Spring Garden Update

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Garden on April 27, 2013

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

As I sit on the balcony writing, my husband passes by on the tractor, pulling a wagon filled with the compost bin and some manure, and garden tools. He stops near the raspberry plants desperately climbing higher and higher to catch some of the sun that’s been playing hide and seek for the past month.tractor

Robert trims their tops as careful as a barber does with his clippers. He tenderly pulls dead branches and leaves back away from the base of a plant.

He planted these bushes last year with different varieties that will produce from spring to fall. Last year, we only had fruit from the late-season variety. How lovely it will be to have raspberries from May-October. I hope they produce enough for jam.

Raspberries are the heart for one of my best childhood memories. We had a raspberry patch in our side yard. Every summer morning, my mother and I went to the patch before breakfast. We’d pick enough for cereal. Raspberries atop Rice Crispies® evoke a feeling of warmth and safety. It also represented a time of peace between my mother and me.???????????????????????????????

My mother’s gone now, as are those raspberries. My daughter will be here when the first raspberries are ready this spring. We’ll continue the tradition, and I’ll stock up on the Rice Crispies® – although most likely I’ll  make granola instead.

The tomato plants wait patiently in trays in the den. The leaves are lush and large. As soon as possible, they’ll go in the ground. Robert started saving seeds from the best tomato varieties two years ago. This year, for the first time, all the plants came from our seeds. Let’s hope they produce as well as their ancestors.

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In the garden, the peas, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage plants are growing every day. I can’t wait to shell my first pea pod of the season.

We’re still eating the produce from last year’s produce. This morning I made zucchini bread using shredded zucchini I froze last July. We had spaghetti this week using our canned sauce. Tonight I’m trying out a new recipe for quinoa burgers that uses shredded zucchini along with the quinoa, goat cheese, and eggs. I’ll share the recipe, if it turns out, in next week’s blog, along with some information on quinoa. I also froze cole slaw last summer. I used vinegar as the base sauce, but when I unfreeze it, I add a small amount of mayonnaise to hold it together. We had some a couple of weeks ago, and the flavors are outstanding, although the cabbage isn’t quite as crisp as fresh, but it was worth using up the extra cabbage this way. I also made tomato sauce from the tomatoes I froze in September when I just couldn’t face anymore canning. It makes an excellent sauce.

Last night, we picked a few of the asparagus peeking out from their bed of straw. This is the second year they’ve been in the ground and most recommend waiting until the third year to eat. But how could we resist these beauties? They melted in our mouths.???????????????????????????????

All these recipes and more are a part of From Seed to Table, which I plan to publish as an eBook in May.S2T-6

Here’s my recipe for making sauce from frozen whole tomatoes.

10 frozen whole tomatoes

2 cloves garlic

1 chopped onion

several chopped peppers – I use both sweet and hot peppers

fresh or dried herbs in any combination and to taste: basil, oregano, thyme, tarragon

salt and pepper

Remove tomatoes from freezer and put in refrigerator for 4-5 hours. Rinse under hot water for a few second until skins peel off easily. Let skinned tomatoes sit for an hour or until core can be cut out easily.

In the meantime, sauté onions, garlic, peppers (or anything else you’d like to add such as mushrooms, carrots, or olives) and herbs.

Chop tomatoes, even if they’re still partially frozen, throw pieces into pan with sautéed mix.Bring to boil then put on low for several hours, stirring occasionally. When sauce is reduced enough, it’s time to use sauce in your favorite Italian dish.

I always love to hear about your gardens or ideas for using produce throughout the year.

Last Day to Enter Giveaway

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I’ve been on a virtual book tour with Trails in the Sand this week and today is my last stop and your last chance to enter to win a special package.

I’ve been on “tour” April 22-29 to celebrate the forty-third anniversary of Earth Day and to celebrate the publication of Trails in the Sand. Today’s the last day you’ll be able to enter a raffle for an exciting giveaway at the end of the tour. I’m giving away a package of autographed copies of both Live from the Road and Trails in the Sand, along with a Route 66 baseball cap, a Trails in the Sand magnet, all wrapped in a “green” grocery bag donated by fellow blogger Betsy Wild at What’s Green with Betsy. The bags were designed by Where Designs.???????????????????????????????

The Tour Schedule for April 29 – Check out these blogs today and enter to win the tour giveaway.

April 29

Jody’s Book Reviews features my guest post “Tikkun Olan Found Its Way into the Novel.” Jody features giveaways and tours. She also posts book reviews, but at this time she is not accepting requests for reviews.

