Welcome to my Friday bonus feature called Karen’s Killer Fixin’s **Author Special**!! Today, in lieu of one of my own recipes, I’m going to introduce you to a new author who will share one of her favorite recipes. Not only will you and I occasionally learn how to make something new and delicious, but we’ll get a chance to check out some wonderful authors. Introducing author, TRACY BAYLE, and her favorite recipe for PUMPKIN MAPLE MUFFINS!
A CONVENIENT CATASTROPHE
A Flannery Cove Novel 1
BY TRACY BAYLE
At the heart of A Convenient Catastrophe is a mother that was laid to rest a long time ago. But her secrets were buried much deeper than she ever was.
No one has seen or heard from Caroline Chadwick in decades, not since that foggy afternoon the train plummeted into the depths of the sea supposedly taking Caroline with it.
No one except her daughter Amy, that is.
There was a lot happening back then that Caroline may have wanted to escape, things far different from the way Amy remembers them. But no one seemed to suspect anything, and eventually Caroline’s tragic demise became family fact.
Why now does everyone think there are more questions than answers, more lies than truths?
Amy has the answers already, and the ones she doesn’t have she really doesn’t want.
Then comes that Email, and an agonizing decision that has consequences at every turn.
“I’m thinking about killing Eleanor.”
There. I’ve finally said it.
Becky frowns across the booth at me, her face a mixture of confusion and inquiry at my proclamation. Words form on her lips, then realization floods her features and she traps her words back inside unspoken. It’s apparent by this gesture alone that Eleanor isn’t that important.
I get that, I suppose. Eleanor is fictional. Eleanor was created in my imagination years ago and has been shelved and re-shelved off and on for the better part of my adult life. She’s been meticulously created and re-created so many times and to Becky’s credit, she hasn’t been on my mind or in my discussions in a while. She’s been shelved once again.
Here we are though, with our visit drawing to a close and the important, soul-searching discussions being kept at bay. I catch her eye and dare her to drop the subject of Eleanor and her impending fate. We could pick up this thread, re-invent a new ending for Eleanor and her love, Samuel, and avoid the reality of actual life. That would be the ideal thing to do.
Two women at the booth behind us are talking about a recent trip to a hypnotist. “I swear,” one says to the other, “she said twelve pounds in three weeks.” Dance Moms, both of them. The bane of my existence, aside from Madame Bienve herself. Fortunately, it’s late afternoon and by this time Madame has locked her upstairs dance studio and gone home for the day. No more tapping of her stick on the floor above my head. No more scowling, looking down her long, thin nose at me, or correcting my speech. Until tomorrow, anyway.
“Well, maybe not brutally killing her exactly. It’d be pretty hard to combine horror with historical romance.” I frown and gnaw at the skin surrounding my nail on my index finger, considering. “Maybe having Samuel accidentally kill her. Or maybe she and Samuel should die tragically together, instead of all this happily ever after nonsense no one cares about reading. Give the people what they apparently want.”
“Still no bites?”
“Nope.” I pop the P sound for emphasis. “Unless you consider twenty-three rejections a bite.”
“Oh.” Becky swirls her latte with a stir stick, playing with her food, treading carefully. “Maybe it is time to let them die,” she shrugs while she licks the stick like a child with a milkshake straw.
Surely she knows she’s crossed a line. She knows how much A Maiden’s Voyage means to me. She’s been hearing about Eleanor and Samuel since the day I first put pen to paper, knows their story as well as she knows my own — or thinks she knows my own.
Truth be told, no one knows my real story — not even sure I do. I’ve constructed one that serves me well, but my life has more holes than a slice of Swiss cheese, and I’m uncertain how to fill them. Dwelling on them brings too much to the surface that needs to stay buried. That’s why Eleanor keeps coming off the shelf, I suppose. I can fill in Eleanor’s plot holes, and in doing so avoid my own.
I place my elbows on the table in front of me and hold my head with fists under my chin. The new poster I had framed and hung over the lunch counter was a good choice. That pastry on the little china plate — the light captures the milkiness of the icing that drips off of it beautifully. Even the bit of tarnish in the hollow of the silver spoon that’s been propped on the plate — a nice touch. The tarnish spot blurs and takes on the shape of Texas as my mind meanders in directions I can’t afford to let it, not now. I run my tongue over the soft flesh inside my cheek, tasting the chocolate chip cookie I ate hours earlier until I’m calm enough to change the subject myself.
“So. Hailey’s last year,” I sigh and rest the side of my face in the palm of my hand, scrunching it. “Me, the mother of an eighteen-year-old. She’s graduating! We’re officially old!” My voice rises with each proclamation and I lean in, simply to show how good-natured I am, not angered in the least on Eleanor’s behalf, not anxious about my meandering thoughts.
