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Showing posts from August, 2014

The Bread That Wouldn't Rise : English Muffin Toasting Bread: King Arthur Flour

I've been baking bread all summer long and loving the experience. However, not all of my breads have been this one. 

Up until now, I've only made long-rise, no-knead breads via my baking hero and no-knead baking pioneer, Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery.

However, recently I discovered King Arthur Flour's wonderful baking website where they feature a plethora of recipes and a baker's blog where you can go to ask questions about the most common baking fails that home bakers encounter on a specific recipe...which is exactly where I'm headed after I post this recipe.

Here's a link to the bread I chose, specifically because it is easy to assemble and bake, a good hurdle for what would be my first non-no-knead bread:

English Muffin Toasting Bread: King Arthur Flour

As you can see, I tried it twice and failed twice. I followed the directions exactly, so I'm not sure if it was the common issue of baking at 8,000 feet above sea level or something…

A Map of Heaven Preview: "What if you woke from a dream with a flower in your hand?"

What if you slept? And what if in your sleep, you dreamed? And what if in your dream, you went to Heaven? And there, plucked a strange and beautiful flower? And, what if, when you awoke you had the flower in your hand?

My Very Own Food Revolution: It Started with a Container Garden

These beautiful tomatoes are from my container garden. My very first vegetable garden which started out as one tomato plant, one rosemary plant, and a basil plant (which quickly died).

My container garden has grown exponentially. I now have five different heirloom tomato plants, strawberries, arugula, red lettuce, eggplant, acorn squash, zucchini, wax beans, red peppers, jalapeño peppers, all sorts of herbs. 

The point is: I started small and took baby steps. And I have a notoriously black thumb....I kill plants just looking at them. Yet, despite my best efforts, these wonderful vegetables continued to grow. And as I enjoyed each little harvest, they inspired me to change my diet.

I used to be the type of eater who struggled to incorporate "Meat-less Mondays" into my diet. Now, I eat vegetable-based meals at least five days a week. 
From my local library, I've discovered arm-loads of cookbooks that have taught me how to cook delicious vegetable-based meals that are so c…

Do You Believe that Good Can Come From Your Hardship?

Are you going through a hardship, a crisis with your health, or family, or job?  I want to strongly encourage you to take time today to watch this week's message from Charles Stanley. Here's a link to the video on
For the past six months, I have been struggling with career decisions and a career path that I thought was right, has dried up. Honestly, it feels like all I do is pray and hear God's silence. Which is why I was drawn in when I heard the topic of Dr. Stanley's message this week.
When I'm in the middle of a crisis, it's difficult to believe that things will ever get better, or that what I'm going through will eventually lead to something better. 
Yet, when I look back on my life, I can honestly say that that has always been the case. I couldn't see it in the moment, but afterward, it was always true.
It's just hard to hold onto that truth when you are in the middle of your darkest time and the situation seems to be getting worse…

What's It About? - A Peek Behind the Cover of A MAP OF HEAVEN

Contemporary women's fiction with a spiritual twist
I will be launching  A MAP OF HEAVEN in December 2014.
Between now and then, I'll be giving you a glimpse behind the scenes of the novel and its creation.
Subscribe to my blog to be notified of upcoming giveaways!
And now...a first glimpse at A MAP OF HEAVEN
What would you do if you had one week to live and a lifetime of unrealized dreams to fulfill?
A series of blinding headaches sends thirty-four year old Elizabeth to the hospital, where she is given the death sentence of an inoperable glioblastoma. Defying her doctor’s order, Elizabeth heads to Paris in search of a different from of healing and one last chance to experience the life she locked away with her paintings.
A MAP OF HEAVEN traces Elizabeth’s choice. 
In Paris, her days are filled with a budding romance with a doctor who is escaping his own demons. Her nights contain dreams of a maze, rooms filled with turning points from her past, and letters urging her to save her life…

Rosemary Cheese Bread - Easy No-Knead Method

The best bread I've ever made...another winning recipe adapted from Jim Lahey's My Bread

2 1/2 cups bread flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 1/2 cups half-inch cubes of your favorite semi-soft cheese, I used comte and some dried out bits of brie and rind that I had. Be adventurous and try your favorite combinations!
1 1/3 - 1/2 cups of cool water
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1 Tablespoon finely minced rosemary
3/4 teaspoon yeast


1. Whisk together dry ingredients and cheese in a large bowl.

2. Slowly pour water into the dry ingredients and using your hand or a spoon, form the dough into a wet ball.

3. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or kitchen towel and let the dough rise in a warm area of the kitchen for 12 - 18 hours.

