This book has lived in my heart for a long, long time, but now it is finally published! I am not going to review the book here because I have lived it for so many years (I might be a bit partial), but I hope you will take a look. I pray that readers will be blessed and changed by SMASHING IDOLS. You can find it here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B09G2KJ1M6.
“A children’s story that is only enjoyed by children is a bad children’s story.”
You never know whom you’ll meet at a book signing. This man rushed his granddaughter straight
from hockey practice so she could get one of her favorite books signed by the author. That makes my heart sing!
Book 2 in the Rocked in the Cradle of Coal series will be available on Amazon on February 7, 2023.
“Tell Me About My Father: Wasyl’s Story” will continue the saga of one family’s will to survive in the coal region
of North America in the early 1900s.
Adults love it, too! A #1 New Release in Children’s American History of the 1900s!
The eBook is available on Amazon now for only 2.99 and free with Kindle Unlimited! (www.amazon.com/dp/B0BT8BD34M)
It’s not too late to order that last-minute gift!
Still, need a gift for a special someone? Are you concerned that it might not arrive in time? An eBook delivered directly to their own electronic device is a great gift idea, especially for children who have an entire winter break ahead of them to fill. Why not give “Peeling Potatoes: Katie’s Story,” an Amazon Best Seller, to the young reader on your gift list?
Summary: In this historical fiction novel for middle-grade readers, it is 1914. Katie lives with her widowed mother and four siblings on the edge of a coal mine near the river. Her young life is about to change. She must start school one year early so Mama can work full-time. Katie doesn’t speak English, she’s shy, and she’s a year younger than everyone else in the class. She wants to be brave and help her family. Can she do it?
This view of early 20th Century immigrant life as seen through the eyes of a child is loved by young and old alike. Readers of all ages can identify with Katie’s adventures and mishaps while learning historical facts woven throughout the story. It will spark curiosity and conversation between the generations, allowing you to share stories about your own family’s history with the child in your life.
To learn more about this book, take a look inside, and to order please go to: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0B4KTJL3F
Easy Vegan Polenta Pie
This recipe was inspired by one I saw on plantbasedonabudget.com (Easy Spinach Pie). I did a little substituting and greatly shortened the description (I believe it shouldn’t take longer to read a recipe than to prepare it), so you can get right to making this delicious pie. It would be the perfect savory vegan addition to any brunch or a covered-dish dinner. It’s so colorful, easy to prepare, requires only simple ingredients, and needs no baking! I topped each serving of my pie with deli-bought bruschetta which provided added color and flavor. Perfect!
2 Tbsps. olive oil
2/3 cup diced onion
1 cup diced orange, red, and yellow sweet peppers (any combination)
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
2 packed cups chopped kale (ribs removed)
6 grape tomatoes, halved (optional)
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
6 cloves pressed garlic
3 cups water
2 1/4 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. tarragon or Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp. mustard powder
3/4 tsp. black pepper
2 cups cornmeal
Grease a 9-inch pie dish
Heat olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
Add onion, mushrooms, and peppers. Cook stirring frequently for about 5 minutes. Add garlic, kale, tomatoes, and crushed red pepper, then cook for another 2 – 3 minutes until kale wilts. Remove from heat.
In a medium saucepan add the water and spices. Boil and slowly stir in the cornmeal. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture boils and bubbles. Remove from heat. Pour the vegetable mixture into the cornmeal and stir with a wooden spoon until well blended.
Pour the entire mixture into the prepared pie pan and press down firmly and evenly. Allow the pie to cool and set for at least 10 minutes. Then slice and serve. Top each serving with deli-bought (or make your own) bruschetta.
One pie serves 8.
Dates Are Sweet and Good For You!
We just returned from a vacation in Palm Springs, CA. The weather and climate were such a contrast to what we are used to, with only two seasons (hot and dry summer and even hotter and drier summer, with rare downpours that can even cause flooding), compared to our four distinct seasons that span every weather possibility from freezing cold to hot and humid (but never as hot and dry as Palm Springs). The climate and terrain were so very different that sometimes we felt as though we were on another planet. We saw cacti growing as ornamental landscape foliage. Grapefruit, orange, lemon, and lime trees are grown in yards and along tree lanes, and acres and acres of palm trees are a common site.
Did you know that there are over 119 varieties of dates, and you can find them all in Palm Springs, the Date Capital of the World? While there, we visited Shields Date Garden to learn more and to sample the many varieties that grow on their over 17 acres of date palm cultivation. We ate lunch in the cafe which features delicious breakfast and lunch dishes (I can highly recommend their Portobella Burger). Many dishes feature dates grown on the plantation, and don’t skip their gift shop for anything and everything date-related. They ship all over the world, in case you would like to send a sweet healthy treat as a gift.
Did you know that dates grow in clusters almost like grapes? I didn’t. Individual clusters must be protected from moisture or they will spoil. So, each cluster is grown in a waterproof cover that shelters the dates as they mature on palm trees. It looks kind of odd to see all those bags hanging off the trees, but it is the only way to insure a good crop, and I can testify… these dates are delicious!
