Friday, December 21, 2012

Gravy: Aunt Maddie's Slumguillion Solution GRAVY!

Mmmm, Gravy

Hi, Dora from Starke Naked Dead here. Those of you who have read Dead know that Aunt Maddie occasionally believes she can save money by making slumguillion, that Scottish concoction of whatever-is-leftover-in-the-fridge-thrown-together-and-heated meal. You probably all have a version of this meal that you make and then throw out when nobody has eaten it and nobody's looking.

Well, salvation of slumguillion is at hand. It's gravy! Pour that gravy all over that leftover mess and yum! Here's the easy delicious recipe for a quick gravy. SCROLL DOWN for the variations, including macaroni and cheese.

Here's the basic recipe:

1/4 c. whole wheat flour or white or unbleached white, wheat flour is fuller flavored, white is creamier.
1/4 c. olive oil or other shortening (butter burns, so be careful)
seasonings to taste: onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder (optional) salt and pepper
1 cup broth
1 cup milk or soy milk
1 tablespoon parsley (optional)

Make a paste out of the flour, oil and seasonings. Add in the broth and milk and stir with a whisk until smooth. Heat on high heat, stirring with whisk continuously until thickened. If too thick, add broth or milk, too thin, whisk in a little more flour.Can add a tablespoon of nutritious yeast for a creamier taste.

VARIATIONS (this recipe is very forgiving, so come up with your own as well)

Add curry spice for a curry gravy.

For turkey giblet gravy: use the drippings from the turkey as the oil, can use more than 1/4 cup if desired, use turkey broth, chop up gizzards, etc. and add to broth when thickened. Add sage to taste. 
Use beef drippings for a beef gravy.
For a soup base: use two cups of broth or more to thin, or have a 1/3 cup of flour and two cups broth to one cup of milk for a creamier soup.
For a cream sauce: Use 2 cups of milk and use butter or margarine as the oil. Cook on a lower heat (about medium) stirring constantly until thickened.
USES for the cream sauce: 
Over vegetables. Can sprinkle bacon and/or cheese and/or bread crumbs to make a quick and easy no bake casserole.
Add cooked sausage and pour over biscuits for biscuits with sausage gravy.
Optional: to the cream sauce add a tablespoon of white wine (not cooking wine) or rice vinegar and a tablespoon of of nutritious yeast.
Add a 1/2 cup to a cup of your favorite cheese, shredded. Stir until melted. Pour over hot, cooked noodles. 

Dora here, again. You can see that this recipe is a real meal saver. For more about me and my dear sweet, oops--so not--Aunt Maddie read Starke Naked Dead, available now!

Friday, December 14, 2012

A Crispy Rice Christmas and a recipe

Here's the cover for my brand new ebook short story, available now here and here and lots of other places soon!

Just in time for Christmas, my short story A Crispy Rice Christmas is released! The tag line: 

If Beth can't figure out a way to seduce her love's picky appetite, she fears her relationship is toast—burnt. She cooks up a plan only to have it boil over. What's a terrible cook to do? Can Beth brave a winter storm in search of a Christmas dish to save her relationship—or will the holidays be a distasteful disaster?

And in honor of the release, here's a Pumpkin Pie Rice Crispy Treat recipe--I just discovered that they come out with different flavors of marshmallows, including pumpkin pie, during the holidays--how cool is that? 

Pumpkin Spice Rice Krispy Bars
4 tbsp butter or solid margarine, room temperature
10-oz Pumpkin Spice Marshmallows (1 large bag)
or 10-oz plain marshmallows + 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice mix (or make your own pumpkin spice mix: 1 teas. cinnamon, 1 teas. nutmeg, 1/4 teas. cloves, 1/2 teas. ginger)

1 teaspoon vanilla
6 cups puffed rice cereal 

Combine butter and marshmallows in a large, microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 60-90 seconds, until marshmallows have melted. Stir the marshmallow mixture, add the teaspoon of vanilla (adding spices, if using), then add in the cereal. Stir with a large spatula until everything is evenly combined. Or melt the butter in a saucepan and then slowly melt the marshmallows and add the vanilla and spices, if using. Yes, this is the old fashioned way, but it reminds me of doing it as a child.

