Archives

It’s National Farmer’s Market Week!

FRESH, FRUIT AND FUN

By Mia Epsilon

FW1

It’s National Farmer’s Market Week! It’s time to celebrate those ‘little guys’ who mean so much to all of us. America, the UK and many other countries survive because of Farmers, yet next to Teachers (sorry, personal opinion and bias here) they are the most unappreciated and certainly lowest paid people in the world. Think about the food you eat. If it grows in the ground, either on a tree, bush, vine or dirt, you can thank a farmer.

FW2

So what exactly is a ‘farmer’s market’? The word is as familiar to me as my own name; I grew up in a rural area and my family was farmers. My summers were spent helping in the garden, sucking corn, picking beans and going on the hunt for blackberries which grew in abundance wild joyous freedom. Where I live now is the largest apple producing area in the state, second in the nation in production and first in the types of apples produced. ‘Apple Country’ has over two hundred different types of apples: from ‘pink ladies’ to Arkansas blacks’ to ‘golden delicious’. I also live in the state number one in production of sweet potatoes. Blackberries, strawberries and raspberries still, where unchecked, grow in joyous spreading freedom. I’m blessed.FW3

But I digress. A Farmer’s Market is where local farmers take their harvest ‘to market’. There are numerous types: small tables set along the road to huge warehouse type ‘stores’. But the one thing they have in common: everything is local grown, local produced and healthier than anything you will ever buy in a conventional store. I love my Farmers’ Markets here. And yes, that’s plural: we have several. There’s the ‘really big one’ near the only big town in these mountains, with over one thousand local farmers and growers, everything from corn and beans to flowers and herbs, organic to still picked by hand, livestock like cows and pigs to chickens and goats. It’s an almost overwhelming explosion of color, scents and sounds.FW4

Yet my favorite Farmer’s Market’s are the small ones. The ones where the farmers, their wives, and children see me coming and call me by name. These are the hard workers, the very backbone of any nation who keep us fed and happy. They show me the freshest, “just picked thirty minutes ago, hun” and the best deals “we’re doing two bundles because the fresh is about to go off” and don’t mind if I thump a melon to test it or pinch a carrot. I once bought fresh eggs and in my friendly chatting with the wife, I drove off without the eggs. The farmer’s son followed me for ten miles, flashing his lights until I pulled over and he could hand me the eggs.FW5

My favorite finds are Farmers’ Markets are the vegetables. And the fruits. But especially the flowers. I may not always buy the bouquets, but there’s something about seeing the happy faces of sunflowers or wildflowers which makes it impossible not to smile back. ‘Happiness Grows From the Ground Up’ is a sign hanging from the flowers’ farmer’s table. His name is Walter and he started growing flowers for his British wife because she missed her English garden so much when he married her at the end of World War 2 and brought her back to his home. She died ten years ago and now Walter sells his flowers to make other wives and sisters and daughters happy. How’s that for a beautiful story?

FW6

When my children were small, we had a huge garden in the backyard and we continued the family tradition of ‘growing your own’. For some reason rhubarb grows like crazy here, and I don’t like it. My neighbors beside me love it and they trade me all the rhubarb they want for all the sweet potatoes I want. My neighbor also makes the world’s most incredible applesauce and supplies me, to this day, with dozens of jars every fall. I used to joke it wouldn’t be fall without Marilyn and her ‘sauce’; she is older now, and I know the fall is coming where there won’t be her sauce to enjoy over warm gingerbread on a cold winter night. She knows it, too, because she shared her recipe with me and gave her permission for me to share it with you.

FW7

Pre Plowed and Planted Garden Spot

In addition to the garden, we raised chickens, turkeys, pigs, goats, bees and ducks. We also had a horse and rabbits. My graduation from college gift was twenty five baby ducklings from my neighbors. My kids named them all so they couldn’t be eaten. “If they have a name, they aren’t food”, my eight year old son reasoned. And Huey, Dewy, Louie, Sonny, Cher, Brittany, Madonna, King, Queen, Princess, U2, Nickelback, Donald, Daisy, Daffy and friends lived contentedly many years never in fear of a roasting pot. The turkeys were for the church Thanksgiving dinner; the pig was winter supplies, the bees gave honey and the chickens gave the fresh eggs a family of nine needed. The rabbits were pets and the goats gave milk. Behind our house and yard is an apple orchard where we ‘pick our own’. Yes, blessed.

