A Little Time Travel By Catherine Lanigan and Rula Sinara

Originally published Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014 on the Harlequin Heartwarming blog

It’s Election Day here in America! I hope everyone takes the time to get out there and vote. November makes for a special month, given that we get to exercise our democratic rights AND feast until we go comatose…all within a few weeks time ☺. Here’s to our Founding Fathers! They’ve given us a lot to be thankful for.

So Catherine and I figured what better way to honor our Founding Fathers, celebrate Election Day and help everyone make the most of the just over 3 weeks left to plan for Thanksgiving…than to time travel? You heard right. And trust me, our super cool time travel ship is stocked well with Heartwarming books, so hop on!

Note: Time Travel Waiver – This trip is not guaranteed to provide enough extra time to beat traffic to the election polls or clean house and grocery shop by the time Thanksgiving guests arrive (yes, some of us take 3 weeks to plan this stuff ;). However, it does guarantee a mouth watering cheesecake recipe and some fun trivia.

Here we go! First stop—1776.

CATHERINE: Need a post-feast dessert idea other than pumpkin pie? This 1776 best Cheesecake recipe which is one of the FIRST things I ever made for my newlywed husband back in 1976. I usually make this cheesecake for Thanksgiving or Christmas---depending on the demand.

I found this recipe in 1976 during the Bi-Centennial and have been making it ever since. At the time, (1976) it was stated in the Woman’s Day Magazine where I found this, that this was a recipe used by Martha Washington. Though, it has been modernized for our usage of packaged cream cheese. I have served this for Thanksgiving and Christmas for nearly forty years. It is very different, and if you can find extract of rose, it is a very, very unique taste and one which I prefer. Happy Thanksgiving to all!



Cut together: 1 ½ cups sifted flour ½ cup butter

Sprinkle with a mixture of: 1 beaten egg and 1 Tablespoon of ICE water

Roll the pastry and press into a 10” deep spring form pan which has been buttered. Trim the dough edges. Fit a piece of wax paper weighted with dried beans on the bottom. Bake 15 minutes at 400 degrees. Cool. Remove the wax paper and beans. Reduce heat to 350 degrees.

BEAT Together: 3 8 oz. packages of cream cheese (room temperature) till fluffy Add: ½ cup butter (room temperature) beat till fluffy ¾ cup sugar 3 large eggs 1 teaspoon ( or more) fresh grated nutmeg 1 teaspoon rose extract or lemon extract Pour the filling into the pastry shell. Bake 30 minutes and cool. Refrigerate. Top with sweetened sour cream. (Some folks prefer whipped cream).

RULA: Oh, man, Catherine. That sounds sooo good! Thank you and Martha Washington! George was a lucky man. Next stop—1621 , The Plymouth Plantation Okay, so none of this is going to tempt your taste buds the way the recipe Catherine provided did, but I thought some fun food facts about the first Thanksgiving might inspire some creative grocery shopping lists this year. At the first Thanksgiving…

1) Turkey wasn’t the centerpiece. The bird wasn’t domesticated yet, so although they may have eaten wild turkey, the feast was most likely to include seafood such as lobster, mussels or fish…in addition to some rabbit, duck or venison.

2) There was no cornbread or crouton stuffing. If any stuffing was present, it would have consisted of nuts and herbs.

3) There were no mashed or sweet potatoes or all the delectable recipes we love them in.

4) There wasn’t any pumpkin or pecan pie…although they did have pumpkins/squash.

5) There was no cranberry jelly or relish. Cranberries were used by Native Americans for dye. They didn’t become a common food for another fifty years.

6) Corn wasn’t eaten on the cob. Instead, it was made into cornmeal or boiled into porridge.

7) They likely did have onions, carrots, cabbage and beans. Yum! 8) I guarantee they didn’t have cheesecake!!! ;)

This Old House

Originally published Thursday, July 31 on the Harlequin Heartwarming blog

I can't believe that tomorrow is the launch of my next Heartwarming book in my SHORES OF INDIAN LAKE series, HEART'S DESIRE.

