Catnip Bookmarks

At first the requests for catnip bookmarks trickled in, but now my PO box is so clogged with mail that I have to tug at it to get it out, and the postal people are making pointed suggestions that maybe I should get a larger box. My hand cramps from writing notes to people who are going to get a book as a gift, and I love it.

Thanks to all of you who have gone to Amazon or Barnes and Noble or Borders or your favorite independent bookstore and pre-ordered Cat Sitter Among the Pigeons either for yourself or as gifts. Some of you are putting too much postage on your SASEs — my fault, I didn’t tell you that it only requires the same postage as a first class letter. The bags of catnip are lightweight, and my notecard is light too, so no need to put extra postage on it.

You may have wondered why in the ever-lovin’ blue-eyed world I didn’t just let people email me the names and addresses of people to whom they were giving a book, rather than having folks send me an SASE for each bookmark they wanted. I have to admit it would have been a lot easier for other people. But my carpal tunnel problem wouldn’t let me address envelopes plus write personal notes to each person. I figured the notes were more important than addressing the envelopes, plus there’s less chance of mistakes in house numbers and zip codes if I don’t write them.

As I’ve said before, you don’t need to send me proof of purchase,  we’re working on the honor system here. Besides, if you hadn’t really ordered it, you’d be embarrassed if I sent your mother a note saying you were giving her a copy of Cat Sitter Among the Pigeons for Christmas, but that she wouldn’t get it until around January 4, and in the meantime here’s a catnip bookmark.

If you send me an envelope addressed to whomever you’re giving a book (which can also be yourself), remember to make it/them business-sized and to include a note telling me what your relationship is to the person(s) getting the book. If they have a cat, you can give me the cat’s name too and I’ll say hello to the cat in my personal note. Cats are suspicious of catnip from strangers.

The address is Blaize Clement, P.O. Box 19324, Sarasota, FL 34231.

Advertisements

Cora’s Chocolate Bread, Chapter 2

Readers of the Dixie Hemingway mystery series are familiar with Cora’s chocolate bread, an item I borrowed from a real chocolate bread a friend used to make in an old bread making machine. The friend is gone now, and she never divulged the secret of her bread. The King Arthur Flour professional bakers created a recipe they think would recreate what I remember, which I’ve already posted.  Several readers have come up with their own versions, and they all sound delicious. The real bread and the fictional Cora’s bread were both made in a bread-making machine, but one reader has created a regular loaf to be cooked in the oven. If you’re a fan of Cora’s chocolate bread, or would just like to give it a try, here are two new recipes.

Sally Hayes, a reader who loves to bake, created this version for a bread machine:

1-1/3 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 beaten egg
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon sugar
1-1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups bread flour (Sally used regular flour)
1 heaping tablespoon cocoa powder
1-1/2 teaspoon bread machine yeast
1/2 cup regular chocolate chips, plus about 3/4 c. frozen chocolate chips

In the order recommended by the manufacturer, put all ingredients except the chocolate chips into the bread machine. Set the machine for white or raisin bread. (Sally used the sweet bread and light crust settings on her machine.) At the “beep,” which happens about 20-30 min. into the process, add the chocolate chips.

Sally says the entire time from start to finish took about 3 hours. She also says that, like Cora’s, the bread likes to be torn in chunks, although hers sliced nicely too.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Beverly, who is sort of a neighbor of Dixie’s because she lives on Anna Maria Island, created this recipe to be baked in a regular oven. She says her husband picks up the ingredients and brings them to her whenever he feels the need of a chocolate bread fix.

Beverly’s Chocolate Bread (Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x5x3 loaf pan)

2-1/2 cups of self-rising flour (OR 2-1/2 cups of sifted all-purpose flour + 3 teaspoons baking powder + 1/2 teaspoon salt)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup soft butter or margarine
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup, Lite
1/2  cup water (you can use milk instead)
1 cup Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

Sift flour and set aside.
In mixing bowl, beat sugar, butter and eggs until smooth. Add chocolate syrup and water, mixing well.  Add flour and beat just until smooth. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour into prepared pan and bake about 1 hour.  At about 57 minutes, check it to see if it’s done. (Stick a table knife in the center. If it comes out mostly clean, take it out of the oven.)

Enjoy! Yummy!

Chocolate Bread

If you’re a fan of the Dixie Hemingway Mystery Series, you know about the chocolate bread that Cora Mathers makes in her old bread-making machine. A lot of readers have written asking me for the recipe for that bread, but I don’t have it. The fictional chocolate bread that I write about is based on my memory of chocolate bread that a neighbor used to make in an old bread making machine. Like the chocolate bread that Dixie gets orgasmic over, my neighbor’s bread had oozy semi-sweet chocolate chips in a rather dense bread. All she would say about making it was that the timing of adding the chocolate chips was crucial. She took the secret of that bread to her grave, and she would get a real kick out of the curiosity it has aroused.

I don’t bake, so I’ve never tried to duplicate the chocolate bread, but several readers have given it a try in their own bread making machines and sent me the recipes. They all sounded wonderful, but I wasn’t sure they were like my friend’s bread so I went to the experts at King Arthur Flour. The gifted bakers at King Arthur put out a monthly catalog of recipes and ready-to-bake mixes that causes me to decide every month to take up baking as a hobby. I don’t, of course, but every time I get one of their catalogs I greatly enjoy the fantasy that I might.

I described Cora’s bread and asked if they could duplicate it. Mary Tinkham of the King Arthur kitchen thought their chocolate marble bread recipe would work, omitting the walnuts and putting in 1/4 cup chocolate chips at the beginning to get the dark color I remember. The rest of the chocolate chips would be added when there’s about three minutes to go on the knead cycle. (Several readers have found that freezing the chocolate chips before adding them helps keep the oozy quality that Cora’s chocolate chips have.)

Mary thinks my old friend’s bread machine — and the fictional Cora’s — was a Dak machine, one of the first bread machines on the market. She found a chocolate bread recipe made for that machine, and has written a variation that will be in the Summer 2010 Baking Sheet, the King Arthur newsletter/magazine. If you have a bread machine and would like to try duplicating Cora Mathers chocolate bread, here’s Mary Tinkham’s recipe.

Chocolate Bread

1 packet instant yeast
3 cups unbleached bread flour
½ cup sugar
¼ cup cocoa
1 egg
¼ cup soft butter
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 cup milk
1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Using the directions for your particular machine, place all of the ingredients except the chocolate chips into the pan of your bread machine. Program the machine for raisin bread, if possible. 

Add the chocolate chips at the signal; or, if you have no raisin bread cycle, add them about 3 minutes before the end of the second kneading cycle. Yield: one 6 to 7-inch loaf.
If this is like my friend’s bread, it is better broken into chunks rather than sliced.

Dixie’s On DearReader this week!

DearReader.com features Cat Sitter on A Hot Tin Roof this week, with an excerpt every day so readers can sample the book and see if they’d like to reserve it at their local library or order it for their very own.

There’s also a contest: Fifteen winners will to get a free copy of Cat Sitter On A Hot Tin Roof, along with one of my famous catnip bookmarks.

Bookmarks also go to readers’ groups who set up a phone chat  with me. I love doing those chats. Members of the groups plan their questions ahead of time. Then they get on a speaker phone and we yak away about Dixie and Guidry and Paco and Ella Fitzgerald and all Dixie’s other friends.

If you’re a member of DearReader.com’s book clubs through your local library, you already know what a great service it is for busy people who like to read. If you’re not, you can sample it and Cat Sitter On A Hot Tin Roof at DearReader.com.