The Adventures of Lily and Leon

Lily + Leon book coverThe Adventures of Lily and Leon addresses the social stigma surrounding interracial relationships. The story is told in fun, lighthearted terms so the message is easily understood by a child. It’s a tale about two young fish, Lily, a beautiful white sea bass, and Leon, a sleek black sea bass, who meet under bumpy circumstances in the deep waters of the Green Gulf.

Peer pressure from Lily’s schoolfishfriends is fierce. Bonita warns Lily, “It’s wrong to swim with a dark-scaled fish when you are white-scaled.” Leon is confused and hurt because he’s not readily accepted by the fish community.

Lily is only happy when she’s dipping and diving in Dragon Fish Lagoon with Leon. She doesn’t understand why the color of their skin should be an issue. They are deeply affected by the opinion of the local fish, which nearly keeps them from developing a close friendship. Through their underwater games and adventures, and their brush with the dangerous Seafalcons, they’re able to learn, and teach others, that we’re all alike on the inside, even when we’re a different color on the outside.

Download The Adventures of Leon and Lily: A Soppy Fish Tale.


THE ADVENTURES OF LILY AND LEON
A Soppy Fish Tale
FIRST SMASHWORDS EDITION
Copyright © 2013 Cynthia Briggs
Cover design by Andrew Brown of Design for Writers
This e-book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This e-book may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then you should return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
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Annual Overstocked Book Sale

Book Sale Image 2018My annual overstocked book sale comes around at the perfect time for holiday shopping. The onset of e-book popularity has slowed my hard copy sales but I know there are still people out there (you might be one of them) who still love the smell and feel of a real book in their hand especially books filled with comfort food recipes and homespun stories.

We can both come out winners from my overstocked situation. You can get some rock bottom prices on my books for gift-giving and I can get more usable closet space.

  • $10 each, and I’ll pay for shipping costs within the U. S.
  • Pay by check sent to me, or with PayPal. To pay by check, send your request for books to books@porkchopsandapplesauce.net and I’ll respond with my contact information.
  • You can also pay with PayPal, which is quick and painless to use. Just put books of  choice, personalizing requests and mailing addresses in the PayPal note section.
  • I’m happy to sign and/or personalize the books per your request, which makes them more special for gift-giving.

book 1 - pork chops and applesauce

Pork Chops & Applesauce: A Collection of Recipes and Reflections

Personalization instructions:
Quantity:  

This book is a sweet and savory collection of 60 comfort food recipes and 45 entertaining tales. A recipe follows each homespun tale. This is a unique cookbook for those cookbook collectors on your list. Signed by the author.

book 2 - sweet apple temptations

Sweet Apple Temptations

Sweet Apple Temptations contains over 200 delicious apple dessert recipes with something for kids of all ages. Author’s personal favorites are Apple Pineapple Island Cake, CB’s Signature Apple Dumplings and Apple Brickle Dip, the latter is great for parties and easy enough for a child to make. Signed by the author.

Personalization instructions:
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Chicken Soup for the Soul:  Mother and Son SoulChicken Soup for the Soul:  Sisters 2Chicken Soup for the Soul: Food and LoveChicken Soup for Soul: Divorce and RecoveryChicken Soup for My Resolution
CS - Just Us Girls coverCS The Dog Did WhatThe Dog Really Did That cover  7-2017

Pictured above are The Chicken Soup for the Soul books that I have for sale. Keep in mind that only Chicken Soup for the Soul books that I’m published in are for sale through me. All other Chicken Soup titles are available at Amazon.com.

My personal Chicken Soup favorites are Mother & Son, Just Us Girls and Food and Love. The two “dog” books are very popular so if you’d like to purchase 5 or more of one title, we can discuss a special order.

