Saturday, March 21, 2015

Welcome to Edith's cooking club: A recipe. Who knows what comes next?

Edith never did get that strata baked, what with Art's mysterious death, the clues from his pockets she had to follow to discover what he'd been up to, Brody, the new dog she had to walk, and of course, the unexpected  friendship with Kathleen, her too-perfect daughter-in-law.  When things settle down and everyone can relax a bit, she'll probably try the recipe again. She still has most of the ingredients except the muffins which Brody has learned to love.  This time  a lover might sit across the table from her.  But until then, I'm offering to anyone who has made it to this blog and has read this far EDITH'S CANADIAN BACON STRATA RECIPE.

This is not entirely because I'm a recipe sharer, or even a strata fan, but because EDITH, the book, is  on a tour across the nation, visiting a number of other folks' blogs and their followers, introducing her story,  and maybe convincing some of these people to buy the book to find out if this cranky older woman killed her husband or not.  Edith wondered most of the way through the book also. Edith and Art weren't very close.

I'm advised I should offer my readers on this tour an award for spending  a little time with Edith.  I couldn't  figure how white wine, Edith's favorite drink, could be delivered to anyone but me.  So strata it is.  Easter is coming.  Maybe this dish would be great for a spring celebration as well as Edith's interrupted Christmas brunch. Bon appetite!

Edith's Canadian Bacon Strata
*       Softened butter for pan
4       English muffins, split, toasted, cut in half
1/2    pound sliced Canadian bacon, slices halved
1/3     cup finely shredded parmesan cheese
8       eggs
3       cups milk

1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
         Coarse salt and ground pepper
1/4     teaspoon Tabasco sauce

Butter a 2-quart shallow baking
dish. Alternately arrange, cut side
down, muffin halves and bacon in.
dish. Sprinkle with cheddar and
parmesan cheeses. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs,
milk, mustard, ½ teaspoon salt,
pinch of pepper and hot sauce. Pour
over muffins and bacon. Cover
tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate
2 hours, or up to overnight for an
especially custardy consistency.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Remove plastic wrap and a place
baking dish on a rimmed baking
sheet. Bake until puffed and set in
center, about 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Tent loosely with foil if strata
starts to brown too quickly. Let
stand 10 minutes before serving.

The Oregonian

Jo Barney Writes

Monday, March 2, 2015


This week I received six novels for which I paid one cent each.  Of course I also paid the postage ($3.99), and the novels all look much used and written upon and eaten over. All were on Amazon, on the “other listings” section, the prices beginning at one cent and going upwards.  Only one was on Kindle. They arrived one by one from bookstores all over the country like gifts from unknown lovers.  Book lovers, that is.

I decided a month ago to write some sort of article about the paucity of novels about old ladies, my genre.  I can think of quite a few books about old geezers, written and applauded around the world. J. M. Coetzee, Wallace Stegner, John Updike  come to mind, probably because they are on my bookshelves.  As for women, only Olive Kitteridge is tucked in with the S’s.  Books by women of all ages, of course.  About?  Not really.

When I Googled “books for older women,” I found lists of publications discussing the possibility of sex after sixty, beauty aids one can find in one’s refrigerator, and one entitled Get Your Balance Back with Yoga.  No novels except a few tepid romances for women of a certain old age. I know they are tepid because they are rated as warm, not hot, certainly not burning.

Then I Googled “Novels about older women” and found a list of books from a number of countries, most published before ebooks existed.  All but one were written by women. All for sale for one cent.  I ordered the six or so that sounded good, even though I didn’t recognize most the authors. The copyright dates stretched from the l960’s to 2006.  For many of those years I was changing diapers and going to PTA and not thinking about getting old, just getting through the day. 

I’ve read three of my new/old books and have scanned the rest. I love them. Margaret Laurence’s The Stone Angel, May Sarton’s As We are Now, Penelope Lively’s How It All Began are piled on the Find a Good Place for These Books corner of my desk. The other pile is teetering on the bedside table waiting for this evening when I turn on the bed light and choose one of them. 

What I’ve decided, with this research, is that my own three novels about old ladies are important contributions to the genre Literature for Older Women. I can only hope that one way or another women who are wondering what’s on the path ahead will find them and accept their messages of courageous exploration—on Amazon, on Kindle, or on the one-cent table of some internet book store. 

Jo Barney Writes