Category Archives: Just Stuff

Food, Glorious Food Gallows Hill, The Investigative Paranormal Society Blog Tour

Hello everyone! Today, I am interviewing several characters from Maledicus, The Investigative Paranormal Society, Book 1 and Gallows Hill, The Investigative Paranormal Society, Book 2 by Charles F. French.


Annette: We are all gathered around a table for this chat, enjoying hot cups of coffee and tea. Thank you all for agreeing to talk with me and sharing some of your recipes!

Roosevelt: You are very welcome.

Helen: I am delighted to talk with you.

Sam: I always love to talk about and eat food!

Jeremy: It is my pleasure. Thank you for having us.

Annette: You’re very welcome. It isn’t every day that I have the opportunity to interview characters, so I’m delighted with the chance. I would love to hear about the kinds of food you love to cook and eat. Would you be willing to share recipes with me and the readers? And Sam, would you mind beginning, since Gallows Hill is focused on you?

Sam: Sure, I’d be happy to, ma’am. I love basic and traditional foods, and one of my favorite foods as a kid was my mom’s Chicken Paprikash, an Hungarian chicken stew.

(Photo By Liz French, 2016)


2 pounds chicken, either breast or thighs

2 green bell peppers

2 large onions

1 pound button mushrooms

1 can crushed tomatoes

paprika — regular or hot depending on the level of desired heat

fresh ground black pepper


pinch of salt (optional)

sour cream

either dumplings or wide noodles

To prepare:

Use a large dutch oven, preferably of cast iron.

Boil the chicken for a few minutes to begin the cooking process, then transfer to the dutch oven that has a hot layer of cooking oil in it that has been heavily coated with paprika, so that the oil looks red.  Be sure to pat the chicken dry first with a paper towel to avoid oil splattering.

While the chicken is searing, on both sides, chop the peppers and onions. Clean the mushrooms with cold water and a paper towel.

After the chicken is seared, turn the heat to low or simmer.

Add the peppers, onions, and mushrooms.

Add the seasoning.

Add the crushed tomatoes.

Add two-four tablespoons sour cream, and mix completely.

Let simmer in the dutch oven for 1 & 1/2 to 2 hours.

Cook the noodles or dumplings.

To Serve:

Serve over noodles or dumplings in a large bowl.

Slick thick pieces of good bread to place on the side.

Annette: That sounds wonderful!

Sam:  Thanks. My mom made it the best, but mine is pretty good.  I recommend serving it with Hungarian red wine: egri bikaver, which translates loosely as “bull’s blood”.

Annette: Would anyone like to add another recipe?

Jeremy: I’d like to offer a simple omelet recipe that works either for breakfast or lunch, if I may.


Ingredients: (For one person; if more are eating, make each omelet separately.)

3 large eggs

2-3 slices of good ham (may be cut into small pieces)

2-3 slice of good Swiss cheese

Two tablespoons milk

2 oz. unsweetened butter

Salt and pepper

Cayenne pepper

Preheat a well-seasoned cast iron frying pan. Melt the butter into the pan, and swirl to distribute it evenly. Be sure to melt the butter, but do not burn it.

In a bowl, break the eggs, season with pepper, salt, a touch of cayenne, and add the milk. As the pan melts the butter, using a large whisk, beat the eggs until whipped, and then pour into the pan. Tilt the frying pan to distribute the eggs evenly.

Add the ham slices and then the cheese slices evenly in the middle of the eggs.

As the egg mixture begins to solidify, gently fold one side with a spatula and wooden spoon over the middle. Then do the same with the other, creating a three sided envelope.

When nearly done, gently flip the omelette onto the other side to finish it.

Then place on plate, and serve with rye toast and either coffee or tea.

Helen: I love your omelets, Jeremy.

Jeremy: Thank you, Helen.

Annette: Would you like to offer a recipe, Helen?

Helen: Certainly, I would. One of my favorite cookies to make for my niece, Helena, is the peanut butter cookie. They are simple to make, and she loves them, which makes me very happy!



1/2 cup peanut butter (creamy)

1/2 cup butter–softened

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla (or 1 vanilla bean if adventurous)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1&1/4 cups all-purpose flour

The Process:

Put peanut butter and butter into mixing bowl. Use medium speed, and beat until the mixture is smooth (about 1-2 minutes). Add sugar, egg and vanilla.  Use medium speed, and beat about another minute.  Scrape bowl and combine together.

Add all the other ingredients for about 1 more minute of beating.  Roll the dough into one inch balls.  Press flat with a fork into a criss-cross pattern.

