Monday, September 20, 2010

Fabulous Chocolate Sweet Potato Bread

I adapted a pumpkin bread recipe to come up with this bread which has rapidly become a family favorite.  Of course you can also use canned pumpkin in it, or cooked, pureed butternut or acorn squash.  I intend to use all of these, but am finishing up a bunch of sweet potatoes.  If it turns out properly, this bread has a moist gingerbread texture with a spicy, chocolate, sweet potato flavor.

For an end amount of TWO  CUPS mashed sweet potatoes, scrub 6-8 medium sized potatoes, place them in a baking dish and pierce the skins with a fork, then drizzle grape seed or olive oil over them and bake in a 400 degree oven until well done, about an hour.

This should make a nice moist sweet potato.  I bake extra potatoes to be certain I have enough for the recipe and to eat.  Cool until you can handle them, then peel (our four dogs love the skins) and mash the orange flesh with a fork.  If you use pumpkin or squash, it’s a thinner consistency and will affect how much hot water you use in the recipe.  Also,  I recently purchased those huge pale orange sweet potatoes (which I suspect were yams) and they had a very dry consistency.  Not as good.

In a large bowl mix 2/3 cup of coconut oil (you may use another oil but coconut is healthful, assuming you get the Good kind, and works really well in this recipe) with 1 1/3 cups of sugar (I used raw) and blend in 4 large eggs (my daughter in law has her own chickens).  Add the mashed potatoes to this mixture and blend well.  Now for the secret ingredient,  add 1/3 cup of black strap molasses.  Add 1/3 –1/2 cup of very hot water, unless mixture is quite thin.  I reserve the water and add it as I blend in the dry ingredients as needed, more or less.  This mixture is difficult to stir if you don’t have enough liquid, or if your potatoes are dry.

In a separate bowl, mix 3 1/3 cups flour with 1/2 tsp baking powder, 2 tsp. baking soda, 1/2 tsp cloves,  1 tsp cinnamon, and 1 1/2 tsp salt (I use sea salt) and 1/3 cup pure cocoa powder.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture, blending well.  If you reserved the hot water add it now, then add 1/2 (or more) of a large bag of dark chocolate chips.  My latest batch is missing the chips because we ate them all, so the photograph is minus the chips. :)

Pour the dough into two well greased bread pans, half the mix into each one, and bake at 350 for approximately one hour.  Until you can stick a thin knife into the bread and it comes out clean.  Leave the bread in the pans to cool, then slide a knife around the sides to loosen the loaves before turning them over on a rack and tap the bottom of the pan (gently) to get them out.   Good luck and enjoy!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Nature is a writer’s best friend ~Agavé Powers

I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes. ~e.e. cummings

The poetry of the earth is never dead.  ~John Keats

To sit in the shade on a fine day and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshment.  ~Jane Austen

Autumn, the year’s last, loveliest smile.
~William Cullen Bryant

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more.
~George Gordon, Lord Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage

I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.  ~John Muir

Man’s heart away from nature becomes hard.  ~Standing Bear

I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in.  ~George Washington Carver

The human spirit needs places where nature has not been rearranged by the hand of man.  ~Author Unknown

You can’t be suspicious of a tree, or accuse a bird or a squirrel of subversion or challenge the ideology of a violet.  ~Hal Borland

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.  ~John Muir

Some keep the Sabbath going to Church,
I keep it staying at Home -
With a bobolink for a Chorister,
And an Orchard, for a Dome.
~Emily Dickinson

Great things are done when men and mountains meet.  This is not done by jostling in the street.  ~William Blake

Fieldes have eies and woods have eares.  ~John Heywood, 1565

Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.  ~Rachel Carson

Climb up on some hill at sunrise.  Everybody needs perspective once in a while, and you’ll find it there.  ~Robb Sagendorph

Nature is the art of God.  ~Thomas Browne

Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
~Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Every leaf speaks bliss to me,
Fluttering from the autumn tree.
~Emily Bronte

The morns are meeker than they were,
The nuts are getting brown;
The berry’s cheek is plumper,
The rose is out of town.
The maple wears a gayer scarf,
The field a scarlet gown.
Lest I should be old-fashioned,
I’ll put a trinket on.
Emily Dickinson
Nature XXVII, Autumn.

