Nut-free Banana Bread #recipe

I not only hate walnuts, I’m allergic to them. Finding a recipe for banana bread that doesn’t get funny when you take out the walnuts is challenging. This one works and has my kids’ stamp of approval. Makes one loaf of bread, which you can slice into as few pieces as you want.

This is too many, but they look nice.


  • 1⅓ cups flour
  • 1 Tbsp rolled oats
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 5⅓ Tbsp unsalted butter, softened but not melted
  • ⅔ cup sugar–brown or white
  • 2 very ripe bananas
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs


  • Electric mixer
  • Wire whisk or similar tool
  • Three mixing bowls
  • Something to mash your bananas
  • Scraper spatula
  • One loaf pan, prepared for baking in your preferred manner


  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Combine flour, oats, salt, baking soda, and baking powder in one mixing bowl and whisk together. Set aside.
  • In the second mixing bowl, use the electric mixer to beat the butter and sugar together until creamy. This will be the bowl you add everything else to. Set aside.
  • Use the third mixing bowl to mash the bananas with the extra tablespoon of brown sugar. Set aside.
  • Return to the butter mixture. Gradually add the flour and beat together so you don’t coat yourself with flour.
  • Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
  • Using the scraper spatula, fold in the mashed bananas. Use only as many cutting strokes as it takes to combine the two.
  • Pour the batter into your loaf pan.
  • Bake uncovered for 60 minutes.
  • Turn off the oven, prop the door open, and leave the bread inside until the oven cools.
  • Remove from the pan and let cool as long as you can wait to eat it.


  • The baking time may need to be adjusted by as much as 10 minutes in either direction for your oven. When the crusty edges on top darken to a deep brown, turn off the oven to avoid burning.
  • This recipe adapts well to gluten-free flours used with xanthan gum.
  • Adapting this recipe to vegan can be done, but I recommend instead using a recipe designed for vegans.
  • Replacing up to half the flour with whole wheat flour works fine.
  • Change this to apple by replacing the banana with 1 cup applesauce and adding 1 tsp total of apple pie spices.
  • Change this loaf to pumpkin by replacing the banana with 1 cup pumpkin puree and adding 1 tsp total of pumpkin pie spices.
  • This bread freezes well, sliced or unsliced.
  • If your bananas are frozen, make sure to thaw completely before using.

Deluxe Apple Pie Cake #recipe

This cake is full of appley deliciousness. It serves however many people you can talk yourself into sharing it with, up to about twelve. This recipe isn’t well suited to cupcakes, but it can be done.Peeling optional! Yay!


  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2-3 apples, sliced and cut into chunks, preferably Granny Smith or another tart variety (peeling optional)
  • 1 tsp apple pie spice or ½ tsp cinnamon, ¼ tsp nutmeg, ¼ tsp cloves (or any other combination of apple pie spices to your taste up to one teaspoon)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1⅓ cup flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp apple pie spice or ½ tsp cinnamon, ¼ tsp nutmeg, ¼ tsp cloves (or any other combination of apple pie spices to your taste up to one teaspoon)
  • ⅓ cup cream
  • ⅓ cup apple cider or apple juice
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 egg


  • Large frying pan with a tight-fitting lid
  • One mixing bowl
  • Electric mixer
  • 11-inch rectangular casserole pan, or any other baking container(s) able to hold about 8 cups of batter. No greasing is necessary, but you may wish to line the pan with parchment paper for ease of removal, especially if your baking pan isn’t attractive enough for to meet your standards for serving.


  • Melt 1 Tbsp butter in the frying pan.
  • Add apple chunks. Stir until coated.
  • Cover the apple chunks and leave them for 5 minutes or until mildly squishy.
  • Add 1 tsp apple pie spice and ¼ cup sugar. Stir until coated.
  • Cook until the juices become thick and bubbly.
  • Pour the apples into your baking container(s), but reserve as much of the liquid as possible. Set the pan aside with the liquid still in it.
  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and remaining apple pie spice in the mixing bowl.
  • Add cream or milk, apple cider, softened butter, and egg.
  • Beat with the mixer at your preferred speed until thoroughly combined.
  • Pour over apples in baking container.
  • Pour the reserved apple liquid over batter.
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes. Adjust as needed for your baking container.
  • Let cool on a rack before devouring.