Shield’s Date Garden also boasts a walk-through botanical garden featuring 23 handcrafted larger-than-life statues that depict scenes from the life of Christ. The paved path offers a contemplative journey that meanders through each scene from birth to crucifixion. At Christmas lights and music add to the effect.
Some facts about dates: Dates are high in fiber and help to improve digestion. They can be used in smoothies and other recipes as a natural sweetener. Dates are rich in minerals and vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, and C. And, as a bonus, dates don’t contain cholesterol or any other forms of fat. Nature’s candy, guilt-free!
If you would like to learn more about dates here is a link to the film, “The Romance & Sex Life of the Date,” which describes the painstaking process of date cultivation: https://shieldsdategarden.com/theater. This film is shown in the on-site theater (reservations not required) at Shields Date Garden, 80225 CA-111, Indio, CA 92201, Phone: (760) 347-0996.
Ukrainian Halushki (Halusky)
This is a favorite dish of the early Polish, Ukrainian, and Slovak immigrants to North America that is still enjoyed today. You will probably find it on the menu if you attend a block party, church bazaar, or county fair in northeastern Pennsylvania coal country. This is authentic Russian comfort food that is so simple to make with everyday ingredients. I rarely go a month without making halushki, because if I do they will start asking for it. Even today, halushki evokes warm memories of our grandmother, my mother, and her sisters cooking, laughing, and feeding the hoards together. If my mother had a head of cabbage, she could feed an army!
Today we try to eat healthier than the original recipes that were handed down to me, but I still want the flavor and the memories. Originally butter was a big part of any Russian meal, but I swapped that out for grapeseed oil and steamed the cabbage and onion instead of frying for lower fat and calories. This recipe is not complicated at all.
1 head of fresh green cabbage (chopped, not shredded). Discard the bitter core.
1 large onion, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. grapeseed oil
Place the grapeseed oil in the bottom of a very large pot. Add the chopped cabbage and onion, seasoning each layer with salt and pepper as you add more. You don’t need to add any water, because the cabbage and onion contain enough water to steam the vegetables. Steam and stir occasionally until the mixture cooks down to about half the original volume. (HINT: if you add a couple teaspoons of vinegar you will greatly reduce the cabbage smell that will surely fill your house if you don’t).
Ingredients for Drop Noodles:
2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt (I used Himalayan pink salt)
2 large eggs
warm water: 1/2 – 3/4 cup
Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
Mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl
Make a well in the center and add the eggs. In the same bowl whip up the eggs with a fork, gradually incorporating the flour/salt mixture a little at a time until it looks crumbly. Add just enough warm water to make a soft sticky dough (approximately 1/2 – 3/4 cups water).
Slide the mixture by spoonfuls into the boiling water. (This is the easiest and simplest way to do it. Some people insist that you need a “spaetzel maker,” but that is totally unnecessary. I use two large soup spoons — one holds a portion of dough and the other scrapes bits of dough off the spoon and into the boiling water). Work fast and repeat the process until the noodles are all in the water.
Cook noodles for 10 minutes and drain in a colander. Add the drained noodles to the cabbage/onion mixture and serve.
September 6th is National Read a Book Day!
This is one “holiday” we can all celebrate and enjoy together. I can’t think of a single day in my life when a book hasn’t been in my hands. Books can expand your mind, open new worlds to explore, and feed your spirit.
Need some quiet time alone? Relax with a book. Doing research? There’s a book on that topic. Is it time to build a better you? Answers can be found in books. Trying to get a child to go to bed? Books can help with that, too!
You can find these books on Amazon now, read sample pages, and have them in your hands by September 6. Just click on the links:
SMASHING IDOLS: http://www.amazon.com/dp/173758641X
Peeling Potatoes: Katie’s Story: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1737586436
I hope you enjoy everyone’s holiday on September 6th, and know that I will be reading with you!
Mediterranean Hummus Platter
I saw this on a friend’s Facebook Page and thought it was such a beautiful presentation that I had to share it with you all. I just know you will want to take this to your next potluck dinner or party.
It’s so simple to prepare!
Spread hummus on a platter.
Top with a variety of colorful mediterranean vegetables, such as:
red onion, cucumber, grape or cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, orange bell pepper, and fresh oregano.
Serve with crackers or pita bread.
Alice has more delicious recipes on her Facebook Page, Nourished with Alice Group. Thank you for sharing this recipe with us, Alice!
Barley Mushroom Casserole (Tsar-kasha)
Because I am working on a new book series for middle grade children that focuses on early 20th Century eastern European immigrants to North America where life was hard and childhood was short, I currently have a special interest in Russian/Ukrainian cuisine. Both of my grandfathers worked in the coal mines of northeastern Pennsylvania during that era, so some of these recipes have been passed down through the generations. I am resurrecting a few favorites from my childhood and experimenting with them to fit a meat-free plant-based lifestyle.
