Thursday, October 30, 2008

Trick Or Treat!

Happy Halloween!

As promised, we've gathered up some links so you can go trick-or-treating at our sites. Costumes are optional; but if you do dress up, please add your picture here in our comments so we can share in your fun.

Since it's my post day, I get to go first.

Come to my Haunted HOUSE for your treat from me. Be sure and scroll all the way down the page so you'll get all the goodies I've set up for you.

Then go next door to Donis Casey's KITCHEN. Before you leave, be sure to leave a comment on her blog. Donis says, "Anyone who leaves a comment on my blog between now and November 8, even just to say, "Hi, Donis", will be entered in a drawing to receive a free copy of my newest mystery, The Sky Took Him, which will be out in January."

On down the street is Margo Dill's LIBRARY. Margo says, er"Stop by my blog for three scary 'book' treats--if you love young adult and children's books, then here's three you can enjoy with or without your kids on Halloween. Plus some activities and discussion points to go with them, including book ideas from the popular TWILIGHT series."

At Lisa Hall's BAKERY, stop by and jot a note to Lisa to be entered to win a copy of her latest book,
Secrets, Lies, and Pies, which serves up a hilarious slice of small town life. While Marlene Prescott is creating sweet treats in her bakery, some ladies in town are cooking up some mean tricks!

Hurry over to Marian Allen's PARLOR. for free stories, recipes and Culinary Chronicles columns. If you leave a comment at Marian's blog, she'll put your name in a drawing to win a PDF of their choice of Southern Indiana Writers anthologies from

Finally, do you dare to stop by Dana Fredsti's Private Eye OFFICE? If you do, and if you leave Dana a comment on her blog, you'll be entered to win a copy of MURDER FOR HIRE: The Peruvian Pigeon.

Have fun!

Halloween Food

With Halloween around the corner, I can't resist sharing some unique recipes.

Okay, I admit that I usually don't mind the gross stuff though creating it in miniature makes it less unappealing it seems. (Photo: Halloween feast, C. Verstraete photo.)

There are some fun Halloween recipes out there, which will give you all kinds of ideas for that next party.

There are tons of cute Halloween cakes you can make. Then there is the gross stuff...

How about the famous Kitty Litter Cake? Supposedly it's good though, gee, bet you can't wait to dig in, right?

Well, I think I found something to beat that. I won't picture it here, as well, it's pretty disgusting.

Curious? Check out this recipe for a Thorax Cake WARNING: Not for the timid or weak stomachs.

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

SEC Football, Pimento Cheese and Chicken Wings!

This coming Saturday, The University of Tennessee Vols will play the University of South Carolina Gamecocks. Now, I'm a UT fan, but if I weren't, I might have to root for South Carolina. It has become a tradition for my husband and I, along with a couple of other friends, to make the trip to Columbia, South Carolina every other year to see our Vols play as the away team. We keep coming back because the hospitality is second-to-none.
Honestly, it is unbelievable how nice their fans are. We wear our Tennessee orange all weekend, and rarely gone anywhere that a South Carolina fan doesn't go out of their way to welcome us to their home turf, and tell us that they hope we're having a great time.
One of the most fun parts of our trip is tailgating before the game with some friends who are South Carolina alumni. I can't post on Fatal Foodies without talking about food! So, let me tell you, the tailgaiting food is awesome! The two most prominent items at any South Carolina tailgait party seem to be pimento cheese sandwiches and chicken wings. The pimento cheese is always homemade, and ALWAYS made with Duke's mayo.
Chicken wing restaurants are quite plentiful in Columbia, South Carolina. Most will offer a huge variety of flavors, from hot and spicy to tangy and sweet.
So, I hope the Vols win this Saturday, but with all the hospitality and good food, I won't be complaining!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sad News For Mystery Readers

I just saw that Tony Hillerman, one of my favorite mystery writers, has passed. Opening one of his books was like using a teleporter: You were instantly immersed in his setting, in the world he was writing about. I've heard long-time Hillerman readers who were reading different books swapping gossip about the characters, ones reading later books telling how relationships were going to develop, ones reading earlier books pointing out clues to character development the later-book reader had forgotten. I couldn't, of course, but I feel like I could find my way around the reservation without a map, just from reading Hillerman's books.

