Archive for the 'Foods' Category


Pie to Welcome Autumn, Plus a Few Apple Facts

Author: Meera, September 15, 2017

Autumn officially arrives next Friday, September 22, 2017. That means peak apple season has begun and nothing says “fall” like an early-autumn apple pie.

 

A little egg wash on the crust renders a beautiful golden color

A little egg wash on the crust renders a beautiful golden color

 

 

Here’s my easiest apple pie recipe.

 

COUNTRY APPLE PIE

 

 

 

Ingredients:

 

6 cups apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced

 

3/4 cup granulated sugar

 

2 tablespoons butter

 

1/8 teaspoon salt

 

1 teaspoon cinnamon

 

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

 

2 tablespoons flour

 

2 unbaked pie crusts (homemade or store-bought)

 

1 egg, beaten with 2 tablespoons water (to make an egg wash)

 

 

Pie ready for top crust

Pie ready for top crust

 

 

Directions:

 

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit

 

Combine sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, and nutmegr in a large bowl and mix well. Stir in the apples. Spoon the apples into a pastry-lined baking dish or pan. Cut the butter into small pieces and distribute over the apples. Place the second rolled-out crust over the pie. Snip off the excess crust and cut a design into the top crust to create a steam vent. Flute crust edges. Use a pastry brush to apply the egg wash over the top crust.

 

Pie with egg wash applied and vents cut in is ready to bake

Pie with egg wash applied and vents cut in is ready to bake

 

 

Bake for 10 minutes. Cover crust edges with aluminum foil to keep them from burning. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Crust will be golden brown and juices will be bubbling.

 

 

FACTS ABOUT APPLES

 

1. Apples were known in the ancient world; they’ve been around for 3,000 years.

 

2. Apples thrive in a temperate climate and are grown worldwide.

 

3.  There are roughly 7,000 varieties of apples worldwide, all members of the rosaceae family.

 

4. Washington state produces half of all U.S. apples.

 

5. Science shows that apples are rich in antioxidants and vitamins A and C, are high in fiber, and  and aid in lowering cholesterol and high blood pressure. They can help stabilize blood sugar levels.

 

6. Some of the best-loved apple varieties include: Braeburn, Red Delicious, Granny Smith, Gala, Fuji, Golden Delicious, Honeycrisp, and Rome.

 

If you want to know which apples are best for baking, eating fresh, making into sauces, or freezing, see, http://bestapples.com/varieties-information/varieties/

 

 

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If you enjoy reading about delicious farm recipes, growing heirloom plants, or keeping bees and chickens and you like a mysteries, check out my Henny Penny Farmette series of cozy mysteries from Kensington Publishing in NY. They’re available online and in traditional bookstores everywhere.

 

Murders at a N. California winery is a catalyst for ex-cop turned farmette owner Abigail Mackenzie

Murders at a N. California winery are the catalyst for ex-cop turned farmette owner Abigail Mackenzie to search for a killer

 

 

 

Currently, A HIVE OF HOMICIDES is a featured title in Barnes & Noble’s September promotional BUY 3, GET 1 FREE sale.

 

WHAT IS THE BUY 3, GET 1 FREE OFFER?

 

Everyone who buys a Kensington cozy mystery from the B&N in-store display or any Kensington cozy mystery from BarnesandNoble.com between 9/5/17 – 10/5/17 and registers their purchase at http://sites.kensingtonbooks.com/kensingtoncozies/BN/ will:

 

–     Automatically be entered into Kensington’s “Cozy Mystery Bonanza” sweepstakes for a chance to win a $300 value gift basket. One grand prize winner will be selected after the sale has concluded.

 

–     Automatically receive a free Kensington Cozies recipe booklet plus a download code for the novel A STORY TO KILL by Lynn Cahoon after the sale has concluded.

 

 

*                    *                     *

 

DON’T FORGET TO ENTER THE FREE DRAWING AT GOODREADS.COM.

Win a signed copy of A Hive of Homicides along with a gorgeous reversible apron and a set of 2 chicken napkin rings. Enter before September 26 for a chance to win.

 

See, https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33911114-a-hive-of-homicides?from_search=true

 

 

 

 

 

Reversible apron features a floral backside. Ties make it totally adjustable.

