I have just written a ghost story for Halloween. It’s called “Delia,” and you’ll find it in my Wrandom Writing page (go to the Menu spot on the heading of this page, tap it and tap on Wrandom Writing). I had such a good time writing “Delia” and hope you’ll enjoy meeting her!
Friday, Sept. 30, 6–8 p.m. Family Life Center First Baptist Church 39 Alexandria Pike, Warrenton Fauquier County Public Library is pleased to present a local author fair — Great Writers, Right Here. This event will bring together a wide range of talented local authors under one roof. Please drop in, meet the writers and discuss their works. Books will be available for purchase and signing. Door prize drawings will be held every 30 minutes. Great Writers, Right Here is made possible by the generous support of the Friends of the Fauquier Library.
We had such fun going to Winchester at the end of August! We met very nice folks and loved seeing the beautiful Old Town. The Book Gallery (you can see it on the right, front of the photo) is a wonderful, friendly store. It was a great day!
One is that I have a book signing in Winchester VA on this coming Saturday, August 27th from 11 am to 1 pm at
the Winchester Book Gallery! It’s such a fine store – I’m really excited! http://www.winchesterbookgallery.com/event/book-signing-carolyn-melander-osborne-perfect-plan
The other is that today I put the finishing touches on my story about Charlemagne (probably your ancestor and, yes, mine). It took a lot of digging around to accomplish the research I needed, but I think I’ve got a good story in hand. Charlemagne is a controversial character, but love him or hate him, he certainly had a lot of impact on Western history. Personalizing him was a bit tricky at first, but it ‘got legs and ran’ after a while.
Charlemagne is one of a varied cast of characters in Rule! – a set of family stories that tracks the origin and growth of the British Empire through personal experiences. Rule! is set to publish in January, so I need to keep writing!
How can a dedicated British career military officer in Victorian times deal after the fact with the stresses and losses of a five-month siege? In the winter of 1857, Robert Patrick Anderson struggled mightily to get past physical depletion, personal loss and emotional trauma from enduring the Siege of Lucknow. He had to, before he could rebuild his family and and resume his career.
“Lucknow”reconstructs the personal struggle of one man among the many, Indian and British, who suffered during the Indian Rebellion of 1857. This is a true story about one of the sons of John and Mary Alison Anderson, of the story “St. Helena”. You’ll find an excerpt of “St. Helena” on the Rule! page of this site.
Writing this story involved a lot of research into the Sieges of Lucknow and Cawnpore, Sikh religious and philosophical tenets, the Rebellion of 1857, London in 1858 and much more. It was fascinating to research, but very hard to write! Personalizing human responses in the “stiff upper lip” culture that typified Victorian times was hard to do. But we know that war is a nasty business and it always has been, and those who suffer through it pay on many levels.
“Lucknow” is in first draft now, and will be part of Rule!, Vol II of Helena’s Stories, which is coming out in January, 2017.
My scanner and computer have finally decided to reconcile! I’m happy for them, and much happier for me. Now, I’m able to get this photo of my mom, Helena, into a file. That is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. Here it is!
Mom was responsible for all the stories I’m working on these days, which is why I started my ‘serious’ writing with the novel A Perfect Plan. We both liked Catherine Nelson and George Matcham, and saw a story there. The next book, working title Rule!, will be short stories of the 10th through 19th Century in England, Europe and ‘the East’. All are connected in some way with Great Britain and its development. If you go to the Menu button in the upper right hand corner of this page, you’ll find more about Helena’s Stories, and more about the books of the Britannia series.
Here’s a nice recipe for scones, which uses a food processor. Agnes (of A Perfect Plan) would have loved to have this recipe and loved having an oven with a thermostat, a freezer and a food processor, too!
Freeze a stick of butter until it’s pretty hard (15 – 20 minutes). Leave it in the freezer until you’re ready to use it.
Line a cookie sheet (parchment or a silicone liner both work. I think waxed paper – with the waxed side down – would, too, but I haven’t tried it).
Preheat oven to about 400
Set up a cooling rack with a sheet under it (for cooling and glazing).
In your food processor bowl, put
2 cups flour
1/4-1/2 cup sugar (per your taste and if you’re adding in dried fruit or other sweet food )
about 1/2 to 3/4 tsp salt (per your taste and also whether the butter is salted)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
a little bit of orange or lemon zest (if you want)
Pulsethese ingredients a few times to mix them well
Cut into small cubes
1 stick butter, frozen (if you don’t have a food processor, you can grate the frozen butter on a coarse grater or cut it into tiny pieces. Work fast!))
