December 31, 2014

The Crocked Turkey

Our daughter, Barbra, once said, "Mom, why is it that everything you do has a bit of a nightmare attached to it."  Was I offended?  Heck no.  I thought that crack was hysterical.  She clearly appreciates her mother.  

So for the holidays, I am a traditionalist.  Enter the turkey. I heard somewhere that cooking the turkey in the crock pot won't dry it out.   Since, over the years, I've tried the oven, an externally greased brown paper bag, which surprisingly never caught fire, a rotisserie and the clear cooking bags, why not the crock?

Off to the grocery store I sent my husband, Bruce, with my handwritten list. Because, sadly, they are teaching fewer and fewer lessons on cursive, he was, as is always necessary, forced to ask an elderly stranger, who does know cursive, to decode my scribblings. While he got most everything on the list, he forgot the green beans for the casserole. With no beans, we could have none of that kind of casserole, which, in turn, forced me to eat both cans of French Fried onions, not at the same time, of course.  I was smart and hid the second can from Barbra who, like her mother, would have polished off the sucker with the speed of summer lightning, as they say. I've taught her well.

Back to the turkey.  The recipe said to get a six or seven pound bird and that is what Bruce delivered.  I don't know how big our crock is exactly, so I guessed.  I guess a whole lot when I cook. Forget that this appliance is a couple of decades old and the glass lid is long gone.  It still gets hot and a metal spatterware plate works well as a substitute lid.   So there I was, positioning the bird in the pot or trying to.  Then I remembered reading you should put the whole breast side down when roasting so the juices stay in the meat. And then I thought, too, it might be interesting to have a taste test.  To that end, I turned the breast on it side, covered it with carrots, apples, onions, onion soup mix and a bit of water.  My goal was to determine if the submerged portion was juicer.

But first I had to cover the pot.  I tried.  The blue metal plate would not rest on the crock.  The crock was too full.  What should I do?  Weight.  I need weight, I thought.  And so you have the next photo.  After stacking a red metal frying pan, heavy glass lid and metal bunt pan on top, the blue plate fit snugly.  It was off to bed for me.

We awoke to delightful turkey smells, the result pictured below. 

 In dramatic fashion, note the careful placement of the carrots around the turkey slices.

Oh how tender was the meat, all the meat. Remember I had turned the breast on its side, half in the juice, half out?  Well, so much liquid cooked out of the onions and apples, the turkey was completely covered, so that experiment will have to be repeated.   I was, however, disappointed that there was not as much sliced turkey from the breast as I had expected.   As I picked the turkey,  I turned it over and found that there was another entire half of breast! Remember, I may have mentioned in an earlier blog how when I cut up a whole chicken, we play a game Bruce likes to call Guess the Piece. I never did well in my poultry anatomy class, as you might imagine.

"Where's the trash can?"  Somebody yelled.  "It's on the washer." (We'll save the explanation of the deeper meaning of this paragraph for another blog.  It's a stand alone story...)

December 28, 2014

Goodbye Lie Diaries-Amelia Island's Mark of a Man's Pat & Marie Dunnigan

Fernandina, Florida
Marie Dunnigan
Marie Dunnigan writes: Congrat-ulations, Jane Marie, on completing Amelia Island's Mark of a Man, your historical novel all about me!  I've read The Goodbye Lie about my sister, Breelan, and your Amelia Island's Velvet Undertow, about my other sister, Carolena.  I thought I knew those two.  They did some very wild and dangerous things when they were young women. 

I wish Mark of a Man was only about me and that I didn't have to share the story with my brother, Pat.  

That part about the soldier and how--Oh, I had best not reveal what happened, but it certainly was less than ... But did you have to include so many of my private thoughts?  Readers will think I'm spoiled, naive and selfish when I am really only curious, trusting and, well, maybe a tiny bit selfish.  I enjoyed the parts where Peeper and Aunt Noreen fight.  What an explosive combination they make.  

While it is not all flattering, you told the truth of things and that makes for the best stories.  Thank you for including me in your Goodbye Lie series!

