Kitchen Experience

“Bloody Mary Lobster Cocktail” The article in the Sunday Parade magazine sounded interesting. I always wondered what went into a Bloody Mary. Now I could make a dressing that tasted like it.

The recipe called for the following to be divided into four appetizer plates:

8 oz. lobster, thinly sliced

1/4 cup tomato juice

2 Tbs. minced celery

1tbs. lemon juice

1 tsp. horseradish

1/4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1/8 tsp. celery seed

Salt to taste

1 cup thinly sliced endive

With inflation, the price of lobster was prohibitive. But, what if I made it with cheaper crabmeat? It would be an interesting change for lunch for my husband and I.

The horseradish called for would make it too spicy for my taste, so I’d use 1/4 tsp. black pepper instead. Endive would add a bitter taste. As suggested, I could use shredded romaine, but I picked lettuce because I had some. I wouldn’t mind adding two tablespoons of minced celery, but my husband hates celery, so I left that out. The crabmeat had a mild flavor, so instead of thinly slicing it, I left it in chunks.

I mixed up the dressing, and it smelled good. I chopped lettuce and put it in two bowls. I cut up two hard-cooked eggs, cut up a tomato, and two slices of sandwich cheese to top the lettuce. I sprinkled half the crabmeat over the lettuce and poured the Bloody Mary Dressing over it all.

My husband and I tossed the salad ingredients, then took several bites. The dressing was tasty, but not quite enough. The crab meat had little flavor. Maybe if I’d used lobster, it might have been good, but with inflation, the cost was too much. You may have better luck with less substitutions, but I filed the recipe in my circular file. After all, I’ve tried substitutions with other recipes and had good results. Perhaps, I’ll have better luck next time.

Lobster appetizer

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Next Place I’d Like To Travel

I enjoyed visiting Barcelona and seeing Gaudi’s impressive Sagrada Familia Cathedral on a cruise to Italy, but didn’t have time to see everything I’d have liked to.

While doing research for Royal Wedding Scoop, I found the Santa Maria Monserrat Abbey, nestled high in a multi-peaked mountain in Catalonia. I decided that would be a good place for the villains to take Princess Patricia’s two sisters to hide them. It’s about thirty miles from Barcelona. According to Wikipedia, “Catalonia declared independence on Friday 27th of October 2017. Since then, it is an unrecognized state and the leaders of the revolution were arrested. Hopefully, things have calmed down in Catalonia since then.

In pictures I found, the view is fantastic when riding cable cars up to the top with all those interesting, sculptured mountain peaks. You can’t drive a car there, but there is a trail you can walk. Or you can take the Rack Railway train. The abbey is an active Benedictine monastery, with many rooms to tour. You can view the Black Madonna, but to visit the museum, you need to buy a ticket.

People ask why the Madonna at Montserrat is black. They attribute the change from a lighter tone, either to exposure to candle smoke or to darkening of the varnish used as a paint sealant. Later, restorers painted the wooden statue black.

The Monastery of Santa Maria de Montserrat



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Cover Reveal

I’m so excited about the cover I received from The Wild Rose Press for Searching for Justice. Behind the scales of justice, you can see the pink granite Texas Capitol Building where a shoot out takes place. Besides cowboy boots and wide-brimmed hats, lots of people in Texas have guns.

Searching for Justice features two lawyers strongly attracted to each other who must keep that hidden because they represent clients on opposite sides of two lawsuits.

When Attorney Kayla Walker goes to investigate a sinkhole in her client’s back yard, things get dicey until Lawyer Joe Morales decides to check out her claims of serious damage and finds her stuck eight feet down in a muck-filled hole.

They snarl at each other in court, but in private, they can’t keep their hands off each other.

Searching for Justice continues the story of Matt and Valerie from Searching for Love. Matt has started his own law firm in Dallas and invited his friend, Joe Morales from San Antonio to join him. However, when Joe runs for the legislature, he has a powerful enemy who will do anything to stop him.

Searching for Justice will be released by The Wild Rose Press in the fall of 2022. After that, I hope to finish Honeymoon for One, Book Five of the Cordillera Royals. I will be busy, but at least I can work indoors during the July heat.

Carolyn Rae Williamson, writing as Carolyn Rae

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Meet Pam Thibodeaux and read about her latest book

I met Pam from Louisiana at an Oklahoma writer’s seminar for the great agent and teacher, Donald Maas. She writes sweet romance, which dangles on the border between sweet and all out sexy. And now, she has a book set in Texas.

Award-winning author, Pamela S. Thibodeaux is the Co-Founder and a lifetime member of Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Multi-published in romantic fiction as well as creative non-fiction, her writing has been tagged as, “Inspirational with an Edge!” ™ and reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.”

Pam is a regular contributor to Lagniappe Magazine (I learned from another friend, Patricia, an ex-Louisiana resident that “lagniappe” means a little something extra.) Find and Follow Pam on Social Media here: Sign up to receive Pam’s newsletter and get a FREE short story!

Pam’s latest book is My Heart Weeps.

When life takes everything, your world stops. Can a retreat heal the broken lives of two wounded souls?