Put the butter into the flour mix and pulse (if you don’t have a food processor, work with your hands or two forks) until it’s pretty well blended, with small bits of butter still visible. Work as quickly as you can so the butter doesn’t get too blended into the flour mix.
1/2 cup sour cream (or 1/4 cup sour cream and 1/4 cup plain yoghurt)
1/2 cup of whatever dried fruit you might like to add, chopped if necessary. Consider the add-ins and the the scones flavorings: orange zest with dried cranberries is a great combination (with lemon glaze, though, unless you have pretty sour oranges). Lemon zest and dried blueberries, with lemon glaze is also terrific.
Pulse until it forms a cohesive dough, which will be sticky. If you don’t have a food processor, mix and then lightly knead the dough.
Flour a work space, and turn the dough out onto it. Flour your hands and pat the dough a circle that’s about a half inch thick.
Flour a metal scraper or a knife, and cut the dough into 8 wedges.
Place them on the lined baking sheet at least 1″ apart..
Bake at 400 degrees for about 17 or 18 minutes, until just starting to brown.
Remove from the pan and set them on the cooling rack.
Mix with a fork (and then maybe a whisk) until smooth and free of lumps
1¼ cups confectioner’s sugar
Abt ¼ cup lemon juice, or milk (if you’re using milk, you might want to put in a pinch of salt and a bit of vanilla extract)
Drizzle glaze over the scones. Let sit about ½ hour for the glaze to set.
These are best (I think) at room temp. Enjoy!
In Chapter I of A Perfect Plan, Kitty Nelson makes Shrewsbury cakes from her own recipe to serve their guests: her cousin Edmund Howman and his friend, George Matcham. Years later, Matcham brings her some spices from India and suggests cardamom as an additional flavor for her Shrewsbury cakes.
I was curious about these cookies, so experimented with several recipes and ended up with one of my own, which baked up well.
Mine is a refrigerator cookie, which of course was not an option for Kitty in 1780. If you want to be more authentic, increase the amount of flour to make a rolled cookie. These are lightly spiced and have an interesting, subtle, slightly fruity flavor and a light, rather crisp texture. If you use standard sugar to top them, it will make a very light glaze. Coarse sanding sugar gives you a more pebbly surface and a shinier, crisper glaze, which I think is more interesting.
Kitty’s Shrewsbury Cakes
2 1/2 cups of flour, 1 cup of butter, 3/4 cup of sugar, 2 small eggs (or 1 large, plus 1 tablespoon water), 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom (George Matcham’s suggestion – a very nice addition!), a dash of rosewater (if you have it; it is traditional in these) or a tiny amount of fresh grated orange or lemon zest, sanding sugar or regular crystal sugar, small pieces of candied orange or lemon peel (or mixed).
Cream the butter and beat in the 3/4 cup sugar, then beat in the eggs (or egg and water), the rosewater or grated zest. When well beaten and light, add the flour, cinnamon and cardamom and stir well. You will have a very soft dough. Chill it for about 1/2 hour to firm it up.
Line cookie sheets.
Put a few tablespoons of the sanding sugar or plain sugar in a shallow dish.
For refrigerator cookies… Roll the dough into a cylinder in waxed paper, and put back in the fridge to chill thoroughly (may an hour or two, or overnight if you want). Unwrap and slice the still-cold dough in about 1/4″ slices, dip one surface in the sugar and place (2″ apart) on a baking sheet.
For rolled cookies… I suggest you use your favorite rolled cookie recipe to get the proportions of flour to butter to eggs that suits you, leaning toward the buttery side, and chill the dough thoroughly (1-2 hours) before rolling out about 1/4″ thick and cutting it. Dust the tops with sugar and place (2″ apart) on a baking sheet.
Press a small piece of candied fruit rind into the center of each cookie.
Bake at 350 for 10-14 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned. Let sit in the pan for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool. Store in a tightly covered tin. This makes about 40 cookies.
I am not a professional chef, and am not fussy about my recipes, so use your discretion about quantities and cooking time and temperature to suit your tastes and your oven. We like these Shrewsbury cakes though, and hope you will, too!
Just starting to bloom. Lovely!