Hobby Reads

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Moonshine: A Celebration Of America’s Original Rebel Spirit by John Schlimm

White lightning . . . XXX . . . Firewater. 

Whatever you call it, moonshine is America’s original rebel spirit.

This ultimate must-have for aspiring moonshine connoisseurs, boozy history buffs, and party seekers everywhere is a buzz-worthy ride through moonshine’s legendary history. From its roots in the hollows of Appalachia and keeping the good times flowing through Prohibition to its headlining status today as a pop culture icon, Moonshine tells the rip-roaring story of the moonshiners who became folk heroes for the ages and how their batches of XXX endure as the favorite thirst-quencher of millions.

While stirring the rebel in each of us, Moonshine also gives you a bootleg up on hosting get-togethers and parties with a dream stash of 100 recipes for infusions and cocktails using moonshine as a main ingredient—Moonshine Monkey, Dirt Road Colada, Lemongrass & Mint Mojito, Smokey Mountain S’More, and many more. Plus, other fun-starters throughout the book include moonshine-themed playlists and a how-to for throwing an unforgettable moonshiner’s movie night.

Moonshine: A Celebration of America’s Original Rebel Spirit proves once and for all that the best things in life still come in jugs and Mason jars.

Downloadable MOONSHINE Color and Sip Pages!

Print out and color!


Can food be a hobby? by Samantha King

I’m not sure the rules, so I’m going to vote YES. I’m a huge food lover. Spending hours  in the kitchen isn’t as feasible as it was before having kids. Now my three-year-old and three-month-old have become the priority of my every waking minute… but, a young, growing body depends on nutrition, so I focus on easy meals and snacks packed with nutrients.

We’ve conditioned our three-year-old to love green juices, so the veggies she doesn’t eat on her plate get consumed by tasty liquid. Here’s our favorite green juice recipe:

  • 500mls of pure coconut water (extremely hydrating)
  • 250mls of water
  • 3 Tablespoons of Hemp hearts (high in protein and omegas 3 and 6)
  • Large handful of spinach (high in iron and vitamin K)
  • ¾ cup of frozen mangos (source of vitamin C which aids in iron absorption)
  • Small chunk of fresh ginger root (anti-inflammatory)

*Makes 3-4 servings.

That’s it! I use a highspeed blender to get the smoothest results. I like to blend the liquid with the hemp hearts first and add the other ingredients last. Three-year-old approved! Continue reading “Can food be a hobby? by Samantha King”

Benevolent Brewing by Sally MacKenzie

I’m the first to admit I’m not a historian. I set my books in Regency England (and a narrow slice of that—1816 to around 1820) because I read and loved Georgette Heyer when I was growing up. I’m more of an historical magpie, collecting details that catch my eye and weaving them together to form my story’s background. For my Widow’s Brew series, I mixed philanthropy with brewing.

A variety of charitable organizations of the 18th and 19th centuries aimed to help women and children. Two of them likely were part of my inspiration in naming my Benevolent Home for the Maintenance and Support of Spinsters, Widows, and Abandoned Women and their Unfortunate Children: the Foundling Hospital “for the Maintenance and Education of Exposed and Deserted Young Children” and the Magdalen Hospital for the Reception of Penitent Prostitutes. Both were founded in the mid-1700s—and not by women. However, women—Hannah More, Catherine Cappe, Elizabeth Fry, etc.—were active in philanthropy at the time in areas such as female education, relief for the poor, and prison reform.

So, did women run British breweries, too? Er, no—or at least, not that I know of. There were indeed successful Regency businesswomen—Eleanor Coade, who developed, manufactured, and sold her eponymous Coade stone, an extremely durable material popular in outdoor sculptures and monuments, is a prime example. (Eleanor Coade was also a philanthropist—and specified in her will that some of her bequests were off limits to her beneficiaries’ husbands!) But by the Regency, women had left—or been pushed out of—for-profit brewing, thanks to the Industrial Revolution that turned brewing into a large commercial enterprise. Continue reading “Benevolent Brewing by Sally MacKenzie”

Little Comfort: A Hester Thursby Mystery by Edwin Hill

Download the Little Comfort Book Club Kit!


In a brilliantly twisted debut set among Boston’s elite, Edwin Hill introduces unforgettable sleuth Hester Thursby—and a missing persons case that uncovers a trail of vicious murder . . .