Melena Rhyker’s world shattered the day her husband died. Lost without the man of her dreams, she digs deep to find a path out of her sorrow. Discovering an artistic retreat, she vows to find a reason to carry on and focus her life in a new direction. Can she heal her own heart, and find her new beginning?

Garrett Saunders knows pain. He’s spent most of his life hiding from his past. Regrets and lies haunt him, but he longs to leave them behind and embrace his true self. Will Melena’s efforts to rebuild her life in the face of such grief encourage him to exorcise his own demons of guilt and shame?

Will two hurting people find peace, wholeness and perhaps love in the heart of Texas?

Excerpt: At 6 p.m., she pulled into the carport, turned off the engine and laid her head on the steering wheel.

“Well, I’m home again. Made it through another agonizing eight hours or so, now to get through another night.”
Gathering every ounce of courage she could summon, she disembarked from her vehicle, retrieved the mail from the box beside the door, and entered the house. She thumbed through the envelopes and advertisements, then laid them on the table and poured a glass of juice. She reached for the bottle of over-the-counter pain reliever and froze.

It would be so easy to end this pain.

Oh, what an enticing thought. Just take a handful of pills and end it all. Would she wake up in heaven? Would Jesus meet her there? Would Jonathan? What about the kids or Mama—would they understand? Or would she destroy them? Where was the faith she claimed to have? Why was it failing her now?

Get Pamela Thibodeaux’s second chance women’s fiction novel today and see how love and faith conquers all.

Purchase Link:

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Surprising Facts about Washington, D.C.

I grew up there, so certain things did not surprise me until I moved to Detroit, where there are lots of skyscrapers. City buildings are not supposed to be higher than the Washington Monument, which is 555 feet high. People ask why the tip of the monument is a different shade. The simple answer is that when they had enough money to finish building it, the same type of stone was no longer available.

Washington, D.C. streets are named alphabetically as they spread out from the capital. North-south streets are numbered. The first east-west set of streets leading from the Capitol have letters of the alphabet for names. The second set has two-syllable names. The third set has three syllable names. A fourth set in the N.W. section has tree and flower names. Some of the street names continue into Bethesda and Chevy Chase, Maryland.

I lived on Ninth Street in the third alphabet, (near Tewkesbury Street) but when my cousin in the Waves asked for leave to visit us, her supervisor refused because Ninth Street near downtown was a dangerous area. My cousin finally got permission after she convinced her supervisor we lived in a nice safe neighborhood.

On my birthday, December 7, 1941, I was a child who wanted to visit the Washington Monument. My father took me, but refused to walk up the stairs, so we rode the elevator. I got to look out the window and see the view before he allowed me to walk down the stairs.

After we left, we rode down Sixteenth Street past the Japanese Embassy. I noticed them burning papers outside, but thought nothing of it. Since that’s not a high drought area, that was commonly done with leaves and paper trash. However, when we returned to my grandparents’ house where we were staying, we listened to the radio and learned of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. From that day on, until the war was over, no one was allowed to go to the top of the Washington Monument.

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Count Your Blessings

On this rainy morning after the horrific shooting of innocent children, I search to find something good to write about. As my Google Assistant plays the Liberty Bell March by John Philip Sousa, composed in 1893, I remember my father telling me he rode a bus or streetcar to hear his band play. I also remember my father reading stories to me at bedtime, and I am glad to have a happy childhood.

Even though my mother died of cancer when I was twelve, I was lucky to gain a stepmother, another set of grandparents, another brother, and two sisters at the age of fifteen. I’m also lucky to have survived breast cancer.

While my knee ached when I began a walk around the block, I quit because it was raining, but I’m glad I can still walk, and the ground and plants get needed moisture.

As I sit pondering how to finish my latest novel, I’m glad I can type, even if I’m not a fast typist, but at least I type faster than I can write by hand. Although I’m lucky to have had three novels published by traditional publishers and another soon to be published by Wild Rose Press, I’m glad Amazon and other organizations make it possible for me and other authors to self-publish novels and make them available.

While I scrambled eggs for my husband, I was glad I had eggs and that my older husband is still alive to keep me company.

While at times I have wondered how I was going to pay all my bills in time, I’m glad we have a house and enough money to buy food and pay bills. And best of all, I can afford to go to the Romance Writers of America annual conference near Washington, D.C. and be enthused and energized to write some more novels.

How about you? How many blessings have you taken for granted? I bet if you count them, you’ll find your life is richer than you realized.

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Eggstra, Eggstra

Extra, extra, read all about it, the newsboys used to shout when I was a kid. They don’t do that anymore now that we get instant news on TV and cell phones. But here is some news about eggs that you may find helpful.

Eggs like people can be sensitive. If you drop them in boiling liquid, they will curdle or form lumps. To combine eggs with hot liquid, pour a little of the hot liquid into the eggs and stir it in. Then, you can add that mixture to the hot liquid.

To make Hollandaise Sauce, stir over low heat with the butter in chunks. As the butter slowly melts, the eggs will thicken the sauce.

To make hard boiled eggs, lower the eggs gently into boiling water and cook for ten minutes. Then pour the hot water out and fill the pan with cold water. Let set for a few minutes and then chill in the refrigerator. That should avoid the green rings around the yolk.