Note for fellow writers: I'm told that, when he sent his first Navaho cop book to his agent, the agent advised him to take all the Indian stuff out of it. I guess the moral is, write from your heart and your readers--and your work--will respond.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

When Not Even Chocolate Makes Things Better

It's October, almost Halloween. Usually my favorite time of the year. But we just lost one of our foster kittens (we took in a year old Mom cat and her four newborn kittens to save them from a shelter in Fresno) to pneumonia and I am so friggin' sad, nothing is cheering me up.

There is a box of See's Candy sitting in our kitchen, a gift from the gal who persuaded us to foster this particular batch of felines. She bought a pound of our favorite See's chocolates (butterscotch squares, dark chocolate truffles, cashew brittles and, for Dave, dark almond clusters) as a thank you for taking in these furry little babies. I love See's Candy. I know I'll enjoy them. But not today. My appetite is pretty much down the toilet, along with my creativity.

Fostering young kittens, especially from crowded shelters, is always a risk. Disease runs through the population and even an URI can be deadly to the fragile immune systems of these babies. We figured with the momma cat nursing them, they stood a good chance; mother's milk gives kittens a certain amount of natural immunity. But three out of the four caught her cold, one of them lost his sense of smell and couldn't find his way to Mom's milk dispenser, so we've been bottle feeding him. I think he's made it past the danger point. Another has an eye infection and we were worried about him this morning...but it was one of our little orange boys who ended up getting really sick in a matter of hours. Fine last night, a little shaky this morning and then, two hours later, deathly ill. The vet did his best...we bought a humidifier and childrens nose drops after the kitten was given antibiotics and fluids...sat for hours with him in the bathroom and thought we'd pulled him through. But he slipped away from us in his sleep a little while ago...looking so peaceful we couldn't tell if he was dead...

I hate this. There shouldn't be things that can't be fixed by See's Candy.


I'm all intrigued about our Halloween Trick or Treat.  I hope everyone gives it a try.  I can't wait to see what sort of treats we all come up with.  I've spent some time thoughtfully rubbing my chin as I try to decide what sort of treat (or trick!) to offer.

In one of my past working incarnations, I owned a Celtic gift shop.  I imported gift items from Scotland, Ireland, and Wales - all the Celtic countries, in fact, which include Man, Brittany, and Galicia.  This time of year is a very big deal for Celtic peoples, for midnight on Oct. 31 is the turning of the year - Samhain, or Celtic New Year, and the origin of our Halloween.  This is the time when the veil between this world and the next is at it's thinnest, and those with eyes to see are able to see right through to the other side, where the dead live.  Some Celtic people would light bonfires on Samhain eve to guide the souls of loved ones, and make lanterns out of hollowed out turnips to lead the dead home for their annual visit.

My husband remembers that every Halloween, his father would dig a pit in back of the house, line it with bricks, fill it with wood, and light what they called a "bonfire", though it was more like a good sized campfire.  The family would sit around it and roast wieners and marshmallows on sticks and stretched-out hangars.  He has no idea where the family tradition came from, but I'm guessing it was passed down through the family from the misty past, for such traditions are remarkably enduring.  So, if you live in the country or don't worry about being fined for building an open fire in your back yard, stretch out those hangars and get yourself a bag of marshmallows, and take a trip into the past with some campfire s'mores.
Put a slab of Hershey bar on top of a Graham cracker,  put a melty-hot roasted marshmallow on the chocolate,  top with another Graham cracker, and enjoy.

By the way, Samhain is pronounced "SHAW-win."  In Gaelic, that mh makes a "w" sound in the middle of a word. 

Friday, October 24, 2008

I must not have good taste. . . .