FW8

I don’t consider myself an excellent cook, but I’ll gladly share a few recipes I’ve discovered from the Farmers’ Markets or made with foods from the there. Please note I say ‘to your own preference or taste’. I’m an experimental cook; sometimes this works out, sometimes it doesn’t. Food is all about what *you* prefer or your taste buds, so modify these to your own choice and preference. Visit a local Farmers Market and support a small farmer. They will thank you and so will your taste buds and body.

ROASTED VEGETABLES

FW9

Vegetables (your choice, your favorites) cut into chunks (keep in mind big chunks roast slower and often ‘burn’ before the middle is tender; small chunks roast faster and need less time)

Olive oil (I could put an amount, but really, it’s preference

Spices (I use fresh ground garlic, thyme and oregano)

Roasting pan (I use a ‘cookie sheet’) lined with foil or parchment paper

1. Pre heat oven to 400 degrees (sorry I don’t know UK equals. What you roast meat at). I’ve found this to be the ideal temp; any higher tends to burn the veggies before they are tender.

2. Cut vegetables and toss with olive oil. Make sure all are evenly covered in the oil (not ‘dripping, but wet).

3. Place vegetables on the pan. I put ‘hard’ vegetables like beets and potatoes together and ‘tender’ ones like peppers and mushrooms together. Make sure they are spread out, not overlapping and the pan is covered.

4. Sprinkle with spices. (As a note, roasted beets sprinkled with just thyme and ginger are omg good).

5. Roast until tender. This will vary according to your oven, if it’s raining outside, etc. Figure for tender vegetables about 10-15 minutes and 30-45 for harder vegetables.

6. Let cool 5 minutes and dig in. These also freeze well and will keep up to a week in the refrigerator.

See? Easy.

MARILYN’S SAUCE

FW10

Your Favorite Kind of Apples (she also uses ginger golds or red delicious; I use golden delicious). If using the slow cooker as I do, I find 8-10 medium to large apples is enough.

Spices: Cinnamon, Nutmeg and Ginger (It’s to taste and what you like)

Water (again, preference; she adds 1/2 cup for ‘thinner’ sauce. I don’t for thicker sauce)

1. Peel apples if desired and cut into bite sized chunks.

2. Place in slow cooker (I spray mine first with cooking spray or rub it with olive oil so apples don’t stick).

3. Sprinkle on spices and let cook on low 6-8 hours. I don’t recommend high because to me the apples taste ‘burned’. Your house will smell INCREDIBLE.

4. Remove and blender away chunks you don’t want. The apples should be tender and usually ‘melt’ but some harder types may not. I don’t mind the chunks but if you do, blender.

5. Enjoy! I love this over warm gingerbread. Also makes a great topper to baked potatoes or roasted pork.

FW11

Stir with a cinnamon and mmm mmm

 

* * * *

Mia Epsilon is a dedicated Farmers Market shopper and swears the taste difference between something local and something shipped in can be tasted by any dedicated tongue. She no longer has the ‘family farm and zoo’; but still enjoys growing many of her own fruits and vegetables. She lives in the gorgeous and fruitful area of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Western North Carolina, commonly called the Appalachian area.

Mia is the author of Wedding Belle Blues, a contemporary romantic comedy released in June of 2014 and Leave Your Hat On, a short story available as part of a limited hard cover edition of tales inspired by the classic story Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Also look for the second and third books in the ‘Weddings by C & C series’ Take a Chance on Me and That Night coming Fall 2014.

Potato Soup by Erzabet Bishop

From Christina: Growing up, I lived with my grandfather, and one of the things I most enjoyed was coming home from school to find a pot of his German Potato Soup simmering on the stove. It was always such a treat.  I’ve never found another potato soup recipe quite like his — and sad to say, over the years, it’s been misplaced.  I do love potato soup, and I’m always happy when someone is willing to share their special recipe.  I was delighted with Erzabeth Bishop offered this one.  Enjoy!

Potato Soup

by Erzabet Bishop

1 5lb bag potatoes
potato soup3 cups hot water
3 TB Better Than Bouillon Chicken
1 8 ounce cream cheese
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper
Pinch garlic powder
Pinch onion powder
Milk (pour until desired thickness)

Peel potatoes and place in crock pot. Blend three cups of hot water with three tablespoons of Better Than Bouillon Chicken flavor. Some of the potatoes will not be covered in liquid. Add spices.
Cook in crock pot on high for 6 hours. Take out half of the potatoes and chop them up into bite size pieces. Take a kitchen hand mixer and blend the broth, block of cream cheese and remainder of the potatoes into a thick soup base.

