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Friday Features’

Guest talks about

Apples, ways to use them

by

Emma Lane

Photo by Fidel Fernando on Unsplash

Such a gorgeous fruit. Fruit bowl on the dining room table lends a nice fragrance to the room; apple bobbing and caramel apples are for Halloween. Did you mom ever make fresh apple sauce? Nothing like the stuff they sell in the grocery store, is it? At my little Herbtique Shoppe here in Western NY, we sell Gourmet Chunky Rum Apple Sauce. The recipe is a state secret, but here are some hints to make the most of this delicious fruit.

Select both soft and firm apples, ie Courtland is soft, Greenings are firm. One will cook down first leaving the other ‘chunky’. Stir frequently. Burned apples are not delicious and the soft ones cook rapidly.

To peel or not to peel: We leave the peel on at home. Commercially we don’t. Both are good. Taste before you add sugar. Most times it isn’t necessary.

Blend flavors: Buy as many different kinds of apples as you can. Not only is this tasty, but it’s way fun as well. As you peel, take a bite now and then to compare flavors.

Flavorings: You are probably familiar with cinnamon to taste. A very small dash of nutmeg and cloves is good too. Vanilla is a winner. One cap and then taste. Other flavorings are great too-here is a good place to experiment. Let your eye roam over the choices at the grocery store. My son swears root beer would be great; he could be right. Be careful with maple syrup; it gets too sweet fast.

Baked apples are wonderful when you use a touch of flavoring with your brown sugar—vanilla is one of my favorites but you might find others.

Regarding the RUM: If you are making apple sauce, add at the last minute with whatever flavoring you have chosen. It gives it a sort of butter taste. I am about to experiment with BRANDY. You might try it too.

A neighbor just hinted to me that apple added to salsa is good. Can’t wait to try.

Canning apple sauce takes expert knowledge. Please do not try it if you haven’t done quite a bit of reading. PH is a biggie. We use lemon juice and a ph meter.

Enjoy the apple harvest. There are so many ways and I didn’t even mention: apple pie, apples and cheese, cocktail apples, home dried apples, apple pan dowdy, apple crumb cake, apple butter, etc, etc. Dried apples and apple pie are delicious any time.

After you’ve mulled over all the apple opportunities may I suggest a peek into one of my Regency releases?

Can an arrogant duke overcome his prejudice against a beautiful but managing female in time to find true love and happiness?

Miss Amabel Hawkins acknowledges her unusual upbringing, but she thinks James Langley, the Duke of Westerton, might be a tad unbalanced when he protests her efforts to right his badly managed properties. The duke, who has been away on the king’s business, demonstrates no respect for the beautiful but managing Miss Hawkins. Amabel has taken refuge at Westerton, fleeing from a forced marriage to a man who claims to be her relative in order to gain control of her young brother’s estate.

The Duke arrives home to find his estate under the firm control of a beautiful but managing female. His suspicions are fueled by his recent task of spy-hunting and he wonders if Amabel Hawkins is just who she seems. While a dastardly spy lurks, a wicked man poses as her cousin threatening to take over the guardianship of her young brother. Amabel might be falling in love, but she knows for certain the duke would never approve of a meddlesome woman, and she decides to flee his estate. Will the duke finally realize the true value of the woman he loves or will his prejudice ruin his chances forever?

EXCERPT
Fatigue and the effects of the brandy on top of the ale now gave his gait a distinct wobble. He chuckled, amused at his condition.

As he reached for the portrait of great Uncle Barney, he lurched into the back of the red leather sofa in front of the cosy fire. “Deuce take it,” he exclaimed when a rounded arm rolled into view. He spotted the gentle curve of a hip and walked around to the front, where he spied a tumbled haze of dark curls hiding a face. It is indeed a female—a sleeping female.

Who was she? The gown was too rich for his household staff. Curious, he knelt beside the sofa.
“Only one way to find out,” he whispered and moved one dark curl. He sat back, satisfied when a handsome face swam into view. She sighed and rolled over, revealing a generous figure and a pair of rosy lips. She might be Sleeping Beauty—but not one of my relatives. He leaned over and kissed those tempting lips.

As he lingered there, she sighed and came partially awake. He could not resist. He deepened the kiss and sounds of satisfaction like yum and umm came from those delicious lips. Her hand stroked his face, then reached around his head to pull him closer. Delighted with this turn of events, the Duke of Westerton complied enthusiastically and extended an arm around a slender waist. How much of the ale and brandy had he imbibed? Dizziness overcame his senses as he slid down on the floor and knew no more.

Emma Lane is a gifted author who writes under several pen-names. She lives with her patient husband on several acres outside a typical American village in Western New York. Her day job is working with flowers at her son’s plant nursery. Look for information about writing and plants on her new website. Leave a comment or a gardening question and put a smile on Emma’s face.

Stay connected to Emma on Facebook and Twitter.

