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Friday, April 24, 2015

See why this novel is invited to Japan!

I grew up in classrooms filled with kids and teachers from all over the world. My high school, Canadian Academy, located in Kobe on top of a hill, had a view of the harbor which looked beautiful. My school also had a grassy area where we ate lunch in the warmer months. I recall looking around at my senior friends and noting the countries they represented. Malfrid from Norway, Sophie from France, Jules from Canada (the French region of Quebec), Sangeeta from India and Japan, Nada from Lebanon, Katie from California, USA. We are like a United Nations, I thought.

I know I almost failed algebra. And hated biology. But I never recalled learning anything in history about internment camps for Japanese-Americans during War World II.

I wish I had listened. One of my classmates' mom was in a camp during her youth. But that didn't register in my mind until long after I held my high school diploma.

It would be years later when I felt the need to write about this period of history. It would be when living in another country, at another setting. In North Carolina, I heard my friend Artie Kamiya talk about his mother who had been forced to spend years in a camp in Colorado after President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066. Shortly after Pearl Harbor was bombed, those of Japanese descent on the West Coast of the U.S. were sent to various camps. Many forced to these camps were American citizens. Most had never even been to Japan.

This shows just has strong fear and prejudice go and how they eat at people's hearts and minds. Americans, born in the United States, had to leave their homes, board trains with one suitcase each, and head to bleak camps where barracks became dwelling places.

I wrote Under the Silk Hibiscus with the help of materials I received from Artie's mom. I was also able to interview Terri Takiguchi, a woman in my church who was sent from her life in California to a camp in Arizona during the war.

And this time I listened. At my computer, I heard the voices of dozens of others as I watched videos about one camp in particular---Heart Mountain in Wyoming. This camp became the setting for my fictional family, Nathan Mori, his siblings, mother, and aunt.

When I got the news that my high school wants me to come to Japan as an alumni author in residence, I couldn't believe it! Even now, most days, I think that I'm still dreaming. It's been since 1988 when I was there last as a teacher of English.

Early next year, I'll be flying to Japan, the country of my birth and childhood. In addition to going on a field trip with ninth graders to Hiroshima, I'll share about being an author and how I researched for my novel. I hear authentic food calling my name, too: Unagi, katsudon, chirashizushi, oyakodomburi, an pan, and of course, green tea ice cream (as pictured below).

I know it will be a most wonderful reunion.

You can read more about Under the Silk Hibiscus here.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A Recipe for Scones!

I found a delicious recipe for scones. I made them and shared them. Today I want to share the recipe with my readers, so here you are.



2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/3 cup dried currants
2 teaspoons fat-free milk
2 teaspoons sugar

Preheat oven to 425°.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Stir with a whisk. Cut in butter with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal.

Combine 1/2 cup milk, vanilla, and egg in a bowl. Add milk mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist (dough will be soft). Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle surface of dough with dried currants. With floured hands, knead 4 times or just until the currants are incorporated.

Pat dough into an 8-inch circle on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cut dough into 12 wedges, cutting into, but not through, dough. (This is tricky to do. You can see from my photo above, that I could have cut a bit deeper.) Brush 2 teaspoons milk over surface of dough; sprinkle with 2 teaspoons sugar. Bake at 425° for 30 minutes or until golden. Serve warm, or cool on a wire rack. Cut scones into wedges. They are moist and delicious!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Guest Post: Cooking With Author Trina Matous

Welcome to my blog, Trina! First we have a bit about your books and then a recipe for stollen. Like you, Trina, I associate Christmas with stollen. My mother used to buy one at Christmas when I was a child growing up in Japan. We'd eat it Christmas morning.


The Christian Living Bible Study Series is easy-to-read,will help you understand difficult passages and shed new light on familiar verses. Each chapter includes three sections. The Background gives context for the Bible current chapter. The Overview elaborates on ancient cultural practices, religious customs, and original language words unfamiliar to today’s readers. The Insights offer application to life today as well as thought provoking questions for personal meditation and for small group discussions. As you learn more about the history and purpose of each verse, you will find yourself growing in wisdom and knowledge.

