Friday, February 18, 2011

Book Giveaway

The latest book in my Pleasant Valley Amish series from Berkley Books, SARAH’S GIFT, will be in stores on March 1st, and I’m so excited about its release that I’d like to give someone the sole copy I have at the moment! (More should be on their way, I trust.)

SARAH’S GIFT is the story of Sarah Mast, a widowed midwife who comes to Pleasant Valley to join her aunt’s midwife practice. But things start to go wrong the moment Sarah arrives. Her aunt, the strongest woman Sarah has ever known, has become forgetful, and the birthing center which was supposed to be finished is barely started. Instead of the thriving practice Sarah remembers, her aunt is seeing only a few clients. With the choice of forging ahead or retreating to her former life, Sarah takes a step in faith, offering to pay for finishing the birthing center.

Aaron Miller, Aunt Emma’s neighbor, was glad when he heard the midwife practice might close. At least that would force women to go to the hospital for births, instead of dying at home the way his mother had.

Aaron’s emotions take a swing the other direction when he meets Sarah and learns she plans to expand the practice. He wants to stay as far away as possible from this disturbing influence in their lives, but when Bishop Mose asks him to take on the job of finishing the carpentry at the birthing center, he finds it difficult to refuse.

Thrown together with Sarah on a daily basis, Aaron can’t help but come to admire her strength and caring, even while he wishes she were anything other than a midwife.

The practice begins to thrive as the birthing center goes up, and Sarah’s hopes for its future rise, as well. With Aaron and his brothers a daily part of her life, she begins to care about them, but especially for Aaron. She has to deny, even to herself, that she feels anything more than friendship. Her marriage had faltered even before her husband’s death, when she’d been unable to conceive, and she won’t risk going through that pain again.

But life has a way of interfering with people’s plans. When an Englisch doctor tries to put the midwife practice out of business and Aaron’s sister goes into labor with no one but Sarah to help, both Aaron and Sarah are forced to confront their secret pain and longing. As trouble thickens around her, will Sarah’s confidence in God’s gift to her be enough to see her through?

I hope you’ll want to visit Pleasant Valley again. You’ll have a chance to revisit old friends and meet new ones, and I pray that SARAH’S GIFT will touch your heart.

If you’re interested in winning a copy, just comment below, leaving your e-mail address so that I can reach you. I’ll pick a winner on March 1st.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Hexel and Mummix and Pennsylvania Dutch

Ever heard of hexel? Or mummix? If so, I'd guess there's some Pennsylvania Dutch in your family tree, as there is in mine. And if you checked first thing on Grundsou Day to find out what Punxsutawney Phil said about Spring, I'm sure of it!

Hexel and mummix are used to describe what most of us would call leftovers--or rather, the dishes that are concocted from them. Being a thrifty people, the Amish and other Pennsylvania Dutch don't like to let good food go to waste, so they find different ways to get one more meal from leftovers.

The main staple of hexel and mummix is leftover meat--beef, ground beef, creamed beef, pork or ham. To the meat is added a variety of ingredients, according to the cook's taste. In other words, Hash!

Here's a simple and easy recipe to start you off:


1 lb ground beef or turkey or venison
1 cup of boiled potatoes, cubed
1 egg
1 small onion, chopped
2 T vinegar
1 T butter
1 T vegetable oil
Salt and Pepper

Heat the butter and cooking oil in a hot frying pan. Mix the other ingredients and add to the pan. Cook and stir until the meat is browned. Sprinkle with a teaspoon of sugar, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Enjoy for breakfast or supper.

Happy eating,