Reversible apron features a floral backside. Ties make it totally adjustable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On the farm where I grew up in central Missouri, we celebrated the Fourth of July with a fish fry. We caught blue gill, bass, crappie, and catfish in my grandfather’s stocked ponds or from nearby Perche Creek.

 

 

After my brother, cousins, and I played games until dark and then chased fireflies, my grandmother would set out dessert–a simple blackberry pie, shortcake and berries with homemade ice cream, or a pineapple upside down cake. A grownup would surprise us kids with sparklers that we would light and wave as we ran around in the dark.

 

 

Feeling nostalgic for those old days and ways of celebrating, I’m going to shuck and cook corn on the cob and grill some salmon with fresh veggies from the garden for this–our eighth celebration of this holiday on the farmette. There’s a ton of summer squash that I’ll douse with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning before grilling.

 

 

For the salmon, I make a easy-peasy mango-lime-cilantro salsa. Chop red onion and red and green bell pepper. Cube slices of fresh mango. Take a handful of cilantro that’s been tightly rolled and chop it into ribbons. Mix everything together, sprinkle with sugar, and generously drizzled with fresh lime juice. Serve well chilled over the grilled salmon.

 

 

pineapple cake lg email

 

 

 

I’ve already whipped up a pineapple upside down cake and baked it in my 10-inch cast iron skillet. To save time, I used a yellow cake mix and added a dash of rum and pineapple juice for flavor. Recipe is below.

 

 

QUICK PINEAPPLE UPSIDE DOWN CAKE

 

Ingredients:

1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons butter

 

1 1/4 cups sugar

 

7-8 slices of canned pineapple

 

7-8 maraschino cherries

 

1 box yellow cake mix

 

1 Tablespoon dark rum

 

1/8 cup pineapple juice

 

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit

 

 

Sugar and butter mixture must turn golden brown before batter is added

Sugar and butter mixture must turn golden brown before batter is added

 

 

In a cast iron skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the sugar and stir until the sugar turns light brown (roughly 5 to 7 minutes).  Remove from heat. Carefully lay in the pineapple slices. Place a cherry in the center of each fruit ring.

 

Make the cake according to directions on the box. Add the rum to the batter. Pour over the pineapple slices in the skillet.

 

 

 

Before batter is added, the fruit is arranged in the cast iron skillet

Before batter is added, the fruit is arranged in the cast iron skillet

 

 

 

Place the skillet on the middle rack in the oven and bake the cake at 350 for 30-40 minutes. Guard against over browning of the top. If necessary, lay a layer of aluminum foil over the cake near the end of the bake time. Use a knife around the cake edges to loosen from the skillet. Turn upside down onto a cake plate. Enjoy.

 

 

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If you’re interested in farmette topics and storytelling, check out my Henny Penny Farmette series of mysteries. All three books in the series are available in numerous formats and can be ordered  from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and elsewhere online as well as from traditional bookstores everywhere.

 

 

These cozy mysteries make great summer reading and they include delicious recipes, tips for keeping bees and chickens, and facts and tidbits about growing heirloom vegetables and herbs.

 

 

Please see more at http://tinyurl.com/ya5vhhpm

 

 

 

 

Check out my newest mystery (Sept. 2017)

Check out my newest mystery (Sept. 2017)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thanks to the drought-ending rain and the robust activity of our honeybees, my orchard has produced a phenomenal crop of cherries, apricots, and plums this year.

 

Apricots are plentiful this time of year and easy to dry for snacking when the season is over

Apricots are easy to make into jam or to dry for snacking

 

 

 

I picked some wild plums today. They’re unusually sweet so I will make them into jam this week. I think the apricots will be ready next week. Today, I’m getting ready for jam-making by taking down cases of canning jars from the storage shelf over the washer and dryer. I’ll need to get lemons, bags of sugar, pectin, and jar lids.

 

 

I made a test batch of the wild plum jam to make sure it tasted great before canning a lot of jars

Wild plums are small like cherries

 

 

The vegetable garden is also benefiting from bee activity. The summer Italian striped squash and the crooked neck squash plants are producing squash faster than we can eat them. The tomato vines are loaded, and I expect the corn to be ready soon, too.

