Wicked Wednesday- Fireworks

Jessie: In the nation’s capital for the holiday!

new-years-eve-1953253_1920Happy Independence Day to all our readers! Not only is it a day to remember the founders of our nation, it is also a day to attend parades, host barbecues and to wear red white and blue. Many Americans end the day  stretched out on a blanket watching a dazzling display of fireworks.

What I wondered was whether or not all of you love fireworks or if you prefer to give them a miss?

Edith: I do love the wonder and awe of fireworks, even though at root they celebrate wartime. In my town they are held across from a big hill that is town land, a former farm. Everybody heads up there, many on foot, and bring picnics. Afterward the road back into town is closed to cars and we all walk home. It feel wonderfully old-fashioned, which is why I had to stage a murder during the 1888 fireworks in Called to Justice, Quaker Midwife Mystery #2 – which is on sale right now!

Barb: I love fireworks, too. Because of technological advances, they’re one of the few things that are just as magnificent now as I remember them as a kid. The fireworks in Boothbay Harbor take place over the water in direct line of sight from our front porch, so we don’t even have to leave home to view them. I included fireworks over the harbor in Boiled Over, the second Maine Clambake Mystery.

Sherry: I love fireworks, but hate the crowds and the traffic. So I guess I like them if they are easily accessible. But since our sweet Lily hates them this isn’t the best week for us.

Julie: I love fireworks, but will confess that the noise gives me more pause than it used to. That said, I can see the Boston fireworks from my living room window, and enjoy having my family over so we can have a picnic indoors and enjoy the show. I’ve also seen the fireworks at Old Orchard Beach, and that was wonderful.

Jessie: I adore fireworks! I love the colors and the surprise of what sort of formation will light up next. I love the sparkle and the finale. We never went to them when I was a child and I always wished that we had. Now, as an adult, our house in Old Orchard Beach is within easy walking distance of the beach where they are set off every Thursday night. If it doesn’t rain I go every week. It has become a tradition I have loved sharing with my own kids!

Liz: I like them if I choose to go to a fireworks display. I confess, I don’t like it much when people set off random fireworks in neighborhoods, which seems to happen more often than not over the years! Shaggy and the cats don’t love the noise, either, so I always feel bad for them. But not to sound like a party pooper – I think when done right in a proper show, they are amazing.

Readers, do you love to attend the fireworks? If so, where are your favorites? If not, do you have another way you like to celebrate Independence Day?

A Bowl of Cherries

Jane/Susannah/Sadie here, wondering where June went…

I don’t need an astronomer, or a calendar, or standing stones to know when the summer solstice hits. I’ve got my own personal predictor: the sour cherry tree we planted a couple of decades ago. The cherries are plump and green and just beginning to ripen by the longest day of the year. And by July 4th, they’re all done.

 

Anybody who’s ever been a gardener might know this feeling. You watch the plant’s progress, from dormancy, to blossoming, to fruiting/vegging and ripeness, eagerly awaiting the perfect time to pick. And then the time comes for the first harvest and it feels satisfying and wonderful.

Some years, like last year when we had a late spring freeze that decimated our fruit trees (we have two pear trees as well), we get only a handful. And other years, we get a bumper crop and manage to stay one step ahead of the birds. This is a bumper crop year. So the picking begins.

As does the pitting. And preserving. The thing about sour (pie) cherries is that they are extremely perishable, which is why you almost never find them in grocery stores. I don’t know that I’ve ever even seen any at a farm stand. They must be picked then within hours pitted and preserved or they develop an ugly brown and untasty ring at the stem end. So I have to pick at a time when I know I can do the follow-up work–pitting each individual fruit, then immediately cooking up with some sugar or freezing, to be cooked with sugar later.

Sour cherries are delicious–but they’re inedible until they’ve been properly prepared.

And I feel like that’s a metaphor for writing. Like those cherries between the solstice and Independence Day, ideas come fast and furious sometimes, and some of them will ripen into something wonderful. And some I’ll never get to, because they’re for the birds.

Today, and for the next few, there is no more time for profound thoughts. There are only endless bowls of cherries to process into jam, barbecue sauce, and future pies while binge watching Frankie and Grace on Netflix. But maybe, just maybe, during the repetitive motion of the pitting, a sweet little idea for the next story will emerge. We’ll see.

Do you grow any of your own food (or flowers)? Are there certain types or varieties you plant or harvest every year?

Wicked Wednesday-4th of July Memories

NEWS: Mary Lou H is the winner of Mulch Ado About Murder! Check your Inbox or Spam folder, Mary Lou. And congratulations!

called-to-justiceJessie, In NH, dreaming of warmer weather!

Edith’s latest release, Called to Justice, opens on Independence Day. Which got me thinking fondly of the 4th of July which happens to be one of my favorite holidays. So, Wickeds, do you have any special memories of our nation’s birthday?

Barb: I, too, love 4th of July. I love barbecues with friends and family, parades, and fireworks. I have many happy memories of 4th of Julys past, from childhood to last year. Our front porch in Boothbay Harbor offers a fantastic view of the town fireworks, which are set off over the water. For the last several years, both my kids, their spouses, and my granddaughter have been with us, which makes it extra special. I especially love that my granddaughter shares my love of fireworks.