Yesterday I got a link from American Cake Decorating with the winners of the 2008 Oklahoma Sugar Art Show. Granted, I said from the instant I walked into the exposition hall that I was glad I didn't have to be a judge because I couldn't possibly choose a winner. That said, I was so surprised that this cake apparently didn't even place!

The cakes that won are gorgeous, too. You can see them for yourself at But don't you feel sorry for whoever made this cake. . . and all the others? It makes me really glad I had to come home before seeing the awards. Don't you know many contestants left in tears? And I would have, too.

Okay, let's shake it off. It's Friday and we're not allowed to have a bad day today. It'll ruin the whole weekend.

Yesterday I worked on the "treat" I'm giving you for Halloween! I'm so excited. And I'm looking forward to trick-or-treating at everyone else's sites. We have some cool things in store for you next week. If you'd like to participate and offer a "treat," please let me know by Wednesday, October 29. If you'd like to participate by trick-or-treating, simply join us on Friday and click on the links. You don't even have to dress up. Unless you want to. Maybe we could give a prize for best costume! :-)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

It's Almost Halloween!

I am about to go into crazy, full-on Halloween mode! My house is decorated. Calli has her costume. The assembly of treat bags has begun. Next week, I'll be dipping apples in caramel, carving a pumpkin, making a giant veggie tray for my daughter's pre-school party, attending a Trunk-or-Treat at my church, and of course, trick-or-treating.

With all the activities going on, I am thankful to have found a couple of really cute ideas for simple Halloween-themed dinners. The first is for Mummy Dogs. They're weiners wrapped in crescent roll dough. If you look at this site, it shows how to make them look like cute little mummies.

The second recipe is for Cheddar Witch's Fingers. These are a savory, crispy snack that I think will be really good with a bowl of soup.

These recipes would be super-fun to make for a scary movie night or open-house on Halloween night.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Bread, Bread, Bread

Charlie and I are bread-heads. I was steered to the greatest book: Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. The title is a little disingenuous, but it isn't far from the truth. You make up a big batch and keep it in the refrigerator. When you want bread, you pull out a chunk, let it rise 20-30 minutes and then bake it. So it takes considerably longer than five minutes a day, but not as long as starting fresh every day and going through two rises.

The best part is that you can do Stuff with it. Sometimes I add herbs to my daily chunk, sometimes I work in Asiago cheese, sometimes I work in honey and cinnamon and raisins.

Now--how about those Giants, eh? Oh, sorry, got caught up in football fever. I meant to talk about giants with a lower-case "g". The ones who grind bones to make their bread. High in calcium, but probably very difficult to get to rise. Wonder what kind of yeast they use, or if they eat flatbread?

Well, that's enough of that.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Let's Go Trick-Or-Treating!

Hello, Fatal Foodies:

The bloggers here had discussed having an open mic night for Halloween, but then we thought it would be so much more fun to have you go trick-or-treating! I've always LOVED trick-or-treating, but now I can't even do it vicariously through my children anymore. Until now.

On October 31, all Fatal Foodie bloggers (and anyone else who wants to participate) will give you a one-day only access to a treat . . . or maybe even a trick. You'll be provided with the name of the blogger and a link to the location of that blogger's treat. You might score recipes, short stories, e-books, bookmarks or any number of other surprises.

If you'd like to sponsor a "treat," please let me know by sending me an e-mail to or by commenting to this post.

If you'd like to trick-or-treat with us, just show up on October 31 . . . if you dare. Muhahahaha!

Gee, that wasn't Vincent Price-like at all onscreen like it was in my head.

Detox and MUFAs

As in a dietary detox. Not like a Betty Ford Clinic stay type of detox. Just wanna make that clear from the get go here! Although I did cut out all caffeine, sugar and alcohol (that's right. NO WINE) for the four day duration.