Bake at 375 degrees until golden brown.  In Helen’s oven, that takes about 10 minutes.  It could vary by a few minutes.  Remove from baking sheets and let cool. This recipe will make about 33-37 cookies.


Helen: As an extra treat, I sometimes will dip half the cookie in melted chocolate and add rainbow sprinkles and let them cool.

Helena always loves these!

Annette:  Mmmm. They sound wonderful!  Roosevelt, do you have a recipe for us?

Roosevelt: Yes, I do, and thank you for this opportunity. I would like to offer one of my late wife’s dishes, Quiche Lorraine. It was one of my favorites. Sarah was an extraordinary cook, and she could have been a chef had she wanted to.

Ingredients for crust:

 *Use either a premade 9 inch pastry dough, or make it from scratch.

– 1 cup all-purpose flour

– 1/3 cup shortening

– pinch of salt

– 3 tablespoons cold water

Directions for crust:

Mix salt and flour in a bowl. Add the shortening, using a pastry blender, until the pieces  are the size of small peas. Sprinkle with cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and toss with a fork until all flour is moistened

Shape the flour into a single ball. Then, form it into a flattened round on lightly floured surface. Wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate about 45 minutes or until the dough is firm and cold but still malleable.

Preheat oven to 425° F. With floured rolling pin, roll the pastry into a round form 2 inches larger than upside-down 9-inch quiche dish or glass pie plate. Fold the pastry into fourths; place into dish. Press against bottom and side.

Line the pastry with a double thickness of foil.  Press the foil gently onto the side and bottom of the pastry. Let the foil extend over edge of pie dish. Bake for 10 minutes. Carefully remove foil, and bake 2 to 4 minutes longer or until pastry just begins to brown and has become set. If the crust bubbles, gently push bubbles down with back of spoon.

After the piecrust has been made,

Ingredients for the Quiche:

– 12 slices of bacon, fried crispy and crumbled

– 1 cup shredded Swiss cheese

– 1/3 cup chopped scallions

– 1 and 3/4 cups light cream

– ¼ teaspoon cayenne or crushed red pepper

– ½ teaspoon salt

– ½ teaspoon sugar

– 4 eggs


– Preheat oven to 425°

– Whisk eggs slightly, then add remaining ingredients, and whisk a bit more.

– pour mixture into pie pan

– bake for 15 minutes at 425°

– reduce oven heat to 300°

– bake additional 30 minutes

– the Quiche is ready when a butter knife is inserted into the center and comes out clean

– let the Quiche stand for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Roosevelt: I hope you enjoy it! My wife loved making this dish, and I loved eating it with her. I feel her with me when I make this meal.

Annette: Thank you all very much for agreeing to this interview and for sharing your recipes!


Forward into Magical March

Come, and join a team of #HumanityThrivingOutLoud as we present The Magic Happens Magazine for March 2018.

We’re so happy to bring our thoughts, ponderings and musings to you every month. You are also invited to join in, and write for/with us. Be sure to contact Kathleen Anne McCarthy (creator of this digital magazine, now into its 11th year) Kat will be delighted to hear from you and we will be thrilled to have you on board.  Email her at

This month, the following prompts were presented to the writers


Here are my personal offerings this month, I welcome your thoughts…

Forward March

March is National Music in Our Schools Month

Do You Cotton

Finding the Fountain of Youth

Thank you for your support and may this be the best March of your life thus far!

