Saturday, August 31, 2013

Deep dish #peach #pie

Peaches are my favorite summer fruit and I make lots of desserts with them. Deep dish peach pie is one that seems to be gobbled up the fastest!  So here is the recipe I use.

My pie crust recipe comes from Betty Crocker's Cookbook, 1969 edition.  It was a shower gift before my wedding.  I've been using this recipe for pie crusts all these years.  Though I've tried others, I always come back to this one.

10-Inch Two-Crust Pie
2 2/3 cups Gold Medal Flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup shortening (or 3/4 cup plus w tablespoons lard) (My note-- I use Crisco.  A new can of shortening always seems to produce my flakiest, melt -in-your-mouth crusts.)
7-8 tablespoons cold water

Measure flour and salt into bowl.  Cut in shortening thoroughly.  Sprinkle in water, a tablespoon at a time, mixing until flour is moistened and dough almost cleans side of bowl (1 to 2 teaspoons water can be added if needed).

Gather dough into ball; shape into flattened round on lightly floured cloth-covered board. (For Two-crust Pie, divide dough in half and shape into 2 flattened rounds.) With floured stockinet-covered rolling pin, roll dough 2 inches larger than inverted pie pan.  (My note--I've tried the new silicone matts with silicone rolling pins.  I always go back to my pastry cloth!)

Peach Filling
6 cups sliced peaches if using deep dish, 5 cups for regular pie plate
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
about 1 1/2 tablespoons butter

Slice peaches into large bowl.  Sprinkle with sugar, cinnamon, salt and flour.  Stir well. (I don't let this sit too long because the sugar on the peaches creates more juice.)  Pour the mixture into your shell and slice butter here and there.  Either top with second pie shell or use a pastry cutter to cut the rolled shell into lattice strips.  Weave those on top of the pie like in the picture above.  Bake in 400 degree oven for 45-50 minutes until top is golden brown.  I use a crust edge guard to prevent the edges from browing too much.


My sleuth Caprice De Luca in my mystery series loves to cook.   Her Nana Celia makes this peach pie every summer. :)

Karen Rose Smith's romance website 
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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Oreo Icebox #Dessert

Oreo Icebox Dessert is one of our favorite summer desserts. It always gets high marks at picnics and gatherings.  And it's so easy to make.  The Oreos pictured above are the peanut butter filling stuffed ones. You can use those to make this treat even more delicious. What I like best is that I can make this dessert ahead of time.

30 Oreo cookies (after crumbled or crushed reserve 1 cup)
8 oz. cream cheese softened
2 cups confectioners sugar
2/3 cup peanut butter
1 cup milk
2 - 8 oz. containers of Cool Whip

In a 9 x 13 inch pan, spread crumbled cookies. In a mixing bowl blend softened cream cheese, peanut butter, half of confectioners sugar and half of milk.  Then add other half of confectioner's sugar and milk. Beat until smooth, then fold in containers of Cool Whip.  Pour over cookies, sprinkle about a cup of crumbs on top and freeze overnight!

Karen Rose Smith's romance website 
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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Cats Do The Unexpected, Watching Over #Feral and Homeless #Cats, Part 4

Just when you think you have cats figured out...

Romeo is a feral cat who won't come close.  He watches from afar.  There's a pine tree at the edge of our property that makes a perfect cover when he doesn't want to be seen.  One of the feral cats, Lance, is around all the time now.  He's not wandering off after he eats and he considers our back yard to be his.  But Romeo is interested in the food in the feeders.  At least that's what we thought he was interested in.

I have a little deck off my office that we never use.  Steps lead down to the backyard through French doors that we keep locked.  Once in a while I open the doors to let fresh air in and our three inside kitties like looking through the screen.  This day, it was closed.

Zoie, our year old black rescue kitty, saw him first.  Romeo was sunning himself on the deck!  I think he was oblivious to us behind the glass, but who knows.  Zoie meowed and he could have heard that.  I was talking to my husband and he could have heard that.  But we watched as he rolled and sunned and had a general good time.

After a little while, I went out another door to the back yard where the feeders are located.  Romeo was on one of the steps, watching me.  We looked each other in the eyes.  He didn't run this time.  But I told him I'd put food down and leave.  I spoke to him in a low calm voice and he kept watching.  I left food in the feeder and went inside.  A few minutes later through the window, I saw him eating.

You just never know what will happen next!

Another story about our ferals next week.

©2013 Karen Rose Smith


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Back To School Quick Supper--Flatbread healthier pizzas

Quick pizza supper!  This time of year with back to school, quick suppers are a huge help.  I don't have to worry about back-to-school anymore with my husband a retired teacher, but we're always looking for easy and quick on nights when cooking just isn't a priority.  I know "flatbread" has been around for a while but when I was at the grocery store last week, a pack of thin crust flatbreads, a six pack--size 12 x 4 each, was on special. It was available in plain, wheat, and garlic.  I bought the plain to try it.

