Grace's Mosaic Moments

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Wild Rice Recipes & Gallery

  New blog - "Reinventing the Gothic Format" - Sunday, December 3.

 A new dish for Thanksgiving? Really?

YES, it's allowed to add something new to Thanksgiving dinner. And, no, I forgot to take a photo. But below are two recipes for adding wild rice to your traditional dinner. Because I wanted to use REAL wild rice, a Native American black rice now mostly grown in Minnesota, I adapted a crockpot recipe that used - oh,horrors - packaged long grain & wild rice (readily available at most supermarkets while "real" wild rice has to be ordered - mine through Amazon). And, yes, it's expensive but not exorbitantly so. 

For our Thanksgiving dinner, I used the recipe on the wild rice box and added the "extras"s from the crockpot recipe. Amazingly, it worked. A truly delicious addition to Thanksgiving.

Grace's adaptation of Fruited Wild Rice with Pecans:

½ cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons butter, cut in chunks
1 cup wild rice
2¼ cups water
3/4 cup apple juice
1 large, tart apple, chopped
¼-½ cup golden raisins
½ cup coarsely chopped pecans
*I used Mrs. Dash's "Everything" seasoning & a bit of Herb & Garlic + 
a twist or so of fresh-ground pepper.

Combine all but apple and pecans in a good-sized, preferably copper-bottom, saucepan. Bring to a boil; cover & reduce heat to a strong simmer. At c. 25-30 minutes, add chopped apple. Continue to simmer for a total of 50-60 minutes. Do NOT overcook. This means keeping a close eye on the pot during the final minutes. According to the package directions, the wild rice is done when it opens into the shape of a mini hot dog bun(!)

Drain off any remaining liquid in a colander. Put rice mix in 2-quart casserole dish. Add pecans. Stir in. To keep rice warm until leaving for dinner at my daughter's, I put it in a 250° oven for half an hour. Which turned out to be perfect for drying the rice and the final opening to the desired shape.

Original crockpot recipe:

½ cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons butter, cut in chunks
1 6-oz. pkg long grain & wild rice
Seasoning packet from wild rice pkg
1½ cups hot water
2/3 cup apple juice
1 large, tart apple, chopped
¼ cup raisins
½ cup coarsely chopped pecans
Combine all ingredients except pecans in greased slow cooker. Cook on High 2-2½ hours, or until rice is fully cooked. Stir in pecans.

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At Orlando Art Museum's Festival of Trees
                           (camera-shy Hailey acting as photographer)

Rainbows w/Cross, Virginia

Road in Chile

I vaguely recall a French movie about this from my college days - a trucker transporting dynamite on this road, a real hair-raiser.

Eagle photo by Liz Tyner

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This week's featured book:

There's a long holiday section in this one, appropriate for the Season.


Miss Aurelia Trevor has a problem. Until she reaches the age of twenty-five, she will have no control over her beloved Pevensey Park, and by that time her unscrupulous uncle will have run it into the ground. Marriage to someone other than her uncle's leering son is her only way out, but, one by one, she rejects the men on her list of suitors. In desperation, Aurelia does the unthinkable. She hires a solicitor to find her a husband strong enough to stand up to both her uncle and her cousin. And soon learns the truth of that old adage: Be careful what you wish for.

Thomas Lanning is a man of the City. Unlike Aurelia, who stands to inherit vast land and wealth, he has made his own place in the world. He is not at all tempted by the suggestion of marriage to an heiress, but other considerations, such as a power base for a seat in Parliament, tweak his interest. Plus an unexpected twinge of chivalry when he hears the full extent of Miss Trevor's difficulties with her uncle and his family.

Aurelia, who only wants to live in peace on her acres, finds she has acquired a ready-made family in Thomas's younger sister and brother, as well as a head-strong husband whose campaign for MP fills her household with a shockingly odd assortment of characters. It seems her marriage of convenience is fast becoming a marriage of inconvenience. Just how far will this strong-willed pair bend to accommodate each other? And will they do it before it's too late?


