Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Cookie Swap - Melanie Schuster
I was so thrilled to see LaShaunda’s clever idea of a holiday cookie recipe exchange. Christmas has always been one of my favorite times of the year and I’ve always loved to bake cookies. My mother was a fabulous cook and she was a true Martha Stewart way before anyone knew who Miss Martha was! We were as poor as church mice, but it didn’t stop her from making the season magical for us. She would decorate the house and make the most delicious food you can imagine. There were things we only got at Christmastime, like her ambrosia, cranberry-orange relish and inventive, imaginative cookies like the Candy Cane Cookies in the recipe I chose to share.
We had no idea we were poor, because she had a knack for selecting gifts we would cherish that didn’t cost and arm and a leg. There were always piles of packages for us to tear open and adore. Until I was an adult and began taking over the holiday preparations, I had no idea how hard she worked at it! She would even put on my daddy’s boots and go outside early in the morning so she could make big snowy footprints for us to find on Christmas morning, can you imagine?
By the way, the Candy Cane Cookies are a pain to make, but gather your little ones or nieces and nephews and grandchildren and give them a whirl. It will be a very special afternoon that they will remember forever, just like I will.
This will be my second Christmas without her and this one is much harder than last year, for some reason. I think I finally have to accept that she’s really gone and while it’s painful for me, I know she’s at peace and all her worries are gone. Somehow I feel like she’ll be watching me and her beloved granddaughters as we mess up every bowl and cookie sheet in the house and leave a cloud of flour and sugar in the kitchen.
I hope that you all are fortunate enough to spend the holidays with your family and friends and that you enjoy each and every minute of the time you spend together. There’s nothing more precious than the memories you make when you’re with the ones you love.
Wishing you all a Merry Little Christmas, a peaceful and spiritual Kwanzaa and the Happiest of New Years.
Before the Storm
My newest book makes its debut in January. It seems like the perfect time for this story because I always think of the beginning of the year as a time for a fresh start and that's just my both my couples get in Before the Storm. The back cover copy doesn't tell you this, but you get double the passion with this book because the story is about TWO very loving and sexy couples.
Julian MacArthur Deveraux, Sr. is known to everyone as Mac. He’s been a widower since his children were very young. He's dated over the years, but no one ever came close to capturing his heart. That all changed when he met Ruth Bennett. Ruth is vibrant, sophisticated and beautiful and Mac knows at once this is the woman he's been waiting for. Ruth isn't quite as sure as Julian, however. Ruth has never married and she's so independent that she has serious doubts about whether she can be in the kind of relationship Julian wants. But in true Deveraux fashion, Mac shows her the kind of love and passion they can share. Once he breaks down her resistance, Ruth knows she's found the kind of love most women only dream about and she knows they'll be together for a lifetime.
Julian Deveraux, Jr. is the oldest of Mac's five children and the only one who has ever been married. He was madly in love with Maya Simmons and she returned that love. They were blissfully happy in their marriage until something happened to shatter their love. Maya left New Orleans and went back to Connecticut where she filed for divorce. No one in the family knew the details of their break-up and if Julian's sister Paris hadn't run into Maya in Chicago, it might have stayed that way. But Maya is tired of keeping the secret she's hidden from Julian all the years they were apart and she asks Paris and Ruth to help her tell Julian what she's been keeping from him.
So both couples get together in Chicago and when Julian gets over his initial shock, he has a surprise for Maya, a little secret of his own that changes the course of both their lives forever.
Before the Storm is a story rich with passion, sensuality and love that can't be denied. The Louisiana Deveraux men show that once they've found the right woman, they'll move heaven and earth to have her, no matter what it takes. If you've read the other books in the series, you'll be delighted with this continuation. And if you’re a new reader, you'll love getting to know these warm, loving people. I hope my latest work gets your New Year off to a happy and romantic beginning.
Thank you for all your support since my first book, Lucky in Love. Wishing you all Luck, Love and Laughter for 2007 and beyond.
Candy Cane Cookies
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
3 1/2 cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon red food color
2 tablespoons finely crushed peppermint candies
2 tablespoons sugar
1. Stir together 1 cup sugar, the butter, milk, vanilla, peppermint extract and egg in large bowl. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt. Divide dough in half. Stir food color into 1 half. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours.
2. Heat oven to 375ºF.
3. Stir together peppermint candy and 2 tablespoon sugar; set aside.
4. For each candy cane, shape 1 rounded teaspoon dough from each half into 4-inch rope by rolling back and forth on floured surface. Place 1 red and white rope side by side; press together lightly and twist. Place on ungreased cookie sheet; curve top of cookie down to form handle of cane.
5. Bake 9 to 12 minutes or until set and very light brown. Immediately sprinkle candy mixture over cookies. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.
(Total time will vary; cook or bake time is per batch.)
Don't forget to stop by the Buy A Book For Christmas Room to purchase her book.
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