Tuesday’s Table: Mimi Barbour’s Cranberry Shortbread Cookies

Thank you so much for inviting me to be on your blog, Karyn. I’m really happy to share my story and cookie recipe with your readers.

Author of The Vicarage Bench Series, Angels with Attitude Series, and a hot, new romantic suspense series called Vegas. Mimi Barbour lives on Vancouver Island and writes her romances with tongue in cheek and a mad glint in her eye. “If I can steal a book lover’s attention away from their every-day grind, absorb them into a love story, and make them care about the ending, then I’ve done my job.”

I once won a cookie contest with my Cranberry Shortbread Cookies.

I had decided to enter into the Chatelaine contest, because my recipe had such a great history that I thought to share it with the readers. To my astonished delight, my cookies were picked, if I remember correctly, as winner #3. I still have the coffee pot, blender and various baking ware as proof.

All 10 winners were printed in the Chatelaine magazine for the entire world to see, and I’ll admit to walking around with a puffed up chest for a few days. Now that I remember, I do believe it was the first time I’d ever seen anything I wrote in print!

The story goes that as a new bride, I had moved to northern Canada, to a place called Stewart, B.C. It was within a few miles of the Alaska border so it was pretty isolated. In those days (and unfortunately still today) the best meal I could produce was a killer peanut-butter and banana sandwich. Needless to say, my husband is our chef and has been since the beginning. My little contribution to our meals is the dessert.

Understandable, as a new bride, I had very few recipes and the holiday season was approaching. So at a bingo game with some other ladies I lamented my terrible lack. An older Scottish woman, who I thought a real sweetheart, said, “Lassie, I will give you a true Scottish shortbread recipe handed down from my mother and hers before her. I’ve kept this to myself for that many years, but I like you. Since you’re a new bride, I’ll share.”

So saying, she took a napkin from the table and wrote her shortbread recipe on it. I quickly rewrote it once I got home and have used the basis of this recipe for many others

The variety that won the contest has ½ cup of dried cranberries and ½ cup of pecan pieces added.

To this day, I get so many compliments on my wonderful cookies that it truly isn’t Christmas for my family without a plateful of these decorating the table.

**A sequel to this story is that the woman’s daughter, who was a young girl back then, called me a few weeks after reading the magazine. She asked me if these were her mother’s cookies. When I said yes she laughed and told me that many years ago her mother had slowly faded with Alzheimer’s without ever having written her precious recipe down. By the time her daughter’s had realized they had no copies, she couldn’t help them. Now they were finally able to have the cookies they had grown up eating.

Contacts for Mimi:

I do enjoy meeting readers so please drop me a line at mimi@mimibarbour.com

 Amazon Page: http://amzn.to/SUv0yv

http://www.mimibarbour.com/

http://mimibarbour.blogspot.com

Twitter @mimibarbour

Facebook 

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Tuesday’s Table: Zucchini, A Proposal, and Sandra Dailey

Let me tell you the history behind my Zucchini Boats.

Until five years ago, my husband was a farmer. His main crops were a variety of tomatoes, and occasionally, bell peppers, watermelon or cantaloupe, depending on the time of year and market value. We live in Florida, which is a two crop zone. That means you go through the whole process twice a year yielding crops in the spring and fall.

On a few acres, he would also grow a large garden for our family, tractor drivers, and field crew. The garden would help feed at least twenty families.

Our kids loved their veggies, but would get tired of having the same thing too often. It was a challenge to find new ways of cooking the large amounts of some types.

When I threw together my Zucchini Boats one day, my husband and kids were hooked.

It only requires three main ingredients;

  • 4 med. – Zucchinis
  • 1 lb. – ground sausage
  • 1 cup – bread stuffing (not cornbread)

Crumble, cook, and drain the sausage. I use ordinary breakfast sausage. The spice level is up to you. Mix into the prepared stuffing.

Wash, tip, and split each zucchini from end to end. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Lay them out in an oblong cooking pan with the cut sides up. Fill with the stuffing mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until the zucchini is tender.

Lastly, top with cheese if desired. My crew likes cheddar, but mozzarella and parmesan are excellent choices as well.

I like to serve it with fresh tomatoes or salad and red wine or sweet tea.

CAUTION: This recipe feeds four adults.

Be sure to check out my debut eBook – ‘The Chief’s Proposal’

Blurb: Ginny Dearing has finally realized her goal of teaching, but finding a position is proving impossible. After exhausting all possibilities, an Internet ad is her only hope. In a small town hundreds of miles away there is a job with one huge string attached…a husband.

Burned by love once, Brett Silverfeather finds his bachelor life more than satisfying. He’s facing re-election for sheriff, but this time the voters are looking for a family man. Brett finds himself pursuing a marriage he doesn’t want.

