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Brandied Cherries

My state of the art cherry pitter.

For years we had a big – I mean BIG – cherry tree, but eventually it fell to disease and we had to chop it down and plant another. That one didn’t reach maturity before we had to move, but by then I was hooked on having a freezer full of cherries. Now every year I wait like a cougar in a tree for the prices to drop: $6.99, $4.99, $3.99, then, finally last week, $2.99 a pound and I pounced!

Judy sneaking cherries

The California cherries are the first, then Washington state, then finally, fresh BC cherries from the Okanagan Valley, the inland, fruit and wine producing region of the province.  Sweet, dark and Juicy, this year they are very BIG – almost too big for my doubled barrel cherry pitter. Yes, I’m serious about my cherries.

I usually freeze them with a dusting of sugar (don’t judge me!) but this year I seemed to hear about brandied cherries at every turn. “Too much trouble,” I thought, but they did sound good – Christmas gifts, I rationalized – and I soon found myself in the liquor store, looking at Brandy.

“Use a brandy you would want to drink,” the recipe cautioned. But I knew I wouldn’t want to drink any of it. Then I saw the Sliivovica (pronounced Slivovi-ch-a) and was flooded with fond memories of travelling in Eastern Europe where every generous host brings out the Sliivovica. Not good tasting! But as a woman I could gracefully decline, and our Czech friend Peter could say he was driving, but my poor husband always had to drink a glass with the host – even at breakfast!

Those were the days.

So I bypassed the fancy French brandy and bought the bottle of the crystal clear Croatian Plum Brandy, the only brand of Sliivovica they sold. Peter had told us how as children, in plum season, they would collect prune plums on the way home from school and drop them in a barrel fermenting in the shed on the way into the house so their dad could make his own Sliivovica. We visited his house, family compound really, in a small Czech town where his Aunt and cousin’s family still live, and I could just picture it.

So I bought the bottle, and then was plagued with doubt as to whether it would work in my recipe. And, like most of my cooking attempts it had quickly become my recipe.

But oh my goodness! I tasted a bit of the liquor after boiling the cherries in it with the sugar, cinnamon stick and cloves and wow! It’s going to be amazing! Now if I can just wait the prescribed 4 – 6 weeks.

I might have to buy another bottle and make another batch. The cherries will be around for at least another week.

Let me know how yours turn out!


Don’t miss this Summer Long Weekend Sale


Book one in the Fortune Bay series available for 99¢ until July 4, 2018.





Don’t have and eReader? Click here to read how to access these eBook deals on your android tablet, iPad or phone.

How to read eBooks without an eReader.

Don’t have an eReader? Or even if you do, you might want to turn your tablet or phone into an eReader. Start taking advantage of online book deals, whether from kindle, kobo or nook. Do like the iPad users do and download a free app to turn your PC tablet, iPad or phone, whether android or iPhone, into an eReader.

The advantages to reading on an eReader are many:

  • they are often lighter or smaller than a bound book
  • you control the font size, and screen brightness and color
  • buy books instantly by connecting online
  • link your tablet and phone (by downloading an app in your user name to each) then check in with your book anywhere, anytime you have your phone
  • eBooks are generally much less expensive than even paperbacks
  • take advantage of special  eBook sales and giveaways
  • connect to free books at your library without going to pick them up
  • no stacks weighing down your nightstand

The downside?

  • no nice paper smell and feel
  • it is harder, although not impossible, to share books

I’m a convert, for all of the pro’s reasons. And while I have a kindle and used to have a kobo reader,  lately I have also been reading my kindle books on my phone and think I might go for a small reading tablet when my kindle gives out (although they seem to last forever) so I can access my kobo library.

Try it yourself. Go to the app store on your device and download the appropriate app, set up an account at the online retailer, if you don’t already have one, register your device(s) and you’re ready to go. If you have an iPad or iPhone, you might have one hidden on your device that will access apple books.

Then download the free e-copy of the first book in the Fortune Bay series, Summer of Fortune from the sidebar on the right and start reading. Then I’ll send you notifications and general news whenever I have a new book out or on special sale.



