Write on Wednesday – Mala’s Crack Pecans – November 28, 2018

Writing and holiday baking get shoe-horned into my hectic schedule this time of the year. This post is from a year ago, but I thought it worth sharing again. There may be more reposts this month as I am traveling to Indiana, Maine and Minnesota to see productions of the Christmas plays I wrote with Laura Ambler.

These are supposed to be called Cinnamon Sugared Pecans, but they are so addictive so I renamed them Crack Pecans. I made a batch because I was supposed to take tossed salads to two events. I put the nuts I needed in two baggies, but there were delicious leftovers. I should have thrown them out or put them in the trunk of my car where they would be too much trouble to get to. There should be step meetings for these pecans.

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My husband got a few.

Then one of the dinner events was cancelled at the last minute. So that bag of nuts came into play.  As I sat in my office, trying to focus on writing, I could hear them faintly calling my name. Mala mala mala mala mala —  You just have to answer after awhile.

The second dinner is tonight. I am exercising self-control. The pecans are safe for the moment. I have blueberries and sliced strawberries to go into this salad and a lovely, light lemon and honey dressing. It’s going to be delicious.

Here’s the recipe for Crack Pecans. These make terrific hostess gifts. Be advised that checking for crunch in the final stages is where the addiction begins. Consider yourself warned.

Mala’s Crack Pecans (from Cookingclassy.com website who stole it from allrecipes.com where I made tweaks)

Ingredients

  • 1 lb pecan halves (4 cups)
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • ½ tsp vanilla (up to 1 tbsp)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (can be half white, half brown)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (can add ½ tsp allspice, 1/8 tsp cayenne for kick)
  • ½ tsp salt (can be up to 1-1/2 tsp kosher salt)

Directions

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, vigorously whisk egg white with water and vanilla until very frothy. In a separate small mixing bowl, whisk together sugar, cinnamon and salt. Add pecans to egg white mixture and toss until evenly coated. Pour half of the sugar mixture over pecans and toss several times, then add remaining sugar mixture and toss until evenly coated. Pour coated pecans over a parchment paper lined backing sheet and spread into an even layer. Bake in a preheated oven for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Allow to cool, then store in an airtight container.

Notes: If you double this recipe you could keep the cinnamon sugar amounts the same. It’s plenty of sweet. If you do this, make it in two batches using two sheet pans. Four cups is just the right amount for one sheet pan. The nuts won’t get crunchy if there are too many on the sheet at one time.

I use sheet pans with a silpat liner.  You can also use parchment paper.The sheet pan has sides so the nuts don’t fall out.

The final 15 minutes in the oven is crucial to make them crunchy. I checked them after what I thought was the final time and they still weren’t dry in the middle, so I put them in for another 15 minutes. The first two times you stir them they will be sticky. They may need a little additional time in the oven. Just keep checking for crunch. I like adding that little bit of cayenne for a little heat. If you’re planning to use them as an appetizer with cheese and fruit, you could add more salt as well.

Write on Wednesday – Gratitude – November 21, 2018

This week I finished the first revision of my novel. I am full of gratitude to Mary Ann who read and commented on all the things that needed to be fixed. The plot points that never went anywhere, the parts where I was writing in “screenplay” and forgetting that my reader can’t see what’s in my head, and, especially, for letting me know what worked. If you’re a writer, you know the importance of that last thing.

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The stack is almost two inches tall. Four hundred and twelve pages in fifty-two chapters.  It is going to be set aside for a time while a do an editing project for my husband. And travel with Laura Ambler to our Christmas shows in Indiana, Minnesota and Maine. And bake Christmas cookies. Then I will dig back in and read the manuscript with fresh eyes for changes, deletions and polishes before it goes to Mary Ann again for another pass.

Tomorrow I will be taking appetizers and two apple pies to our family Thanksgiving get-together.

I wish everyone safe travels and a lovely holiday. Hug those you love and even the ones you don’t because of what they post on FaceBook. Remember the ones not at the table this year and be grateful for family — even when that’s hard.

