Recipes–or what do books and bread have in common?

Whole Grain bread.jpg

It’s been quiet at Southern Exposure. I arrived home from Europe all set to do the final read through and editing of Fortunate Harbor, next summer’s Mira and the sequel to Happiness Key, which is at your bookstore now.  Since my husband went on to Greece, I had a quiet house, and nothing on my schedule.  I was ready to roll.  Then Nemo, the family four-legged, ate something he shouldn’t have.  What?  When?  Who knows.  He’s a beagle.  For those who know beagles, that’s all I need to say.

Nemo seems to be feeling better, and despite obstacles like sleepless nights and late evening vet visits, Fortunate Harbor is in New York waiting for my publisher’s keen eye and steady hand. 

I’m free.  Free!  And thrilled to announce it here.

I’m not free for long, of course.  Very soon I delve into A Truth for a Truth, my next Ministry is Murder novel.  Since I love Aggie, we’ll have a great reunion.  But for now, I’m on my own for a few days, feeling rested, creative and full of smiles.

To celebrate, I’m baking bread.  This is nothing new, I bake all our bread.  But this morning it feels special.  I have plenty of time to play with the recipe, add this and that, and enjoy the experience.  I also have plenty of time to share my favorite recipe with you.

I found my recipe for Oatmeal Bread at Yankee Magazine online a couple of years ago when I had several cups of leftover oatmeal.  Since then it’s become my standard, the bread I go back to time and time again.  It’s healthy and delicious, plus it cries out for creativity. 

Today I’m using 2 cups of cooked Wheatena instead of oatmeal, adding a cup of chopped Virginia apples–fresh, not dried–and a small handful of chopped walnuts.  I always use King Arthur’s white whole-wheat flour but since this bread looked a bit heavy, I substituted a cup of unbleached white for some of the wheat.  I used molasses today, but honey or maple syrup are good, as well.

If I don’t have leftover cereal, I love using the instant flavored hot cereal packets, like oatmeal with less sugar or Quaker’s Simple Harvest.  I put three in a 2 cup measure, add boiling water, stir and cool.  I’ll use less sweetening if I do this.  But the variety of flavors makes a variety of breads.

I often add chopped dried apricots, cranberries or blueberries.  I often add chopped nuts or seeds.

In other words, I never make this bread the same way.  I add whatever inspires me at that moment.  The original recipe came from Yankee magazine, but I make it my own.

Writing is much the same.  There are recipes a novelist has to follow.  Among other ingredients we need characters, plot, setting, theme, suspense, a climax and conclusion, plus an opening that guarantees our readers will continue reading.  If we write in one genre only, we have a recipe we use time and time again, because a certain result is expected.  We can’t set out to make bread and end up with beef stew.  But every book turns out differently, because even though some elements stay the same, the possibilities for creativity are enormous.

I never tire of making bread.  I never tire of writing novels.  I never wake up in the morning and say “same old, same old.”  Because each loaf and each book is a new, fresh challenge. 

Do you bake bread?  Do you want to share your favorite recipe here?  Comment away please.  I’ll look forward to seeing your own brand of creativity and read your recipes with pleasure.

Oh, and if you have a solution to keeping a dog from eating everything in his path?  Pass that along, too.  Nemo might not appreciate it, but Emilie certainly will. 


  1. Debra on May 18, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    My favorite is the sour cream banana bread. If I make it for a family gathering I make it the regular way , but for those times that I go healthy I may add apple sauce in place of oil, or coconut oil. I also like a dark bread so I add half of the sugar, but add brown suger.

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