Monthly Archives: March 2014

Makeshift Pastry Bag for Muffins and Cupcakes

MuffinTinNow that my alter ego has her most recent book out – and she is starting on her next one – I need to focus some of my energy on completing my cookbook, Recipe Traditions, A New Generation. One thing that has given me a kick in the motivation is the recent release of Miss Terry’s Kitchen, by my friend and professional RVer, Terry Russell. Terry travels with her husband, New York Times bestselling author Nick Russell, and together they publish the Gypsy Journal RV Travel Newspaper.

Terry’s book has been a great success, but I imagine one reason for that is that she is a great cook. She’s been sharing her recipes with readers of the Gypsy Journal RV Travel Newspaper for years.

This morning I made muffins – yet I will have to confess it was more for my mom than research for my cookbook. While making the muffins I decided to take some photos of how I fill my muffin tins, so I could share it with you here

Instead of spooning the mixture into the tin, I prefer filling with a makeshift pastry bag, made from a large plastic zip-lock-like bag.  The first thing I do is fit an empty bag into a large measuring cup, and then fill with the mixture. You can see how I did that in the first photo.

After closing the bag while removing any excess air, I cut off one bottom corner of the bag. It’s important not to squish all the mixture to the bottom of the bag before you do this, or you’ll have a mess. You can see what I mean in the middle photo.

I then fill the muffin tin using the bag, operating it like a pastry bag and squirting the mixture in each cup. My third photo is a bit awkward, as I needed an extra hand to hold the bag properly while shooting the photo with my iPad. But, I think you get the idea.

My book is my baby…or how to inflame reviewers.

babybookSome authors refer to their books as their babies. Apparently this particular metaphor really pisses off some reviewers, who then take it upon themselves to swoop down on the authors and punish them for making the comparison.

Of course, this is not the first time people have found a metaphor inappropriate. Take the term Nazi, for instance. Maybe Seinfeld got away with the “Soup Nazi” – but others who’ve applied that term have often been bashed, with their critics insisting using the term carelessly minimizes the horror of the Holocaust.

While I’ve never considered the books I write to be my “babies” – I understand why some authors choose that term.

On the flip side, I understand why some reviewers find the term inappropriate – although I don’t get the rage it incites with some reviewers (I mean really folks, get a life).

The thing is – it is never a good idea to criticize a person’s baby. That is a quick way to make an enemy. Imagine telling your friend, “Gosh that is one ugly baby,” or “Your baby isn’t very smart,” or “Your baby is pretty boring.”

If we want to grow as writers, we need to accept honest criticism. I’m not talking about those nasty troll reviews – and believe me, there are plenty of those out there – but even those we need to consider, if even for a moment.

When we seriously see our books as our babies, then we miss an opportunity to learn from honest, yet negative reviews.

As for me, if you trash my babies – meaning my son or daughter – then buddy, you really are in for a fight. It doesn’t matter if what you are saying is true or false – that typically doesn’t matter to a protective mother bear.

My Claims to Fame

Antique manual typewriter isolated on whiteMy claims to fame in high school were that I drove a boat to school and that I typed all my notes.

The first made me cool – the second made me nerdy. So I suppose they sort of balanced me out.

Living on the California side of Lake Havasu at Havasu Palms, I took a 12-mile (round trip) boat ride each school day – beginning in my sophomore year. A friend who lived with my family for a portion of my sophomore year shared the boat ride with me, but for most of the time, it was a solo run.

My boating adventures included numerous engine failures – being caught in storms – once I sunk the boat (okay, I did make it to shore, but it was going down fast) – and once I rescued a drowning man (okay, he wasn’t drowning exactly; he had foolishly put an engine on his canoe, and when I found him his canoe had capsized and he was precariously holding onto the tip of the craft in frigid water).

As for the notes – those were typed on an old red Royal typewriter my grandfather had given me. The keyboard – now attached to a computer instead of typewriter — remains my preference over pen and paper. Had laptops been invented back when I was in high school, then perhaps the typing thing wouldn’t have seemed so nerdy.