Saturday, December 21, 2013

Jane's Cracker Jack recipe

Jane and Jerry in front of Emma Giesy's quilt at the Aurora Colony Museum.

I'm not much of a cook or a baker. I got through the sixties with Julia Child's books on French Cooking. But somewhere along the way I found a recipe for Cracker Jacks. I make a three or four batches and give them away to neighbors and friends at Christmas. They get rave reviews. Since I'm allergic to corn I can't eat them so I accept the reviews of others. I posted a picture of my caramel rising on Facebook and mentioned my terrible mistake using cooking oil in place of corn syrup. The caramel never "fixed" and I finally read a label.  Opps!
  We set the pan outside in minus 10 degree weather to cool before dumping it and forgot about it.  When we remembered we got hard as a rock. We had to chip it out. If you avoid that sort of error you can enjoy this recipe for years to come.  
     The recipe below is a small gift to each of you from Jerry and me.  Wish I could make enough for each of you!  Merry Christmas every one.  Jane

Jane's Cracker jacks

Pop 6 quarts of popcorn and put in a large bowl. Add salt and nuts if preferred. I add nuts in layers.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees

Place in pan over low heat
2 sticks butter
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/2 tsp salt if desired.

Bring to boil stirring steadily. When in full boil, oil for 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and add 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda and stir.  As the goop caramelizes pour over the popcorn and nuts and stir.

Put In roasting pans and bake for one hour. Stir every fifteen minutes. 
Store in airtight container.
Add little toys if you want.  Just like the old days. Enjoy!

Ps. The author of Blue Moon Vegetarian has some options including coconut oil in place of butter and coconut in place of sugar. You might check that out. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Traveling with Jane's Fiction

I heard Janis, a docent at the Aurora Colony Museum climb the wooden steps while I researched in the museum archives. I hoped to write a quilt and craft history book to walk beside my novel Change and Cherish series (recently renamed and included in one BIG book called Emma of Aurora). "There are two couples downstairs in the museum who came here on the train from Ohio," the docent told me.

"Really? How nice."

"They came because they read about Emma in your novels. They wanted to see where Emma walked and to look at the two front doors of her house. I know they'd love to meet you."

"I'd like to meet them!"

Down the stairs we clopped to encounter two warm couples, a mom and dad and their daughter and son-in-law who had taken the train across the country to Portland, rented a car and just driven down to the museum. They planned to drive from this small town south of Portland to Willapa Bay, site of the second novel in the series, visit the Pacific County Museum near Raymond, Washington, and the grave site of Emma's husband and then drive to Seattle and fly home.

"Have you ever been west before?" I asked.

They hadn't been west of the Mississippi River before Emma lured them here - just as she helped bring the Bethel colony of Missouri west in the mid 1850s. "You men are really special," I said. "Bringing your brides all this way because of books they'd read."

"We read them, too," the dad told me. "Great history. Don't read many novels but I read yours."

Photo Credit: Linda Graham, Shore Acres
From A Gathering of Finches

I've had the pleasure of hearing those words more than once. One man said he came to a presentation of mine about my books as his birthday present. "I always thought I was born 100 years too late. Your books have given me a community. You have people who are real, who make mistakes and who also try to live good lives, treat women with respect, serve their families as best they can."

I suspect it's writing about real people who allow those positive character traits to shine through, traits that make people want to experience what they experienced, to walk where they walked.

I've heard from readers who visited Shore Acres State Park on the southern Oregon coast or who actually stopped at the Warm Springs Museum on their way back to Portland instead of simply driving by. One reader told me they visited the Stranahan House in Fort Lauderdale, Florida only to see that it was closed for renovations. They'd come a long way to gaze on Ivy's history. "We noticed someone was inside so we held up Mystic Sweet Communion at the window and a woman came out and said, 'Come on in. I'll give you the tour myself.'" They were thrilled. The Happy Bookers, a book group near Shasta City, California, sent a contingent my way who were traveling I-5 visiting scenes from No Eye Can See and What Once We Loved on their way to visit Aurora.

Many people send me photographs of their visits to places from my books. Now they'll be able to share those photos with many others on my community page on Pinterest, Traveling with Jane. I'm delighted to have a way to showcase those photographs and to hear a little snippet about your journey into history.

I hope you'll enjoy posting your own photographs. If you would like to pin any of your travels to locations in my books, notify me of your interest in the comments below or email my assistant (impactauthor {at} comcast {dot} net, please include your Pinterest URL or profile name) and you will be added to the board (once you are added you will receive a confirmation email from Pinterest).  Be sure it's ok with whoever is in your picture (if it isn't just you) to share it. If you are not on Pinterest, I would still love to have your photos!  Please send any you have with a description to the email address above.

I wish I knew the names of those couples from Ohio so I could find out if their journey to the Pacific was memorable and so I could send them a copy of the quilt book Aurora: An American Experience in Quilt, Community and Craft the book I was working on the day they made my day!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

People to Applaud

Undercover Quilters
People come from all over the world to Sisters, Oregon during Quilt week in July. It's an outdoor show and on Saturday more than a thousand quilts are hung from clotheslines, against wooden walls of the drug store, throughout the park and spilling over into fabric and western stores who proudly show off the fabric art. After the classes offered on new quilting techniques or quilt histories and special exhibitions, the local bookstore invites authors in for presentations. Though not a quilter, I've been privileged to be invited to Paulina Springs Bookstore for many years now. Quilters are great readers. I hope to be back again next summer.

One year, with around 75 people filling the chairs I asked how many attending were quilters? Only half the people raised their hands. I expressed my surprise. "Well, there have to be people to applaud," one woman explained. I loved that!

Yesterday my hairdresser raved about the accomplishments of a customer of hers - a woman who built her own addition onto her house, who takes her sister fishing in Alaska, who is a terrific mom and wife and excels at everything. She said it with both admiration and lament. It was the lament I responded to. "Well" I said. "There have to be people to applaud." We decided that was a great way to celebrate those we admire without having to feel inadequate. We may not be as skilled or productive as those admirable souls but we can celebrate them.

Opening up a community board on my Pinterest page is one way I can applaud my readers who quilt. It's also a way for those of you who might have quilted a version of my books to add pictures to the site to share with others. You may not be able to hear the oohs and aahs but know that they are being expressed.

The Undercover Quilters, a group in Bend, Oregon, quilted their version of Love to Water My Soul. That's a book based on my husband's great-great grandmother who was lost from a wagon train and raised by them. A local quilt store displayed their artwork and later they were also included in a special showing at the Sister's show.

A writer hopes her work will move people, emotionally for sure. It's also a delight to discover the stories have moved people to create in their own fashion, for my stories to be the inspiration for other stories around quilts. I hope you'll enjoy posting your own photographs. If you would like to pin any of your quilt projects, notify me of your interest in the comments below or email my assistant (impactauthor {at} comcast {dot} net, please include your Pinterest URL or profile name) and you will be added to the board (once you are added you will receive a confirmation email from Pinterest). And for the rest of us who don't quilt, we can just applaud by visiting those who do by visiting the quilting with Jane board and commenting or simply "liking" their pin.  Be sure to keep returning back. There are only a few loaded, but many more will be added this week.  We wanted to wait till everyone had much more information.
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