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A Recipe for You

Dear Readers, my friend Linda Baker sent me a recipe this week that I just have to share. I tried it and love it. Quick, delicious, and fabulous with coffee. I used the Costco brownie mix with chocolate chips in it and frosted the biscotti with Dollop all natural frosting, as seen on Shark Tank :) Then I drizzled them with some melted mini chocolate chips. After serious quality control, John gave them an enthusiastic thumbs-up!

BiscottiLinda often brings me homemade biscotti when she comes for a visit. (This is a simpler version). I shamelessly refuse to share them and savor them with a cup of coffee. So . . . enjoy!

 

Also, I still have 2017 FriendChips calendars I would love to give away. Perhaps writing a whole story about your Storm Sister is too daunting. I would be happy with just a sentence or two. :) Then on Monday, August 8, the day after Friendship Day, I will make a collage of all the sentences and post them on my blog and Facebook and Twitter to celebrate the gift of connection.

You can leave your sentences as comments to this blog, and then I will contact you to get your address and your Storm Sister’s address.

FriendChips

 

                                                                      Brownie Mix Biscotti
Makes about 2 dozen
Ingredients
1 box (18-20 oz.) brownie mix—any brand. I like Pillsbury and Duncan Hines.
¾ cup flour
¼ cup baking cocoa
2 eggs
1/3 cup of oil (or up to half cup) I do what the box recommends.
Optional: Instant coffee or espresso powder, about 2 teaspoons, or orange zest, or anything else you like to use to flavor chocolate.
Water—optional, if needed

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all except water. You should have fairly stiff dough. You can add a little water if you need it to get a homogenous black and shiny, not crumbly dough.

On a large, greased cookie sheet, divide and pat the dough into two logs, about 2½ to 3 inches wide, running length of sheet, with space between the two logs. Try to make the logs about the same width as each other, and relatively even in length.
Bake the logs at 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes, until they are cooked through. (They start to crack a little.) Put pan on the counter. Slice the logs carefully with a knife into about ½” slices.

You should try to push the slices apart so there is room for the sides to get heated and crunched. Depending on the size of your sheet, you may need to put some slices on another cookie sheet.I usually remove the ends of the logs, as they are already crunchy.

Bake again for about 5 minutes more. You can bake less if you want a chewier cookie, or not at all if you want. Keep this in mind, if you bake them much more than 8 minutes, they will harden as they cool and be good dunkers but otherwise difficult to eat. In my oven, 8 minutes is about right for crunchy but not hard. I’d start with 5 minutes and by trial and error, you can see what you like.

Let cool and store in airtight container.

Note: You can add chocolate chips, nuts etc., or you can glaze one side with melted chips and a small amount of oil. Really, you can do whatever sounds good to you, I think including just baking them up as cookies. They taste like brownies, but are not nearly so messy and crumbly.

zetta

Book Giveaway!

I love promoting new books written by author friends. And I love sharing them with you.

Let me tell you about one I just read that takes place in the Appalachian Mountains just before Christmas in 1922.

In her new book, Zetta’s Dream: An Appalachian Coal Camp Novel, veteran author Sandra P. Aldrich skillfully sets the scene and develops characters who speak their mind in a distinctly Appalachian dialogue. Oh, and the descriptions of food. . . .

With two youngins in tow and another one stirring inside her, young Zetta leaves the family farm in Kentucky to join her husband, Asa, at the Golden Gate coal camp. Asa works deep underground there in treacherous conditions in order to earn the $400 he needs to pay off the farm. He assures Zetta they will only stay three months.

As she adjusts to life in a gritty coal city, Zetta wrestles with nightmares and anxiety and uses beans in a jar to count the days until she can return to the farm. Every morning Zetta prays, “Oh, Lord, please keep Asa safe.”

I drooled over the Appalachian cornbread, gingerbread cake, brown sugar sweets, hoe cakes, blackberry cobbler, and fresh greens and wild onions wilted down with a little hot bacon grease. Oh, my!

And I laughed at the feisty, speak-my-mind granny woman who befriends Zetta.

Zetta’s Dream makes a delightful summer read.

AND I have seven copies of the book to share with you, Dear Readers. Jump on it!