Book Titles                             In Stock
Mother & Son                        13  in stock

Personalization instructions:
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Sister’s Soul 2                        13  in stock

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My Resolution                       9  in stock

Personalization instructions:
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Divorce & Recovery              4  in stock

Personalization instructions:
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Finding My Faith                  6  in stock

Instructions:
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Just Us Girls                          10  in stock

Personalization instructions:
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Food and Love                       13  in stock

Personalization instructions:
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The Dog Did What?              4  in stock

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The Dog Did That?              1  in stock

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Send all questions and inquiries to books@porkchopsandapplesauce.net

THANK YOU FOR PURCHASING MY BOOKS

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Presto Homemade Pesto

presto homemade pestoShelley, our dog-sitter, called me in a panic last week. “Cindy, the basil in our garden has gone crazy this year. Did you, by any chance, save the recipe for homemade pesto that I sent you way back when?”

“Yes, I remember the recipe. I’ve never made it because basil doesn’t grow very well for me here in Houston. But, I generally save the recipes that come to me via e-mail. I’ll check my inbox and call you back,” I replied.

“Hey, Shelley, I found the recipe buried in my “inbox recipe file” dated, November 2012,” I chuckled.

Shelley was thrilled. “Will you shoot a copy of the recipe over to me? I’ll be glad to bring you some fresh basil as a thank you for being a recipe hoarder,” she said laughing.

“I’ve not made pesto from scratch before but I’m willing to give it a whirl, it can’t be too difficult.” I said.

The next day I found a huge bouquet of basil on my front porch. It smelled heavenly. The stems were like tiny tree branches with leaves the size of a maple leaf. I’ve never seen such impressive basil. “What’s your secret to growing such beautiful basil plants?” I asked Shelley.

She said it’s a no-burn product called Osmocote, that she uses liberally on everything in her garden along with lots of water. I bought the largest container of Osmocote our local nursery had on hand.

My pesto turned out amazing. I froze it in ice cube trays to use as needed and so I won’t waste one single bite of it. Yum!

Presto Homemade Pesto

1/2 cup fresh oregano
1/2 cup fresh parsley
1-cup fresh basil
1-sprig fresh rosemary
4-cloves garlic
1/4 cup nuts (use either walnuts or pine nuts)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
1/2 cup good quality olive oil

Throw all these goodies into a food processor or blender and chop until it’s a fine paste. Add a bit more olive oil if it looks dry.

Yield: 14 frozen cubes

fresh herbs

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SWEET APPLE TEMPTATIONS

sweet apple temptations ebook coverSweet Apple Temptations opens the gate to dessert heaven by offering over 200 apple dessert recipes. Biting into a crisp, juicy apple is a satisfying pleasure, but this book combines the queen-of-the-orchard with sweetness and baking spices to create apple desserts that taste as though they’ve been kissed by angels.

Apples are an amazingly versatile fruit that is demonstrated in this unique apple dessert collection. At your next dinner party serve the decadence of Sinful Chocolate Applesauce Tiramisu or Swedish Applesauce Meringue Cake. When temperatures rise, cool your guests with Frozen Apple Cranberry Dessert or Pineapple Plantation Apple Crisp. And, for kids of every age, there’s Snicker Apple Doodle Cookies and Tart Apple S’mores that’ll delight their lips with fruit-filled goodness.

 

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CB’s Oven-Barbequed Brisket

It was in New Mexico that I discovered the deliciousness of the brisket dinner. A fellow in the Carlsbad Sheriff’s Posse, which in recent years is a group of volunteers who do cowboy style fundraising dinners. He gave me his recipe and tips for making brisket in the oven, and I’ve been making it ever since. He, by the way, used an 8′ long smoker that he toted around on a trailer. His secret ingredient is the Dr. Pepper (oops, the secret slipped out), and his tip is using oven roasting bags.

