First Tuesday Recipes for June

photo courtesy of Jill Wellington, pixabay

I know it seems like 2020 has lasted for years, but we’re actually only five full months in. Don’t ask me how that happened. I hope you’re all staying safe and being careful.

This month I’m sharing three recipes that are easy to make and generally well-received by everyone (i.e., picky eaters). If you have a recipe (or more than one) that you’d like to share, email me at amymreadeauthor[at]gmail[dot]com and I’ll be happy to include your contribution!

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Macaroni and Cheese

This one comes courtesy of my father

12 oz. elbow macaroni

6 T. butter

6 T. flour

3 c. milk

12 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, grated

salt and pepper

breadcrumbs

Cook macaroni al dente according to package directions; drain well.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in a large pan over medium heat (I use the same pan I used to make the macaroni). Add flour and whisk for a full minute. Add milk and continue to whisk sauce until slightly thickened. Add cheese and stir until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Add cooked macaroni and stir until well coated. Pour macaroni and cheese into a greased casserole dish and sprinkle with breadcrumbs to your liking (my family prefers seasoned breadcrumbs). Bake for about 35 minutes or until nice and bubbly.

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Pizza Stromboli

1 loaf frozen bread dough, thawed

2 eggs, separated

1 T. grated Parmesan cheese

1 T. olive oil

1 t. dried parsley

1 t. dried oregano

1/2 t. garlic powder

1/8 t. pepper

8 oz. pepperoni slices

2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

4 oz. mushrooms, sliced, either cooked or canned

a handful of sliced pepperoncini

1 sm. red or green pepper, diced

other fillings of your choice

1 can pizza sauce, warmed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a greased baking sheet, roll out bread dough into a 15 x 10″ rectangle.

In a small bowl, combine 2 egg yolks, Parmesan cheese, oil, parsley, oregano, garlic powder, and pepper. Brush over dough, using all of mixture.

Layer pepperoni, mozzarella cheese, and other filling ingredients (everything but the pizza sauce) on dough. Roll up from one of the long sides. Pinch seam and tuck ends under loaf.

Beat egg whites with a fork. Brush egg whites onto loaf.

Bake immediately for 35 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with pizza sauce.

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Frozen Creamy Fruit Pops

1 1/4 c. frozen raspberries

1 1/4 c. frozen strawberries

1/4 c. honey

1 T. lemon juice

dash salt

7 oz. plain Greek yogurt

2 T. buttermilk

Place first 5 ingredients in a food processor. Process until smooth.

In a large bowl, combine yogurt and buttermilk; stir until well-combined. Pour fruit mixture into yogurt mixture and stir gently until mixed. Divide mixture among 10 2-oz. pop molds. Top with the pop mold bases or make your own: put a foil lid on each pop and insert craft stick into yogurt mixture until it’s poking out about 1 1/2 in. Freeze completely.

Enjoy!

Until next time,

Amy

P.S. I almost forgot! Cape Menace: A Cape May Historical Mystery is out! Thanks to everyone who preordered and if you didn’t, you can get your copy here: https://books2read.com/u/mv5ao6. You can order a paperback from Amazon, too!

The Cape May Historical Mystery Collection

As you may have heard a hundred times by now, my next book is called Cape Menace: A Cape May Historical Mystery. This is the first book in my new Cape May Historical Mysteries Collection.

I thought I’d use my post today to tell you a little more about the collection. As of now, I am planning to include at least seven mysteries in the collection. The books will span the length of Cape May’s history between 1712 and the World War II era. Each book will be a standalone, so there is no need to read them in any particular order. Each book will feature different characters and focus on mysteries that are unrelated.

I am really excited about this project. My husband has been asking me for years to write about the area where we live in New Jersey, and I have found the research fascinating. I’m learning so much—the amount of information I didn’t know about Cape May County could fill volumes!

Here’s a little more about the Cape Menace:

Sarah Hanover and her parents, Ruth and William, left behind their life in England and sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to the English colonies in 1710, settling in the colony that had only recently been named New Jersey. Until the very early eighteenth century, the area had been known as East Jersey and West Jersey. It was in 1702 that the two provinces were joined.

In December of 1712, Sarah’s mother disappears without a trace. Sarah is convinced that her mother met a violent death when she came upon a wolf in the woods near their home, but as Sarah is to later discover, there were other—more sinister—forces at work at the time of Ruth’s disappearance.