Harvard librarian Hester Thursby knows that even in the digital age, people still need help finding things. Using her research skills, Hester runs a side business tracking down the lost. Usually, she’s hired to find long-ago prom dates or to reunite adopted children and birth parents. Her new case is finding the handsome and charismatic Sam Blaine.

Sam has no desire to be found. As a teenager, he fled his small New Hampshire town with his friend, Gabe, after a haunting incident. For a dozen years, Sam and Gabe have traveled the country, reinventing themselves as they move from one mark to another. Sam has learned how trusting wealthy people can be—especially the lonely ones—as he expertly manipulates his way into their lives and homes. In Wendy Richards, the beautiful, fabulously rich daughter of one of Boston’s most influential families, he’s found the perfect way to infiltrate the milieu in which he knows he belongs—a world of Brooks Brothers suits, Nantucket summers, and effortless glamour.

As Hester’s investigation closes in on their brutal truth, the bond between Sam and Gabe is tested and Hester unknowingly jeopardizes her own safety. While Gabe has pinned all his desperate hopes of a normal life on Hester, Sam wants her out of the way for good. And Gabe has always done what Sam asks . . .

Advance Praise For Edwin Hill And Little Comfort

“Fast-paced and riveting . . . takes off from the opening pages and never lets up. Don’t miss this can’t-put-down debut.” –Carla Neggers, New York Times bestselling author

“In his compelling debut, Edwin Hill spins layer upon layer of intrigue as Hester Thursby, in the business of finding people who don’t want to be found, takes on a job that turns out to be far more surprising and dangerous than she bargained for. This smart, complex, and suspenseful New England thriller will keep you turning pages far into the night.” –Jessica Treadway, author of Lacy Eye and How Will I Know You?

“Compellingly plotted and compulsively readable, Little Comfort will leave you a little uncomfortable in the best of ways. Hester Thursby, its powerhouse protagonist, is tough, intriguingly flawed and complex. Edwin Hill’s first effort is certain to be among the year’s best debuts.” –John Keyse-Walker, author of Beach, Breeze, Bloodshed

“A chilling mix of envy, deceit, and murder. Everyone is lying about something in this tense, stylish debut novel. . . . [It] will have you frantically turning pages until the final, breathless climax.” –Joanna Schaffhausen, author of The Vanishing Season

Little Comfort isn’t just the arrival of a fantastic new book, but also marks the emergence of a spectacular writer to watch. This story had me hooked from the first chapter, and my nails bitten to the nub before I was halfway through. Watch out! Little Comfort delivers just what the title promises.” –Bracken MacLeod, author of Stranded and 13 Views of the Suicide Woods

“Spectacular . . . this book is deftly crafted and its terrifying conclusion stayed with me long after I finished reading. Don’t miss this one!” –Maggie Barbieri, author of Once Upon a Lie

Something Old, Something New: Mushroom, Chard, and Swiss Cheese Galette with Buckwheat Crust Peggy Ehrhart

Long ago, a friend came to visit bearing a galette. (She was always a culinary trend-setter.) The galette was a yummy thing, flat like a pizza but with a crust like a pie crust—no yeast required. Now galettes seem to be everywhere and I’ve been longing to jump on the trend. Recently I saw a recipe for a rhubarb galette in Bon Appetit magazine, a galette that incorporated an ingredient traditional with some galettes: the dough was a combination of regular flour and buckwheat flour.

Also long ago, my husband and I visited a restored village in New Brunswick and came away with a bag of buckwheat flour from an old mill that had been put back into operation. We learned that buckwheat actually isn’t a type of wheat at all but is the seed of a plant in the rhubarb family. It’s been cultivated by humans all around the globe for millennia and was a very common crop in North America in the 18th and 19th centuries—thus the mill in the restored village.

After that trip, buckwheat pancakes became a Sunday-morning tradition, especially when our son and daughter-in-law visit, and the original bag of buckwheat flour has been refilled many times. Buckwheat flour is easy to find online, if not locally.

Because we always have a stock of buckwheat flour, I’m always on the lookout for other things to do with it. I decided I’d make a buckwheat galette of my own, but a savory galette, and for the filling I’d use a variation on the filling for a vegetarian quiche I often make with chard, mushrooms, and sharp white cheddar. I knew the buckwheat would give a slightly nutty flavor to the crust, so to complement that I replaced the cheddar with Swiss cheese. For the mushrooms I used Baby Bellas, but any mushroom will do.