Fernandina, Florida
Pat Dunnigan

Pat Dunnigan writes: Frankly, Jane Marie, I am torn over reading about myself.  On one hand, it is somewhat interesting, if I might be so bold.  On the other, I, like Marie, don't want the world knowing so much about me and my--what do you call them in your time?  Ah, yes, my issues.  The good Lord knows I have my share of them.  And that includes the war and the women in my life. Since I did not have pre-approval as to what was included in the final version of your book, and since  Amelia Island's Mark of a Man is in bookstores now, or so I read on this blog of yours, I will take the taunts from Mickey and Warren Lowell. Of course, I will tease them right back as you include my buddies in the novel, too.   Well, should my next twenty years be as full as my last twenty, you will have enough material to write a sequel. 

Present Time
Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island, Florida

Jane Marie writes:  Hello Miss Marie, Mr. Pat. Perhaps I should have asked your permission before I wrote your stories. I just wanted the world to hear your stories, same as I did Breelan and Carolena.

If you can keep a secret, the next novel I'm working on, Amelia Island's Sand and Sin, takes place in the same town of Fernandina, the same Aqua Verde passenger line family business,  the same Dunnigan Manor,  the same-- but it is set in modern times!  Stay tuned, as we say, for more details as they develop.  Oh, and thank you!

December 22, 2014

2014 Annual Christmas Letter

                       MERRY CHRISTMAS

Dear Friends,

It is the last month of the year and that means it's time to alert you to some of the more important happenings that occurred in our family in 2014. Here we go!

Mother has legally adopted the metal letter opener she found.  Its tip is crooked, but it will still slice open an envelope. Mother always says no one and nothing should be rejected just because it looks funny.  That’s why she married Father.

Father’s circulation in his feet is poor.  One good thing about it is that he needn’t buy dress socks any more since it looks like he’s always wearing dark blue socks anyway.  With no socks, he has no need for a sock drawer.  Instead, he stores his once-used toothpicks there until he needs them again.

Daughter played the angel in the Christmas pageant. She locked her knees, fell out of the tree and rolled down the hill.  She’s glad she knows what to expect next year.

The wind blew.

Father smells the lunch meat to see if it is still eatable.  They haven’t had to pump his stomach since Tuesday, now that his sinuses have cleared from his head cold.

Mother got one of those new smart phones.  She isn’t impressed.  Each time she asks it to cook dinner, it refuses.  And it won’t even respond when she tells it to sweep the floor.

Cousin Oily learned to play the canjo with his nose.  Because his instrument has only one string and he has ten fingers, he did the math and  reasoned using one nose would be less confusing.   Oh, he has been doing the family taxes for free these last three years, too!  Father will return the call to the IRS once the holidays are over.

Grandbaby Girl can ride a bike now, although she will only ride in the driveway because she’s scared of traffic. She is wearing a groove in the pavement. That’s okay. It makes for better drainage when the hurricanes hit.

Our potatoes have grown eyes.

There are naked footprints on the beach!             

Uncle Monkey doesn’t look like a chimp anymore since they shaved his back and made him wear clothes.

Until next year!

PS    Super Popular Post Santa Paintbrush Ornament

December 16, 2014

A Review-Amelia Island's MARK OF A MAN

Intense drama, passion and laughter satisfy every emotion. With an assortment of realistic characters, convincing dialogue and slap-you-silly moments, Mark of a Man will delight and charm. -Kate Brown, author of The Rose Legends

E-book - Click on Amelia Island's MARK OF A MAN cover ------------->>>>>>>>>


December 15, 2014

Major Announcement

Amelia Island's MARK OF A MAN - e-book
Dear Friends,
     Yes, ma'am.  Yes, sir. I promised and now that promise is reality.  Amelia Island's MARK OF A MAN is written, published and ready for the world to read!  It's the story of Pat and Marie, brother and sister, who are part of what has become the beloved Dunnigan family living on Amelia Island in north Florida.  Set in 1898, Pat has grown into quite the hunk and Marie is quite a handful.  He lives hard and loves wild and she is a beacon for trouble.  Add in the Spanish American war, the worst hurricane on record to hit Amelia Island and the fussing comedy of Grandmother Peeper versus Aunt Noreen to lighten the drama and you have MARK OF A MAN

As the rollout begins, it is available in paperback and e-book on and paperback at Barnes and Noble, with e-book to follow shortly.  I have the first copy in hand and it will soon be in local book stores and available at book sources everywhere. (Just ask and it can be ordered or easily found online.)