 

 

 

 

Nothing beats fresh summer jams to brighten a dreary winter morning. This summer, I hope to make enough to last through 2017 winter into next spring. This past winter, I ran out of apricot jam because it is the one most of our neighbors, family, and friends prefer. But thanks to the rain and the bee activity, running out of jam won’t be a problem for next year.

 

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Like my honeybees, I’ve been busy this winter/spring, writing two nonfiction books for readers who embrace the path of yoga, healthy living, meditation, meaningful ritual, and mindfulness. To be released this year: My POCKET MEDITATIONS (July 2017) and MY DAILY RITUALS (Christmas 2017).

 

 

Check out MY POCKET MEDITATIONS, the newest forthcoming nonfiction title from Adams Media/Simon & Schuster, at http://tinyurl.com/l6lzorq

 

My Pocket Meditations: Anytime Exercises for Peace, Clarity, and Focus by [Lester, Meera]

 

 

COMING SOON: My newest offering in the Henny Penny Farmette mystery series,  A HIVE OF HOMICIDES (Kensington Publishing, Sept. 2017).

 

 

 

This cozy features a mystery to be solved, a hot romance, and delicious recipes

This cozy features a mystery to be solved, a hot romance, and delicious recipes

 

 

 

 

 

 

The second novel in the Henny Penny Farmette series comes out September 27, 2016

The MURDER OF A QUEEN BEE is the second novel in the Henny Penny Farmette series

 

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Pomegranate Seeds–A Sweet Explosion on the Tongue

Author: Meera, September 12, 2016

Strolling through our small orchard today, I cut into a pomegranate to check on the seeds–the edible part of the fruit. To my surprise, they had turned ripe. Inside, the seeds were gorgeous red jewels, plump and juicy. The sweet juice in the seeds carries a powerful antioxidant punch, too; it’s loaded with Vitamin C, Vitamin K, fiber, potassium, protein, and folate.

 

 

pomegranate seeds  lg web

 

 

You might wonder about ways of cooking with pomegranate seeds. How about tossing them into citrus or a green salad, pairing them with goat cheese on a crostini, or sprinkling a few on poached pears dipped in chocolate, or incorporate them into a Mediterranean couscous with cashews or pistachios?

 

I think I’ll make some pomegranate jelly–it tastes great on toast, makes an excellent foil for goat cheese, and also creates a moist and delicious glaze for chicken.

 

The hardest part of making the jelly is separating the seeds from the white pith that holds the seeds in place inside the leathery peel.

 

The jelly recipe consists of few ingredients: pomegranate juice, sugar, water, and classic pectin. Here’s how I make the jelly.

 

 

 

POMEGRANATE JELLY RECIPE

 

Ingredients:

 

3 1/2 cups pomegranate juice (well strained to remove all the particles)

 

5 cups granulated sugar

 

6 tablespoons classic pectin

 

 

Directions:

 

Prepare boiling water canner and wash eight to ten half-pint jars in the dishwasher.

 

Place rings and lids in a pan of simmering hot water.

 

Cut one end of the pomegranate off to expose the membranes and seeds.

 

Section the pomegranate and scrape the seeds out into a medium to large bowl.

 

Repeat the process until you had several cups of seeds.

 

Rinse well and then run the seeds through a juice extractor.

 

Strain out the juice through a jelly bag or multiple layers of cheesecloth. Note: The juice stains, so take care to protect kitchen counters and clothing.

 

 

Ripe pomegranate

Ripe pomegranates have a leathery outer skin

 

 

 

Put the juice and pectin into a large pot and bring to a boil, carefully stirring to blend in the pectin.

 

Add sugar and stir until completely dissolved and boil for one minute at a roiling boil that cannot be stirred down. Ladle off foam, if necessary.

 

Ladle jam into clean, hot jars leaving one-quarter inch head space. Attach hot lids and then the rings. Tighten to finger tight.

 

Lower the filled and sealed jars into the canner. Process for 10 minutes at a roiling boil. Remove and let cool.