 

 

Six on Saturday – Cold on the Cusp – November 17, 2018

It’s colder, but we still haven’t had a killing frost. A lot more rain last week so the yard is too wet for the guy who runs the big mower that will mulch and collect the leaves for me. There are a few outdoor tasks remaining but we did get the Avocado sculpture wrapped for the winter and the drip irrigation system shut down and the timers removed. The hose has been rolled and the sprayer removed. I don’t bring it inside. The water that’s left inside can freeze and expand without rupturing the hose. There are a few pots to be moved closer to the house. They will survive the winter — or not.

  1. I got a flat of yellow pansies and planted them in some pots. They’ll give me a pop of color on these drab days.

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2. The potted dwarf Alberta Spruce is on the deck ready to be wrapped in fairy lights. I leave the lights on it until spring because it’s so pretty at night. I’ve had Alberta Spruce in the garden before. Lost one to red spider mites and then planted two on the other side of the garden flanking steps leading to the deck. One succumbed to mites and the other looked healthy, but my sense of symmetry was bothered so I dug it up and gave it to Laura Ambler, my writing partner, for her garden.

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3. A month ago a sunken area in the garden was filled with bags of top soil and seeded with grass. I bought a seed mixture that was incorporated in mulched newspaper last spring because a guy in the check out line at Lowe’s told me he used it. I had it in the garage and hoped the seed was still viable and it seemed to be. After I put the mixture down it rained and rained. I thought the seed might rot, but it germinated.

 

4. I remembered to harvest seed pods from the thread leaf amsonia hubrictii this morning. Now I just have to get them into a container and label them before I forget what they are. The good news is they are now in the garage, not still in the garden. These thread leaf amsonia don’t self-seed like the other variety I had. I want more of the golden fall color.

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5.  Hairy Balls Milkweed aka Family Jewels Milkweed

A friend brought me some flowers that contained a stalk of these. I dried them out and will see if I can raise some from seed. Apparently the Monarch butterflies like them.

 

6.  We emptied out the water in the avocado sculpture, put a beach ball in it to keep the tarp raised and fastened the tarp with bungee cords.  Last we had some fall color from the small maple on the left, but nothing this year. The leaves are holding on. The random pieces of paving were thrown there and never got properly placed. A job for spring.

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That’s my six for this week, a meme started by The Propogator, a UK gardener. I learn something every week from the participating gardeners. This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Write on Wednesday – Lyrics In Books: Your Questions Answered – November 12, 2018

A couple of years ago Laura Ambler and I wrote a movie script about Adam Lambert and his time on American Idol in 2009. It was Season 8 and Adam was the runner-up that year.

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The script was about some Glamberts who were determined to attend the final show in the competition and meet Adam. As we researched the songs he sang on Idol we were stunned at how the lyrics spoke to the personal issues in our characters lives. So we put some of them in the script.

Later we realized we couldn’t shop the script unless we had permission to use the song lyrics. And we never could quite figure out the rules. Until this weekend when there was a blog post on BookBaby that tells you exactly what you can and cannot do in your writing.   Kudos to Scott McCormick  for pulling it all together and making it clear.  I printed out the post and put it in my file with the script which will probably stay in the drawer. (I’ve published a number of our scripts on Kindle, but not that one. We’d get sued.)

P.S. While I was trying to find a photo of Adam Lambert I could use (this one came from his FaceBook page) I discovered that Adam has been touring with Queen for the past six years as the band’s frontman. I guess if I was a Glambert I would have know that.

Laura and I had just seen the movie Rhapsody this week. It was amazing! Adam is a great singer but no one will ever be as good as  Freddie Mercury.

Adam played a cameo in the movie. The blink-and-you-miss-it moment happened during a scene where Mercury (played by Oscar deserving Rami Malek) is at a truck stop on Queen’s first-ever North American tour. He calls fiance Mary Austin (played by Lucy Boynton) from a pay phone for a quick check-in while a suitor (Lambert) is waiting for a public restroom hookup in the background.