We’re in Texas now and the availability of brisket abounds. It’s sold in every meat case and kept warm and ready-to-serve at most restaurants; some fast food or casual dining places offer brisket sandwiches. All those years living in the Pacific Northwest I’d never heard of brisket, now I can’t imagine not preparing a brisket dinner when company’s comin’ to town. It must be a southern thing!

oven barbequed brisket

CB’s Oven-Barbequed Brisket

1 8-pound brisket, fully-trimmed and “bendable”
McCormick Grill Mates 25% Less Sodium Montreal Steak seasoning
2 1-gallon covered plastic marinating containers (8.5x13x3″type)
1 large baking pan (bottom only of a large roaster works good)

Marinade
1 19-ounce bottle Jack Daniel’s Original No. 7 Recipe Barbecue Sauce
1 8-ounce bottle regular Dr. Pepper (don’t use diet)
1 teaspoon each garlic powder, onion powder, celery seed, and paprika
1/2 teaspoon each ground black pepper, liquid smoke, hot pepper sauce
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 large turkey size oven roasting bag

Choose a trimmed brisket that can easily be bent or folded in the middle to ensure against excess fat deep inside the meat. Most briskets today are pre-packaged in heavy plastic, which makes them easy to bend or fold. Remove brisket from package and cut into two large pieces. Sprinkle both sides of each piece generously with steak seasoning. Place seasoned briskets in the marinating containers; set aside to make marinade.

Whisk together in a medium-large bowl the barbeque sauce, Dr. Pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, celery seed, paprika, black pepper, liquid smoke, hot pepper sauce and mustard. Divide the marinade and pour over the briskets; turn to coat and cover tightly. Marinate in refrigerator for 3 to 6 days turning once every day.

Preheat oven to 250°F. Prepare the roasting bag as directed. Place both pieces of brisket side-by-side (don’t stack) in the bag; gently pour marinade over the briskets, cut slits into top of bag as directed and seal with provided twist-tie.

Using a baster, carefully reach through one of the holes in top of bag and baste the meat every 1 to 1 1/2 hours. About 4 hours into the roasting process begin testing the meat for doneness by pressing a small sharp knife through the bag slits and into the meat. It will take approximately 6 to7 hours to fully cook the brisket; when the small knife easily slices into the meat it is done.

When brisket has reached the desired doneness, remove the meat from its sauce and allow it to rest on a cutting board for 10 to 15 minutes. At this point, check the sauce to see how much fat has accumulated. Generally there will be too much fat although tastes vary.

Use whatever method that works well for you to remove excess fat but the sauce should be de-fatted and strained. What I do is: 1) strain the sauce through a mesh sieve into a gravy separator, 2) pour sauce into a saucepan and 3) place saucepan on a burner at medium heat without a lid to reduce it and to keep it warm. Sometimes sauce that’s reduced on the stove without a thickener will become quite salty tasting.

Instead of reducing the sauce on the stove, thicken it with 2 heaping teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 cup cold water. Slowly add cornstarch mixture to hot sauce and stir over medium heat until thickened, repeat if needed to get sauce to desired texture.

Slice the brisket across the grain into 1/2″ thick pieces (an electric knife is the perfect tool for this); cover and return to the oven for a few minutes to re-heat, if needed. Serve with generous amounts of mashed potatoes, corn-on-the-cob, ranch beans, cornbread or coleslaw. Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Cook’s Note: Some folks like their brisket shredded but I prefer the brisket to be cut into distinct slices and served with sauce on the side. If I’m cooking for a crowd, I sometimes slice the entire brisket and put it back into the pan with the de-fatted, strained marinade. Then I re-heat it to serve dinner style, for barbeque brisket sandwiches or to make brisket dip style sandwiches.

Partial briskets can of course be cooked but I feel making a full-size brisket is a wiser use of my time. One brisket can be served in a variety of ways i.e., serve it at two meals, slice part of it for sandwiches and store some in the freezer to be served at a later date. However, to suit your family’s size, this recipe can easily be cut in half, which will yield 4 to 6 servings.

