July Fourth is right around the corner in my part of the world. To make the holiday crackle even more, I'm digging through decades-old family recipes, like Grandma Ethel's dandelion wine and Mama Marg's pineapple upside down cake. Read to find ingredients for summertime memories and happy tummies that will inspire you.
Hub and I begin celebrating the Fourth by decking out our porch. We're still perfecting the patriotic look for our new cottage, but memories from our old home guide us.
Much of our celebrating involves hosting or finding a cookout. It doesn't feel like a uniquely American holiday to us without clumps of folk chatting down over dogs, burgers, and brew ... nutritional values and calories all pushed aside for this day.
This year, we’ll join our new neighbors in a cul-de-sac cookout. We’re a mixed group of empty-nesters and young families, so I need to bring a dish to pass to satisfy a range of tastebuds.
My problem? Not a foodie here, even though I come from a long line of fab cooks and bakers. To get inspired, I sort through family recipes.
Grandma Ethel started collecting recipes in 1910 as part of a high-school project in Everett, Washington (Pacific Northwest, US). Grateful to my cousin, who made sure the grandchildren have copies of Grandma's hand-written notes.
The Dandelion Wine recipe surprises me. I don’t remember seeing it around when we spent summers on Grandma's farm as kids, but adults likely imbibed when we slept.
I realize wine needs time to ferment, but I am still gobsmacked at how my grand's Depression-era generation took *time* and care to prepare their food: Squeeze out blossoms and let toasted bread stand for 3 days and nights? Wow,
Guessing any dandelions we’d pick today would be swimming in chemicals. Passing on this recipe until I get a handle on organic dandelion blossoms and find a 10# pail for collecting them -:D
Poetry and Pineapple Upside Down Cake
On the other hand, I remember snorfing down Mama's to-die-for Pineapple Upside Down Cake as a kid like it was yesterday. But I can’t find her recipe (boo hoo). She was such an excellent baker, who likely made up the recipe as she went along.
Instead, I discover a similar concoction in a compilation of favorite recipes by Grandma Ethel's friends and neighbors at the Josephine Sunset Home Auxiliary in Stanwood, Washington. Published around 1976 (the USA's bicentennial birthday year), it's clear these women knew their way around kitchens.
Don't you love the added homey poetry sprinkled about in the book’s white spaces! And it's still relevant today.
I could tackle this recipe but, geez, Fumble Fingers here, wondering how I'd manage to invert the cake without smooshing it all over. Mama had the touch! She also garnished the top with pineapple slices that we kids snatched and ate when we thought she wasn't looking. Looking back, I think she knew what we were up to.
A Salad or Dessert?
I luck out recalling
one of Mama’s summertime picnic specials,
is more dessert
Do you know it?
It's super easy to throw together, refrigerate overnight, and serve the next day.
Even better topped with fresh blueberries. (Caveat…it has nuts for those with allergies.)
Only problem at our house:
Watergate Salad gets gone really FAST!!!!
Here's an easy dish even I can manage.
Berries morph into patriotic red-white-and-blues
when featured with just the right serving pieces.
What do you think about
chocolate dipping sauce
on the side
for that extra yum?
I’m off to market to stock up on Fourth Food for the 'hood cookout. What family recipes do you cherish? What's your never-fail summertime fare? Please share in the comment section.
Have a safe and happy Fourth y'all! Sending virtual hot dogs slathered with all the trimmings to everyone. And maybe a virtual cup of Grandma's wine, if I can master the dandelions by then <wink>.
My writerly pals and I are sharing breezy summer dreams and inspirations - what we’re currently loving, reading, wishing, watching, thinking about and more – in the C*U*R*R*E*N*T*L*Y Jumping into Summer 2019 Blog Hop.
Please have a read to discover how I'm finding my summertime bliss. Then visit the other #Gr8Blogs listed at the end of this post for more Jumping into Summer 2019 smiles.