“Oh, jeez. Remember us at that age?” Becky watches my waiter, Cory, wipe down the counters with a washcloth and toss dirty dishes into a gray plastic bin. There are still crumbs under the barstool, sprinkled across the wood floor like a trail. Huge chunks of Pumpkin Maple Muffin left behind by that little boy that came in earlier with his mom.
“I try not to.” I fold my hands in my lap, the mannerisms of a wayward girl turned proper, or attempting to appear so. “I was trying to graduate from high school and plan a shotgun wedding.”
“I was there.” She flattens her lips. “I remember it well. So what’s Baby Daddy Greg up to these days?”
“Same as always, I guess.” I shrug and glance across the street at the bookstore and watch the owner, Deaton, maneuver his clearance rack through his doorway while thinking about my ex-husband’s new life. “Still lying and sneaking around, I would imagine.”
Becky follows my gaze. “Well, he’s a looker.” She raises her brows to see if I have any details on the man across the street that’s now picking up a stack of books he’s dropped.
“Deaton?” I make a face like she might be hallucinating. I squint and try to see what she might be seeing, but I can’t. All I see is goofy Deaton, in his wire-rimmed glasses that he constantly adjusts up and down his nose like the doctor gave him the wrong prescription. Deaton’s not a looker. He’s just… Deaton. A friend, a brother of sorts, a big blob of geekiness.
Becky and I grow silent, both lost in our thoughts about everything that’s happened, both of us continuing to avoid the real questions, the real truths as we know them.
I should go back and try to find another poster to hang beside the new one—maybe a steaming mug of something to fill that space. The mug would need to match the dessert plate somewhat and…
“How is she?” Becky asks with no change in tone, like we’ve been sitting here talking about her this whole time instead of made-up people I can control. Her voice is almost a whisper though, as if she’s afraid to intrude on my thoughts. I know how hard this is. You’re damned if you ask and damned if you don’t.
How is she?
It changes from day to day, depending on Ian. Depending on the weather. Depending on which foot hits the floor first in the morning and how hard. Depending on if she’s found a doctor to keep writing the prescriptions.
“She’s alright. She’s plodding along.” I can never figure out an answer to this question. My response is unsure, noncommittal. “You know how it goes. Strong one day, broken the next.”
She nods, nothing much else to say about it. It’s been this way forever. But then, “Ames, don’t you ever think it might be time…”
“No! I don’t.”
Tracy is a native of South Florida and currently resides in Central Florida with her family. She enjoys beach days, interior design & home rehab, family time, and escaping into one novel after another. She has won many awards for essays and contributes to various blogs, but is best defined by her fierce competiveness at board games, her tireless endeavors to mimic all things Pinterest, and (according to her kids) Panicking over unlikely to ever happen worst-case scenarios.
It’s important to note that she prefers cake to ice-cream (it just goes better with a cup of coffee) but has never once turned down a bowl of ice cream.
Tracy dreams of the day she wins the “This character reminded me so much of myself” Award, and she can take to the podium and say, “Thank you God for giving me what was needed to write. May I never take it for granted, and may I use the gift wisely.”
A Convenient Catastrophe is Tracy’s debut novel. More are in the works, some in editing and some still in abstract thought form. Following her would be a good idea to know when they take book form (and to win things!)
Links to Tracy’s website, blog, books, etc.:
I hope you enjoy the recipe Tracy is sharing today on Karen’s Killer Fixin’s. Happy Eating!
P.S. We’re at 502 recipes and counting with this posting. Hope you find some recipes you like. If this is your first visit, please check out past blogs for more Killer Fixin’s. In the right-hand column menu, you can even look up past recipes by type. i.e. Desserts, Breads, Beef, Chicken, Soups, Author Specials, etc.
PUMPKIN MAPLE MUFFINS
[Courtesy of Pinch of Yum]
Note from Tracy: In A Convenient Catastrophe there is one particular food item of significance: Pumpkin Maple Muffins. Just in time for fall, I have attached a recipe for them. This recipe is not my own creation. I would like to recognize Lindsay at pinch of yum for this delicious recipe.
For the Muffins
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon each cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups pumpkin puree
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup real maple syrup
- 3 tablespoons milk
- 3 eggs
For the Glaze
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 tbs. maple syrup
- 1–2 tablespoons water
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Mix the dry ingredients (flours, baking soda, baking powder, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and sugar). In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients (pumpkin, oil, maple syrup, milk, and eggs).
- Combine the dry and wet ingredients in a large mixing bowl, stirring until just combined. Fill each muffin tin almost to the top with a scoop of batter – I like to use an old fashioned ice cream scoop with the little thumb press to get a nice rounded top.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until tops are puffy and spring back when you press them. Remove from the muffin pan and let cool before glazing.
- For the glaze, melt butter in saucepan. Add powdered sugar and vanilla – it will be thick and sticky. Stir in maple syrup. Add water until desired consistency is reached.
Thanks, Tracy, for sharing your story with us!
Don’t miss the chance to read this book!