Friday, October 20, 2017

Special Times with Writer Friends

Missy Tippens

Writing can sometimes be a lonely job. We have to be intentional about forming relationships with other writers, making connections at local chapter meetings as well as making online friends. We can also make connections at conferences, national as well as local.

I have a good many writing friends whom I met online. It's always such a joy on the rare occasions I get to see them in person! The ladies from the Seekerville blog as well as those here at the Cafe are some of my closest friends.

Recently, though, I also had the opportunity to attend the Moonlight & Magnolias Conference here in the Atlanta, Georgia, area. I haven't been able to make many of the Georgia Romance Writers meeting the last couple of years due to family commitments. But I was able to work out going away for the weekend at the end of September. It was a great conference!

I thought I'd share a few photos from that.


A selfie with Tanya Agler at the awards banquet where...drumroll... she won a Maggie Award!


Okay, so it was supposed to be a masquerade theme for the Maggie banquet. But I totally forgot (and don't do well coming up with costumes anyway. I'm so boring!). So this is me with my critique partner extraordinaire Lindi Peterson.


Dinner with several good writer friends, including Seeker bloggers Debby Giusti as well as Cara Lynn James who came up from Florida with her critique partner. Left to right:
Debby Giusti, Connie Gillam, Pam Varnado, Fran McNabb, Cara Lynn James, and Lindi Peterson.

Also in September, I had the blessing of getting together with our old critique group for dinner. We haven't met regularly for years now. But we always manage to stay in touch and get together for dinner when we can. This time we were celebrating two birthdays!


 Maureen Hardegree and Meg Moseley (birthday girls).


Lindi Peterson and me.

It's great to have old friends and new friends who are with us along this writing and publishing journey. Those who understand the crazy aspects of the writing life (characters who won't get out of our heads, rejections, bad reviews, and mean reader letters) as well as celebrate the joys of the writing life (WONDERFUL reader letters--of which there are WAY more, book contracts and releases, good reviews, and awards).

Through it all, we support each other, pray for each other, and cheer each other on.

What a blessing my writing friends are!

www.missytippens.com

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Winding Down Pumpkin Mania!

Wind-down on the farm comes with mixed emotions.

Peeking through the trees from the side porch at the cars on the road....



Parking area... overflow!!!! Yes!!!


Folks parked out on the road... and down the road!!!
We're thrilled by a record-breaking year.

We're already making notes about next year.

We've had kids here on field trips...



We've let folks walk donkeys, we've sold tens of thousands of pumpkins and decorative corn and gourds and... oh my stars, everything...

But now when I take apart a display, we pack it away.

We keep consolidating, bringing more things from the second yard and filling the front yards... and then clean up the second yard for baseball, soccer and football-playing kids...

We're ordering a snow-blower.

The seasons are changing, even though the warm fall has let leaves linger green longer than usual.

But still the change is here.  Although this baby mouse thinks it's spring! That's Morgan Blodgett holding her... she named the mouse "tiny" because it was a tiny mouse. :) The sensibility of children should teach us so much!


We're cleaning out the garage to make room for firewood because we heat with wood.

We're putting things in basements, sheds and crawl spaces... and I haven't finished the second chicken coop yet!!! YIKES!

Step by step, sale by sale, the season closes. And that's okay.

But in the meantime, I'm playing with a beautifully stewed Silver Moon pumpkin which is going to turn into something delicious today... Along with Double Chocolate Chip Whoopie Pies for customers!



We've had more infestations of yellow jackets (yes, in the house) than ever before, so our exterminator has been kept busy!

The minute the night gets cold, the yellow jackets seek indoor facilities!

And two little blondes helping with customers...

And posing by the photo-op we've got under the big old box elder tree...


It's time to put away the porch swings and stack the firewood...

THIS WAS A FORBODING SKY!!!! 
And then, come March, when the sun tips upward once more, it's the BEST FEELING to bring those rockers and swings back out!

What's fall like in your life? In your town? In your home?

I always feel the need to nest in the fall. To fill the freezer, the cupboards, the jelly jars.

Is that silly or normal???

Please say normal!!!!

There'll be time for cooking and writing and planning in just a week or so... but as much as I appreciate that, saying goodbye to the frenetic selling season is always with some regret.

Of course once we build a barn, then we'll be open two more months, and by then I may kill my husband, but that's another blog! :)

Who retires to a busy, working farm???

