Hello and Welcome!
Thank you for joining me today. The website has a whole lot of information about my books, but right now I want to get personal. Each month I hope to share some insight as to what inspires me, and what I am up to when I’m not writing.
I hope this finds you and your loved ones safe and well. Here we are in the “Dog Days” of summer thinking about pooches panting in the heat and searching for some shade. But the true origin of the term comes from astronomy. If you look closely at the night sky, you may notice one star is brighter than the rest. That’s Sirius, The Dog Star, part of the constellation Canis Major, meaning “Big Dog.” This year it will be visible until August 11th. You should be able to see it without a telescope but if you have one enjoy the magnificent sparkling display.
Yes, the cats are on a hooligan rampage again. I think they’ve broken everything possible in the house. I shrug. It’s just stuff. So, here’s a tip: if you ever adopt young cats lock everything up that has any value, although I think Miz Boo can pick locks. I think she’s been watching Tick Tock videos with Tessie. Speaking of Tessie (Miz Boo’s Mommy), she is quite talented. She can turn the TV on, and if it’s a show she likes she’ll leave it, but if not, she’ll turn it off. She still hasn’t mastered changing the channel. Yet. She also knows how to turn on the water but hasn’t been able to figure out how to turn it off. It’s a learning curve. I’ve also discovered her favorite beverage is ginger ale. And she must drink it from a straw. We’re trying to figure out how to do a blind taste-test. I’ll let you know how that turns out.
My pillows are no longer my own. Harvey sleeps on one, and Boo sleeps on the other. She is sweet as honey with 3 legs, a club foot, one orange eye and one yellow eye. She’s quite a site but she’s my little baby. I know I mentioned Winnie has taken residence on the dining room table, and that’s fine with me. It seats 12 so there’s still plenty of room for company. If people don’t want a cat at the table they can go somewhere else to eat. My house. My rules. 😊
August is hot and sticky down here. Every year it gets hotter and stickier. I love to sit on my rocking chairs on my front porch but last month it was impossible. I needed a spatula to get up. After 5 minutes of that I decided to hunker down in the air conditioning and watch my fur-family destroy whatever is in their path. Gotta love ‘em.
Big book news: No Way Out is on The New York Times Best Seller List; Secrets (Book 2 in the Lost and Found Series starring Luna and Cullen Bodman) will be on sale the end of this month; The Guest List and The Marriage Game are being reissued in August and September with spectacular new covers! I’ll save the fall announcements for next month!
It is hard to imagine school will be starting in some states at the end of this month, so the weekends are precious and there is nothing better than a good family dinner, especially a traditional Southern dinner. I wrote about this last year, but it’s worth repeating. Many people turn up their noses to collard greens—I for one, am one of those people—but this is made with bacon. Everything is better with bacon. (I wonder why no one has invented bacon flavored toothpaste…oh well) As I mentioned before, this recipe comes from Ashley Fenimore, a beautiful young pharmacological oncologist who won the Charleston Magazine contest for side vegetables. Her collard greens was the winning recipe! Ashley is one of those people who work tirelessly in search of the cure for cancer. After a long week in the lab, she relaxes by cooking with her family. Another friend Carolyn Williams gave us her family recipe for fried chicken. And of course, every Southern meal must have potato salad.
Contest stuff: Everyone seems to be enjoying the contests for a bundle of my personal favorites so we’re going to do that again!
Enjoy the rest of the summer. Stay cool, stay well, stay safe, and most of all stay sane!
TUSCAN STYLE COLLARD GREENS (A LITTLE BIT OF ITALY)
- 2 large bunches local collards
- 16 oz. low-sodium vegetable broth, divided
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 2 large leeks, washed, white part diced (slice 2-3 rings for garnish)
- 1/3 lb. pancetta or bacon chopped
- Cut or tear collard leaves off stems.
- Clean by rinsing repeatedly in cold water. Remove excess water – use a salad spinner if you have one.
- Cut into two-inch strips.
- Place in a large pot, cover generously with vegetable broth (reserve 1/3 cup broth for later), and bring to a low boil.
- Cook until collards are almost tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- Heat olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.
- Sauté garlic for two minutes, or until tender. Using slotted spoon, remove garlic to a bowl.
- Add diced leeks to pan, and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes—do not brown.
- Remove leeks to garlic bowl. Add pancetta/bacon to frying pan, and sauté until browned.
- Return garlic and leeks to pan.
- Add reserved vegetable broth and collards.
- Stir gently and thoroughly until collards are completely cooked, about three minutes. Serve.
SOUTHERN FRIED CHICKEN
- Cut up whole chicken
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 3 cups whole wheat flour
- 2 cup corn meal
- 2 tablespoons sea salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 3-4 cups Wesson or high heat oil – enough to cover frying pan by at least 1 inch
- Wash Chicken – soak in slightly salted water for 10 minutes
- Blend dry ingredients and let sit for 10 minutes
- Heat oil until a drop of water sizzles
- Dip chicken in buttermilk
- Dredge chicken through dry ingredients and place in hot oil
- Keep an eye on the chicken—when it is brown on one side turn over and cook other side
EASY POTATO SALAD
- 2 lbs. New Potatoes or red potatoes cubed and cooked – let cool a bit
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup ranch dressing [with or without bacon] or add your own
- ¼ cup bacon bits or crumbled bacon
- Mix and serve or refrigerate for 2 hours and serve
FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE CAKE – ANOTHER CONTEST WINNER!
- 4 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened)
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder plus additional for sprinkling
- Preheat oven to 375°F and butter an 8-inch round baking pan. Line bottom with a round of wax paper and butter paper.
- Chop chocolate into small pieces.
- In a double boiler or metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water melt chocolate with butter, stirring, until smooth.
- Remove top of double boiler or bowl from heat and whisk sugar into chocolate mixture.
- Add eggs and whisk well.
- Sift 1/2 cup cocoa powder over chocolate mixture and whisk until just combined.
- Pour batter into pan and bake in middle of oven 25 minutes, or until top has formed a thin crust.
- Cool cake in pan on a rack 5 minutes and invert onto a serving plate.
- Dust cake with additional cocoa powder. (Cake keeps, after being cooled completely, in an airtight container, 1 week.)
If you’re like me, technology can be a little confusing. Okay, a lot confusing, so here’s a little more info to help you navigate.
We put all my books from 2021 on the 2021 page and all the upcoming releases on the 2022 page.
Thank you! Enjoy!