You can read more about the books here at the links on Amazon:
Paul’s Letters
The Epistles

About Trina
Trina has a Masters of Arts in Christian Ministry from Ashland theological seminary. She uses her speaking and writing talents to share the Trinity's overwhelming love, grace, mercy, and compassion with those who are lost, hurting, and in need of peace.

Trina's current series, Christian Living Bible Study, is born out of a desire for people to read the Bible regularly and better understand both what they read, as well as how these ancient texts apply to our lives today.


Recipe By Betsy Oppenner
Yield: 1 large or 2 medium loaves

I make Stollen bread at Christmas and love the fruit and almond paste combination. It is great on its own or toasted with butter!


2 cups fruit, dried, mixed, apricots, currents, raisins, craisins, dates
3 tablespoons rum, dark, or orange juice

For the Sponge
1 tablespoon yeast, active dry, or 1 (1/4-ounce) package
1/4 cup water, about 110 degrees F
2/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon honey
1 cup flour, white, unbleached

For the Dough
1/3 cup honey
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 cup butter, unsalted, softened
1 tablespoon lemon zest, finely grated
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon mace, ground
1/2 cup almonds, toasted and chopped
3-4 cup flour, white, unbleached

For the Filling
2 tablespoons butter, unsalted, melted
2 teaspoons cinnamon, ground
3 tablespoons sugar
3 ounces almond paste

For the Topping
1/2 cup sugar, powdered
1-3 teaspoon cream, heavy, whipping


1. Prepare fruit: Combine the mixed fruit, raisins, and rum. Cover and set aside. Shake or stir the mixture every so often to coat the fruit with the rum.

2. Prepare sponge: In a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast in the water to soften. Heat the milk to 110 degrees F and add it to the yeast along with the honey and 1 cup flour. Cover the sponge with plastic wrap and let rise until light and full of bubbles, about 30 minutes.

3. In the mixer bowl, add the fruit mixture, honey, egg, butter, zest, salt, mace, almonds, and 2 cups of the flour to the sponge. Using the paddle, beat the mixture on medium low speed for 2 minutes. Gradually add the remaining flour 1/4 cup at a time until the dough begins to pull away from the side of the bowl. Change to the dough hook. Continue to add flour 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough just begins to clean the bowl. Knead 4 to 5 minutes on medium-low.

4. First rise: Put the dough in an oiled bowl and turn to coat the entire ball of dough with oil. Cover with a tightly woven towel and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

5. Shape and fill: Turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled work surface. For 1 large loaf, roll the dough into a 9 by 13-inch oval. For 2 loaves, divided the dough in half and roll each half into a 7 by 9-inch oval. Brush the melted butter over the top of the oval(s). Between 2 pieces of waxed paper or plastic wrap, roll 3 ounces almond paste into the lengthwise shape of half the oval. Fold the dough in half lengthwise and carefully lift the bread(s) onto a parchment-lined or well-greased baking sheet. Press lightly on the folded side to help the loaf keep its shape during rising and baking.

6. Second rise: Cover with a tightly woven towel and let rise for 45 minutes.

7. About 10 minutes before baking, preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

8. Bake and cool: Bake for 25 minutes until the internal temperature of the bread reaches 190 degrees F. Immediately remove from the baking sheet and place on a rack to cool.

9. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. OR drizzle the top lightly with powdered sugar mixed with enough heavy cream to reach the consistency of honey.


This bread freezes nicely for up to 6 months. If freezing it, do not sprinkle with confectioners' sugar. To serve, first thaw the bread, then bake on a baking sheet in a preheated 375 degree F oven for 7 to 10 minutes. Just before serving, sprinkle with confectioners' sugar.