Our tomatoes were late growing this year but they're coming in now.  So here is the recipe I used to make a quick, somewhat healthier version of pizza.

Warm the six flatbread pieces for five minutes in a 375 degree oven on 2 cookie sheets.  Then...

3 lbs. tomatoes, sliced VERY thin  Place on a platter and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon salt and 2 tablespoons sugar

1 pack turkey pepperoni (I use Hormel, 6 oz. pack)

5 tablespoons oregano or more if you like spicier

1 cup parmesan cheese

16 ounces of grated mozzarella cheese (I use part skim.)

After the flatbreads have warmed five minutes, sprinkle with parmesan cheese.  Spread the tomato slices on top.  Sprinkle with oregano.  Cover the tomatoes with the pepperoni, then spread on the mozzarella cheese!  Bake in 375 degree oven for ten minutes.  The edges of the flatbread should be crispy.

I hope you enjoy it!

Karen Rose Smith's romance website 
Karen Rose Smith's mystery website

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Friendship or Mating? Watching Over #Feral #Cats, Part 3

One evening, a change happened between the three feral cats that we're watching over. Catch up with Feral Cat blogs.

We thought the Smith diner for feral cats was closed for the evening. We thought Lance had left and Romeo had come and gone. But then...

I happened to look out the window as darkness was falling.  I called my husband over and the next fifteen minutes were amazing, an absolute study on how two cats relate.  By the way, I'm no expert on any of this behavior. For the past forty years, I've had inside cats. But we're learning.

Feral Cat house with upper loft for dryness and warmth. For now, Lance lays on top! I put catnip at both entrances.

Lance was on the patio at the feeder again.  This beautiful gray and white cat who we'd only glimpsed before cautiously approached the edge of the patio.  Lance saw her and froze.  She froze, too.  They stood that way for a long time.  Then very slowly, Guinevere (which is the name we dubbed her) slowly turned her head away from Lance.  He turned his head away from her.  They stayed in that position like the proverbial statues.

Even more very slowly...Guinevere lifted one paw at a time in slow motion. Lance remained still.  But then he turned toward her.  At this point they were about three feet apart.  They made some low meow noises, one almost answering the other and once again revolved their heads away from each other.  After a long pause, ever so cautiously, Guinevere took one step at a time toward Lance, approaching closer and closer.  It was like a choreographed dance.  (Again, I have no experience at this but this looked more like a getting-to-know-you session than a mating ritual.)

The reason we came to that conclusion is because of what happened next.  Guinevere slowly and gently brushed her cheek against Lance's--the one that had been injured.

Then Guinevere walked away from him, still in slow motion.  He watched her as she climbed on top of the feral feeder and crouched down.  Lance lay down, too.  They must have watched each other that way for another five mintues.  Afterward with great care, precision, and dexterity, Guinevere stole off the feeder onto the patio once more and headed for the dry food feeder about two feet away from the feral feeder.  Every few inches, she stopped and waited.  He laid on his side and watched.

(Keep in mind, Lance chases Romeo away when he sees him at the feeder.)

As Lance watched, the gray and white beauty dipped into the feeder and he let her.  She ate and left.

The continuing saga of Lance, Guinevere, and Romeo next week!


My sleuth, Caprice, in my Caprice De Luca mystery series rescues stray animals. My love of cats and dogs shines through in STAGED TO DEATH, the first book in the series available for Preorder now.

Preorder STAGED TO DEATH at Amazon

Preorder STAGED TO DEATH at Barnes and Noble

Karen Rose Smith's romance website 
Karen Rose Smith's mystery website
Karen's Facebook Author Page

©2013 Karen Rose Smith

Thursday, August 15, 2013

How #Photography Enhances #Writing and Life

I'm always looking for inspiration. When I'm inspired, writing flows more easily. My interest in photography began with pictures I took on research trips to remember everything about the settings.  It wasn't difficult to take beautiful pictures of the Red Rocks in Sedona, the Grand Canyon, Oak Creek Canyon as well as the sage, columbine, jack rabbits and big horn rams in the area.  I even managed a photo of a black bear!  Back home, those photos became my screen saver because they brought back memories and helped me add details to my manuscripts I might not have remembered otherwise.

I began taking lots of photos when my BFF visited with her daughter and when close friends visited with their children. Instead of just having the pictures for memories, I ordered prints and for two years filled albums for each of them for a different kind of personal Christmas present they could treasure.