Celebrating our 25th Wedding Anniversary
JM and I celebrated our silver wedding anniversary over brunch at the cafe where we had our first date in 1991. Cannot believe it has been 25 years since we eloped to Dillon, South Carolina! Same smiles and love in our hearts; majorly different hair styles -:D
Best-selling Authors' Newest Tales
faithfully delivers enjoyable summer tales,
and her newest, Winter in Paradise, is no exception.
Unlike the author's usual setting based on her Nantucket home,
this first of her new series takes place
in St. John, US Virgin Islands.
Paradise is a bit of mystery, family and romance
with a juicy tropical vibe.
Doing a book nerd happy dance here!
I even pre-ordered an autographed copy
of her 15th Inspector Gamache novel,
A Better Man.
You know what' I'll be reading this summer -:D
Bye-bye Big Bang, sniff-sniff
Hated seeing The Big Bang Theory series end after its 12-year run. What a sweet, totally satisfying wrap (unlike GoT’s, which imho, was underwhelming). I adore this circle of socially awkward nerds who forge lasting friendships with each other.
Co-writing with Rosie Russell
Writing is always better with friends, and I'm having a sweet ride co-writing a children's book with author Rosie Russell.
Our story for middle graders is set in rural America's heartland. Our main character, Olivia, is a socially awkward farm child. She's thrown into the choppy waters of tween social circles when a new girl moves to town from a nearby city. We're stirring in horses, baseball, crafting, mean girls, and perhaps a storm or two to twist Olivia around. Stay tuned!
MAKING ME HAPPY
Literary Classics Book Awards
I still cannot believe
Sweet T and the Turtle Team
scored gold - environment category – in the Literary Classics Book Awards for excellence in children’s literature.
JM and I had an amazing weekend in Rapid City, South Dakota, to mark the occasion with .....
author meet and greet
I was beyond excited to meet the Literary Classics Team and find friendship with other award-winning authors. The weekend was also an affirmation of my time on the writing road these past six years and a major dose of motivation for this Cat -:D.
Catch my comprehensive photo journey to a red carpet weekend in the American West on Cat's Corner HERE
SEEING IN MY CAMERA LENS
The American West
After the Literary Classics Awards, JM and I tagged on a 25th anniversary trip to Rocky Mountains National Park near Estes Park, Colorado. In total, it was a whirlwind 11-day, 1,500M/2415Km trip across four states in the American West in a rented Jeep Cherokee.
This was hub’s first time
being west of the Mississippi.
Although I visited as a child,
I appreciated the journey more
as an adult.
Endless prairie ...
Abundant wild life roaming up to your car ...
Snow-capped summertime peaks ...
Dazzling human-made and natural wonders ...
My Women’s Fiction WIP
To be honest, between travels, co-writing, and life in general, my first adult fiction has been percolating on the back burner. But I can't wait to toss my characters into the challenges of living together - or not! - as the Old South collides with the New South in the growing town of Corey, North Carolina.
But before you go,
find more inspiration and smiles
from these #Gr8Blogs
as YOU jump into summer -:D
UPDATE: May 2020
Like all of us a year ago, I could never have imagined today's world gripped by a pandemic that has majorly impacted all human life on this planet.
In spring 2020, we look forward to and imagine how it will be when we win the war against an insidious virus.
In the meantime, it's comforting to escape headlines for awhile. Please join me in looking back on my photo walk from last spring, when life was simpler, and we could travel and hug our families.
I hope you enjoy my adventures on the great American prairie and journey to a writer's dream-come-true event.
Be well * Stay Strong * Spread Kindness
I’ve been to bookish events before but never to a writing awards ceremony…until Sweet T and the Turtle Team scored gold for best children’s book, environment category, from the Literary Classics Book Awards.
Walking on air for months, here, dreaming about meeting other honorees and our weekend-long celebration in Rapid City, South Dakota.
Although I visited South Dakota as a child, hub JM had never been west of the Mississippi River. We decided to make the most of this literary opportunity AND experience the American West while celebrating our silver wedding anniversary.
Set your comfy chair in its upright and locked position, grab a brew, and join me for a photo walk of my journey to a red carpet weekend.
Getting to Rapid City
My North Carolina home is sunny and warm in May, with temps climbing to 90F/32C. I pack for my American West weekend with shorts, sandals, and sunscreen until I check the weather forecast.