Annette Rochelle Aben, Editor, The Magic Happens Magazine

The Picture of Unter Judd – Tallis Steelyard Sedan Chair Caper Book Tour

The Picture of Unter Judd
Madam Jeen Snellflort’s gentlemen adventurers set themselves high standards. They understood that any wandering thug with a big stick could steal something. For them, the mark of a gentleman adventurer was that nobody could pin the crime on them. One of them, Bagwis, decided he would raise his game and would try to steal the picture of Unter Judd, the first chair of the Council of Sinecurists, without anybody realising the painting had gone.
The painting hang hung on the back wall of the Grand Sinecurists Dining Room. Indeed old Unter Judd had, metaphorically at least, stared down upon the acquisition of Lady Edan’s fan. Given that in his time Unter had been a pirate and condottieri it is even possible he approved of the whole episode.
Bagwis always posed as an artist. Although not really burly enough to be a sculptor, he was a prepossessing young man, tall with broad shoulders. At this time he had a neatly trimmed moustache; substantial enough to look like it was an intentional feature, but thankfully not so long that he was tempted to twirl the ends. He also sported a short cloak which barely covered the buttocks, and was given to flamboyant gestures with it. Hence nobody turned a hair when he attended the annual dinner of the ‘School of Althius,’ a painters’ dining club. The dinner was held in the Council of Sinecurists’ dining room. Whilst Bagwis was there he took the opportunity to study the picture. It had obviously been in place for several centuries, with age it had grown dark and really needed cleaning. He examined the frame
and took surreptitious measurements of the size of the whole thing.
For the next three weeks he haunted the junk shops of the city. He browsed the yards of those who do house clearances; he even examined the cheap prints they put up on the walls of a certain class of drinking establishment. Finally he found what he was after. He acquired, for dregs, a battered canvas in a very similar frame to that in the dining room. He also picked up one of the cheap colourised prints of the painting which had been strangely popular a generation or two before. He put the print into its ‘new’ frame and tenderly touched up the colours. His intent was to try and give the picture the freshness it might have had the day it was first painted.
Then with everything prepared he made his move. Walking with the casual assurance of a man who knows he has every right to be there, he returned to the Sinecurists’ dining room. Over his most workaday clothes he wore the long floppy tunic beloved of artists, sign-writers and those who sweep bird droppings from high ledges to sell to market gardeners.  He entered the dining room pushing a handcart and set up a screen around the painting.
To be fair, the staff reacted promptly. He had barely got the screen up
before guards appeared. When the guards asked what he was doing, he merely took a cloth, dipped it in an appropriate solution, and gently rubbed the edge of the frame. Ten centuries of accumulated grime slowly fell away.
He turned to them. “I’ve been hired to clean it. It’s a delicate job and I
put the screens up to stop people stopping and staring and bothering me.”
The guards nodded wisely. Before one of them thought to ask whether he’d got
any written authority to be there, he asked,
“Could one of you chaps sit outside the screen and keep people away? I’ve even got a bottle of beer somewhere here.”
That has to be the guards’ dream. Oh to be legitimately paid to spend your working hours sitting in comfort, glaring at people to keep them away, and occasionally taking a mouthful of decent ale. It beats pacing darkened hallways on your own in the dark. So one of the guards sat happily with his back to the screen and glared at people, whilst our Bagwis silently unscrewed the original picture off the wall. Equally silently he replaced it with his new version, making sure that he even used the same screw holes. He then slipped the suddenly surplus painting into the false bottom of his handcart. Finally, to pad the time out and make it look as if he was working, he took his cloth and solvent and with immense care, cleaned the wooden panel the painting was fastened to. Finally, because he didn’t want people to feel he was rushing the job, he read quietly for a while before packing everything away.
As he took down the screens the guard stood up looked carefully at the
painting. “It’s come up nice.”
“Yes, it’s not difficult if you’re careful.”
It was some months later than somebody raised the issue of the painting. One of the Sinecurists who had some paintings he wanted cleaning remembered the excellent job somebody had done on old Unter Judd. So he dropped into the office of the Council Treasurer and asked who had done the work. The Treasurer promised to get back to him with a name.
He investigated and couldn’t find a copy of the bill they’d paid. He went through the year’s accounts and realised that even if they had been sent a bill which they’d subsequently lost, they’d never paid it.
At this point he went to check the picture. The work had obviously been done. Indeed he was impressed with the way that whoever had done it had done the panel as well, rather than merely restricting their work to the picture.
The Treasurer was now in something of a quandary. Obviously the work had been done, but there was no evidence the Council had asked for it to be done, and what is more there was no evidence that the bill had been paid. He thought briefly and decided to do nothing. If somebody came forward asking where their money had got to, he could be vaguely apologetic, see their paperwork and pay them if convinced. Up until that point he’d do nothing because there wasn’t really anything useful he could think of doing. Over the coming months a couple of people did comment to him in passing that the
painting did seem bright. He merely nodded sagely and explained that
apparently this was appropriate for the period.
By this time Madam Jeen Snellflort had not merely disposed of the painting to the agreed buyer, she’d collected the money and had added one of the better boarding houses on Ropewalk to the sanatorium’s growing property portfolio.
Rather than his usual collection of anecdotes, this time Tallis presents us with one gripping adventure. A tale of adventure, duplicity and gentility.
Why does an otherwise respectable lady have a pair of sedan chair bearers hidden in her spare bedroom? Why was the middle aged usurer brandishing an axe? Can a gangster’s moll be accepted into polite society? Answer these questions and more as Tallis Steelyard ventures unwillingly into the seedy world of respectable ladies who love of sedan chair racing.

Be Our Magical Valentine

We have a Valentine for you… Why?  Because we love to show you how much we care.  Be Our Magical Valentine



is available right now!