Spoon/Pour into a 9×13-inch pan and press into an even layer. Let cool completely (if you can wait that long) before cutting into bars. I usually end up cutting and pulling off a couple of pieces long before--and eating them too--good while warm!


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Christmas Story and Tofu Pumpkin Pie Recipe

 In honor of the holiday season here's a short Christmas story with the two main characters of my Mall Fairies series and a fantastic tofu pumpkin pie recipe following (best pumpkin pie ever). Enjoy!


            Swoop flew through the corridors of the just closed Sprite Mall. Her stomach rumbled as her nose filled with the aroma of pumpkin pie. The Cookie Lady always baked her signature tofu pumpkin pies and gave out slices to the last minute Christmas shoppers on Christmas Eve. At first, Swoop went "eww" at the thought of tofu and pumpkin—until she tasted a bit. Creamy. Yummy.
She scolded her errant tummy with "Shop first, eat later."
She paused and hovered at every display window, then shook her head and flew to the next. Nope. Nothing there for a one-winged fairy in the next store either. She bit her lower lip and flapped her white wings in slow arcs. It’d been easier when they were first Toddle Wings and their folks got the little toys for them to exchange. But now she and One Wing were both 13 years old. And last year One Wing got her a gorgeous flying jacket in Flight Instructor Green. She’d gotten him a pencil. Okay, it was tough to find one of those tiny, tiny pencils, usable for a five-inch fairy, but still—lame.
            She stopped at the Tiki Hut Travel window. The humans in the Idaho mountain town of Sprite loved to “get away” to warmer climes after the holidays. They spent the holidays selling stuff to other humans, those who loved to come to snow country. Swoop would never understand humans. Huge posters showed the various warm destinations. She stared at the central one while synapses sparkled in her mind. Now, she knew the perfect gift.
*   *   *
            Swoop dithered. While she waited for One Wing, she checked her construction once, twice and again and again. Checked the line where it stretched from the second floor balcony around the central court, past the two story poinsettia display, down to the bottom of the support pillar on the first floor. Checked the eyelet and string handles she’d spent the last few nights making. It would work. But where was her best friend? Much later and there’d be no time for his gift. The Toddle Wings would be getting up and racing to the bottom of their Christmas trees to see what Santa had brought. Days ago, she’d told One Wing to come to the second floor balcony before dawn for his Christmas present. She’d gotten up an hour earlier. She yawned.
            “Don’t you know Santa won’t come if you don’t sleep?” a familiar voice interrupted her mid-yawn. One Wing.
            She snapped her mouth shut as a horrid thought came to her. What if he hated his present? What if he thought she believed him a cripple and was taking pity on him? So not true, One Wing got around the vast-to-fairies mall a lot better than the rest of the fairies. Often Swoop forgot he was missing a wing and couldn’t fly.
            “Since I got up so early, where’s my gift?” One Wing asked.
            Worried and unable to think of what to say, Swoop pointed at the line.
            “This is it? Um, great,” One Wing said. “What is it?”
            “It’s a zip line,” Swoop said. At One Wing’s blank look, she explained, “You grab the handles,” she picked up the handles in either hand, “and leap off the balcony and then you’ll zip on the line down to the first floor.”
            She looked over at her friend, whose mouth stood wide. “Um, I didn’t mean—” she started to apologize when he snatched the handles and leaped on the balcony railing. He looked over his shoulder at Swoop. “Best Christmas gift ever, thanks!” Then he jumped off the railing, single wing held straight out. He laughed the whole way down, so loud it echoed.
            So happy it made Swoop’s heart sing. Best Christmas gift ever.

