by Anna Kathryn Lanier
This wasn’t called Grandma Scott’s Pumpkin Bread until I put it in my short story THE PRICELESS GIFT. Before that, it was just plain Pumpkin Bread. The recipe was given to me by my friend Jill Masters more than 25 years ago. I didn’t actually make the recipe for 5 or 6 years, but now, I make it every holiday season. I love the smell of the bread as it cooks; the scent of the spices fill the house. The bread is wonderful warm or cold, but with lots of butter. And what makes it even better….if you use the one-pound bread pans, you get SIX breads with one batch….great for friends, neighbors and teachers. My girls’ teachers started getting the bread when my oldest was in middle school. They weren’t so sure about slogging them to school, especially when they were in High School, but I made them take the bread anyway. I know that the teachers in the upper grades don’t get gifts the way elementary school teachers do. And when I went to college a few years back, well, my professors got the bread, too. No, I don’t think it helped my grades, lol. Oh, do you remember when they told us a couple of years ago there was going to be a canned pumpkin shortage because of all the rain that ruined the pumpkin crops? Well, I went out and horded cans of pumpkin, but I never noticed a shortage, did you?
What one ingredient do you have to have for your holiday preparations?
Before we move onto the recipe and an excerpt from THE PRICELESS GIFT, I just want to remind you to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of THE PRICELESS GIFT, as well as The "Best of the Best", a CD that features classic Christmas tunes that you're sure to love. With 12 holiday hits, this CD is sure to get you in the ho-ho-holiday spirit and benefits Kohl’s Cares. AND leaving a comment also makes you eligible to win the nook HD we’ll be drawing for right after New Year’s Day.
Grandma Scott’s Pumpkin Bread
3 C sugar 1 C oil
4 eggs, beaten
2 C cooked pumpkin (16-oz can)
3 ½ C flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
½ tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground allspice
¾ C water
1-1 ½ C chopped nuts
1) Combine sugar, oil and eggs until light and fluffy. Stir in pumpkin.
2) In another bowl, combine dry ingredients. Stir into pumpkin mixture.
3) Add water and nuts.
4) Spoon batter into well greased and floured pans (2-3, depending on size*).
5) Bake at 350º for 60-70 minutes.
*If making 1 pound loaves, use 6 loaf pans.
By Anna Kathryn LanierBlurb:
The last thing Christina Scott expects Santa to bring her is a sexy—and very familiar—cowboy. Gavin Holloway’s just as shocked to discover she’s the woman he’s sent to pick up from the airport for a Christmas visit with her brother. They'd spent one hot week together months ago—a week where they both left their identities and individual problems behind. Neither ever expected a reunion.Little do they know, Santa's elf has more than coal up his sleeve. Ho ho ho and a badgering we'll go before reindeer two-step on their rooftop and deliver THE PRICELESS GIFT that will leave their snowy days sizzling.
After they hung up, Christina took a relaxing shower. Just as she slipped into a pair of Jacob’s sweatpants someone pounded on the front door. Only one person would disturb her peace in such a manner. She slipped into the matching overlarge sweatshirt, wrapped a towel around her wet hair and went downstairs.
The pounding didn’t stop until she opened the door. Gavin stood huffing and puffing on the porch.
“Where the hell have you been? I’ve been calling for the past fifteen minutes.” He pushed past her and amped into the great room. She shut the door and followed.
“I was taking a shower. So sorry I didn’t get your permission first.”
He whirled on her and his dark eyes grazed over her body. She stood transfixed, remembering, as she was sure he was, the several showers they’d taken together while on the cruise.
She hugged her arms around herself. “Did you want something?”
“Jacob called and said the roads were too bad for him to make it in tonight. I wanted to make sure you were all right and knew where the emergency supplies were.” He slipped out of his coat and tossed it on a nearby chair.
“Jacob said the generator was outside.”
“Yeah, it is. I’ll come over and start it if you need it. But if the electricity goes out, it’s best just to hunker down in front of the fireplace.”
His aftershave triggered memories of sensual nights, while his jeans hugged his hips and legs like a second skin. Naked images of him caused desire to whip through her only to pool low in her belly.
He went to the den and opened a closet. “Jacob keeps the supplies in here.”
She stood in the doorway and nodded. She had no desire to get within touching distance. If she did, she just might do something really stupid, like kiss him.
His handsome face rose and he sniffed. “What smells so good?”
You. She shook off the arousing thoughts.
“I baked. It’s a family tradition.” She started for the kitchen. “I made plenty. You can take some home.” Leave and stop being a temptation.
He fell into step behind her. When she reached for the plastic bags, his hand gripped her arm and whipped her around. Before she could react, his lips were hot and demanding on her own. She opened her mouth, eager to taste what she knew so well.
The towel fell to the floor and her wet hair tumbled to her shoulders. His hands slipped around her waist, pulling her close. Fire shot through her as a whirlwind of emotions engulfed her—desire, need, love and a bit of fear of the known—and unknown.
His fingers slid under the sweatshirt, brushing her bare skin, sending shivers of delight up her spine. He deepened the kiss with a sensual glide of his tongue.
Yes. Oh, God, yes. She needed this as much now as she had six months ago. She molded her body against his, feeling every rock hard inch from breast to thigh. She heard a moan, but wasn’t sure if it was hers or his.
He broke the kiss to feather his lips down her neck and lick the skin behind her ear. Her whole body shivered. He cupped her bottom, holding her against his length.
“Oh, Paul,” she whispered.
He stiffened and withdrew a few inches. Passionate brown eyes smoldered, but he placed his hands on her shoulder and stepped away. His fingers flexed, then dropped away. She reached out, but let her hand fall before touching him.
Desire and regret battle in his eyes. “That wasn’t a good idea,” he said.
No, it wasn’t. This is Gavin, not Paul. This wasn’t the man she’d fallen in love with, the man who’d been missing for the past two days except for a few glimpses.
Would he ever let Paul loose again?
She reached down and picked the towel off the floor.
She still didn’t know what Jacob had in mind when he’d sent her on the cruise with his landlord. It’d be no use questioning Gavin, she wanted answers from Jacob. And it wasn’t just about the cruise—Jacob had recently gotten her involved with Gavin Holloway and his business. Gavin didn’t seem the least aware of Jacob’s plan and she wasn’t about to enlighten him, not when he already seemed to distrust her.
Christina squeezed the towel. There was nothing she could do about it until Jacob got home—then she’d damn well get her answers so she could figure out the puzzle that was both Gavin and her Paul.
“Let me get you some of these baked goods, Paul.”
She turned to the task.
He stepped to the far side of the kitchen. “People around here call me Gavin.”
She nodded. Guess it’s time to put their intimate week together on a high shelf to be forgotten.
“And I go by Christina.” She placed a loaf of pumpkin bread in a bag, then gave him samples of the fudge and cookies. She put the items on the counter and leaned against the oven.
He pushed away from the counter and cleared his throat. “I’ll be leaving then. If you need anything, call.”
“Sure.” Yeah, like that’s going to happen. A girl can only take so much rejection.
His brown eyes stared intently, as if looking for something. She stared back, defiance replacing the desire of a few minutes before. His lips thinned and he stalked to the counter to swipe up the plastic bags of goodies. She kept pace with him to the front door but froze a moment when his gaze locked on her lips. He let out a deep breath, then left without another word.
She lifted a hand to her lips, still tingling from his kiss. Tears blurred her vision. Why couldn’t love be easy?