This particular detox is called the 4 Day Anti-Bloat and goes in conjunction with Prevention Magazine's new and highly touted Flat Belly Diet plan, which includes a MUFA (monounstaturated fat) with every meal. Think olives, olive oil and other MUFA rich oils, nuts, avocado. Rich, yummy and satisfying. However before you start the 1600 calorie a day based program (chock full of REALLY good foods), it's recommended that you jump start the process by doing the detox, which includes brown rice, pumpkin seeds, prunes, chicken, applesauce, deli turkey, tomatoes, a few other things, including lots of what they call Sassy water. Sassy water is basically water infused with mint leaves, lemons, cucumber and fresh ginger and is, despite the cutesy name, really yummy. It's not a lot of food and the first two days were kind of hellish, but by the fourth and final day, I never felt hungry. I saw definite results and we've kept the Sassy water as regular part of our diet. Eight cups of water, 1 medium cucumber (sliced and peeled), one medium lemon (sliced thin), a tsp. of freshly grated ginger and 10 mint leaves. Put it all in a pitcher, leave it over night and drink up!

Right after the detox was over, I noticed more than a glass of wine made me feel kind of icky. I didn't want too much to eat, but what I did have tasted SO good just because it was a change from the menu listed above. I almost immediately came down with a nasty cold, which pretty much killed my appetite for a week, but now it's back and I'm enjoying the MUFA rich diet laid out by Prevention. This morning, for instance, I made breakfast sandwiches with whole grain English muffins, Egg Beaters (did you know you can nuke this in a bowl and have a disk of cooked egg perfect for Egg McMuffins?), homemade black olive tapenade (the MUFA), Lite Provolone cheese, and turkey bacon. It tasted about as decadent as anything I've ever had. I mixed a little of the tapenade into the egg beaters before nuking it and spread a bit on the muffins themselves.

I came up with the tapenade recipe out of the need to find a cheaper option than the store-bought tapenades (even though Trader Joe's does have excellent prices, I am drawing those budget strings even tighter). They sell black olives for 1.19 per can and one can, chopped up finely, mixed with a bit of high quality olive oil and then seasoned with lemon pepper, black pepper, 21 Season Salute, cumin, oregano, basic and garlic powder makes the same amount as a jar of $3 tapenade. We eat a lot of it and that's almost two bucks saved to go towards things like cat food, of which we go through even more of...or rather, our cats do. We don't eat catfood.
Just like to clarify these things.

I am now drinking a large glass of Agua de Sass. I recommend it highly whether you want to detox, diet or just have a tasty alternative to plain water.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Raisin Tarts

First of all, congratulations to Lisa on the upcoming feminine addition to her family.  We can’t have enough girls.

Last week I mentioned that we’ve had some excitement around here lately, and not of the good kind, either.  My husband is having blood issues -i.e. he doesn’t have any - and had to have a big old transfusion.  Everything is back to normal, at least for the moment, but the whole incident certainly made me reconsider our diet.  I have noted before that we are very health-foodie, which certainly isn’t going to change now.  However, the plan now is to go on a blood building diet, which should include lots of spinach, apricots, omega-3 eggs, molasses, and cast-iron skillets.

(I’m suddenly reminded of the scene in the movie Moonstruck, in which Cher tells Nicolas Cage that she’s cooking a steak for him.  “I like mine well-done,” he says, and she replies, “You’ll eat this one bloody, to feed your blood.”  But I digress.)

Another iron rich food is raisins.  The problem with raisins is that unless they’re cooked, he can’t digest them very well.  So, after much thought, I’m making raisin tarts this evening.  These things are so caloric, as well as being power-packed, that normally I would never make a batch and have them hanging around the house tempting me. But I’m certainly willing to sacrifice my figure for my husband’s health.

Raisin Tarts

Line an eight-cup muffin tin with pie crust pastry.  Combine 1 1/2 cups of seedless raisins, 2 tablespoon of chopped walnuts, 1 1/2 tablespoons of lemon juice (this is what the recipe calls for, but I use apple juice), and 2 tablespoons of brown sugar.  Spoon the  filling into the pastry-lined muffin cups and bake at 400 degrees for fifteen or twenty minutes.  Enjoy.

Last but not least, I haven’t had the opportunity to check out Gayle’s virtual book tour yet (see previous entry), but I’m very interested and certainly will.  I hope you’ll keep up fully informed on how it’s going, Gayle.

