Lime Curd

Citrus fruit is a big industry in my part of Florida. I have several friends who have lemon, lime, or orange trees in their yards, and who are willing to share their bounty!

One friend gave me six limes, which I used to make Lime Curd. Lemon curd is typically served during English tea, but I love limes even more than lemons. I used a lemon curd recipe, swapping out the lemon juice and zest for lime juice and zest. As always when I experiment, I hope for the best (delicious food), but am prepared to try again if the results don’t match expectations.

This turned out to be as tasty as I had hoped, and I used the lime curd to make Lime Curd Mousse tarts. For today, we’ll focus on the lime curd itself. It’s easy, but labor intensive. This is one thing you can’t walk away from, but the results are well worth it!

Lime Curd

Makes about 2 cups 
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Total time: 3 1/2 hours (includes time for lime curd to chill)

1 1/2 T lime zest

1 1/3 C fresh lime juice

1 1/3 C sugar
5 egg yolks, beaten lightly
2/3 C butter, cubed

Combine zest, juice, and sugar in a large heavy, non-aluminum saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat just until boiling. Remove from heat, and temper egg yolks by gradually adding in hot juice/sugar mixture, one ladleful at a time, whisking constantly. When you’ve incorporated about 1/4 of the hot mixture, pour the egg/juice/sugar mixture into the pan with the rest of the hot juice/sugar mixture, whisking constantly. 

Place the saucepan over medium heat, and cook, whisking constantly, at least 10 minutes, or until mixture becomes pudding-like in consistency.

Add butter, in batches, whisking constantly until butter melts and is well-incorporated before adding more butter. Remove from heat once all the butter is melted and mixed in, and strain through a wire-mesh strainer into a bowl. Place plastic wrap directly on top of warm curd, to prevent a skin from forming. Chill at least 3 hours. 

This curd can be eaten with scones and clotted cream, or used as an ingredient to make lime curd mousse. Any way you eat it, there is a nice balance of sweet and tart!

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Pictured above are Lime Curd Mousse Tarts, made using Lime Curd.

NaNoWriMo: Week 1

November 1 began the writing adventure that is National Novel Writing Month. This year’s theme is “The World Needs Your Novel.” This month I’ll be posting on Monday about my experience the previous week.

Many people over the years have told me that one day they would like to write a novel. I’d been writing for years before I heard about NaNo in 2004, and accepted the challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Sound daunting? It is.

This year is my twelfth year participating, and my eleventh year as a Municipal Liaison (the fancy title for those of us who organize local Kick Off parties, weekly Write-Ins, and TGIO parties). Does this help me each year? Yes and no.

Yes, because having done it before I know I can do it again.

No, because each new story is a new adventure in plot, characters, dialogue, setting, theme, and all the other things that go into crafting a compelling read.

Each year I’ve been able to count on having 28 or 29 good writing days in the month. This year I’ll be visiting family (including a new baby!) for Thanksgiving weekend, and I really have only 25 good writing days. Instead of a daily word count goal of 1,667 to reach 50,000 in 30 days, my daily word count is 2,000 words per day.

The first week has gone really well. My word count after the first 7 days was 15,000+ words, so I am where I need to be to get to 50,000 by Thanksgiving. 

The first week is historically easy. The story that you’ve been thinking about for the past few months (or weeks, or days) comes gushing out once November 1 kicks off the month-long writing challenge. It doesn’t need to be coherent, and at this point it isn’t. Writing is rewriting, and that’s what December is for. November is for getting the draft done.

I’m working through my story idea, and although I’ve outlined roughly, once I start working the details I see where the gaps are, what I need to fill in, and who else needs to die (I’m writing a murder mystery). Past events, current events, and my personal life all affect what I’m writing about, and how I write it.

I write an outline with the beginning and end of each act and the midpoint. I include days of the week, so that I don’t have characters reacting on Friday to something that happens Saturday. I print out this rough outline, and pin it to the corkboard in front of my desk. 

