Gluten-Free Is For Me…Especially When There’s Cheesecake!

Kyra Bussanich and fam plus Madison

It all started last September. I realized I needed desserts back in my life. With the guidance of Erin Smith (@gfreefun), a veteran at all things gluten-free and the coordinator of the New York Gluten-Free Meetup group, I found my way to a Gluten Free Expo in the City.

Little did I know, my daughter and I, were going to be in for a supreme treat — literally!  To make a long story shorter, I met Kyra Bussanich, the first gluten-free winner of Food Network’s Cupcake Wars and author of Sweet Cravings: 50 Seductive Desserts for a Gluten-Free Lifestyle.  [She’s in the middle holding my daughter.]  I purchased Kyra’s book and had every intention of using it immediately.  Suuurrre.

So, fast forward to yesterday. I wanted a dessert that would not cost me $10 a piece.  Then, it was like a lightbulb went off.  I remembered Kyra’s book.  I went to the bookshelf pulled it down and with the help of my younger son we decided we would make the cheesecake recipe.  However, this meant that I needed to make molasses cookies so that I could crumble them and make the crust for the cheesecake.  Uh-huh.

Went to the grocery store (in the brick-freezing cold), got everything I needed, came back home and began making the molasses cookie batter.  It’s supposed to be Ginger Molasses Cookies but I forgot to pick up ground ginger.

The batter was a nice thick heavy dough that was fairly easy to manipulate even without refrigerating it for an hour.  Since I wanted to bake the cheesecake immediately, I popped 16 cookies in the oven.

And Voila!

Baked_GF_Molasses Cookies

After they cooled, I quickly crumbled them, added some melted butter. Placed the soft mushy crust into the bottom of springform pan and baked for 20 minutes.

Made up the cheesecake filling and poured it into the pan (once the pan had cooled off a bit!).  Then, when I put the cheesecake in the oven I began making the blueberry coulis.

The end result? Drum roll, please.

GF_Cheesecake with Blueberry Coulis_2 16 2015

I’m excited that with the help of Kyra’s most excellent book, the Gluten Free Cafe flour (at Walmart only) and some of my old traditional baking experience, I was able to make a dessert that rose, didn’t look like a flapjack AND tastes pretty darned good!

I won’t bore you with the fact that I somehow unlocked the springform pan after I filled it with the cheesecake mixture and I had cheesy goop all over the top of my stove.  Nor, will I waste your time with the fact that a Kitchen Aid mixer is the only way to go when making desserts (my piddly hand-held mixer sucks rocks).

Let me know if you’d like the recipe!

Ta-ta for now,

N.B.

 

The 4400: My Talent, Perfect Recall

Shortly before the holiday mad rush, my hubby introduced me to a new TV show he found while surfing Netflix — The 4400.  He was positively glued to the bed and the screen for HOURS one December Saturday.  I was busy wrapping gifts, beginning to put up the decorations, and in general get ready for the end of the year holidays.

Not him.

I tried to rouse him by various means and none of them worked.  So, as they say, if you can’t beat ‘em…

Long story short? I became hooked.  When he finished his marathon viewing session he brought me up to speed on Season 1 and I jumped in full force from Season 2 through to the end which is Season 4.  There are 13 episodes each season.  Can I tell you how many hours I was in front of the boob tube?  I haven’t watched that much TV since childhood! But I’ve got to tell you this show was worth every moment.

The 4400 starts with the premise that over the course of 6 decades people were taken from their homes and their lives.  Then, all at once all 4400 of them were returned in a ball of light.  But they were not the same people they were when they left.  Many of them came back with supernatural powers.

Really quickly…the returnees were quarantined upon their return by the government (of course!).  While in quarantine, the scientists and other government officials began to notice unusual behaviors in some of the returnees.  But after several weeks, the officials realized they could not continue to keep the returnees prisoners any longer and they released them.

A governmental agency called National Threat Assessment Center (NTAC) was created to monitor (read: police) the returnees.

With nary a place to go, many of the returnees came back to Seattle (where they were returned) and settled down.  People began noticing the unusual abilities exemplified by their returned loved ones and some kept quiet, others didn’t.

The two main NTAC officers, Diana Skouris and Tom Baldwin, begin working with the returnees.  As time passes, each ensuing incident of supernatural activity sets the foundation for a love/hate relationship between this governmental arm meant to protect The 4400.  Opposing factions arise within both camps that sets up conflicts that both excite and terrify the viewer and the people involved in each episode.

Some of The 4400 talents are: a little girl who could predict the future, young man who found he could heal any illness (even death sometimes!), a man who could direct sound waves, a woman who can make anyone do anything by just speaking to them in a normal tone of voice, a man who can remove anyone’s special abilities/talents with a simple laying on of hands, people with telekinesis and the list goes on.

Each episode focused on a slightly different area of concern in the day-to-day lives of The 4400 and the world that was growing more and more agitated by the new element of unknown that was encroaching upon the “normal” way of life they had experienced…up until now.

The writers of this show are/were phenomenal (sadly, the show was cancelled at the end of Season 4).  The story line you thought would come next never quite materialized; there was always a believable twist.  Reality was not thrown to the wind either.

One returnee, Lily, went home so happy to see her husband and daughter again.  Even though her husband had not visited her in quarantine, she felt that maybe he didn’t know she had returned.

When she arrived on her doorstep, she was greeted by her daughter who did not know her and a husband who had remarried and did not tell his daughter about her true mother.  Heart-breaking.

Everything about this TV show that aired from 2004 – 2007 is great even the theme song!

These writers inspired me greatly.  I decided that I would start my next novel at the turn of the New Year.  And I did.  However, the novel did not move me.  Thinking of the writers of The 4400, I knew I needed to find a topic that moved me as much as watching this show moved me.

So, one evening about 2 weeks ago, I just started free association writing and a nonfiction book began to emerge.  Almost as if I had some kind of supernatural talent myself, I began writing (taking dictation, maybe??) for 12 hours straight!

The book and outline that emerged is called Making Dollars & Sense Work: A Financial Primer for Single Moms & Dads Plus College Kids Too!

I swear, I was more surprised by this book and topic than anyone.  My last book, Fury From Hell, is a paranormal cop thriller — a piece of fiction.  The book before that is a comprised of short stories about women and their tough choices in life.  So — where did this book come from?  <shrugging>

Single_Mamas_Guide_to_Being_the_Best_Mom_Ever
This was the original working title before the name change!! :-) New name of book: Making Dollars & Sense Work: A Financial Primer for Single Moms & Dads Plus College Kids Too!

All I know is The 4400 had a big part to play in this new book which will be available in early February 2015.  The excitement I felt whenever I saw an episode where a new returnee’s talent was revealed has spurred me to seek that kind of excitement in my mundane every-day kind of life.

We all get in a rut sometimes and we need something major to shake us up a bit and make us take notice that there are other things we could be doing with our current non-supernatural talents.

We are all endowed with gifts of voice, dance, music, writing, skating, skiing, drawing, painting, business acumen, etc.  We need to lift off the mantle of apathy and put it up on an out-of-reach shelf so we can go back to living a full life.

This is one of the many reasons I love The 4400 TV show.  It helped me to realized that things could be different if I only looked at them from a different (elevated??) perspective.  I did not (and do not) have to follow social mores to the letter.  In fact, if I do, I most assuredly will be unhappy and unfulfilled.

So, I leave you with one final thought.  If I was an original 4400, I would want my talent to be perfect recall of all of my life’s moments — big and small.  And, as my talent developed, I would want to be able to touch someone and help them see and recall all of their life’s moments as well.  You see, if we live and forget the things that brought us to the point we are today we have lost most of the point of life.  And, we are doomed to repeat things that may not have served us well.

What would you want your special 4400 talent be?

If you need a little help in visualizing the whole scenario laid out let me help you down the path of 4400 obsession and share episode 1, season 1 with you…

Uhm…did I mention that there are two books that bring closure to this TV series that ended with loose ends dangling?  The books are called Welcome to Promise City and Promises Broken.

Ta-ta for now,

N.B.

Get Your Life on Track & Be the Best YOU

Happy 2015 Everyone!

I trust that you sailed (fairly) smoothly through the transition that was 2014 into our present fabulously chilly new year.  Like you, I made the transition and am getting my bearings situated for the year before me.

Currently, my Muse has me working on a non-fiction book that bubbled up out of me.  I am a single mother raising 3 children (one oh-so-tiny — 17 months) and I’ve seen myself shift, bob ‘n weave, sting like a butterfly and ultimately grow as a person, a parent and as a writer.

All three kids_8 30 2014

Coming into this new year, I wanted to just go straight into fiction-writing — you know, business as usual — however, my fingers were arrested by a strong desire to just get some very different words out.  I listened and wrote in one very cathartic weekend the first draft of Making Dollars & Sense Work: A Financial Primer for Single Moms and Dads Plus College Kids Too!

Who am I to write a how-to book of this nature?  I’m a woman who has gone through it step-by-step, millimeter-by-millimeters.  Some days were so long that I wondered if somehow the Powers that Be did some sort of magic wand wave that hyper-extended time!  You know that feeling when you have 15 million things to do and you just need to get out there and get it done, right?  But, you have this thing called work-life balance that is completely out of balance with the needs of your kids.  I’ve so been there!

Especially when my older children were young things.  I adjusted my work schedule so that I could cater to their needs and still have some semblance of work-life balance.

For all of these reasons, and more, I feel that my journey through this thing called motherhood, work and life has given me a perspective that I feel should be shared with others on a similar journey.

In this book, there’s a breakdown of how to read and understand your credit report.  It’s broken ALL the way down so that you can literally check off what you need to look for/at on your credit report.

If you’re in Payday loan HELL, I’ve got a solution that will help you fight back and get these super-inflated loans many of which charge over 457% interest (many over 1,000% interest — yes, you read that right!).

This book will also give you a VERY simple tool that will help you organize your finances on ONE piece of paper.  Yep.  ONE PIECE of paper (or, spreadsheet — your choice).

I’ll let you know when the book is done and is ready for beta readers.

Until next time,

Ta-ta and have an awesome New January!

N.B.