Edith: When my sons were growing up we had a one-acre back yard. On the 4th of July we’d invite everyone we knew and fill up the place, sometimes with more than a hundred friends. Kids jumped on the trampoline or splashed in the kiddie pool. Adults played horseshoes and volleyball. We set African rugs around on the grass for lounging. People brought sides or desserts, we grilled meats, and a keg of beer flowed under the big shade tree. It was a splendid way to gather community for a relaxing celebration, although I don’t miss the work it took to pull it off!

Liz: When I was a kid, we used to have family cookouts for the 4th. It was a big deal to have lobsters. My grandfather loved them and he would devour every piece that he could, right down to the icky green stuff. It wasn’t my thing, but I’ll always remember how happy he was sitting at the picnic table eating his lobsters and watching us play on the swing set.

Jessie: There is a Fourth of July parade that goes right past my house every year. There are antique cars, kids on bikes decorated bikes and the town fire and rescue vehicles. It is organized by volunteers and has a very small-town, nostalgic feel to it. The parade route is so short that they often go around twice. Ahh, village life!

Sherry: One of my most interesting Fourth of July experiences is when we were flying from Miami to Boston on a flight that left at 8:00 pm and landed around 10:00. For almost the entire flight we could see fireworks displays from above. It was so beautiful and we even saw part of the Boston celebration.

Barb: Sherry–I had a similar experience one year on the ferry from Provincetown to Boston. It was wonderful!

Julie: I adore the 4th of July. I have a ton of fond memories, including one year at Old Orchard Beach.  But my favorite thing to do is to watch the Boston fireworks, whether from my house (I can see them through my living room windows) or down on the Esplanade, which is very crowded but stunning. My favorite time was when my friend Mary was in town on the tour of Mama Mia (she played Rosie), and they were going to sing at the Pops concert. Knowing how much I love the holiday, she invited me to be one of her special guests! It was beyond thrilling, and a memory I will treasure forever!

Readers: Do you have a favorite Fourth of July memory?

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Celebrate the Fourth!

Jessie: Blissfully beachside in Maine with family and friends

It’s been quite a week. Some of you may have noticed that all the Wickeds have been helping to celebrate the launch of my newest mystery, Maple Mayhem. Tuesday was the official publication date but the merriment has continued and the week has been wonderful. And one of the best parts is that the week ends with the celebration of Independence Day. sparkler

I adore the Fourth of July. I love grilled foods and picnics of all sorts. I love sundresses and big, floppy hats. I have a childlike devotion to fireworks and sparklers. My husband and I even got married on the sixth which allows us to extend the festive atmosphere every year by two extra days.

I hope you have a chance to enjoy some old-fashioned fun this weekend and I hope you will help me to celebrate the end of this week by leaving a comment about your Fourth of July traditions, a favorite summer recipe or a best Independence Day memory. I’ll be giving away a copy of Maple Mayhem to one commenter and one of the first book in the Sugar Grove series, Drizzled with Death, to another.

CONTEST WINNERS!

Ronna and Mark you have each won a book! If you would contact me at my email address: jessie@jessiecrockett.com to let me know where to send it, I will get your books in the mail right away. 

Freedom

By Edith
North of Boston

[Jason Allen-Forest is the winner of yesterday’s giveaway!]

Happy Independence Day, everybody! Americans celebrate this day in many ways. For most of us it’s full summer weather, a time for gathering outdoors with family and friends, a day to appreciate that armed militia aren’t patrolling our streets and that we have some important rights and liberties.

And, of course, it’s a day for eating grilled food, delectable salads, refreshing desserts. In New England, if we’re lucky, the first cherry tomatoes and cucumbers are coming ripe. My favorite salad is a true Greek salad that I make like this:Greek salad

  1. Cut cherry tomatoes (preferably gold ones) in half.
  2. Cube a fresh cucumber, with skin on if it’s a thin-skinned variety.
  3. Cube some feta cheese.
  4. Combine it all with some Kalamata olives, a handful of fresh oregano, and then drizzle olive oil on top.
  5. Serve with a sliced baguette for dipping in the sauce made by all those yummy ingredients. (Note: this picture includes onions ,which I personally would omit!)

Grilled shrimpFor grilling? l like to skewer and grill shrimp that I marinated with lime juice, olive oil, chopped fresh cilantro, and a dash of habanero sauce. Or boneless chicken breasts dry rubbed with cumin, chili powder, salt, and a touch of coriander.

And dessert: it pretty much has to be red, white, and blue, right? The simplest dish would be local strawberries and blueberries mixed with a spoonful of sugar 4th of july cakeand a quarter cup of cognac served over vanilla ice cream. You can go all out and make a cheesecake topped with the same fruit mix, or a sheet cake with cream cheese frosting and strawberries and blueberries lined up like an American flag.

Whatever you cook today, wherever you celebrate, the Wicked Cozy Authors raise a glass for our freedom – yours and ours – to blog, to write, to debate the questions of the day without fear of recrimination or arrest. Happy 4th!

What’s your favorite Independence Day food? And what will you be doing today to celebrate?

Edith Maxwell writes the Local Foods Mystery series, the Speaking of Mystery series, short crime fiction, and possibly the John Greenleaf Whittier mysteries, too!