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Take Time To Remember

By Gini Raineycookbook_junkie[1]

Christmas is doing a slow “creep-in” at our house this year.  Over the last couple of days the lights have been getting put up around our yard, and today the Christmas tree showed up in the den.  I like the “pacing of ourselves” that we seem to be doing, rather than having it all hit at once like we usually do.  This way, we can take the time to look at each ornament and remember the history behind it.  After all, that’s what this season is all about – history and memories- some good and some not so good.  But remember, we all still have the opportunity to make some excellent memories, if not for ourselves, then for those around us.

I think one of my most favorite Christmas memories are the parties that my grandmother and aunt would have every year for “the little relatives,” as me and my cousins were referred to.  I’m not exactly sure what we did at those parties, but the one thing that stands out in my mind the most were the mittens that Auntie Evie had knit for all of us that were hanging from the doorway to the dining room.  Not only did we get those warm, woolen mittens, but there were always several pennies down inside those mittens – oh and jingle bells – there were always jingle bells in the mittens.  Can you imagine children these days getting excited over a gift like that?

So, it’s not surprising that as I was flipping through today’s cookbook “No Jacket Required” it seemed as though the words Christmas and holiday seemed to jump right off the pages at me.  This book, a collection from InCircle, some of Neiman
jacketMarcus’ best customers, was published in 1995 by the Neiman Marcus Group and was the third compilation put together to help raise funds for worthy causes. A portion of the proceeds from this book was donated to Literacy Volunteers of America, Inc.  “No Jacket Required” reflects the casual elegance that seems to define the style of cooking and entertaining that we all enjoy today.

One of those recipes that popped out at me was for Applesauce Cake and was contributed by Joyce Pate Capper from Fort Worth.  She commented “If you’re tired of giving (or getting) recycled fruit cakes, this is the answer….the aroma makes everyone feel as if the holidays are already here.”  Which leads me to ask the eternal question: “Do people really recycle fruit cakes – or as we say these days, re-gift fruit cakes?”

Her recipe is as follows: Preheat oven to 350° and generously grease a bundt pan.  Dissolve 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda in ½ cup brandy, wine, or hot water and set aside.  In a large mixing bowl cream ½ cup butter and 2 cups of sugar with an electric mixer.  Dust 1 cup of raisins and 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans with flour and add to the butter mixture.  To this mixture add 2 ½ cups flour. 1 teaspoon ground allspice, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground cloves, 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 2 cups of applesauce, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 2 tablespoons cocoa, along with the brandy/soda and mix well.  Pour into the bundt pan and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.  You’re going to love this and you can make it ahead and freeze for those crazy days of Christmas.

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From book signings to Meet & Greet’s, Tyler  offers every Book Lover a lot of fun things to do. Check out these events:

For more events, check out ‘s entire

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Reading the Kids Back to School

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By Gini Rainey

“Mischief and Mayhem: Part I of the Faerlands Chronicles”

by S. D. Nicholson

I think you know me by now to know that magical kingdoms and fantasy are not the usual genre of reading that I reach for.  So, when I was approached by the author’s publicist to read and review this book, I wasn’t even aware it fell into this area.  With that being said, I must admit that I have thoroughly enjoyed and been intrigued by the characters and tiny world that Mr. Nicholson has created in his first book.  Without a doubt, the main character, the tiny fae Ophelia, is every bit a heroine as are her six-foot tall counterparts.

I have no doubt in my mind that while the faes and faers of Nicholson’s book are In a struggle to preserve and maintain peace in their homeland, it is also analogous to the struggles we humans face on a daily basis while trying to attain a peaceful coexistence with the other inhabitants of this big blue marble.

The not so terribly hidden messages in Nicholson’s book came through loud and clear to me:  that if we spend quiet time by ourselves, we will be able to find and explore fully what our capabilities are, and additionally, fight for what we hold near and dear.  This is an outstanding read.  Not only will it capture your imagination, but it will also have you start thinking about what undeveloped talents and truths you might not have discovered about yourself.

I read the teaser at the end of the book and am anxious to read Part 2 of the Faerlands Chronicles!

