Archive for February, 2016

Up until last week, I’d never made biscotti. I’d eaten it from restaurants, and from store bought packages. I was limited to one or two flavors. Though I like to bake, I was intimidated by biscotti, much as I am by pies. I have tried throughout my life to make pies, and except for cream pies in premade crusts, I’ve been wholly unsuccessful.

Though I knew nothing about the process of making biscotti, I was afraid of it. Until now. I stumbled across a handful of recipes on Pinterest, tweaked and tried a couple of varieties, and I think I have mastered it. This isn’t hard to do because it’s only a handful of ingredients.

The key to biscotti I realized lies only in the baking method.

Here is my recipe for Spice Cake Biscotti, but you can use any cake mix. I also made it with a Lemon Cake Mix last weekend and it was delicious too.

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Ingredients are pictured here but for ease:

  1. 1 standard Spice Cake mix
  2. 1 and 1/4 cup flour
  3. 1 stick of butter (softened)
  4. 2 eggs
  5. 1//4 cup walnuts (optional)
  6. 1/2 cup butterscotch chip (optional but so good)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix first four ingredients with a hand mixer. Dough will become think like sugar cookie dough. You can do this with a wooden spoon but it will take a long time and hurt your hand. IMG_1875

Add in the nuts, chips  or whatever else you want. I think raisins would be delicious but my boyfriend hates them so I left them out. In the picture I put them in the bowl together but I think adding the chips and nuts after would work better.

Shape it onto a greased cookie sheet.  It should be 1/2 inch high and however wide you need it to be for that depth. Ignore those silicon puppy molds. That’s another recipe for another day.IMG_1876

Now here it what sets this aside from a regular cookie recipe.

Bake for 30 minutes until a knife in the center comes out clean. Remove it from the oven and wait 10 minutes. Set a timer.

After 10 minutes, cut the pieces into biscotti sliced wedges, then put them back in the oven (still at 350 degrees) for exactly 10 minutes. Again, set a timer. This step is important.

Finally, shut the oven off and leave the biscotti in there to cool and harden for 30 minutes. I set a timer for this too but realistically the oven would be cold by then probably so maybe it doesn’t matter. I took them out at 3o minutes and they were perfect!

I added a glaze of 1 cup confectioners’ sugar and 3 tablespoons milk to drizzle.

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That’s all there is to it.

If you make this let me know how it turns out.

Happy cooking!

-Tracy

For more of Tracy’s recipes of her first love, writing books and stories, please visit her here.

 

 

 

chess6Okay, I can’t say for sure that my chess set is haunted. There have been no mysterious happenings in the house, no rattling of doorknobs, no moans in the night, no unexplained crashes. But just looking at it fills me with writing prompts that I cannot wait to fit into stories or a novel at some point.

I saw this chess set on eBay and bought it for my boyfriend for Valentine’s Day, though if I’m honest it was for me as well. Not because I wanted it, but because the pieces were handmade and intricate and old and creepy and I couldn’t imagine letting the opportunity to have it pass me by. board

The ad said, Vintage primitive stone resin and wood Aztec Mayan Indian chess set. The seller doesn’t know the age or materials only that it’s from Guam. If it really is from Guam. Each square is an individual tile, carved with frightening symbols. The pieces are worn, some a little broken. Some of their faces are worn away entirely.Their golden ropes and hats chipped and faded.chess4

I have not played chess in years, though we played the night I gave it to him. The pieces are heavy and cold. But my imagination has them feeling warm, with pulses and secret thoughts.

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I suppose this is all I have to say for now about this set. But don’t be surprised if at some point in the future you hear more about this wonderful find and the mysteries it surely must hold.

Good night, from the King and Queen.

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For stories and novels by Tracy L. Carbone, please visit her site HERE.

 

 

 

 

thWell my newest novel is complete. I edited it top to bottom, each time catching errors and improving the story. Then I sent it to my beta readers, who read it very quickly. My “final” draft is called Rainbox 9 because that’s how many times I went through beginning to end to change things.

I had some writer friends read the first few chapters last summer, and that was immensely helpful. But what I’ve found is that other writers sometimes try to steer a book to be the way they would write it. They pick up on pivotal things, and details that matter, plot and dailogue, and provide great input along the way.

readerEveryone has a different writing style though and if we listen to all our writing peers, we would rewrite work endlessly. That’s why beta readers who are only readers, not writers, are important.

At the end of the day, we are selling to readers, and we have to trust our ability as story tellers. I did three major rewrites and drafts of my “final” draft, then another pass through after my readers gave comments. Thankfully they were easy to fix.

I sent the first ten pages to an agent and my fingers are crossed. If he takes it, there will be more edits I’m sure. If he sells it to publisher, there will be more edits based on someone’s best guess on what a reader would want to see.

glasses.jpgAll along the way there are readers, and without them our works would fall into a vacuum. We’d still write, as most of us write out of compulsion and passion not praise and acclaim, but it is nice when someone reads our books.

For all the readers out there, and especially to my first readers, THANK YOU!

-Tracy