Monday, December 31, 2012

A New Year's Revolution! By Linda Kozar




Are you compiling a list of New Year's Resolutions again?

I am not a big fan of resolutions. I resolve not to do this. I resolve not to do that. And who keeps those resolutions? By the end of January, you are off your diet, exercising sporadically and most of your other resolutions have failed to launch as well.

A resolution is "a course of action determined or decided on," (according to the FreeOnline Dictionary). But there is absolutely no wiggle room with a resolution. It's like hitting the execute key on your computer. 

Why not set goals instead? I propose a resolution revolution!


Let's set goals to strive toward instead of drawing lines in the sand. Setting goals each year for the future twelve-month period is sensible, far more attainable action to take.

In October, I attended the Books & Such Literary Agency retreat in Monterey, California. One of the things our agents inspired us to do was to dream big for the year, to allow our imaginations, inner dreams and desires to run their course, and to write them down, no matter how outlandish.

The first thing we all did was to write down a scripture that defines our life. Some people already have a scripture chosen for their lives and I commend those people. I had one in mind, but it was one that God gave me many years ago and is specific to the ministry he called me to. Many of us visited a website that assigns a scripture according to birthdate, though the best thing to do would be to find one through a time of prayerful intercession. But for the purpose of this exercise, you might want to try it. The site is called Birth Verse:

http://www.birthverse.com

Once you have your verse, try playing off the words in the verse to come up with categories. My verse was Matthew 6:21 "For where your treasure is, there your heart will also be." So I thought of my life in terms of treasure. I divided my live into Faith Treasure, Family Treasure, Creative Treasure and Sharing Treasure.


Faith Treasure: faith, church, witnessing, listening to God

Family Treasure: husband, children, extended family, friends

Creative Treasure: writing, painting, crafts

Sharing Treasure: writer's groups, speaking, Bible Study, giving, encouraging

So, take heart! Spend some time in prayer. Write down the goals hidden in your heart. God already knows about them. He knows everything about you. There is nothing hidden from Him. Go ahead and write them all down. Find your verse. Break the heart of that verse into categories and subcategories and build your dream goals into it.

May the Lord richly bless your new year and your dream goals!




Linda Kozar is the co-author of Babes With A Beatitude—Devotions For Smart, Savvy Women of Faith (Hardcover/Ebook, Howard/Simon & Schuster 2009) and author of Misfortune Cookies (Print, Barbour Publishing 2008), Misfortune Cookies, A Tisket, A Casket, and Dead As A Doornail, (“When The Fat Ladies Sing Series,” eBooks, Spyglass Lane Mysteries, 2012). Her latest novel Strands of Fate released October 2012 (Hardcover/Ebook, Creative Woman Mysteries). She received the ACFW Mentor of the Year Award in 2007, founded and served as president of Writers On The Storm, The Woodlands, Texas ACFW chapter for three years. In 2003, she co-founded, co-directed and later served as Southwest Texas Director of Words For The Journey Christian Writers Guild. She and her husband Michael, married 24 years, have two lovely daughters, Katie and Lauren and a Rat Terrier princess named Patches.

Represented by: Wendy Lawton, Books & Such Literary Agency

Member of: CAN (Christian Authors Network), RWA (Romance Writers of American), WHRWA (West Houston Romance Writers of America), ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), Writers On The Storm, The Woodlands, Texas Chapter of ACFW, Toastmasters (Area 56) The Woodlands, Texas, The Woodlands Church, The Woodlands, TX.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Passing the Baton

This Christmas the cooking and baking baton was officially passed to my children. Our youngest daughter compiled a family cookbook and gave them as gifts to her siblings. The gifts were well-received mainly because she included the ancient recipe handed down from my husband's grandmother for Chicken and Dumplings. Now, there's a story behind that particular recipe.

When Granny made the dish, there was no recipe. She simply did what her mother and grandmother before her did - throw a big fat hen in a large pot, add salt and pepper and cook that bird until it fell apart!

For the dumplings, cups of flour were placed in a bowl, salt and baking powder (a rounded spoonful) were added, along with some Crisco, stirred together, milk added in, mixed, kneaded, rolled, cut into strips and squares, and then dropped onto the boiling broth. Finally, a cup of sweet milk was poured over the top, and without stirring, the dumplings were covered and allowed to rest for 20 minutes.

Of course, "the dumminies" tasted better the second day after absorbing all the flavorful broth. After I'd eaten my first plateful of these wonderful pillows of delectable flavors and textures, I had to have the recipe. Since there wasn't one, I had Granny make them for me and recorded, step by step, the entire process beginning with, "Wash hands."

