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Sweet Spring Onions

My sweet onions are ready for harvest!  Is there a better sign that spring is in the air?

Okay, so spring isn’t in the air everywhere at the moment and I should know–the family and I just flew home from Denver, CO where Old Man Winter is blowing hard and furious.  But the cold will make this recipe all the sweeter. 🙂  It’s sweet and savory and the aroma alone will delight your senses.

If you like French Onion Soup, you’re going to LOVE this dish.  While a sure-fire hit in the fall, this delicacy is welcome in my home any time of the year.   Taken from the magazine, Cuisine at Home, it’s simple and easy to make, much like homemade French Onion Soup.   And worth every minute.   Sliced onions cooked until they caramelize are a guaranteed winner in any household and when you add cheese, the whole world turns sweeter.   Especially when we’re talking Gruyère cheese.   (Is your mouth watering yet?)

Baked Sweet Onions

Onions au Gratin

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

8 cups sliced sweet onions

1/2 cup dry sherry or chicken broth (I used sherry)

2 bay leaves

1/2 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1/2 cup shredded Gruyère cheese

1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved (I skipped these)

Preheat oven to 400°F

Melt butter in a large cast-iron or other ovenproof skillet over medium heat.  Add onions, stirring until slightly softened to make room in the pan (I don’t know what this means—I just sautéed the correct amount of onions); cover and cook until completely softened, 10 minutes.

Add sherry, thyme, and bay leaves; increase heat to medium-high.  Sauté, uncovered, until the liquid evaporates and onions are browning, stirring occasionally, 10-15 minutes (mine may have been 20 minutes, but caramelizing onions is a fairly forgiving process).

Combine cheeses, then stir 1/2 cup of cheese mixture into onion mixture.  Top with remaining 1/2 cup cheese and bake until cheese is bubbly and browned, about 20 minutes.

Remove thyme sprigs and bay leaves, then sprinkle with olives.  Let stand to cool slightly before serving.

Makes 4 servings.   Total time: approx. 50 minutes.

Cuisine at Home is a great publication.  Not only does it offer phenomenal recipes, but it includes color photographs of the cooking process.  Indispensable for novices like myself!



Tabula Rasa

I’m gearing up for the kids to go back to school in a few weeks and I want to start writing another book.  But, just like last year, I’m coming up blank.  My mind feels like a tabula rasa.  An empty slate.  Idealess.

What to do?

Every writer has a way to come up with new ideas for books.  Me, not so much.  I don’t know how or why the ideas entered my mind for the four novels I’ve written.  It was more of a lightening strike than anything that I “did”.  The ideas came to me totally out of the blue.

Now I’m trying to figure out what to write again and nothing is coming to mind.  Maybe I should read the Stephen King book on writing that I bought several months back that’s languishing on my table.  Perhaps that will give me the inspiration I’m looking for.

But I know there’s a ton of advice out there for me and I’ve read a lot of it, I’m sure.  But right now I’m drawing a blank about that as well.

A little help needed please….

AAA – Animals Against Anxiety

I love animals.  I write about them weekly on my blog.  I have two chocolate labs (mother and son) and a Friesian horse.  I’m happy to do anything for my furry friends and can’t imagine life without them.

What I find the most interesting thing is why humans decide to share their lives with furry critters who are not humans. What is inside of our hearts and heads that causes us to gravitate toward living with dogs, cats, bunnies, horses, snakes, guinea pigs, ducks, whatever.

For me, I’d have to say it’s the unconditional love I receive from my dogs and horse.  Whether I am having a good or bad day they’re always so excited to see me.  And they (whoever THEY are) say that dogs don’t know about time.  Sorry, not true.  My dogs act differently when I’ve been gone for hours versus minutes.  They’re big.  And when I come home after three hours at the barn, they’re so excited to see  me, they jump all over me, knock me down sometimes, and Jack (whom I hand-fed to health from birth) has to lick me, nibble on my ears, and whines until he’s gotten his “Patti Fix”.

No human being, besides when my kids were VERY young, is ever as excited as Annabella and Jack are to see me.  And Jack has to sleep right next to me, often near my head on a pillow, to be next to his “mommy”.  And Maximus definitely knows I’m his mom – no doubt.  He acts completely different with me than with other riders and he follows me around like a puppy when we’re walking around together in the huge arena.

It’s been proven that having a pet reduces anxiety.  I know when I’m having a bad day, if Jack cuddles up next to me, I feel better.  I can play with his velvety-soft ears and kiss his face and he’s happy to help.

If you have furry friends living with you, why do you choose to do that?

How Often and How Much?

I’ve been reading a lot lately about how a writer should write every single day.  That we should set a goal of X amount of words and work toward that diligently.  That writing X amount of words a day multiplied by 365 days a year will surely lead to a book (or two). I know all rules are not for everybody.  That no one can tell you how you should write or what you should write or what time you should write.  Duh!  But after reading so many of these posts by authors and agents and everyone else on the planet, I am almost itching inside to find out what my fellow writers think about this.

Why?  Because I do not and never have done it this way.  I’ve written four books, one published and one to be published sometime this year, and I don’t adhere to this “rule” and never have and can’t picture doing it, given my personal life, family, and whatever else is going on in my world.  When I finally get an idea for a book I’ll start and I’ll write until it’s finished.  Then I revise “til the cows come home” and then revise some more.  Then months may go by where all I’m doing is social media, blog tours, querying agents, etc… and I’m not writing at all.  I let my brain have a rest and when I get inspired I go for it all over again and start another book.  But this in-your-face rule about writing every day has made me feel so guilty and like such a loser in the writing world, I’d like to know what you do.  What do you think about this rule?

Thanks so much for commenting.

Summer’s Here!

I just saw on the news that Summer is officially here on June 20th. Oh my goodness. And we have no firm plans for our family vacation.For the last two years we rented a house on the Russian River and taken our dogs. But this year we didn’t plan enough ahead, so we won’t be going there. We’re researching homes to rent in the Lake Tahoe or Santa Barbara areas, but many of them have no openings at this point. We’re not leaving California since it’s just too much driving with our two big dogs in the back of the truck and they bark most of the time.

I’m partial to the ocean.  My husband loves lakes and the mountains.  He doesn’t want to drive that far.  I think a six-hour drive to Santa Barbara is no big thing.  Ay-yi-yi!  How will the twain meet?  The kids really don’t care, as long as it’s a “nice place”, they say.  So, do you have any plans for the summer?  Mountains or lakes or ocean?

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