Because the filling would go on a flat piece of pastry rather than into a quiche pan, I reduced the number of eggs and the amount of cream.

Ingredients—Mushroom, Chard, and Swiss Cheese Galette with Buckwheat Crust

For the crust:

1 cup flour

1/3 cup buckwheat flour

1 tsp. salt

1/2 cup (4 oz.) butter

1/4 cup ice water

For the filling:

3 tbs. butter, divided

Salt and pepper

1 lb. mushrooms

2 large garlic cloves, minced

1 good-sized bunch Swiss chard

1 1/2 cup grated Swiss cheese

1 large egg or two small

1/4 cup heavy cream

To make the dough for your crust:

Mix the flour, buckwheat flour, and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Cut the butter into little pieces and add it to the flour mixture. Using your hands, work the butter into the flour mixture until only pea-sized pieces of flour-covered butter remain.

Sprinkle the ice water over the flour and butter mixture and, still using your hands, work the contents of the bowl into a stiff dough.  Transfer it to a work surface and continue kneading until there are no dry bits and the texture is fairly uniform.


Divide the dough into four portions, flatten each until it’s about 3/4 inch thick, and stack them on top of each other. Press down on the stack to make a disk about 3/4 inch thick. Wrap it in plastic and refrigerate it for at least an hour. (You can make it way ahead and refrigerate it for a few days.) Continue reading “Something Old, Something New: Mushroom, Chard, and Swiss Cheese Galette with Buckwheat Crust Peggy Ehrhart”

Yummy Yum Trifle by Linda Reilly

After a seemingly endless winter where I live in southern New Hampshire, the first signs of summer are beginning to emerge. It makes me think of cool, palate-tempting recipes–in particular, desserts. Last year I had to bring a pot luck dish to the annual barbecue at our apartment community. I wanted something simple, eye-pleasing, but also refreshing for a hot summer day. After poring over online recipes, I found the perfect contribution: a strawberry/banana trifle. The ingredients are basic (as are my skills in the kitchen), but the fun part is layering them in a trifle bowl.

The trifle I made for the barbecue was, I’m pleased to say, a huge hit. Before I had even finished my burger, the residents had pillaged the trifle–it was nearly gone!

One thing about a standard trifle is that it typically serves at least a dozen. Could I make a smaller version for my husband and me to enjoy at home? I decided to trim the recipe to fit into a smaller dish. I purchased a clear bowl from the dollar store for…yup, one dollar. Here’s my pared down version of this light, yummy dessert:

  • One 3.4-ounce package of vanilla pudding mix, prepared with milk according to directions
  • Angel food cake, cut into cubes (I used about half of a 10-ounce cake)
  • 1 large banana or two small bananas, sliced thin
  • 10-ounce package frozen strawberries, thawed and cut into pieces
  • 8-ounce container of Cool Whip, thawed

Layer half the angel cake pieces, half the pudding, half the banana slices, half the strawberries, and half the Cool Whip. Repeat. Garnish with a few strawberry bits. Chill for at least four hours before enjoying. On a broiling hot day, this easy dessert will be a sure winner! Continue reading “Yummy Yum Trifle by Linda Reilly”

Sarah Osborne’s Tips for first-time bread bakers

Family is whatever you make it—genetic, borrowed, or adopted—and nothing keeps a family strong like breaking bread together.

Add to that the joy of preparing the bread, and you have the perfect recipe for family togetherness.

While I love experimenting with new recipes, when I have the time it’s bread baking that warms my heart.

The three secret ingredients for making a delicious loaf of bread are time, perseverance, and love. Aren’t those the ingredients for any good and lasting relationship?

I am no James Beard when it comes to making bread, but as Julia Child said, “The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”

Let’s get started. No bread machines allowed. The real zen of bread making is the time and hands-on work involved. I’ve solved a lot of mystery conundrums as my floured hands kneaded dough. It really is the process that matters, even when the product comes out as flat as a pancake.

One way to avoid the inedible loaf is always, always, always to proof the yeast. Here’s what I do.