This keeps me going when I run dry. I can look at the outline and see what dramatic action needs to occur against the backdrop of solving the mystery. Sometimes I write scenes out of order, when I have one fleshed out and I haven’t gotten to that point yet.

Sometimes I write in circles, trying to find the kernel of the story. I’ve found that keeping my fingers typing on the keyboard, even if it doesn’t seem to be part of the story at the time, can lead to breakthroughs that I might not have gotten to if I had stopped writing for the day. 

When I’m on a roll, I keep going. Having words in the bank, so to speak, makes up for the days I either don’t have enough time to write my 2,000 words, or for the days when the story isn’t coming no matter what tricks I use to tease the muse out from her hiding place.

The good news: I’m on pace. The bad news: My back, hands, and neck ache. Sitting in a chair for as long as I have been, writing as much as 5,000 words in a day, takes a toll. 

I remind myself to stay hydrated, which benefits me in two ways. I function best when I drink about 80 ounces of water a day. When I drink 80 ounces a day, I am getting up at regular intervals and take the opportunity to walk around, shaking out my hands, and stretch out my back.

Week 1 is done.

Week 2 begins.

Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers: WE’D RATHER BE #WRITING #COOKBOOK

Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers: WE’D RATHER BE #WRITING #COOKBOOK: Last year I had an idea for a cookbook featuring my fellow authors. The result was Bake, Love, Write: 105 AuthorsShare Dessert Recipes an…



Stop by Lois Winston’s blog and read about her inspiration for We’d Rather Be Writing: 88 Authors Share Timesaving Dinner Recipes and Other Tips. Proceeds will be donated to No Kid Hungry.

Candy Cane Reindeer

Usually on Thursday I post a recipe. Today I’m mixing it up and posting the directions to make these sweet Candy Cane Reindeer. They’re a perfect place card holder at a party, incorporate beautifully into the ribbon wrapping a package, or just hanging out as these guys are!

They are featured in “Dying for Holiday Tea,” one of the novellas in the anthology in Happy Homicides: Thirteen Cozy Holiday Mysteries.

Candy Cane Reindeer

Makes 1

1 Candy Cane, wrapped 
1 Brown pipe cleaner
2 eyes, size (or proportional to candy cane)
1 Pompom nose, brown or red
Glue (I use Tacky Glue)

Holding the candy cane, wrap the pipe cleaner around the curve and twist. Bend the long ends to make antlers.

Put a dab of glue on the front of the short end of the candy cane to make a nose. Put two smaller dabs of glue above the nose, for the eyes. 

Lay the candy cane down until the glue dries.

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This is one of the crafts included in the free bonus pdf file of recipes and crafts for Happy Homicides: Thirteen Cozy Holiday Mysteries. My novella, “Dying for Holiday Tea,” is included in this anthology written by thirteen authors.

Writing Fiction: Ideas Ripped From The Headlines

Writers are often asked, “Where do you get your ideas?” Some TV shows, such as Law & Order, have episodes that are ripped from the headlines. What exactly does that mean?

For me, it’s a merging of an idea I had (What if …?) with something I read or hear about. This past weekend, I saw two articles that crystallized a couple of ideas I’ve had in the back of my mind.

Friday: The Vero News is delivered, and the first headline I see says “Accused slayer of Diana Duve fears dying in prison.” I am very familiar with this case, both because it was a local crime and because Diana’s death was one of four within a 24-hour period on the Treasure Coast.

This article, focused on the killer, had a sentence that pissed me off. Taken from videotaped jailhouse visits, he talks about his grief over losing Diana and how much he misses her, and how he fears dying in prison. 