Recipe Notes
Long before the Romans occupied parts of Germany, special breads were prepared for the winter solstice that were rich in dried or preserved fruit. Historians have traced Christollen, Christ's stollen, back to about the year 1400 in Dresden, Germany. The first stollen consisted of only flour, oats and water, as required by church doctrine, but without butter and milk, it was quite tasteless. Ernst of Saxony and his brother Albrecht requested of the Pope that the ban on butter and milk during the Advent season be lifted. His Eminence replied in what is known as the famous "butter letter," that milk and butter could be used to bake stollen with a clear conscience and God's blessing for a small fee. Originally stollen was called Striezel or Struzel, which referred to a braided shape -- a large oval folded in half with tapered ends -- said to represent the Baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothing. Around 1560 it became custom that the bakers of Dresden give their king, the ruler of Saxony, two 36-pound stollens as a Christmas gift. It took eight master bakers and eight journeymen to carry the bread to the palace safely. This custom was continued for almost 200 years. In 1730 Augustus the Strong, the electoral prince of Saxony and the King of Poland, asked the Baker's Guild of Dresden to bake a giant stollen for the farewell dinner of the Zeithain "campement." The 1.8-ton stollen was a true showpiece and fed over 24,000 guests. To commemorate this event, a Stollenfest is held each December in Dresden. The bread for the present-day Stollenfest weighs 2 tons and measures approximately 4 yards long. Each year the stollen is paraded through the market square, then sliced and sold to the public, with the proceeds supporting local charities. Although there is a basic recipe for making the original Dresden Christollen, each master baker, each village and each home has its own secret recipe passed down from one generation to the next. There are probably as many recipes for stollen as there are home bakers. The commercial production of Dresden stollen is carefully licensed and regulated to ensure quality and authenticity. Authentic German stollen is usually sprinkled heavily with confectioners' sugar prior to serving. I personally have never liked this topping and choose to drizzle the tops of my loaves lightly with a simple icing (confectioners' sugar mixed with enough heavy cream to reach the consistency of honey).

Friday, March 27, 2015

Guest post: Cooking with Author Nivine Richie!

Today I welcome author Nivine Richie to my blog. Glad to have you here, Nivine!

As a Bible study teacher and leader of small groups, I often use personal stories to illustrate Biblical truths. Many of these stories come from my family background and travels. I was born in Cairo, Egypt a few months before the Six Day War, and my parents and I immigrated to the U.S. when I was two years old. I’ve had the privilege of traveling and meeting people from all over the world. While I love tasting new foods, I have to say that my mom’s cooking is the best.

Here’s one of my favorites:

Egyptian Koshari

This dish is considered by many to be the national dish of Egypt. From the richest to the poorest, all Egyptians know and love this vegetarian dish. The flavor can vary based on the sauce, with some people choosing a sauce made of vinegar and garlic. Still others like to add chick peas to the layers described below. The sauce described here is what my mom has always made, and in my opinion, is the tastiest.


1 cup uncooked brown lentils
1 cup uncooked basmati rice
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup ditalini pasta (or elbow macaroni if you can’t find ditalini)
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
2 cans tomato sauce
4 cloves minced garlic
2 tablespoons vinegar
Olive oil
Pinch of coriander powder
Cayenne pepper to taste


1. Rinse the lentils in a strainer under running water and remove any rocks or dirt. In medium saucepan, cover the lentils with water and bring water to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Cook uncovered for 20-30 minutes, and continue to add water as needed to keep the lentils covered. Taste the lentils to see that they are done when they have the consistency of a cooked bean.

2. In a separate saucepan, add the rice, ½ t of salt and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook covered for 15 minutes (without peeking).

3. In a third saucepan, cook the noodles according to package directions (about 8 minutes) until noodles are al dente.

4. To make the sauce, sauté the garlic in olive oil until soft, but not brown. Add tomato sauce, coriander, vinegar and cayenne pepper and simmer for 10 minutes.

5. In a large frying pan, sauté the chopped onions in olive oil until the onions are crispy. (We like the onions crispy, but some families prefer that the onions be cooked only until they are soft.)

Makes about 4 servings

For each serving, add a layer of rice, a layer of lentils, and a layer of noodles. Top with the sauce and a generous sprinkling of crispy onions. Salt and pepper to taste. If you enjoy spicy food, a little hot sauce is a nice addition as well.

Enduring Faith: An 8-Week Devotional Study on the Book of Hebrews
by Nivine Richie

This eight-week Bible study delivers a balance of in-depth study and manageable homework. Written in a devotional style with real-life examples to connect you with the lessons in Hebrews, each day’s study is paired with discussion questions and space for journaling. This book can be used for small-group or for personal Bible study.

Is your faith on a firm foundation or are you standing on shaky ground? By the end of this study, you can know the kind of faith that pleases God.