"Blair Bancroft's warm and tender [novel] boasts a great heroine in Aurelia: She's attractive, courageous, vulnerable and intelligent."
Robin Taylor, Romantic Times

"Reading how they gradually learn to like and eventually love each other is wonderful. Blair Bancroft is now definitely one of my favorite traditional Regency authors and this book is a prime example of why."
Nicole Hulst, Romance Junkies

"Set against a backdrop of rural politics (and a fascinating look at the early world of "buying votes) this is a story that entrances, enlightens and endears."
Celia at A Romance Review
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For a link to Blair's website, click here. 

Thanks for stopping by,

Grace (Blair Bancroft)

Saturday, November 11, 2023

200 lb. Python + Gallery

 In my last post I featured an article stating that python hunters believed there was a 200-pounder out there. Well, evidently this year's hunters found it. (At least all but 2 pounds of it.) Limited in their options by Hunt rules, the five wrestled with the 198-lb. behemoth for 45 minutes before subduing it. And had to call in an expert to euthanize it. Before anyone growls over the kill, please recall that non-native pythons have nearly destroyed the wildlife population native to the Florida Everglades. Photo credit:  The Orlando Sentinel


 And now, some much more beloved creatures . . .


Photo by Susan Coventry


Closing with a bit of wisdom, a bit of humor & a bit of beauty . . .




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 This week's featured book - my very first Regency Gothic

I never dreamed ten more would follow, or that I would be starting yet another this week. Tentative title:  The Abandoned Daughter


 Miss Serena Farnsworth, spinster, is a managing female, the crutch for her extended family, for whom she functions as nurse, companion, and household organizer. In short, she lives a life of service, devoid of romance. Until she is invited to attend an invalid at a gloomy Gothic-style estate in Northumberland, where she encounters two suspicious deaths, personal animosity, a needy child, and even needier father. Add witchcraft, shake (sink) holes, Mid-summer Eve revels, and a variety of odd characters, as well as the certainty someone is trying to kill her, and Serena finds herself surrounded by a miasma of evil. The lord of the manor should be of help, but he, alas, is a prime suspect in the murder of the Brides of Falconfell.

Author's Note: "Brides of Falconfell" is a tribute to the great era of Gothic novels, written by Victoria Holt, Jane Aiken Hodge, Mary Stewart, Phyllis Whitney, and other talented authors of that time. The books—more "Jane Eyre" and "Rebecca" than "Pride and Prejudice"—have several common elements: they are told in first person, as both heroine and reader must be isolated, unable to know what the other characters are thinking. Frequently, the heroines are married and begin to suspect their husbands of murder. There is often a child, usually the hero's from a previous marriage. A large, gloomy mansion is a must, where murder, madness, and evil abound, with the heroine escaping death by the skin of her teeth. I have put all these conventions in "Brides of Falconfell" and chosen an isolated location at the very "top" of England as a setting. I hope you will enjoy my personal attempt at "Gothic Revival." Blair Bancroft

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

Thanks for stopping by,

Grace (Blair Bancroft)

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

How to Hunt a Python

 After suffering through a week-long mystery of why, after uploading 50+ books, I could not do a successful upload of The Indomitable Miss Lacey to Smashwords, I finally managed it* and can, at last, turn my attention to my blog. 

*For those who have not read the explanation on Facebook:  It took a week of sleuthing and SIX attempts before the upload to Smashword worked. The problem? After umpteen years, AOL changed its download rules without bothering to mention it. No matter what pixel width a pic was when sent to me, it would only download to My Pictures as a THUMBNAIL. I had to manually re-edit the pixels to the correct size before the photo was usable. A-argh!!


Susie, one foot in Europe, one in North America

Among the many photos and videos my daughter posted to Facebook during her circumnavigation of the globe, I found one video more remarkable than all the others. When in Iceland, Susie and Mike visited a shopping mall where a gap had been torn in the floor during an earthquake. The gap was filled in with glass (and a bit of dramatic red "lava") and each side of the gap was labeled for the tectonic plate it belonged to. It was, therefore, possible for Susie to put one foot in North America and one foot in Europe! To see my son-in-law's video of this phenomenon, click here. 


