Wednesday, April 30, 2014


No, I did not mean to type teepee. I have begun drinking tons of green tea. It makes me peepee. I drink at least a couple of glasses of straight up (no sweetener), cold green tea a day. Among its many health benefits is that green tea is a diuretic. Take it from me; green tea will make you feel healthy-as-can-be, but it will make you have to pee!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

I Yam What I Yam

Popeye quote, right? And Popeye makes you think of spinach, right? So, naturally, I'm posting today about yams, right?

Wait, what?

Because Popeye's saying, "I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam," makes me think of -- you're way ahead of me -- yams.

We just came through a long, hard winter, in which yellow food was my comfort food. Winter is the time for eating root vegetables, especially yams and sweet potatoes. Their sunny colors brighten up a gloomy winter day. 

Although groceries in the USA don't always seem to know it, a yam and a sweet potato are not the same thing.  Yams, generally, are native to Europe. They most likely originated in West Africa, then spread to Asia/India. Yams were brought to the New World with enslaved Africans. 

The yam is mostly starch, but most societies which have yams as a major food source also have access to fish, and the two complement each other well. The yam is sometimes called a tuber, but it's really a swelling of the plant's stem, which sounds vaguely lascivious. It has been a long, cold winter.

There are more varieties of yam than you can shake a stick at, including some which produce edible bulbils or "aerial tubers" in their foliage, and one which produces flowers that are eaten in salads in India. That sounds so elegant, I 'm going to just sit here and think about it for a while.

Marian Allen, Author Lady
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Monday, April 28, 2014

Strawberry Season (or madness) is on us! By Joyce Lavene

Strawberry Season!
By Joyce Lavene

Strawberry season madness is on us here in North Carolina. It was a cold winter here but strawberry crops seem to be abundant and even ready earlier than in some years. Pick your own fields are bursting with ripe, juicy berries. maybe you've been buying early in the grocery store, but nothing there will ever compare with the taste of a ripe, juicy berry from from the vine!

There is a certain etiquette to pick your own crops. Despite the urge to bring small children, resist! Unless you have someone else to watch them, you will either have to curtail their enthusiasm, or you won't be able to pick berries. Kids get a little wild around plants. They are outside - which typically means it's time to play. You can see field owner cringing when kids run into the field.

Polite picking means you allow yourself the rows in front of you and don't overreach into someone else's row. Don't eat as you go. Strawberry farmers are trying to make enough money to plant next years crop too. And you should wash the berries before you eat them.

Wearing gloves is a bad idea. You can't feel the berries well enough and might squish them with your fingers. Boots and mosquito spray are a good idea. It's hard to plan what the fields will be like the day you arrive. If they've recently been watered or it has rained, the dirt can be messy. A hat is good too, on a sunny day, and don't forget sunblock.

This applies to more than just strawberries, of course. I'm just thinking strawberries because I just got home from picking strawberries at a nearby field. I can't wait to get to those berries!

Here is a link to the NC site for fresh strawberries and pick your own that has more than 200 recipes!


Joyce Lavene writes award-winning, bestselling mystery fiction with her husband, Jim, as themselves, J.J. Cook and Ellie Grant. They have written and published more than 70 novels for Harlequin, Berkley, Amazon, and Gallery Books along with hundreds of non-fiction articles for national and regional publications. They live in rural North Carolina with their family. Their new releases for 2014 include Playing with Fire, Broken Hearted Ghoul, Death on Eat Street, Lethal Lily, Bewitching Boots, Murderous Mince, and Spell Booked.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Baked Green Bean Fries

I'm thinking about giving these a try. Have any of you made these? Are they good? Do you like the recipe below (taken from Bebehblog)? Or could you share another one?


Baked Green Bean Fries


12 oz green beans
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup egg substitute (or 1 egg)
Splash of water
1 cup Italian panko bread crumbs*
1/2 teaspoon salt


Preheat oven to 425 degrees and coat a rimmed cookie sheet with non-stick spray.
First you have to blanch the green beans, which sounds like a long, fancy, unnecessary step, but is easy and quick. Bring a large pot of water to boil and add a little salt. Toss in the green beans and boil for 3 minutes. As soon as the time is up, drain the beans in a colander and then put them in a bowl of ice water for at least 3 more minutes. They should still be green and crunchy.

Drain the beans again and pat them dry. Put them into a dry bowl, pour the flour over them and toss until they’re all coated. Put your egg in a bowl with a splash of water and scramble it, then put your bread crumbs and salt in another bowl. This next part is a little tedious but I tried doing it other ways and they didn’t work as well. Working a couple beans at a time, dip them in the egg mixture, then roll them in the bread crumbs until they are well coated. Put them on the cookie sheet. Repeat until they are all coated and in a single layer on the sheet (use another cookie sheet if you run out of space).
Bake for 18-20 minutes until the coating starts to brown.

Serve with your choice of dipping sauce for little fingers or something spicy for grown ups (I dipped mine in Kraft Horseradish Dijon Mayo but if you were REALLY fancy you could make your own).