Boo-f***ing-hoo. This is not a case where law enforcement believes he did it but can’t prove it. This is a case where he’s seen on video getting into a cab near the vehicle she was found in. Local law enforcement has indicted him for first degree murder and the death penalty will be pursued. Indian River County is waiting their turn to prosecute him for this crime, because he is currently in jail in Broward County. They have charged him with violation of probation from an aggravated stalking charge, and are looking at possibly a charge for manual strangulation after looking more deeply into his past.

Saturday: People magazine has an article about Timmothy Pitzen, missing since May 2011. His parents dropped him off at school, his mother returned shortly after and took him with her, and several days later she had killed herself and Timmothy had disappeared.The title of the article is “A Mother’s Chilling Vow ‘You Will Never Find Him‘.” 

I read this article, and thought about what the story might be, from both the father’s and the mother’s perspective. 

I’ve been involved with SafeSpace for several years. Domestic violence has been an issue I’ve felt strongly about for 30 years. My experience and knowledge informs how I process everything. Knowing more details about one situation and nothing more than what I read in the article about the other combine in my mind.

Reading these two articles, so closely together, flipped a switch in my imagination. What if … coalesced into a more fully formed story idea, with characters, situations, and a rough plot. I can use the headline, and make up my own story. There might be similarities to the actual stories, but only in the sense that similar crimes have similar circumstances. My characters aren’t any of the real people in these two articles, but constructs to further a story.

Writers get their ideas from everywhere, and nowhere. Ideas are in the ether, and we just need to be open to receiving them.

Post a comment – I’d love to hear what you think.

Trick or Treat – Halloween Spider!

Today is Halloween, and this cute idea is perfect for a party or just to serve your own boos and ghouls.

I saw a similar spider on Pinterest, and adapted it to what I had. Isn’t that part of the fun of creating, taking something you’ve seen and making it your own?

Halloween Spider

For each one, you’ll need:

1 Mini doughnut
8 Pretzel pieces for legs (4 legs are shown in the picture – use more or less as you like)
2 Mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
Green icing
White icing

Use the green icing to draw a spiral on a plate. To make the spider’s web, use the fat end of a toothpick to draw lines from the center of the spiral out to the edge of the plate.

Place the doughnut on the web. Push the pretzel pieces into the doughnut to make legs. Using the green icing as glue, put a dab on the flat end of the chocolate chips and place them on the doughnut to make eyes. Let the icing set, and then put a dot of white icing on the tip of the chocolate chip to complete the eyes.

Voila! A Halloween spider you won’t mind seeing.

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What are your favorite Halloween treats?

We’d Rather Be Writing – Release Day October 30!

Today is the big day for We’d Rather Be Writing – 88 Authors Share Timesaving Dinner Recipes and Other Tips! The ebook version was available for presale, but both ebook and print editions are available now. 

Proceeds will be donated to No Kid Hungry, whose goal is to end child hunger in America.

Due to space considerations in the book, photos of the finished recipes could not be included. I’m posting the picture for my contributed recipe of Chicken and Noodles here:

Fast and easy, I can have a delicious dinner on the table within 30 minutes of walking in the door!

Bonus recipe: Roasted Spaghetti Squash

1 Spaghetti squash, cut in half, seeds removed
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Rub cut sides of spaghetti squash with olive oil, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Place cut side down in baking dish, with enough water to rise up sides 1/2″ of dish. Cover with foil and seal tightly. Cook for 45 minutes or until tender. 

Remove from baking dish and use a fork to remove the squash from the flesh in strands. Serve as a side dish as is, or to instead of pasta.



What is your favorite fast and easy recipe?

Fall Favorite – Pumpkin Whip

Pumpkin is everywhere, in every food and beverage. I don’t remember that it was this prevalent even five years ago – pumpkin has the best-ever publicist 🙂

I like pumpkin’s sweet flavor, similar to a couple of my other favorite autumn squashes: butternut and acorn. Their sweetness is brought out by roasting, and the butter and brown sugar I put in the hollow of an acorn squash. 

This recipe is ideal for a party, which is where I first had it. Four ingredients make it easy, and it can be made ahead or at the last minute. 

