Tag: Bellastoria Press

Ann DeFee is Helping Send Books to the Military for the Holidays

Author Ann DeFee
Author Ann DeFee

Please join me in welcoming award-winning author Ann DeFee to our holiday party. Ann and I met  in the Pacific Northwest at a conference many years ago. Ann gives us a peek at her family’s experiences when they lived overseas and had an English Christmas.

What do you make, bake, create or purchase for the holidays, Ann?

As an Air Force family, we’ve had our share of “interesting” Christmas celebrations. One I particularly remember was our first Christmas in England. Let me give you a little back story on this tale. We moved to RAF Lakenheath in August, and finding housing at that time of the year, in a very rural area proved to be an adventure. Too big, too little, too far out in the country, too haunted.   As a last resort, we rented the gate house to a manor owned by a Lord and Lady–related to the queen and yes, I’m talking about that queen. It was bucolic, it was quaint, and it was like living in Barbie’s Dream House–everything was miniature, from the doors, to the rooms, to the kitchen. I kid you not, it was tiny, tiny, tiny, and to make matters worse, it was heated by a coal stove and a couple of portable propane heaters. Lord, I wanted a thermostat. I fantasized about a thermostat, instead I shoveled coal. Then along came Christmas. I moved furniture to make room for a very small tree. But I had forgotten about Christmas lights and the difference between 110 and 220. One by one, the lights met an untimely death. By that time the BX had completely sold out of anything resembling Christmas. On the morning of the 25th, we one tiny light. That was okay, but did I mention that our oven was the size of an Easy Bake oven? A turkey? Are you kidding–a small Cornish game hen was a stretch. As for a cookie sheet–no way. So I fell back on a goodie that our family loves–caramel corn. It’s hard to think of Christmas without remembering Cracker Jacks and the Gate House. Regardless of the time, place or situation, military families are incredibly flexible.   We celebrate our faith, our family and our friends.

An English Christmas Cracker Jacks recipe
1 gallon popped corn
1 cup brown sugar
1 stick butter
1/4 cup white syrup (Karo)
1/2 tsp baking soda
dash salt
Combine sugar, butter and syrup – cook 4 minutes. Stir in soda and salt. Pour mixture on popcorn, coating every kernel
Bake on cookie sheet at 200 degrees for 1 hour. Cool and break apart. Careful–it’s totally addictive!

Check out the great excerpt Ann’s giving us from A Hot Time In Texas here.

Thanks for stopping by today, Ann!

Find Ann at the usual places:

Website: www.ann-defee.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/AnnDeFeeAuthor
Twitter: www.twitter.com/AnnDeFee

Remember, you can do your part in supporting the military for the holidays. Harlequin will send one book for every 20 new subscribers to the Geri Krotow Newsletter. Sign up here.

Linda Cardillo is Helping Send Books to the Military for the Holidays

Author Linda Cardillo
Author Linda Cardillo

Today we welcome the divinely talented Linda Cardillo! Linda is the author of several novels and also the co-founder, with Ann DeFee, of Bellastoria Press. Linda and I met almost a decade ago when we both were winners of Harlequin’s Everlasting Love contest, which resulted in the first sale for both of us. It’s a unique bond and I’ve treasured our friendship as it’s grown.

What do you make, bake, create or buy for the holidays, Linda?

When I was a girl, the end of summer was always marked by two events—the week-long feast of the Madonna del’Arco and the canning of the bounty of my grandmother’s garden. My mother and my aunts sat at an oilcloth-covered table under the pergola that supported my grandfather’s grapevines, peeling, slicing and preserving bushels of eggplants and tomatoes that during the winter would become the basis for antipasto and Neapolitan marinara.
It was the memory of my Aunt Susie’s grape jelly that spurred my own initiation into the mysteries of turning ripe produce into preserves. When my husband and I lived in Germany, one of my husband’s colleagues with an orchard had a bumper crop of plums and shared them with us. I have a wonderful plum tart recipe from my mother-in-law, and made it that night. But I had far too many plums and had to figure out what to do with them before they turned to mush. That is when I remembered Aunt Susie’s paraffin-covered mason jars filled with Grandpa’s grapes and decided one purple fruit was as good as another.
Since that summer twenty-five years ago I’ve put up plums almost every year, sometimes sharing the weekend-long labor with friends, as my mother and aunts did. My fingers turn purple, my kitchen is sticky and fragrant, and at the end of the day my counter is covered with rows of glistening jars filled with luscious fruit. Those preserves have become my signature gift at the holidays, a special treat to sweeten winter days for friends and family.


Linda's Plum Preserves
Linda’s Plum Preserves

Plum Preserves
30 lbs Italian prune plums
12-15 lbs sugar
Rinse and slice plums into quarters.
Layer plums with sugar in a crock or large plastic container, in the proportion of ½ cup sugar for every cup of plums.
Cover and allow to rest for 12-24 hours.
Bring the sugar-fruit mixture slowly to a boil and simmer until the fruit is a deep purple and translucent. It’s important to cook the fruit in small batches of 4-6 cups at a time to preserve the best flavor.
Ladle fruit into hot sterile jars.
Stir the fruit to remove air pockets.
Wipe the rim, seal and store in a dark, cool place.
Yield: approximately 24 pounds of preserves (48 8-ounce jars)

Bellastoria Press Information: Linda Cardillo is the co-founder with award-winning author Ann DeFee. Inspired by the Italian words for beautiful history, Bellastoria Press books explore women’s lives and relationships in stories told with compassion and humor. Get more info here

You will find LInda at the usual places:

Website:  http://lindacardillo.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Linda-Cardillo-Author/230625938236

Linda’s Latest, The Boat House Cafe:  http://lindacardillo.com/on-the-bookshelf/the-boat-house-cafe/

Remember that you can do your part to support our military during the holidays. Harlequin is donating 1 book for every 20 new subscribers to the Geri Krotow Newsletter/Loyal Reader Program. Sign up for my newsletter here.