Wednesday, September 4, 2013
My New Cover & and an Excerpt!
I'm thrilled to show off the new cover of my next release, FIRST AND AGAIN, coming October 7, 2013 from Carina Press. Here's a blurb:
Bridget Grant is back in Paradise. Paradise, North Dakota, that is.
She’s swallowed her pride and moved back to her hometown with her daughter after her divorce and the loss of her catering company. Now she’s trying to navigate the strained relationships she’d left behind – including her first love, Jack Davison.
Jack never forgot Bridget, or the day she left town – and him. When Bridget caters a lunch at Jack’s tourist ranch, old flames reignite. They have more in common than ever – Jack’s also a single parent. Though they both try to keep things casual, Bridget, Jack and their girls are starting to look a lot like a family.
But Bridget’s only planning to stay in Paradise until she’s saved enough to relaunch her business. Jack’s invested too much in his ranch to leave. And with their daughters involved both have a lot more at stake than heartbreak. How can they risk falling in love?
I was in a baking mood today, so I wanted to share a scene from FIRST AND AGAIN where Bridget learns to bake a flaky, mouth-watering pie crust:
Martha hummed as she used a knife to cut the block of shortening into dice-sized bits. A moment later she switched to a pastry blender and began to mix the flour and shortening with surprising strength. She attacked the mixture with enthusiasm, working her way around and to the bottom of the bowl in a fast chopping motion.
“My mother used to say you had to be quick and fierce to bake a good pie.”
“I see what you mean,” Bridget said. “I never thought of baking pies as an aerobic activity before.”
Martha laughed. “You can mix the next batch. I’m nearly worn-out already.”
“I’m sorry. Are you all right? You’ve been standing for too long. I’ll get your wheelchair.”
“No, no, don’t fuss,” she said. “I can rest later. Right now we have work to do. Get me a glass of ice water.
“Now, watch carefully,” Martha commanded, after Bridget handed her the glass. Her hands shook slightly as she added the ice water to the flour and shortening mixture, a tablespoon at a time, in different spots in the bowl. She handed Bridget a fork.
“Here, you try it. Stir as hard and fast as you can.”
She stirred vigorously as Martha supervised.
“If you have enough water the dough will start to form a ball,” she said. She added another tablespoon and nodded her head in satisfaction.
“That should do it.”
She was right. By some miracle, the mixture now resembled something approximating pie dough. Martha took the dough into her hands and shaped it into a more uniform ball before cutting it in half and placing half on a plastic pastry sheet sprinkled generously with flour.
“The fewer strokes you use to work the dough, the flakier it will be.”
After flattening the dough a little with her hand, Martha covered it with a piece of waxed paper and began vigorously rolling with a wooden rolling pin. Bridget marveled once again at her stamina as she worked quickly and with some strength, starting from the middle and pushing the dough out in all directions. She soon formed a thin circle of pastry.
“Now the moment of truth,” Martha said. She peeled off the waxed paper, then gently folded the circle of pastry in half. Lifting the folded half over a pie plate, she carefully unfolded the pastry over the plate.
“Beautiful.” She gently worked the dough to the bottom and sides of the pie plate and then took a sharp knife to trim the excess.
Gladys brought a bowl of filling to the table. “This is my mother’s recipe for apple pie filling. She always made wonderful pies.” She spooned the filling into the empty pie shell while Martha began rolling the top.
When she finished rolling, Martha placed the top over the filling, crimped the edges together with her fingers, and then cut small vents in the top in the shape of bird tracks. Bridget took the pie to the preheated oven. She’d taken meticulous notes and was anxious to sample their creation and see if it passed the taste test.
Rebecca and Leslie breezed into the kitchen, holding hands and giggling. Bridget had made arrangements for Rebecca to hitch a ride on the school bus with Leslie after school. Martha chuckled and pointed a bony finger at the girls.
“There’s two more strong pie makers. Wash your hands and come help us with the next batch.”
Leslie cheered while Rebecca’s eyes widened in disbelief. “But I don’t like cooking.”
Martha waved away her objections. “You like to eat, don’t you?”
“Well, yeah but—”
“Then if you plan on feeding yourself, you need to learn to cook.” She sat ramrod straight in her wheelchair and gave Rebecca an imperious wave. “Now go wash up.”
The look of horror on her daughter’s face made Bridget laugh. “You heard the lady. Go wash your hands.”
Gladys took Leslie by the hand. “Come with me. We’ll soon get you cleaned up and turned into little kitchen helpers.”
Rebecca followed them to the washroom, throwing her mother a doleful glance as she left. Bridget chuckled when she disappeared around the corner. “Now if I’d said that to her she’d likely stomp off and spend the rest of the afternoon sulking.”
“That’s one good thing about being as old as I am,” Martha said with a wheezing laugh. “No one will dare argue with you.”
The girls soon emerged from the washroom and Gladys found each of them a bibbed apron. Bridget hid her smile at the picture they made. Leslie pranced excitedly in the apron that covered her from her chin to her ankles, while Rebecca looked as if she’d rather be mucking out stalls.
“There now, you look like you’re ready to go.” Martha wheeled her chair next to the table. “Bring your ingredients over here. The counter’s too high for me.”
The girls obediently did as they were told. As Bridget made her next batch of pastry at the counter following the directions Martha had given her, she listened and watched with amazement as both girls followed instructions. She wasn’t surprised at Leslie’s enthusiasm but Rebecca’s transformation was nothing short of remarkable.
“Work it harder, girl! The faster you mix it, the flakier it will be.”
“Like this, Mrs. Kowalchuk?” She could see Rebecca’s arm energetically working the dough.
“Just like that, dear. We’re going to make pie makers out of you girls yet. And call me Martha. Everybody does.”
An hour and a half later they sampled the fruits of their labor. Bridget closed her eyes and sighed as the pastry melted in her mouth. The filling was sweet without being cloying and was just the right texture.
She smiled at the two older women and the two young girls. Apparently it took a village not only to raise a child, but to teach her how to bake a pie.
FIRST AND AGAIN is available for Pre-order at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Have a great day everyone!