 

 

 

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If you enjoy reading about farmette topics (including gardening, beekeeping, and delicious recipes), check out my cozy mysteries A BEELINE TO MURDER and also THE MURDER OF A QUEEN BEE in the Henny Penny Farmette series (from Kensington Publishing).

 

 

 

These novels are available through online retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo Books, and Walmart as well as from traditional bookstores everywhere.

 

 

The first novel in the Henny Penny Farmette series

See, http://tinyurl.com/hxy3s8q

Now available in mass market paperback, this debut novel launched the Henny Penny Farmette series of mysteries and sold out its first press run.

 

 

 

 

The second cozy  mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series, available Sept. 29, 2016

See, http://tinyurl.com/h4kou4g

The second cozy mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series, available Sept. 27, 2016, is now available on Net Galley (netgalley.com) for professionals and readers who write reviews. The book may be pre-ordered as well. Click on the link under the image.

 

 

 

 

 

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Great Pie Begins with a Buttery, Flaky Crust

Author: Meera, September 4, 2016

My stalwart Scots-Irish grandmother was thrifty and talented when it came to food preparation. She made delicious pies from cherry, rhubarb, peaches, apples, pears, and sweet berries of every kind, including gooseberries. Her pies were my childhood delight when I lived with her and my grandfather on their Boone County, Missouri farm.

 

 

She made delicious meat pies from meats she’d preserved by canning. Missouri winters could be harsh. Those meat pies nourished me when the snow piled up outside the windows, and it was too cold to make a trek to the smoke house where her prized Boone County hams hung from hooks.

 

 

Crust and "mile-high" meringue finish off this old fashion vinegar pie that tastes like lemon

Flaky crust and tall meringue finish off this old-fashion vinegar pie.

 

 

Sometimes, my grandmother combined fruits or berries in a rustic pie (today, we call it a galette) and on other occasions, she made a raisin, pecan, pumpkin, coconut, or a custard pie. And meringue, if used, was high and sweet and just the right shade of golden brown. But it was the pie crust that I loved.

 

 

For the top of a peach pie, she’d cut in a large curve shaped like a branch. Then two or three other lines would curve from it. Lastly, she cut teardrop shapes along the arch lines so the top crust art would suggest a peach tree branch. When she worked crisscross strips atop a cherry pie, it was both beautiful and delicious.

 

 

I like to roll out the crust between plastic wrap

Storing or rolling the crust between sheets of plastic wraps is a good way to avoid handling the crust with your hands.

 

 

 

The secret to her buttery, flaky crust was not to handle it too much. Today, I make the same recipe but in my food processor. Like her, I use chilled or ice water, adding only drops at at time as the food processor is pulsing the dough–only enough to get the dough clinging together. The point is to move the dough from dry and crumbly to clumping into a ball.

 

 

 

A fluted crust is ready for almost any kind of filling

This fluted crust is ready for almost any kind of filling. I will prick the bottom and sides with a fork before filling and baking.

 

 

 

After the dough is made, I dump it from the food processor bowl onto aluminum foil or plastic wrap and work it into a ball (without touching it). The dough goes into the fridge for a chill over an hour and up to 24 hours. The recipe makes enough for a pie top and bottom or a couple of pies requiring only the bottom crust.

 

 

 Ingredients:

 

2 1/2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

1 cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1/4 (plus a few tablespoons more if necessary) cold or ice water

 

Directions:

 

Add the dry ingredients (flour, salt, and sugar) in the food processor bowl.

Cut the butter into small chunks and drop the pieces in. Pulse into a crumbly, dry meal.
Add ice water to the mixture in the bowl by dropping spoonfuls through the feeding tube and pulsing after each addition.
Remove the dough when it clings together–neither too wet nor too dry–by dumping it out on a large sheet of aluminum foil or plastic wrap.
Mold the dough into a ball and flatten  into a thick disk to make it easier to roll out.
Chill for an hour or up to 24 hours.

 

Makes two buttery, flaky crusts.

 

 

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If you enjoy reading about farmette topics (including gardening, beekeeping, and delicious recipes), check out my cozy mysteries A BEELINE TO MURDER and also THE MURDER OF A QUEEN BEE in the Henny Penny Farmette series (from Kensington Publishing).

