Grace's Mosaic Moments

Saturday, July 15, 2023

Gallery, Recipes & Blatant Promo

[Next Blog - July 29]



A big birthday coming up on the 19th. I've spent a remarkable number of years on this planet and know, for all the hassles and disappointments, my life has been blessed with great joys, as well as long stretches of peace and contentment. Love my family, love to write. Am blessed with a second family in my church choir. And have great confidence in the our next generation, just blossoming into the glory days of college. What more could I ask?

Please note:  None of my three grandgirls were responsible for the following.


Is that writing Japanese?

Japanese Cherry Tree


And for the authors among us . . .

~ * ~


When summer comes around, recipe writers seem to talk barbecue non-stop. Well, I have to tell you, not all of us have barbecues - or a man of the house, as traditionally expected for a proper barbecue. (The male's chance to shine!) So today, I'm posting a few recipes that don't need a grill, charcoal, gas, or a male in a great big apron. Although I've concentrated on a variety of tempting asparagus dishes, the first is the absolute easiest and fastest way to cook that all-American dish, corn-on-the-cob.

Microwave Corn-on-the-Cob

 I have no idea where this recipe came from, but I've been cooking corn this way for 20 years or more. It's not good for crowds, but is absolutely amazing for 1-4 people. Instead of struggling to shuck the corn, clear the silk, boil water, cook 3-5 minutes "by guess & by gosh," then fish the cobs out, try this:

1. Do NOT shuck corn. Do not trim.

2. Lay corn, husk and all, in the microwave. Cook 2 minutes on one side; turn, 1 minute on the other side. 

3. Remove. Trim ends (which will cut with ease). Pull off husks & silk (now also much easier - they just peel away.

4. Insert "corn holders" at each end, if desired. Butter & season to taste. Eat. 

Grace note:  Keep in mind that in microwave cooking each item must be timed separately; i.e., 2 cobs = 4 minutes on one side, two on the other.
3 cobs = 6 minutes on one side, three on the other, etc.

Below, four asparagus recipes to add a bit of pizzazz to any summer meal.


1 can (11 oz.) Mandarin oranges, drained & chopped*
½ cup chopped, canned roasted red bell pepper
2 tablespoons chopped green onion
1 tablespoon soy sauce (or lite soy sauce)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger (or ¼ tspn. dry ginger)
1½ pounds fresh asparagus, trimmed**
¼ cup toasted, slivered almonds***

Gently combine Mandarin oranges, bell pepper, green onion, soy sauce, sesame oil & ginger in a small bowl. Cook asparagus in a covered skillet or large pot, 4-5 minutes. Drain. Arrange asparagus on a serving platter; spoon sauce on top; sprinkle with almonds.

*or c. 3 Mandarin orange "cups."

**I prefer to cut asparagus spears into smaller bites.

***To intensify flavor, toast almonds in a dry skillet over medium heat for 2-5 minutes. 



1 lb. fresh asparagus, trimmed
cooking spray
salt & pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

 Preheat oven to 400°.

Arrange asparagus on a baking sheet. Coat with cooking spray; season with salt & pepper.
Bake 12 minutes, until tender.
Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Removed from heat; stir in soy sauce & balsamic vinegar. Pour over asparagus.



1 lb. fresh asparagus, trimmed
1tablespoon water
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice 
Place asparagus in microwaveable casserole. Microwave on High 3-5 minutes, or until asparagus is crisp-tender.
Meanwhile, mix remaining ingredients.
Drain asparagus. Top with mayo mix.


1 lb. thin asparagus, trimmed
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1½ tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh chopped parsley
kosher salt & pepper, to taste
In medium bowl, whisk mustard, vinegar & 1 tablespoon oil. Add parsley and season with salt & pepper.

Boil asparagus 2-3 minutes until tender. Drain; run under cold water to stop cooking.
Transfer to serving dish. Drizzle with vinaigrette.

Grace note:  Due to my allergies, I substitute good old cider vinegar for both white and red wine vinegars. Not ideal, but it works.

~ * ~

 For this week's blatant promo, the very first "sellable" book I ever wrote. 

Grace note:  I did write a book set in 1970s Russia (after a 10,000-mile trip through the Soviet Union), but back in the days of the Cold War, not even an agent could get New York to bite on a book not wholly critical of USSR. A book, oddly enough, in which I predicted someone would rise out of the KGB to take over the government. Several times in recent years, I've considered going "e" with it, but it's hardcopy only (written 10 years before the Computer Age), and every time I thought of revising, retyping, and publishing, our relations with Russia would blow up again, and the timing never seemed right.

So I put away my metaphorical pen until my children were grown, my husband had an incapacitating stroke, and as his caregiver, I was home all day with more than a bit of time on my hands. Which is why, twenty years after my first book and after reading a gazillion novels by classic Regency authors (at least three times each)—and as much as I loved them, wondering why they ignored the war raging on the Continent during that era—I plunged into writing a 140,000-word historical romance that turned out to be a saga of the seven years of the Peninsular War (Napoleon's invasion of the Iberian Peninsula). And somehow came up with the highly apt title of The Sometime Bride. [Ballantine offered to publish it if I'd change the heroine's age. Idiot that I was, I refused.]

My second novel, Tarleton's Wife, ended up being published first, with The Sometime Bride a close second. Both have seen several incarnations over the years and are available at Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, and a long list of other e-book vendors.


A very young bride finds herself married to an enigmatic British spy "for her safety." And is plunged into a seven-year, highly personal view of the Peninsular War—ending, after years of blind devotion, in discovering a betrayal of her trust so immense she can only wonder: Is she the sometime bride of a man who never existed? A discarded mistress? Or a beloved wife whose only rival is her husband's expediency in a time of war?

Author's Note: In addition to being a saga of young lovers caught up in a war, The Sometime Bride is the history of the Peninsular War, Britain's fight against Napoleon in Portugal and Spain. The story moves from France's invasion of Portugal and British troops being driven into the sea at La Coruña to the return of British troops under General Sir Arthur Wellesley, the fortified lines at Torres Vedras, and the gradual push of French troops across Spain and back to France. Plus the chaotic times in Paris after Napoleon's surrender and the Emperor's triumph as he gathers up his old troops, only to be stopped in one of the most famous and bloody battles in history—Waterloo.

~ * ~
For a link to Blair's website, click here. 


Thanks for stopping by,

Grace (Blair Bancroft) 

No comments:

Post a Comment