Ginny and Brett are opposite in every way, but opposites do attract. Can Brett protect his heart as well as he does his town? Can Ginny hide a secret past that could possibly destroy her future?

Available at:

The Wild Rose Press http://bit.ly/PSiSNR

Amazon http://amzn.to/MCNbDU

Barnes and Noble http://bit.ly/RTDJ01

I’m still living in Florida with my former-farmer husband, but the kids have moved out.

You can find me at:

http://www.sandradailey.blogspot.com

http://www.sandradailey.com

http://www.facebook.com/sandradailey.author

Thanks so much for visiting and leaving us with this great recipe! I don’t think there’s any better feeling than knowing all your hard work is helping feed people. I’ll definitely try this recipe as my daughter LOVES veggies. Any other veggie lovers out there?

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Tuesday’s Table: A Meal Made In Heaven

Welcome Cara Marsi!

A great meal is the nectar of the gods. It’s heavenly. Sometimes it’s better than sex.

I’m of Italian heritage and grew up eating wonderful Italian food. All four of my grandparents were from the Abruzzo region of Italy. My grandmothers and my Italian mother-in-law were terrific cooks. However, of all the wonderful meals I’ve eaten through the years, one stands out above the rest.

In 2006, my husband and I traveled to Abruzzo, Italy, to join a tour run by my Australian cousin, Luciana, and her partner, Michael, an international tenor. A cousin from Arizona joined us. Luciana and Michael had just started their company, Absolutely Abruzzo, and this was their maiden tour.

As we traveled through mountainous, wildly beautiful Abruzzo, we ate the most scrumptious food every day. Luciana and Michael had arranged the meals and the elegant wines to complement them. We ate at several “agrituristicas,” farms that grow and serve organic foods and are subsidized by the Italian government in an effort to bring more tourism into the lesser-known regions of Italy.

One such “agrituristica,” Ill Nespolo, was run by a husband and wife, Maria Angela, from the province of Calabria, and Gabriele, from Abruzzo. Here’s the menu for that meal:

Antipasto consisting of home-made sausage, cheeses with honey and saffron, marinated vegetables, bruschetta with olive paste.

Primo(First Course)-Gnocchi al pomodoro-gnocchi alle verdue (Gnocchi with tomato sauce and with green vegetable sauce)

Secondo(Second Course)-Petto di tacchino con arancia e rucola (turkey breast with orange and rocket. Rocket is similar to arugula)

Dolce(Dessert)-Home-made biscotti with honey

All served with local Abruzzese wines.

However, our hosts provided us with a surprise dish–saffron gnocchi with fresh-shaved truffle. Oh. My. God. That was the best food, hands down, I’ve ever eaten. Ever. In my life. All the food we ate on that trip was incredible, delicious, wonderful. And the wines were exquisite. But nothing compared to the heavenly delight of saffron gnocchi with fresh-shaved truffle. It was almost better than sex. During the meal, my husband whispered to me that he might have to divorce me and marry Maria Angela because she cooked like an angel. Couldn’t blame him. I wanted to marry her myself. Our group went nuts over all the food at that meal, but especially the saffron gnocchi. There wasn’t a scrap left of anything when we were done. To this day, I can’t eat gnocchi because nothing will ever be as good as the gnocchi I ate at Ill Nespolo.

Food is more than eating. It’s companionship and memories. I have the most marvelous memories of that trip and of the meals shared with family and new friends. I can’t think of that saffron gnocchi without remembering Luciana and Michael and what great hosts and tour guides they were; getting to spend time with my cousin Kevin from Arizona, whom I’d bonded with on a trip to Australia a few years earlier; the friendship of the others in our group, all Australian. As a group, we grew close, sharing some rough times, like when our van got stuck in road ruts in the Abruzzo wilderness. Or when we hiked one of Italy’s national parks on a scorching hot day. Or visited medieval monasteries carved into the sides of mountains. All the memories are bound together with the food we ate.

That trip, and the food, connected me to generations of my family who are as much a part of that region as the stark mountains and the hillside villages.

I’ve posted pictures of the gnocchi, the truffle being shaved, and our group. I’m second from left in the turquoise top, holding a glass, conversing with the man next to me. My husband took the picture.

I love writing about food. My romantic suspense, “Murder, Mi Amore,” from The Wild Rose Press, is set almost entirely in Italy. Every setting is authentic, based on places we visited and stayed during that 2006 trip. The meals I mention in that book are actual meals we ate. My very first published book, from Avalon Books, “A Catered Affair,”(reissued under the title “A Catered Romance”) featured a caterer. Lots of food references in that book.