I'm so excited about that, I feel like standing on my roof and shouting. But that's not my blog.

I went to a “gathering” a couple weeks ago and it was one of those times when I had enough time to talk to several folks. I know that by this point in your careers, most you of you have heard the question, “Where do you get your ideas?” a jillion times. Over the years, I’ve changed my answer again and again. When I first started writing, my answer was, “People.” Then it was, “Newspapers.”  Then it was, “God.”  Then, “I have no clue.”

Now, my answer is, “All of the above.” I get my ideas from everything I hear, see and read. All these factoids get cataloged in my brain and stuffed away in some musty old brain trunk until I need them. Then on the days or nights when I’m hit by inspirational lightening, I go to the long-locked-away mental archive and shake out my info and use it..

I like to think that I am quite utilitarian in the use of my brain and its faculties. 

I make timelines and plot lines and I research my subject matter. I interview people, which is a whole lot better than the sound bite clunkers I find on the internet, though without it, we’d be back to looking things up in our encyclopedias. Possibly. I assembly all my information and then I shuffle all my stuff together and scramble to come up with a plausible plot and haunting characters who will bring real blood, bone and heart to my story.

 On the surface of our artistic lives, that’s how it done. Or is it?

This past month, my husband and I have moved all our furniture out of the main rooms of my family home in order to rip out the carpet and expose the hardwood floor underneath. To understand this endeavor, it’s important to know that this old house was built in 1949 by my mother and father. It was just after WWII and the Korean War was heating up. There was no wood or even cement for building. They scavenged for everything. My mother saw a particular walnut two foot square parquet floor on the cover of House Beautiful Magazine and fell in love with it. She called the Merchandise Mart in Chicago to find out where to get that floor. It was one of a kind and only used for that photo shoot. It was lying in piles in the Merchandise Mart. My mother drove to Chicago, bought the floor and had it installed in this house.

Over the years, the floor was damaged from sun, water, kids, spike heels and old age. She had the entire area covered with carpet.

When I bought the house from my mother several years ago in order to provide for her in her last years, I also inherited a few pieces of furniture. It was always her intention that I have the burled wood secretary with the glassed-in library shelves on top. Though my husband and I moved in six years ago and put all our stuff, junk and some treasures in the house, THIS time when I was forced to move everything out, I found a section of half a dozen turn-of-last century romances.

These books were the first books my mother had me read when I was ten or eleven years old. One of the books was leather covered and with pages turning to dust in my fingers. “Beaulah” was a favorite of my grandmother’s in the 1890’s. “St. Elmo” was another and “The Charmer” was another. As I held the books in my hand, I literally felt like I’d slipped back to my youth. I could hear my mother rhapsodizing about these stories. She loved these romances and couldn't wait for me to read them and discuss them with her. Suddenly, we were not mother and daughter anymore, but fellow romance readers. Book club mates. Story critics. We were equals.

Suddenly, my life as my mother’s “child” was over. Something was happening on a myriad of levels, though I didn't understand it all at the time. I was just reading a book. But those kinds of books would one day become my future. It does make me wonder if fate flits around and doesn't care where it lands, or if destiny is a precise blueprint that we follow each and every day of our lives and that our parents, siblings, friends and teachers are “in” on the mission we have somehow chosen for our lives.

Makes me ponder---for very long periods of time.  But that’s another book entirely.

For forty years I’d forgotten about my mother’s old romance books, though I remember I’d read “Gone with the Wind” five times before I hit high school. But I remember them now. And the themes are the same as today.  Reunion romances. War time (Civil War) romance. May-December loves. Star-crossed lovers. And always there was a new telling of Romeo and Juliet.

Just as human nature does not change from generation to generation, neither do our situational problems with relationships. There’s a contemporary twist to every story now, but deep in the heart, the crises and rocks in the road are unchanged.

I have to wonder now, how much of those old stories have stayed with me all these years? Are they lying deep down in my musty trunk with all my other factoids?  I’m beginning to think they talk to me quite often indeed.