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Friday Features’

Guest talks about

Coping with cooler temps and not being able to go outside

by

Emma Lane

But don’t be disgruntled. Bring the outside in with a Fall bouquet. Not sure how, then let me help you. Here are a few tips to help make it easier.

Native and ornamental grasses: What fun to gather them on one of those perfect Fall days when the skies are vivid blue, a soft breeze tumbles your hair, and tick seed clings to your jeans. Best to do your hunt and gathering just before the leaves are all off the trees. Anything interesting is fair game, but do learn to identify dried ragweed and seeds. Not one to bring into the house; it will still make you sneeze. I’ve used the seed tassels of ornamental grasses and a wild reed which is listed as a nuisance plant. It overtakes our native cattails apparently. Even so I love the tassels which are free for the taking. Spot a batch where your sneakers will stay dry.

Love cattails? Pick when they turn brown, most likely mid to late summer. If you bring a ripe cattail inside to the warmth, it will explode with a predictable mess. Trust me; I’ve had the experience. Grab a handful in summer and dry them in a dark, dry place. Pull them out in the fall for a perfect addition to the dry bouquets.

Chinese lanterns (physalis) are perfect for Fall. They’ll last and last, but eventually lose their color. I’ve been known to spray them lightly with red paint, but the odor of fresh paint is not pleasant. Tend well ahead of time and let dry in the garage.

The purple flowers are grown under a hoop house which protects from the early frosts. They won’t stand up to a real freeze, but are perfect for Fall bouquets. Lisianthus is a favorite of florists because they last so long in the vase. Any late bloom will perk up a Fall bouquet. I’ve used long stems of mums, stray daisies, and geranium. Use your imagination and have fun with Fall bouquets. They’ll keep you cheerful until it’s time to decorate for Christmas.

Don’t worry about which flowers to use. Anything and everything will be perfect because you chose it. The important ingredient in creating your bouquet is to have fun.

Now here’s a little from my latest Regency Romance to enjoy along with your lovely bouquet.

Elisabeth is a lively young lady ripe for adventure. She’s lived the sheltered life of the privileged during the Regency era of the 1800’s and is on the cusp of entering society when she joins her older sister at a house party. On the enormous estate in the spreading mansion of a duke, she mistakes her host for the fat squire down the road. Thus begins an adventure which is against all her training. She knows her mother would not approve. Was that half the intrigue of meeting a stranger in private?

The handsome but incognito Richard Hawlester, Duke of Roderick, weary of toad-eating house guests, engages in a serious flirtation with young Elisabeth Barrows, who is primed for an exciting adventure. Mistaking the fat squire for the duke, she holds her secret relationship with a man known only as Richard, Nobel Rescuer, close to a tender heart while discovering love for the first time.

Elisabeth’s trust seems irrevocably lost when the duke’s actual identity is revealed. Realizing his mistake, Roderick begins an earnest, dangerous, and often hilarious campaign to convince her of his love. Elisabeth ponders whether true love can overcome the loss of trust between two people, even as danger presents in the guise of a vile, undesirable suitor, while a wicked assassin makes an attempt on the life of the duke. Trust broken can never be regained, or can it?

BUY LINKS
AmazonWild Rose Publishing

Emma Lane is a gifted author who writes under several pen-names. She lives with her patient husband on several acres outside a typical American village in Western New York. Her day job is working with flowers at her son’s plant nursery. Look for information about writing and plants on her new website. Leave a comment or a gardening question and put a smile on Emma’s face.

Stay connected to Emma on Facebook and Twitter.

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Friday Features’

Guest talks about

Your personal preference recipe for Taco Salad

by

Emma Lane

This recipe is easily adapted to personal preferences. More beef? More cheese? More onion? More sauce? Dollop of sour cream? Scoop chips? Choose your own alterations.

Makes an easy party set up which allows guests to assemble their own plates. Serve with guacamole dip and more corn ships.

TACO SALAD

    ½ – l lb. ground beef, preferably chuck for flavor
    1 med. onion, diced
    8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
    ¼ – ½ head lettuce, chopped to bitesize
    1 8-10 oz. can diced tomato
    2/3 bag corn chips, slightly crushed
    Ortega Taco Sauce to taste (or your favorite brand)

Sauté beef and onion together until done (no pink left). Use fork to break lumps into small pieces. Cover pan and then set aside.

Prepare individual plates covering the bottom with corn chips. Add warm beef mixture.

Quickly scatter cheese to take advantage of the warmth.

Layer with lettuce, and then tomatoes. Drizzle with taco sauce to taste. Sprinkle a bit more cheese for garnish or substitute a piece or two of parsley.

Serves 4

Image by Monfocus from Pixabay

GUACAMOLE DIP

    2 ripe avocados, halved with pits removed but saved
    1 tbsp. lime juice, lemon works too
    ¼ cup onion, chopped fine
    ½ cup tomato, diced
    ¼ tsp. salt
    ½ jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
    2 tbsp. cilantro leaves, chopped fine – optional
    1 tbsp. mayo
    Corn chips

Chunk avocados into a glass or ceramic bowl. Sprinkle with lime juice.