I want to thank you all for your patience as I crafted this novel, which is another Fernandina fancy in my GOODBYE LIE series.  By the way, all three books, THE GOODBYE LIE, Amelia Island's VELVET UNDERTOW and Amelia Island's MARK OF A MAN, stand alone and can be read out of order. 

I had my fingers crossed that Amelia Island's MARK OF A MAN would be released before Christmas and I got my wish! May you enjoy it and, once you get to know the characters, may they become a part of your family as have mine. 

Merry Christmas!

Jane Marie

PS  #4 in the series, Amelia Island's Sand and Sin, is written but needs editing. That's my next project.

PPS  And yes, the description still fits MARK Of A MAN "where Little House on the Prairie meets Gone With The Wind ..."

PPS  December 15, 2014 is the 75th anniversary of the premiere of Gone With The Wind.  My husband, Bruce, and I attended the 50th anniversary costume ball in Atlanta, Georgia.  It was an event of a lifetime.  The book, movie and ball, all, inspired my writing ... Thank you, Margaret Mitchell.

Jane Marie and Bruce Malcolm, Gone With The Wind 50th Anniversary Costume Ball, Atlanta, Georgia
 Amazon paperback:

December 10, 2014

Brunswick Stew & Goodbye Lie Diaries

Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island, Florida
Present Day

Jane Marie writes: The folks in Brunswick, Georgia say they invented Brunswick Stew although Brunswick County, Virginia claims it was first served at a political rally held there in 1828.  Whichever is correct, this Southern dish is now made with chicken, beef and/or pork (bacon) in lieu of the traditional squirrel.

Breelan Dunnigan, the heroine in my Victorian romantic novel, The Goodbye Lie, makes her mother’s version of Brunswick Stew as the entrée for her first dinner party.  And what a dinner party it turns out to be.  Her stew is a tad different from Miss Ella's and the comments are … kind, sweet, funny, mean?  Once you discover who attended the dinner party, you'll have a good idea of the general sentiment there.

In the meantime, on those cold, harsh days of winter, make a kettle and enjoy!

Jane Marie 
Brunswick Stew
You’ll need:
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 pound of ham, cut into cubes
3 1/2 quarts of water
1 large or 2 medium yellow or white onions, chopped
4 cups of fresh or canned tomatoes (with the juice)
4 large potatoes, washed, peeled and cubed
2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
2 cups lima beans
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons butter or margarine

Place the chicken, ham and onion in a large stew pot, and cover with the water.  

Add a little salt and pepper. 

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer on the stove covered for 2 1/2 hours. Stir once in a while to keep ingredients from sticking to the bottom of the pot. 

Add the tomatoes, potatoes, corn and beans, and simmer for another 1½ hours until the beans and potatoes are tender.

Add the butter and serve warm with bread or rolls.

Makes at least 12 servings depending upon the portion size.

Fernandina on Amelia Island, Florida

Breelan Dunnigan writes:  I often think back to that first night
entertaining in my own new home.  I was proud to have done the whole dinner on my own.  The fact that all the food was cooked and put on the table at the proper time was a miracle.  The world is full of miracles if we slow down enough to see them.  I am trying to do that at least once a day.

(Breelan Dunnigan is featured in The Goodbye Lie set on Amelia Island, Florida in 1882. The Goodbye Lie is the first historical novel in the series with the same name, available at Amazon and book sources everywhere as paperback and e-book.)

Brunswick Stew recipe is reprinted from

December 8, 2014

Jollification of Fort Clinch & Goodbye Lie Excerpt

welcome to Fort Clinch
Fort Clinch, here on Amelia Island, invited the public to their annual Jollification.  What is this you ask?  It is just as it sounds.  A joyous celebration of Christmas inside the fort. My husband, Bruce, and I were lucky enough to help serve hot chocolate and cookies to all the visitors. There seemed to be more guests this year.  Perhaps the full moon, mild weather and clear skies enticed so many to come out.
Some years ago, we attended a reenactors' Christmas ball as spectators. The Fort Clinch ball was the background for a scene in my historical novel, The Goodbye Lie.  Here is an excerpt from that scene.  As you look at the photos, you might better imagine the story.