We challenged our writers with these PROMPT WORDS


Of course, I chose the prompt that spoke to me…

Boxing Champ


Write Up Your Alley

Me So Corny

 Thank you, for reading us, sharing us and most importantly, being our valentines!

Annette Rochelle Aben, Editor, The Magic Happens Magazine



Lazy Days Blog Tour

I am honored to host today’s scenic turnout, for the book tour of Lazy Days, the holiday of a lifetime, by sisters, Anita  and Jaye Dawes.  Be sure to follow the links below for connecting to the authors, their Facebook party, and of course, to purchase YOUR COPY of Lazy Days!

This novella is the true story of our family’s first proper holiday back in the Seventies. Looking back, I wonder what made us think it was a good idea, but despite all the things that could have gone wrong, we had a fantastic time. I was the Skipper most of the time, and for some reason decided to record our adventures in a small notebook. We were young and without husbands, Anita was a widow, and I was glad to be rid of mine. (and that is another story) Money was precious and scarce back then, but all the saving and sacrifice turned out to be worth every single memory we all cherish.

This notebook has been treasured and kept safe, despite numerous house moves and family disasters, as a symbol of our courage and determination. Renting a boat on the Norfolk Broads could so easily have been one of the stupidest things we had ever done, but even after 40 years, we have such good memories of that time.

Over the years, we often thought of making it into a proper book, but along with everything else in our often-complicated family life, it was something we never got around to. Until just recently, when we were looking for some old photographs, found the now fragile notebook and knew it was time.

It wasn’t as easy as we imagined it would be either, for our logbook writing skills leave a lot to be desired, but there was just enough information entered on those pages to get us started.






Anita’s Author Page/Amazon Link :

Jaye’s Author Page/Amazon Link:

Universal Amazon Book Link:

a bit about Jaye!

I had no intention of becoming a writer. I loved to read, and for most of my life, that was enough for me. More than enough really, for I am a compulsive reader and will read anything I can lay my hands on. Give me a bookshelf full of books and I will start at one end and read my way to the other.

Then I offered to edit my sister Anita’s books. She hates computers, so I offered to type them up too. Before I knew it, my brain began to explore what other things I could be doing.

I tried to ignore that inner voice, for I was busy enough already. Anita was writing faster than I could format, and there were all my other interests too. Gardening, DIY, dressmaking and a host of craft projects. I love to be busy, but it came to the point where something had to give, never mind add something else to the list.

I considered myself a writer when I held my first paperback copy of my book Nine Lives in my hand for the first time. Up until that magic moment, I doubted I would ever feel like a writer. But holding that paperback copy finally convinced me.

My favourite character didn’t really appear until book two, The Last Life, and his name is Detective Inspector David Snow. The fact that my detective looks a lot like Tom Selleck should indicate how fond I am of him. I just love writing about him.

That was then, and I have now finished writing The Broken Life, the third book in my mystery thriller series.  The characters just turned up in my head, one by one, nagged me for weeks until I gave in, and listened. So you can never say never.

This genre came as a surprise, for I lean towards the supernatural, spooky kind of book, so I have no idea where the idea came from. If anything, I should have expected to write medical stories, as I always wanted to be a doctor, and these are some of my favourite television programmes.

My favourite fiction book just happens to be The Scarlet Ribbon, Anita’s supernatural mystery romance. I was the editor for this one and fell in love with it. And no, she didn’t have to pay me to say this!

My life has not been easy by anyone’s standards, and now I am growing old, I sometimes look back and wonder how I managed to get through it all. So, the perfect epitaph for me would be… “She did her best…” Even though I made a pigs ear out of most of it!

A Magical Start to 2018

A brand new year, and a brand new The Magic Happens Magazine

Come in, prop your feet up on a comfy cushion and give us a read!

We asked our writers to address the following prompts:


Here’s what I chose…

Art for Art’s Sake

Hearts Full

January is National Mentoring Month

A Round To It

Thank you for reading and sharing our magazine!  We look forward to intriguing and inspiring you throughout 2018 and beyond!

Annette Rochelle Aben, Editor, The Magic Happens Magazine

It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Mischief

Okay…  signed into my email this morning, fresh coffee by my side, ready to do the virtual cruise to the blogs I follow – and guess what?

I had BLOCKED EVERYONE AGAIN. Not a blog notification to be had.

Seriously?  Really?  

So, I refer everyone to a blog post of mine from last month, in which I explain how to remedy this hooey.

Just to let you know, I am not ignoring anyone AND that I believe there must be some sort of wacky, Christmas, Elf on the Shelf thing going on, for as in the recent past, I never went anywhere near that crazy option.  

Anyway, carry on!  Have a terrific day, wherever you are and whatever you are doing.