This is a simple Russian/Ukrainian peasant recipe that I have adapted from the original to be vegan. I am including the original ingredients in parentheses so you can choose the version you prefer. This was an easy recipe to adapt because it was already vegetarian. I just made a few minor adjustments to make it vegan.
2/3 cup finely chopped onion
3 Tbsp grapeseed oil (or 6 Tbsp butter)
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 lb fresh sliced mushrooms (these were traditionally hand-picked in the forest, but you can just use sliced white mushrooms from the grocery store as I did here)
3 cups water
1 cup regular barley
3 tsps instant vegetable bouillon granuals or “Better Than Bouillon-No Chicken Base” (or instant chicken bouillon or regular chicken broth)
1/4 cup snipped fresh parsley
1 tsp dried basil leaves
1/2 tsp salt (optional)
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
In a large pot combine the onion, oil, garlic, and mushrooms. Cover and cook on medium, stirring occasionally, just until the onion is tender.
Stir in remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Lower heat to simmer, cover and cook until barley is tender. Stir occasionally and add more water if needed.
Remove from heat and let stand covered for 5 minutes.
This simple recipe yeids 8 -10 side dish servings or 4 – 5 maindish servings.
My mother would have served this with ground redbeets mixed with horseradish, but I really dislike that concoction. I served it with a side of whole cranberry sauce instead and roasted vegetables. Serve as you like.
If you are interested in learning about the early 1900’s coal mine experience as seen through a child’s eyes, then please check out my new book, “Peeling Potatoes: Katie’s Story” on Amazon. Available in Paperback or eBook: https://amazon.com/dp/B0B4KTJL3F
Hippy Chick Hummus Restaurant
I really, really wanted to like this place. They serve healthy vegan, locally sourced food with an emphasis on green sustainability throughout this casual restaurant. These things, as well as the food, mean a lot to me. The decor is colorful and quirky. I’m always on the lookout for good vegan food, and I love things that are different. Hippy Chick Hummus looks like a fun place to grab a quick bite to eat while shopping or sight-seeing in town, but that was not my experience. This is my honest review:
Perhaps Hippy Chick Hummus is a little bit too casual for me. I did not appreciate the panhandler who wandered in through the open door and approached each table asking for money, and then sauntered up to the register to ask for money there as well. The open door again — an invitation for flies that had to be batted away from our food as we ate. We could have sat outside at a sidewalk table and enjoyed the traffic noise and exhaust, but we chose the lesser of two evils.
The food was fresh and locally sourced. Servings were large. The falafel is their own unique recipe, a bit different and air-fried which makes them lighter and drier. The flavor was just okay, but could have been greatly improved if they served both items with more of the lemon tahini dressing (a lot more). The food was pretty dry with such a skimpy amount of dressing. You can ask for more dressing with an upcharge (who charges for more salad dressing?). The oily dressing on the side — I couldn’t identify a flavor. I poured it over the entire salad, but there was just no flavor to that dressing.
Finally, the ginger-lemonade. I wouldn’t recommend it. Have you ever tasted a sour beverage with no sugar, but hot ginger instead? It is an awful combination that burns your throat and overwhelms everything else. Fortunately, I had a packet of stevia with me, but that lemonade was painful to drink. As I said, I really, really wanted to like this place, but sadly couldn’t. Maybe you would feel differently. We did notice a lot of take-out orders being picked up while we were there. That could be a clue.
Hippy Chick Hummus, 237 N. Market St., Frederick, MD, Phone: 240-815-7175
Easy Barbeque Vegan Burgers
What will you serve at your Memorial Day Picnic?
This delicious Barbeque Vegan Burger recipe is something you can make ahead, freeze, and then pull out as many as you need. The recipe makes 10 super-size burgers, as you see here, or you can make them smaller to fit the average hamburger bun. You can even prepare them ahead! These were made to perfectly fit a large multugrain roll. The recipe takes about 10 -15 minutes to put together and is so simple you will make them often.
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can fat-free refried beans
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup (leftover) cooked rice (white or brown)
1 cup chopped walnuts (not too fine)
1/2 cup barbeque sauce
1/2 tsp liquid smoke
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
2 Tbsp ground flaxseed
Extra barbeque sauce to top burgers after baking
Preheat oven to 400 degrees, and line a baking sheet pan with parchment paper
- In a large bowl, partially mash the black beans.
- Add remaining ingredients, mix well and allow to sit for at least 20 minutes (or cover and refrigerate overnight and continue forming and baking the burgers the next day). Allowing the mixture to sit awhile will help bind the ingredients together and makes it easier to form the burger patties.
- Form rounded 1/2 cup portions of mixture into burger shapes and place on the parchment lined pan.
- Bake for 20 minutes, turn over and coat each burger with a layer of your favorite barbeque sauce
- Bake for another 15 – 20 minutes. (Adjust baking time according to the size of your burgers)
- Serve with your favorite burger toppings and more barbeque sauce if desired.
Happy, healthy summer eating!