Showing posts with label Joyce and Jim Lavene. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Joyce and Jim Lavene. Show all posts

Saturday, December 20, 2014

A Yule Time Feast of Witches

A very warm welcome to Joyce and Jim Lavene!Cozy covers are usually wonderful. But I have to admit that this cover grabbed my attention as soon as I saw it. I can't believe the wonderful detail. And I think the theme is such fun – retired witches! What a great idea! The first in the Retired Witches Mystery series, SPELL BOOKED, was released this month. Here's Joyce Lavene to tell us more about it.

The Yule was celebrated before the birth of Christ, usually between the 20th and 23rd of December, as part of the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere. It is said to be the time when the dark part of the year gives way to the light. On Solstice Night, the longest night of the year, witches, pagans and Wiccans celebrate the birth of the Oak or Sun King with merriment and feasting.
Bonfires are lit, and toasts of spiced cider are passed. Apples and oranges spiked with cloves are laid in baskets of evergreen and wheat to symbolize sun, light, and life. Holly and ivy decorate the inside and outside of the house as an invitation for bright blessings to come.
From these traditions comes the Yule log which may never be bought – only given or harvested from your land. Once dragged into the house, it is decorated in greenery and dusted with flour, doused with cider before being lit by a piece of the last year’s Yule log. The log should burn through the night and the embers should smolder for the next 12 days.
Herbs for the Yule celebrations include bayberry, evergreen, holly, laurel, mistletoe, pine, oak, sage and cedar.
Some foods for the Yule celebration include pork, turkey, fruits, nuts, cookies and caraway cakes. Eggnog, cider, wassail, and ginger tea are the drinks that wash down the feast.
Sound familiar?
Christmas isn’t so very different. Good food. Good friends. Family, gathered around us as we celebrate the season. Many witches find the Christmas season too commercial, but so do many Christians!
Today, I’m making caraway cakes for my Yule celebration, just as the three witches in our new Retired Witches Mystery, would be. Caraway has a sharp aroma which is frequently confused with fennel. The seeds are commonly used in rye bread. Raw caraway seed aids in digestion and has been used as a healing herb for thousands of years. Caraway cakes are tender and slightly sweet.


Caraway Cakes

1½ cups flour (plain or self-rising)
2 teaspoons baking powder (leave out if you use self-rising flour)
1 cup granulated sugar (or sweetener) PLUS 2 tablespoons for the top
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons caraway seeds
¼ cup cold butter
¾ cup milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg, beaten

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. This cake is good made in a loaf pan or Bundt pan for easy slicing. 
Be sure to grease it well.
--> Mix dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Add caraway seeds. 
Mix in cold butter with a fork or pastry blender
In a separate bowl, combine the milk, vanilla and egg. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the liquids. Mix until the ingredients are moistened and add to the baking pan.
Sprinkle the two tablespoons of granulated sugar (or sweetener) over the top and bake about 30 minutes. Cool and enjoy!
My Yule log is ready, and the house is scented with the aromas of pine and herbs. I imagine our witches – Molly, Elsie, and Dorothy – are getting ready for the celebration too. Happy Yule!

Joyce and Jim Lavene write award-winning, best-selling mystery fiction. Their current mystery is Spell Booked, where the ‘Golden Girls’ of mystery meet ‘Bewitched’ as three witches of a certain age search for their friend’s killer, and their stolen spell book.

Joyce and Jim are giving away a copy of SPELL BOOKED to one lucky winner today. To enter, leave a comment, preferably with your e-address so they can contact you. Good luck! 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Herb Crusted Eggplant

A very warm welcome to Joyce and Jim Lavene, a husband and wife bestselling mystery writing team. They have written and published more than 60 novels for Harlequin, Berkley and Charter Books along with hundreds of non-fiction articles for national and regional publications. They live in rural North Carolina with their family, their cat, Quincy, and their rescue dog, Rudi. They enjoy photography, watercolor, gardening and long drives.

Their next mystery is Buried By Buttercups, a Peggy Lee Mystery.

And now -- Joyce!

I come from a proud family of Southern gardeners and cooks. My mother was from Charleston, South Carolina and she grew up going out to the farm to pick produce when she was young.

She and her mother, along with her brothers and sisters, spent whole days picking tomatoes, green peppers, corn, and eggplant. They were very poor and this provided them with some spending money - also fresh fruit and vegetables.

Even when my mother could afford to buy her own produce, she grew everything she could. Her yard was filled with fruit trees and vegetables. It was important to her that she ate as much fresh food as she could.

She rubbed off on me, I guess. When I grew up, I became a Master Gardener and enjoyed growing fresh food too. I put as much of that information as I could into the Peggy Lee Garden Mysteries.

Peggy Lee is a botanist who specializes in botanical poisons. She owns a small garden shop in Charlotte, North Carolina and helps the police solve mysteries with her knowledge. Her next book is Buried By Buttercups, out in October 2012.

Peggy loves herbs and spices. I think she’d enjoy this recipe.

Making Herb Crusted Eggplant

I know a lot of people don’t like eggplant. I’m a vegetarian and I’m always looking for new ways to make vegetables. I think you’ll find that you don’t have to ‘like’ eggplant to enjoy this.

You’ll need one eggplant. Cut off the top and bottom then thinly peel off the purple skin. Cut the eggplant into thick slices, about one quarter inch.

You’ll also need about a quarter cup of olive oil, one and a half cups of plain, dry breadcrumbs, five tablespoons of fresh, chopped, basil, two tablespoons of fresh parsley and two tablespoons fresh rosemary, one teaspoon of salt, and pepper to taste.

Mix breadcrumb/herb mixture in a bowl. Use the olive oil to coat the eggplant slices then put each side of the slices into the breading mixture. Bake for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees or until eggplant is tender and crust is brown.

These make delicious sandwiches or a great side dish with pasta or potatoes. One eggplant serves about four people.
Thanks for having me here!


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