  • Keep your apple chunks uniform, as if you were making an apple pie. ¼ inch thick squares of about 1 inch are ideal.
  • Any kind of apple cider or juice will work for this recipe. If you use a spiced cider, you may wish to eliminate the spice in the cake, depending upon the tastes of your audience.
  • If you use apple juice, consider eliminating all the spices and add instead 1 tsp of vanilla to the cake for an interesting change of apple pace.
  • Although cream and butter are listed, these can be replaced with any form of milk-like and butter-like substances. However, the lower the fat content, the less delicious the cake will be, and the shorter a shelf-life it will have. For the first step, genuine butter is strongly recommended to provide flavor.
  • When reserving the liquid, also reserving some of the apple chunks works fine and can make the cake more attractive.
  • Frosting is not recommended. Anything you’d normally eat with apple pie is a better choice as an accompaniment.

The Vegan Cooks for the Family

Homemade veggie broth (using good, clean, blemish free scraps and peels from the day’s veggies). (Don’t use broccoli, cauliflower or cabbage). Toss into crockpot, cover scraps with water, add salt to taste, let cook all night and in the morning strain the liquid into a bowl for later use or freeze it, and toss the scraps. You will have good veggie broth to use as a base for soups, stews, and gravies. And it costs you nothing, as the scraps would have been thrown away unused!

Often I find myself cooking for my extended family. While I am vegan, only two members of my family are, so I will (reluctantly) include some sort of animal protein although I don’t like doing so. The menu will be:

Fried Chicken (a vegan will have purchased it from the deli, so there you go–Vegan Fried Chicken)

Potato Salad – vegan (no dairy/eggs)

Green Salad with two choices of dressing – vegan (no dairy/eggs)

Avocado Salad – vegan (no dairy/eggs)

As I have said before, I was not always a vegan, but the transition was easy for me.  For my health’s sake, I avoid meat, and dairy. I am careful what I consume, because I have an autoimmune response to these foods–inflammation of my joints that cripples me. While I love fried chicken as much as anyone, I really prefer to be mobile and off the cane.

The negative effects of going off my vegan diet are immediate–maximum suffering occurring within 24 hrs. Then it takes two or three days to clear out of my system.

Due to the  way our food is grown and processed by the large food manufacturers, many people nowadays are suffering food related allergies. All the food I prepare for groups is gluten free, nut free, organic and locally grown (except the avocados-they don’t grow in Tenino.) Even the chicken is organic and raised humanely at a local farm.

I have become re-attuned to the notion of being connected to your food as more than a consumer. If you know where it came from, how it was grown, you have more appreciation for it, and each meal becomes a celebration.

Food is love, but only if love went into the preparation of it.

I am a vegan, but those around me are not, and I do love them, so I frequently prepare ‘blended meals,’ keeping the side dishes vegan, and creating a separate high-quality, organically raised meat dish for those who expect it. If I provide dairy, it is clearly labeled so that it isn’t accidentally mixed with the non-dairy foods.

SO–the vegan will fry the chicken, and carnivorous family members will consume it. The vegan really won’t miss the chicken at all. I never really liked it to begin with and have found new sources of protein that really satisfy me in the crucial areas of taste and texture. Tofu, tempeh, and beans are excellent sources of protein that don’t trigger my autoimmune reaction. That is the basis of my ongoing cookbook project that I am working on as I have time.


Connie J. Jasperson is an author and blogger and can be found blogging regularly at Life in the Realm of Fantasy.

That Christmas Feeling

I love the sights and scents of the holiday season. Cookies baking, houses on our street with lighted displays–you don’t have to go wild to make a huge impression. My dear hubby always puts a few decorations out, little trees made of white lights and lighted candy canes.