To beat egg whites, be sure the bowl and beaters are clean without any egg yolk left on them. Adding ¼ – ½ teaspoon cream of tartar helps. (Use 1/4 tsp. for 2 egg whites) If you want to add sugar, do it when soft peaks start to form, then beat until the peaks stand up. The sugar will help the egg white membranes stretch to make more volume.

To fold egg whites into a mixture, add a small amount of eggs whites to the mixture and fold in with a rubber scraper. Then add more and use cutting and folding motions.

Since I use a hand mixer, when one wears out, I keep the beaters and buy another of the same brand and model. That way I accumulate extra beaters so I don’t have to wash them while I’m preparing a dish.

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A Cultural Cooking Adventure

Making Chinese Dumplings – a cross-cultural experience

“What are dumplings like in China?” I asked my backdoor neighbor from Shanghai. ”Are they like American Chicken and Dumplings, made from biscuit-like dough and steeped in gravy?” As a romantic suspense writer, I often show my characters eating food in other countries, but have never mentioned characters eating Chinese food in a restaurant.

Kathy smiled and answered my question by saying, “Come tomorrow at 2:00 and I will teach you to make some.”

After I knocked on her back door, she invited me in and showed me a bowl with a green and beige mixture. “That’s fresh ground pork and watercress from a Chinese market.”

She showed me how to spread a rounded teaspoon of the pork mixture on flour dumpling skins, thin four by four squares of dough. That part was easy. I moistened the top edge and folded the bottom over the pork. Then I had to flip the top 1/4th inch down, moisten the bottom left corner, twist the dough to the back, and pinch the tails together beneath the lump. The whole thing was supposed to look like a nun’s head with a cap hanging down the sides. It took me several tries to get it right.

She set a bunch on a container’s plastic top dusted with flour to keep them from sticking and set the whole thing in the freezer. When they were frozen, she slid them into the bag.

 On the stove sat a pan with chicken broth. When it boiled, she slid the dumplings into the liquid. When the dumplings finally rose to the top, she turned off the burner and added a bowl of cold water. “Now,” she said. “we must wait for the broth to boil and the dumplings to rise to the top again.”

After she pronounced them done, she gave me a bowl with plain dumplings, accompanied by magenta colored rice vinegar to dip the dumpling in. Her husband, Ted, an American who’d lived in Shanghai several years, gave me a spoon and handed me chopsticks. He then gave me a lesson on using chopsticks. One should be held steady, braced against my middle finger, while the other moves to secure the item of food. I tried to pick up the dumpling with the chopsticks, but had to settle for the spoon. I dipped the dumpling in the rice vinegar, made from sweet rice and took a bite. I was surprised to find it was tasty and not as sour as I expected.

As I ate the dumplings Kathy had served me in chicken broth, I stuck to using the spoon. These were good, also. I asked if the Chinese ever put any vegetables in the broth along with the dumplings, but Kathy said that was never done. However, the vegetables mixed with the pork might vary, according to what was available, like carrots, and she sometimes made dumplings with shrimp..

Now for the supreme test, preparing some for my husband. Kathy gave me a clear, plastic bag with nine dumplings we had made to take home. The next day I boiled beef broth and dropped in the frozen dumplings. Like I’d been instructed, I waited until the broth boiled, and the dumplings rose to the top. I turned off the heat on my electric stove, poured a small bowl of cold water into the pan, then turned on the heat to high. After the liquid boiled, and the dumplings rose to the top, I filled two bowls with the soup and two dumplings each. We had to wait a few moments until it was cool enough to eat, but they tasted good. 

My husband asked how I liked doing Chinese cooking, and I replied it seemed like a lot of work, but I enjoyed learning how dumplings were made in the southern area of China.

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Cover Reveal!

I’m so excited that I finally have a cover for Romancing the Doctor, which will be released in January.

Reporter Heather McKinley is thrilled to discover she’s finally pregnant, even though she’s divorcing her husband. She finds an injured dog beside the road and takes him to a vet, where she meets the vet’s interesting brother, brilliant CDC Researcher Daniel Whistler.

Daniel wants Heather, but he also wants to stop the spread of the mysterious virus that makes men and women infertile and even kills some people. He persuades her to travel to Atlanta with him and visit his CDC office, but he feels his actions in the past made him unworthy of her.

After Heather and her sister have miscarriages, Heather joins Daniel in a search for the cause of the plague and the man who set it in motion. They follow outbreaks of the disease in Atlanta, Dallas, New Orleans, and even on a Caribbean cruise ship, but can’t seem to catch the perpetrator. Then Heather disappears on the cruise ship.

Would you believe I wrote this book, and it was published before I even heard of Covid 19? I received the rights back from the publisher, and am re-issuing it in January with the same name, but a different cover.

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Holiday with a Royal Launch Party Today

Go to Carolyn Rae Author (Facebook) at 6-8 CDT for the Launch Party for Holiday with a Royal. Comment for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card. You’ll find a recipe for cheese puffs and interesting tidbits I learned while researching the Cordillera Royals Series.

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