Thursday, September 23, 2010

Whirlwind Weekend in Indy

Four days at the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference in Indianapolis left my head spinning, but definitely in a GOOD way! The whole experience was a God-given gift, filled with learning, laughter, seeing old friends, meeting new ones, worshipping together and pitching my book to editors. Once again, my sister Patt joined me for the conference. Her presence is always the icing on the cake. Our keynote speaker was Tim Downs, an amazing author who is funny, inspirational and encouraging. We each received a copy of his new book, Wonders Never Cease. Can't wait to read it!

The Hyatt Regency was beautiful and the food was fabulous, especially if you like asparagus, which was served for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Mostly breakfast -- go figure.

And now...the photos. I will attempt to put these in order, but I suspect when I post it they will no longer be in order, so good luck placing names and faces!

Top row, from left to right: 1. Me and my wonderful agent, Terry Burns; 2. Pam Meyers, Donn Taylor and Susan Lyttek; 3. Normandie Ward Fischer and Roger Bruner. Second row: 1. A nice person I met but didn't get her name, Bonnie Calhoun, Terry Burns; 2. My amazing sister, Patt Nicholls; 3. Suzanne Hartmann and Bill Garrison.

Check out this recipe for creme brulee, which was served at the Sunday night awards banquet. It was topped with a cookie (pecan sandy, I believe) half dipped in chocolate. Yum!

Creme Brulee
(Recipe from Alton Brown of Food Network's Good Eats)

1 quart heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1 cup vanilla sugar, divided
6 large egg yolks
2 quarts hot water

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Place the cream, vanilla bean and its pulp into a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean and reserve for another use.
In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup sugar and the egg yolks until well blended and it just starts to lighten in color. Add the cream a little at a time, stirring continually. Pour the liquid into 6 (7 to 8-ounce) ramekins. Place the ramekins into a large cake pan or roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake just until the creme brulee is set, but still trembling in the center, approximately 40 to 45 minutes. Remove the ramekins from the roasting pan and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.

Remove the creme brulee from the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes prior to browning the sugar on top. Divide the remaining 1/2 cup vanilla sugar equally among the 6 dishes and spread evenly on top. Using a torch, melt the sugar and form a crispy top. Allow the creme brulee to sit for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Indianapolis or Bust

I'll soon be heading out to Indianapolis, Indiana for the 3-day American Christian Fiction Writers conference which is sure to be always. There is nothing like spending time with "your own kind of people." In this case, fellow Christians who also happen to love writing and reading fiction. There will be writers from novices to best-selling authors, as well as editors and agents. I will have the opportunity to spend some time with my agent and many friends who I only get to see once a year. Additionally, I will have time to talk with editors in hopes they will take interest in my manuscripts. Prayers welcome!

No doubt the meals will be fabulous! Look for a post on Indianapolis next week, complete with a recipe based on one of my scrumptious hotel meals.

Thank you to all who wrote to tell me they enjoyed the interview with author Cynthia Ruchti. Those who left comments were entered into a drawing for her latest release, A Door County Christmas.


Kathryn Page Camp!

Congratulations, Kathryn!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Lighthouses and Fish Boils

Welcome to the Cape Cod of the West, complete with 10 lighthouses, 5 beautiful state parks and 300 miles of shoreline! Door County, Wisconsin is located on a peninsula surrounded by the cool blue waters of Lake Michigan. It is a place of endless beaches, fish boils, breathtaking sunrises and art galleries. Here you can do it all, or do nothing at all. Some of the favorite area activities are winery tours, lighthouse tours, biking, canoeing, antiquing and fishing. And if you like beaches, grab a towel and get ready for Midwest beaches at their best! Flat or dunes, crowded or secluded. You can go wild on a wave runner or sit quietly with a good book. Morning person? Watch the sun rise over the eastern side. Night owl? Enjoy a golden sunset on the western side.

If you go, check out the Sturgeon Bay Fish Canal and Coast Guard Station. It may not sound like the primo vacation stop, but you won’t be disappointed. The lighthouse and breakwater pier are two of the most photographed subjects in the country. Or…visit Mountain Park on Washington Island and climb the 184 steps to the top of the wooden lookout tower for an amazing view of Door Country.

Like eating? Fish boils are one of the big things here. They are often done outside in a big kettle over a fire, but you can make a stovetop version too. (See recipe below.) Basically a fish boil is fish, potatoes and onions all boiled together in salted water. Not a fish lover? Don’t worry – there’s plenty of other good stuff to eat in Door County! Here’s a link to Door County’s Dining Guide and Fish Boils brochure:


Notes: Use large fish such as lake trout, browns, steelhead, whitefish or coho. Fresh fish are preferred but frozen may also be used. Allow frozen fish to stand at room temperature until they have thawed. Select or cut uniform size potatoes to insure proper cooking. Use scrubbed new potatoes if available. Cut a thin slice from each end. Do not peel.
Onions optional. Peel whole fresh onions. Allow one per portion.