All up and down our neighborhood, homes are decorated for the season. Anyone driving through our little valley will see some ambitious displays. Our home is really quite simple in its holiday decorating–a tree, candles, a cute centerpiece for the table. We keep it simple because we have to tear it down and put it all away over New Year’s day, and that rapidly becomes a bore.  It’s work, and I don’t like anything that falls into the category of labor. But I love looking at other people’s efforts!

Wrapping the presents is also a bore, but I am now the queen of bags! I love that all I have to do is remove the price-tag, fold a little tissue around it and stuff it in a bag. Jam a little tissue in the top and voila! Christmas is served! No more tape sticking to the wrong place and no more hunting for the scissors I just set down.

Just lazy me, blowing through wrapping the pile of presents like a sleigh through the snow!

We have a lot of grandkids. We’ll make sure their gifts arrive at their houses before the big day. It’s sad when their presents leave our house to go under the trees in their homes because our tree looks a bit lonely. But not for long–we’ll soon have a few bags under there, just a little something for the two old people to enjoy on their quiet Christmas morning with the son who lives nearby.

It doesn’t take a lot to make the place feel festive. A little here and there and the house feels warmer, cozier. An atmosphere of peace and well-being. I will roast a turkey breast for my hubby because he is a carnivore, but I will make a vegan entrée for me, a Hazelnut-Cranberry Roast made by the Seattle-based Field Roast Company. Everything I cook will be vegan except Greg’s turkey, and it will be delicious.

I make all the traditional dishes, substituting Earth Balance vegan margarine and almond or rice milk for the dairy. I use vegetable broth to make the cranberry walnut stuffing. Anyone can eat well if they choose to, and it’s not any more expensive than eating junk food, cheaper if you want to know the truth.

This is my recipe for:



  •  3/4 cup white or button mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 small yellow or white onion, minced
  • 1/4 cup vegan margarine
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce (for gluten free, use corn starch to thicken the broth)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tbsp poultry seasoning (or 1/2 tsp each of sage, thyme, and marjoram)
  • salt and pepper to taste


In a large skillet, melt the vegan margarine and add onion and mushrooms. Sauté for just a minute or two over high heat.

Reduce heat to medium and add vegetable broth and soy sauce. Slowly add flour, stirring well to combine and prevent lumps from forming. Bring to a simmer or a low boil, then reduce heat.

I love this time of year. Great food, all the Christmas lights, and decorations–I kind of go nuts. When we take the presents round to our children’s homes I feel a sense of having succeeded–they have new traditions for their children, combined some from our past. I feel a sense of continuity–We’re the grandparents now, the old-fashioned ones, the ones who always have time for a cuddle and never deny a grandchild a cookie when he wants one.

We’re always in the background, knowing we’re slightly in the way of our daughters as they work to get things done, but trying not to be. We gladly wrangle the children, delighted to be mauled or sat on, happy to have our hair brushed, or even our toenails painted if that’s what makes a child happy. We’ll play Legos with them until the cows come home so their parents can get the real work of the holidays done.

When we were the parents and our children were small, our parents were there for them, being the old, wise people who loved them as unconditionally as we love our grandchildren

In this holiday dance, the circle is complete.

My favorite #vegan macaroni salad

Summer is salad time, and from my way of thinking, nothing says summer like a wonderful macaroni salad. If I have all the ingredients listed below on hand, I use them all–it makes an amazing salad. The one thing that never changes is the extraordinarily simple dressing, as it defines the Southwest flavor. The finely diced smoked tofu absorbs the flavors of the dressing and other ingredients, adding the protein in small, flavorful bites, so delicious that most carnivores won’t even know they’re enjoying tofu. (Do warn people there is soy in the salad dressing even if you don’t go with the tofu, as some people are sensitive to it and we don’t want to cause them to have an allergic reaction.)

pasta saladVegan Pasta Salad with South-of-the-Border Dressing


  • 1 pound (16 oz package) colorful vegan pasta, macaroni, spirals, or smaller sized pasta

