Emily’s no slouch in the kitchen either. She cobbles together dinner for her and Dan after raiding Robert and Elizabeth’s refrigerator, pantry, and garden. I know people joke about having too many zucchini, but I think I could eat it daily and never grow tired of it.
These pumpkin Snickerdoodles are delicious and perfect for fall weather, though Emily brings them to a summer picnic. These are my oldest daughter’s favorite cookies, and she recently made a batch herself to take to her brother’s boy scout meeting.
We never get a glimpse of this strawberry pretzel Jell-O salad that Dan’s sister makes the day after Thanksgiving because Dan and Emily are, uh, otherwise occupied when it’s served. I was introduced to this recipe in the early 1980s by my sister-in-law. I love the sweet and salty combination!
Finally, Emily and her family are Polish, so I wanted to incorporate something true to their heritage. I have yet to make these on pierogies, but with these step-by-step instructions, I intend to give it a try.
My mother is German, not Polish, but for decades, she made nut rolls (along with prune-poppyseed rolls) very similar to these every Easter. She’d even ship them from Pennsylvania to Florida to her sister-in-law. As I wrote the brief scene in which the rolls are mentioned, I recalled grinding nuts by hand for my mother when I was a little girl.
Want to see Dan’s three-legged dog, Gomer? How about that creepy Gollum puppet Emily mentions? Would you like to see Willam Adolphe Bouguereau’s L’Innocence? Maybe you’d like to try Emily’s recipe for pumpkin Snickerdoodles. Take a peek at all that and more!
Unlike Stay With Me and Rightfully Ours, music isn’t a part of the story in Ornamental Graces. No song or music is integral to the plot, but I can’t help write mention of music into books. Some of these tracks you’ll see referenced in the book either by artist name or mention of a lyric. The others (“Dreaming With a Broken Heart,” “Faster,” “Mud,” et al) just fit the scene.
It’s a mixture of pop, rock, and new country until you hit the end and then, well, Christmas hymns. Because that’s where it all ends up. I know as a playlist it shifts the mood, but there you go.
Rebecca Rhodes, the heroine in Stay With Me, loves to bake. If a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, Chris Reynolds doesn’t stand a chance. Rebecca tells Chris, “I want a little store where I sell homemade baked goods. Not elaborate cakes. . . like the ones you see on the Food Network. Just ordinary but delicious cookies. By the dozen. That’s what I would do.”
Rebecca’s recipe is identical to my mother’s doctored recipe for Kraft’s original Fantasy Fudge. My mother, an accomplished baker of “ordinary” treats, like Rebecca, is well-known for her delicious fudge, among other sweets. Below the recipe are some of my mom’s tips for success!
Rebecca’s Fantasy Fudge
3 sticks butter, softened (1-1/2 c.)
Here’s all you’ll need to make this easy, delicious fudge.
6 c. granulated sugar
2 5-oz. cans evaporated milk (1-1/2 c.)
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
2 12-oz. packages Hershey’s milk chocolate chips
1 13-oz. jar marshmallow crème
2 tsp. vanilla
2 c. chopped walnuts, optional
Grease two 9×13 pans. Mix butter, sugar, milk, and cream of tartar in large, heavy saucepan. Bring to full, rolling boil over medium heat. Stir constantly. Boil 5 minutes or until temperature reaches 234 degrees F. (soft ball stage) Remove from heat. Stir in chips. Add marshmallow crème. When mixture reaches a dull gloss, stir in vanilla. (Mixture will be heavy.) Pour into pans. Cool. Yield: Approximately 6 pounds of fudge.
The finished product. Delicious!
Marcy’s Tips for Success
When it says “stir constantly,” stir constantly. Lay your ingredients out ahead of time so you don’t have to step away from the stove and risk scorching.
For ease in pouring and clean-up, grease saucepan.
To ease scoring and lifting, line pans with heavy duty aluminum foil. Lift cooled fudge onto cutting board for easy scoring.
Use a sturdy wooden spoon for stirring.
To test for soft ball stage without a candy thermometer, add a teaspoon of sugar mixture to a cup of cold water. When sugar mixture forms a soft ball when prodded with a fork, it’s ready.
To assist in cooling on warm or humid days, allow pans to cool beneath a ceiling fan.
My Tip for Success
Keep open bag of milk chocolate chips out of reach of toddlers.
Curious what Rebecca’s barefoot sandals look like? Or Chris’s Harley-Davidson? Would you like a glimpse of Harrisburg’s Reservoir Park, the Gettysburg Battlefield, or the Cathedral of Saint Patrick? Best of all, all of Rebecca’s delicious recipes are here for you to savor. Take a peek at all that and more!
Music played an integral role in the writing of Stay With Me. Some of the songs are referenced directly in the text. Others served as inspiration for the mood and lyrics you’ll read in the book. Songs are listed in the same order in which they appear in the book.