 

 

 

These novels are available through online retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo Books, and Walmart as well as from traditional bookstores everywhere.

 

 

The first novel in the Henny Penny Farmette series

See, http://tinyurl.com/hxy3s8q

Now available in mass market paperback, this debut novel launched the Henny Penny Farmette series of mysteries and sold out its first press run.

 

 

 

 

The second cozy  mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series, available Sept. 29, 2016

See, http://tinyurl.com/h4kou4g

The second cozy mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series, available Sept. 27, 2016, is now available on Net Galley (netgalley.com) for professionals and readers who write reviews.

 

 

 

 

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Summer Salad with a Mediterranean Flair

Author: Meera, July 15, 2016

Inspired by a salad made of lentilles du Puy that I recently ate at a Mediterranean restaurant, I decided to create my own version of it.

 

 

The salad combines tiny greenish/brown French lentils with seasonal fresh produce such as heirloom  tomatoes and zucchini . I added a chopped onion (sauteed) and some hard-boiled eggs. Dried mint, crumbled fine, along with a little salt and pepper is the only seasoning you’ll need.

 

 

This salad is delicious served warm. But it is equally tasty served chilled on very hot days.

 

 

 

French Lentil, Zucchini, and Tomato Salad

Ingredients for lentil salad include sauteed onions, heirloom tomato, zucchini, hard-boiled eggs, and fresh lemon juice

Ingredients for lentil salad include sauteed onions, heirloom tomato, zucchini, hard-boiled eggs, and fresh lemon juice

 

 

INGREDIENTS:

 

1 cup cooked French lentils (the small green or brown variety)

1/2 cup cooked Basmati rice

1 small firm tomato, skinned and chopped

1 cup peeled and chopped fresh zucchini

1 medium red or yellow onion, coarsely chopped and lightly sauteed

2 hard-boiled egg, chopped

1/4 c dried mint, crumbled fine by rubbing between your palms

1/2 medium juicy lemon

salt to taste

 

DIRECTIONS:

 

Combine the cooked lentils and rice. Add the zucchini, tomato, sauteed onion, and chopped hard-boiled egg to the lentil-rice mixture. Crumble the dried mint over the salad. Season with salt and pepper. Squeeze the juice from 1/2 lemon over the mixture and combine well before serving. Serves 4-6.

 

*Try pairing this salad with a rosemary chicken or lamb wrap for a light lunch.

 

 

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If you enjoy reading about farmette topics (including gardening, beekeeping, and delicious recipes), check out my cozy mysteries A BEELINE TO MURDER and also THE MURDER OF A QUEEN BEE in the Henny Penny Farmette series (from Kensington Publishing).

 

 

 

These novels are available through online retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo Books, and Walmart as well as from traditional bookstores everywhere.

 

 

The first novel in the Henny Penny Farmette series

Now available in mass market paperback, this debut novel launched the Henny Penny Farmette series of mysteries and sold out its first press run.

 

 

 

 

The second cozy  mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series, available Sept. 29, 2016

The second cozy mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series, available Sept. 29, 2016

 

 

 

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Blue tomatoes are an heirloom variety and among other old favorites you'll find at the farmers' markets

Blue tomatoes are an heirloom variety among other old favorites you’ll find at the farmers’ markets

 

 

Nothing beats eating farm-to-table fresh vegetables, fruits, and berries. But what if you don’t have time or the room to grow wholesome, healthy foods yourself?

 

 

Our California farmers’ markets offer a dazzling variety of fruits, vegetables, berries, and nuts. These items are trucked or otherwise brought into our communities from local area farms and orchards.

 

 

 

Peaches are perfect this month

Peaches are perfect this month

 

 

 

Many fruits and vegetables are certified organic. That means the farmers and growers are registered and in compliance with state and local regulations designed to protect consumers and ensure food quality and safety.
Annually, California produces nearly half of the nation’s fruits, nuts, and vegetables, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture. See http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/Statistics/ 

 

 

 

The San Joaquin Valley of central California has earned the moniker of the World’s Food Basket since its crops account for 12.8 percent of all agricultural products from California. https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/Statistics/PDFs/2015Report.pdf

 

 

 

A white bloom in spring heralds the formation of succulent strawberries

California produces 88% of the nation’s strawberries

 

 

 

In fact, California leads the nation in production of figs, dates, plums, melons, nectarines, peaches (Clingstone and Freestone), pears (Bartlett), persimmons, raspberries, and apricots.