*If you wanted to make them spicy, add cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes to the bread crumbs. I was trying to keep them kid friendly for the picky 3 year old (the baby loves spicy stuff).



Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Old Oak Festival

On Sunday, I am going to one of my favorite yearly events. It is the Old Oak Festival held at Tusculum College. I absolutely adore the atmosphere of this beautiful, small college campus. If you are in my area, come see me on Sunday. I will be there from 11:00a.m.-4:00p.m.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

"Smoothies" Back In The Day

When I was young and dirt was new, a "smoothie" was somebody who could sweet-talk you into doing something.

But that doesn't mean there wasn't such a thing as a thick beverage made with fruit, liquid, and ice, all mooshed up in a blender. There was such a thing, and there was one place you could get it:

Original Orange Julius
The Orange Julius stand.

Yeah, an Orange Julius is more liquid and frothy and a smoothie is thicker, but it's the same thing only different. Orange Julius now makes smoothies as well as their traditional Julius drinks.

Want to make your own delicious -- possibly healthful -- concoctions? Check out Perfect Smoothie for everything you need to know.

I'm pursuing the A to Z blogging challenge on my own blog today with Santana's -- wait for it -- Smooth.

Marian Allen, Author Lady
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Monday, April 21, 2014

Making some sugar-free coffee cake by Joyce Lavene

Sugar-free coffee cake
by Joyce Lavene

I was looking for something sweet for Easter this year. I'm not eating sugar since my blood sugar is elevated.

I've used the Pillsbury Quick Bread and Muffin mix before. it's really tasty - and fast - you know I like fast. This time I thought I'd add something special to it. 

The mix is like a cake mix. You add two eggs, oil, and water. I like it because it tastes good but also because it's small - no chance to overeat for days.

I made the mix according to the directions, but I added a layer of sugar-free cherry pie filling between the two layers the mix calls for. I saved most of the cinnamon crunch mix for the top since I had the cherries for the middle.

It took about ten minutes extra to bake because of the pie filling, but it rose up brown and beautiful. The cherries were a nice addition that added color and fruit to the mix. Everyone (even people who eat sugar) enjoyed it at our dinner. And that's it! Thanks, Pillsbury. I wish you'd bring your sugar-free cinnamon rolls back!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday Recipes

I was wondering if there were any traditional foods we are supposed to eat on Good Friday. For instance, I know people are supposed to eat black-eyed peas on New Year's Day, but I never have. I embarked upon a search with the help of the wise people of Pinterest.

Cooking With Nonna shares recipes from "our Italian grandmothers" on her blog. Recipes include Baked Baccala and Potatoes,  Calzone di Cipolla (Onion Pie), Easter Calzone - Scalcione di Cipolle, and Feast of Oil-Poached Fish.

There were several pins for Hot Cross Buns, such as this one from Just A Pinch.

According to Lifestyle Food, meat is traditionally not to be consumed on Good Friday. So, they have given their readers some alternative Easter Good Friday Recipes.

Oh Amanda's blog offers a recipe to help teach children about the Resurrection.

So, that's what I came up with? What are your Good Friday traditions or favorite Easter recipes?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Bunny Bait

I cannot wait to make this adorable snack for Easter! Prep Time: 5 Min Ingredients 2 c pretzel stick 2 c rice chex 1 bag microwave white popcorn, popped 1 bag white melting candies (wilton brand sold at michael's) ------- spring sprinkles or any kind of sprinkles 1 large bag easter m&m's Directions 1 Spread 2 cups pretzel stick, 2 cups Rice Chex and 1 bag white popcorn on cookie sheet. 2 Pour melted white melting candies over mixture and stir to coat. Then sprinkle on your spring sprinkles. Do not mix after sprinkling or you will coat the sprinkles. 3 Once the mix is set, add M&M's and then package for neighbors, for a party or in individual treat bags.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Magnificent Mess of Morel Mushrooms

It's that time of the year again. Yesterday was the first time in over a week I've been able to get into the woods. The last time I went out, there were no mushrooms. Yesterday, I found around two pounds of them! Morels are the only wild mushrooms I hunt. Not even I could mistake anything else for a morel.
Actual photograph!
We had some for supper. We'll have some for supper tonight. We might have some the next night, or I might dry some for a special treat during the winter. I am happy.

Meanwhile, at my own blog, I'm posting about Miriam Makeba for today's A-to-Z Blogging Challenge post.

Marian Allen, Author Lady
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Monday, April 14, 2014

Grow your own food

Grow Your own food!
By Joyce Lavene

Gardening experts say that more people are growing more vegetable gardens than ever before. Not since the Victory Gardens of the 1940s have people planted so much lettuce instead of petunias.

During that time, fresh produce was scarce, and people grew their own, or shared plots of land and grew veggies with a group.

Vegetables aren't scarce now, but people have noticed the difference between grow-you-own, and buying veggies at the grocery store. Fresh-picked is so superior that it's like eating a whole different plant!