Add ins:

  • 1 cup sliced olives, your favorite kind
  • 1 cup baked, smoked tofu, diced in tiny cubes
  • 1 cup frozen corn (whole kernel)—I love Trader Joe’s Fire-Roasted Corn
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups vegan cheese, grated (I like Daiya Jalapeno Harvarti)
  • 1/2 cup chopped yellow and red bell peppers
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • 1 cup frozen edamame or peas
  • 1 cup sliced scallions (or onions if you are daring)
  • 1 cup sliced radishes
  • 1 can rinsed black beans


  • 3/4 cup Veganaise (or other vegan mayo)
  • 3/4 cup Salsa (your favorite brand)


Cook a whole package of pasta according to package directions. Drain and allow to cool before using. Once your pasta is cool, stir in the add-ins, dump the mayo and salsa on top and stir it all together. Allow to sit in the fridge for at least 1/2 to 1 hour to allow the flavors to meld and serve. (Add a little more mayo and salsa in equal parts if the pasta has soaked up the dressing and is too dry for your taste.)

Strawberries & Cream Cheese

Strawberry In true Pacific Northwest fashion, summer has come in the middle of April. Wait, I blinked. It’s gone again. Around here, clear, warm weather is like a somewhat crazy, noncommittal lover. He waltzes in when you least expect it and turns everything upside down. Just when you think you’ve adjusted, he drifts out the door and leaves you in the cold again.

To me, summer means more than heat and sunshine, of course. It means strawberries. Strawberry shortcake. Strawberry pie. Strawberries in the salad–fruit or otherwise. Move over winter squash, I’ve got some strawberries to devour.

My favorite simple way to turn strawberries into a dessert worthy of a fancy restaurant is to slice them one way or another, arrange them on shortcake biscuits, and drizzle them with my favorite cream cheese frosting. Ice cream works in a pinch, but cream cheese frosting is surprisingly easy to make.

Take 2 Tbsp cream cheese, 2 Tbsp sugar, 1 Tbsp butter, and beat into submission with an electric mixer. Add 1 Tbsp heavy cream or buttermilk and churn it until blended. If you must use something else, any kind of liquid will work, but I claim no responsibility if skim milk or the tears of innocent almonds don’t live up to your expectations. Some might appreciate a splash or lemon juice in with the cream. That’s it. With your ingredients at room temperature, this frosting takes about 5 minutes to prepare.

This recipe doubles, quintuples, or whatever-uples nicely.

Strawberries of the area beware.

Getting Malled

I’ve been dragged to the seventh circle of hell, aka the Mall, for holiday shopping two days in a row. This means sniffing perfumed cards thrust under my nose, drinking over-priced coffee, and hauling bags the approximate of several kettlebells.images-1
The truth is both trips were really fun, so ignore my weary attempt at hipster chill in the previous paragraph. But the reason I had a good time was not the shops, nor the food courts, and certainly not the constant offers of reward cards as long as I hand over lots of sensitive info.
Yesterday the trip was with my daughter, who’s reaching an age where things get … sensitive. Let’s just say there are hormones involved. Lately we’ve been a terrible rut where I’m sick of myself. Yes, I grow more and more tired of my squawking voice as I howl at her to GET THE HECK OUT OF THE BED and don’t you miss the bus, young lady, because I surely am not driving you today.
Spoiler alert – I drove her that day.
So, it was lovely to forget all the homework, the grades, and the constant need to get a pre-teen lump out of warm blankets. We made each other laugh, especially when we realized the sweatshirt she wanted at Pac-Sun featured reindeer who were quite “friendly.”images
Today I hooked up with a pair of old friends and continued the carnage. There was more overpriced coffee (oh dear, I think I’m hooked) and more laughter. In fact, we guffawed so loudly about the poor oil baron’s wife who’ll end up having to wear that jeweled Victoria’s Secret bra we might have startled the guy at the calendar cart.
It’s been great, but I surely don’t mind being in my house for the next few months, the way things should be. I’ll crawl out to get staples like milk and chocolate, but that’s about it. In any case, the real shopping is about to begin – downloading the new books coming out this month.
I highly recommend it. I plan to do this shopping in pajamas and slippers, with a glass of something jolly firmly in hand. I want a few Gillian Flynn books as well as Nightingale, the historical novel about a pair of sisters in WWII.
And *shameless plus alert* don’t forget the upcoming Myrddin collection of short stories, featuring horror and romance and fantasy.
Oh yes. It will be mine.
While you’re shopping to feed your Kindle or the blank space in your bookshelves – do you have any blank spots? I definitely do not – why not toss together a batch of tassies? You can make the pecan or lemon version, and they’re delicious. Here are my recipes for both:

1 cup butter, softened
1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1. Beat 1 cup butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add flour to butter mixture, beating at low speed. Shape mixture into 48 balls, and place on a baking sheet; cover and chill 1 hour.
2. Place 1 dough ball into each lightly greased muffin cup in mini muffin pans, shaping each into a shell.
3. Whisk together brown sugar and next 5 ingredients. Spoon into tart shells.
4. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until filling is set. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove from pans; cool on wire racks 20 minutes or until completely cool.
Prep: 45 min., Chill: 1 hr., Bake: 20 min., Cool: 30 min. If you don’t have four mini muffin pans, you can bake these in batches. Keep the extra dough chilled until you’re ready to use it.

• 5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks, plus more for pans
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 3 tablespoons sugar
• 1 large egg yolk
• 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
• Pinch of salt
• 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
• 1/3 cup sugar
• 1 large egg
• 3 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
• 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
• 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. For candied lemon zest: Remove zest from lemons with a vegetable peeler, keeping pieces long. Remove white pith using a paring knife, and finely julienne using a very sharp knife. Place julienned zest in a small bowl; cover with boiling water. Let stand for 30 minutes; drain.
2. Bring 1 cup sugar and the cool water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. When sugar is completely dissolved, add julienned zest, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand overnight. Remove zest, and drain on wire rack. Roll in sugar. Dry on wire rack. Store zest in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with rack in upper third. Lightly butter a 24-cup mini-muffin pan; set aside. In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, combine the flour and butter. Pulse until mixture is the consistency of fine crumbs. Add the sugar, egg yolk, vanilla, lemon zest, and salt. Process until evenly incorporated and smooth; do not overprocess.
4. Divide the dough into quarters. Divide each quarter into 6 pieces. Shape into balls. Place each ball in a muffin cup; press down in the centers so that the dough fits the cups snugly. Set muffin pan on a baking sheet.
5. Bake until lightly browned all over and slightly darker at the edges, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer baking sheet with muffin pan to a wire rack to cool.
6. Make the filling: In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese, sugar, egg, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla until completely smooth. Using a 1/4-ounce ice cream scoop, fill the cooled crusts. Bake until filling is set and just beginning to color at the edges, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer muffin pan to a wire rack. Garnish with candied lemon peel. Let cool completely before serving. The tassies may be stored in an airtight container, refrigerated, for up to 3 days.

Bill Bryson and Peach Cobbler

I grew up in Texas, and I know how to survive the summer. Mostly, for a redhead, this means to stay out of it. Austin sits at the same latitude as the Sahara Desert, with similar climate. Or in the words of Robin Williams: “It’s hot. Damn hot! Real hot!”
The only sane activities are conducted near water or in air conditioned buildings.
But there are compensations. This year, the peaches are especially large and sweet. This is due not only to the torrential, flooding rains that came around Memorial Day but also due to having at least one hard freeze in the winter. For some reason, peaches like these kinds of things. Although they are soft, delicious, and tender fruits, they are unaccountably tough.

Technically these are nectarines, the fuzz-free peach. Though fuzzless, these are still great in the cobbler. They also make a good still life subject.
“Technically these are nectarines, the fuzz-free peach. Though fuzzless, these are still great in the cobbler. They also make a good still life subject.”