We had two inside cats at that time and I always enjoyed trying to capture their antics.  When I began a reader newsletter, I could insert those photos.  Last summer when we rescued and adopted a kitten, I also began shooting photos for my blog and Facebook.  One of my past times is gardening.  Over the years my husband and I have planted seasonal perennials and annuals to keep color blooming from spring through fall.  I began with photos of our roses.  Soon I found that our hummingbird garden helped me actually take photos of hummingbirds if I was patient.  Butterflies on zinnias were easy to capture.  Most recently I'm enjoying capturing antics of our three feral cats (Watching Over Feral and Homeless Cats ) and sharing them with friends and readers on social media.

Memories are precious.  Taking pictures helps me hold onto them as long as possible.  I can honestly say each picture I take enhances my writing because I note that bee on a sunflower, realize the infinite shades of green in my gardens, appreciate the crystalline blue of the sky, the ruff of fur around a cat's neck, a quirky smile on a child.  Seeing and saving photos and filling my mind with the beauty all around me aids the creative process daily and adds richness to my life.

P.S. I use a Cannon Powershot to take almost all of my photos.

©2013 Karen Rose Smith



Sunday, August 11, 2013

Watching Over #Feral and Homeless #Cats, Part 2


Watching over feral and homeless cats has become part of our daily routine!

When I was growing up, my cousins lived on a farm. On visits, I always headed straight for the barn where the cats and kittens lived. That's where my love of cats began.  After my dad brought a kitten home, I started to learn about cat behavior.

To catch you up, my husband and I have adopted three rescued indoor cats--two are twelve and one is a year old. We found Zoie Joy, the baby, in our backyard last summer at six weeks old, hungry, dehydrated and needing lots of love.  Catch up with Part 1 Seven Lessons I Learned About Feral or Homeless Cats

Because of a dry food we had put near our patio last winter in case Zoie's mom was out there, we had two yellow tabbies visiting. The yellow tabby who we dubbed Lancelot--Lance for short--appeared on our property battered and bleeding with sores on his face and back.  But he (we thought he was a she at the time) was protecting a kitten.  Before we could build enough trust to capture the kitten and maybe its protector) the kitten no longer appeared.  I'm hoping a good family found and adopted him.  Lance, however, kept appearing.  We had set up an igloo in case he and the kitten needed shelter. My blog about feral shelters

Since Lance was so battered and had trouble eating from the injury to his face--I could tell by watching from a window--we got a feral feeder and left canned food, too.  I learned the times when he appeared most--around 8 a.m. and around 4-6 p.m. --and joined him on the patio, sitting very still in those first weeks and talking to him in a low voice.  I was so hoping good food would help him heal.  (I added L-lysine and Omega 3 to those dishes in the beginning. His eyes were runny and I knew the lysine would help that and the Omega 3 would help his coat.  Often adopted cats who have been in the wild have the eye problem for a lifetime.) Then I began moving around slowly when he was there and my husband joined me.  He began taking the morning shift.

After those first few weeks, Lance did begin to heal.  (We considered capturing him and taking him to the vet, but he definitely returned to someplace else after eating on our patio and we didn't know if he was returning to protect kittens.  We also didn't have a place to keep him confined if that was necessary.  Every time I had contact with Lance--he began rubbing against my legs and accepting a head rub--I made sure I left my clothes in the basement and either showered or washed thoroughly with anti-bacterial soap before going near our inside cats.)   Blog about vaccines and L-lysine
Lance in igloo

Lance was definitely a roamer, afraid of confined spaces.  We have a porch area off the patio but could not coax him there.  After he ate (sometimes four plates full plus softened dry food), he washed a few feet away in front of the hydrangea near the igloo.  With catnip as an enticement, he rubbed against the entrance and finally sat inside.  Only for a few seconds, but I felt that was progress.  After he began to feel more comfortable with us, if he saw the other yellow tabby approach, he chased him away.

Romeo on alert

This other yellow tabby, we dubbed Romeo.  Even though Lance chased him, Romeo began visiting regularly, watching from the base of a pine in the distance.  Where Lance might be homeless, Romeo is feral.  If we were outside, he didn't come around.  But after Lance ate and left, we put food down for Romeo.  Sometimes we would catch site of him from the window about fifteen minutes after we went inside.

One evening Lance had eaten and left and we were pruning at the edge of the patio.  Romeo must have been really hungry that night because he ventured to the dish at the other end of the patio and ate.  He was on the alert the whole time, ready to run if we moved.  We didn't move.  This is the same night that a beautiful gray and white cat appeared at the edge of the vegetable garden.  As pretty as she was--thick gray and white coat, no injuries, full face and body--I suspected she was an adopted female.  I was hoping a spayed female!  But she was jumpy, too, and if we moved, she ran.  Still, she didn't seem homeless or feral to me. Just out for an evening jaunt before returning home.

Later that evening when it was almost dark, I happened to look out the window.  I called my husband and what we watched over and the next fifteen minutes was amazing, an absolute study on how two cats behave.

The dance between Lance and Guinevere next week!