Nope. Cold, rain and sleet at Denver Airport.
Toss summer gear from the suitcase.
Squash winter coat and boots inside instead.
After a long plane ride and safe landing at Denver International,
we are like excited kids
navigating back roads in a rented Jeep
to see more of the countryside.
Dodging sleet and rain during the 6-hour drive
across Nebraska and north to Rapid City ...
... we oooh and ahhh over unending stretches of prairie and grazing cattle.
Easy to imagine wagon trains and cowboys once crossing here, too.
Getting to Know You
Rapid City is a bustling center in northwest South Dakota.
It's nestled between two magnificent natural wonders,
the Badlands and Black Hills.
Wow, Rapid City is decked out to greet us!
The Literary Classics Team makes us feel right at home, too.
How to break the ice
with a group of mostly introverted authors,
who don’t know each other beyond the CLC’s private group Facebook page?
Wine tasting downtown at Firehouse Wine Cellar!
After wine, it's a get-to-know-you scavenger hunt.
Cool, fun questions:
How many books have you written?
Do you have an agent?
Is this your first time in Rapid City?
We are all old friends
by the time we leave the winery -:D
Author Roundtable, Writers' Conference
Friday morning is all about sharing ideas at a 90-minute author roundtable to kick off the writers’ conference. Such incredible talent in the room!
I come away with tons of ideas for authoring and motivation for my writerly life.
After lunch, JM and I dash away
on a 30-minute jaunt
Mt. Rushmore National Monument.
Book Fair and Bison
Despite 37F/2.8C temps, our tables are ready to go by 9 a.m. for GABfest, the Great American Book Festival, in Rapid City’s outdoor Main Street Square
High wind warnings that morning are no joke. The 50-mph/81-kph gusts knock down displays and threaten tents covering us. Then cue the hail and rain! Not to mention me spilling hot coffee all over my books and the once-pristine white tablecloth under them <rolls eyes and smacks head here>.
A few readers brave the elements.
But it is soooo cold and sooooo windy!
Later in the day,
we discover bison
in nearby Custer State Park
don't mind inclement weather one bit!
And bison mamas can birth 2 calves?
SUNDAY - AFTERNOON
Choo-chooing away butterflies
The BIG DAY of the Award Ceremony is finally here!
I’ve never been on the red carpet before, and to be honest,
I fight butterflies in my stomach.
I’m way more comfortable behind the scenes instead of in front of them.
But we are free until the event that evening. No time to fret. So......
...on a perfect Sunday afternoon,
my sweet Trainiac Hub and I
motor a short distance
for grown-up play time in Hill City, SD.
than a happy hubby
enjoying bison burger for lunch (apologies to vegetarians)
in an historic, century-old log cabin
next to a train depot ....
... unless it's
chugging along on an old-timey steam train ride
through the South Dakota Black Hills.
Wow! I also have my first fan recognition!
As I wait at the depot,
an attendee from the author roundtable discussion
She walks up to say hello and ask about my books.
My grateful heart does the happy dance -:D.
SUNDAY - EVENING
Reception and Award Ceremony
The event begins
with a happy hour and photos on the Red Carpet.
Then comes the moment we've been waiting for:
The Literary Classics team calls my name.
I walk to the stage.
Face beaming, Pulse pounding.
I receive my medal for
Sweet T and the Turtle Team.
We clap and cheer the night away
for every awesome author
recognized for his or her brilliant achievement -:D!
And just like that,
We linger as long as we can.
Then we slip into the night.
Go our separate ways.
Back to earth
It's been a month
since my Literary Classics weekend.
Have I come down to earth?
I still feel the excitement.
Cherish connections made there
Best, I retain a huge dose of confidence
to brave the hard road
and keep writing.
Writing is hard.
It's just plain lonely.
And I’m beyond grateful to
for recognizing my work and reaffirming I am on the right track.
And as always,
I'm grateful to
for following my writing journey.
Here's to more happy tales ahead!
Writing about family, books, authoring, life, movies, travel and more.
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