Thursday, August 24, 2017

It wasn't supposed to turn out this way

For years, I was able to enjoy the very best quiche in the world at The Sherwood Inn in Skaneateles, NY. It was a quiche like I'd never had before. About 4 inches high with a thick custard center, and usually with asparagus. OMG -- it was good.  And then ... one day, they stopped making it that way. What a bummer. : (

I recently got this very pretty Mikasa quiche pan at a yard sale and that made me determined to try my hand at a from-scratch quiche.  (My mother used to make them all the time back in the 80s and 90s.)

I've been looking for a recipe like that for years, and one of my readers gave me one she thought might fit the bill.  I assembled my ingredients and I figured I was good to go.

My first attempt tasted good, but wasn't at all tall.  (Very pretty pan--but too small. I ended up making omelets with the leftover egg and cream mixture.)

On Tuesday, I was all set to make a tall quiche. I bought a springform pan at a yard sale and it was at least an inch taller than the last.  One tiny problem.  I (again) decided to add mushrooms to the recipe (because I like them) and like Julia Child liked to say, "don't crowd the mushrooms." So while I was browning the crust, I was paying more attention to the mushrooms and ... (BTW, my smoke alarms work really, REALLY well!)

I ended up having a salad for supper that night. (Oh well, at least it had a lot less calories!)

Went a little overboard on the Swiss cheese.  Grated 3 times what I needed.

So Wednesday, I decided to try again.  But this time, even though I rolled the crust thinner, it didn't "take" in the pan. It shrunk. I put in as much of the cream and egg mixture as I could but ... (you got it, I'll be having an omelet for breakfast today). It tasted good, but no thick, creamy custard.

It was taller, but not by much.

I'm now in search for a taller, yet smaller (in diameter) springform pan. I'm determined to replicate that quiche if I have to eat a dozen of them to do it. One of my readers told me about a Mile-High Quiche, and I'm going to try that recipe.

Have you ever had a frustrating recipe that just wouldn't work out?

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Teacup Tuesday with Yard Sale Finds

You can have a wonderful tea party for not a lot of bucks -- when you hit the yard sales.

Can you believe this hammered aluminum teapot and bone china teacup cost me just two bucks?

It's always time for tea!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Kiss of the Spider-Killing Woman

I loathe bugs. All bugs. I don't even like Lady Bugs, and they're cute. (Although sometimes we have an invasion of them--and that's just icky.)

During the winter, I seem to kill a lot of white spiders that hang around my kitchen and I only notice when I'm about to make a pot of tea. It gets worse with spring and fall ande there's lots of screaming and the fly swatter gets hard use. (BTW, I never use poison to kill bugs. Just swats and my shoes.)

I've often referred to my family's summer cottage as "bug haven." Any time you're near water, there are sure to be BUGS--ad especially spiders. Some I can deal with. The very delicate Daddy Long Legs usually stay in the corners of the bathroom or the enclosed porch. If they don't bother, then I won't bother them.

A week or so ago, scores of baby spiders hatched and I must have killed 20 or 30 of them that walked across my desk and/or computer screen. Never saw this before, but hope this means that, since I encountered and killed them at such an early age, in the long run there will be for less of the little black-and-white spiders that seem to live in that room. (They usually stay away from me, too.)

Last Wednesday, while I was working on the computer, I saw a some kind of icky bug with an inch-long ant-like body with long brown wings get caught up in a web on the outside of my porch window. As I mentioned, I loathe bugs, but I felt sorry for that winged creature when Mr. Fat-bodied brown spider came out of nowhere and attacked said bug, wrapping it in a cocoon of webs. I looked away for a few seconds, but by the time I looked back, Mr. Spider had dragged his prey away for what he probably considered a delicious meal. (*Shudder*)

And then there are the fat, juicy-bodied black spiders who RUN-VERY-FAST. Not only do they RUN-VERY-FAST, but they have excellent hearing. For example, I was busy editing the first draft of Victoria Square Mystery #5 (Yule Be Dead), when I spied a particularly HUGE--Hagrid-sized-- version of an icky black spider. I started screaming (Mr. L is glad not to be around when this happens) VERY LOUDLY, and Mr. Icky panicked while I was panicking. He was on the wall near my bookshelf, a particularly tricky area to get to. And while I was screaming and slapping at him with the swatter I keep in my office for just such emergencies, he escaped underneath the space between the baseboard and the carpet. I read where bugs (maybe even spiders) don't like vinegar water, so I grabbed my squirt bottle (which also lives in my office) and squirted the corner like crazy, disturbing a Daddy Long Legs I hadn't known was there. (It smelled like a pickle jar in there for several hours.)

Later that night, I got up in the middle of the night for the call of nature, and saw not one, but TWO more icky black spiders. What is this? An invasion?  I ran to my office for the vinegar spray and spayed him, but he seemed to be very sleepy and didn't move.  So I nudged him with my slipper and then beat the living hell out of him. Then there was his buddy (wife, lover, friend?) on the other side of the bathroom. Same treatment, same end. Both bodies got flushed.  (And I stayed awake for two hours and had to read because no going back to sleep fast after that kind of excitement.)

I'm generally freaked out by all bugs. Hell, to me, would be to meet up with all the bugs I've killed over a lifetime and and be stuck with them crawling over me for eternity. *Extra BIG Shudder*

Mind you, if spiders stay away from me, they could live long and happy lives. Even if they were in my house, as long as I don't encounter them--Hey, Live Long and Prosper.  Come near me, and it's another story.

Anybody got a safe (non-poisonous) bug repellent recipe?

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Who will my new neighbor be?

