The joys of rhubarb

My first encounter with rhubarb wasn’t promising: I was around seven and ate a chunk off the ”vine.” It was ultra-tart. I had friends who loved it straight that way but not me! I don’t like it too sweet but I do like some sweetness.

Since then I’ve come to love rhubarb stewed, in pies, cakes, crisps, crumbles, pies and jams. I’m trying savory glazes for meats and vegetables now, too. It’s hard to go wrong.

Not everyone is a fan. An Irish friend remembers his mother peeling rhubarb and using it in many dishes, but he never developed a taste for it. After many years, he ga… Read More

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Merry Christmas!

Yesterday’s flooding rains haven’t dampened our Christmas cheer. We’d have preferred snow (there’d have been a ton of it!) but appreciate the sunny days ahead as we finish our shopping, wrapping and planning for our gang to arrive.

Fine-tuning what goodies to bake and buy is especially fun! We’re planning on making a Christmas wreath pavlova. Here’s the amazing Mary Berry’s version.

Looks so good, doesn’t it? We love it in part because it’s naturally gluten-free for our grandchildren with celiac. They love helping to make it (a… Read More

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Create a hygge reading nook

The past few winters we’ve been incorporating the Danish art of hygge into lives up on our hilltop in northern New England.

Pronounced “hue-guh,” hygge doesn’t translate easily into English. “In essence,” says Visit Denmark, “hygge means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people.”

Sounds great, doesn’t it?

Here are a few ideas for bringing hygge into creating a cozy reading nook:

Candles

A lot of candles. Candles are a hygge must. They can be flameless. It doesn’t have to be dark (or cold!) to light candles. I’m just careful to k… Read More

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A recipe for mulled wine

A pot of mulled wine simmering on our wood stove is such a treat!

Our wood stove came in handy this past weekend when a nor’easter hit Vermont hard with extensive power outages. We were out from Friday to Sunday evening. Other people are still without power but we see hardworking crews out there and appreciate their efforts. It was quite a storm.

Back to mulled wine…

Below is the recipe included in my Swift River Valley novella, “Christmas at Carriage Hill.” By the way, it’s just $1.99 in digital and now available in audio. And A Knights Bridge Christmas is on sale t… Read More

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Christmas cookies! A recipe…

I posted this recipe a couple of years ago. It’s a family favorite. When I was growing up, my Dutch father would make spritz cookies throughout the Christmas season.

My six brothers and sisters and I all loved to help.

The buttery smell of the cookies warm from the oven is a great memory and something I can recreate in my own kitchen. The cookies are relatively simple to make and fun to decorate:

SPRITZ COOKIES

Equipment: Cookie-press or pastry bag
Ingredients
3/4 c. sugar
1 c. unsalted butter
2 egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt (or less)
Directions
Ble… Read More

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Summer means blueberries!

It’s blueberry season in New England. I just pulled a batch of blueberry muffins out of the oven. Never mind I didn’t add enough baking powder, they taste great. Hard to go wrong with blueberries.

Wild blueberries in particular have featured in a number of my books, including the first book I ever submitted to a literary agent and publisher. I remember typing The Venus Shoe on a rented typewriter with my then infant daughter beside me. It’s a favorite of longtime readers, available in eBook if you’d like to dip into my early days as a writer.

Emma Sharpe in my Sharpe and DRead More

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Recipe: Strawberry/Berry Meringue Roulade!

It’s not yet our local strawberry season but good strawberries are available in the grocery store, and I’ve decided to prepare strawberry meringue roulade for Easter. With two young grandchildren with celiac, I’m always on the lookout for naturally gluten-free recipes. This is a favorite. See below and print out the recipe here.

We first had meringue roulade in Ardmore on the south Irish coast, a key setting for my Sharpe and Donovan series. Here I am in my orange Irish raincoat a few years ago on Ardmore’s famous, and beautiful, cliff walk.

 

Strawberry MerRead More

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Squash Casserole Recipe

Summer brings green hills and pastures here in Vermont, and lots of summer squash at the farm stand. When we visited my husband’s family in middle Tennessee, his mother, who died in 2014 at almost 97, often served her mouth-watering summer squash casserole. I’d never have come up with the ingredients but they’re delicious together!

Summer Squash Casserole

Ingredients

6 to 8 small yellow summer squash, sliced
2 large onions, sliced
About 8 oz. grated mild cheese (e.g., American, Monterey Jack)

1 roll Ritz crackers, crumbled
8 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces

Di… Read More

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Fresh Raspberry Pie Recipe

A reader asked me for my fresh raspberry pie recipe. Here it is! It’s a family favorite. We use local fresh-picked raspberries when possible, but luckily raspberries are available any time of year.

Fresh Raspberry Pie

Bake a one-crust pie shell using recipe of your choice.

Wash and let dry 1 qt. of fresh raspberries.

Simmer together 2/3 cup water and 1 cup of the berries for about 3 minutes.

Blend 1 c. sugar and 3 Tbsp. cornstarch with 1/3 cup of water and add to the boiling berries and water. Stirring constantly, boil for one minute and then let cool. (I’ve used a bit less sugar with good Read More

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Molasses Cookies Recipe

Are you baking while staying at home? Below is my favorite recipe for molasses cookies using simple ingredients I typically have  on hand. This is one of the recipes included in A Knights Bridge Christmas, a hopeful contemporary story with a connection to World War II.

Molasses Cookies

3/4 cup vegetable shortening or butter (I use butter)

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup molasses

1 large egg

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. each salt; ground cloves; ground ginger

2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. cinnamon

Melt shortening or butter and let cool. Add sugar, molasses and egg. In a medium bowl, sift or stir with a fork th… Read More

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