1 (16-ounce) can pureed pumpkin
3/4 cup sugar OR 1/2 cup (real) maple syrup
1 (10- to 12-ounce) package silken soft tofu, extra firm works best
1 teaspoon ground allspice (optional) 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 to 2 teaspoons vanilla 1 (9-inch) pie shell
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Process the tofu in a blender or food processor until smooth. Blend the pumpkin and sugar. Thoroughly mix in tofu, and spices (allspice, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt, and cloves). Pour mixture into pie shell and bake for 15 minutes. Lower heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for another 45-60 minutes (check for firmness at 45 minutes. Chill and serve.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


Here's a  story and a recipe for The Mall Fairies' Sweet Tooth Cookbook, which will be released free as a PDF on this blog December first, with quick and easy sweet recipes just in time for Christmas cooking and baking!

 Aunt Diane stared down at the piece of paper, as if willing it to change. It didn't change. It still said: "For the Fairyland Festival, please bring 30 homemade items to sell."
Thirty. Homemade. Items.
Diane sighed. Yes, the Festival was only once a year. Yes, all the proceeds were donated to good causes. And yes, it was a Festival of only homemade stuff. But she worked full time and then some extra hours, okay a lot of extra hours, at her Realtor job. She possessed no time and no energy to make 30 different thingies. Plus, she needed to maintain her reputation as the gal who could do it all without breaking a sweat. She sighed once more and did what she always did when faced with a problem she couldn't think of the answer to: she ate.
Or rather, she went to the refrigerator to decide what to eat. Not much there. Diane didn't make it to the grocery store very often, her work schedule didn't permit—anything but work. She sighed one last time. She'd have to fall back on her old standby: peanut butter and jam sandwiches. She got all the ingredients out, save for the jam, her favorite, homemade strawberry freezer jam. It was so simple, easy and fast to make, and made so much that Diane always made the jam herself.
Her hand closed around the jam jar.
Simple.  Easy. Fast. Makes a lot.
Diane grinned.
And her jars of strawberry freezer jam sold like another food item, hotcakes, which of course she suggested was a great combination—pancakes and strawberry jam!

1 pkg. No Cook Pectin
11/2 cups of sugar (I use one cup, for a more tart jam, my preference)
4 cups crushed strawberries (about 4 lbs or 2 quarts) (I use the frozen bags of strawberries, defrosted, then I can skip the whole "wash and hull strawberries" step, plus the defrosted strawberries are as chunky as I prefer my jam, which is pretty chunky.)
Wash strawberries, remove stems.
Use a potato masher, a food processor or a hand blender to mash the strawberries to your preferred consistency.
Add the sugar and pectin and stir until blended.
Ladle into jars with lids, leave room at the top for expansion when freezing.
Let sit for 30 minutes. Put into refrigerator or freezer.
A jar will keep in the refrigerator for 3 weeks, and in the freezer for up to a year.
You can use other fruits to make other jams, blueberries for example. I wouldn't use bananas as I'm fairly certain the fruit would turn black, yechh.
This makes a lot of jam. There's no way to really halve the recipe because of the pectin. However, it's great for gifts. And it stays frozen for a year. So make away!

Monday, November 12, 2012

JQ Rose Visits with GIRLS SUCCEED!

Inspiring and empowering girls to achieve success in their dream careers.

It is my great pleasure to have fellow writer, J.Q. Rose visit my blog today. She's written some wonderful books including Girls Succeed. So without further ado, here is  J.Q. in her own words. (And don't forget to enter the contest, details below!)

Hi Conda. Thanks so much for hosting me today.  I appreciate the opportunity to shout about my ebook for girls, Girls Succeed: Stories Behind the Careers of Successful Women. It is an interactive e-book filled with dreams and passion to inspire, entertain, and empower girls. Fifteen remarkable career women in a variety of occupations share their stories in these pages. Readers explore careers which include women who have discovered cures to stamp out disease, made people laugh, earned Olympic and Paralympics gold medals, and crossed the country in the cab of an 18 wheeler.