Celtic Lady’s Reviews features Trails in the Sand. Kathleen Kelly says her blog is for reviews and giveaways.

Confessions of an Inner Aspen features an interview with me. Aspen is an aspiring writer of fiction and writes book reviews.

Book Tour and Giveaway Continues

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I’m on a Virtual Book Tour this week with Trails in the Sand  – Visit tour stops to enter giveaway

I’m on “tour” April 22-29 to celebrate the forty-third anniversary of Earth Day and to celebrate the publication of Trails in the Sand. At each stop, you’ll be able to enter a raffle for an exciting giveaway at the end of the tour. I’m giving away a package of autographed copies of both Live from the Road and Trails in the Sand, along with a Route 66 baseball cap, a Trails in the Sand magnet, all wrapped in a “green” grocery bag donated by fellow blogger Betsy Wild at What’s Green with Betsy. The bags were designed by Where Designs.???????????????????????????????

The Tour Schedule for April 28 – Check out this blog today and enter to win the tour giveaway.

April 28

Bex ‘n’ Books features Trails in the Sand. This blog features book reviews, giveaways, and promotes authors and their books.

Book Tour and Giveaway Continues

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I’m on a Virtual Book Tour this week with Trails in the Sand  – Visit tour stops to enter giveaway

I’m on “tour” April 22-29 to celebrate the forty-third anniversary of Earth Day and to celebrate the publication of Trails in the Sand. At each stop, you’ll be able to enter a raffle for an exciting giveaway at the end of the tour. I’m giving away a package of autographed copies of both Live from the Road and Trails in the Sand, along with a Route 66 baseball cap, a Trails in the Sand magnet, all wrapped in a “green” grocery bag donated by fellow blogger Betsy Wild at What’s Green with Betsy. The bags were designed by Where Designs.???????????????????????????????

The Tour Schedule for April 27 – Check out this blog today and enter to win the tour giveaway.

April 27

Create With Joy – Live With Passion features a review of Trails in the Sand and an excerpt. The title of this blog says it all: “an inspirational blog that celebrates creativity – in all its forms.”

Giveaway and Book Tour

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I’m on a Virtual Book Tour this week with Trails in the Sand  – Visit tour stops to enter giveaway

I’m on “tour” April 22-29 to celebrate the forty-third anniversary of Earth Day and to celebrate the publication of Trails in the Sand. At each stop, you’ll be able to enter a raffle for an exciting giveaway at the end of the tour. I’m giving away a package of autographed copies of both Live from the Road and Trails in the Sand, along with a Route 66 baseball cap, a Trails in the Sand magnet, all wrapped in a “green” grocery bag donated by fellow blogger Betsy Wild at What’s Green with Betsy. The bags were designed by Where Designs.???????????????????????????????

The Tour Schedule for April 26 – Check out these blogs today and enter to win the tour giveaway.

April 26

BestsellerBound Recommends features an interview with me using “M” words to describe myself. Maria Savva and Darcia Helle created this blog to showcase Indie Authors and to provide a place for Indies to gather.

Current Events Creep into Fiction

Fellow blogger and author Annamaria Bazzi hosted me for a guest post on her blog Annamaria’s Corner. Since it’s the third anniversary of the oil spill and Earth Week, I thought it appropriate to repost on my blog. Please stop by Annamaria’s Corner where she posts about writing and promotes her fellow authors.

By P.C. Zick

My new novel, Trails in the Sand, serves as a reminder of two preventable disasters that occurred within two weeks of one another in 2010. Forty men died and countless wildlife and their habitats were injured or destroyed. Both events touched my life in some way and both made their way into the writing of Trails in the Sand.

The first one occurred on April 5 when the Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia exploded, killing twenty-nine miners doing their job in the bowels of the earth. Subsequent reports showed the company ignored safety regulations, which played an important role in the explosion. At the time, I was in the process of moving from Florida to western Pennsylvania. The mine is located several hours from my new home, so the local media covered the disaster continually for the next few weeks. The national news also kept its eye turned toward a small town in West Virginia where families mourned their husbands, sons, fathers, brothers, and cousins. After April 20, the lens of the cameras shifted to the southwest.

The news began as a whimper before erupting into cries of outrage. An oil rig somewhere off the coast of Louisiana caught on fire on April 20, 2010. Soon the whole rig collapsed and eleven men never made it out alive. Oil gushed from a well several miles below the Gulf’s surface.