Contact me through my website: http://aftonrorvik.com/contact/
Or message me on my author Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Aftonrorvik/675391955878827?ref=hl
For those of you on Twitter, you can contact me @AftonRorvik: https://twitter.com/aftonrorvik

pizza

Wouldn’t Want to Miss This

Two slices of deep-dish pizza, nestled in a baggie, dangled from my mailbox.  My friend had brought me lunch.

What extraordinary, out-of-the-box delivery service!

Just like so many people I know. Extraordinary. Out-of-the-box. I find that I especially gravitate toward friends with some specific qualities:

  • Humor. I tend to be way too serious. Always pondering the meaning of life and the universe. I depend on John for his good humor and lighter perspective. And also on my pizza-hanging friend and others who open my eyes to the silly side of life.
  • Challenge. I can get stuck. Stuck on myself. Stuck in a specific way to do life. Stuck in the past. Stuck in worry. I have several wise friends who speak honest words to me: “I would love to see you.  . . .”
  • Wisdom.  Sometimes I simply feel inadequate. Can’t figure out this social media stuff—blogging, posting, pinning, tweeting. Oh, my! Can’t figure out how to navigate quiet spaces. Can’t figure out how to navigate empty nest. And then I ask a wise friend, “What did you do when . . . ?” My friends speak truth to me from their experience, and they also speak truth to me from their faith in God and their love of his words as written in the Bible.

What about you? What draws you into friendship?

And thank you, wise friends, for joining this ongoing conversation.

Follow me on Twitter @rorvik_afton
Tweet me at #StormSisters

wedding_photo

I Still Like My Husband

On our wedding day, 27 years ago this July 18th, the pastor said, “Imagine spending the rest of your life with someone you can actually stand.”

I don’t need to imagine anymore. I can taste it.

I genuinely still like being around my husband. I like our Friday lunch dates; I like our after-dinner conversations; I like our trips together; I like praying together. . . . And I celebrate my “beste venn,” my best friend—my husband.

We have shaped each other in so many unquantifiable ways.  We have both changed over the years and continue to change. And we have certainly irritated each other countless times. Yet, we still have this common ground, this connection, this friendship—this marriage. I thank God for it.

As I write we are packing for a road trip to Colorado. In our bags we have a copy of Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs to read on the way. Early in our marriage we had the goal of reading and discussing a marriage book together once a year. And then life got so busy. . . .

So in this 27th year of marriage, we return to that goal.

Want to join us?

image-help

“Help! Help Me!”

One afternoon a few months ago, I stopped at our local grocery store to pick up a few items. As I left my car to head for the front door, I heard a woman’s voice shouting, “Help! Help me!” I looked around frantically and could not see the person attached to the voice. She shouted again, “Help! I’m by the car! Help!” By this time another shopper had located the woman in distress, and we both ran to her aid.

As we helped her stand, she explained, “I have cancer. I am so weak that I fell trying to get into the car.”

I wonder if when she fell to the ground, she lay for a few minutes and started an internal dialogue. I would have. Should I just lie here until my daughter comes back? Really, I am okay. I’m just weak. And is it safe to ask for help from random strangers?

As I think back to this event, I so admire this woman. She was down and out—literally—and had the courage to own it and say that four-letter word we women so struggle to say: “Help!” I want to be this kind of woman.

What about you?

Pile of Books

“I just read this great book.”

On my phone I have an ever-growing list of books to read. Some recommendations came from friends, others from my nieces, still others from my brother-in law and sister-in-law. Someday, I’ll start reading and shrinking my list. Well . . . .probably not shrinking the list. Not as long as I’m still talking to people about words and ideas in books.

In my cozy office I’m surrounded by books—my own, my mom’s, and my dad’s. Sometimes I pull out one of their books and discover a bookmark or red underlining with a side note (my dad’s signature style). So interesting to see what they read and pondered, especially since they can no longer tell me themselves.

I have, on occasion, called my books “friends,” When I said that to my husband, he grinned and said, “Who needs that many friends?”

After all the pages I’ve read and reread since I could first recognize words, I return to one book over and over. It gives me courage to face my fears, reminds me that I am deeply loved, helps me find perspective in the midst of life transitions. . . .

I leave you now with three sentences from this favorite book of mine, sentences I have been reading over and over for the past few weeks, “And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.  May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God” (Ephesians 3:18–19 in the New Living Translation of the Bible).