Ahhhhhh! Finally, rain is forecast this week for the Pacific Northwest. According to the weather bureau, the summer of 2020 was the driest and hottest summer and fall on record for the Seattle greater area, which includes our Skagit Valley. The water levels of our streams, rivers and lakes are extremely low and the dry, arid land all around us brings home the reality of climate concerns. In an area of our beautiful country that has historically experienced consistently high levels of rainfall every year, enough to keep some people from ever living here and plenty to keep our wonderland of forests and mountains green all year, it has provoked worry as to what the future holds. Right now, as I sit here at my kitchen table looking out the window at Little Mountain, the sky is filled with smokey fog from the many wildfires both east and west of the Cascade Mountain Range. Our air quality is “unhealthy” and we are advised to keep pets and young children inside. I will not be clearing gardens today but rather writing.

Adventures in Reading and Writing

Now on to happy news! My new cozy mystery, The Book of Rules, will be out soon! The official book launch will be at Village Books in Bellingham, Washington, on December 2 at 7:00pm. My book launches are always fun events and I would love to see you there!!

I will also be at Village Books the Saturday after Thanksgiving, November 26, from 1pm-2pm signing all my books, including the new cozy mystery. How fun it would be to see you at that event as well!

I have been turning my attention to marketing – getting the word out about the new book and thrilled with these upcoming opportunities to meet with readers and introduce The Book of Rules.

Join me in the Readings Gallery @ Village Books in Fairhaven on December 2 at 7:00 p.m. for the launch of my newest novel and the start of a brand new series!

Gardening and A Recipe

My tomato plants literally filled their vines to overflowing this year (a benefit of a hot summer) and until the beginning of this month, I have still been harvesting large red beauties. When I have picked 15 tomatoes, the ripest on the vines, I make marina and freeze it for the cold months ahead. Below is my method for making a tasty marinara sauce.


  • 15 medium to large ripe tomatoes
  • 1 large onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic (more or less to your taste)
  • 1 tsp each dried oregano and thyme
  • 1 small bunch of fresh basil or dried if you do not have fresh
  • 1 cup chopped mushrooms – if desired
  • 1 cup chopped green pepper – if desired
  • 1/4 tsp salt. Adjust to taste just before serving
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup virgin olive oil


  • Rinse the tomatoes in water, remove the stems, placing them in an inch of water in a large pot.  Bring the water to a simmer and blanch them until the skins begin to soften and can be easily removed.
  • Remove the tomatoes one at a time and place on a baking sheet to cool. They will be HOT so allow them to cool for at least an hour before removing the skins and the inner core. Place the peeled and cored tomatoes back on the cookie sheet. They will still be very warm.
  • In a large cookpot, heat the olive oil and sauté the onion (and green pepper and mushrooms if desired) for 4 minutes, then add the chopped garlic and sauté another minute. Add the chopped basil and oregano, blend and turn off the heat.
  • Once the tomatoes are cool, prepare to get your very clean hands messy. Think of this squashing and straining of the tomatoes to the stomping of the grapes – only you are squashing tomatoes and using your hands! There are other ways to do this part, but I don’t think it is as tactilely rewarding or as much fun.
  • Over the same pot you blanched the tomatoes, place a large strainer. Over this strainer you will squash each tomato in your hand until there is only pulp left. Place the pulp in the sink to discard later. The strainer will be filled with seeds and soft meat from the tomato. Use a small cup or bowl to serve as a pestle to the strainer’s mortar to extract as much of the tomato juice and soft meat as possible through the strainer into the cooking pot.
  • After straining 3 tomatoes or so, empty the remains in the strainer (seeds and pulp) into the sink where you discarded the skins.  Rinse your strainer. Repeat this step until all of your tomatoes are strained into your pot.
  • You now have lovely rich tomato sauce. Add this sauce to the large cooking pot of the herbs, spices, pepper, onion, garlic, etc. Blend.
  • Slowly simmer this beautifully fragrant sauce uncovered for several hours until it has cooked down and thickened to your desired consistency and thickness. I usually simmer for 4 hrs.
  • Use your marinara in any Italian recipe such as spaghetti and lasagna. Also delicious under the broiler on sliced baguette topped with mozzarella and a sprig of basil.

Bon Appetit!

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