Tuesday, November 29, 2011

New Book in Stores and The Reader Posse

I read an interesting article about reader posses yesterday. It's sort of the modern day equivalent of a fan club. I think it's a cool idea (and not just because I love the idea of having a posse, LOL), but because it makes sense in today's world where word of mouth is often the best advertising. Basically, you have a select group of readers/fans who get copies of your books in advance, on the agreement that they will read it, then blog about it/talk about it/spread the word. I have a few friends who do this just because they like my books, but think having an official "posse" is a cool idea.

What do you think? Would you be interested in something like that?

And on another note, my newest Riverbend book is out in stores today! It's always cool to go to the grocery store and see my book on the shelves! And if you notice, the price at Meijer (which is where I was today) is reduced, just like at Wal-Mart. A bargain! And a great stocking stuffer if I say so myself!

For those of you who have loved the Riverbend books, this is Livia's story (who made a quick appearance in Midnight Kiss, New Year Wish). Edward, the banquet hall owner is also back, but not the man he was months before, after a tragedy that deeply impacted him. And reader favorites Earl and Betsy are back as well, and getting a little spice in their romance ;-)

For an excerpt go here, and here to buy the book (available in stores everywhere and in Nook, Kindle, etc.).

Hope you all are keeping warm wherever you are! We're supposed to get our first snowfall of the year this afternoon, but they swear it's not going to stick. :-)


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Melted Snowman Cookies

This year for Thanksgiving we are going to a family member's house for dessert, and I figured everyone will bring pie, so why not make something different? I had seen these cookies on the Crazy Domestic blog and was dying to try them.

I bought Royal Icing mix at the cake decorating store. It was WAY cheaper than buying meringue powder to make my own (Royal Icing mix was $2, the meringue powder was nearly $8) and bought four tubes of frosting to decorate (black, orange, green and red).

I'm not much of a baker, at not at all a decorater, but I did have fun making these. My son did the hair (and then we all had a laugh at how everyone kinda looked like Ron Weasley). :-)

Hope you all have a great Thanksgiving tomorrow! I'll be brining my turkey soon :-)


Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving Success! Rerun

This has been my Thanksgiving plan for three years in a row, so I thought I'd rerun the tips. I have changed this slightly--in that I bought the brining bags at the store instead of using a pail (Farberware makes them and they were in the aisle with the roasters and kitchen twine, etc.). I have had success every time I use this recipe. Buying a fresh bird makes life ten times easier, but I have in a pinch defrosted a frozen bird and then brined it.

(and as an aside, for those of you who are friends with me on Facebook, on Monday I posted a link to my blog and a friend who is a professional chef shared his tips for brining, so check that out!)

Thanksgiving was a HUGE success in my house. Brining the bird was DA BOMB and I highly recommend it. I mean, HIGHLY recommend it. I have never had a juicier, more delicious turkey--it was beyond simple to cook, and twelve people devoured nearly an entire 21-pound bird. Lots of going back for seconds and thirds that day!

Take notes if you want for next year, because here's how I did it (and managed to have a LOT of relaxation time on the big day, too):

Wednesday Night: Brine the Bird (in the fridge by 8pm)
Equipment needed: 5-gallon pail from Lowe's or Home Depot
Alton Brown's recipe for Brining from I'm Just Here for the Food
(which involves essentially cooking some water, brown sugar, peppercorns, bay leaves and kosher salt, then cooling and adding to the bucket).
Plus: 3 gallons ice water and 1 1/2 cups kosher salt

Thursday Timeline:
7:00 a.m.: Remove bird from Brining Liquid
Preheat oven
Dry bird, stuff with an onion, celery sticks. Brush whole bird with melted butter, then tent with foil, stick a meat thermometer in it, then put the bird in the oven.

8:00 a.m.: Cook sausage for stuffing, chop vegetables for stuffing (celery, carrots and onions), then cook when sausage is done. Add dried cranberries, leave to cool and set aside

8:15 a.m.: Peel 8 pounds of potatoes and start boiling them for mashed potatoes

8:45 a.m.: Start simple syrup for kids' Floating Island Punch
Put Frozen raspberries, pink lemonade and sugar in bowl to thaw for Poinsettia Punch for grownups :-)

9:30 a.m.: Mash potatoes and put in crock-pot--done till 11:15 a.m. (take a nap, read the ads for Black Friday shopping...I do all my house cleaning on Wednesday, so I'm chilling for these two hours)

11:30 a.m.: remove foil tent from turkey, baste with more butter and turn oven temp up to 425 degrees
Start green beans (I made a healthy version, which I can post later)
Start Citrus-Glazed Carrots

12:15 p.m.: Assemble stuffing

12:30 p.m.: Remove turkey from oven and let set
Put rolls in oven
Put stuffing in oven
Make gravy

1:00 p.m.: Serve and eat ;-)

My MIL made the pies, and I had baked cookies on Wednesday night, so all the rest was done ahead of time. I usually make the pies a day or two ahead of time, but this time someone else did them, so I was saved that chore. This turkey was SO SO good, though. I just can't even tell you ;-)

How was your Thanksgiving? Was it a huge success? I do dishes as I go, and run the dishwasher about halfway through so that everyone can eat on real plates. Clean-up is still a lot of work, but it's not AS bad as it could be.

And if you want to read about my Black Friday adventures, I posted on RTB today about them!