4. Scrape dough onto a well-floured surface, gently knead two or three times into another ball and place seam-side down on a kitchen towel dusted with flour or corn meal. Let dough go through second rise for 2 hours.


The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Mary holds a special place in my I was especially pleased when I arrived at Friday morning Mass to find that today is a celebration of her Assumption into Heaven.
I've included two of the Bible readings from today's Mass because they are especially beautiful.

Reading 1RV 11:19A; 12:1-6A, 10AB

God’s temple in heaven was opened,
and the ark of his covenant could be seen in the temple.

A great sign appeared in the sky, 
a woman clothed with the sun, with  the moon under her feet,and on her  head a crown of twelve stars.
She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth.
Then another sign appeared in the sky;
it was a huge red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns,
and on its heads were seven diadems.
Its tail swept away a third of the stars in the sky
and hurled them down to the earth.
Then the dragon stood before the woman about to give birth,
to devour her child when she gave birth.
She gave birth to a son, a male child,
destined to rule all the nations with…

Feeling Depressed AFTER Surgery? You are Not Alone

On August 1st, I went into the hospital for a breast lumpectomy. I checked in at 10 a.m. and was home in bed by 7p.m.

In the week leading up to surgery and in the week afterward, while I waited for the pathology reports that would tell me the results of the lumpectomy, I was pretty upbeat. I felt that I was prepared to deal with whatever the test results revealed, I felt we had discovered the atypical cells early and that if pre-cancer or cancer cells were found, I would deal with whatever next steps were required. I felt brave and ready for the battle.

A week later I received the pathology report: no pre-cancer or cancer cells, just more of the atypical cells. Next, I'll meet with an oncologist in September and decide what to do next.

This is pretty good news. And on the day that I received the report I was understandably happy and relieved!

What was very unexpected was my reaction the following week...I felt depressed. I had all the classic symptoms:

fatigueinsomnialack of desir…

Broccoli Cheese Soup for Grownups

Gruyere cheese and a healthy splash of wine turns this into a sophisticated soup...
I'm not a big fan of cheddar cheese, so I like to substitute it whenever possible for the sharper taste of my favorite Gruyere cheese. 
What goes better with cheese, than wine? I found this combination elevates the broccoli cheese soup to a perfect weeknight light dinner for grownups. Enjoy with a glass of the same wine you use in the soup. 
4 Tablespoons butter 1 medium onion diced 1/4 cup all-purpose flour 2 cups half n half 2 cups milk 1 lb broccoli florets 2 cups grated gruyere cheese 1/4 cup white (or red) wine 2 garlic cloves minced grated nutmeg, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper to taste
four bread 'bowls' 

1. Gently sauté onion in butter for 2-3 minutes until tender. Sprinkle in flour and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes until flour is cooked.
2. Add milk and half n half, stir for one minute. Add broccoli florets, nutmeg, salt, pepper, and pinch of cayenn…

Good News!

GOOD NEWS! My pathology report just came back and they only found atypical cells, no cancer or pre-cancer! Now I just have to meet with the oncologist to discuss what's next, whether to start tamoxifen or not. Thank you for your prayers and encouragement! Praise God!
I am reminded of the verses from the Psalm I shared with you two weeks ago...
Although they go forth weeping, carrying the seed to be sown, They shall come back rejoicing, carrying their sheaves. R. Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.

We are rejoicing today!
Please be diligent about getting your yearly mammogram. 
And be proactive about taking care of your health!