Hello Readers. Thank you for stopping by. I’m excited to visit with you today. Please leave comments to enter a random drawing for prizes after the tour is completed. More information about that later.

Careers Today by J.Q. Rose

The glass ceiling for women still exists in many careers, but let’s face it, women are entering professions never imagined when I was graduating from high school. Have you talked with a college student lately about his or her major? What an amazing choice of degrees to earn these days. Majors are in recreation, hospitality, business leadership, marketing, all those computer technology majors, and even how to engineer packaging for products.

With so many choices available, I want to encourage girls to dream big for the career they want to pursue and follow the dream by working hard to make it a reality. The stories in the book are about careers, but also the path the women followed to make their dream profession come true. 

This is non-fiction and was written as a reference for gathering information and inspiration about different occupations. If a career catches a reader’s eye, then I hope she will read about it. At the end of each chapter, there are live links to the subject’s websites, videos, books, and articles which will enhance and update the information provided.

It was a privilege to interview these remarkable women. I felt very special to have them trust me to tell their stories. Now I look forward to getting the ebook out to readers and hope to inspire them to follow their dreams.

The Table of Contents lists all the women and their careers. How about you? Do you still dream of success in a new career? Go for it!

Table of Contents

Chapter 1--Horse Trainer/Competitive Dressage Rider, Pati Pierucci
True Love
Chapter 2--Bike Racer, Mackenzie Woodring
Speeding Around the Track
Chapter 3--Children’s Book Author and Illustrator, Jane Stroschin
Practice, Practice, Practice
Chapter 4--Medical Doctor, Cate Bradley
Role Models Rock
Chapter 5--Chef, Sue Chef
Cooking Up a Career
Chapter 6--Technology Expert, Diana Stoneberg
Keep Your Sense of Humor
Chapter 7--Christian Minister, Laurie Haller
Serving God
Chapter 8--Horticulturalist, Sharon Loving
Thank You Very Mulch
Chapter 9--Medical Scientist, Juanita Merchant
Confidence Counts
Chapter 10-Olympic Gold Medalist in Women’s Ice Hockey, Angela Ruggiero
Showing the Boys
Chapter 11-Semi-Truck Driver, Barbara Totten
Freedom of the Road
Chapter 12-Teacher/Coach/Athletic Director, Barbara “Chili” Chiles
Aim Higher
Chapter13-Social Worker, Lenair Correll 
Overcoming Obstacles
Chapter 14-Entrepreneur/Product Developer, Veronica Bosgraaf
Find the Path to Success
Chapter 15-Professional Clown, Brenda Marshall
A Big Red Nose

After writing feature articles in magazines, newspapers, and online magazines for over fifteen years, J.Q. Rose entered the world of fiction writing with her first published novella, Sunshine Boulevard, released by Muse It Up Publishing in 2011. With Girls Succeed she returns to her first love, writing about real people.  Blogging, photography, Pegs and Jokers board games, and travel are the things that keep her out of trouble. Spending winters in Florida with her husband allows Janet the opportunity to enjoy the life of a snowbird. Summer finds her camping and hunting toads, frogs, and salamanders with her four grandsons and granddaughter.

Connect with J.Q. Rose online at
Author website     

BOOK LINKS: If you would like to download a sample which includes the Table of Contents listing all the careers in the book, please go to


Contest Information Janet will be drawing winners from visitors who leave comments during the tour. The prizes for you or a girl in your life are a $10 Amazon gift certificate, a copy of the Girls Succeed e-book in your choice of format, a “Succeed” beaded bracelet kit, and inspirational note pads. (See the Girls Succeed and J Q Rose blogs for photos and blog tour information.). Winners announced on her blogs on Sunday, November 18 at 9 pm EST. Good luck!