Excerpt from Temple of the Jaguar

It’s launch day for Temple of the Jaguar, the first Rocky and Bernadette international mystery, so I’ll be celebrating with a shot of tequila!

If you’ve read the book you’ll know why. Bernadette is not much of a drinker, but being implicated in a murder makes her ready to try something stronger than her normal white wine! (Read on for an excerpt.)

I haven’t jumped through as many publishing hoops as usual with this book since I’ve been moving house and workshops, so if you have a minute, you could really help me out.

Here are 4 quick  things you could do to help me celebrate the launch of this book.

1/ If you’ve read an ARC (advanced reader copy), or when you do read the book, please leave a review, no matter how short, on the online platform where you usually shop for books. It would be a tremendous boost for me, and I love hearing your feedback!

(It’s up on  Amazon, or Kobo right now – nook and apple/itunes coming soon.)

2/ I’ve posted a notice on my facebook author page about the book. If you could share it to your profile and to any other groups you belong to, that would be a big help!

3/ Add a few words about the book to my new facebook reading group for mystery and romance where, in the coming weeks, I’ll be inviting other authors and readers to post about their favourites too.

4/ Tell your friends. Word of mouth is still the best form of advertising.


Excerpt from Temple of the Jaguar

The lobby was empty. Rocky was nowhere to be seen. Neither were any of the other tour members, so Bernadette walked through the empty dining room and out to the terrace bar.

The light had faded to an eerie twilight. A menacing purple cloud blanketed the sky. The sharp scent of ozone hung in the air.

Salvador was behind the bar. The day had been interminable. It had to be cocktail hour by now, and whether it was or not, she was ready for a drink.

She climbed up onto a stool. “Hit me Sal. Make it tequila.”

He frowned in concern. “That bad?”

She sighed. “That bad.”

He poured the pale liquor into a tall narrow shot glass and set the glass on the counter in front of her. She eyed the golden liquid warily, then picked up the shot glass and took a sip. A shudder ripped through her. Her eyes watered and she squeezed them shut as the liquor burned its way down her throat.

“You don’t like it?”

She shook her head and pushed the glass to the side. “Too harsh.”

Rocky slid into the seat beside her. “For me? Thanks, I could use it.”

“Go for it.”

Salvador smiled at her as he got Rocky a beer. “We have ways with tequila, you know.”

“What do you mean?”

“We infuse it with many interesting flavors, to smooth the taste. Fresa, coco, chilé.”

Rocky’s eyebrows perked up. “Chilé?”

Salvador grinned. “Maybe chilé for you, Señor, but I have other flavors for the lady.”

He put three tequila glasses on the counter and into each one poured a spoonful of liquid, each a different color, from a row of bottles that sat on a shelf against the back wall of the bar.

The first was translucent rose. Salvador pushed it toward Bernadette.

“Fresa,” he said, looking to Rocky for help.


She picked up the glass, tired of being a wimp in front of these two, and brought the slim jigger to her mouth. She wet her lips with the rosy liquid. It wasn’t sweet, but a strong undercurrent of strawberries cut the harshness of the liquor.

“I like it,” she said and drank it all, licking her lips as she put down the empty glass.

“Then try this one,” he said, pushing the second glass toward her.

Reaching more eagerly for it this time, she asked. “What is it?”


“Cinnamon,” Rocky supplied, smiling as he sipped from his own glass.

She took a bigger first sip this time, but found the dusky, slightly acidic flavor not as pleasant as the strawberry. She winced and shook her head.

Salvador smiled. “You’ll like this one I am sure.” Brown beans swirled on the bottom of the third bottle as he poured. “Café.”

She reached eagerly for the glass and tossed back the tiny shot. She smiled as the perfect, smooth coffee notes caressed her taste buds. “That’s the one. Hit me Sal.”

He filled her glass and she settled back, feeling mellower already as the heat of the tequila spread through her veins.

“So how did it go?” she asked Rocky. Okay, so she wanted to have the same story after all.

* * * * * * *

Now available in print and ebook at Amazon,

or as an ebook at Kobo