots
2 apples, peeled and shredded
1/2 cup raisins or currants
1 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix flour, flax seed, bran, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, eggs, vanilla and oil. Add to the dry ingredients. Fold in the carrots, apples, raisins and nuts. Fill prepared muffin cups 2/3 full with batter.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.