Us.

And it's crazy fun to see just how far we can take this dream... I think Farmer Dave needs a rest.

But I see that gleam in his eye when he talks about "next year"...

And maybe that's a secret to staying young. To plan ahead and hang onto the dream!

Multi-published author Ruthy Logan Herne loves to write sweet books, tell stories, pretend to be other people, and snuggle little kids whenever she gets the chance which is fairly often... and she's okay with that! Visit her website ruthloganherne.com, friend her on facebook or follow her on Twitter... and mostly, she'd love to hear about the things that make your life special... or challenging!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Ratatouille Omelette Redux

 

 Although the weather has finally turned chilly (for a day or two), this weekend the farmer's market was surprisingly still full of gorgeous tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, zucchini, etc.


So I thought I'd go with one last hurrah for summer produce and share this old post. It didn't get too much attention the first time around, so maybe more people will get to see it today.

 

Ratatouille Omelette and a Trip Down Memory Lane

Many years ago (too many to count!), one of my first jobs was as a waitress in a French restaurant. The owner was the most superb chef. He was Spanish, but his wife was French, and his cooking was definitely French and out of this world delicious!!!

I don't want to tell you how many times we would go in the fridge and steal spoonfuls of his incredible chocolate chip mousse.

Then there were the late nights when he would feed all of us after the restaurant closed at midnight. It was a heady experience for a high school student to be sitting around the communal table enjoying what Jose whipped up for us. One big family with Brigitte at the head of the table.

One of my favorites was a ratatouille omelette. Never before and never since have I had one made quite so well.

But last night when I was walking home from work (and starving because I'd had only a few mouthfuls of lunch), I decided to do my own version with some leftover summer veggies.

I didn't have any eggplant (and didn't think to buy any).

Mine wasn't Jose's but it was pretty darn tasty.

I'll let the pictures tell the story.


Wonderful summer vegetables. I love the colors!!!

Added some oregano, basil, and garlic.






And then tonight, when I got home after a late church meeting, I had the leftover ratatouille on some leftover Italian bread with garlic and cheese.



Sorry the picture isn't more clear. I was hungry!




But now I want some of that heavenly chocolate mousse!


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Falling for Fall with Easy Chicken and Rice Casserole

Yes, it’s finally beginning to feel more like autumn here in southeast Texas. We can open the windows at the big house and allow all those paint fumes to escape.
Those cooler temps also mean bonfires and a longing to be outside after retreating from the heat all summer.
The nice weather makes the wildlife more active, too.

However, you'd better plug your ears if a water moccasin is seen scooting across the lake.

Of course, there are some things that never change, no matter what the season.

This glorious weather has me wanting to do anything but stay inside and fix dinner. Making it the perfect time for one of my all-time favorite casseroles.
My girls’ grandmother shared this recipe with me when I was a young bride and everyone who tries it wants to know the recipe. I guarantee you’ve rarely had rice that tastes this good. Best of all, assembly is quick and easy, allowing you to go outside and play while the oven takes care of the rest.

Here’s what you’ll need:

A whole chicken, cut up, or whatever part of the chicken happens to be your favorite. On this day, I had a package of 4 large chicken thighs, so that’s what I used.

1 ½ cups long-grain white rice, uncooked

1 packet dry onion soup mix

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

1 tablespoon Beau Monde, a Spice Islands brand seasoning blend. Unfortunately, there are no substitutions for this and I’m convinced it’s what makes this recipe.

4 cups water

4-8 tablespoons melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Put the dry rice in a 9 x 13 baking dish and sprinkle with the soup mix and seasonings.
Add water and give it a quick stir.

Melt butter in a saucepan and dip chicken in butter to coat. 
 Nestle chicken into rice mixture.
I drizzled the remaining butter over the chicken.

Once you have all of your chicken in the pan, place the pan into a preheated oven and bake for 45 minutes to one hour, until chicken is cooked and liquid has been absorbed.
I will warn you that the aromas filling your house as this bakes will make your tummy growl and your taste buds eager for that first bite.

This dish is perfect for potluck dinners (though one taste will have folks fighting for more) or if you’re taking a meal to someone in need. Just add a veggie and you’ve got a complete meal with very little effort on your part.

Now it’s your turn. Are you enjoying fall where you are? Has old man winter tried to make an early appearance? Or is summer holding on forever?