Gently stir in remaining ingredients except chips. Tuck pit deep into dip. This stops the avocado from turning dark.

Drop spoonfuls onto taco salad or use chips to dip.

Enjoy!

Here’s a little more from my cozy mystery. I hope you enjoy it.

When Cheryl realizes her new next-door neighbor is someone she loved as a young girl, she immediately puts the brakes on her emotions. Never again would she allow the gorgeous hunk of a man to break her heart.

Ruggedly handsome Detective David Larkin isn’t used to pretty ladies giving him a firm no. He persists, even as Cheryl fights her own temptations. The two struggle to appreciate each other as adults, even as they admit to deep feelings from their childhood.

Read more of the cozy mysteries by Janis Lane on Amazon

Janis Lane is the pen-name for gifted author Emma Lane who writes cozy mysteries as Janis, Regency as Emma, and spice as Sunny Lane.

She lives in Western New York where winter is snowy, spring arrives with rave reviews, summer days are long and velvet, and fall leaves are riotous in color. At long last she enjoys the perfect bow window for her desk where she is treated to a year-round panoramic view of nature. Her computer opens up a fourth fascinating window to the world. Her patient husband is always available to help with a plot twist and encourage Emma to never quit. Her day job is working with flowers at Herbtique and Plant Nursery, the nursery she and her son own.

Look for information about writing and plants on Emma’s new website. Leave a comment or a gardening question and put a smile on Emma’s face.

Stay connected to Emma on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to check out the things that make Emma smile on Pinterest.

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

Cook Up Something Good with Janis and Emma Lane . No, they’re not sisters or even cousins. Today’s guest blogger is an author with a split personality and man can she cook!

Hi everyone, this recipe is only a guideline for making a delicious lunch or main dish with fresh vegetables. The list of veggies is easily amendable to whatever your grocer has in stock. No beets, please! Be sure to add nurturing bread like corn bread or crackers for a more substantial meal. Okay, I used corn Chex Mix one time, but that was an emergency. A green salad is always a welcome addition.

FRESH VEGETABLE SOUP

1 onion, diced
½ green pepper, cleaned and diced
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 fat carrot, peeled and chopped
1 – 2 ears fresh corn kernels, scraped from cob
1 can diced tomato or 1 lg. fresh, chopped
1½ cups fresh green beans, strings removed and chopped
3 cups beef or chicken stock
½ pound ground chuck
1 med. potato, diced
Sprig fresh thyme or ¼ tsp. dried
Sprig of oregano or ¼ tsp. dried
Small sprig of basil or ½ tsp. dried
Sprig of parsley, flat not curly

Sauté meat and set aside.

Pour stock into a large pot. Add onions and celery. Bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes.

Add carrots, corn, tomatoes, potato, and herbs. Return soup to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.

Add meat. Simmer 10 minutes more.

Veggies will be somewhat crisp. Cook longer if desired. As it sits the flavor will increase. But cool and refrigerate if it’s going to be longer than a few hours before serving.
Optional Veggies: okra, green peas, yellow squash, small can chick peas
Optional herbs/spices: pinch of chili pepper, tiny clove of garlic, sprig of cilantro.

Tip: if you use fresh herbs tie together with kitchen string and remove before serving.

Here’s a peek at my Cozy Mystery, Murder in the Neighborhood, a novel which introduces you to Detective Kevin Fowler and the intriguing murders which infect this small town Americana. The series follows the detective, colleagues, friends, and lovers through a whirlwind of events, good and bad, over the next three novels.

A killer is attacking respectable citizens in picturesque Hubbard, NY, and leaving corpses on their front steps in the middle of the day. Detective Fowler isn’t certain who causes him to lose the most sleep, a certain sexy reporter with bouncing curls and sparkling black eyes, or the elusive psychopath creating panic in his small-town community. Together, the detective and the reporter race to find the monster in their midst and return the town to the desirable place where people come to raise their families in peace and contentment. Can they sort through their differences to find romance even as they search for a determined stalker with murder on his mind? The clock ticks down on a man in a rage with a deadly mission.

Amazon Buy Links KindlePaperback

Read more of the cozy mysteries by Janis Lane on Amazon
Janis Lane is the pen-name for gifted author Emma Lane who writes cozy mysteries as Janis, Regency as Emma, and spice as Sunny Lane.

She lives in Western New York where winter is snowy, spring arrives with rave reviews, summer days are long and velvet, and fall leaves are riotous in color. At long last she enjoys the perfect bow window for her desk where she is treated to a year-round panoramic view of nature. Her computer opens up a fourth fascinating window to the world. Her patient husband is always available to help with a plot twist and encourage Emma to never quit. Her day job is working with flowers at Herbtique and Plant Nursery, the nursery she and her son own.

Look for information about writing and plants on Emma’s new website. Leave a comment or a gardening question and put a smile on Emma’s face.

Stay connected to Emma on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to check out the things that make Emma smile on Pinterest.

Read Full Post »