6 med. sized potatoes
6 onions (optional)
1 c. salt
4 lbs. fresh fish steaks (about 12 steaks)
Drawn butter, parsley and lemon

1. Heat 5 quarts water. Bring to boil.
2. Boil potatoes with salt 18 minutes; place potatoes in basket and lower into boiling water. Cover. Bring to a boil. Add onions and 1 cup salt. Cover and start on medium heat. Boil 18 minutes. Regulate heat to produce a steady roll action boil with vents open.
3. Boil fish 12 minutes and test for doneness: add fish. Cover and boil 12 minutes. To test for doneness spear a potato and a fish steak. Do not over cook. The cooking time may vary 2-3 minutes either way depending upon the size of the potatoes and the size of the fish steaks. Cook fish only until it can be flaked easily with fork.
4. Drain and serve with drawn butter, parsley and lemon.
5. Trimmings: Cole slaw, pickles, garlic bread, butter for potatoes, a beverage and pie are the traditional fare of the fish boil.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Two Great Books - One Great State

Wonderful, wild, woodsy Wisconsin is one of my favorite states – maybe because of so many great vacation memories with family and friends. I love the big sky, the cornfields and cow pastures, the broken down barns. Lakes and rivers abound, and oh, when the sun sets over a Wisconsin lake, it looks like a little piece of Heaven. And here’s a confession, I even love the tacky, touristy, Water Park Capital of the World. Yep, Wisconsin Dells, with its endless shops full of tee-shirts, Indian moccasins, wooden boxes, fudge and cheese, has a special place in my heart.

Today I’d like to introduce an author whose debut novel is set in Wisconsin. Cynthia Ruchti’s first book, They Almost Always Come Home, is catching rave reviews nationwide and beyond. The plot revolves around Libby and Greg, whose marriage is sputtering in the wake of their daughter's death, for which Greg is responsible. Libby considers leaving, until she is faced with the prospect of becoming a widow when Greg fails to return from a solo trip to the Canadian wilderness. Libby enlists the help of her father-in-law and best friend as she searches for Greg. What the trio discovers topples Libby’s presumptions about her husband and rearranges her faith.

In addition to her novel, Cynthia also has a novella in a 4-author collection titled A Door County Christmas, also set in Wisconsin, which just released on Wednesday, Sept. 1. Here’s Amazon’s

Peer behind the closed doors of a Wisconsin tourist town gone dormant for the winter season. Watch as the drama and romance start to heat up—just as Lola the innkeeper promised her four single friends a year ago when she gifted them with her prayers and a Christmas cactus. Will each woman find love—along with cactus blooms—as promised?

LEAVE A COMMENT FOR A COPY OF A DOOR COUNTY CHRISTMAS! (And check out my next post for more about beautiful Door County, located on a peninsula in northeast Wisconsin.)

And now, meet Cynthia!

Q. They Almost Always Come Home is quite a success story, but writers know these dreams don’t come true overnight. How long have you been trying to get it published?

A. For 31 years, I’ve written short bits of fiction for the radio drama/devotional program The Heartbeat of the Home. But it wasn’t until just a few years ago that I seriously pursued the idea of writing a complete novel or novella. When I attended ACFW’s (then ACRW) first national conference in Kansas City, the pursuit kicked into higher gear. That was in 2002. In 2008, this project—They Almost Always Come Home—was a Genesis Contest finalist. Within a month after receiving that honor, the project was contracted with Abingdon Press Fiction. Because of the subject matter of the story, I’d have to say I’ve been working on the plot for all of my married life!

Q. What is the message you’re hoping readers get from your book?

A. Although the story is driven by the characters and their adventures, both emotional and physical, a breeze blows through each scene. It smells like hope. It caresses wounded souls. It glows in the dark. It whispers the words, “Take another look.” At life. At love. At marriage. At faith. At friendship.

Q. That answer is certainly a testament to your writing skills. It's no wonder the book is a success! A Door County Christmas just released a few days ago. What are your hopes for it and what is next on your writing agenda?

A. I can picture A Door County Christmas (Barbour Publishing Christmas novella collection with Eileen Key, Rachael Phillips, and Becky Melby) as a fun hostess gift, Christmas present, thank you for a teacher or Sunday school teacher, or even a Joy-to-the-World gift for a friend or secret pal. Each of the four stories celebrates the wonder of humor, the delight of a great setting, the fact that we’re all “characters,” and the awe of the Savior’s birth. It’s style is far more lighthearted than They Almost Always Come Home, but I hope my readers find the same “voice” in both books…and those yet to come. I’m waiting word on a couple of projects that are dear to my heart.

Q. Do you have a favorite recipe to share with Taste the World followers?

A. My husband and I planted blueberries in our Wisconsin yard a couple of years ago. They’ll soon yield enough of a harvest to make one of my favorite easy recipes. It’s as refreshing as an iced dessert.


In a custard cup, put a half cup of blueberries (fresh are great, but frozen are even better). Drop a generous tablespoon of sour cream on top of the berries. Sprinkle with a teaspoon or more of brown sugar (dark brown sugar deepens the flavor). That’s it. There’s something about the cool berries, the smooth sour cream, and the sweetening of the brown sugar that meld into lusciousness. Blueberry DEEEEE-light!

Thank you, Cynthia. It has been a pleasure to virtually meet you! Can't wait to see you in flesh-n-blood at the ACFW conference.

Learn more about Cynthia and her books on these websites: