From the Writer’s Kitchen

Traditions, Stories and Three-Color Cookies

So I wrapped up Cookiepocalypse today. If you haven’t been following me long, you may not have experienced a Cookiepocalypse yet. It’s the time of year when I bake for a solid week, making all the traditional cookies that my mother made, and that her mother made. Pictures go up on my social media, and this year there were process videos in my Tiktok.

Now, why do I do this?

Part of it is tradition — this what we do because this is what we’ve always done. But most of it is connection. These recipes are part of the story of me. This is my history, and it’s a story that I’m passing on to my son, and that I share with you every year.

Let me show you:


This is the recipe card for the Three Color cookies that I make every year. I copied this recipe from my mother’s recipe book. Now, if you look at that, you can see it makes NO sense to someone who has never made them before. But I know exactly what this means.

So allow me to translate:

Three Color Cookies

1 can of Solo Almond filling OR 1 box of Solo Almond Paste.*
1 1/2 cup butter (dairy or plant based) softened.
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp almond extract
2 cups flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free One-to-One flour)
pinch of salt.
Red, Green and Yellow food coloring
Jam (your choice)
Dark or white chocolate chips 1-2 bags

*If you have a stand mixer, use the almond paste. If you have a hand mixer or no mixer at all, use the almond filling. Trust me on this.

Set your oven to 350 degrees F/177 degrees C.

Put your almond filling or paste into a bowl with your softened butter. Add sugar and mix until fluffy. If using the almond paste, make sure there are no lumps of almond paste left. Mixture should be smooth..

Add eggs one at the time.

Add almond extract.

Slowly add flour and salt. Mix to combine. It will be sticky.

Separate your dough into three equal parts. Color each one — one red, one green, one yellow. I use gel coloring to get a better color, but you can use what you have on hand. I don’t recommend natural colorings, because the color won’t stay when the layers are baked.

Take three 9x13x1 foil pans. (They don’t need to be fancy — I use EZ Foil pans that I got three for a dollar at the Dollar Store maybe ten years ago. Why? Because they work the best.) Line each pan with piece of parchment. Spread your dough evenly in each pan. I find an offset spatula helps for this.

The recipe card says bake until done. Done depends on how thick your layers are, and your oven, but it’s usually about 30 minutes. I rotate the trays at ten minutes, and start testing at 20.

You end up with this:

Let them cool completely, then start the sandwich.

You have your choice of jam here. The very traditional jam is apricot, but you don’t have to use that. I use strawberry. Starting with the green layer, cover with the thin coat of jam. Put the yellow layer on top of the green, and add more jam. Top with the red layer. Yes, in that order. Why? It won’t taste right if you change them. No, I’m not kidding. Also, the layers may crack when you move them. That’s fine.

Wrap the sandwich in plastic wrap, and put into the refrigerator under weights overnight.

The next day, unwrap your layers and melt your chocolate. What chocolate you use and how you melt it is up to you. You don’t want to go too thick, because that makes it harder to cut. (A mistake I make EVERY YEAR!!!!)

Pour your melted chocolate over the top and smooth it down the sides. Use that offset spatula, if you have one. Let the chocolate set until it’s no longer runny, then cut. If you let it set to the point it’s hard, it will crack. Again, mistake I make every year.

Cut into squares. The corners WILL fall apart — those are the cook’s treat.

Keeps in the refrigerator for… well, we always finish them before they go off, so I’m not sure just how long they will keep. They also freeze beautifully.

Three Color Cookies are Love.

If you decide to try these in your house, let me know how they come out!

Now, I’m going to be taking the rest of the year off, so my next blog will be in 2023. Whatever you celebrate this time of year, make it a happy one.

Posted by EASchechter in baking, Cookiepocalypse, From the Writer's Kitchen, Happy Holidays!, 0 comments

First Day of Taking a Break

I’m not counting last week as taking a break, because I spent all week cooking. A little relaxing — I do enjoy cooking — but not exactly restful.

I did start on my “I need to catch up on reading/watching all the things I’ve missed.” However, I started slow. I caught up on Tasting History with Max Miller, and I watched (and was very unsatisfied by) Behind the Attraction: Haunted Mansion. (they kept stressing how if an attraction works, then you don’t change it, but completely fail to mention the major renovations and changes made to the Haunted Mansion in Florida in the early 2000s.) Then I watched the first episode of Lost Treasures of Rome, which was fantastic! I need to watch the rest of that series.