Friday, October 17, 2008


I'm going on a blog tour! Does one skip off to a blog? I will, so then my title will make sense. Please click on this link to visit all the wonderful places I'll be visiting. (Okay, first Disney and now Seuss: "Oh, the places you'll go!" Can you tell my kids are home?)

I didn't realize until I'd completed and uploaded the slideshow that Debbie Ridpath Ohi of Inky Girl is also hosting me/MTTC a day. I'll be visiting Inky Girl on November 11. Debbie works with Writer's Market and Writer's Digest, but she also does some wonderful cartoons for writers.

I hope you'll be able to join me on this blog tour. I think it will be a lot of fun!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tickled Pink!

I've got the color pink on the brain. For one thing, it is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I'm inspired by hope when I see all the pink ribbons. I'm thankful that most people I know who have had breast cancer can now call themselves breast cancer survivors! I love that women can face this disease with dignity and lots of support.
I'm also tinkled pink because................I'm having a girl!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This pink phase has led me to post a pink dessert. The Culinary Arts class at a high school where I was employed used to make this. Instead of molding it, they spooned it into dessert cups. It's light, delicious, and pretty in pink!
This dessert is even mentioned in my book, Cheaters, Pies, and Lullabies. When one of my characters finds herself immersed in pink at a Mary Kay party, she feels as though she is inside a big bowl of this, which wouldn't be so bad!

Strawberry Bavarian Cream
Serves 6 Ready In: 1-2 hrsIngredients:
1 package (10 ounce size) frozen sliced strawberries, thawed
1 cup boiling water
1 package (3 ounce size) strawberry-flavored gelatin
1 cup chilled whipping cream or1 envelope (2 ounce size) dessert topping mix
Directions:Drain strawberries, reserving syrup. Pour boiling water over gelatin in bowl, stirring until gelatin is dissolved. Add enough cold water to reserved syrup to measure 1 cup. Stir into dissolved gelatin. Chill until almost set. In chilled bowl, beat cream until stiff. If using dessert topping mix, prepare as directed on package. Beat gelatin until foamy. Fold gelatin and strawberries into whipped cream. Pour into 1-quart mold or into individuals molds. Chill until firm. Unmold.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Magna cum Murder

My mother and I are gearing up for one of the highlights of our year--Magna cum Murder. Held every year in Muncie, Indiana, Magna is a convention/workshop of mystery writers and readers that's also like family reunion always open to new members.

This year's Guest of Honor is Louise Penny, and our favorite mystery writer of all time, Michael Z. Lewin, will also be there. If you haven't read any of his books, I highly recommend them! Two of his series characters work out of Indianapolis, where Lewin originated, Albert Samson as a PI and Leroy Powder with the Indianapolis PD's Missing Persons Department. They usually cross paths, or at least mention one another, in their own books. A third series is set in Bath, England, where Lewin lives now. It features the Lunghi family, of Italian extraction, now three generations working together in a detective business. Lewin's characters are real, his situations are screwy enough to be believable, and his dialog is great.

Oh--just to keep the food in here--Albert Samson's mother owns and runs Bud's Dugout, the best diner in Indy.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


We had a family emergency this week, which is why I'm a bit late posting this today.  It entailed a trip to the emergency room and a hospital stay, but everything is better now.  This is just one of those things that happens and one has to deal with as one goes through life.

For the past few days, I've been leaving the house early in the morning and getting home at about ten p.m., pooped beyond human understanding.  What does one do about eating in such a situation?  In my case, I snacked around on vending machine food with the occasional cafeteria salad.  Then, when I finally got home at night, I would end my day with the food that comforts me the most in times of stress - toast.

Toast is a benign presence, a comforting friend, so familiar and unthreatening.  And it can be personalized to fit your needs, fancy or plain, sweet or savory.  I like a good plain dry piece of wheat toast dipped in a glass of milk like a cookie when my emotions, or my stomach, can't take one more iota of excitement.  Nothing can beat a nice hunk of  buttered toast for an indulgence - better than a shoulder to cry on.  I love cinnamon toast, too.  Butter the bread first, toast it in the toaster oven, and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Or sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar over the unmelted butter before toasting.