This Christmas, our son made the entire Christmas Day Dinner, complete with turkey baked in the Big Green Egg (Google it if you don't know what one is), and homemade popovers. Delicious - better than I could make. Then, when we arrived at our daughter's house in California, she had not only made the Chicken and Dumplings, but Banana Cream and Chocolate Cream Pies, two of our family's favorites. And what did I have to do? Absolutely nothing but sit back and enjoy forkfuls of delicious food.

So it is with complete and utter joy that I hand the baton of making the family recipes to my children. And I hope and pray the tradition of eating these wonderful favorites continue (at their houses)!

Happy New Year, dear readers!

~Nancy Jill


Mystery novelist Nancy Jill Thames began publishing Christian fiction in 2010. The author of six books in the Jillian Bradley series, she is an award winning blogger and is listed numerous times on the Author Watch Bestseller’s List, this in addition to winning first place for her Chocolate Cream Pie.

When she isn’t plotting her next book, she spends time with her six grandchildren in two states, tags along with her husband on business trips, and plays classical piano for her own personal enjoyment. She is an active member of the Leander Writers Guild and supports the Central Texas SPCA with a portion of her book sales.

Nancy Jill is busy working on book 7 "The Ruby of Siam" a mystery taking place in London, England.
To learn more about the author and check out her books, please visit her blog at  
Cozy Mystery Author, Nancy Jill Thames.

CONTACT INFORMATION
jillthames@gmail.com

To view and purchase her books on this site, please visit the Cozy Book Store.


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Buttermilk Fudge Crisis! No Buttermilk!

Mom's Recipe And Wooden Spoon
Well it’s done. Our first Christmas without my Mom.
It all went okay. The kids had a great time, as kids always do. My sister did a great job with the food. I managed to get presents for everyone without breaking the bank. But it wasn’t the same. It never will be, but the Lord got us through it.
Even though there was almost a calamity with the buttermilk fudge.
You know I had a great post all planned out. I was going to use some of my family members to take some humorous pictures (Hey, I made buttermilk fudge they owe me) and do a cute little fictional piece. Then reality reared it’s it humorous head, and truth being so much funnier than fiction, I decided to tell you all what really happened.

Saturday morning, after my sister abandoned me to make the fudge on my own, I got organized. I finished all my Christmas shopping and wrapped all the presents so I could concentrate on my fudge making. First order of business was grocery shopping. I made my list, and going beyond Santa, I not only checked it twice, I checked it a third time. So what if it was pouring down rain, which is not the best grocery shopping or candy making weather? I was undaunted, and out of time, and fudge was being made today. So I got to the store, carefully as it was pouring rain after all, and got everything on my list, including my fudge ingredients. Well except for one thing they didn’t have. Buttermilk.
Well it's not that they didn't have any buttermilk, they just didn't have the right kind. All they had was the low fat 1%, but Mom had warned me this would not do. You have to use the 2% buttermilk or the candy will NOT set. Visions of buttermilk soup danced in my head, and that ain't sugarplums.
Still, I did not panic. Truth to tell, I really hadn’t expected my normal store to carry this type of buttermilk. Why? Well, let’s just say the store at which I do my grocery shopping is a discount type of location. Great prices, but you can’t always find everything.
However, I was prepared. All I figured I had to do was visit one of the more mainline supermarkets in town. I was sure to find buttermilk there, they charge enough after all. So what if I get a little wet? I was wet already. So I stop at the first store and what to my wondering eyes should appear?
No buttermilk.
So I went to a second store, then a third, and then a fourth.
NO BUTTERMILK!
Running out of groceries stores, panic began to look like a reasonable option about this time. Because you know what? It’s kind of hard to make buttermilk fudge without buttermilk!
So feeling the need for some reassurance, and the faint hope I might get off the hook on this whole candy making thing, I texted my sister, you know the one who abandoned me, “Buttermilk fudge in jeopardy! I can’t find buttermilk.”
Now just to let you know my sister is usually the calm port in the storm. She ALWAYS knows what to do. So you can imagine my surprise and dismay when she texted back, “Oh no! I couldn’t find it either when I looked for it. Where did Mom get it?”
Now you might think she was kidding. I know how my sister sounds when she's kidding. Trust me, she wasn't kidding!
Who knew buttermilk fudge could cause so much drama?
However, although this little exchange might have seemed unhelpful, it actually was very helpful. Because she reminded me that Mom had always had to buy buttermilk at a particular grocery store. I went there and tah dah…

I'm Saved!
Buttermilk.
Now it doesn’t have to be this brand, but this is what is available where I live. The important thing is that it is the right kind of buttermilk.
Anyway, I texted my sister to reassure her that the buttermilk crisis had been averted, and I took my sorry, soggy self and groceries home to dry off and get it over with and make the stuff already. After all, a person can only drive themselves crazy for so long before they give up and just get the thing done. So I made the buttermilk fudge, and you know what?
I do know how to make it.
Go figure.
Anyway it got done, and here it is.
Trust Me, It's Good
Hey I warned you it is not pretty. Or maybe that’s just me. I’m not great at making things look pretty. I'm the kind who's cakes always fall apart. But really, it tastes fantastic. Just like Mom used to make. Have to admit I a little proud of myself.
Anyway, I took some pictures of the process so if anyone is ever sufficiently bored and wants me to do a post on how to do it, or I can wait until next year. I have a few tips that will also come in handy. Because even though it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would it be, it still isn’t easy to make this stuff.
So what was the best thing came that came about from this experience? Overcoming adversity? Not disappointing my family? Getting the confidence to make my mother’s must have candy? No. The best thing is…
I DON’T HAVE TO DO IT AGAIN UNTIL NEXT YEAR!