 

 

 

Apricots are beginning to turn from green to the reddish orange color of ripeness

California apricots are available May through July

 

 

In the Golden State, you can find dozens of types of fruits offered at 350 farmers’ markets (some open all year long).

 

 

 

Ripe apricots can hang on the tree only so long before they drop

Ripe Blenheim apricots

 

 

 

From the Pacific Coast Farmer’s Market Association, the following list (recapped below) reveals when these fruits are in season in California.

 

 

Apples: January-February; August-December

Apricots: May-July

Blackberries: June-September

Blueberries: May-August

Boysenberries: June-August

Cantaloupe: May-September

Cherries: April-June

Citrus: January-March; November-December

Dates: September-December

Figs: September-November

Grapes: August-November

Kiwi: January-April; October-December

Melons: June-September

Nectarines:May-September

Peaches: May-September

Pears: September-December

Persimmons: September-November

Plums: May-October

Pluots: May-September

Pomegranates: September-November

Prunes: May-September

Raspberries: May-October

Strawberries: February-November

Watermelon: July-September

 

 

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If you enjoy reading about farmette topics (including gardening, beekeeping, and delicious recipes), check out my cozy mysteries A BEELINE TO MURDER and also THE MURDER OF A QUEEN BEE in the Henny Penny Farmette series (from Kensington Publishing).

 

 

 

Both area available through online retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Walmart as well as from traditional bookstores everywhere.

 

 

The first novel in the Henny Penny Farmette series

Now available in mass market paperback, this novel launched the Henny Penny Farmette series of mysteries

 

 

 

 

The second cozy  mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series, available Sept. 29, 2016

The second cozy mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series, available Sept. 29, 2016

 

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Here You Go–A Resourceful New Recipe

Author: Meera, June 27, 2016

This newest offering in the Henny Penny Farmette series of cozy mysteries provides a recipe for pure pleasure.

 

Take one medium-sized volume, mix up an ex-cop turned lady farmer, toss in one small town, and add the murder of the local herbalist. Combine a little mystery, add the angst of an old lover, sift in a new admirer, and squeeze in the bitter juice of one uptight New Age guru. Let the pressure build until the top blows. Enjoy with a cup of tea.

 

 

Novel #2 in the Henny Penny Farmette series, available September 27, 2016

Novel #2 in the Henny Penny Farmette series, available September 27, 2016

 

 

THE MURDER OF A QUEEN BEE
Author: Meera Lester

 

 

Review Issue Date: July 15, 2016
Online Publish Date: June 30, 2016
Publisher:Kensington
Pages: 288
Price ( Hardcover ): $25.00
Publication Date: September 27, 2016
ISBN ( Hardcover ): 978-1-61773-913-2
Category: Fiction
Classification: Mystery

 

Kirkus Reviews July 15, 2016

 

A beekeeper gets a second chance at love and solving a murder.

 

Former police officer Abigail Mackenzie and her ex-partner Kat Petrovsky are supposed to be having lunch at Abby’s farmette with local shop owner Fiona Mary Sullivan, who’d asked to have a talk with Abby. Fiona recently split from a New Age group whose new leader created a cultish atmosphere, leaving her husband, Tom Davidson Dodge, behind at the commune. When Kat gets a call reporting a burning car with a body, both of them rush to the scene to discover that the body is Fiona’s.

 

The police chief wants no interference from Abby, but she can hardly help investigating the murder of a friend. After being nearly forced off the road and shot at, she’s not in the mood to discuss relationship problems with Clay Calhoun, the sexy carpenter who loved her and left her heartbroken. Clay evidently wants her back. He plans a fabulous bathroom makeover as a gift to help win her.

