About Rebecca York

NY Times & USA Today best-seller, Rebecca York, is the author of over 150 books. She has written paranormal romantic thrillers for Berkley and romantic thrillers for Harlequin Intrigue. Her romantic-suspense series, Decorah Security, is set at a detective agency where agents have paranormal powers or work paranormal cases. She also writes an Off-World series where each story is a science fiction romance taking place on a distant planet in the far future.  She also writes the Unbound series for Changeling Press.  View website

HEARTY SPLIT PEA, BEAN AND BARLEY SOUP

The recent cold weather has put me in a soup-making mood. Here’s one that’s a family favorite. It’s also a great way to use a ham bone left over from a special occasion because you get a main dish with lots of flavor but very little fat. (Bones can also be purchased at shops which specialize in sliced ham.)

If you don’t have a ham bone, you can buy a large ham slice, cut the meat into bite-sized chunks, and use them, along with the small bone, in the soup. Another alternative is to use two pork hocks, although these will make soup saltier.

Note that I’ve combined split peas with beans and barley, which is more interesting than straight split peas.

This soup is even more flavorful when reheated. Individual bowls can be microwaved. For the whole pot, stir carefully during heating to prevent the split peas from sticking to the bottom. If the soup has thickened in the refrigerator, thin with a little water during reheating.

13 cups of water
1 package (16 ounces) split peas, picked over and rinsed
1 meaty ham bone, 1 large ham slice, or 2 pork hocks
1/4 cup pearl barley
1 cup dry navy beans, picked over and rinsed
2 bay leaves
3 beef bouillon cubes, or more as needed
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
2 large celery stalks, including leaves, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon ground celery seed
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

  1. In a large, heavy pot, combine the water with the split peas, ham bone (or pork hocks or meat from the ham slice), barley, and beans. Add the bay leaves, 3 bouillon cubes, onions, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme, and celery seed. Note that if a ham slice has been used, cut the meat into bite sized pieces before adding to the pot.) Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and lower the heat.
  2. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender, about 2 to 2 1/2 hours. As the mixture thickens, lower the heat and stir more frequently to prevent the split peas from sticking to the bottom of the pot. If the soup does not taste robust enough, add one or two more bouillon cubes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. During cooking, periodically skim off any fat from the top of the soup with a large flat spoon and discard. Also check to make sure the soup is not sticking to the bottom of the pot.
  4. When the beans are tender, remove and discard the bay leaves. If pork hocks have been used, remove and discard them. Remove and reserve the ham bone, if using. Meanwhile, skim any additional fat off the top of the soup with a large shallow spoon and discard.
  5. If a ham bone has been used, cut the meat into bite-sized pieces and return it to the soup. Bring the soup to a boil again. Stir well before serving.

Makes 12 to 14 servings.

My latest release is Toran Unbound.

Toran Bladewielder’s life was upended when a battle injury forced him to leave his order — the Holy Defenders of the Gods. It is upended again when he catches a thief pilfering food from the warehouse he is guarding. Although the miscreant turns out to be a beautiful woman, his duty is to hand her over to the authorities.

But when he discovers she is a slave who escaped from a ship in the harbor, his sense of right and wrong urges him to hide her.

Desperate to maintain her freedom, Farah will do anything escape the clutches of her cruel master — even seduce a man whose sexual innocence and moral decency are clear to her.

But as she angles to keep Toran on her side, their relationship heats up. Neither expected to ever find love, yet the intensity between them builds — until Lord Camari’s men find Farah and drag her back to him for punishment. Can Toran rescue her, and is there any way for these unlikely lovers can forge a lasting relationship?

To join my newsletter, visit my web site at www.rebeccayork.com

Travel Tips

I travel frequently because I love to visit new places and return to old favorites, but there’s always a certain amount of inconvenience connected with packing up and temporarily leaving home. Below are some of the tips I’ve accumulated over the years that make life easier on the road.