Grilling Brisket: Except for one step the directions above still apply. Remove the brisket from the marinade (which is reserved) and basically sear the brisket on the grill over a low flame. Grill brisket on both sides until the meat is brown, caramelized and sizzling. At this point, go back to the recipe directions and put the brisket into the roasting bag with the marinade. Roast it in the oven and continue with above instructions. Keep in mind your full cooking time might be reduced by approximately 1 hour.

grilled brisket

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Tips for Cooking with Eggs

With Easter just around the corner, my thoughts, of course, turned to the Easter Bunny, and eggs! Below are a few egg-cooking tips I’ve learned through the years. I’ve also included a link for my favorite Baked Egg recipe, which is standard Sunday dinner fare at the Briggs house all year round. Happy Easter!

Easter eggs in straw

BOILED EGG COOKING TIME: Boil eggs for 3 to 6 minutes for a very runny yolk, 7 to 9 minutes for a soft yolk and 11 to 13 minutes for a hard yolk.

KEEP PEELED boiled eggs from getting slimy or rubbery by placing a paper towel in the refrigerator container with the boiled eggs. Store the eggs in the refrigerator for fresh-peeled texture up to 4 days.

GOT MIXED UP EGGS? A boiled egg will spin like a top on the counter, where an un-boiled (raw) egg will wobble lazily.

EGGS STAY fresh longer if they’re stored with the wide end up.

A FRESH EGG will be firm with a yolk that stands up on the white; an old egg will have a flat yolk that’s more flush with the white.

TO TELL IF EGGS are fresh, immerse the whole egg (in its shell) in a bowl of water. Fresh eggs will drop to the bottom, while stale eggs will float to the surface.

 

EGG PRODUCERS recommend we leave eggs in their original carton from the store, and always store eggs in the back area of the refrigerator where it’s cooler.

DEVILED EGGS: An easy way to fill deviled eggs is by placing the egg yolk mixture in a pastry bag and squeeze away. Alternatively, fill a small plastic bag with egg yolk mixture, snip off one tip at bottom of bag and squeeze mixture into whites.

TWO CHICKEN EGGS equal 1 duck egg, and 5 quail eggs equal 1 chicken egg.

WHIP EGG WHITES at room temperature to get as much as 4 times the volume compared to using chilled egg whites.

BOILED EGGS won’t crack as easily when they’re started at room temperature rather than cold from the refrigerator.

HARD BOILED eggs peel easier if they’re thoroughly chilled before peeling.

HARD BOILED eggs peel easier if they’re not too fresh. Leave eggs in refrigerator for at least a week before boiling.

FOR EASY PEEL boiled eggs, boil eggs for only 10 minutes, pour off water and then chill thoroughly before peeling.

ADD 1-TEASPOON BAKING SODA or 1-teaspoon white vinegar to the water when boiling eggs so the shells will easily peel away.

CENTERED EGG YOLKS: To center egg yolks, gently twirl the eggs while they’re cooking. This places the yolk in the center of the white, which helps avoid tearing while peeling the egg, and the eggs look prettier with the yolks centered nicely in the center of each deviled eggs.

A PREHEATED PAN with preheated oil will help keep eggs from sticking.

PANINI PAN TO THE RESCUE: Use a panini press to flip an omelet, which will take the guesswork and the mess out of flipping it.

WHEN POACHING EGGS, drop each egg into a small sieve to let the excess moisture drain away before adding egg to simmering water.

ADD 1 TEASPOON softened, salted butter to scrambled eggs when they’ve started to dry out from cooking too long. The eggs are still overcooked but the butter tricks your tongue into thinking the eggs are silky smooth.

MAKE SCRAMBLED eggs in the microwave by whipping together the eggs and some milk; pour into a prepared bowl or cup and microwave for approximately 2 minutes or so depending on how many eggs are being cooked.

KEEP FRIED EGGS from running all over the pan by dropping egg into a large, fresh onion ring; then fry as usual.