Need a little protein?  Melt a piece of cheese on the bread in the oven.  And as for jam, well, there's a thesis that deserves an in-depth exploration.  But I'm having a bit of a post-emergency crash right now, so I'm off to take a nap.  

When I wake up, maybe it'll be strawberry jelly...

Friday, October 10, 2008

Cupcake Bites

Check these out. They're "cupcake bites" and are sort of a cross between a truffle and a cupcake. I was so desperate to try these that I went to the local cake/party supply shop and bought candy shell molds, peanut butter melts and light cocoa melts. I had a frozen 10" single layer cake in the freezer, so I sat it out yesterday morning and let it thaw. Yesterday afternoon I crumbled it into a mixing bowl, combined it with chocolate frosting and then made peanut butter candy molds. Rather than dipping the tops into melted chocolate, I put white chocolate fondant on top. My daughter came into the kitchen, saw what I was doing and yelled, "Dad, come and look! Mom's making Reese's Cups and putting blankets over them!" I didn't take pictures because my cupcake bites are ugly (so, see Bakerella's site for what they're supposed to look like). But, man, are they yummy! :-p

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

October is Poppin'

I just found out that October is National Popcorn Month. One of the most famous names associated with popcorn is the one and only Orville Redenbacher. Here is more about Mr. Redenbacher and his popcorn:

Try this recipe for easy and delicious Popcorn Balls. They look great wrapped in waxed paper and tied with colorful ribbon!




Here's a fun popcorn site with a really cute animated intro. There's even a list of popcorn-related books for kids:

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Beautiful, Beautiful Soup

When the weather gets crisp and the evenings get cool, there's nothing better than soup. Actually, we love soup all year long--in the summer, it's quick and only heats up one burner, and it warms you from the inside out all the rest of the year. And soup is so versatile--all you need is liquid and Stuff and, in a pinch, you can do without the Stuff. Stuff makes it better, though.

Remember the story of Stone Soup? My mother actually pulled that one on me when I was an innocent child and hadn't heard the story yet. I didn't like soup because it had bits of things in it. When you don't want your foods to touch on your plate, soup is a total no-go. So she had me go out and bring her a smooth little rock. She washed it in hot soapy water and put it into a pot, added water and vegetables and, I think, meat (which was always a Good Thing as far as I was concerned). She promised I could have the rock in my bowl if I would promise not to try to eat it. By golly, I ate my soup that night.

One of my favorite soup bases is roast chicken--roast a chicken, pick most but not all of the meat off and put it aside for other meals, boil the bones, skin, gristle and other icky bits with onion, carrot and celery. Strain all the solids out and pick through it, giving the gristle and skin and icky bits to the dog and putting the meat back into the broth. When I get done with a chicken, I can hold what's to be thrown away in the palm of one hand. lol! You need to boil the icky bits, by the way--that gristle and stuff, while extremely nasty to eat (unless you're my dog), imparts flavor and thickness. When the broth cools, it ought to be solid--not with fat, but with oomph.

Then you can add anything: tomatoes, celery, carrots, onions, garlic, white beans, noodles, rice, barley, chickpeas, sausage, kale, spinach, corn, hominy, green beans, dumplings.... See what's in the pantry or garden or refrigerator. Lovely!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

When Blood Sugar Levels Go Bad

My boyfriend and I wanted a nice, no-stress dinner tonight. Something yummy, not too expensive, never mind the calories. We're going on a four day Bloat Busting program tomorrow (courtesy of Prevention Magazine) and tonight we live it up.

However we both made the mistake of letting our blood sugar get dangerously low while shopping for our four day 'Bye Bye Belly' detox. So by the time we got home and started the discussion about what, precisely, to order for dinner...well, it hasn't been pretty. We finally decided on Thai food - inexpensive and tasty. Our favorite Thai place is closed Sundays. We looked for an alternative. Found one that delivers near bye, a decent selection of food and we both found something on the menu we wanted (which at times is a minor miracle if our taste buds are set on different ethnic cuisines).