It is just over two years later, in 1714, when Sarah experiences tragedy again, this time one that forces her to take a hard look at the secrets her father kept from her. She is beset by questions about the mysterious stranger with whom her father was doing business, the whispers she keeps hearing about her mother’s disappearance, and her own safety as she starts asking questions about what happened to Ruth.

I hope you’ll pick up a copy of Cape Menace and if you do, I hope you enjoy it. The ebook is available for preorder now (link to Google Play TBA), and the paperback version will be available very soon. I will keep you posted. If you’re interested, click this link to be directed to preorder at your favorite online retailer.

Thank you!

Until next time,

Amy

Susan Whitfield Interview

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This week I would like to welcome Susan Whitfield, the prolific author of the Logan Hunter Mystery series, Slightly Cracked (women’s fiction) and Killer Recipes (cookbook). She’s here today to talk about her writing and her new book, a work of historical fiction called Sprig of Broom. Nice to have you here on Reade and Write, Susan!

Tell me about your new book.

Sprig of Broom is historical fiction.

Sprig of Broom is a coming-of-age novel about Geoffrey Plantagenet, a count, who at the age of 15 marries King Henry’s daughter, Empress Matilda, and fathers the dynasty of Plantagenet kings. The story begins with the count on his journey to Rouen in Normandy to be knighted, thus becoming a Knight of the Bath. From Rouen, he and the king’s entourage travel to LeMans where Geoffrey is wed to Matilda. And the loathing begins . . .

Sir Geoffrey Plantagenet has much to learn, and over the course of his life’s journey he develops a better understanding of himself, fathers a long line of kings, endures adversaries—especially his own wife—and boldly faces the world of chaos around him.

Who is the audience for the book?

Since I’m a multi-genre author, I hope my readership will follow but I expect historical fiction buffs will be the primary audience.

Tell me about the setting of your book—how did you choose it, what kind of research did you have to do, why did you choose it?

I discovered that I have an ancestor who was a Knight of the Bath in the 12th century. Geoffrey V Plantagenet, a count from Anjou in the duchy of Normandy married King Henry’s daughter, Matilda, and fathered Henry II, beginning the long line of Plantagenet kings of England. He was 15 and Matilda was 26 and previously married. They despised each other but vowed to give the king male heirs. This opened an intriguing door for my imagination. I read over thirty books from that time period and several that focused on the Plantagenets themselves.

What was the hardest thing about writing the book?

What a challenge! I have written five mysteries and a women’s fiction and made it all up. This was the first time that I felt I had to know as much accurate history about these characters as I could find and about the time period, how they talked, where they travelled, the clothing, food, etc. Once I had established the true history I went back and let my imagination fill in the unknown gaps. Believability was important to me. Writing scenes of conflict between Geoffrey and Matilda was my favorite part of the process.

Have you written any other books?

I wrote five novels in the Logan Hunter Mystery series, women’s fiction, Slightly Cracked, and authored a unique cookbook, Killer Recipes.

Do you write every day? 

In one way or another. If I’m not literally writing, I’m working something out in my head.

When you read a book, what authors do you like best? What genres do you like best?

I read a wide variety of genres and authors.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? 

Don’t let anyone talk you out of writing what you feel. Become the character. Work through the hurdles and focus on each character, the setting and the plot at different times.

What advice would you give to your younger self? 

Don’t wait until you’re in your fifties to start writing seriously!

Is there anything I haven’t asked that you wanted me to? 

I live in North Carolina and set all my books here except Sprig of Broom, of course.

Where can readers connect with you?

www.susanwhitfield.blogspot.com

www.susanwhitfieldonline.com

Where can readers find your books?

They can find hard copies at www.Amazon.com and all e-reader formats at www.smashwords.com. Books can also be purchased with credit card or PayPal on my site.

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Until next week,

Amy

Book Recommendation: No Comfort for the Lost

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This week I’m highlighting a book I’ve waited a long time to read.

No Comfort for the Lost by Nancy Herriman is a beautifully written, historically fascinating look at the underside of 1867 San Francisco. It is the captivating story of Celia Davies, an English-born nurse living in the city and caring for its most unwanted residents–in many cases, the Chinese women and girls forced to work as prostitutes in the seedier parts of town. The reader is introduced to San Francisco as it existed 150 years ago–expanding, dirty, bustling, beautiful.