Other grandmothers post photos of their granddaughters in frilly little dresses, playing with a pet, or participating in sporting events. In our family . . . here's Cassidy demonstrating her marksmanship at Police Explorers.


The place Susie most wanted to go on her round-the-world trip was the black sand beach in Iceland (sand from volcanic rock). Here are two pics of the beach, including the columnar basalt formations I've only previously seen in Northern Ireland.


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Introduction to "How to Hunt a Python"

(from my photo archives)




Only in Florida . . .


 I have been talking about the Great Florida Python Hunt for years now, most recently, just to mention the results. But on Sunday, October 29, 2023, the Orlando Sentinel published a lengthy article entitled "So you want to be a python hunter?" Definitely something unique enough I felt I should share it with my readers. 

Background for those who haven't heard about this unique event before:

Apparently, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and other cities at the southern tip of the peninsula of Florida have a large number of snake-lovers. Or lovers of snakes when they are still small and not menacing. But there comes a time when that baby snake grows to the point where owners fear the snake is considering them for its next meal. So into the car, drive the snake out into the wilds of the Florida Everglades and abandon it. Nice, humane decision, right? Except pythons loved the Everglades. So much so, they multiplied and multiplied, until they were killing off the species native to the Everglades at an alarming rate. So, in an attempt to close the barn door long after the horse had been stolen, the State of Florida initiated the Great Python Hunt. Hunters are paid to bring in as many dead pythons as possible and receive monetary rewards, according to size. Alas, at this late date, it's rather like attempting to clear sand off a beach. But hunters keep trying, year after year. This year the prize for the longest python went to a female hunter.

Below, I will attempt to summarize the highlights of Sunday's article.

The article is topped by a chart:  how much money is paid for each python by length. For example, a four-footer will get you $50; five feet, $75; six feet, $100; seven feet, $125; eight feet, $150. Plus a bonus for the most pythons caught and the longest python caught. And if you stumble on a nest of eggs & collect them, the reward is $200.

The record of the longest python caught is nineteen feet, with a twenty-footer suspected of being still out there.  Each year, about 200 hunters are contracted by the state; their haul, around 2000 pythons. It is believed more than 18,000 pythons have been removed from the ecosystem since 2000. 

Since the program began with a minimal number of intrepid hunters, it has burgeoned into a major event in south Florida, with experienced hunters taking on apprentices to learn the how-to's of hunting pythons. There is even virtual online training available.

Traps are prohibited, as are firearms. The article goes on to detail how to kill a python in the most humane manner. (I will spare you the details.) The article also emphasizes that python-hunting is hard work. A lot of tramping through swamps, including tall grass, carrying equipment, being constantly on the lookout, and hopefully ending in success. And remember, if you kill a python, you have to haul it back out to wherever you left your transportation! As mentioned above, if you want to know more, information is available online and no longer confined to a few good ol' boy hunters who grew up in the Everglades.
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When I looked for a book to feature with python-hunting, it didn't take much thought to come up with the Matthew Wolfe series. There's a definite swashbuckle to Matthew's adventures. I think he would have enjoyed python hunting. 

Matthew Wolfe, born and raised in the squalor of London's inner city, should be a nobody, forever destined to obscurity, or the hangman. But wait . . . he can read and write, is a whiz at math, can speak like a gentleman, even knows more than a bit of French. And when the boy from London ends up on a hops farm in Kent, surrounded by the remnants of the Royal 10th Hussars and a passel of children, what will this fish out of water do? Retired military and their ladies, children, dogs, a regal cat, neighbors in need, and a determined twelve-year-old—all assist Matthew on his journey toward the person he is meant to be.

There are two more books in this series:  Matthew Wolfe - the Adventures Begin and Matthew Wolfe - Revelations. For drama, comedy, adventure, and a bit of romance, you can't go wrong with Matthew Wolfe.

Note to readers of my Regency Warriors series:  a number of familiar characters appear in the Matthew Wolfe series, including Jack Harding, who has been in more Blair Bancroft books than any other character, even getting a "mention" in my brand new Trad Regency, The Indomitable Miss Lacey. 

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

Thanks for stopping by,

Grace (Blair Bancroft)