I’m also into a new book for my Imaginative Anthropology project. I finished The Art of Being Human by Michael Wesch while on jury duty, but hadn’t had a chance to pick up the next book on the pile, which is Folklore 101, by Dr. Jenna Jorgensen. I started it yesterday, and I can already tell that this is going to be pivotal in showing the role that creating folklore has in worldbuilding, and how much of effective worldbuilding rests on having a solid foundation in your world’s folklore.

(insert anthropology geeking here…)

Cookiepocalypse is coming up soon, and I still am not entirely sure what I’m making. I’m trying to keep it reasonable this year. Three color cookies are definitely on the menu, and a white chocolate oatmeal cookie (because I found dairy free white chocolate chips and may have bought too much…) I’m not sure what else. Maybe chocolate chip cookies? Maybe? But I’m the only one who can eat them so not a lot of those. Biscotti? Maybe those, too.

Trying to be reasonable is hard.

I’ll be doing a deep dive into my office and cleaning it up. There’s a lot of stuff in my office closet that should not be there, and if I can get that out, I can get the show supplies out from under the day bed and make them more accessible. But that might also take the rest of my break.

And in the meantime, The White Raven: Morrigan’s Wrath is buzzing away in the back of my head. I have ideas and scenes that are going to be coming up, but they have to wait until January. I’m refilling my tanks.



Posted by EASchechter in 2022 plans, 2023 plans, baking, Cookiepocalypse, From the Writer's Kitchen, Imaginative Anthropology, post novel ennui, public displays of geekery, The White Raven, 0 comments

It’s Still Monday.

So this totally counts as a Monday blog. Right?

Children of Dreams is now out, and I am officially taking a break until the end of the year. I’m holding The White Raven: Morrigan’s Wrath until January. I intend to spend the next month refilling my creative bucket, planning for next year, working on some edits, and doing some research.

The White Raven: Morrigan’s Wrath
(The White Raven, Book 2)

19677 / 90000 (21.86%)

Now, that being said, what am I doing?

Cleaning my house, that’s what. While doing my pre-Thanksgiving prep.

I’m both tired and bonkers. But the house has to be clean before guests arrive, and I have to have something to feed them, so there you go.

I am a little worried, though. My turkey has been in the refrigerator since last Wednesday, and it’s still a 16lb block of ice. I need to it thawed by the day after tomorrow so I can brine it. So… ummm… that’s a thing. And the guest of honor for Thursday’s dinner may need to have a long soak in the bathtub tomorrow.

I’m very pleased with the reception that Children of Dreams has had over the past week — the first review hit two days after the book released, and the reviewer loved it! It is, I think, a satisfying ending to the series, to know that readers are loving it.

It’s a good way to end the year.

Now, Cookiepocalypse is coming, so I will still be blogging. But the writing year is over for 2022. And it was a good one. Weird, but good.

On to 2023?

Posted by EASchechter in 2022 plans, 2023 plans, baking, book reviews, Children of Dreams, Cookiepocalypse, From the Writer's Kitchen, Grateful writer is grateful, Heir to the Firstborn, post novel ennui, reviews, The White Raven, 0 comments

Slightly Domesticated. But Only Slightly.

Every so often, I take some time off from writing to do something homey and domestic and… well, things that make people say things like “You actually DO that?”

I make and can my own preserves. I think I’ve talked about The Peach Truck in the blog — where I can get 20 pounds of fresh Georgia peaches delivered to Central Florida. In July, which is not my favorite time for canning, to be honest. But I get my box, and I make peach butter and peach jam, and peach chutney and cobbler and all sorts of goodies.

Saturday I discovered the existence of The Apple Truck. Same deal, only I kinda went a little wild, and we now have 32 lbs of fresh Michigan apples (that were picked a week ago!).

Which means that yesterday, there was baking. (there was also an apple crisp and a very unphotogenic strudel. The picture of the crisp doesn’t want to load.)


The pies are now in the freezer for Thanksgiving.

Today, there is apple butter, and the race is on! Will the apple butter be done in the canner before I have to leave to go get into carline?

(The answer to that question, by the way, is yes. Right after I wrote it, I got up to check on the apple butter. Ten minutes later, it’s in the canner. It has to stay at a rolling boil for 15 minutes, which means I’ll be turning off the burner and leaving.)

There has been some writing this past week, but my focus really was on getting Children of Dreams wrapped up. Which… Children of Dreams is wrapped up, and it’s now available for pre-order almost everywhere!  (More places are being added daily — for some reason, some vendors are dragging their feet.) I’m still waiting on the final cover art for the print edition (because they needed the page count), so paperback preorders will be up sometime later this week.  For the record? 598 pages. It’s a BEAST.

It’s also oddly sad, in a way. I’ve been living with this particular set of voices in my head for four and a half years. Owyn especially — he tends to take over any scene he’s in, and when I say that the hardest part of writing this series was keeping it from becoming The Owyn Show? That’s the honest truth.

So now I need to clear my head and start looking at other characters. Lorcan is a good one, and telling the rest of his story is going to be fun. I had a good week on this book. And I mostly ignored The Sea Prince, and we’ll see if he’s got his nose out of joint over it when I look at the file again.

The White Raven: Morrigan’s Wrath
(The White Raven, Book 2)

8314 / 90000 (9.24%)


The Sea Prince
(The Sea Prince, Book 1)

39892 / 120000 (33.24%)
We’re coming up on Halloween, and I’m still not sure if I’m going to set up a self-service grab your candy bowl (which we’ve done the past two years because pandemic), or if I’m going to set up the table and  dress up and hand out candy while getting eaten by mosquitos. We’ll see.
And… I still have to go get candy!
Timer is going off. Off to carline! Then on to writing!
Posted by EASchechter in accountability, Children of Dreams, From the Writer's Kitchen, Heir to the Firstborn, publishing, The White Raven, thirty, WIP, wordcount, 0 comments

I Smell Cookies!

John Zebedee Meets the Witch Queen of Elfland
43399 / 50000 (86.80%)

Okay, not yet, you don’t. But if you were close enough, or smells could come through the internet, you would later today!

Cookiepocalypse 2020 starts today! We’ll be starting with three color cookies, and I’ll be posting the pictures to Instagram. And in between batches, I’ll be working on finishing John Zebedee Meets the Witch Queen of Elfland, because school is out Friday, and the Solstice is next Monday. #DraftByTheSolstice

Last week, there wasn’t nearly as much writing as I’d have liked. There was a lot of editing — I’ve made my first pass at Wings of Air, and it’s been handed off to Darling Editor. There was also recording two Two Minute Tips (something that took me all day Sunday and part of Monday — there’s a reason I’m not a public speaker!) And I taught my first ever live class for the RWA. Complete with computer problems immediately before class because of COURSE the class had to be pre-disastered for our convenience.

The upside of computer problems right before going live? No time for stage fright!

The downside? Spending the rest of the afternoon with durn-near crippling Imposter Syndrome, because I hadn’t gotten it out of my system beforehand.

(There might have been rather a lot of stress eating that evening. Good thing I hadn’t made the cookies yet or they’d have all been gone!)

Things are better now. Spent yesterday in an RWA Board meeting (all….durn…day….) which meant that I got a lot of knitting done. There was work done, but there was also knitting because it’s the only way I can distract the toddler brain and stay focused enough to actually get any work done during the meeting. (When I write, I have music on. But if I’m in a meeting? I knit.) And now, I’m focused on getting this manuscript finished.

And cookies.

Right. Off to go make words and calories!





Posted by EASchechter in accountability, baking, Cookiepocalypse, Draft by the Solstice, From the Writer's Kitchen, John Zebedee, WIP, wordcount, 0 comments

Things and Stuff

Wings of Air
Heir to the Firstborn, Book 4

78694 / 150000 (52.46%)
John Zebedee and the Monstrous Town
14387 / 30000 (47.96%)


It’s been a strange week. Not a bad week. Just a strange one. Not as many words as I’d have liked, but that’s largely because of the strangeness. I don’t normally feel like I’ve been hit by a truck for no reason, but there you are. And it’s not the “I’m sick” truck. More like “I’ve been hit by a pillow and must now nap” truck. I’m tired. Which makes it awfully hard to focus on making words.

It doesn’t help that yesterday, on what was supposed to be my rest day from exercise, we had to move our compost bin because the HOA is cleaning and painting the wall that runs behind our property. Compost bin was against the wall, so it needed to be moved. Which meant emptying the compost bin And also meant clearing half of the weedy bed where the pineapples have taken over, and where we’ll be moving the compost bin so we don’t have to do this again the NEXT time the HOA decides to maintain their bloody wall (seriously, the last time was over five years ago, and was before we had the bin.)

Thank goodness we saved the old kitty litter buckets. Five of them were filled with compost which was then spread into the vegetable garden. Six more are full and waiting to be returned to the bin once the bin is settled into its new home after the wall is painted.

On the upside, we’ve got the best turned compost in the state.

Once the wall is painted, we’re going to redo that entire bed, and the only reason we only cleared half the bed is because we have ANOTHER pineapple fruiting in the middle of the summer. About half of the pineapples we grow never make it into the house, because raccoons love them some pineapple. With the last one, they must have heard  M thinking “That needs to come into the house,” because it was fine when he was out there mowing the lawn, but an hour later when he went to pick it, it was half eaten in the middle of the mowed lawn.

Raccoons are passive-aggressive goth corgis.

I have been writing, and I did get words in last week. I’m almost done with the synopsis for John Zebedee Meets the Witch-Queen of Elfland — I just figured out how to resolve a corner I backed myself into. Work proceeds on Monstrous Town, and on Wings of Air.  Which, if you look at the numbers up on the tracker, is going to be a monster of a book. I really am thinking that there might be a book five in there. We’ll see what happens.

The first newsletter went out last week. I’m going to keep it to once a month for now, so the next one will be sometime the first week of October. Plenty of time to jump in and see what shenanigans I’m up to. (There will be a recipe in the next one!)

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Necronomicon (or NecroNOTacon!) is coming up in two weeks. I’ll be on a few panels (Steampunk and Writing Sex on Saturday, and moderating The Best Advice on Sunday. I will also be part of the annual Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me game on Sunday.) The fun is going to be that the first RWA Board meeting of the new board is the same weekend.

And that’s about all, I think. Back to making words!

Posted by EASchechter in 2020 plans, a-writers-life-is-never-dull, accountability, appearances, conventions, forthcoming works, From the Writer's Kitchen, Heir to the Firstborn, John Zebedee, Necronomicon, Newsletter, upcoming books, upcoming work, Wings of Air, WIP, wordcount, 0 comments

Today is Baking Day

I had a light day planned, so I baked today. And while I was working on my gluten-free almond pound cake, I started thinking.

There’s an awful lot of baking going on. An awful lot of cooking. A lot of Instagram pictures of breads and pastries and cakes, and a lot of my friends complaining about how much weight they’ve gained during quarantine. (They’re not alone here…) There’s even a meme making the rounds about how the buttons on your jeans are practicing social distancing.

Why so much baking?

As I asked myself this question, I realized I already knew. I knew because it had come up at, of all places, Weight Watchers (yes, I know it’s WW. I predate WW, and I will always call it Weight Watchers. Deal.)

During a discussion of how quarantine has been impacting us on the scale, I realized something.

This is unprecedented, right? Normally, when the excrement hits the rotating blades, we have some idea of how to respond. But Covid-19? This is new. This is new and it is fucking terrifying, and we have no idea how to respond or what to do or how to react.

We’re all reverting to our earliest training. All of us. Because we literally have no other way to cope with what’s happening around us. We are all of us, with very few exceptions, reverting to a single lesson learned when we were very small.

That the cookie will make the skinned knee all better.

That ice cream will make losing the big game a little easier to take.

That a bad day can be made a little better by an indulgent meal.

That food equals comfort.

Right now, we have no safety net. We have no guidance. No one, NO ONE, knows what they’re doing right now, the government is in denial, and the science news changes almost weekly. We’re in a contant state of flux, and there’s no end in sight.

But there’s ice cream. And there’s cake. And there’s fresh bread, and cookies, and while that won’t make things go away, it makes things feel a little better for a little while.

And you know what?

Go ahead. Eat the cake. Eat the ice cream.

Do what you need to, in order to make it through the day. Through the week. Through that next bump in the road when everything changes and we don’t know which way is up.

Go ahead, because we want to see you on the other side of this.

There will be another side of this. We’ll get through this.

We might all be wearing a larger size of jeans when we do, but you know what? We’ll be there.

And boy, will we have recipes to share.

(This one, by the way, is the Land O Lakes Gluten Free Vanilla pound cake, except with almond extract instead of vanilla. I use Bob’s Red Mill One to One gluten free flour blend.)