As I made the transition to Pennsylvania, I still held my job in Florida, although I was in the process of leaving. I was a public relations director for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. I made the trip back and forth sixteen times in 2010. I conducted meetings from a cell phone in airports, highway rest areas, and at a dining room table from our small temporary apartment in Pittsburgh.

Every time I started to give my two-week notice to my supervisors, something happened, and my wildlife biologist bosses pleaded with me to stay. During a crisis, the spokesperson for a company or agency suddenly becomes a very important part of the team. Scientists become speechless when looking in the face of a microphone.

Nothing much happened in those early days of the oil spill for the wildlife community, although as a communications specialist I prepared for worst-case scenarios, while hoping for the best. Partnerships between national and state agencies formed to manage information flowing to the media. By May, some of the sea turtle experts began worrying about the nesting turtles on Florida’s Panhandle beaches, right where the still gushing oil might land. In particular, the scientists worried that approximately 50,000 hatchlings might be walking into oil-infested waters if allowed to enter the Gulf of Mexico after hatching from the nests on the Gulf beaches.

An extraordinary and unprecedented plan became reality, and as the scientists wrote the protocols, the plan was “in direct response to an unprecedented human-caused disaster.”

When the nests neared the end the incubation period, plans were made to dig up the nests and transport the eggs across the state to Cape Canaveral, where they would be stored until the hatchlings emerged from the eggs. Then they would receive a royal walk to the sea away from the oil-drenched waters of the Gulf.

The whole project reeked with the scent of drama, ripe for the media to descend on Florida for reports to a public hooked on the images of oiled wildlife. Since I was in transition in my job, they appointed me to handle all media requests that came to the national and state agencies regarding the plan. From my new office in Raccoon Township, Beaver County, Pennsylvania, I began coordinating media events and setting up interviews with the biologists.

As the project began in June 2010, I began writing Trails in the Sand. At first, I created the characters and their situations. Then slowly I began writing about the oil crisis and made the main character, Caroline, an environmental reporter who covered the sea turtle relocation project. Then suddenly I was writing about her husband, Simon, who mourned the loss of his cousin in the coal mine disaster in West Virginia. I didn’t make a conscious effort to tie together the environmental theme with the family saga unfolding, but before too long, I realized they all dealt with restoration and redemption of things destroyed. As a result, the oil spill and the sea turtles became a metaphor for the destruction caused by Caroline and her family.

I’m a firm believer in the subject choosing the author. When that happens, it’s best to let go and enjoy the gift.

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I’m on a Virtual Book Tour this week with Trails in the Sand  – Visit tour stops to enter giveaway

I’m on “tour” April 22-29 to celebrate the forty-third anniversary of Earth Day and to celebrate the publication of Trails in the Sand. At each stop, you’ll be able to enter a raffle for an exciting giveaway at the end of the tour. I’m giving away a package of autographed copies of both Live from the Road and Trails in the Sand, along with a Route 66 baseball cap, a Trails in the Sand magnet, all wrapped in a “green” grocery bag donated by fellow blogger Betsy Wild at What’s Green with Betsy. The bags were designed by Where Designs.???????????????????????????????

The Tour Schedule for April 25 – Check out this blog today and enter to win the tour giveaway.

April 25

I Read Indie blog features my guest post “Why I love sea turtles” about my first interaction with the ancient creatures and how they became a central part of the plot in Trails in the Sand. I Read Indie blog reviews and features Indie Authors.

Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers features Trails in the Sand and my guest post “Subject Chooses the Writer.” Stop by Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers to “feed your need to read.” Gina’s love of books led her to create a site for her readers.

Book Tour Giveaway

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I’m on a Virtual Book Tour this week with Trails in the Sand  – Visit tour stops to enter giveaway

I’m on “tour” April 22-29 to celebrate the forty-third anniversary of Earth Day and to celebrate the publication of Trails in the Sand. At each stop, you’ll be able to enter a raffle for an exciting giveaway at the end of the tour. I’m giving away a package of autographed copies of both Live from the Road and Trails in the Sand, along with a Route 66 baseball cap, a Trails in the Sand magnet, all wrapped in a “green” grocery bag donated by fellow blogger Betsy Wild at What’s Green with Betsy. The bags were designed by Where Designs.???????????????????????????????

The Tour Schedule for April 24 – Check out this blog today and enter to win the tour giveaway.

April 24

Freda’s Voice features my guest post “Love Those Writers” about why I chose writers as the main characters in my books. Freda’s Voice is “a Canadian lifestyle blog that is PR friendly.”