Autumn’s the mellow time.
~William Allingham

Monday, September 13, 2010

More About Native American Romance Novel Red Bird's Song

Red Bird’s Song is my first child, an oft rewritten historical, a poignant romance written deeply from my heart. Each of my stories is my favorite when I'm writing it, but there's something special about Red Bird's Song.  Maybe because many of the events depicted in the story and the inspiration behind it are true. Red Red Bird’s Song is based on events that happened to my early American Scots-Irish ancestors in the Virginia colonial frontier. The novel began as historical fiction with a strong romantic element but evolved into a historical romance, painstakingly researched and pulsing with emotion. The romance between Wicomechee and Charity throbs with tension, tenderness, passion and angst.

A bonus for readers, at the end of the book is the account of this Shawnee warrior I discovered in distant branches of the family tree. Yes, Wicomechee really lived and he comes vividly to life along with the others characters in this adventurous romance with a strong The Last of the Mohicans flavor.


Taken captive by a war party wasn’t how Charity Edmonson hoped to escape an unwanted marriage. Nor did Shawnee warrior Wicomechee expect to find the treasure promised by his grandfather’s vision in the unpredictable red-headed girl.

George III’s English Red-Coats, unprincipled colonial militia, prejudice and jealousy are not the only enemies Charity and Wicomechee will face before they can hope for a peaceful life. The greatest obstacle to happiness is in their own hearts.  As they struggle through bleak mountains and cold weather, facing wild nature and wilder men, Wicomechee and Charity must learn to trust each other.

Charity swiped angrily at a tear.
She’d run away, if she had anyone to run to.
It wasn’t right they were all dead.

On impulse, she jumped to the ground. “I’ll go anyway,” she muttered. “Eat nuts and berries and live in the woods.”

“Will you go alone?” a low voice asked.

Sucking in her breath, she whirled around. Less than twenty feet away, grasping his musket, stood a tall young brave. Stripes of red and black paint blurred his striking features. His dark brown eyes riveted her in place. This warrior was like no other and the most savagely handsome man she’d ever seen.

God help her. She should flee now, but could only stare, open-mouthed. She swept her disbelieving gaze over the loose black hair brushing an open buckskin vest that revealed his bronzed chest and shoulders molded into contours of muscle. An elkskin breechclout left a great deal of his hard thighs exposed. Despite the dread hammering in her chest, a fiery blush burned her cheeks. But it was the sheathed knife hanging on his left side and the lethal tomahawk slung on his right that snapped Charity from her near-trance.

In a rush of memories, she recalled the stories of her father’s death under the scalping knife and neighbors who’d suffered the same violent fate. No Indians had been spotted in their settlement since the Shawnee grew hostile and war had erupted nine years ago, but the warfare had ended. Hadn’t it?

Clenching ice-cold fingers, she dug her nails into her palms. “What in God’s name are you doing here?” she forced past the dry lump in her throat.

“Watching you.” 

Second Excerpt from RED BIRD'S SONG:

He slid the musket over his shoulder by a woven strap. A faint smile curved his lips. 

“You wish to go live among the trees? Come with me.”

Instinctively, Charity shied back.

The warrior closed the distance between them and extended a corded arm circled with twin bands of silver. His voice went from butter to grit. “Now.”

Musket shots cracked above the rapid water. War whoops rang through the trees. Charity scrambled back with a shriek.

He lunged at her. Jerked fully to life, she flung the basket at his chest and spun around. Catching up her skirts, she raced over the uneven ground along the river.

She had only the hair of a head start, but by heaven she could run. Hadn’t her brother, Craig, said as much?
Clinging to his praise, she tore through grass heavy with seed heads. The slap of her shoes and swish of her petticoats sounded alongside the rapid water. She sensed but didn’t hear the warrior’s stealthy pursuit. 

Dodging rocks masked by the haze, she hurtled across downed branches, risking a nasty fall. But what did that matter with the hound of hell snapping at her heels?

Faster! Heart pounding in her ears, she leapt over a moss-encrusted log and stumbled. Grabbing a bent sapling for support, she righted herself and sprang away through a blur of color. Her chest thudded. She could scarcely get her breath and shot a glance over her shoulder.

Lord, no! Her pursuer’s glove-like moccasins had the advantage over her square-toed shoes, as did his ground-covering strides. He rapidly narrowed the gap between them. God save her or she’d be killed and scalped like her father.