Mystery writer C.L. Ragsdale is the author of The Reboot Files a Christian Mystery Series. A California native, she loves to "surf" the web to research plot details for her fun, quirky stories with just a bit of whopper in them. She has a degree in Theatre Arts which greatly influenced her writing style. Working in various fields as a secretary has allowed her to both master her writing skills and acquire valuable technical knowledge which she uses liberally in her plots. She loves to embroider and knit and is a big fan of the old Scooby Doo cartoons.
Current E-Books
THE REBOOT FILES:  The Mystery of Hurtleberry House, The Island of Living Trees, The Harbinger of Retribution, and The Wrong Ghost.
 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Corn & Black Bean Salsa


1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can corn, drained
1 bunch cilantro, chop the leaves
1/2 red pepper, chopped fine
3 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup sharp cheddar cheese


Deliciousness on a chip! Combine all ingredients and serve immediately with Hint of Lime Tostitos or plain corn chips.

S. Dionne Moore is the author of the LaTisha Barnhart series of cozy mysteries:Murder on the Ol' BunionsPolly Dent Loses Grip and Your Goose is Cooked. Fun reads with lots of family, food, and attitude. Like LaTisha, S. Dionne loves to cook, and healthy recipes are a plus.

Monday, December 24, 2012

God Bless Us, Everyone!--By Linda Kozar


Although the Cratchit family of Dickens's The Christmas Carol, were fond of a perfect Christmas pudding made of suet and citrus and syrups, Americans are more fond of desserts preferably without suet as an ingredient. Hence the recipe below--a delightful dessert most people will enjoy at your Christmas table. If you like chocolate, especially chocolate mousse, you'll find it irresistibly delicious.

On behalf of me and my fellow authors here at Cozy Mystery Magazine, I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!

Finally,  in the words of Tiny Tim, the littlest member of the Crachit family, "God bless us, everyone!"

Chocolate Angel Dessert

12 ounces of excellent quality chocolate
4 eggs separated
2 cups heavy cream--whipped
1/4 teaspoon of salt
4 packages of Lady Fingers (or Angel Food cake cut into slices)

Butter a 13 x 9  inch pan

In top of double boiler melt chocolate. Beat in egg yolks and remove from heat. Cool. Whip egg whites until firm, add salt and continue to whip chocolate until soft peaks form. Fold in whipped cream, then blend into chocolate mixture. Arrange Lady Fingers, or cake into a row in the pan, then cover with chocolate mixture. Alternate layers of cake and chocolate ending with chocolate on top. Refrigerate overnight or for a minimum of four hours prior to serving.





Linda Kozar is the co-author of Babes With A Beatitude—Devotions For Smart, Savvy Women of Faith (Hardcover/Ebook, Howard/Simon & Schuster 2009) and author of Misfortune Cookies (Print, Barbour Publishing 2008), Misfortune Cookies, A Tisket, A Casket, and Dead As A Doornail, (“When The Fat Ladies Sing Series,” eBooks, Spyglass Lane Mysteries, 2012). Her latest novel Strands of Fate released October 2012 (Hardcover/Ebook, Creative Woman Mysteries). She received the ACFW Mentor of the Year Award in 2007, founded and served as president of Writers On The Storm, The Woodlands, Texas ACFW chapter for three years. In 2003, she co-founded, co-directed and later served as Southwest Texas Director of Words For The Journey Christian Writers Guild. She and her husband Michael, married 24 years, have two lovely daughters, Katie and Lauren and a Rat Terrier princess named Patches.

Represented by: Wendy Lawton, Books & Such Literary Agency

Member of: CAN (Christian Authors Network), RWA (Romance Writers of American), WHRWA (West Houston Romance Writers of America), ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), Writers On The Storm, The Woodlands, Texas Chapter of ACFW, Toastmasters (Area 56) The Woodlands, Texas, The Woodlands Church, The Woodlands, TX.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Ho! Ho! Ho! 20 Free Books

I couldn't resist this photo to share the great news that 20 free books are available over the next week, starting today! We at Cozy Mystery Magazine do our best to keep you cozy mystery lovers happy all year long, and this is our special gift to you this year. So, please take full advantage (I certainly am) and download away! Merry Christmas! Ho! Ho! Ho! 