 

 

Six on Saturday – Color at Last – November 10, 2018

We’ve had rain off and on for the last couple of days which is bringing the leaves down. Dark, dreary days but no frost yet. Many leaves are brown and crisp but there are spots of color among the fallen. I think the show will be brief, but I am enjoying every saturated hue.

Here are my Six on Saturday.

  1. The crepe myrtles are beginning to turn.

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2. The red twig dogwood “Arctic Fire” has finally combusted. Once the leaves fall the red stems will provide winter color until they are cut back in the spring.

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3. Amsonia hubrecti (fernleaf) “Arkansas Bluestar”  has turned yellow.  I had another variety  which stayed green and kept its leaves through the winter. It was quite invasive so I dug them out. This clump has grown from a single plant given to me five years ago. I am saving seeds this year and will try to propogate more. I’ve seen it in other gardens where there are large swaths and it’s spectacular.

The small waterfall maple (Acer palmatum, commonly called Japanese Maple), to the right of the amsonia was bought as a rooted twig at the Philadelphia Flower Show at least twenty years ago. I brought it with us when we moved to this house twelve years ago. This photo reminds me I’ve got to get out and put the hose away before we get a hard freeze.

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5. In the spring I planted cornflower (Centaurea scabiosa) seeds – “Perennial Butterfly.” The plants came up but the foliage didn’t stand upright, it just flopped in the raised bed. I almost pulled them out. No flowers until now — and just one! I’ll be interested to see what happens next summer. There are lots of plants with healthy looking leaves. I’ll divide them and put them in different areas to see how they do. If they flop again and don’t flower they’ll go into the compost bin.

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6. I’ve brought my tender plants inside to a corner of the living room for winter color. The red geranium in the big pot was given to me ten years ago by a friend as a hostess gift. That friend has since moved away, but Betsy’s geranium is a long living reminder of our friendship. It goes out to the deck in the summer but really is happier inside. The big pots are on dollys and the other plants are on a repurposed kitchen island also on wheels.

There is an orchid on the top shelf that is alive and sending up a blooming stalk. It’s a miracle! I have killed every other orchid I’ve ever brought into the house. The clivia didn’t bloom last winter but I had repotted it so am hopeful for blooms this year.

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That’s my six for this week, a meme started by The Propogator, a UK gardener. I learn something every week from the participating gardeners. This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in.

 

 

 

Six on Saturday – Making Progress – November 3, 2018

Our neighborhood is finally getting some color on the trees. A sugar maple on the other side of the fence is orange. If I hadn’t been out taking photos I wouldn’t have noticed how the sugar maple complements the brick on my house. Out of my office window I see a yellow leafed maple, and beyond that some reds. The crepe myrtles usually have lots of color but so far mine are still green.  I’ll stop complaining and enjoy what we get this year.

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2. The seed heads of the native milkweed are open. I’ll push some seeds in the ground here and there and hopefully get babies. The butterflies, especially the Monarchs, love the milkweed flowers.

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3.  I have seen more bees on the Sheffield mums this week than I have seen all summer. At least I think this is a honey bee athough it doesn’t have the orange stripes with which I’m familiar.

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4. Following a suggestion from another SoS gardener, I stapled bird netting to my wooden fence. The clematis seems to appreciate having something other than the trellis to climb on. And the yellow jasmine is finally happy. When I put it in this spot in the spring the ground was so wet for so long, I thought I might lose it. It should be spectacular next spring.

5.  The rainbarrels have been emptied. They were made from food grade 50 gallon plastic drums used by a local wine maker and were free for the taking. Porch furniture has been stored behind the shed. Potted geraniums have been brought inside along with a couple of other tender things. They fill a corner of the living room and get light through a sliding door. Leaves are coming down and that will be the next clean-up job.

6.  This is one of the crepe myrles in the area where I took out the river birch. It grew lopsided as it reached for the sun although I rather like the wonkiness of the trunks.  I am hopeful with the birch gone I can coax it to fill out on the empty side. The husband will get those birch logs moved eventually. They won’t be fire ready for a year.

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That’s my six for this week, a meme started by The Propogator, a UK gardener. I learn something every week from the participating gardeners. This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in.