Thursday, October 24, 2013

It's Time to Make Smuggler's Bride Persimmon Cake

I was at the farmers market yesterday, and it was overflowing with ripe, orange persimmons. Persimmons played a role in Smuggler's Bride, as kidnapped heiress Julia Delarue cooked her way into the good graces of smuggler Rand Washburn: 
“I have to hunt and fish to keep food on the table,” Rand said. “I can’t be spendin’ all day doin’ women’s work!”
“If it is women’s work, it is not work this woman ever did. At the estate where I lived there were laundresses who did the cleaning for the entire household. I can cook better than you can, but it seems to me that if you have experience doing laundry, then you can continue to do a better job than I would. Not to mention that if I am spending all my time doing laundry I won’t have time to make the pork pie I was planning for dinner. With persimmon cake for dessert.”
There was something wrong with this logic, Rand knew it, but he couldn’t come up with a good argument. It became even harder to think about it when Julia waltzed past him into the house carrying a plate and leaving behind an aroma of griddle cakes, syrup, and woman.
--SMUGGLER'S BRIDE


Julia's Persimmon Cake


Preheat oven to 325F


1 cup sugar
3/4 cup margarine or butter
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1 cup persimmon pulp--approx. six small very ripe Florida persimmons
½ cup chopped pecans


To get persimmon pulp: Take very ripe persimmons, cut in half, scoop pulp out. Remove pithy seed area, pulse a few times in food processor.

1. Stir together dry ingredients

2. cream sugar and butter, add eggs, add dry ingredients, pulp and nuts.

3. pour mixture into standard loaf pan (grease and flour pan, if not nonstick model), bake 1.25 hours. Let cool ten minutes, remove from pan.

Freezes well. You can also try baking it at 350F for 1 hour, depending on your oven.



Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Slow Writing Movement

We've all heard of the "slow food movement", which advocates leisurely meals prepared from scratch. I'm a fan.

I'm also a fan of the "slow writing movement". Not writing out my manuscripts with a quill pen, but taking notes by hand. I've found over the years that I retain information better if I write it out in longhand. Because I want to maximize my enjoyment of that notetaking, I use the finest "ingredients". Today I was researching 19th C. Key West, Florida. I set up my latest Circa notebook from Levenger's, filling it with Rhodia paper, organizing new tabbed dividers. Then I got out my fountain pens--two Cross models, a Lamy Safari, a Sensa, all with different inks. Finally, I picked it all up and moved it to my back porch because it's a lovely day in North Florida.

The research is going well (though I need to further research a question about sovereign territory), and I enjoyed the notetaking. The flow of ink, the smoothness of the paper, it all contributed to my retention of the knowledge.

It reminds me of something from my past. Some of my older friends remember when I was a news reporter, then a news director, and I smoked a pipe. I had quite a collection of lovely, smaller bowl pipes for women, including some with rhinestones and a meerschaum carved like a full blown rose. I gave up smoking when I got pregnant the first time, but I still miss the pipe smoking ritual, and the fountain pens remind me of that. Pipe smoking is a leisurely process. You're constantly tamping, and relighting, and cleaning, and mixing oxygen in with a pipe tool. But this leisurely process helps you slow down, focus, re-think a little bit. My note-taking is like that. It's leisurely, but I retain far more information this way.

So, as much as I'm dismayed at schools no longer teaching penmanship, I'll enjoy my pens and paper and hope that like the slow food movement, we'll see a return to the slow writing movement.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Review--Box Office Poison

Box Office Poison (Linnet Ellery, #2)Box Office Poison by Phillipa Bornikova
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"Box Office Poison is Boffo, Critics Rave!" Well, this critic is raving. Hooray for Hollywood! Linney Ellery, the young attorney with uncanny luck is back in another adventure as her "white-fang" firm of bloodsucking leeches--yes, the attorneys in her firm really are vampires--sends her to Tinseltown to help arbitrate a dispute between human actors and fey actors, the Alfar.  It's bad enough the humans have to Botox and nip-and-tuck themselves into getting cast for a decent part, but now they're competing against elfin glamour and the humans cry "Foul!"

Linnet accompanies vampire partner David Sullivan to a place of artifice where vampires spray on tans, everyone talks movie-speak and the weather is a far cry from NYC in winter. But when Alfar actors go on murderous rampages for no apparent reason, Linnet begins to suspect there's more going on than a simple labor dispute.

I blew off an afternoon of work because I wanted to see how it would all end. I knew (or strongly suspected) who the villain was, but couldn't figure out the end game and Bornikova kept the stakes and the suspense high. I can't wait for the next installment!


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Sunday, October 13, 2013

Review--The Wicked Deeds of Daniel Mackenzie

The Wicked Deeds of Daniel Mackenzie (Highland Pleasures, #6)The Wicked Deeds of Daniel Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this late-Victorian era romance, a period of great change in society, science, and opportunities.

Daniel Mackenzie's appeared as a young man in earlier Ashley novels, and it's a pleasure to see him grow into the promise he showed earlier. What I liked best about Daniel was that he's a nice guy. That's it. He's not over-the-top angsty, despite his traumatic childhood, he's a cheerful, optimistic man full of life and for once is someone who says exactly what he means.

The heroine, Violet, is a fraud and a trickster, a woman who survives by her wits helping her mother conduct "seances" for the gullible. Daniel immediately sees through her tricks, but more importantly, he sees Violet--the fragile girl, the sharp mind, the inner beauty shining through her difficult life.

It was entertaining and enjoyable from start to finish.


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Saturday, October 05, 2013

Review--The Dream Thieves

The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle, #2)The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was worried the sequel to The Raven Boys wouldn't hold up to the amazing writing of the first book in The Raven Cycle, but I needn't have worried. The characters, the dialogue, the plotting, all came together for a reading experience that reminds one why we enjoy fantasy fiction.

The Ley Lines have been awakened and the fallout continues for Gansey, Ronan, Adam, Blue and Noah. This time it's Ronan's story, as his dreams become reality, but of course, one's dreams include nightmares.

The writing is poetic, one of my favorite characters is a hitman, and Blue still doesn't know which boy she'll kill with a kiss. Read The Raven Boys, then read The Dream Thieves and you can suffer with the rest of us waiting for the next book.

My only regret is that since the books are shelved in YA many adults will pass them by. The Raven Cycle is worth reading even if you're long past your high school angst.


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Review--The Top of Her Game

The Top of Her GameThe Top of Her Game by Emma Holly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a re-read for me, and it's held up well after a number of years on my shelf. Dom Julia is a city slicker stuck in Montana at a snowed-in business retreat. She's on a mission to find out who's engaging in corporate espionage at her Wall Street firm, but it's also an opportunity to explore her desires with some of her co-workers.

What Julia doesn't count on is rugged cowboy Zach, who's intrigued by the "take charge" lady. But can a down-home boy like Zach offer anything (besides an amazing body) to a sophisticated woman used to so much variety in her sex life?

I enjoyed this partly because there seems to be a glut of Mdom romance on the market right now, and it's nice to have a little Fdom for a change. In addition, Holly is one of my favorite authors for combining romance and hot erotica in a story that leaves the reader satisfied. She's always on the short list of authors I recommend to readers who picked up that book and think it's the final word on BDSM romance.


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