~Nancy Jill

Here's the link: http://www.fliterary.blogspot.com

~Author Nancy Jill Thames
~Author Deborah Malone
~Author C.L. Ragsdale
~Author Linda P. Kozar
~Author S. Dionne Moore
~Author Tracy Hilton

Please visit the Cozy Book Store to purchase our titles - Thank you!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Where's The Buttermilk Fudge?

I Want To Make One Thing Perfectly Clear. THIS WAS NOT MY FAULT!
Really.
I had it all planned out. I was going to make the fudge this last weekend and take my chances.
Then my sister, who is the second coming of Betty Crocker, got in touch with me and wanted to learn how to make the Buttermilk Fudge. Completely understandable, this stuff is that good, and she’s made candy before so it would be no problem for her. But she hasn’t made this fudge before, and since I was the only one Mom actually showed how to do it, go figure, she wanted me to show her how Mom did it.
Seeing as I owe her for letting me get away with the vegetable platter for Thanksgiving, and I need the moral support, we fixed a date to get together and make fudge.
At least that was the plan, which didn’t quite work out.
Not that it’s sister’s fault either. I mean she has a day job, plus children, grandchildren and a ton of Christmas shopping which she got behind on. Plus my niece’s, her granddaughter’s, first dance recital, which her daughter helped to choreograph, was that weekend, and we were both expected to be there.
Way too cute let me tell you, and so worth it.
Long story short, I know too late for that, we didn’t get it done. Now the fudge is getting made, but I'm back to doing it by myself again because my sister is just too busy. It's getting done this weekend, but as this is the family Christmas recipe, and Christmas is on Tuesday (can you believe it?) and I don’t post until Thursday,I decided I’ll share the recipe, and then blog about the fudge making hijinks in the next week or two. Since I'm own again this should be hilarious.
The only thing that would make this worse is if the fudge zombies decide to show up.
Just to let you know I talked this over with my sister and we both agree that this is not a secret family recipe. If you want put out the effort, we think you deserve to have it.
Now there are actually two versions of this recipe believe it or not. Why? That will become apparent very quickly.
This is the version my Mom used, and probably my sister once she knows how to do it:

BUTTERMILK FUDGE
3 Cups Sugar
1 Cup Buttermilk
3 Tbsp Light Corn Syrup
1 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
2 Cups chopped nuts
2 Tbsp butter
2 tsp Vanilla
Mix sugar, buttermilk, soda, salt and syrup into large pan. Bring to full boil, cooking over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil until mixture forms soft ball in cold water.Remove from heat, add nuts, vanilla and butter. Beat until smooth. Pour into greased pan and cut into squares, or drop onto wax paper by teaspoonfuls.

Sounds pretty straight forward right?
WRONG!
Don’t be fooled my friends,this is how I ended up with Buttermilk Fudge soup the first time I made it. Only candy making experts, such as my mother and sister, should attempt this simplified version of this diabolical recipe.
Here’s the one to be used by the rest of us. It will also warn you exactly what you are getting yourself into so if you get an arm cramp after doing all the stirring, don’t blame me!

BUTTERMILK FUDGE
3 cups sugar
1 cup buttermilk
3 Tbsp light corn syrup
1 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
2 cups nuts (pecans, walnuts,etc.) lightly toasted and chopped coarse
2 Tbsp butter or margarine
2 tsp vanilla
In large saucepan or Dutch oven combine sugar, buttermilk, corn syrup, baking soda and salt. Over medium heat bring to boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 40 minutes or until syrup reaches 234 degrees on candy thermometer to the softball stage. Remove from heat; let stand 5 minutes. Stir in pecans, butter and vanilla. Beat with wooden spoon until mixture starts to thicken and loses its gloss. Working quickly to prevent candy from setting, drop by teaspoonfuls on waxed paper, or pour into greased pan and cut into squares. Let stand about 30 minutes or until set. Store in airtight container in cool, dry place.
Note: If mixture becomes firm before all is used, stir in a few drops of hot water.

That’s all there is to it. Right.
Merry Christmas!


Mystery writer C.L. Ragsdale is the author of The Reboot Files a Christian Mystery Series. A California native, she loves to "surf" the web to research plot details for her fun, quirky stories with just a bit of whopper in them. She has a degree in Theatre Arts which greatly influenced her writing style. Working in various fields as a secretary has allowed her to both master her writing skills and acquire valuable technical knowledge which she uses liberally in her plots. She loves to embroider and knit and is a big fan of the old Scooby Doo cartoons.
Current E-Books
THE REBOOT FILES:  The Mystery of Hurtleberry House, The Island of Living Trees, The Harbinger of Retribution, and The Wrong Ghost.