Pumpkin Whip

1 15 oz can pumpkin puree (do not use pumpkin pie filling)
1 8 oz container Cool Whip (I use the light version), thawed for 20 minutes
1 box of instant vanilla pudding (I use fat- and sugar-free)
1/2 t pumpkin pie spice (use more or less to taste)

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix with a wooden spoon. If the Cool Whip has frozen lumps, work them with the spoon against the side of the bowl. Cover and chill. 

Serve with gingersnaps (as shown below) or chocolate wafer cookies.

This would also make delicious individual parfaits, layering crushed gingersnaps with the pumpkin whip. 

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What is your favorite pumpkin food or beverage?

I’ve Always Wanted to Write a Book!

Is writing a novel sound like something you’ve had on your bucket list? If so, now is the perfect time to get it done and cross it off!

November is National Novel Writing Month, and it is a personal challenge undertaken with a world-wide community. Started in 1999 with 21 writers, it has grown to over 325,000 writers participating around the world.

Chances are good that one of the 615 (give or take) regions is near you. There is support from Municipal Liaisons (MLs), of which I am one (USA::Florida::Treasure Coast). There are forums for every age group, every level of writer, every genre of fiction, and every writing question in general.

The challenge is to write 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days. This breaks down to 1,667 words a day for 30 days. Think you’ve got it in you? Sign up at nanowrimo.org – it’s easy to do, and there’s no entry fee.

Every state in the US has one or more regions to join, and every region has Kick Off Parties, Weekly Write-Ins, and TGIO (Thank Goodness It’s Over) Parties. Every region has an ML to help you with questions, or direct you to the proper forum for answers.

Writing is a solitary endeavor, but in November you can do it knowing you’re in good company. Pep talks from best-selling authors (Charlaine Harris, Diana Gabaldon) will be delivered. It’s comforting to know that writers at all levels struggle with something, and you may hear from someone whose writing you love that they have the same problem you do.

Sara Gruen wrote Water for Elephants during NaNo. In 2006 it was published by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, a division of Workman Publishing. It was a major motion picture in 2011, starring Reese Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson, Christoph Waltz, and Hal Holbrook.

Since NaNo began, over 250 NaNo novels have been traditionally published, and many more have been indie published. 

Will yours be one of them?

Cranberry Orange Bread

The holidays are coming! I was in Michael’s last night to pick up yarn for a baby blanket I am crocheting for my great-niece, and their stock of Christmas decorations is already bigger than their Halloween and Thanksgiving displays.

Cranberries have been on my mind, and I want to share this delicious recipe with you.

My husband told me about Cranberry Orange Bread, which his mother used to make for Christmas morning. This recipe is close to the one she used to make; she died in 2003, and we didn’t find a recipe. I searched online, and made adjustments to a couple that I found.

It’s a very wet batter, and the resulting bread is very soft and moist. I’ve made it using cranberry-orange relish, and it’s delicious! My husband’s family has nut issues, so I always skip the walnuts, but I think they’d be a delightful addition.

Cranberry Orange Bread

Dry:
2 C all-purpose flour
1 C sugar
1 t baking soda
1 t cream of tartar
1 t salt (if using Kosher salt, increase to 1 1/2 t)

Wet:
1 egg, well beaten
3/4 C fresh orange juice
3 T corn oil

2 C cranberries, chopped
1 T grated orange zest
1 orange, peeled, all membrane removed and sections pulled apart into small pieces
1/2 C chopped walnuts, or walnut pieces (optional)

NOTE: Optional – Substitute 2 1/4 C Cranberry-Orange Relish for chopped cranberries, orange zest, and orange pieces.

Sift the dry ingredients together into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the liquids. Mix only to moisten. Fold in the remaining ingredients. 

Spoon into a greased and floured 9x5x3 loaf pan; spread out evenly. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes. Remove immediately and cool on a rack.

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