Add milk to suit. Return chunks of potatoes to soup and heat on low for an hour.
**add bacon and cheese for a delicious meal!


Erzabet Bishop has been crafting stories since she could pound keys on her parents’ old typewriter. She has only just learned that it is a whole lot more fun writing naughty books. She is a contributing author to the Silk Words website with her Fetish Fair choose your own romantic adventure stories, A Christmas To Remember, Club Rook: The Series, Sweat, When the Clock Strikes Thirteen, Unbound Box, Milk & Cookies & Handcuffs, Holidays in Hell, Corset Magazine: Sex Around the World Issue and Man vs. Machine: The Sex Toy Issue, Smut by the Sea Volume 2, Hell Whore Volume 2, Can’t Get Enough (upcoming, Cleis), Slave Girls, Forbidden Fruit, The Big Book of Submission (upcoming Cleis), Hungry for More (upcoming Cleis), Gratis II, Anything She Wants, Dirty Little Numbers, Kink-E magazine, Eternal Haunted Summer, Coming Together: Girl on Girl, Shifters and Coming Together: Hungry for Love among others. She is the author of Lipstick (upcoming), Dinner Date, Tethered, Sigil Fire, The Erotic Pagan Series: Beltane Fires, Samhain Shadows and Yuletide Temptation. She lives in Texas with her husband, furry children and can often be found lurking in local bookstores. She loves to bake, make naughty crochet projects and watch monster movies. When she isn’t writing, she loves to review music and books.

Follow her reviews and posts on Twitter @erzabetbishop.

 

 

Spring Brings Eternal Hope by Cindy Christiansen

Spring Flowers

 

Spring is God’s way of saying ‘One more time!’

– Robert Orben

 

 

 

 

Spring Brings Eternal Hope

by Cindy Christiansen

 

There is something magical about spring. The earth warms and brightens, seeds sprout and grow into a gorgeous colorful array of flowers, grass turns a vibrant green, and trees bud new leaves. I think more than any time of the year, spring gives me hope—a rebirth to accomplish new and wondrous things—to start anew.

Many celebrate each new year as a time to set goals and move forward. But there is something incredible about the rebirth of the earth that fills me with hope and optimism that life brings new choices and opportunities never before considered.

Reach out and touch those dreams. Wipe clean your slates and refresh your hearts. It’s a new day!

One of the first vegetables you can grow and harvest in the spring is peas! Oh, how I remember harvesting the peas early in the morning on our farm, sitting on the lawn grass underneath the shade trees podding peas. My older sister would eat more than she put into her bucket. My dad was just as bad. Mom would have to get after both of them. Soon the podding, blanching and packaging was complete, but Mom always saved a few out for a fresh pea salad. I share that recipe with you today in memory of happy spring days and future spring days that sprout new hopes, dreams and visions.

Fresh Pea Salad

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups fresh peas
  • 8 slices of bacon or 1/2 cup Hormel Real Crumbled Bacon
  • 2/3 cup chopped onions
  • 3/4 to 1 cup Ranch dressing
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 head lettuce

Directions:

1. If using strips of bacon: Cook bacon in skillet over medium heat until brown. Drain, crumble and set aside. If using already prepared bacon, measure 1/2 cup.

2. In a large bowl, combine and mix all the above ingredients except for lettuce.

3. Refrigerate pea dressing for 30 minutes or until chilled before serving. (We never can wait that long.)

4. Wash and dry lettuce (I use a salad spinner. Mom didn’t have one.) Tear lettuce into bite-size pieces in large bowl.

5. Pour pea dressing over lettuce and toss. Enjoy!

About Cindy: 

Cindy A. Christiansen writes sweet romance with humor, suspense…and dogs! With over thirty health issues and two autistic children, she struggles to write but finds it cathartic. She loves going where only her characters can take her. She loves dogs and always includes them in her books and features them on her covers. She donates time and money to organizations that help abused and abandoned dogs. She lives with her wonderful family and delightful dogs in West Jordan, UT.

 

Irish Beef Stew by Tricia Andersen

From Christina: Saint Patrick’s Day is just around the corner. Usually I fix the traditional corned beef and cabbage meal…but this year, I wanted to be a little different. Fortunately, author Tricia Andersen stepped in to offer her recipe for Irish Beef Stew. This is what we’ll be having on the 17th! I wanted to share it here a few days ahead of the holiday so that you’ll have time to do a bit of grocery shopping too if you’d like to serve this for your family and friends.