USE BUTTERED BISCUIT or cookie cutters to cook eggs into perfectly round shapes. This is great for making homemade Egg Mc Muffins or bagel sandwiches.

TO SEPARATE yolks from whites without breaking the yolk, draw white away from yolk by using an empty plastic water bottle or a turkey baster.

WHEN SEPARATING eggs, yolks are less likely to break if eggs are closer to room temperature rather than refrigerator temperature.

THE FRESHER the egg, the easier it will separate without a broken yolk.

SEPARATE EGGS by dropping into a small funnel that’s been placed in a small dish. White will run through, yolk will remain in funnel.

IF A YOLK breaks when separating eggs for meringue, set it aside and use in another project. Bits of yolk that can’t be seen by the naked eye can ruin meringue.

BRUSH EGG wash onto bread or pastry before scoring surface to prevent egg wash from dripping down and sealing the scored area.

WHEN CLEANING up after a cooking project, rinse egg bowls with cold water. Rinsing with hot water causes the egg residue to stick to the bowl’s surface.

eggs in a basket

 

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Coffee!

Hey, you haven’t heard from me for a while. Well, I guess you might say, “I’m baaaaaaack” at least for now to introduce a special guest post by Remy Bernard – Owner and Editor at missmamiescupakes.com who is a baker, chef and writer.  Remy asked to do a guest post on one of my favorite drinks…coffee. Even if you’re not a coffee drinker, it’s great information for a loved one who does enjoy a good cup o’ Joe. I think you’ll appreciate what Remy has to say. CB

 four cups of coffee

How to Keep Your Ground Coffee Fresh For as Long As Possible

There are two things in this world that I hold dear to my heart: coffee and getting the most value I can out of anything that I buy.  Coffee is good for your health (maybe not decaf, though), a great way to start your day, and has even been shown to be a powerful performance enhancer. That’s why as soon as I ground my precious coffee beans at home or supermarket, I’m immediately thinking about getting it into proper storage as quickly as possible. After all, the moment you grind your coffee beans and expose them to oxygen, you set in motion a cascade of events that will eventually destroy the flavor and ruin even the best coffee.

The good news is that keeping your coffee fresh is easy. Unfortunately, finding the best method to do so can be a bit more complicated. The problem is that although there is no shortage of recommendations on the Internet regarding the best way to store coffee, many of them are completely anecdotal and even contradictory. So I thought it would be good to put the question to rest once and for all. But first, we need to look at why coffee goes stale, and then we can figure out how to prevent it.

Why Does Coffee Go Stale in the First Place?

In the same way that iron forms rust when it’s exposed to air and oxidizes, the solubles in coffee which give it its wonderful flavor also begin to turn when they come in contact with oxygen. As soon as the bean is ground, the flavors begin to oxidize and degrade. This is why many roasters will ship their products in vacuum-sealed baggies that limit contact with oxygen. This means that when looking at keeping your coffee fresh for longer, limiting oxygen and moisture is your number one priority.

Keep Your Beans Airtight and the Temperature Low

In the battle for coffee freshness, your greatest enemies are oxygen, moisture, heat and light. In order to limit all of these, keep your freshly ground or roasted coffee beans in an opaque airtight container at room temperature. Even though you might be tempted to showcase that beautiful coffee in a clear container on your countertop, resist the urge, as exposing the coffee to that kind of light will do much more harm than good. Figure out the darkest, coolest location in your kitchen (not the freezer or fridge) and store them there. Avoid cabinets that might catch heat from the stove or an area of the countertop that gets afternoon sun. It might seem like a pain, but once you find your spot, you’ll be able to rely on it in the future.

Don’t Buy More than You Need

As we discussed earlier, coffee starts to go south almost immediately after grinding. There are two main strategies I implement to deal with this. The first is using a coffee maker that grinds the beans right before brewing. Not only is this extremely convenient, but also solves many of the problems we are talking about today. I personally use the Ninja coffee bar in my home, but any coffee maker that has this auto-grind feature will work. The second strategy is to buy smaller batches of coffee—enough for 1-2 weeks. This seems to be the perfect amount for my 1-2 cups of coffee per day, and I’m done with it before the flavor really starts to change. If you buy in bulk, this makes it difficult to use it all before it goes bad.

Do Not Freeze or Refrigerate Your Coffee

Somewhere along the way people decided that freezing coffee was a good idea. Well, it isn’t. Seriously, don’t do this. Coffee is sort of like bread. If you freeze it, and then thaw it out when you are ready to use it, it never tastes the same or close to as good as when you first bought it. The extra moisture will also push the oils to the surface and make it go stale faster. Additionally, the structure of the coffee bean is porous and will absorb the smells around it. This means that if you have anything with a strong odor in your fridge or freezer like onions or garlic, your coffee will take on that smell as well. I’m pretty sure that no one wants their morning coffee to taste like garlic and onions!

How to Use Stale Coffee

Remember how I said that I like to get the most value I can out of everything I buy? Well, this also means finding uses for things that others might throw away. The good news is that if your coffee has gone stale, it’s perfect for making cold brew coffee with. In fact, most coffee experts will tell you that making cold brew coffee with really expensive and fresh coffee is sort of a waste. This is because the cold water leaves all the acids and bitter taste behind. People are usually surprised to discover this and it’s one of my favorite tips!

I hope you learned something about keeping your coffee fresh and getting the most mileage out of your bean! I’ve tried most everything and after a lot of research the above were the methods that work best for me.

remy bernaard

Remy Bernard – Owner and Editor at Miss Mamie’s Cupcakes

A baker, chef and writer, Remy started missmamiescupakes.com as a way to deepen and spread her passion for making delicious food. She can also be found on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook.

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Zucchini Tomato Bake

Zucchini Tomato BakeZucchini abounds in gardens this time of year. Everywhere you go someone says, “Oh you can’t leave without taking some zucchini home with you.” I’ve been on the zucchini distribution and receiving side of the issue; so be honest, you were trying to sneak away without a big sack filled to the brim with zucchinis. Zucchini: The Hardiest Vegetable is a story I wrote a few years back that you might enjoy reading, it’s an especially relatable tale about the prolific green vegetable.

The recipe below is yet another delicious way to savor this season’s “zucs.”

Zucchini Tomato Bake

Ingredients
2-tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 1/2 pounds zucchini, partially peeled and chopped fine (about 3 medium)
1-can cannellini or white kidney beans (10 oz.) rinsed and drained
8 eggs
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped (or 1 1/2 tablespoons dried)
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 pound fresh, ripe garden tomatoes, sliced about 1/2″ thick (about 3 medium)
Salt & pepper to taste

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400°F and lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan (metal is best).

Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Sauté chopped onions and zucchini until tender. Stir in red pepper flakes; season generously with salt and pepper.

Add beans; stir until well combined and heated throughout. Transfer vegetable mixture to baking pan and arrange top with sliced tomatoes.

Whisk together eggs, salt, pepper, basil and shredded cheese in a large bowl. Pour mixture over the casserole ingredients. Sprinkle with additional parmesan cheese, if desired.

Place in oven and bake 30 minutes in a conventional oven or 22 minutes in a convection oven, or until casserole is lightly browned and puffy. Remove from the oven and serve hot with toasted, garlic-butter baguettes. Yield: 8 servings

Zucchini Tomato Bake 2

Cook’s Note:  Consider using 1 1/2 cups grape tomatoes in place of the large sliced tomatoes. Cut grape tomatoes into halves, mixed into the egg mixture and then poured over the vegetables. It’s scrumptious with both types of tomatoes, and this dish is perfect when re-heated the next day. We like it for lunch or a light dinner.

A friend sent me this recipe and she thought it might be from 12tomatoes.com. 12tomatoes.com is a terrific site that has hundreds of healthy and delicious recipes to offer.

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