THE KEY TO A SUCCESSFUL TRIP BEGINS BEFORE YOU LEAVE:

  • Make sure you have sturdy luggage that will stand up to the rough treatment the airlines will give it. Long ago when we joined our daughter at the end of a college semester in London, the zipper on her big suitcase broke and we had to quickly find a substitute. It wasn’t real sturdy, but we figured it would last for one trip across the Atlantic.
  • Pack your medications in those carry cases with individual cells. It’s a lot easier to find what you need if you don’t have to paw through a bunch of bottles or other containers.
  • Study up on the area where you are going so you know which attractions you will want to visit and when they are open.
Iguazu Falls between Brazil and Argentina

CLOTHING:

  • Always pack a change of outfits in your carry-on bag. Your checked luggage may get lost, and you may be without it for several days. This happened to us on a trip to Greece. I had brought along extras. My husband had to find a shop where he could buy underwear.
  • Check the weather at your destination so you will know what to pack. Try to coordinate outfits so that you can take less. A couple of pairs of black pants will go with a lot of different tops.
  • Pack layers so you can adjust your clothing depending on whether you’re too hot or too cold. And bring a light water-repellent jacket that works for a lot of different occasions. (Or use one of those plastic rain ponchos).) Make sure you have comfortable walking shoes.
  • Don’t forget a hat.
With a Masai Warrior

IF TRAVELING BY AIR:

  • If you can manage, put everything into your carry-on and “personal item” so that you don’t have to wait for the checked luggage to be unloaded.
  • Put air tags in your suitcases so that you will know where they are if they get lost.
  • Pack reading material in the outside pocket of your carry-on so you get to it easily after you board the plane.
  • If you are going on a long trip, check to see if the airline offers entertainment options or if you have to put your own on a tablet or laptop.
  • I like to take a fairly large purse on the plane with me, but I put a smaller purse inside it that I can pull out and use as I’m touring around a vacation area.
  • If you’re not flying business or first class, pack a neck pillow and some munchies for the trip.
  • If you’re at the airport and your flight is canceled, get in line to be rebooked but also call the airline to try and get ahead of the crowd.
  • The cabin staff don’t have much time to clean the plane’s interior between flights. Your tray table is only as clean as the last person let it, and the floor is filthy. Don’t walk around in your stocking feet or barefoot. On a long flight, I was standing in line for the bathroom when I noticed the guy in front of me had his shoes untied. I told him I wouldn’t want to walk into that small space where scores of people had been using the toilet with my shoelaces flopping around on the floor. He thought about it for a moment and tied his shoes.
On a street at Lake Como in Italy

FOREIGN TRAVEL:

  • Check to see if you need any special inoculations for your destination country.
  • Make sure you have chargers for your electrical equipment like your phone. In a foreign country, you may need plugs that will fit onto their wall outlets.
  • If you’re going to a country where you don’t know the language, load up a translation program on your phone.
With a snake charmer in India
  • Put travel funds on a debit card that you can use at ATM’s.
  • Check your credit cards to see which ones have the best exchange rate for foreign currency.
  • Tell your bank that you are traveling so they will know it’s you making purchases out of your area.
  • Make photocopies of important documents like your passport.
  • Make sure someone at home has your itinerary so they will know where you are.
At Machu Picchu in Peru

AT YOUR DESTINATION:

  • If you’re going to be in one place for at least a couple of days, bring packets of sink detergent so you can wash underwear and other clothing. You can also pack a travel clothesline for more convenient drying.
  • Your hotel room probably won’t have enough suitcase stands. As a substitute, set one of your suitcases on the ironing board that’s almost always provided in your room.
  • Pack a few paper plates, plastic cutlery, and napkins in case you want to bring food back to your room to eat.

For more travel pictures, go to my photo gallery at www.rebeccayork.com

And if I’ve put you in a traveling mood, check out my book, Destination Wedding.
After a billionaire’s daughter, Camille Norland, is kidnapped by a Russian mobster bent on matrimony, Decorah Security agent Nick Cassidy is her best hope of rescue. Nick’s never admitted his feelings for Camille. Now he’s desperate to save her before the wedding night. But can they escape from Victor Zanov’s heavily fortified island paradise?

Subscribers to my newsletter can enter my periodic contests. Currently, I’m giving away two paperback Moon Series books from Berkley, any two single-title Decorah security e-books, a carry bag from the Principality of Liechtenstein, and an adorable cat potholder from the Santa Barbara, California, Arts & Crafts Show.

Old Family Recipes

Probably you have some favorite old recipes that you like to make at the holidays. Here’s one of ours. The family calls it Elaine’s Jell-O Mold. My sister’s sister-in-law, Elaine, probably clipped it from a women’s magazine forty years ago. Elaine passed last year, but I’ve continued the tradition of making this dish of hers for holiday meals. I’ve put my own spin on it, adding and swapping out some ingredients and changing some proportions. When I first started making it, I used unflavored gelatin and fruit juice. Now I just go with the Jell-O version. I don’t make this in a mold. I simply put the ingredients into a 2 ½ quart casserole and serve from there.