 

Irish Beef Stew Recipe

Since both my husband and I are both part Irish, St. Patrick’s Day is a huge deal in our house.  I get a little crazy and try to make a special dinner for my family.  A couple of years ago I found this Irish Beef Stew Recipe on AllRecipes.com.  I hope it’s a hit with your family like it is with mine!

Quick note from Christina: The recipe calls for stout beer. Since no one in our family imbibes, I’m planning to substitute beef broth with maybe a pinch of ginger and/or Worcestershire sauce.  Below the recipe I’ve included an “alcohol substitution” link.  

Beef StewIngredients

Original recipe makes 8 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes

1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

6 large potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks

1 white onion, cut into large chunks

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups beef broth

1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste

1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle Irish stout beer (e.g. Guinness®)

1 tablespoon cold water

1 tablespoon cornstarch

 

Directions

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Toss beef cubes with flour to coat, then fry in the hot oil until browned. Place the carrots, potatoes, onion and garlic in a large slow cooker. Place the meat on top of the vegetables. Mix together the beef broth and tomato paste and pour into the slow cooker along with the beer.

Cover and cook on High for 6 hours or Low for 8 hours. During the last hour before serving, dissolve the cornstarch in cold water and then stir into the broth. Simmer on the High setting for a few minutes to thicken.

 Alcohol Substitutes for Cooking

 

Broccoli Fritters by Ann B Harrison

From Christina: While spring is almost upon us here in this hemisphere, our friends “down under” are looking forward to the cooler days of autumn. Either way — spring, fall, or any other time of the year — good food is always appreciated. Today, Australian author Ann B Harrison drops by to share one of her favorite recipes.

Broccoli Fritters

by Ann B Harrison

One of my favourite meals to make is fritters. When I came across a healthy version I knew I had to make them for lunch. Just so happens I was invited over to spend the day with a fellow writer working out our game plans for the next new releases and I thought, ‘what a great easy meal to take along with a salad.’

Seems I made the right move, because my host was thrilled with them. They are very “more-ish” so I suggest you double the mixture.

Broccoli Fritters

Quick Note from Christina:  Ann’s recipe uses metric measurements.  American cooks, please note that the amount of flour would be about 1 cup with an additional 1/3 cup reserved. The amount of cheese would be about 1/2 cups.

See link below for basic measurement conversions. 

Ingredients (makes 8 fritters)

1 medium sized broccoli

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

4 eggs

1 small bunch of parsley, chopped

150 grams of gluten free flour or buckwheat flour (put an extra 50 grams aside in case mixture is too wet)

80 grams of feta cheese

1/2 cup of pine nuts

1 lemon

Salt and pepper

Dash of olive/coconut oil

Method

1. Chop up the broccoli finely and steam for 5 minutes.

2. Beat the eggs in a bowl and add the flour, garlic, salt and pepper and parsley.

3. Chop up the feta cheese into small cubes and place into the mixture.

4. Place the pine nuts in a fry pan on a low heat and gently roast for 4-7 minutes or until pine nuts are slightly golden. Once cooked add them to the mixture.

5. Before adding the broccoli into the mixture make sure it is finely sliced. I found that I needed to add an extra 50 grams of flour to the mixture as it was too wet.

6. Heat a large frying pan over moderate heat and add a dash of oil.

7. Scoop 1 large tablespoon of mixture into the frying pan, then flatten it slightly with a spatula. The mixture should make around 8 fritters. Cook the fritters for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until golden.

8. Place fritters onto a paper towel to soak up any excess oil.

9. Drizzle with lemon juice before serving. Enjoy!

Converting Grams to Cups

About Ann:

Ann swears she was born with a book in her hands and has never put it down. A lifelong love of reader has finally culminated in achieving her dream of writing…and publication. She lives in the beautiful Hunter Valley with her own handsome hero of many years. Ann has always loved the ups and downs of life in small communities and she shares this with readers in her rural romances. When not writing Ann enjoys reading, gardening, walking her very large dog Hugo and fighting with her computer.

Winter Chill – Delicious Chili by A J Best

From Christina: Bet you didn’t know that today is National Chili Day! I wouldn’t have known it either if my buddy A J Best hadn’t sent me a calendar listing lots of little known holidays and celebrations.  She’s a delightful friend, one who’s always willing to share. One cold winter’s morning, as we chatted online about food and recipes, she shared a simple, but delicious recipe for — wait for it — CHILI!  So, when I scanned the list of February’s “special days” and saw National Chili Day, I quickly asked AJ if she’d share the recipe again with Time for Love readers.