When I was a child, our house had a creek in the backyard. Mom and Dad planted peach, plum and pear trees. We weren’t really great at growing things, but the fruit trees, especially the peaches, were tough then too. It helped that the creek was fed by natural underground springs to make up for our haphazard watering. We had big sweet peaches every summer. There were always too many of them, even with squirrels and birds and a variety of bugs gobbling them up. There were too many for me and my friends to just eat off the tree, though the sticky delight of that and then spraying off in the garden hose or jumping in the creek was a fantastic way to spend a summer evening.

But the best thing to do with peaches was make them into a cobbler. Not just any cobbler. This one: “Peach Cobbler Number Two”, submitted by Mrs. C.J. Erbacher of the Methodist Mother’s Round Table for their 1968 church cookbook. My mother had a copy of course, having been a member of the Methodist Round Table for a brief time. They required all members to wear armor and compete in jousts while singing hymns written by John Wesley himself. It was a demanding and exhausting group.

Methodists do not kid around when they make peach cobbler. The recipe calls for one and a half sticks of butter. You can use margarine and it will still be fine. (It won’t be all that much better for you though, so you might as well have the butter.)

The Methodists use this cobbler to make converts. They also use it to foment revolution in third world countries. This cobbler can heal deep emotional wounds, encourage litigants to settle amicably, and destroy your political opposition when served at your campaign events. It can also win the stomach (and therefore the heart) of your true love, especially if you add a scoop of ice cream.

The butter, sugar and peaches caramelize in this thing to make something that melds cake, pudding, pie and candy textures and flavors. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Stick your feet in a pool while you eat it. You’ll be glad you did. It almost makes up for the heat, torrential rains, locusts, and mosquito-borne diseases of that godforsaken hellhole I call home.*

Peach Cobbler #2
Submitted by Mrs. C.J. Erbacher

Sift together: 1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 tspn. Baking powder
Pinch salt.
Add ½ cup sweet milk (or enough to make a batter the consistency of pancake batter. I usually add ¾ cup) Add 1 teaspoon vanilla. Melt and brown lightly 1 and ½ sticks of margarine (butter) in a baking dish. While margarine is still hot, pour the batter over it, sprinkle with nutmeg, and add 1 can drained sliced peaches or use fresh ripe peaches, sliced. (Takes about three large or four medium peaches). Bake in a moderate oven (375 deg) for about forty minutes, or until golden brown. The batter will come to the top.

While healing deep emotional wounds with Cobbler Number Two, I’ve been reading Bill Bryson’s One Summer. Bryson is one of my very favorite writers of all time. He is a master of the anecdote, and he mixes the events of the summer of 1927 in a way that…well…caramelizes them into a tasty and cohesive whole.

Lindbergh, shy and retiring, flies across the Atlantic in what is essentially a paper airplane, and is rewarded with crowds of adoring fans. He hates the fame. He loves flying. Babe Ruth, by contrast, loves the fame and the crowds and the resulting easy access to the ladies. He seduces Lou Gehrig’s wife, thereby turning their friendly rivalry for homeruns into something decidedly unfriendly. Herbert Hoover meticulously plans flood relief from the torrential Mississippi river floods of that summer, paving the way to his successful election as president. Four bankers meet in Europe and decide that the Federal Reserve will cut its discount rate for gold from 4 percent to 3.5 percent, to encourage owners of gold to mover their savings to Europe so they could enjoy higher returns. They figured that America could “absorb the stimulus of a small rate cut without going crazy.”

This was incorrect, and in fact led directly to the market going insane enough to cause its collapse, which brought us The Great Depression. This in turn was blamed on Herbert Hoover. This in spite of the fact that he had nothing to do with it, and his predecessor, Calvin Coolidge, preferred dressing up as a cowboy to actually acting like a president. There’s more. It gets complicated and rich and full of tasty digressions, which is what Bryson excels at.

So you’ve got your instructions. Pick up One Summer, make this cobbler, and go jump in the lake. Or try wading in a creek near a grove of peach trees. Watch out for Methodists.