Dave called and said, "Hi, I'd like to place an order for delivery." There was a pause, then he said, "I see. Thanks." He hung up the phone and said, 'They don't deliver."

We both look at the menu where, in big letters at the bottom, it says "Free Delivery on orders over $15."

After another search through our menu collection, during which no other type of food struck either of our fancies except for sushi, which is expensive, we decided to suck it up, place the order and Dave would pick it up. He called back, gave them the order and started to give his credit card number. Another pause. "Cash only? Okay."

We had no cash. So it now involved a trip to an ATM first. At least, upon another inspection of the menu, it did specify cash only.

So he's off to pick up the food and I'm trying to write, both of us cranky and hungry. The moral of this story is to never let one's blood sugar fall below a certain level. If ever a fatality will occur in this house, you'll know why.

All I gotta say is the Thai food better be REALLY good.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Cinnamon Rolls

I was just checking out the J.A. Jance website, which I do with some regularity.  There is a page on it entitled “Sugarloaf Cafe”, named after a fictional restaurant that appears, I believe, in her Ali Reynolds series, featuring recipes concocted and tested by Jance’s son.  The latest featured recipe is cinnamon rolls.  Just the picture is enough to set the old salivary glands working overtime.

Seeing that recipe brought to mind all the times after we were first married that my husband and I tried to recreate his mother’s cinnamon roll recipe using healthy ingredients.  This entailed using organic whole wheat flour, non-fat milk, oils instead of butter, and honey instead of sugar.  The result was about what you’d expect; i.e. not so good.  We kept ending up with rather heavy sticky-bun-like things that bore no discernible relationship to cinnamon rolls.

Just last year, we visited Don’s sister Lorraine in Colorado Springs, and she made a pan full of their mother’s rolls just as God intended, except that she used frozen bread dough instead of making the dough from scratch. They were light as air, sweet, cinnamony and gooey, and so delicious it made you want to weep.  There are certain things that just should not be messed with.

Don asked Lorraine for her recipe, and I reproduce it here just as she gave it to him:

Rhodes Frozen bread (3 to 5 loaves).  Thaw the bread two to three hours - let it rise just a bit.  Roll it out into a rectangle 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick and spread about a half-stick of butter on it.  Spread brown sugar and cinnamon all over and sprinkle with pecans. Roll up the dough into a cylinder and slice into individual rolls.  

 Melt a tablespoon of butter with enough brown sugar, cinnamon, and cream to make about 1/2 cup and pour in the bottom of the pan.  Arrange the rolls over the cinnamon/cream mixture, and dribble a little extra cream over the top of the rolls. Let rise 20 minutes then bake at 375 for about 25 minutes.

This is one of those ‘eyeball’ recipes.  You don’t know just what quantities you used to make it so wonderful, you just know it when you see it.

Good luck.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Fatal Foodie Tales From My Recent Travels

As you know, I was in Tulsa this past weekend for the Oklahoma Sugar Art Show. Here are two stories that could fall under our "fatal foodies" heading from my travels:


Friday afternoon, I was at the Chicago airport. I'd bought a sandwich, drink and chips from one of the vendors and had sat down at my gate to eat when I noticed a large man. He was bald, and although he wore a ball cap, I could see that tattoos covered his head. I could tell mainly because they continued down the sides of his face and neck. He had a long white beard, and I noticed his hands and arms were tattooed as well. He had a letter on each knuckle, but I couldn't tell what the letters were. Somehow I doubt they were "M" "A" "M" "A". Anyway, he caught me looking at him.

I smiled brightly. "Would you like half of this sandwich? It's huge."

"No, thanks."

Later, on the plane, the lady seated next to me asked, "Did you see that man with the tattoos on his head?"

"Yes," I said, nodding. "I offered him half my sandwich."

"You what?!"

"Well," I explained, "he looked like he might go on a rampage any minute; and I figured he wouldn't kill someone who'd offered him part of her lunch."