Technical hint: To make the Jell-O set more quickly, use ice cubes instead of cold water for the second step. Because the dish is made a day or even two days before needed, it cuts the cooking you have to do on the day of your family gathering.

Elaine’s Jell-O Mold
1 6 oz package Jell-O (or 2 3oz packages)
1 cup boiling water
1 1/4 cups ice cubes
1 14 oz can whole cranberry sauce
16 ounces plain yogurt, preferably Greek
1 8 oz can crushed pineapple, including juice
1 large apple, cubed (I leave the peel on)
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 cup pecan or walnut pieces

  1. Stir the boiling water into the Jell-O and stir to dissolve (about 2 minutes). When Jell-O is dissolved, stir in the ice cubes and keep stirring until they are completely melted.
  2. Stir in the cranberry sauce, breaking it up with a fork to distribute evenly.
  3. Stir in the yogurt and stir to combine well. When combined, stir in the pineapple.
  4. Add the apple, celery, and nuts and stir to distribute.
  5. Cover and refrigerate, stirring occasionally as the mixture jells to make sure the heavy ingredients do not sink to the bottom.
    This dish will keep in the refrigerator for three or four days.
    Serves 8

Gypsy Magic, the first of the Magic Trilogies I wrote with Ann Voss Peterson and Patricia Rosemoor is currently free on all platforms.

FIND AT YOUR FAVORITE EBOOKSTORE

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My New Favorite Dinner–Roasted Vegetables

The older I get, the more I appreciate a dish that’s quick and easy to prepare and tastes delicious. Below is my new favorite in this category. Roasted Vegetables–perfect for cold weather dinners.

Not only is this pan of vegetables delicious, it’s also flexible. Usually, when I publish a recipe, I write out very precise directions. The beauty of this one is that there are a lot of variations you can use. There’s no one vegetable that’s essential, although onions are always good for flavor. But you can also include potatoes (small thin-skinned ones cut in half are best), sweet potatoes (peeled and cut in chunks), garlic, cauliflower florets, broccoli pieces, Brussels sprouts, peppers, celery slices, carrots (I generally use baby carrots), green beans, mushrooms, beet and rutabaga cubes. Yes, all of those taste good roasted. For the beets and rutabaga, you may want to give them a quick jolt in the microwave first for three or four minutes before roasting so they are done at the same time as the other ingredients.

I usually cook a big pan of vegetables–often the broiler pan that came with my oven. But I sometimes also use a 9 x 13 ½ inch baking pan.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Put a combination of the vegetables I mentioned in the pan, and add some olive or other vegetable oil, stirring to coat evenly. For seasoning I might use a commercial sauce. Teriyaki sauce works well. I’ve also found a “ginger and sesame” sauce that I like. But my favorite way to season the dish is to add meatballs made of bulk sausage. (I usually use Jimmy Dean regular flavor.) I distribute them among the vegetables and sprinkle the pan with Italian seasoning and a little salt. (Pictured above.)

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes depending on how brownyou want the vegetables to be. Stir once or twice during roasting, turning the vegetables over. Test for doneness with a fork. With such a large quantity, there are always leftovers, which will keep for up to four days. I reheat them in the microwave.

With Christmas coming up, I’ve put several of my Christmas stories on sale, including Christmas Captive.

AMAZON BARNES & NOBLE KOBOBOOKS IBOOKS

Was it attempted murder or a boating accident? Either way, the hard-driving Jordan Campbell is in a coma. When Frank Decorah asks nurse Hannah Andrews to use her psychic talent to connect with Jordan, she knows it’s a dangerous job. Once she’s on the case, whoever tried to kill Jordan will likely turn on her. But as she digs into the man’s background, she can’t refuse Frank’s assignment. Now she’s risking her life—and her heart.

Visit my web site at www.rebeccayork.com

And be sure to enter my latest contest. I’m giving away two paperback Moon Series books from Berkley, your choice of two single-title Decorach Security e-books, a carry bag from the Principality of Liechtenstein, and an adorable cat potholder from the Santa Barbara, California, Arts & Crafts Show.