• “That Godforsaken Hellhole I Call Home” is a great song by the Austin Lounge Lizards, who know of what they sing.

Marilyn Rucker is an author and singer/songwriter living in the blazing inferno that is summer in Austin Texas. Her mystery novel, Sax and the Suburb, is available at and
Marilyn in yellow dress at piano


Why We Love Summer (And You Should, Too!)

Courtesy of
Courtesy of

Ah, summer – halcyon days of sunshine, friendship, and those popsicles that come with two sticks. Here on the east coast we head to the shore whenever possible (early so we get a parking spot,) flop on the sand, and drag out a packed lunch. And a book to go with it, of course.
You can’t go wrong with sliced tomatoes on your sandwich or, indeed, on anything. They’re juicy and delicious at the moment, tasting like summer itself if you let them ripen on your windowsill. Personally, I like nothing but tomatoes on the best wheat bread I can find, with just a dab of mayonnaise and lots of pepper. A dash of salt brings the sandwich into the realm of the sublime.
What, add an ear of corn on the cob alongside? Oh, yes please.
If you love wheat bread and want to make your own, you can’t go wrong with beer bread. It’s simple and delicious. In fact, I’ve seen grown women eat hunks of it in my kitchen straight from the pan with no butter or toppings. Shame on you, women – you know who you are. Anyway, because I love you, here’s my super easy, super yummy recipe.

Courtesy WikiCommons
Courtesy WikiCommons

Whole Wheat Beer Bread

1 ½ cups (215 grams) all-purpose flour (I like Serasota or King Arthur)
1 ½ cups (215 grams) whole-wheat flour (ditto on the brands)
4 ½ teaspoons (22 grams) baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons (7 grams) salt
1/3 cup (50 grams) packed brown sugar (you may substitute this with 4 tablespoons of agave)
1 12 ounce (360 ml) bottle of beer – feel free to try different brands for cool flavors

1. Preheat oven to 350 F / 175 C. Lightly grease a 9×5 inch (900 g) loaf pan.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, baking powder, salt, and brown sugar. Pour in beer, stir until a stiff batter is formed. It may be necessary to mix dough with your hands. Scrape dough into prepared loaf pan.
3. Bake in preheated oven for 50 – 60 minutes until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Remove loaf from pan and allow to cool on a rack. Then go make another one because your family has already eaten the whole loaf you just baked.

Back to that ear of corn: I’ve learned if you chop off the tops and tails before microwaving 5 minutes (rotate halfway through) right in the silk, the corn comes out perfectly. Let it sit until it isn’t nuclear to the touch and husk the perfectly done corn. I like it plain without any toppings, but my husband smothers his in butter. Each to their own.

Now you’re settled on the beach, the kids are fed, umbrellas are up, sunscreen is applied. It’s time to bring out a really good novel to read or, if you’re like me, a fantastic collection of short stories will also do the trick.
What are you reading this summer? I just finished Girl on a Train, which was amazing. The ending (no spoilers, don’t worry) was a bit talky / monologue-ish, but I couldn’t put the book down. I also loved Huw the Bard, which sucked me right into a medieval world of political intrigue, meticulous fantasy, and sexy Huw himself. Do I have a crush on him, with his waist-length hair? Oh, you bet I do.
I’m a sucker for slipstream, and Kelly Link’s new collection Get in Trouble: Stories horrified and delighted me at the same time. I love writers who can do that.
Darker Places is another collection with macabre pieces taking me to entirely original places. Want a masquerade gone wrong? Darker Places will provide.

When it’s time for a drink, honestly there’s nothing better than good old seltzer with fresh lime and a spring of mint. For those who like a bit of a kick, a dollop or two of vodka is mighty refreshing along with the seltzer. It’s a light, summery drink that won’t head south to the waistline so you can wear your (in my case) parental tankini with aplomb.
Here’s to a wonderful summer filled with food, friends, and fabulous fiction.

Alison DeLuca is an author with Myrddin Publishing. Below is a list of her books: