Tuesday, July 26, 2016

It's Wedding Season!

Missy, here. I've been away for a few weeks and really appreciate Chef Tina Radcliffe filling in! On top of a move in June, our son got married on July 16th. We don't have photos back from the photographer yet, but I took some myself on my phone. :) I think I frequently got in the way, because my son kept telling me they hired a a professional to do that. LOL But I told him I had to have some photos on my phone to easily share with my friends!

So here are the photos I took for all of you. First, the rehearsal dinner. As the groom's parents, this was the event we hosted. Here are my sister, brother-in-law, my other son (the best man), his girlfriend, my daughter and one of the groomsmen--some of the first to arrive. We held it at The Pinnacle Club in Augusta, GA. 

It stormed as we arrived, then soon cleared. Here's the gorgeous view of the Savannah River we had from The Crystal Room! A beautiful rainbow ordered just for the bride and groom. ;)

Then Saturday was wedding day! Here's the gorgeous alter table, photos I took before the service. I wish I had one with the candles lit.

Since my daughter was a bridesmaid, I spent the day with the bride and bridesmaids  But I took this shot on a quick visit to the groom to see how handsome the guys looked in all their finery. He looked so happy!

Here's a shot I took over the photographer's shoulder. :) A photo of the beautiful bride and her bridesmaids.

Skipping ahead to post-wedding photos. A dip kiss of the bride.

Oh, wait! I did take a photo of the alter table while the candles were lit!

I love this shot.

Here's a cute one outside after the wedding. Sarah's train had gotten stepped on, and it broke the bustle. So Nick was trying to help her hold it (until I was able to sew a new loop later at the dinner reception).

Here's a stunning shot of the dinner reception venue, Sacred Heart Cultural Center. I was blown away when I first walked in.

And here's the bride and groom's first dance as husband and wife.

And the sweet mother-son dance. I ended up crying through most of it! He had to tell me I needed to stop before I made him cry. :)

And since this is The Cafe, I had to share a photo of the wedding cake! It was beautiful. They also had smaller cakes in different flavors (chocolate/yellow marble, strawberry and lemon). 

The photographer Lauren Carnes (if you live in the Augusta area and need a photographer, she's amazing!) did a blog post and shared a good many of her gorgeous photos. If you have a minute, check it out! click here

I have to add what I thought was a very sweet part of the service. My husband and Sarah's dad are both United Methodist pastors. They've been good friends for almost thirty years. They did the ceremony together, which made it very meaningful. I didn't think Nick would appreciate me pulling out my phone and taking a photo during the service. LOL But the photographer shared a photo on her blog post that shows the two dads together with Nick and Sarah. I love it.

If you've hung out with me this long, thank you! I appreciate you celebrating the occasion with me. :)

Monday, July 25, 2016

Roasted Cauliflower...umm...Steaks?

I ran across this recipe on line somewhere recently, and had to try it.

We've talked about roasted veggies here in the Cafe before, but this...oh man...you have to try it!

Start with a head of cauliflower. Doesn't it look beautiful?

Slice it into "steaks" about one inch thick. I did three (one was quite small) because this was going to be the main course for my lunch. If you're using it as a side dish, make one slice per person.

Lay the "steaks" on parchment paper that you've prepared with cooking spray or lightly coated with oil. Coat the top of the slices with oil, also. (I used coconut oil.)

Season with salt, pepper and garlic. Roast at 450° for 45 minutes.

Be sure to choose a coolish day!

After 45 minutes, take the "steaks" out of the oven and add whatever toppings sound good. I used shredded cheddar, but don't you think crumbled bacon would be great, too?

Put the pan back in the oven and turn off the heat. Leave it be for 30-45 more minutes.

I left mine in for a full hour - a bit too long - but so scrumptious! The cauliflower was soft and creamy, and the cheese was toasted and yummy.

And yes, it was a delicious lunch!

In other news, it's tourist season in the Black Hills (or anywhere, I guess!). We spent some time being tourists over the weekend. We visited one of our favorite spots in Custer State Park: The Badger Hole.

I wrote about this quaint cabin and the prolific poet who lived there last year (you can read that post here), and I fell in love with the place and the man all over again on this visit.

After all, how can you not love a man whose walls are lined with bookshelves?

And looking at that post from last year, I am reminded that I gave up on my sourdough! But no worries. I'm going to try again...I'll see if I know what went wrong last summer. I think I have it figured out.

How is the summer going at your house? Do you have tourists in your area? Or are you the one who travels to far destinations?

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

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Double Chocolate Pound Cake with Ganache topping

Hi everybody! Here's the recipe I promised last week when I was still unpacking. We had so much fun this week trying new recipes and making cakes, but I'll share those in the coming weeks. For now, it's double chocolate pound cake!
But first...
 It's apricot season!! Oh my yum. These are so delicious. We can pick twenty lbs and they're gone in days. Okay, we do share them but still... So much fresh deliciousness!
And I love this picture. I had a reluctant reader who decided he WOULD NOT READ. I believe in leading kids to education, not shoving it down their throats, so I told him that was fine. He was only six after all. And so the months went on and he repeated how he would never read and didn't want to. But it happened anyway. You just can't NOT read when you're read to for an hour a night (oh, the wonderful books we've read!), spend hours in a library every week, live in a house where books outnumber people 100-1, and are surrounded by people reading ALL THE TIME. So, I had to snap this picture of my reluctant reader who now reads at a fourth grade level. In fact, he was reading the Redwall series by Brian Jacques last night. Makes my mama heart happy. :)

 So, the cake. A friend sent me her recipe after I taste it at a BBQ. It was SO GOOD.

You'll need these ingredients:
 1 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
 1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp espresso powder
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk
1 cup plus 2 tbs flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
 1/2 tsp baking soda

For the ganache topping:
3/4 cup heavy cream
4.5 oz dark chocolate

Sorry I don't have pictures of the process. I know I took some, but I was also cleaning out my phone from the trip and somehow... That's why I love facebook. At least there was one photo of the cake!

Mix the butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla together. Mix all dry ingredients. Mix sugar butter mix and dry ingredients together, then slowly add sour cream and milk. Cook at 350F for about 40-50 minutes. Check often because the color is so dark you won't be able to tell by looking and that last ten minutes can make or break a cake!

So, here's our recipe for next week! Goes right along with Ruthy's Christmas in July collections!
 Orange buttermilk pound cake in a Cathedral pan.
We actually checked out the pan from our library. How cool is that??

But a word of warning... it doesn't like all cakes. This poor lemon blueberry buttermilk cake was super delicious but not fit for company, hahahaha.

OK, see everyone next week! I'm at the end of a deadline and I ALWAYS cook like crazy. Stress relief... unless it looks like the cake above!
Stay cool and keep cooking!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Old-fashioned Oatmeal Cake with Broiled Coconut Topping, a Herne Family Fave... and Christmas in July SALE!

Happy Friday, all!!!

I feel like sharing some holiday fun today.

We've got all of our Christmas Collections on sale at Amazon for .99.

NINETY-NINE CENTS!!! That rocks.... If you love Christmas and a great deal, head on over and grab one... or all four! Four collections for under $4.00

Sweet deal!!!!   And here it is on AMAZON:

Don't you just love, love, love that cover? Sweet, bucolic, pastoral, all the things we love to embrace about homesteaders and pioneers and times gone by....

Those folks worked so hard, so long and in often unforgiving conditions and many of them gave up, called it a day, and went back home, back east, back to some kind of civilization.

Who could blame them? The ones who stayed, who settled in, who toughed it out were either made of grittier stuff (yes!), luckier (most likely!), prideful (uh, huh!!!!) or had a better working knowledge and endurance for making do.

We're a bit spoiled now... And sometimes we take for granted what others did to gain our freedoms, our lands, our growth and our government, but when I jump into a historical like "A Town Called Christmas" (Hope for the Holidays historical collection) or "Prairie Promises" (Homestead Brides) I stand amazed by how stinkin' lazy I am by comparison.

Imagine living in a soddy?

EEE GADS!!!!! And yet 160 acres of FREE LAND?????? Arable land, once you could figure how to get a pitchfork through ten inches of knitted prairie grass roots. Sod potatoes, tiny, measly things. Sod corn, struggling for life to give misshapen ears. No shade, little respite from the sun, few windows, bugs, mice, snakes....

We are so blessed! :)  I love a sacrificial nature, it's like the most amazing gift from God, but heaven help me I whine like a baby when the temps go over 85.... And I'm in deciduous forest land, there are shade trees everywhere, so what am I whining about?

I've learned that success in most anything comes down to this:

Do the best job you can at every job you're given and ...

Don't quit.

Because it's not about the talent or the skill as much as it's about the diligence, perseverance and work ethic. The smartest employees who take regular sick days for every little thing are NOT the most valued....

It's the worker bees!!!! The dawn-to-duskers, the ones who show up, regardless, plant their heels and go. And speaking of worker bees, here's the 2014 "Hope for the Holidays" Historical Collection:

So today we're going to do a fun, old recipe, something I've loved for decades and a favorite in our house.

Boiled Oatmeal Cake with Broiled Coconut Topping (and if I get done and discover this in our list, well... clearly it's worth a second look, but I scanned and didn't see it!)

350° oven (moderate oven)     

30-35 minutes (cake should be golden and dry on top, moist crumbs on toothpick test)  for 13" x 9" pan, greased and floured


Mix together in small saucepan:  

1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 cup quick oats

Let sit while making cake batter.