We moved into our home 24 years ago. At that time, the next-door neighbors had teenage boys. In the summer, they would be out in the driveway from about seven in the evening (along with a host of their friends) until after midnight playing basketball.  Okay, it's not that noisy a game, but back then we didn't have air conditioning, so we (who are early-to-bed early-to-rise people) would be kept awake with the doink, doink, doink of the basketball hitting the driveway right outside our bedroom window for hours (and hours and hours) on end.  (And you thought I had no idea about that until I wrote Shooting Hoops in my Jeff Resnick coming-of-age short story collection Evolution: Jeff Resnick's Backstory.)

Two years after we moved in, that family moved out--and the house was bought by a couple of empty-nesters who had relocated from downstate when the husband got a job here in Rha-cha-cha. The wife moved her baby grand piano in and gave lessons for the the next twenty years. We often heard her (muffled, yet exceptional) playing.

They were very nice, if aloof (and so, admittedly, were we) neighbors. They had some odd habits, like Mr. N (for neighbor) would often cut his grass in November AFTER dark, in the driving snow.  Every year (except this one) they grew a number of tomato plants on the south side of their house, but never once harvested any. (What's with that?) They poured tons of toxic chemicals onto their grass, but often had the worst lawn on the street. (We have the second worst, but at least it's green--because I learned at an early age that poison on your grass causes cancer on your dog's feet, and any other animal (or bird) who walks across it or eats its bounty.

Two years ago, we noticed that Mrs. N was not looking well. Apparently she didn't go to the doctor for it wasn't until a year later that she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and three weeks later died. We were very sad. Never again would we see her cheerful smile. Never again would we hear her playing the piano. Mr. N told Mr. L (my guy) that he intended to sell the house and move back to where they came from (downstate), but month after month went by and nothing happened, so we figured (and hoped) maybe he would stay.

And then last Thursday, a moving van showed up and took away a bunch of furniture (probably for storage). Maybe their son (who had returned about 10 years ago) was going to finally move out on his own. But, no. The next day, late in the day, a FOR SALE sign went up in the yard.

Okay. So what does this mean? You never know what kind of neighbors you're going to get. And on a street like ours (where there are mostly retirees and its BLESSEDLY QUIET) you really hope it will be more quiet neighbors. I sold my mother's house last June (2016) and her neighbors were fearful, too. The older woman who bought it seemed like a very nice, quiet retired lady and her neighbors on both sides were happy. Until she decided to chop down every living thing around the house, exposing her neighbors not only to the people on the street behind them, but also to the noise on that very busy street--and the expressway another block away. Suddenly I'm persona non-grata for selling the house to a person who apparently didn't care if she was bombarded by noise from the east.

So, who will we get as neighbors?  I don't care what color or creed people are as long as they are QUIET! Will that happen?  We'll just have to wait to find out.

Do you have a neighbor-moving horror story?

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Teacup Tuesday at Blythe Cove Manor

Happy Teacup Tuesday! I thought it might be fun to talk about how teacups relate to my various series. Today's series is Blythe Cove Manor.

Blythe Calvert,the hostess at this upscale B&B on Martha's Vineyard, does all her baking in an ivory Aga cooker. I've shared a couple of her recipes on my website. Feel free to take a look.

P.S. This cup will be a prize in and upcoming giveaway on my Facebook group page. We're having an event in September. Don't miss it!.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Available for Preorder: A Part Of The Pattern

A writer never knows when inspiration is going to hit. Sometimes you get it from reading something in a newspaper (yes, I STILL read (and highly enjoy) newspapers, both the local rag and USA Today), or hearing something on the radio, or reading a book.

What? Isn't that plagiarism? No, not when it's just a sentence. And that sentence was written by one of my favorite authors, Barbara Michaels. In fact, it was her romantic suspense novels (with a paranormal thread) that inspired me to write my Jeff Resnick Mysteries.

Authors do variations on a theme all the time. My friend Pat Ryan did a variation on Hitchcock's film, Rear Window, with one of her historical romances. There have been scores of take-offs based on the work of Jane Austen, etc. (Pride and Prejudice with zombies, for instance.)

I've been wrestling with how to continue Jeff's story arc after the devastating events in the most recent novel, Shattered Spirits. I often reread my favorite books and about three weeks ago I reread Ms. Michaels' book The Dancing Floor. In it, one of the characters tells another: "You're a part of the pattern." I got stuck on that one paragraph and that sentence, and reread it several times. I kept thinking about it over and over again and that got me inspired to tell Jeff's story--how he became a part of the pattern. And, truthfully, until I started writing the story, I had no clue there actually was a pattern.

I knew there wasn't a novel in this tale, so decided to make it a bridge story. By dealing with the subject of Jeff and Richard starting their own business, they are free to jump right into a case in the next novel. Whew! Big relief.  Of course, what that case may be--I have no clue. I have two other books to write before I can deal with that, but that lets me start noodling, and there's where the story will come from; my subconscious

So, Jeff has a mini-mystery and readers have a new (longish) short story to read. And, of course, it's called A PART OF THE PATTERN. It'll be available September 18th from all ebook distributors.  Here's the description:

.Jeff Resnick finds himself drawn to solving crimes. His brother, Richard, thinks that could be the basis of a paying business. Reluctantly, Jeff agrees, and their first case is about a a child who vanished more than two decades before. Meanwhile, Jeff bumps into an acquaintance whose history is very similar to that of the missing girl. Is it coincidence or is there a pattern that links him to her and his future? 

Kindle | Kindle Worldwide | Nook | iBooks | Kobo | Smashwords

If you've been missing Jeff, get ready for your next fix!