Banana Shortcake

I sometimes feel like I’m not paying enough attention to my blog. And when I do, it’s all totally writing related and, frankly, boring. I have every intention of continuing to post flash fics and review books, but I thought rather than struggle to find more writing related topics, I’d include some posts about what I do when I’m not writing or reading.

As I’m sure a lot of you know, I really enjoy cooking. So today I thought I’d share a recipe that I made recently that has some great memories associated with it.

I spent a lot of time at my grandma’s house when I was growing up. She was a good cook and I hung out with her in the kitchen often. I watched her cook  and, as I got older, helped her. When I think of my grandma, the recipes that come to mind first are cherry cobbler, German potato salad, and doughnuts from scratch. She used boxed mixes occasionally and I have vivid memories of making chocolate pudding from a box using her old metal hand-cranked beaters. But the majority of her recipes were homemade, written down on recipe cards (or scraps of paper) and covered with splotches from drips and dollops of food.

After she died, I ended up with all of those recipes. I had ambitious plans to scan them all, type them up, and create a recipe book for the family. The recipe book never happened, but I have been trying to organize and save as many family recipes as possible lately.

Unfortunately, there were some recipes that never made it onto a card or even a scrap of paper. One of those recipes was her banana cake. I think the simplicity of the recipe is why she never felt like it needed to be put in writing. But as my dad and I tried to recreate it, it would have been helpful to have as we realized our memories were a little shaky. Did grandma cut her cake in two layers? Or three? We went with three.

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The cake is actually more of a shortcake than a cake. It’s quick to make and quite rustic. My grandma used Bisquick, but I find it nearly as easy to mix up a quick shortcake from scratch (it took maybe ten minutes at most). The shortcake recipe is one she and my mom used for strawberry shortcake, but made in a single, giant cake instead of individual ones.

After I baked the shortcake, I layered it with banana, milk, sugar, and nutmeg.  Simple, but surprisingly delicious. And it’s even better the second day!


Grandma Brigham’s Banana Shortcake

2 cups flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/3 cup butter
1 cup milk

2 very ripe bananas, sliced
Sugar
Milk
Nutmeg

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Cut in chilled butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in milk just until blended. Place on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper and pat into a roughly 8-inch circle.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to rest for a few minutes.

Split shortcake into three layers while still warm.

Sprinkle bottom layer lightly with milk and sugar. Top with sliced banana, then sprinkle with nutmeg. Repeat with middle layer. Top with final layer of shortcake and serve.


 

I searched around online for this recipe but didn’t find anything similar. Is anyone else familiar with a dessert like this? Or was it a recipe my grandma threw together herself when she had too many bananas? I’d be really curious to find out.

Oh, and if you make this, let me know how it turns out! I’d love to know what you think.

 

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Monday Flash Fiction – Lenses

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I watched Henry from beneath my eyelashes as he paced the studio apartment, sitting then standing again, picking up my belongings and inspecting them with a curious eye though he’d seen them a thousand times before. Although his expression remained calm, something lurked under the surface. Short, jerky movements and glances at the door spoke of restless tension and a desire to flee.

He grabbed his jeans from where I’d  tossed them on the orange flowered couch the night before. He slid them over his lean hips, and I held my breath when his fingers hesitated on the zipper.I didn’t want him to leave, but I was afraid if I spoke it would spook him.

I’d fully expected to wake up to a politely apologetic note on the pillow.

Sunlight glinted off his salt and pepper hair and kissed his sculpted shoulders and abs as he began to pace the room again, fly still open. He picked up my beloved Mamiya RZ67 and turned it over. He’d posed in front of that camera the day before and my fingers itched to photograph him once more.

“I know you’re awake,” he murmured, aiming the lens at me and leaning in to peer through the top viewfinder.

I sat up, the rumpled sheets falling down to my waist and I fought the urge to gather them up and cover myself.

“And I know you’re itching to leave.” After a night of passion, my voice was huskier than it had been in a long time.

“It’s not why you think.”  His tone was apologetic.

I pushed my hair behind my shoulder—finally long enough to do that—and I heard the quiet whirr of the autofocus. I shielded my face and reached for the covers, drawing them up over my chest. “Don’t, Henry.”

When he set the camera on the nearby bookshelf I lowered my hand. His expression was apologetic as he crawled toward me, the motion making his jeans slide down so his ass was partially bared.  “I’m sorry.”

My smile was tremulous and sad. “Sorry for what? Finally doing the photoshoot I’ve been bugging you about for years? Fucking me? Or are you sorry you woke up to this?”

I gestured to my body, the one I’d been fighting with for years. It was only recently that I’d begun to feel comfortable in it.

“Hey—“ Henry gently nudged me down onto the mattress with his body “—you are beautiful and last night was incredible.”

“Then why were you pacing my apartment like a caged lion?” I murmured, running my fingernails across his biceps and shoulders.

He shuddered and placed a kiss just above the swell of my breast before rolling off me, onto his back. “Because I’m shit at commitment. I stayed because I knew if I bolted you’d assume the worst.”

I flipped onto my side so I could see him better. “So it wasn’t weird or awful?”

“Well, maybe a little weird, but certainly not awful. In fact, if you were listening, you’d know I used the word incredible. I meant it, Eth—Evelyn.”

He still slipped up sometimes, calling me Ethan.  With most people, it made me bristle, but Henry and I had been friends for too long for me to be angry at him.

“So what now?” I asked.

His head lolled to the side and he gave me a serious look. “I stop at home and feed the cat and then go to the university to grade some projects.”

I swallowed thickly, tears stinging my eyes. “So that’s it? We chalk last night up to too much wine and an erotically-charged photoshoot and leave it at that?”

It was a terrible thought. Henry was the first man I’d felt safe enough to get intimate with in years. He’d made me feel beautiful. Desirable.  I wanted the feeling to last but it had already begun to slip away, disappearing like sand through my fingers.

“I didn’t say that.” Henry sat up on one elbow. “I was thinking that tonight we’d grab dinner at that stupid gastropub you like so much and go to the film festival. Just like our usual Saturday nights.” He leaned in to brush his lips against mine. “But with one difference. We’ll come back here after. And I don’t mean to develop the film in that camera.” His tone was teasing, gentle.

“You know I develop film at the university anyway,” I replied, my heart beating fast in my chest at the prospect of another night with Henry. It wasn’t much of a clue about where this was going, but I’d take it. Unsaid words crowded together on my tongue, but all I could speak of was photography. It was a safer topic than my fears and doubts.“I haven’t had a darkroom here in years.”

Henry gave me one last kiss, and stood. “I gotta go. Starla’s going to shred my curtains if I don’t get back to feed her soon.”

I pushed myself up on my elbows and watched Henry dress.  His cranky cat was the only creature he’d allowed to get close to him and vice versa. Truth be told, I was a bit like Starla sometimes, but Henry had kept me in his life despite all of my snarling. That had to mean something.

Fully dressed, he stood at the foot of the bed and looked down at me. “You sure I can’t take a photo of you in bed?” he asked. “You have no idea how beautiful you are in this light.”

I swallowed hard and nodded once.

Rather than reach for my camera, he slipped his phone out of his pocket. He must have seen the wariness in my eyes because he gave me a reassuring smile. “Just for me, Evelyn, I promise. I just want to carry it with me.”

I trusted him. So I wet my lips and looked up at him.

Naked and vulnerable.

With Henry, I could be no one else.

 


This was a flash I wrestled with for a long while, until I heard Evelyn’s voice. It’s nearly twice the usual length, but the words were needed to tell her story.

Please visit the flash fic group on Facebook and check out the links to the other authors’ flash fics.

I look forward to seeing you next Monday!

This Changes Everything

 

I had a knot in my shoulder and zero motivation to do anything yesterday evening when my dad reminded me that we had plans to go see This Changes Everything, a film (based on a book by Naomi Klein) about climate change. I almost cancelled, but I am glad I didn’t.

My dad is an active member of the Sierra Club and they were co-hosting a film screening. I’ve seen plenty of documentaries—I’m as likely to binge watch PBS nature documentaries as I am a show like Breaking Bad or Family Guy—but this was definitely different than your usual film about climate change.

While I can’t say that the film itself will change everything, I think the ideas in it could if people would listen. It’s a rather different take on climate change and ties in with so many other frustrations that I know many, many people are feeling right now. The film focuses on how protecting the environment and building a better economy don’t have to be at odds.

Rather than using shock tactics and leaving you with a feeling of hopelessness, the film highlights changes that average, ordinary citizens around the world have made. I had heard about Germany’s massive switch to renewable sources of energy but had no idea that pressure from the country’s citizens was what was behind it. I had no idea that people in India had been able to block the building of coal power plants.

The film doesn’t claim to solve all the problems or give us a blueprint to change the world. But it does present a different way of thinking and I think if enough people considered it and took action, it could make a difference.

As for what I personally will do? I’m still mulling that over.

I do know that one of the highest compliments I can give a film or book is saying it made me think.  This film definitely did.

If you’re curious to learn more, and especially if you feel helpless and frustrated that there’s nothing you can do to change what’s happening in the world, visit the website, buy the book (or get it from the library), or find a nearby showing of the movie. It’s worth your time.

It’s worth everyone’s time.

Brigham’s Recommendations – Stuck Landing by Lauren Gallagher

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Summary:

For months, acclaimed Wolf’s Landing director/producer Anna Maxwell has been nursing a crush on Natalya Izmaylova, a former Russian gymnast and current Wolf’s Landing stunt coordinator. When Anna witnesses Natalya’s very public breakup with her boyfriend, she can’t resist inviting her over for drinks to commiserate about love and all that nonsense. Commiseration doesn’t last long, and soon Anna’s in bed with the hottest woman she’s ever touched, living out fantasies she didn’t even know she had.

Despite the amazing sex, Anna wants to proceed with caution. They’re both newly single. They’re colleagues. And there’s the not-so-small matter of Anna’s biphobia.

Natalya won’t commit to someone who clings to ridiculous stereotypes, but they can’t avoid each other at work, and there’s no ignoring their chemistry. Anna’s defenses are slowly eroding, and Natalya is willing to give her another chance. But Natalya only has so much patience, and even scorching-hot sex won’t keep her coming back forever. If Anna doesn’t come to her senses soon and let go of her prejudices—not to mention her insecurities—she’s going to lose the woman of her dreams.

Review:

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the “Bluewater Bay” series or that I am a fan of L.A. Witt’s writing, whether she’d doing it under that name or as Lauren Gallagher. So when I realized she had written a lesbian romance as part of the “Bluewater Bay” series I was thrilled.

I don’t read a lot of lesbian stories. Mostly because I lack the time to keep up with all of the amazing books in the m/m genre, much less read lesbian fiction on top of it, but I was glad I took the time to read this. I found “Stuck Landing” very enjoyable.

In the previous books in the series, we caught glimpses of the main characters in “Stuck Landing” and saw the crumbling of Anna Maxwell’s relationship and her growing attraction to Natalya Izmaylova. This book can certainly be read as a standalone novel, but having that backstory was nice. It added an additional layer to the story.

Anna and Natalya were interesting and well thought out characters. They’re both driven, successful women, but the author did a fantastic job showing where they differed and how that impacted their approach to a relationship. For example, Anna’s career as a director and producer has developed into a need to control the relationship she’s in. Natalya’s career as a gymnast and stunt woman means she’s more willing to dive in and risk it all. It was a nice contrast, because it gave them enough in common to build a foundation, but a source of tension as they went from  hooking up to being in a relationship.

The author also did a fantastic job addressing the issue of biphobia. It’s something that many bi people have experienced (myself included) and I was very pleased to see it as part of the storyline. Much of Anna’s growth as a character was centered on acknowledging her prejudices and letting go of them.  Natalya’s frustration with Anna’s beliefs came from her previous experiences with biphobic people and made the resolution of those issues even more satisfying.

Lauren Gallagher delivered a story with great pacing, complex characters, steamy romance and love scenes, and a solid resolution at the end. Highly recommended.

Buy Links:

Amazon

Riptide Publishing

Flash Fiction Monday -Ironwood Forest

Ironwood Forest

As the mist parted, I found myself face-to-face with the tip of an arrow, so close my eyes crossed as I tried to focus on it.

I’d watched liked a hawk as I picked my way through the forest, carefully, quietly, afraid that even the slightest crunch of the leaves beneath my feet or the crack of a broken tree branch would give me away. I’d been scanning the forest for hours and my eyes were accustomed to the murky gloom. I should have seen the archer coming. A cursory glance at the hand below where the arrow rested told me the archer was a man. Where he’d come from or how he’d found me were a complete mystery, however.

The forest was silent except for my suddenly ragged breathing.

He lowered the arrow from where it had been aimed at the spot between my eyes to my chest. Hardly a relief, since the bowstring hadn’t loosened a fraction. At this range, it would certainly kill me.

It did allow me to examine his face. A hood covered his head, although I caught a glimpse of dark hair at the edges, and above the green-grey fabric covering his mouth and nose I saw dark eyes ringed with something sooty. There was nothing kind or welcoming in his gaze.

