Diane Sawyer Newsletter/Blog #20 November-December 2014

Diane Sawyer Portrait

Hello to all my loyal newsletter readers. Welcome to my new readers, especially those I met at parties to welcome the holiday season. I hope all of you enjoy this November-December 2014 edition.

Fondly,

Diane Sawyer

Writing News

Montauk Mystery Montauk Steps Tomoka Mystery Cinderella Murders Montauk Cave

For those of you who correspond with me using my email address dsawyer@wans.net please continue to do so. For those who contact me at my tampabayroadrunner email address, please adjust your address books and send all correspondence to dsawyer@wans.net    Thanks!

Don’t forget to check out my website. The address is http://dianewsawyer.com (Please note the letter w between diane and sawyer.) I hope that when you visit the site, you will share my enthusiasm for my friend Roy Baker and his expertise in setting up everything and including his gorgeous photo of a sunset at Lake Maggiore, near my home in St. Petersburg. Thank you, Roy.

My collection of newsletters will be available to you and for those people discovering me on the Internet. On my web site they are called Newsletter Blog. This one, #20, will soon join that collection. As I have done since November, 2012, I will continue to email my newsletters to you, my little group of family, friends, and travel buddies, that has grown to 550 + readers. As always I look forward to your comments in person or via email.

The hardcover, paperback and e-book editions of my 5 novels are available on Amazon and other on-line sites—and you can even get to them directly via my web site by clicking on the photo of the book cover. That Roy, my web designer, is so clever. Happy Reading!

 

This and That

 There are so many facts about Christmas and all its traditions that I couldn’t do justice to the topic, but I did find one interesting tidbit that I can’t resist sharing: Because of Christmas’ roots in pagan festivals, particularly Saturnalia, it was illegal during the years 1659 to 1681 to celebrate Christmas in Boston. Those who did were subject to fines!

 

Travel

 To enjoy the holidays—Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve—especially time with friends and family and added volunteer commitments, I didn’t travel far from home. At least, not geographically, but I definitely traveled to foreign lands and into the workings of the human spirit via four books that I read during the past several months. The first three are all recently released blockbusters, well-received by readers and literary critics, and recommended to me by family and friends. You may be familiar with them too. They are:

Unbroken, the grueling and heart-warming biography of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic track star and WWII hero who survived 47 days on a raft in waters filled with voracious attacking sharks, followed by 2 ½ years in horrific Japanese prisoner-of-war camps. But it’s so much more than that as Zamperini rises above the hellish world he inhabited to confront the nature of war and, ultimately, to find redemption.

The Goldfinch, a work of fiction by Donna Tart, is told first-person by a teen-age boy, Theo, as he reflects on his life and relationships in New York City, Las Vegas, and Europe, as well as the power of beautiful things (including the painting, The Goldfinch), unrelenting loneliness, and the connections he makes as he struggles through a life that was often out of control.

Wild is a memoir by Cheryl Strayed, who hiked the Pacific Crest Trail with no credit card, very little money, and no experience in long-distance hiking. She ended up on a fulfilling journey of self-discovery, struggling with the loss of her mother and a life that no longer suited her.

Last, but definitely not least, my favorite book of those I read recently is The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. I found out about it when I noticed his name in the credits of a war movie and looked him up. He, too, is a celebrated author with numerous admirers. The Things They Carried is a series of connected short stories, listed as fiction although based on personal experiences in Vietnam where O’Brien served in the 23rd Infantry Division, third platoon. The setting is as surreal as a Dali painting, the characters are unforgettable, and the narrative is more riveting than anything I’ve read in a long time.

Although the four books took me through Japanese war camps, New York City’s art world, the Pacific Crest Trail, and Vietnam’s vindictive jungle, they shared a common theme: the main characters come to terms with the life they have chosen, or the life that fate and circumstance have thrust upon them. What more can we ask from a book or a journey through life?

 

Cooking Delights

#1   I think you will enjoy this Sweet Potato Casserole. It was my favorite side dish at our Thanksgiving dinner, and it’s easy to make. For advanced cooks looking for a greater challenge, you can choose fresh sweet potatoes, bake them, cool them, peel them, and go for it!

Ingredients

1 can, 1 lb 1 oz, sweet potatoes, drained

1 can peach halves, 15-16 oz, cut into chunks, drained (reserve 1 cup syrup)

1 ¼ cups brown sugar

1 ½ Tbsp corn starch

2 Tbsp butter

½ tsp cinnamon

½ cup pecan halves

 

Directions

Place sweet potatoes in buttered 9×13 casserole dish.

Place peaches on top of sweet potatoes.

Mix together remaining ingredients (including the cup of syrup) and add pecans; bring to a boil in a saucepan; pour over sweet potatoes and peaches. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

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#2 I found this Festive Chicken delight among dozens of recipes tucked into an envelope marked “holiday dishes.” I prepared it last week for dinner and my husband declared it “worthy of serving to company.” I agree. The recommendation was to serve it for Chinese New Year, but I don’t know why. Research however, tells me that Chinese New Year will be celebrated on Thursday, February 19th in 2015. Practice with the recipe now and enjoy it again in February. The recipe serves 4.

Ingredients

1 can, 20 oz pineapple chunks, drained, juice reserved

1cup rice, uncooked

1 1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch wide strips

2 Tbsp flour

1Tbsp vegetable oil

1 cup red bell peppers, chopped

1 small onion, chopped

1 small zucchini, chopped

1 cup sugar snap peas

½ cup Kikkoman sweet & sour dipping sauce

¼ cup soy sauce

½ cup orange juice

¼ cup toasted cashews

Directions

Chop vegetables and set aside. Measure reserved pineapple juice and add enough water to make 2 cups. Add water-juice liquid to rice. Prepare rice your usual way (boiling on top of stove or in microwave). While the rice cooks, heat oil in fry pan or wok over medium-high heat. Coat chicken with flour and cook in oil until golden brown, turning once, about 5-7 minutes. Add pineapple chunks and chopped vegetables; stir and cook 3 minutes. Add sweet and sour sauce, soy sauce, and orange juice. Stir and cook 3 more minutes or until liquids boil. If rice isn’t done, reduce heat in the pan or wok. When rice is done, serve chicken-vegetable-sauce mix over it.

 

Bon appétit! Stay well and Happy Holidays!

Diane

@ Copyright 2014 by Diane Sawyer. All rights reserved.

 

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