Summoning every ounce of speed, she spurted ahead, sides heaving, pain stabbing her chest. She flew around a bend in the river and stopped short. A prickly tangle of burdock and brambles blocked the path. She looked wildly around. No way through.
Shooting to the side, she clamored up the bank. Down she went, sliding over loose stones,lurching forward with outstretched hands and scraping her palms. 

She ignored the sting and scrambled up to pelt through tall grass and spikes of mullein. If she hid among the stand of cedars just ahead, he might not find—-too late. 

He’d come.
For more on the story behind Red Bird's Song~

RED BIRD'S SONG is available in digital download and print from

The Wild Rose Press & Amazon, Barnes & Noble and will travel on to other online booksellers.  Local bookstores can order it in.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Love Letters

“They do not love that do not show their love.” ~Shakespeare

” Love from one side hurts, but love from two sides heals.” ~Shakespeare

“So long as I can breathe or I can see, so long lives your love which gives life to me.” ~Shakespeare

“If music be the food of love, play on.”~Shakespeare

“So dear I love him that with him, all deaths I could endure. Without him, live no life.” ~Shakespeare

“Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:

O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.”~Shakespeare

“Men always want to be a woman’s first love – women like to be a  man’s last romance.” 
~ Oscar Wilde

Young love is from the earth, and late love is from heaven.” ~ Turkish Proverb

We always believe our first love is our last, and our last love our first.” ~ Anonymous

“We fit together so well…it’s like pieces of a puzzle, the way your hand fits the curve of my hip and the way my head rests on your shoulder, the way our hands just melt into one, and the way I feel complete when I’m with you…like the picture’s finally completed and I’ll never have to wonder what I’m missing.” ~ guitarequalslife

“True Love burns the brightest, But the brightest flames leave the deepest scars.”~Unknown

“True love is friendship — caught on fire.” ~GatechKato

“True love doesn’t have a happy ending, because true love never ends. Letting go is one way of saying I love you.” ~ arie

“There are two sorts of romantics: those who love, and those who love the adventure of loving.”
~ Lesley Blanch
“The quarrels of lovers are like summer showers that leave the country more verdant and beautiful.”
~ Susanne Curchod Necke

“He is not a lover who does not love forever.” ~ Unknown
“A lover may be a shadowy creature, but husbands are made of flesh and blood.”
~Amy Levy
“Love is the master key which opens the gates of happiness.”
~ Oliver Wendell Holmes
“Love me when I least deserve it, because that’s when I really need it.” ~Unknown

“One seeks to make the loved one entirely happy, or, if that cannot be, entirely wretched.” ~ Jean De La Bruyère

“All great lovers are articulate, and verbal seduction is the surest road to actual seduction” ~ Marya Mannes
“Just as in earthly life lovers long for the moment when they are able to breathe forth their love for each other, to let their souls blend in a soft whisper, so the mystic longs for the moment when in prayer he can, as it were, creep into God.” ~ Soren Kierkegaard

“For true love is inexhaustible; the more you give, the more you have. And if you go to draw at the true fountainhead, the more water you draw, the more abundant is its flow.” ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery

"True love always makes a man better, no matter what woman inspires it. ” ~Alexandre Dumas Père

“In true love the smallest distance is too great, and the greatest distance can be bridged.” ~ Hans Nouwens

*WW11 postcard from sailor to sweetheart

"Like an old photograph
Time can make a feeling fade
But the memory of a first love
Never fades away.”
~ Tim McGraw

"No one worth possessing can be quite possessed.”
~ Sara Teasdale

***Royalty free images

Dark Waltz - Hayley Westenra

Dark Waltz - by Hayley Westenra is one of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard, and this video and pics are lovely too.  I came across this over at YouTube.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Time Travel Romance Somewhere My Lass Featured On Barbara Vey's Blog At Publisher's Weekly

Somewhere My Lass by Beth Trissel
Read by joysann

Neal MacKenzie steps into his old family home to find his housekeeper slain. He also finds a beautiful unconscious woman dressed as if she came right out the the highlands of Scotland centuries earlier. Time has twisted and Mora has stepped through it to find the descendant of her affianced Niall, and the two of them work together to stop the murderous Red MacDonald from killing Niall before Neal can even exist.

Somewhere My Lass presents a convoluted time-twisting conundrum which becomes more intriguing as it goes along. I found the romance of it touching, the enigma baffling, and the resolution unexpected. A light, interesting blend of contemporary and historical fiction.