Archive for September, 2016


Today’s blog will be a short one–I’m tracking down the foxes that showed up on my front porch after snagging a chicken from my neighbor’s hen house.  The foxes stood on my front porch late last night. My hubby saw them and thought they were cats. He checked on our chickens to make sure they were safe and called me.

 

 

I am house-sitting and pet-sitting for a relative who lives a mile away. This means I am running back and forth between the two properties, while trying to blog, do farming chores, and clean.

 

 

 

But today is special because it is the official release day for THE MURDER OF A QUEEN BEE, the second cozy mystery in my Henny Penny Farmette series. So I’m taking an extra hour or two here and there to blog and post publicity.

 

 

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

Enter the Goodreads giveaway to win a copy of Lester’s newest offering

 

 

I’m thrilled that already the book is garnering praise from industry publications like Kirkus Reviews, Publisher’s Weekly, and Booklist. Additionally, it is creating buzz in the cozy mystery and new fiction blogosphere.

 

 

Goodreads has a giveaway for three autographed, hardbound copies of THE MURDER OF A QUEEN BEE. The giveaway drawing runs from midnight September 29 through midnight August 6. See more at https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28439447-the-murder-of-a-queen-bee

 

 

Happy birthday/release day to my second novel, and good luck everyone entering the drawing. I hope you like ex-cop turned farmette owner Abigail Mackenzie’s newest adventure involving the murder of her herbalist friend Fiona and Fiona’s links to a New Age cult.

 

 

 

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A Forty-foot Tall Brazilian Beauty

Author: Meera, September 22, 2016

We recently lost the elm tree that stood about 25 feet tall next to the small house on our Henny Penny Farmette. On hot days, we really feel the heat now that the elm’s shady canopy is gone.  Among the trees we are considering as a replacement for the elm is a Jacaranda mimosaefolia.

 

 

These jacaranda trees were tiny when shipped to us but over the last month have doubled in height

This jacaranda tree was  10 inches when shipped.  It will reach a height of 40 feet.

 

 

This Brazilian beauty will grow to 40 feet tall and spread from 15 to 30 feet wide. The trees begin to branch profusely when they reach about 6 feet high. I love the fernlike leaves and the 8-inch long clusters of bluish-lavender tubular flowers. The tree blooms abundantly in June and is stunning in any landscape or garden.

 

The trees will tolerate a wide variety of soil types. Water must be consistent but too much will create profuse tender growth and too little will stunt the tree. We purchased two of these gorgeous trees and will plant them at the front of our home, far enough away from each other to allow them to mature without crowding.

 

Although I will miss the elm shade until the jacarandas grow large, I won’t miss the debris of seed pods and small branches easily fractured from the elm. Mature Jacaranda’s in full bloom are a sight to behold and they’re fairly easy to grow.

 

 

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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).

 

Enter the Goodreads Giveaway–September 29 to October 6–for a chance to win a signed copy of a first-edition hardcover of The Murder of a Queen Bee. Three lucky winners will be chosen.

 

 

These novels are chocked full of recipes, farming tips, and sayings as well as a charming cozy mystery.

 

 

 

The books 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

 

This debut novel launched the Henny Penny Farmette series of mysteries and sold out its first press run. It’s now available in mass market paperback and other formats.

 

 

 

 

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

See, http://tinyurl.com/h4kou4g

 

Release date is THIS WEEK–September 27. This book, the second cozy mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series, is garnering great reviews on Goodreads.com.

 

 

It’s available free on Net Galley (netgalley.com) for readers, bloggers, and other professionals who write reviews.

 

 

 

 

 

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Gather Dry Seedpods Now for Next Year’s Garden

Author: Meera, September 15, 2016

When I notice the seedpods of my favorite flowers beginning to dry, I start carrying a felt-tip pen and paper bags around the garden for collection and labeling. Also when my favorite varieties of heirloom pumpkins and squash are ripe, I’ll cut open the plants, collect the seeds, clean and dry them, and store in paper envelopes or glass jars.

 

 

Throughout the summer, I do the same with the best specimens of my heritage tomatoes and beans.

 

 

Pumpkin

 

 

 

Gather the seeds of your favorite plants when the flowering (or production) is over and the pods are drying. On my patio harvest table, a long metal table with a tiled top, I place giant sunflower heads to finish drying. I then save some seed for replanting, the rest for eating. But I always share some with the squirrels and birds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The florets are falling off and the seeds have formed on this giant sunflower head

The florets are falling off and the seeds have formed on this giant sunflower head

 

 

There are multiple bowls, buckets, and glass jars on the table, too. These hold the papery pods of lobelia’s tiny seeds and the onion seed heads that only need a good shaking onto a paper towel to remove the tiny black seeds. I’ve got containers of cosmos and also zinnia seeds, too, collected during early morning walks around my farmette.

 

 

 

 

 

Shake dry seed heads of onions onto white paper and transfer to paper envelopes to label and store

Shake dry seed heads of onions onto white paper and transfer to paper envelopes to label and store

 

 

When you plant open-pollinated heritage plants, it’s easy to keep a steady supply of seeds for next year’s garden. You can get an early jump on spring by sowing these seeds into seed flats or wait until the danger of frost has passed to sow them directly into prepared beds. The process of collecting, saving, and replanting seeds is how our ancestors did it, and it still works.

 

 

*          *          *

 

 

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 chocked full of recipes, farming tips, and sayings as well as a charming cozy mystery.

 

 

 

The books 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

 

This debut novel launched the Henny Penny Farmette series of mysteries and sold out its first press run. It’s now available in mass market paperback and other formats.

 

 

 

 

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

See, http://tinyurl.com/h4kou4g

 

Release date is September 27 for this, the second cozy mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series. It’s available free on Net Galley (netgalley.com) for readers, bloggers, and other professionals who write reviews.

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

*          *          *

 

 

 

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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What’s Not to Love about Edible Figs?

Author: Meera, September 8, 2016

Many backyard gardeners start checking their fig trees this time of year for ripe fruit. Most figs grown for their fruit bear two crops a year (spring and fall). When figs are ripe, the globular fruit becomes soft and hangs downward from the branch. This fruit will not ripen on the windowsill or in a paper bag, so picking fruit while it is still firm is not advised.

 

ripe figs sm web

 

I grow White Genoa, Adriatic, and Brown Turkey figs on my farmette. One of my nearest neighbors grows the Mission fig, which is a very large tree taking up most of his backyard. This time of year, his tree is heavily laden with purple-black fruit. Throughout the fall, that Mission fig tree is frequently visited by the birds, squirrels, and raccoons that eat the fruit.

 

Cooks appreciate the versatility of figs for cooking. There are many ways to prepare them. Grilled figs are delicious when served on a crostini with a dollop of goat cheese and drizzled with honey. The pulp can be used to make fig bars and other types of cookies. Luscious, juicy figs may be made into chutney or jam, baked in cakes, paired with almonds in a tart, sliced into salads, grilled with lamb, or served simply with port.

 

Fig trees are easy to grow, too. They need full sun and good drainage; many cultivars are drought tolerant. Lightly prune as necessary in winter. Enjoy.

 

*          *          *

 

 

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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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.

 

 

*          *          *

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

read comments ( 0 )