On November 20, 2019, I did my talk and book signing at Country Bookshelf, Bozeman, Montana. KGVM 95.9 radio recorded the event. Please click on link below:
Please listen to the interview on this link:
I found this recipe in People magazine. It's Patti LaBelle's. I've changed it a bit.... Also, I only use organic butter, lemons and eggs:
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting pan
1/4 cups powdered sugar, plus more for dusting lemon bars
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, thinly sliced, at room temperature, plus more for greasing pan
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 tbsp lemon zest, plus 1/2 cup fresh juice (about 4 lemons)
4 large eggs
When I’m not marketing my first novel, Legacy of War, or writing its sequel, I enjoy baking. A guy you say who can bake desserts? Well yes, first of all I enjoy the organizing and mixing to create something that hits the sweet tooth. Secondly, I enjoy dessert after a meal, something that my wife had indoctrinated me with. Today’s recipe that got me hooked on making shortbread bars is below. And even though I make these to share with my wife, who loves her dessert, I also take a small plate with me when I do an author event at book clubs to share with them. I’m shameless when it comes to promoting my book. 😇
1 1/2 sticks butter (3/4 cups) - cold. (I use unsalted organic)
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup jam or preserves (St. Dalfour's is best)**
1/2 cup slivered almonds
Preheat oven 350* (325* if dark pan). Lightly spray 8"x8" pan with cooking spray. Slice butter. Mix flour and sugar in large bowl. Drop in butter and mix with pastry tool till crumbly. Add almond and vanilla extracts. Mix with hands til forms a ball.
Save 1/2 cup of the dough.
Press the remaining dough into pan forming an even layer. Top with jam, spreading to just within the edge. Crumble remaining dough on top. Sprinkle with sliced almonds.
Bake for approx. 45-50 minutes or until top is light golden brown and middle is set.
Cool. Drizzle with icing (start with 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar, 1 Tbsp milk, 1/4 tsp almond extract — add milk or sugar, a bit at a time, til amount is sufficient and consistency is thin enough to drizzle).
**My personal favorites are Black Cherry, Raspberry Pomegranate, and Currant but any will work just fine.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder develops with some military veterans after serving a tour in combat. Real PTSD usually does not just go away, but it can be managed with psychological counseling. Some vets with PTSD never achieve peace with their lives, struggling to their graves. Some even commit suicide.
I volunteered as VA facilitator for a PTSD group for eight years because of my combat experience in Vietnam and could relate to the vets' issues.
For the outsider looking in there are five symptoms that can help reveal whether a veteran has PTSD or not:
1. Relationship Issues: multiple divorces or breakups with loved ones due to the unwillingness by the veteran to admit he has a mental issue.
2. Drug or Alcohol Abuse: veterans literally try to drown their war demons with booze or by taking drugs.
3.Psychosomatic: individuals may have health issues such as high blood pressure due to mental stress.
4. Depression: with an overload of mental issues the individual becomes despondent. This can lead to suicide.
5. Despair: with no end in sight to the anguish the individual loses hope and contemplates suicide.
In my novel Legacy of War the main character deals with mental anguish from war.
In the summer of 2017, as a City Council Member I conducted the Idaho Falls Symphony as part of a fundraising activity. The regular conductor was gracious to tolerate my bungling along in the performance. Personally I thoroughly enjoyed doing this, even though I am far from having any proficiency in this profession. Still music matters to me, mostly because it calms the inner soul, maybe making me appreciate humanity more.
During the Vietnam War, I served in combat in the dark jungles of that land where the killing fields existed. That experience unlike music did not calm the soul. I recall reading Lincoln's First Inaugural Speech in 1861 as he faced Southern Succession and the coming conflict of the Civil War. In it he tried to reconcile the horror of the war, its killings, by looking forward to the time we could be a united nation once again by referring to "...the better angels of our natures".
Sadly in wars "...the better angels..." do not readily appear as soldiers slug it out, killing each other .
Such was the Vietnam War. That war, the basis for my thriller mystery novel, Legacy of War, serves to explain, trying to find the "better angels" within our selves.
In 2017 as an Idaho Falls City Council Member I had the honor to conduct the orchestra as part of a fundraising activity. Fortunately the real conductor didn't have a heart attack as I blundered my way through the performance. I enjoyed the challenge though, allowing me to appreciate the musical talents of those in the orchestra. This event added to me, almost metaphysically. I state this because music has helped me to stay in touch with an inner calming spirit, the essence of being humane.
The Vietnam War on the other hand brought out the dark side of humanity--for all of us who served in combat in the dark jungle and its killing fields. It is the primary reason I wrote my novel about that war, The Phung Hoang Legacy. Using a thriller mystery to tell the story, I attempted to help define the mental and physical cost of that war to both sides.
In the meantime music has helped me to be a better person as you can see.