  • I make sure my kitchen is cozy—no drafts.
  • I warm up a small bowl with hot water and then pour it out.
  • I turn on my oven just to get it started heating up and then turn it off.
  • I put one or two packages of yeast in my bowl (according to the recipe) with a quarter cup of hot water (from the recipe) and a little sugar (from the recipe), stir and plop the whole thing in the warm oven (turned off but still cozy) for ten minutes.

This is how your bowl should look (granted it doesn’t have to rise to the top of the bowl, but it does have to expand).

If it doesn’t expand, start over or you’ll spend a day of frustration waiting for dough to rise, and it isn’t going to happen. Believe me I’ve been there, done that.

The next most important aspect of bread baking is learning to knead. It isn’t complicated. See any of the many good videos on youtube to get the hang of it. Then take your time.

I often use a recipe I’ve had for years called Farm Style Whole Wheat Molasses Bread. Choose any recipe you like but start with white bread or whole wheat mixed with white flour—nothing too heavy or your first-time bread won’t do well.

If you want to use my recipe go to my website at and look at Weekly Recipes.

Choose a day when you don’t have much else to do and can relish the experience. Do it with a friend, a relative, a child, and it will be a wonderful adventure. Maybe you’ll even end up with a tasty loaf of bread.

Continue reading “Sarah Osborne’s Tips for first-time bread bakers”

Molly Jebber’s Favorite Recipe and Other Musings

Frozen Fruit Salad
1 box vanilla instant pudding mix
6 tablespoons of milk
1 regular tub of cool whip
1 small can of pineapple tidbits
1 can (desired size) of mandarin oranges


Doing something out of my comfort zone

Empty vanilla instant pudding dry powder in a large mixing bowl.  Add milk and beat with mixer until a paste is formed. Add cool whip and beat with mixer until blended. Add fruit and stir with spoon. Pour the mixture into an 8 x 8 glass dish, cover, and freeze. Take out 30 – 40 minutes before serving. Should be cut in squares for fruit salad with meal or for dessert. Refreshing!

My daughter, Misty, talked me into parasailing. My knees grew weak at the anticipation. I envisioned being jerked into the air, rocking from one side to the other, and landing onto the boat covered in a parasail flat on my back! I couldn’t have imagined considering this in my lifetime. But I was feeling brave, and others came back and highly recommended it.

Shocked, I loved it!

We were in the Bahama’s on the beach, and a shore excursion offered parasailing. We were taken to a big boat and harnessed to the parasail together. I couldn’t believe I was doing this. The boat took off and my feet lifted. We were gently lifted gradually by the wind high above the water. The view was spectacular. Colorful fish, the sun shining on the water, and the boats were beautiful. All the fear left, and I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. Continue reading “Molly Jebber’s Favorite Recipe and Other Musings”

Chocolate and Creativity by Kate Moore

A lot goes into a novel—inspiration, daydreaming, research, problem-solving, and chocolate. Unlike the old hard-boiled male writers of the American novel, known for their drinking habits, as if the scotch or whiskey were necessary to the creative process, when I encounter a stuck place in a book, my go-to substance is chocolate. Hero and heroine not cooperating? Plot crumbling? It’s time for cookie dough! Not your garden-variety cookie dough, and no raw eggs, but a special blend of sugar, butter, vanilla, almond extract, instant coffee, flour, and dark, dark chocolate chips. In a bowl on my desk, the special dough gets the writing process back on track. Maybe, it’s the anti-oxidants in the chocolate! Sadly, I can’t share the recipe with you, as it was my mother’s, and my sisters and I are sworn to secrecy. However, English desserts are another source of inspiration for my British Isles set stories, and my favorite is Sticky Toffee Pudding.

Here’s a link:

Here’s my version:


¼ C unsalted butter, softened
6 ounces  (1 C lightly packed) pitted dates, coarsely chopped (Medjools)
1 tsp baking soda
¾ C plus 2 tbsps fine golden sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla
2 large eggs
1 and ¼ C self-rising flour sifted


½ C packed light brown sugar
¼ C honey
½ C unsalted butter
¼ C heavy cream

To make CAKE: Heat oven to 350. Butter an 11×7-inch nonstick pan at least 1 inch deep. Line with buttered parchment and butter sides.

Put dates in a small saucepan with 1 C water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until softened about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in baking soda and set aside. (You get quite a chemical reaction; it’s normal.) Continue reading “Chocolate and Creativity by Kate Moore”

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