In a pickle

I had trouble settling down to work today — a touch nervous about tomorrow’s adventure, which I’ll likely post about on Thursday — so I did a mix of things. I did a chunk of freelance proofreading, and told the author she’ll have the file back Friday. Also did some cooking — a pot of beans, plus a dozen jars of sliced pickles. I was going to make salsa, too, or bake the latest recipe from Sparkle World with our daughter, but that seemed like a bit much.

Eventually settled enough to write 142 words. It’s not a lot, but it is progress.

And for those keeping track, six days until the kids are back in school (Monday). I have mixed emotions about this. On the one hand, peace and quiet and lack of interruptions will be sort of nice. On the other, I like being able to spend some time each day with them. (Of course, if I get a ton of words next week, the emotions won’t be mixed at all!)

And now, photos of the pickle process.

Canning tools

Cucumbers, dill, and garlic

Processing the jars

Finished product

It’s May, it’s May…

April went fast, didn’t it? Actually, the first third of the year vanished fairly quickly. I know I’ve been doing things (taxes always seem to rob me of early April), but the time always manages to surprise me.

Tonight, my daughter’s Brownies troop (Girl Scouts) are doing a Mother’s Day dinner. We were warned to bring appetites and told “all bets on diets are off 🙂 desserts will be served!” Which, of course, is why I’m posting my blog now, rather than doing it during her meeting while I wait for her (my usual m.o.). So, time with my daughter — first thing I’m grateful for today. Continue reading

Clockwork Cookie Blog Tour: Double Chocolate Irish Cream Cookies

Today’s special guest is Beth Cato, author of the forthcoming Clockwork Dagger. In addition to being an author who does wonderful steampunk cosplay, Beth cooks and posts marvelous recipes once a week on her blog.
Clockwork Dagger cover

Hi! I’m Beth Cato. I’m here to share some chocolaty delight and to introduce you to my book.

My debut novel, THE CLOCKWORK DAGGER, comes out September 16th from Harper Voyager. It’s a steampunk novel with airships, espionage, and a world tree that seriously plays favorites. Here’s the back cover summary:

Orphaned as a child, Octavia Leander was doomed to grow up on the streets until Miss Percival saved her and taught her to become a medician. Gifted with incredible powers, the young healer is about to embark on her first mission, visiting suffering cities in the far reaches of the war-scarred realm. But the airship on which she is traveling is plagued by a series of strange and disturbing occurrences, including murder, and Octavia herself is threatened.

Suddenly, she is caught up in a flurry of intrigue: the dashingly attractive steward may be one of the infamous Clockwork Daggers—the Queen’s spies and assassins—and her cabin-mate harbors disturbing secrets. But the danger is only beginning, for Octavia discovers that the deadly conspiracy aboard the airship may reach the crown itself.

You can also read the full first chapter over at It can be found at Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and most any independent bookstore.

Now, on to the cookies!

I’m an author, but I’m also somewhat infamous for my baking. Every Wednesday over at my site, I post a new recipe in my Bready or Not series.

These cookies use the Irish cream-flavored creamer you can find in the refrigerated section of most any grocery store in the States. Creamers are a secret weapon in all sorts of baked goods–just substitute them for milk, and amp up the texture and flavor!

Double Chocolate Irish Cream Cookies
modified from Irish Cream Triple Chunk Cookies at Something Swanky

Double Chocolate Irish Creamer CookiesIngredients
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 C Irish cream creamer
1/4 C butter, room temperature
1/4 C shortening
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg, room temperature
2 1/4 C all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups mixed chocolate chips OR chopped up candy bars

1) Preheat oven to 350-degrees. In a bowl, beat together the butter and shortening. Add the sugars and beat until creamy. Add the egg, creamer, and vanilla and mix well.

2) Mix in the flour, baking soda, and salt, just until a dough forms.

3) Add the chocolate chips and/or candy pieces. [If you want a thicker dough, chill it for a few hours or overnight.]

4) With a tablespoon scoop, place cookies on baking sheet. [If the dough is firm from being chilled, flatten the cookies with the bottom of a glass.] Sprinkle some sea salt on top, if you want, to contrast with the chocolate.

5) Bake for 10 to 13 minutes, until the tops are slightly tinted in color.


Beth CatoBeth Cato’s the author of THE CLOCKWORK DAGGER, a steampunk fantasy novel from Harper Voyager. Her short fiction is in InterGalactic Medicine Show, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Daily Science Fiction. She’s a Hanford, California, native transplanted to the Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, son, and requisite cat.

The taste of summer

Continuing the ice cream saga . . .

I ran across an article about the science of sorbets last week. It had a link to a peach sorbet recipe. I’d bought some of the most luscious freestone peaches at Wegmans, but my son and I ate most of them before I found the recipe. So instead, I went to Scholl Orchards, a farm stand around the corner. Sadly, they only had cling peaches, but I got two pounds of yellow peaches and one pound of white.

This weekend, I made the peach sorbet, mixing yellow and white peaches. The white are sweeter and juicier, and because the yellow aren’t as ripe as they could be, their color’s not very rich, either. I had to tweak the recipe a bit (1 teaspoon lime juice, an extra 1/4 cup of sugar), but it is incredible, even if it isn’t as pretty as the picture on Serious Eats. In fact, I’m going to have to make more within the next couple of days.

peach sorbet

It’s summertime and the ice cream is easy

One of my earlier memories is when my dad first got his ice cream maker — a huge (it seemed to me) wooden thing that ice and salt went in the outer ring of while the electric motor churned ingredients into ice cream. I think it was a Father’s Day present, and I was younger than my daughter is now. (At least, I’m pretty sure he got it while we were in Tonopah. I’m sure Mom will tell me if I’m wrong.) He had that same ice cream maker for decades; it moved across the state with us. I think it may even have still been around when he died. Strange how I’m less certain of that.

But ice cream was something my dad made, not something I ever did. He made it seem mystical, as if the slightest wrong move would mean no ice cream would result.

When my husband and I got married, among our gifts, we received a Cuisinart ice cream maker — also electric, but much smaller, and with no ice and salt requirement. We also got an ice cream cookbook, Ice Cream! The Whole Scoop That summer, we must have made two or three different flavors a week, and we had one party where we invited friends over for pizza (grilled!) and homemade ice cream. There was nothing magical about ice cream after all. Sort of. Continue reading

You ask, I answer, part one

Taking two questions from last week, one from Nicki and one from B.C:

1. Changing a tire without looking helpless.

First of all, don’t feel self-conscious. Changing a tire is something a lot of people never learn. And it’s been a while since I’ve had to do it, so I fully expect someone to come along and correct me in the comments for all the things I screw up. Continue reading

Small gratitude

A couple of years ago, I posted every Monday about things I’m grateful for. I might get back to that.

Today, I was starting to prep dinner when my daughter called me to come see something in the hall. I patted her on the head, and she asked, “Are we having salad and croutons for dinner?”

Turns out, she recognized the smell of green leaf lettuce on my hands.

She likes salad; this is one of her favorite dinners. I think it’s mostly the croutons and dressing (blue cheese for her) she likes, but she eats it all.

My son likes it, too, and likes all of it — lettuce, chicken breast meat, croutons, and dressing (he prefers creamy garlic Caesar).

I’m grateful it’s a healthy meal that everyone likes. And that my daughter can recognize the smell of lettuce.