Mindy Obenhaus lives on a ranch in Texas with her husband, the youngest of her five children and two dogs. She's passionate about touching readers with Biblical truths in an entertaining, and sometimes adventurous, manner. When she’s not writing, she enjoys cooking and spending time with her grandchildren. Learn more at www.MindyObenhaus.com  

Monday, October 16, 2017

Fun and Frugal Revisited: Quick Roasted Almonds

It is deadline crunch time, so I thought I'd bring back a post I shared five years ago...

WAIT!!! FIVE years ago??? That's right, five years. Now I officially feel old. Very old.

Okay, the pity-party is over! I recently brought this recipe out to help with quick, nutritious snacks to have during my mid-afternoon writing sprint. Make these ahead of time, keep them in a closed container, and there you are! Instant snack!

I'll get back to my writing while you enjoy the healthy look back...


Quick Roasted Almonds


Okay you fit and frugal peeps. Jan here with a recipe that's SO EASY and SO GOOD you'll love it!

Remember, this month I'm sharing recipes that are 1) low cost, 2) tasty and 3) healthy.

Almonds aren't really low calorie, but they're such a healthy snack, you just have to have a few every day. I usually allow myself about 25 almonds a day, for around 170 calories. That way I get the nutrition without breaking the calorie bank.

I made my roasted almonds using a recipe from Spark People, but you can use this same basic recipe to make whatever flavor you want.

So here's the scoop.

Ingredients:

2 cups raw almonds
3 teaspoons olive oil
3 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons lime zest, freshly grated

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine the almonds and olive oil until the almonds are coated.

Note: be sure to use raw almonds, not roasted or blanched.

Add all the rest of the ingredients except the lime zest. and stir until everything is well blended.

Spread the almonds out onto a shallow baking pan (or cookie sheet with sides). I like to line mine with parchment paper.



Roast the almonds in the oven for about 40 minutes, stirring once.



Meanwhile, make your lime zest.

I don't have a zester, so I use my grater. Grate the lime peel, both the green part and into the white part, until you have 2 teaspoons.








When your almonds are done roasting, sprinkle the lime zest on right away and stir. Once they're cool, store the almonds in a container.

I really like this cumin/lime blend, but I keep thinking about other yummy combinations, like cinnamon/sugar or garlic/Parmesan cheese.

What combinations do you think you might try?








Jan Drexler loves her family, her home, cooking and just about anything made by hand. But she loves her Lord most of all.

Stop by Jan's website to learn more about her books: www.JanDrexler.com

Friday, October 13, 2017

Fancying-Up Your Meat and Potatoes

Missy Tippens

I admit my food is not beautiful. I love to watch cooking shows and read cookbooks, and I admire the plating and beautiful dishes. Then when I make something, I pretty much just slap it on the plate. :)

When I share blog recipes with y'all, I often show the ingredients and steps of cooking but not the finished plate. Granted, sometimes it's because I forget to take the photos (like when I'm starving!). But not all the time. I have a lot of plated food photos in my camera that just aren't appealing to post.

Today, as I was looking back through my photos, I was struck by how many beautiful food photos I've taken at restaurants (although sometimes the lighting isn't great).



This is a wonderful salmon dish I had at Marlow's Tavern. It came with pea risotto underneath. But the really special part was the fennel, radish and orange on top in a wonderful dressing. Here's their description:

Grilled Atlantic Salmon. Sweet pea, mint barley risotto. Fennel, orange and radish slaw with citrus vinaigrette.

Sounds divine, doesn't it? Here is another dish I had recently at Carrabba's Italian Grill. This was the Parmesan-Crusted Chicken Arugula with a side of butternut squash ravioli.


The fresh arugula salad is tossed in Mediterranean lemon vinaigrette, then topped with parmesan.

So, taking a regular protein like breaded and sautéed chicken or grilled salmon and then topping it with something bright and citrusy is a great way to elevate the dish--as well as make it look beautiful!

This is something I want to try to do! I bought a cool kitchen device at a Pampered Chef party a few weeks ago. I bought their salad dressing shaker that comes with recipes right on the container. It's called the Measure, Mix & Pour. I'd like to try making more of my own homemade dressings, then tossing with fresh greens or crisp veggies or fruit to dress up some of my stand-by recipes.

Have any of you tried this? I'd love suggestions!