Winter Chill – Delicious Chili

By A J Best

Winter. It’s supposed to be pristine, white, sparkly and beautiful. Children are supposed to be outside playing Norman Rockwellesque, all happy and smiling. But if winter where you are is anything like winter where I am is, it’s a little grey and dreary. Here in the middle of the middle of nowhere, it’s <expletive removed> cold!

 

Winter Image from Tami

 

 So, what does a homebody do when it’s miserably cold and the family is stuck in front of the TV/computer? She makes chili! Come into my kitchen and I’ll show you how to make chili the easy way. You’ll be back in front of the fire cuddled with a book in no time.

 Super Simple Chili Recipe

1 pound ground meat (turkey, venison, beef, etc.)

2 cans beans (dark/light red kidney, black beans, etc.)

1 large can of diced tomatoes

1 jar salsa (in any heat level you choose, we go mild because of the kids)

Brown ground meat. If it’s a fattier type meat, drain grease. Open cans with can openers, open jar with hands. Pour cans, undrained, into pot. Pour salsa into pot. Stir. Eat.

* * * *

Really, it’s that easy. No muss no fuss.

I’d love to know what comfort foods you make when it’s just too bloody cold to go outside. Leave the recipe, I’d love to try it.

A Day of Love by Amanda Ward

From Christina: We each have special days in our lives, days filled with memories we will cherish forever. Author Amanda Ward shares one of her most memorable days…which just happens to be Valentine’s Day.

A Day of Love 

by Amanda Ward

Valentine’s Day.  A time of showing your feelings to that special someone.

In the Ward house, it is a special day for two remarkable reasons.  First off it is the very day that my husband Matthew was brought from the children’s home to live with his parents.  He was four months old. Second, it is our daughter Amy’s birthday.

What better way to celebrate this occasion than with the culmination of love?

We weren’t married at the time.  Matt lived seventy miles away and for me on a very bright February morning, instead of a smooch from my better half we had a doozy of an argument resulting in me slamming the phone down on him.  No red roses this year or a mug of tea brought in bed, nope, I was overdue, cranky and downright miserable.

Anyway fast forward later that day, at 6 that evening, I was in the front of my stepdad’s car wired up to a TENS machine that my eldest child had cranked up to full tingleness.  Both teenagers whining that they had to go to the hospital with me, and my stepfather praying that I didn’t give birth in his car.  As we got to the hospital turn off, I felt a pop, splat and heard a “Bloody hell” from my stepdad.  My waters had broken.  Combined with cries of “Ewwwww” from my teenage daughters, this was the icing on top of a really bloody awful day.

Within five minutes of getting into the hospital, seven pounds of Amy Margaret Rose made her appearance.  Her eyes wide open without crying.  Quite possibly the prettiest Valentine’s Day present I have ever had.  With one difference.  She is the present that gives me and her dad joy, day after day. (Apart from copious amounts of headaches and empty wallets)  Her dad was caught in traffic on the M25 and missed her birth by ten minutes.  He more than made up for it by panicking that there was something wrong with her, when Amy merely had hiccups.

Matt and Amy

Spending Valentine’s day, in such a manner makes me realise how short life is.  So don’t save romance, little gestures and affection for one day of the year…make each day Valentine’s day.  We do!

Cheat’s Chocolate Mousse

(From the MisAdventures of Pann Haggerty)

2 packs of ready made chocolate mousse from the supermarket

1pint of double (heavy) cream

Flaked chocolate

A chocolate of your choice…Hershey’s kiss anyone?

Whip the cream.  Fold the ready-made mousse into the cream.  After placing a chocolate at the bottom of the glass, plop over the mousse and top with flaked chocolate.  Enjoy with love.

Hugs

Manda xxxxxxxxxx

About Amanda: 

About Amanda:  Quiche loving, notebook collecting, historical anorak and avid reader.  Amanda lives in Bedfordshire, England with her husband, three children and two mad moggies.  Her bookcases are lined with romance novels and historical tomes.  She can rattle off facts on the Royal Families of Europe, and then change the subject to musicals, how amazing a cup of tea and biscuits are and the latest gossip.  Amanda shares her husband’s love of sci-fi and is an avid Dr Who fan, whilst still maintaining her love of The Waltons, Gilmore Girls and period dramas.  

Readers can contact Amanda at her blog:

Amanda J Ward – Romance Author

Click here to return to A Valentine’s Day Double Feature