Available on Amazon
And Barnes and Noble

About Nivine
Nivine Richie is a women’s Bible study teacher in Wilmington, N.C., where she lives with her husband and two teenage children. A university finance professor, she is actively involved in the Christian faculty association on campus. Nivine has participated in and taught many small group studies over the years.

She seeks to help others launch their own small group studies and is available to speak at women’s events. She can lead a seminar for teachers at your church or teach at your next women’s retreat.

Visit her at her website at to find tools to help you grow as a small group leader.
Contact her at
Follow her on Facebook
or on Twitter at @UnfoldHisWord

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Guest Blogger: Cooking With Author Sandra Merville Hart!

Today I am happy to welcome author Sandra Merville Hart to The Patchwork Quilt Blog. Her recipe is one I grew up with in Japan. She has a new novel out, so be sure to read all about it!

Happy Eating and Reading!


A friend shared a recipe for a casserole that became a favorite with my family. Double the recipe and it's excellent for potluck suppers and family gatherings. When loved ones need a meal brought to them, I double the recipe and take a casserole to my friend's family and leave one at home for mine.

When doubling the recipe, I don't double the salt. Some members of my family don't like a lot of salt and the bouillon cubes add a salty flavor, too. You may want to play with this a little or just have the salt shaker handy for those who need it -- like me!

I've received lots of compliments for this dish over the years. Our adult children were excited to eat this over Christmas, so I will remember to fix it more often.

Creamy Chicken Noodle Bake
8 oz. egg noodles
4 chicken bouillon cubes
6 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon pepper
4 cups cooked chicken, diced
3 tablespoons parsley flakes

Cook noodles in 3 quarts of rapidly boiling water for 7 - 10 minutes. Drain and rinse.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Dissolve bullion cubes in water on medium heat. (1 bouillon cube to 1 cup of water, so you'll need 4 cups of water in the standard recipe.)

Melt butter over low heat in a large saucepan. Combine flour, salt, paprika, and pepper in a small bowl. Stir the flour and seasonings into the melted butter. Slowly pour in reserved bouillon broth. Cook and stir over low heat until thickened.

Add noodles and parsley flakes to this mixture and toss gently. Spray a 13" x 9" x 2" baking dish with cooking spray. Bake the casserole, uncovered, for 50 to 60 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
This recipe serves 8.

About Sandra

Sandra Merville Hart loves to find unusual facts in her historical research to use in her stories. She and her husband travel to locations of her books whenever possible to explore the history. Everything she learns about the area adds to the depth of the story for her. She enjoys spending time with family and friends, walking, trying new recipes, and baking. She has written for several publications and websites. She is Assistant Editor for Besides her debut Civil War romance, A Stranger On My Land, she contributed to two collections to be released this year: Spoken Moments and Jesus Encounters.

A Stranger on My Land ~ A Civil War Romance by Sandra Merville Hart

Carrie and her little brother, Jay, find a wounded soldier on their land after a battle which later became known as "The Battle Above the Clouds." Adam, a Union soldier, has been shot twice in the arm. Though Carrie is reluctant to take Adam to their cave where her family hides their livestock from both armies, she cannot turn her back on him.

But her Aunt Lavinia, bitter over what Yankees have done to their land, urges Carrie to allow Adam to die. Carrie refuses, but cannot remove the bullets. Adam's friendship with Jay softens her heart toward him. It's not long until his gratitude and teasing manner spark a friendship between the young couple. Even though Carrie's father fights for the Confederacy in far-off Virginia, her feelings for the handsome young soldier begin to blossom into love.

When Adam's condition worsens, Carrie knows a Union surgeon is needed to save his life. How can she accomplish this and keep her family's hiding place a secret?

Sandra's book is available at:
Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas:

Barnes & Noble:

You can find Sandra at these places online:
Assistant Editor at DevoKids:
The Barn Door Book Loft:
Sandra's Goodreads page:

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Cooking With Author Lisa Lickel!

Today I welcome author Lisa Lickel to The Patchwork Quilt. Let's see which recipe she has in store for us as well as some information about one of her novels, The Map Quilt. Here's Lisa . . .