 

Meanwhile, Abby helps Fiona’s brother, Jack Sullivan, straighten out Fiona’s affairs and seeks to discover what lock a mysterious key Abby found in one of Fiona’s diaries unlocks. Though there are plenty of suspects for Abby and the police to check out, Abby naturally finds it hard to concentrate on murder while she’s trying to decide what to do about Clay and her newfound attraction to Jack.  The second from Lester (A Beeline To Murder, 2016) is long on romance, sweet tips, and honey recipes. There’s a thin little mystery, too.

 

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The peaches are ripe now and beginning to fall from the tree. I decided to whip up a fresh peach cobbler from scratch. It’s easy and won’t take more than 15 to 20 minutes to get the cobbler made and into the oven.

 

 

Elberta peaches are firm and juicy, perfect for jams, cakes, and eating fresh

Elberta peaches are firm and juicy. That makes them perfect for cobbler, pies, tarts, and jams.

 

 

All you need to make this super-simple summer dessert are a few fresh peaches and a basic cobbler batter.

 

 

Freshly picked ripe peaches make a superb  summer cobbler

The cobbler crust forms as the fruit and batter bake. The dessert is even tastier with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

 

 

RECIPE: FRESH PEACH COBBLER

 

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups granulated sugar

3 teaspoons baking powder

pinch of salt

1 cup of milk

5 to 6 medium to large fresh peaches (peeled, pitted, and sliced)

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon cinnamon or ground nutmeg (optional)

 

 

Directions:

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit

 

 

Select a baking dish that measures 13 x 9 x 2 inches and pour the melted butter to coat the bottom.

 

 

Combine in a medium bowl the dry ingredients (set aside 1 cup of sugar for the peaches). Pour the milk over the dry mixture and stir gently to combine to create a batter. Do not overmix. Pour the batter into the butter-coated baking dish.

 

 

Put peaches into a saucepan and cover with the remaining cup of sugar and lemon juice. Over high heat, bring the peaches to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and pour the peaches over the batter in the baking dish, but do not stir.

 

Sprinkle the cinnamon and/or nutmeg over the fruit. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. The cobbler batter will become a crusty topping through which the hot peach filling bubbles through. Serve it hot or cold, plain or with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of rich vanilla ice cream. Serves 4-6

 

 

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Making a No-Fail Wild Plum Jam

Author: Meera, June 21, 2016

An amazing wild plum tree sprouted up and grew tall at the back of our property with a full canopy of gorgeous burgundy leaves. This, without any attention or coddling from us. It’s now three-years-old and loaded with red plums.

 

 

I made a test batch of the wild plum jam to make sure it tasted great before canning a lot of jars

Making a test batch of a few jars is advised when you are not sure about a fruit jam

 

 

 

The fruit itself is quite juicy and sweet, but the skins are tart. I made a small test batch of five jars and then waited 24 hours to sample the jam. After I tasted the test jam and realized how exquisitely delicious it was, I vowed to can at least a couple dozen jars.

 

 

I got out cases of unopened jars and lids and ran the jars through a hot water wash cycle in my dishwasher. Then I rinsed the plums under water and pitted them before making the fruit into jam. My plan is to not only enjoy eating the jam throughout the summer and fall but to pack jars of it into food baskets for holiday giving this year.

 

 

 

This jam is perfect for spreading on a slice of toast or a croissant. The sweet-tart taste means it would nicely accompany chicken or pork. The taste is sweet but tangy. The texture is lighter and smoother than strawberry.

 

 

This sweet-tart jam makes the perfect accompaniment to croissants, toasts, muffins, and biscuits

The smallest dab of this fruity jam goes well with a little goat cheese on toasted sourdough

 

 

 

RECIPE: WILD PLUM JAM

 

Ingredients:

 

5 cups wild plums (washed and pitted)

3 cups sugar

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/3 cup water

5 Tablespoons Classic Pectin

 

Directions:

 

Place the pitted plums into a large cooking pot and add all ingredients except pectin.

 

Stir well to combine.

 

Cook on high and bring the plums to gelling point. Stir constantly for 15 minutes as mixture thickens.

 

Sprinkle in the pectin by spoonfuls and stir after each addition to mix well.

 

Ladle jam into hot jars. Leave about 1/4-inch at the top. Attach lids and screw rings and then process in boiling water for 20 minutes according to your canner instructions.

 

 

 

 

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