I jerked and tried not to flinch as another hooded figure appeared on my left, disarming me of my sword before I could reach for it. Another set of hands gripped my upper arms and in moments, they were bound tightly.

Only then did the arrow lower and the tension on the bowstring relax.

He slung his bow over his shoulder and gripped my upper arm.  A cloaked figure appeared on the path in front of us and set a brisk pace. The archer jerked me forward and it was all I could do to right myself and keep up.

I wanted to shout, wanted to beg for an explanation, ask who he was and where they were taking me, but the hush of the forest seemed oppressive and my tongue felt thick in my mouth. I stared at the archer beside me, trying to discern who he was. Certainly not the King’s men I’d been hiding from.

It wasn’t until a breeze ruffled the hood of his cloak and I caught a glimpse of a finely sculpted ear tapering to a point that I realized who held me captive: an elf.

Fear made my stomach churn.

The only thing worse than the King’s men were the elves of Ironwood Forest.


I don’t have any plans to write fantasy novels, but it’s a lot of fun to do in flash form!

Please visit the flash fic group on Facebook and check out the links to the other authors’ flash fics.

I look forward to seeing you next Monday!

Flash Fiction Monday – To the Rescue

Guy had been looking forward to the Pride event all year. Especially since it was the first year he’d been in a relationship during one. For him, Pride was like Halloween, Christmas, and his birthday all rolled into one.

So when the assholes who’d come down to the parade in order to hassle people started spewing insults at the drag queens and dykes on bikes, it pissed him off. Weren’t they allowed ONE day? One single day a year to be proud of being queer.

To celebrate instead of apologize or explain.

When the butch chick in leathers threw the first punch, Guy cheered her on. But his pleasure at seeing the asshole get what he deserved quickly dissolved in the face of the chaos. The voices around him grew louder and louder, the crowd surged and jostled together, then someone shoved the guy in front of him and Guy fell back against Matt. His boyfriend tried to steady him, but as Guy tried to step sideways to get away from the fracas, he slipped on something—maybe confetti or a flyer or something—and his ankle twisted.

He howled as a shooting pain shot up his right ankle and calf. He quickly lifted his foot, gripping Matt’s shoulder. His sun-warmed skin was hot and sweaty beneath the tank he wore.

“What’s wrong?” Matt shouted over the noise of the crowd.

“My ankle.” Guy hopped on one foot. “I twisted it somehow.”

“Let’s get out of this crowd.” Matt jerked his head to indicate the direction they’d come from. “The police are trying to get things under control, but it’s gotten pretty ugly.”

Guy glanced over and saw policemen grappling with the hecklers and a lot of pissed-off looking people decked in rainbow colors. “Good call.”

Matt slipped an arm around his waist and steadied Guy as he hobbled away from the throng of people lining the parade route. There was a guy standing on a bench taking photographs, but he hopped down to make space for Guy as they approached.

“You okay?” Matt knelt in front of him, gently lifting Guy’s foot into his lap. He gently rotated Guy’s foot, which made Guy wince.

“Yeah, I’m okay,” he grumbled.

“No shooting pain?” Matt asked. He was a personal trainer and had taken some first aid classes.

“Nah, it’s sore but I don’t think I did any permanent damage,” Guy said.

“Want to head home?”

“Not really.”

“You should ice and elevate your ankle,” Matt said, his fingertips stroking the dark hairs on Guy’s calf and making him shiver.

“Yeah, probably.” Matt sighed. “Can you bring the car around? I don’t think I can make it to where we parked.”

“The streets are blocked off, I don’t think I could get very close.”

“Damn it.”

“I saw a first aid tent somewhere around here.” Matt looked around. “Maybe they have crutches. Or … I could carry you.”

Guy gaped at him. “The whole way?”

“Come on, I lift more than you weigh at the gym all the time.”

Guy smiled. “I guess we could give it a shot.”

Matt helped him stand, but rather than hoist Guy onto his back, he lifted him onto his hip. Knees hugging Matt’s midsection and his arms around Matt’s neck, Guy clung to him as he began to walk. They got a few weird looks at first, but Guy’s ankle had begun to throb with every step and halfway to the car he lay his head on Matt’s shoulder, trusting that Matt would take care of him. He took a deep breath and smiled.

Apparently knights in shining armor smelled of sunscreen, laundry detergent, and clean summer sweat.


I tossed around a few ideas for this flash before I finally settled on this one. Hope you enjoyed it!

Please visit the flash fic group on Facebook and check out the links to the other authors’ flash fics.

I look forward to seeing you next Monday!