Wow, I know—it may seem like two different worlds in this luscious cake, but that’s the gist of being part of a patchwork, isn’t it? My Buried Treasure Mystery series takes people from different backgrounds and brings them together in love and faith, and in Ardyth’s case, good food! She’s the main supporting cast member, an adopted aunt/grandmother to Judy and Hart Wingate, who meet in the first book, The Last Bequest. But along with Judy and Hart’s budding romance, Ardyth returns to her first love as well, Bryce, in this ageless tale. In the second book, The Map Quilt, Hart and Judy meet some very interesting characters as they discover the identity of the body buried on the farm, and in the third book, The Newspaper Code, Judy learns how to balance life and friendship as she decides what to do about her career while helping new sort of friend Olivia figure out who killed town gardener Esme.

I especially love to make this cake because I use ingredients from our garden – pumpkin, and the berries. It serves a lot of people!

Pumpkin Raspberry Bundt Cake

Sift and set aside:
3 c. all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon

2 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract
8 oz. sour cream
1 18-oz can of canned pumpkin
4 eggs
1 c. chopped nuts
1 cup raspberries, keep a handful to decorate finished cake (if large, slice some of them - I use black raspberries too)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 12 by 18-inch bundt pan.
In a large bowl (very large!) combine sugar and oil. Blend in vanilla, sour cream and pumpkin. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Gradually beat in the flour mixture. Stir in nuts. Fold in raspberries. Spread batter in prepared bundt pan.

Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, until toothpick test comes out clean. Allow to cool, then frost* and decorate with remaining raspberries.

* Frosting: (this cake is so moist you don’t really need to frost it)
Beat together 4 oz cream cheese and 1 3/4 c. confectioner’s sugar
Fold in 8 oz tub of whipped topping mix
May use food coloring to make it orange if desired.

The Map Quilt
By Lisa J Lickel

Just how high a price does a family secret command?

Death in rural Wisconsin is only the beginning to new chaos in Robertsville. What do a stolen piece of revolutionary agricultural equipment, a long-buried skeleton in the yard, and an old quilt with secrets have in common? Hart and Judy Wingate, who met in The Gold Standard, are back to solve the mystery of The Map Quilt. Hart’s new battery design could forever change the farm implement industry. But after the death of Hart’s most confrontational colleague in a fire that destroys Hart’s workshop, the battery is missing.

Throw in a guest speaker invited to Judy’s elementary classroom who insists she owns the land under Hart’s chief competitor’s corporate headquarters, and a police chief who’s making eyes at Hart’s widowed mother, it’s no wonder Hart is under a ton of pressure to make sure his adventurous pregnant wife stays safe while trying to preserve his company and his reputation.

Purchase links:
Barnes and Noble

A bit about Lisa . . .

Multi-published author novelist Lisa J. Lickel also enjoys writing and performing radio theater, short story-writing, is an avid book reviewer and blogger. She enjoys teaching writing workshops and working with new writers and freelance editing. She is the editor of Wisconsin Writers Association’s Creative Wisconsin magazine. She lives in a hundred and sixty-year-old house in Wisconsin filled with books and dragons. Married to a high school biology teacher, she enjoys travel and quilting. Visit her at her website.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Yeast Rolls for Dinner, Snack, Breakfast!

I have found an amazing recipe for yeast rolls!

I add a little rosemary and garlic powder and suggest you do, too.

Yeast Rolls

1) In a mixing bowl, dissolve 2 teaspoons of yeast in 1/4 cup of warm water. Add 3/4 cup flour, 2 TS sugar and 1/2 ts salt. Beat two minutes at medium speed.
2) Heat 1/2 cup milk and 2 tablespoons of butter. Add to bowl with flour. Stir in 1/4 cup more flour. Mix for two minutes.
3) Stir in 1 cup of flour (or more) to form a soft dough. Mix 2 minutes.
4) Knead with hands or in mixing bowl for ten minutes until dough is smooth and elastic.
5) Cover. Let dough rest for ten minutes.
6) Form into little balls and place in greased casserole pan.
7) Cover with damp cloth and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts for 2 hours.
8) When doubled in size, preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
9) Brush tops with melted butter.
9) Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until rolls are slightly browned.
10) Serve hot with butter.