5 of 5 – Copyright 2019 – Köhler Books

“Big Little Lies”

by Liane Moriarty

This book from which the HBO series starring Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman was adapted, is a pretty slow starter.  Working backwards from an event, the first third of this book was busy building strong characters, exposing bullies (adult-sized and pint-sized), failed and new relationships, and various points of view about the culmination of events.  As usual, Ms. Moriarty isn’t afraid to cooly broach hot topics: blended families, sexual assault, violence against women and children, all carefully tempered with unexpected humor and human emotions.

Set in a rather cliquish, upper-end Australian beach community, the human interests begin to develop by retrospect following a murder at the exclusive private school.  Liane develops some pretty interesting characters using her very successful skills and creating some of the most flawed people this side of Sidney.

Definitely worth the read for anyone with school-aged children as it brings together three moms whose only commonality is their kindergarten-aged children. While pointing out each of the character’s flaws, Moriarty gently has a couple of fingers pointing at the helicopter-parenting skills of modern-day moms that perhaps are creating our current crop of young adults who are clueless.

Without a doubt, this is yet another in a long stream of controversial topics that Liane Moriarty isn’t afraid of writing about and the plot twist at the end will keep you reading till the final page.

5 of 5 – Copyright 2014 – Berkley

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A Good Pounding!

By Gini Rainey

Good grief, that’s exactly what I deserve.  I have been so over-whelmed with life in the past few months – okay, this year – that I have neglected to do what I love doing – writing!  So, apparently it took an email to our editor/publisher to get me off high center.  She forwarded this email to me on June 24th and it comes from an editor named Jess Miller who just happens to be associated with  Jen Reviews is the authority on everything food, fitness and home and has been featured in some mind-blowing (my mind, anyway!) publications such as Forbes, Fast Company, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan, Greatist, Reader’s Digest, MindBodyGreen, Livestrong, Bustle, Lifehacker, Wikihow, and oh my goodness, many many more. 

Jess email says “I was doing research on pound cake recipes and just finished reading your wonderful blog post: In that article, I noticed that you cited a solid post that I’ve read in the past:  We just published a delicious cranberry pound cake with orange glaze recipe complete with step-by-step pictures and detailed instructions. It is completely free and you can find it here:  If you like the recipe we’d be humbled if you cited us in your article.” 

The gauntlet was thrown and I tried it.  I baked it last night and it is yummy.  Of course, knowing me, you know I have to pull in a cookbook of some sort, and for those of you out there who don’t know where the name “Pound Cake” comes from, I pulled out my earliest reference that I have, which is a replica of “American Cookery” written by Amelia Simmons in 1796. It’s really interesting to leaf through this book and try to read some of the recipes.  It is actually a photocopy of the original and along with various spots and stains, the letter “f” is used in place of the letter “s.”  Originally, a pound cake called for one pound of sugar, one pound of butter, one pound of flour, one pound or ten eggs, one gill of rose water and spices to your taste. (Hence pound cake!) We are told to watch it well (remember – wood burning stoves/ovens back then) It will bake in a slow oven in 15 minutes. 

The recipe referred to by Jess is a bit different and perhaps produces a much lighter version than the 1796 version.  What you will need to do to make Jess’s recipe is to begin with a 350° pre-heated oven and a lightly greased and floured 12×4 inch loaf pan.  Then in a bowl, whisk together 1 ¾ cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder and ¼ teaspoon salt.  In another bowl, cream 9 ounces of softened butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon orange zest until light and fluffy.  Then slowly add in 4 eggs plus 2 yolks (at room temp), followed by 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar. Then alternating between the flour mixture and ¼ cup room temp milk, gradually add to the sugar/egg mixture.  Lightly dredge in flour 1 ¼ cups of washed and dried fresh cranberries (because fresh cranberries aren’t on the market at this time, I substituted rehydrated dried cranberries and I think they did well) and gently fold into the mixture.  Pour into the pan and bake for 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  For the glaze, combine 2 cups of powdered sugar with 2 ½ tablespoons of fresh orange juice, and using a small spoon, drizzle over the completely cooled cake. 

This is one yummy cake – the unexpected tartness is a wonderful compliment to the buttery richness of the cake and would serve you well at a winter holiday meal – or even right now in the middle of the hot Texas summer along with a bowl of home-made ice cream! 

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