Cream: 1/2 cup butter
              1 cup brown sugar
              1 cup sugar
              2 large eggs

Divert invading baby's attention by feeding him peeled apple.
Cream until fluffy and smooth. 

Add in:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour minus 2 tablespoons.... (So then I had to wonder if the original recipe used Softasilk flour because this is the same ratio.... but I've used both and the cake is wonderful!)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt

Mix dry mixture and creamed mixture. Blend. Add cooked oatmeal. Blend again. Bake until done, cool at least one half hour. 

Top with coconut frosting and broil.

Broiled Coconut Topping

Melt 9 tablespoons butter in saucepan or bowl.


1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1 1/2 cups flaked coconut
1/2 teaspoon vanilla (I forgot this, oops! Faded old recipe!)
1 cup of chopped nuts can be added if desired.

Stir together and then add 1/4-1/2 cup cream or milk until topping is of spreading consistency. Pour onto cake and place a few inches under broiler (it is helpful to turn the broiler ON....) :) and let broil until topping starts to turn golden brown.

One of my favorite cakes in this world, including CHOCOLATE VARIETIES!!!!! I love this old fashioned cake, and if I'm on a cakewalk.... This is where my eye is drawn!

And if you're after contemporary Christmas romance (and who isn't???) here are the contemporary collections on sale now!  A Heart Full of Christmas on Amazon:

Thursday, July 21, 2016

ZOODLE-MANIA at Ruthy's!!!!

First, I love to eat.

Second: I'm 5' 2.5" tall.  (That half inch is clutch, when it disappears I'll know I've begun SHRINKING!!!!! Eek!)

I write books.

You don't have to be a math expert to add this one up, so I'm always looking for low-carb ways of loving food without piling on weight because I don't want to give up everything.

I love ice cream.

I love baked goods.

But I have to be sensible, and then my daughter-in-law Lacey went on a fresh foods diet and I discovered Zoodles.

Zoodles are faux noodles formed with this:

Veggetti Maker

This dish is so simple, quick and delicious, you won't believe it...

Saute about 1.5 lbs. of sweet or hot Italian sausage until cooked through... chop into bite-sized pieces as sausage cooks.

Spiral cut 1-2 regular sized zucchini with the Veggeti magic machine!

When sausage is cooked, pour in a bottle of sauce.... I like this one, but I add a good sprinkle of basil, salt, pepper and garlic and Parmesan or Romano cheese..

Heat gently.

Add the spiral zucchini noodles, AKA: Zoodles.

Heat for about 6-7 minutes over low heat. You don't want to cook the zoodles too much.



This is a low-carb, crazy delicious meal in a bowl.

Kav, you could do this with just the sauce and the zoodles and cheese, or add mushrooms for some extra depth to the sauce.

Dave loved this. I mean he L-O-V-E-D it.

And he's been working so hard on the farm, that it was nice for him to walk into the house and find food, because honestly, there hasn't been a whole lot of cooking time here. And that's okay, it's summer time, and we're all working on our tans...

Okay that's not true, we're just all working!

And having fun doing it.

On the writing side, "Her Unexpected Family" released two days ago, and I hope folks love, love, love this wonderful story... Who says a beauty queen can't be the girl-next-door?

She's got to be next door to someone, right?

And Franciscan ran a sale this week on "Refuge of the Heart", and it blew the numbers out of the park in baseball terms.... so that was marvelous to see!

And life on the farm is crazy busy, but it's supposed to be this time of year, and who wants to wish their summer away?

Not me!

I must show you this cover... I'm in this collection with Mary Connealy, Julie Lessman and Anna Schmidt, and we had so much fun writing historical novellas for CHRISTMAS! Christmas in July, for certain! This one releases this fall, in mid-October...

How pretty is this??? Love it! And what a pleasure to work with those ladies!

So what do you think? Are you brave enough to try Zoodles? Someone once told me spaghetti squash worked well this way. I tried it and didn't like it at all... but we both love this because the texture is very much like al dente noodles... and the taste is amazing.

Grab a seat, I've got the espresso machine fired up, and if you're in iced coffee mode, I'm your gal! I'd love to be your barista today!

Ruth Logan Herne is honored to write the kind of stories she loves to read, so that's a pretty great deal! With well over a million books sold and more to come, she's living her dream while surrounded by small children and kitchen fails like this:

It was supposed to be dirty rice with shrimp... well, it was so salty (my bad, oops) that it was inedible... and I was so hungry!!! Alas, there was no joy in Mudville that night!

And the hens are working overtime:

That's a lot of good protein right there!

Or pudding!

And that's it from upstate New York today!

God bless youse!