Posted by EASchechter in baking, deep thoughts, From the Writer's Kitchen, 0 comments

Romance Writer’s Weekly: From the Writer’s Kitchen

Welcome to the Romance Writer’s Weekly readers! Nice to have you in.

I’m combining things this week. A couple of weeks ago, I started a “From the Writer’s Kitchen” thing here, starting with Sunday Gravy (pasta sauce, for those of you not raised in New York or by Italians). The theme is things you can make with pantry staples.

I did a savory last time. Let’s do a sweet.

Jelly Cakes.

These are almost like a cross between a danish and a biscotti — they’re a sweet cookie filled with whatever jelly you like, baked and then cut into bars. When my mother used to make these, she would occasionally put chocolate chips and coconut inside, instead of jelly. So they’re very versatile.

This is also one of those recipes where I suspect my mother left something out when she gave it to me. The dough always seems very wet when I make it, so I always end up using more flour than the recipe calls for. Just be flexible.

Jelly Cakes

4 eggs
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup shortening (you can use butter)
pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract (note: you can use all vanilla or all almond.)
3 cups flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill One-to-One gluten free flour)
2 tsp baking powder

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cream together your sugar and shortening/butter. Add eggs and extracts.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine salt, flour and baking powder. Add to butter mixture. Mix to combine. It should form a firm dough (like a bread dough). Add more flour if too wet.
  4. On a floured surface, roll the dough out into a long oval about 1/4 inch thick.  I usually do this on floured parchment to make moving to a baking sheet easier.
  5. Use your favorite flavor of jelly, jam or preserves , fill the center third of the oval. Leave about an inch or two at the ends.
  6. Fold the sides over the jelly and press to seal. Fold the ends up and press to seal. Sprinkle with sugar, cinnamon sugar, coconut or chocolate sprinkles.
  7. (the tricky part). Move to a baking sheet.
  8. Bake about 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Once you have the basic dough down, you can do just about anything with this. I’m planning on making these in the next couple of days, with almond paste and peach jam in the middle, topped with sliced almonds.

Next up in the RWW loop is Caro Kinkade, who has The Accidental Viscountess out, and who has an interesting Instant Pot recipe to share! Be sure to check them both out!

Posted by EASchechter in From the Writer's Kitchen, 0 comments

From the Writer’s Kitchen: Sunday Gravy.

Starting something new — have a few good recipes that you can make with pantry staples that you should still be able to get at your local grocery store.

We’ll start with Mom-sauce. Also known as Sunday Gravy, if you grew up the child of a Bronx Italian mother. This isn’t the same sauce my Mom would make — I riffed on it when I got my own kitchen. This has more texture and no meat. If you want meat in your gravy, add in a pound or two of browned ground meat. It can be whatever ground meat you like, or a combination of meats. Want all beef? Go all beef. Want chicken and turkey? Do it. Want lamb? Wow, that’s fancy.

Considering that getting meat right now is a dicey proposition, we’ll go with a standard marinara. Just know that you CAN add meat if you want. Just brown it up first.

Okay. Here’s the basic recipe for Mom-sauce (aka Sunday Gravy)

One big can diced tomatoes
One big can crushed tomatoes.
One big can tomato puree
One little can tomato paste

Put into a large pot. Fill each can with water and add that to the pot. Season to your particular taste (salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, garlic, more garlic, that’s not enough garlic, basil, oregano…)

If your pot is not oven safe, put it on the back burner of your stove and let it barely simmer uncovered alllll day. Not even kidding here. It will take all day. Stir often.  It should reduce by half.

If your pot IS oven safe (lid and all), cover and put into a 400 degree oven for one hour. Remove lid and stir. Return to oven and let cook uncovered for another 90 minutes to two hours, stirring every so often. Should reduce by half.

Portion into meal sized containers (about two cups is good for a pound of pasta), and freeze. Defrost as necessary.

This is usually enough for us (a family of three) to last about two months, eating it once a week. If I make lasagna, it’ll last a month.

Now, before anyone starts yelling “That’s not how my Nona made Sunday gravy!” No, it probably isn’t. This is how I make Sunday gravy, and is based on how my mother taught me to make Sunday gravy. Your mileage may vary.

Posted by EASchechter in From the Writer's Kitchen, 0 comments