 If you’re interested in learning more about the Abruzzo region of Italy or taking a trip there, check out Luciana and Michael’s website: http://www.absolutelyabruzzo.com

You can read about my books and short stories on my website: www.caramarsi.com

Karyn, thank you for having me today.

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Tuesday’s Table Welcomes Author Kate Austin

I’m very happy to be hosting the lovely Kate Austin. A wonderful writer, she also happens to be a fellow Canadian, but from an entirely different part of the country.

I live on the ocean, write women’s fiction, love to read so much that it’s an addiction rather than a hobby (I read an average of a book a day). I live on the wet west coast so it’s a good thing that I like to walk in the rain.  Kate Austin

I’m a foodie so this is a tough blog for me to write. I love good food, whether I’m cooking a meal at home for friends, eating out at one of my favorite neighborhood restaurants (I live in downtown Vancouver so my neighborhood has more restaurants than you can count), or when I’m traveling. But meals for me–the great ones–are all about companions. A bowl of rice and vegetables with a good friend I haven’t seen for a while is a great one; a burger and a beer with a couple of pals is a great one; crackers and cheese and a bottle of wine while talking on the phone with my best friend (who now lives right across the country) is one of the best, although seeing her in person is even better.

So I could talk or write (my books are often about food and meals with friends) about food and great meals forever–the one I had in Rye, England after three weeks of miserable weather and food, or the pizza I had in Bellagio on Lake Como, or the best ever food and service I had in a small hotel in Calais–but I don’t want this blog to on forever (which it could), so I’ll tell you about the nicest meal I’ve had in the past couple of weeks.

Our friend Patrick–my partner also works in the hospitality industry–works at one of my favorite places to go. It’s one of the most beautiful places in Vancouver (which is really saying something) – the Cascades Lounge at the Pan Pacific Hotel. Here’s a picture of the view from the window.

And here’s a picture of the amazing meal we split –

The meal was fennel and lavender dusted halibut (and I love halibut), with corn succotash and asparagus. It was full of flavor, each taste–sweet and salty and tangy–complementing the others perfectly. Add to that the gorgeous basket of bread we also ate, chatting with a good friend, and looking out at the amazing view (and, oh, did I mention the Prosecco and Rolling Rock we drank?), it was one of those perfect meals.

I love evenings like that. How about you?

Kate

You can find Kate at:

http://kateaustin.blogspot.com/

https://twitter.com/KateAVancouver

http://www.kateaustin.ca/

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Introducing Tuesday’s Table

The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.”  Julia Child

I swear that is one of my favorite quotes. Whatever your relationship with food, everyone has to eat. Indeed many of us have very strong feelings about food. We have experiences around food. Some of our best discussions happen over food. Our thanks, our welcomes, our condolences are often accompanied by food. We travel to experience new places and different cuisines.

I grew up on a farm outside a small prairie town. We gathered together at fall suppers, after church lunches, banquets, and buffets. This time of year lunches and suppers are packed up and driven out to the fields to feed hungry harvesters. My Dad would have been up early and late coming in, working hard at getting the grain in the bins.

When I was a kid sometimes my mother would make bread. She would cut off the heel of a still warm loaf, smear it with butter, and give us a taste. Delicious. When I smell of baking bread I think of my childhood kitchen. Another thing about my mom? She loves to bake. She usually follows up an invite to come and dine with an offer to bring something. We always, always, request dessert. You can trust my son to ask, “Is Grandma bringing dessert?”

Memories and food go hand in hand.

And food and romance? How many first dates take place at a restaurant? I had a friend who went out on a supper date with a guy who made the unfortunate mistake of ordering spaghetti. Not only was that first swirled fork full messy, it was piping hot. What’s a guy to do but spit it back out? That whole date was a gong show. I’m pretty sure it was also their last. Good thing she ended up with an entertaining tale to tell.

There are all kinds of stories out there revolving around food. That’s what Tuesday’s Table is about. You’ll find those stories, maybe a recipe, some pictures, guest bloggers and the books they write. Starting next Tuesday you can find them here.

Sometimes, you get to dine with princesses in a Disney castle.

If you’re lucky, you’ll find a Knight in Shining Armour.

Our character lunch at Disney World was one of those memorable kind of meals. As soon as we stepped into that castle and saw Cinderella in all her finery I felt eight years old again. The meal was excellent and afterwards we spent time with Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Ariel, and Belle. Again, it took me back to my childhood. We ate all our meals at the kitchen table, except on those occasional Sundays when CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Channel) aired a Disney movie. Out came the TV trays, we filled out plates and headed to the family room for a treat. With access to only two channels, you made the most of those opportunities.

Have a memorable meal in your past? One you’ll always remember?

Dining with one’s friends and beloved family is certainly one of life’s primal and most innocent delights, one that is both soul-satisfying and eternal.”  Julia Child

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