Celia is the guardian of her half-Chinese cousin Barbara, whose father passed away leaving them a home and leaving Celia a bit of money she uses to run her free health clinic. Barbara, besides being a member of a hated ethnic group in San Francisco, has health problems which prevent her from moving quickly or deftly. She occasionally helps Celia with her patients, but is sometimes not able to help as she would like.

When a former Chinese prostitute, a friend of Celia and Barbara, is found murdered, Celia takes it upon herself to attempt to figure out the culprit because certain members of the San Francisco Police Department have shown reluctance to spend too much time on crimes involving Chinese victims. Luckily, Celia finds a sympathetic detective, Nicholas Greaves, who is interested in the plight of the victim and who, despite the warnings from his overbearing and very unpleasant boss, is willing to invest police time and resources to find the perpetrator. With a past which is only hinted at in the book, Greaves has a soft spot for underdogs and a personal need to do the right thing. And he has a soft spot for Celia, too, despite (or perhaps because of?) her stubborn pig-headedness, which can only be described as both endearing and maddening.

As the story progresses, we find that the list of suspects is growing and that the people Celia and Barbara know and trust are not always what they seem (it wouldn’t be a mystery otherwise, would it?). I don’t want to give anything away, but I will say that I suspected almost everyone in the book before being completely surprised by the ending.

I loved the book. I loved the descriptions of old San Francisco, the antiquated medical methods described to treat injuries and illness, and the story of Li Sha’s murder and its aftermath. Not only that, but one of the scariest undercurrents running through the book is the bigotry experienced by Chinese immigrants during the 19th century. In many ways, the issue has echoed down the years and still exists today, even in presidential politics in the United States. I was struck while reading the book of the similarities between 1867 San Francisco and the present day worldwide.

Nancy Herriman has a way with language and uses it in a way that evokes an older time and is still immensely readable and enjoyable. The amount of research that must have gone into No Comfort for the Lost is obvious and breathtaking in its depth. But besides all that, there are the backstory mysteries–what happened to Nicholas Greaves’ sister? What happened to Celia’s husband, Patrick?

And the very best part? There’s another Celia Davies book on the way! It’s called No Pity for the Dead and it will be released in August, 2016. I will be in line to pre-order it!

Full disclosure: Nancy Herriman is a friend, but as you know from previous posts, if I hadn’t liked her book I simply wouldn’t have recommended it.

Until next week,

Amy

P.S. If you’re interested in visiting Nancy Herriman online, her website is www.nancyherriman.com.

A Review: The Plum Tree

For those of you who have been reading my blog, you may remember that one of the books on my TBR (to-be-read) list was The Plum Tree by Ellen Marie Wiseman. I’ve finished reading it and I hope you’ll read it, too.

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The Plum Tree is a beautiful story about a young woman, Christine, who lives in Germany during World War II. She is in love with a young Jewish man, the son of her employer, and the horrors of the Third Reich and pre-war Germany begin early in the story. Christine’s journey of love and loss and hope is heart-wrenching; the reader easily forgets that this is a work of historical fiction, not a memoir. The story is filled with characters and events that seem so real and so close that one is sure that there must be a real Christine out there and Ellen Marie Wiseman has somehow read her mind and put Christine’s feelings onto the page, into words that are at once touching and terrifying.

More than once I had to put the book down because I didn’t want to read what came next, like the scene where a little boy is torn from his mother’s arms upon their arrival at Dachau. More than once I gasped out loud because of my revulsion over what happened to the Jews during the Holocaust, making my own children ask what in the world I was reading that was having such an effect on me. More than once I flipped ahead (I know, I know) because I couldn’t stand not knowing who would live and who would die.

But I always went back because I had to read the rest of the story.

And the story didn’t end where I expected it to. It introduced me to the shocking conditions that existed in Germany after the war ended, something I’d never thought much about. It reminded me that innocent Germans suffered, too; many of them paid a steep price simply because they were German.

If you’ve ever read Sarah’s Key, you’ve experienced the haunting feelings that linger after you’ve read the last paragraph of The Plum Tree. It’s a book that will stay with me, as I’m sure it will stay with anyone who reads it. I think it would be an excellent reading selection for a high school history or English class.

Next up from Ellen Marie Wiseman: What She Left Behind. If it’s anywhere near as good as her first book, I’ll love it.