My sleuth in my Caprice De Luca mystery series rescues stray animals. My love of cats and dogs shines through her in STAGED TO DEATH, the first book in the series available for Preorder now.

Preorder STAGED TO DEATH at Amazon

Preorder STAGED TO DEATH at Barnes and Noble

Karen Rose Smith's romance website 
Karen Rose Smith's mystery website
Karen's Facebook Author Page

©2013 Karen Rose Smith

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Seven Lessons I Learned About Feral or Homeless Cats, Part 1

Lancelot, sunning

Here are the seven lessons I learned watching and communing with feral cats:

They are fascinating to watch and to know

They go where they want

They do what they want

They tolerate kind humans...sometimes from a distance

They only associate with particular other cats

They can wrap themselves around your heart just like inside cats

They need a different kind of care

At the present time, three homeless or feral cats visit us.  We have named them Lancelot, Romeo and Guinevere.


My husband and I entered the world of feral cats by accident.  I've always been a cat lover since my dad brought home my first yellow tabby kitten from a farm when I was six.  (That male inside/outside cat actually allowed me to put him in a doll stroller and wheel him around the yard!)  My husband, on the other hand, never had a cat, but since he married me has learned to love them.  Twelve years ago we adopted half sisters, Ebbie and London.  Although cats have the reputation for being independent and aloof, these two are affectionate cuddlers who have been my constant companions.  My husband retired and truthfully, we never thought we'd adopt another cat.  But then last summer, we found a tiny black kitten (Zoie Joy) in our backyard shrub and a new world seemed to open up.  We've lived at our present location over 20 years and never before found a kitten in our backyard, though there is a farm behind our property.

Last fall we saw a black cat now and then who had the same quirk in her tail that Zoie has.  Hating to think of Zoie's mom out there and hungry, I began putting dry food on a stepping stone.  When it snowed, we would see cat paw prints to and from the stepping stone.  Through the spring, however, we no longer caught sight of the black cat.  Still, I religiously put food on the stepping stone.

Then one June evening this summer, a yellow tabby appeared with a kitten.  They ran at the slightest noise.  We put out a dry food feeder along with using the stepping stone.  The pair only showed up in the evening.  We were having many storms, so we bought an "igloo" as a shelter and tried to insert it into shrubbery where the cats had often been.  During the same week, another yellow tabby appeared and ate in the evenings.  We dubbed this cat Romeo.


At the time, we assumed the cat with the kitten was female.  After about a week, the kitten no longer appeared.  I had talked to our vet about capturing Momma and baby but hadn't taken steps to do it.  Up until this time, we only saw these cats from a distance or from a window.  I was upset when the kitten disappeared but hoped it had been rescued.  I knew a family in our neighborhood had rescued several kittens and they had both inside and outside cats.

The "Momma" cat still came regularly in the evenings.  From her first visit, I could tell one of her cheeks was swollen.  She also had a large sore spot on her cheek and back as if "she'd" been in a fight.  I had to get closer to see what I could do.  We didn't want to capture "her" if she was returning to kittens somewhere.  I began sitting on the patio in the morning and evening.  The cat came and ate and I began talking to it in a low voice.  I soon discovered this was Dad, not Mom.  A Twitter friend mentioned that a male cat taking care of kittens isn't unusual in the feral community.

Instead of Momma, we named this cat Lancelot, Lance for short, because he'd obviously gone into battle for his family.  When he would bring the kitten to eat, we watched him patrol the perimeter of the property, guarding the kitty until it finished eating and dashed safely under a bush.  He was protective of that baby and now he needed our care.  He had difficulty eating and chewing because of the injury to his face.

I knew we couldn't do much to help him until we built trust.  The best thing I could do was provide good soft food to help him heal.  Our vet had suggested Omega 3 to stir into our inside cats' food, but they wouldn't eat it.  I stirred it into Lance's and we invested in a feral feeder to protect food and water. (The trays under the dishes are filled with water to keep ants at bay.)

One evening I sat on the patio and Lance appeared.  I swear he could appear and disappear like  a phantom!  I stayed very still and spoke conversationally in a low calm voice.  After he ate one dish, I prepared another.  He ate that, too.  Then a third.  He was malnourished and his wounds hurt my heart.  But he startled easily and ran without much provocation.  Caring for his basic needs was essential.  My husband began joining me on the patio and Lance accepted his presence, too.  Trust was beginning to build.

More about Romeo, Lancelot and Guinevere next week!

My sleuth in my Caprice De Luca mystery series rescues stray animals. My love of cats and dogs shines through her in STAGED TO DEATH, the first book in the series available for Preorder now.

Preorder STAGED TO DEATH at Amazon

Preorder STAGED TO DEATH at Barnes and Noble

Karen Rose Smith's romance website 
Karen Rose Smith's mystery website
Karen's Facebook Author Page

©2013 Karen Rose Smith