Thursday, April 18, 2013

Are You Friends with Your Kitchen? Guest Author Keli Gwyn

Weds. April 24th 3:47 PM: Congratulations to our book giveaway winner, "Gram"!

Today I'm pleased to host historical romance author (and fellow northern Californian) Keli Gwyn. Welcome to Authors' Galley!

Making Friends with My Kitchen
by Keli Gwyn

I love my kitchen. When our realtor showed Gwynly and me the house all those years ago, I actually rubbed my hands together with anticipation before exploring the cheery room with its slate blue wallpaper and bright white tile.

What I didn’t love was spending time in the kitchen. For years I considered myself a lousy cook and avoided doing so as much as possible. It wasn’t until this year that things changed. I faced a hard truth: I wasn’t so much a lousy cook as I was a lazy one.

I’d been battling osteoporosis over a year. Working out at Curves and walking helped me arrest the disease, but I wanted to do better. When I learned that Curves has a diet plan as part of their Curves Complete program, I signed up pronto.

Thanks to some great genes, my goal wasn’t to lose weight, although I have dropped a few pounds of persistent belly fat. What I wanted to do was learn to eat right and build muscle to support my itsy bitsy bones. I figured out following a plan prepared by a nutritionist was one way to do it, and I was right.

These days I prepare nutritious, delicious meals. One of our favorites is a turkey flatbread sandwich I created that makes our mouths water just thinking about it. It’s quick, easy, and mighty scrumptious. (Recipe below.)


As writers, we’re often asked if we put any of ourselves in our characters. When I developed Elenora Watkins, the widowed heroine of my debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, I made her a lousy cook like I was at the time. Ellie isn’t a lazy cook, though. It’s just that she was never given the opportunity to learn.

An ever-resourceful widow, Elenora Watkins arrives in El Dorado ready to go into partnership with Miles Rutledge. When he refuses, Elenora becomes the competition across the street. Is this town big enough for the two of them? Miles can't help but stick his well-polished boot in his mouth whenever he comes face-to-face with Elenora. Can he find a way to win her heart while destroying her business? Miles's mother, Maude, is bent on Elenora becoming her new daughter-in-law while Elenora's daughter, Tildy, thinks Miles would make a perfect papa. How far will these meddlers go to unite this enterprising pair?

At one point early in the story, while they’re dining with the hero, Miles Rutledge, and his mother, Ellie’s daughter, nine-year-old Tildy, tells them just how bad a cook her mother is.

Elenora smothered the last bite of beef with smooth brown gravy and savored the rich taste. “Thank you for another delicious dinner, Mrs. Rutledge. Sharing your noondays is a blessing to me.”

“And me,” Tildy added. “Mama’s cooking is so bad that Grandpa said she was as much use in the kitchen as a broken axle on a wagon. She burned the toast this morning and broke the fried eggs when she flipped them.”

Mrs. Rutledge scowled. “Matilda, is that any way to talk about your mother?”

Tildy lowered her head. “Sorry, Mama.”

“It’s fine dear. You’re right. I have a good deal to learn.”

Later in the story, Miles, who has a knack for tickling his tonsils with his toes, pays Ellie a visit to make an apology. He notes her improved cooking skills.

He followed her into her back room. An unmistakable scent filled the air, the same one he’d smelled in Mother’s kitchen earlier. “You didn’t burn the bacon.”

“You do have a way with words, don’t you?”

“Sorry.” What a fool he was. He’d come to make peace. Instead he’d been downright rude. She studied him with such intensity he felt like an insect being eyed by a hungry bird. It was all he could do not to squirm.

Her expression softened. “Since I owe you an apology, I’ll accept yours."

"What do you have to apologize for? I’m the one with the habit of tasting boot blacking.”


Turkey Flatbread Sandwiches

Flatbread – one piece approx. 5x8 inches, fairly thick
Deli Turkey – ¼ lb. sandwich sliced
Cheese – 1 slice, your choice
Spring Greens
Tomato Slices
Black Olives – chopped
Sweet Purple Onion – sliced
Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar
Salt & Pepper

1. Spread the turkey on the flatbread, covering the entire surface.

2. Put the cheese on top of the turkey.

3. Heat in toaster oven until the cheese melts.

4. Add the greens, tomatoes, olives, and onion.

5. Sprinkle with oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper to taste.

6. Fold in half and enjoy.


Questions for You

Are you a foodie like Candy who loves spending time preparing meals, or are you more like I was and don’t enjoy cooking as much as you might?

What is your favorite sandwich?

Thank you, Keli. That sandwich looks awesome. I'd say you've definitely made friends with your kitchen, AND made our visitors mouths water! 

Now, as an added treat, Keli is offering a signed copy of  A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, Calfornia as part of a book giveaway. Simply leave a comment answering one of her questions--include your e-mail address--and you will entered in a drawing via Random.Org.  The winning name will be selected on Weds. April 24th and notified by e-mail.  US entrants only, please. 

Meanwhile, happy reading . . . and Bon appetit! 


Kathy T said...

First off I want to say how very much I enjoyed reading
"A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado" thanks to Candy's recommendation. I am a pretty independent minded lady and I could see myself in Elenora's shoes quite frequently. What a wonderful book! I am a foodie like Candy. I love my kitchen. I get super excited when I hear there are going to be people to cook for besides my regular family members for whom I enjoy cooking as well. My son just called from college to say he is bringing a friend home this weekend. Needless to say, I'm already thinking menus -- midnight snack when they arrive, breakfast, etc. But, after just spending a month in the hospital after knee replacement surgery and eating very intentionally planned meals created by the dietitian, I realized I have a lot to learn to make our diet more healthy and I want to work on that. Thanks for sharing with us today!

Keli Gwyn said...

Kathy, I'm glad you enjoyed reading A Bride Opens Shop. Ellie is quite independent, isn't she, and just a wee bit on the stubborn side, too? :-)

How neat that you love your kitchen and take such pleasure in preparing food for guests. Sounds like your son and his friend are in for a real treat this weekend. I hope you have a wonderful visit--and a great time cooking.

Keli Gwyn said...

Candy, thanks so much for inviting me to Author's Galley. It's a pleasure to be here with you. You're one of the people who inspired me to make friends with my kitchen and learn to ramp up my cooking skills. After seeing many of your mouth-watering meals on Facebook and growing hungry just looking at the pictures, I was inspired to get more creative myself.

Jennifer said...

I like to cook and I don't at the same time because I feel like I get stuck in a rut.
My favorite kind of sandwich is roast beef, turkey, tomatoes, cheese, mustard, mayo on a toasted bun!

Keli Gwyn said...

Jennifer, I get into ruts, too. Thankfully, my hubby doesn't mind having our favorites fairly often.

I like the idea of the toasted bun on your sandwich. We just bought our toaster oven, and are enjoying having toasted sandwiches these days.

Connie said...

I am a frustrated chef but a lazy one too. Actually my MS gets in the way sometimes. I started cooking with my mother and grandmother when I was big enough to stand on a chair and stir.I wish my kitchen was bigger and gas instead of electric.I make do.
I like to make a veggie sandwich. I take my bread and put some lettuce, tomato, black olives, jicama, cucumber, and a little red onion with honey mustard dressing.

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

I really enjoyed hearing about your lazy cooking, because I fall into slumps like that all the time. I LOVE to cook, but I hate to clean. When I get fancy I inevitably pull out too many pots and pans, cutting boards, knives, peelers, you name it! But that's the price for eating healthy--and tasty!

I do not need a signed copy of the book because I already have one. Everyone is jealous, I can tell. :) About halfway through, Keli. Very charming!

PS... that sandwich looks insane. Now I'm craving a late night snack.

Keli Gwyn said...

Connie, I'm sorry you're dealing with MS. That must make many things a challenge, not just cooking. I feel for you.

That veggie sandwich sounds yummy. I've never had jicama, though. I'll have to check it out.

Keli Gwyn said...

Amy, I do find that I have more cleanup to do now that I'm cooking healthier meals. I also spend more time chopping veggies, but it's worth it. You don't have to feel sorry for me, though. Gwynly does dishes. :-)

Thanks for the kind words about my book. I'm glad you're enjoying the story.

CandaceCalvert said...

Kathy: welcome! I'm so glad that you are continuing to heal after surgery--nothing like a post-op jello dinner to make you want to get home fast! I always enjoy your food posts, friend. And, yes, Keli's book is so beyond charming.

CandaceCalvert said...

Keli: it's a delight to have you here, friend.
Hi Jennifer--it's great to see you here. Sounds like you're a sandwich pro, too.

CandaceCalvert said...

Connie, I love the idea of cooking skills being passed down through the generations. We've already begun a tradition of Christmas cookie baking with our grand girls, ages 4 and 2. I hope it's something they will always remember.

CandaceCalvert said...

Amy: I totally with you on the cleaning--and I, too, use SO many pots, bowls, spoons and whisks . . . Such a blessing that hubby does the cleaning as a trade off for getting to eat all the goodies. :-)

Gram said...

I am the only one in the house that like a grilled cream cheese and olive sandwich. grammyd01 (at) comcast (dot) net

Keli Gwyn said...

Gram, that sounds like an interesting sandwich. Do you use green or black olives?

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Yes, I do luck out fairly often when my hubby takes dish duty. Gotta love that in a man!! ;)

CandaceCalvert said...

CONGRATULATIONS to our book winner, Gram! And thank you all for stopping by the blog to leave comments--you're the best!

Keli Gwyn said...

Congratulations, Gram! I see you left your email address, so I'll zap you a message.

Thanks to everyone who visited my guest post, a special thank you to those who left comments, and a great BIG thank you to Candy for hosting me.

CandaceCalvert said...

It was a delight to share an apron with you, Keli. I hope we can lure you back another time. :-)