Sunday morning, just before 5 a.m., I was at the Tulsa airport going
through security.

"Ma'am, you'll need to step to the side so we can inspect your luggage."

Confused, I stepped to the side and wondered what in the world would
have triggered a security alert in my little carry-on?

"You may not touch your luggage while it is being searched," I was told.


The latex gloved officer rummaged through my bag and pulled out a
two-pound tub of tutti-frutti fondant I bought at the Oklahoma Sugar
Art Show. She held it up. "What is this?"


"What's fondant?"

"A highly volatile explosive. It causes fat cells in your body to
expand and blow your 'problem areas' out of proportion."

Okay, no, that is NOT what I said. Ergo, I am not writing this from an Oklahoma jail. Rather, my answer was, "Uh...cake icing."

"Is it a cream?" she asked.

"Uh...I guess."

"You can't carry this on the plane."

"It hasn't been opened," I said, hopefully.

"I know. You need to take this bag downstairs and check it."

"But, will I miss my flight?"

"No, you'll be all right. Take this bag downstairs and check it."

I'm happy to report I did make my flight and my tutti-frutti fondant
and I got home just fine. It is sitting on the counter and has not
blown up. At least, not yet. I did, however, see a man at the Chicago airport with a BLENDER. He could've BLENDED the snot out of someone and hijacked the plane! And, yet, my innocent little tub of fondant was relegated to the cargo hold. Thank goodness, I took advantage of the free shipping offer on my Choco-Pan. :-)

[Notice my "ergo" in the above story. I've been listening to a period piece audio book which makes me want to use words like "ergo" and "forenoon." Hopefully, I will not languish o'er this book, but will finish it anon and return to my normal--such as it is--speech.]

And now, for something really interesting. If you'd like to see a slide show from the Oklahoma Sugar Art Show, please click here and scroll down the page halfway to the "Rock You" slide show. If you need to, mute your speakers because the show is set to music. If you're unable to see the slide show there, you can see a You Tube video my publisher put together from some of my pics. It's cute and it's here.

Hope you enjoy it!

One more quick thing, if any of you would like a free e-book of Murder Takes the Cake, here is my proposal:

I'm offering a free copy of the e-book on CD to any of you who requests your local library to order a copy of the book. The reason is simple: a sale is a sale; and I figure during these tough economic times, a library has more of a book-buying budget than we do. So, if you'd like to participate:

1) Go to your library and ask that they order a copy of Murder Takes the Cake, by Gayle Trent. The ISBN is 978-0-9802453-6-3. The book is published by Belle Books' subsidiary Bell Bridge Books and is distributed by Ingram, Brodart and Baker & Taylor.

2) Send me an e-mail telling me the name of your library and the name of the person with whom you spoke.

3) Be sure and give me your snail mail address so I can send you a copy of the e-book.

4) Read the book, love it, and talk it up to your friends!

Thanks so much!

Sorry this post was so long; but if you think about it, I had two weeks worth of stuff to say. :-)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Almost Fall - Favorite Autumn Treats

It's almost Fall. I've already seen the trees start changing here in the Midwest. Pretty, but it's the one time of year I hate having several big maples in front. All those leaves!

Fall is a good time to sit and relax with some comfort foods. As the air gets crisper, what better way to spend an afternoon than with a good mystery novel, a cup of hot chocolate and some homemade treats? You decide which sounds good to you, but this time of year anything pumpkin sounds about right to me. Oh, don't forget that other fall/Halloween favorite - just gotta have some candy corn and mallow pumpkins!

I know I love to try different kinds of foods with pumpkin in October. For variety, I recently tried a pumpkin bagel with pumpkin cream cheese at Einstein Bros. Bagels. Yum!

I love pumpkin bread and pumpkin muffins sound good, too. Check out a variety of interesting pumpkin recipes here.

Yes, guess I have a one-track mind about now. It won't stop until Thanksgiving, though. That's always great, especially since my nephew always makes fantastic homemade - you guessed it - pumpkin pie.