I'm sure most people aren't worried that there may be a shortage of tomatoes, or lettuce, but they are choosing to plant small gardens, making seed sales soar in 2013, and again this year.

Are you growing your greens?

By the author of :

Friday, April 11, 2014

Perfectly Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins

I've stumbled across a new blog called The Frugal Girls. It's a fun blog. It has recipes (like the one I'm getting ready to share with you), deals, crafts, tips on entertaining, and lots of cool stuff! Be sure and check it out!

Perfectly Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins


2 Cups Flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1 tbsp. Baking Powder
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2/3 cup Sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups Peanut Butter
  • 1/3 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1 cup Mini Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

  • Directions

    Stir the flour, salt and baking powder in a large bowl.

    Add the milk, eggs, sugar, peanut butter, chocolate chips, and oil… and mix until moistened.

    Fill up muffin liners in muffin pan 3/4 full – almost full.

    Sprinkle the top of each muffin with a smidge more sugar.

    Bake at 375 for approx. 18 minutes. Recipe makes approximately 18 muffins.

    Wednesday, April 9, 2014

    A Book Signing of Titanic Proportions

    A stop on my family's Spring Break trip last week was the Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge, TN. On the day of our visit, authors were set up in various spots around the ship. All of them had written books that were based on the Titanic. What a cool place for a book signing!

    Tuesday, April 8, 2014


    Ghee is like clarified butter, only different. You make them almost the same way but, for clarified butter, you stop cooking while the milk solids on the bottom of the pan are still pale; for ghee, you let the solids toast so the finished product has a slightly nutty flavor.

    Here is a wonderful Indian Cooking site that tells you exactly how to make genuine ghee. The particularly wonderful thing about it is that it involves setting fire to a piece of paper in order to test your progress. I read that part and I was like, Oh, hell, yes!

    Meanwhile, back at my own blog, I'm posting about the Gorillaz' song "Clint Eastwood" and why it means what I claim it means, all evidence and testimony to the contrary.

    Marian Allen, Author Lady
    Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

    Monday, April 7, 2014

    from the Biscuit Bowl Food Truck - Black Olive Dip

    Black Olive Dip
    By Zoe Chase
    from Death on Eat Street
    by J.J. Cook

    Black Olive Dip

    Drain and add one 15 oz. can of large, pitted olives with two large, chopped tomatoes, four finely chopped green onions, three Habanero chilies - stems and seeds removed and minced, three TBSP. olive oil, one and one half tsp. vinegar, one tsp. garlic powder. Combine all ingredients and chill for an hour. Great on anything!

    Friday, April 4, 2014

    Bacon Cheddar Deviled Eggs

    Who knew such a thing existed? I didn't! I've been perfectly content with regular deviled eggs all my life, and then I stumbled upon this recipe from Kitchme

    Bacon Cheddar Deviled Eggs


    12 eggs,
    12 cup mayonnaise,
    4 slices bacon,
    2 tbsp cheddar cheese, finely shredded
    1 tbsp mustard,


    1. Place eggs in a saucepan, and cover with cold water. Bring water to a boil and immediately remove from heat. Cover, and let eggs stand in hot water for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from hot water, and cool. To cool more quickly, rinse eggs under cold running water.
    2. Meanwhile, place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium-high heat until evenly brown. Alternatively, wrap bacon in paper towels and cook in the microwave for about 1 minute per slice. Crumble and set aside.
    3. Peel the hard-cooked eggs, and cut in half lengthwise. Remove yolks to a small bowl. Mash egg yolks with mayonnaise, crumbled bacon and cheese. Stir in mustard. Fill egg white halves with the yolk mixture and refrigerate until serving.

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

    Dollywood Delish!

    We just returned from a trip to Gatlinburg. For those who have not visited Gatlinburg; it is a beautiful, fun town in the Great Smokey Mountains. Part of our trip included a day at Dollywood. Besides lots of rides and shows, the park also has some good treats. The restaurant pictured is a little retro diner where we had burgers and fries. I saw lots of great looking food while we were in the park. Since we bought season passes for this year, I plan to try it all!

    Alice's Restaurant For REALZ

    I'm posting about Alice's Restaurant (the song) on my blog today but, while I was poking around the interwebz, I found that there's a real Alice's Restaurant. Not the one in the song, but named after the song.

    Alice's Restaurant (the restaurant) is in Woodside, California, and I wish I could go there.

    Here are their principles:

    Our Principles:

    We continually strive in bringing sustainable options into our everyday practices.
    We support local businesses. From our fresh baked bread, and  locally sourced produce, to locally hand-crafted beer and wine.
    We use environmentally friendly cleaning supplies as well as water efficient low-flow toilets and dishwashers.
    Our takeout packaging, straws, beverage cups and plates are biodegradable and made from compostable materials.
    We consistently strive to serve the best. From our  fountain sodas sweetened with organic sugars and CA honey, to our free range, grass fed 100% beef hot dogs.

    Family Owned and Operated

    If you ever get a chance to go, tell 'em I said Hey.

    Marian Allen, Author Lady
    Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes