This and That

Musings on Being a Writer and My Life
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Baking for Fun and Frustration?

  • May 30, 2017 3:13 am

 

Every now and then I decide to amaze visitors to my home with my baking skills. My Book Club members were the latest witnesses to my baking “skills.”

Now, before I relate this story, I should preface it by saying that I have been cooking since I was a little kid—around the age of 7. I remember lighting our gas stove  when I was in second grade and making eggs for my sister and me. One of my specialties back then was eggs that had “crispy” edges (read slightly burned).  To this day, my sister likes her eggs cooked really well, for which I would like to take credit.

Well, many years have passed, and I’m happy to say that I can cook eggs really well now—I make great omelets and poached eggs among other delectable dishes.

But, I have to admit that baking has never been my forte.

So—my Book Club was coming to my house for the first time recently—and I wanted to make it special. I decide that I wanted to serve artisanal cheeses, fruit and mini-quiche. Yummy!

I scoured the supermarket for those tasty frozen mini-quiches that you just pop in the oven and voila—serve your guests as they o-h-h and a-h-h. They were nowhere to be found.  Then I spied packages of fluted (fluted!!) phyllo dough mini-quiche shells. Wow! I was delighted!

I took them home and then searched for quiche recipes. (I’ve made quiche many times before—but I was looking for the “easy” version.)

The night of the meeting, I was busy mixing and stirring and filling the fluted mini shells with what I hoped would be a delectable quiche mixture.

Soon after placing them in the oven, I realized that something was wrong. When I checked their progress, I noticed that the quiche shells were flattening out and the filling was running out of them onto the pan.  Oh, I forgot to mention that I used my favorite pan—a round pizza pan with holes in it which usually produces perfect cookies. Not only was the filling running out of the previously fluted phyllo shells, it was dripping through the perforations in the pan. My hope and dreams of presenting beautiful little quiches to my new Book Club were dashed! I removed the pan from the oven, and attempted to salvage at least a few of the darling little things—only to realize that they were completely tasteless—apparently I didn’t season them enough.  Most of them were flat circles with the remnants of a bland eggy mixture.

The next day, my friend Susan called me and said that she woke up in the middle of the night and realized what I had done wrong. It seems that the adorable fluted mini-quiche shells should be baked in a mini-muffin pan—not on a flat surfaced pizza pan!

I may never be able to test that theory.

Mini-quiche and I are parting ways. It’s an amicable breakup—we just realize that we can never be friends.

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The few almost edible mini-quiche

 

 

Discussing My Novel

  • February 1, 2013 7:22 am

 

“…fiction is like a spider’s web, attached ever so lightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners.”   Virginia Woolf

 

 

I had a unique experience recently. My book club, the Pageturners, chose my novel, Loving Christy to discuss.

I pondered how to handle this discussion. Being a former teacher, my first inclination was to ask pointed, challenging questions that honed in on setting, theme and character development, much like I would have done with my students. Thankfully, common sense prevailed. Thinking back on the many wonderful discussions our club has had over the last nine years, I knew that I should trust this intelligent, insightful group of women.

My book club is almost ideal—everyone reads the selection, everyone comes prepared to discuss the book, and everyone participates. In fact, we rather pride ourselves on our in-depth discussions. We are not one of those groups who agree they liked the book and then order lunch. We meet in one another’s homes, carefully select books, and research the author before we gather to discuss the book.

So, the stage was set.

But I must admit that I was a little nervous—what if they didn’t like the book? What if the smattering of bad language (in context) was offensive? What if they thought I had completely missed the mark with this novel?

I decided to share the interview that I wrote as part of my publicity packet to start the meeting.  Those questions set the groundwork—where did I get the idea for the story, where did the characters come from, why did I write the story?

What ensued was an in-depth discussion of the characters, the setting and the theme. It was a revelation and a joy. My book club sisters had insights into the story that surprised even me. They saw the characters as well drawn and believable.  They had empathy for Peggy, the down-on-her luck antagonist. They related to Christy’s struggles—most of them came of age at the same time. One woman pointed out descriptive language that appealed to her.

It was a wonderful experience for me as an author. I write to communicate—and this discussion authenticated me as a writer in a way I have never experienced before.

When my book club sisters left my home that day, I felt joy and excitement.

Yes, it would be exciting to hit it big—to be a household name and make oodles of money. But, in truth, this discussion was the payback I really wanted—to know that my little novel, a story that insisted on being written, resonated with other people, brought them hours of pleasure, and forged connections among women of differing backgrounds.