And so The Goodbye Lie goes like this:   
      Pulling onto the long path to the fort, they followed the lamps from preceding conveyances through the dark. Nearing their destination, they found the traffic had slowed to creeping as ladies and gentlemen alighted from their transports. 
     Single candles in each brick framed window glittered star-like against the thick, wavy glass. A huge bonfire sent sparks up into the night, swirling wild from the bitter wind off the ocean, until they burned themselves out. Even the shelter of the fortifications did little to alleviate the piercing cold.
 a tin whistle is played & Christmas carols sung as a bonfire warms
     Music was heard, softly, then loudly again at each opening of the door to the second floor common room where the dance was being held. Once inside, Breelan took it all in. The entire length of the banister of the straight wooden staircase was swagged with a pine needle garland and the garland was draped with a red and green paper chain that had been her particular contribution. The smells of gingerbread and apple cider wafted down as they climbed up into the excitement. Add the fires burning in the fireplaces at both ends of the room, their logs strewn with cinnamon sticks and dried orange peel, and Breelan was carried back to earlier, happier Christmases.
note the full moon
     Eager eyes were fixed on the entrance to see who arrived with whom and in what fashionable garb. As Trip removed her black velvet cape with burgundy satin lining, Breelan's friends found her. Tonight, she wore the prettiest dress she'd ever possessed. Her mother and grandmother had created an entire gown of horizontally sewn rows of ivory lace. The drop shoulders were edged with four-inch white fringe, which allowed her upper arms to peek out. Pink and gold silk rosebuds intertwined in a vine of ivy leaves to diagonally cross the bodice. More rosebuds sat atop pale bows scattered over the drape covering an underskirt of ecru satin. An oval coral brooch outlined with tiny seed pearls and pinned to her mother's string of pearls, was positioned at the base of her throat, her earbobs matching. White gloves only long enough to cover her forearms, an amethyst ring on her right hand overtop the glove, and a tussie mussie of small pink poinsettias in a lace cone completed the picture of loveliness that she was. The women touched her gown, admiring its grandeur and the beauty of the woman who wore it.
     Trip enjoyed the envy in every man's eyes as he proclaimed Breelan his possession by staying nearby and playing with her sleeve trim or touching the back of her neck. She wanted to swat him away like some bothersome fly.
     ... The glowing fireplaces kept most of the cold at bay. They blazed high, casting a golden haze on everyone and everything. Passing the door in dance, Breelan felt a rush of raw wind enter the room, along with a late arriving couple. The cape the man wore was not military. She saw the woman next. The blonde hair, piled a little too high on the head, left no doubt that it was Leona Visper, a figure not seen since New York City and more importantly, not missed. Looking again at the silhouette of shoulders, Breelan realized the identity of the singer's escort. It was then that eyes met, expressions hardened and polite nods were exchanged. 
decorated mantle
decorated table

                                         good evening

Bruce, Mr. and Mrs. Father Christmas and Jane Marie
PS - I have to mention how very dim it was inside the candlelit rooms of the fort.  My flash on my camera phone changed the look to bright and cheery. Yes, everything has a golden cast because of the fireplaces and lanterns and candles, but it was very hard to see to read or do any needlework as several ladies in period costume were.  One woman said she had to quit sewing because her eyes were giving out. I never realized before I'd done my research how dark a home would be once the sun went down.  I guess that's why they have candlelight tours of places.  We find it fetching and cozy and intriguing, but only for a special occasion.  Once we've lived with bright electric lights, I expect there would be many a whine heard if we returned to that dark part of times past.  We are spoiled.

Oh, and one more thing.  Candle light changes colors.  Last year I commented upon the pretty purple pattern in the dress worn by a reenactor.  She told me it was green in the light of day!


December 3, 2014

Goodbye Lie Archives

I was going through some files and found this prototype on the right.  As you can see, it's a working copy of a possible poster for The Goodbye Lie.  Compare it to the actual cover on the left.  The font for the title and author name is very different from the final version.  And the curvy copy at the top? All I can say is it's interesting.  I'd completely forgotten this was one of several possibilities we rejected.