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 new 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.  View website

Cranberry Orange Quick Bread

Recently I posted a picture of my cranberry orange quick bread. A lot of people asked me for the recipe, and here it is. It’s an old recipe of mine, and I’ve made some modifications. For example, this recipe calls for 2 cups of flour, but my original had half white flour and half whole wheat. Also, I originally called for fresh cranberries, which are not available right now. I used dried cranberries instead. When you grind up the cranberries and orange peel, make sure to grind enough to produce small pieces, because larger pieces tend to sink to the bottom of the loaf. This doesn’t affect the taste, only the appearance. The oil I used was canola. Although the loaf should be stored in the refrigerator, leftovers taste best when cut into slices and rewarmed briefly in the microwave.

Makes 1 loaf

Peel of one small orange
3/4 cup dried cranberries
2 cups enriched-all purpose or unbleached white flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup orange juice
2 T vegetable oil , a
Scant 3/4 cup sugar
I large egg

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Oil a 9-inch by 5-inch loaf pan. Cut a piece of wax paper to fit the bottom of the pan, and press into place. Set aside.
  3. Chop orange peel and cranberries in a food processor, and set aside.
  4. In a medum-sized bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Stir to mix well. Set aside.
  5. In a mixer bowl, combine the orange juice and oil. At medium speed, beat in the egg, then the sugar. Add the dry ingredients, and beat in.
  6. Stir in the chopped orange peel and cranberries
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake on the center rack of the preheated oven for 60 to 65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes corsage clean.
  8. Cool slightly on a wire rack. Loosen sides of loaf with a narrow metal spatula, and turn the pan upside down. Peel off the wax paper and turn the loaf right side up again on the rack. Cool well before slicing. Store well-wrapped in the refrigerator. Leftover loaf will keep for two or three days. Cut leftovers into slices and rewarm briefly in the microwave.

My latest novel is Escape Velocity, part of my Off-World series, now on pre-order and special 99c sale on Amazon. It’s sexy science fiction romantic suspense and a bit hotter than I usually write.

Exploring—The Easy Way

The early explorers who set out to conquer the Antarctic endured terrible hardships—bone-freezing cold, lack of food, killer storms, and icebound ships locked in for the cruel winter.

No longer. Today we can sail down the coast of South America in a luxury cruise ship with three thousand other passengers while dining on gourmet fare like shrimp cocktail, prime ribs, and sleeping in comfortable beds (made up twice a day by attentive stewards).

An ocean liner is way down my list of vacation choices, but when friends asked if we wanted to take a cruise to Antarctica, we leaped at the chance to visit the only continent where we hadn’t set foot. Of course, if you’re traveling on a big ship, you can’t literally plant your feet on the southernmost continent because there are strict regulations on protecting the environment. You have to be content with gliding past this pristine landscape, marveling at jagged peaks, massive glaciers and giant icebergs while trying to catch a glimpse of the wildlife.

Because it’s such a long trip to the bottom of the world, it was a two-week cruise—with few ports of call since the settlements in the lower half of South America are few and far between. And the majority of stops were not in Antarctica, which means we had to pack clothes for temperatures ranging from the high eighties to the thirties, because it was the height of the southern summer.

But in the way-south, the wind chill was cruel when we went out to look for wildlife. For those trips in the open air, I solved the packing problem with layers, and one of those new down jackets that come with their own carry bag and packs down to the size of a football. Mine had a hood, but Norman had to buy a hat on the ship. Then when we made it back up to Puerto Madryn, Argentina, I stripped down to a tee shirt and cropped pants for the three-hour round-trip bus ride to prime penguin and seal viewing country.

 

Our first stop was Ushuaia, Argentina, four days from our embarkation point in Buenos Aires. It’s the southernmost city in the world with a population of not much over 50,000. We took a catamaran ride up the Beagle Channel to see rocky islands covered with sea lions and cormorants. We got up close to them and also stopped at a slightly bigger island with a display depicting the ancient inhabitants of the area, who went around buck naked despite the cold weather.

Rebecca and the Iceberg

After a day in Ushuaia, it was back to sea, heading for Cape Horn at the tip of South America and the Schollart Channel, Antarctica, where we sailed past icebergs. The first one we saw was tall and squared off. It looked like it might have been a couple of stories high, but we found out later that it was actually taller than our 16-deck ship—seen from a couple miles away. We also learned we were the biggest ship that had ever been in Paradise Bay, Antarctica, rimmed with jagged peaks and massive glaciers. The captain paused here, slowly turning the vessel 360 degrees to give us the total view. Whales surfaced from time to time, penguins swam nearby, and others perched on icebergs. For cruise ship passengers, this is the mother lode of the Antarctic experience—along with Elephant Island, a forbidding outcropping swathed in mist and decorated with glaciers.

Paradise Bay, Antarctica

From there we headed north again to the Falkland Islands (still called the Malvinas by the Argentinians) where we had signed up for a tour that would take us close to King Penguins. To our great disappointment, after the tenders dropped off a few loads of passengers, we were told that the wind was too high to land anyone else. We spent a lot of the day waiting near the port until we could pick up the passengers who made it to land and continue north to Puerto Madryn, the jumping off point for a long bus ride to Peninsula Valdes. There’s not much to see on the way to the big payoff besides scrubby vegetation that looks like West Texas and a few guanacos, animals related go llamas and alpacas. (If you’re lucky, you might also see a Patagonian mara that looks like a giant rabbit.) On the peninsula we stood within a few feet of the penguins and their underground burrows and watched them waddle down a steep slope to the beach. With the seals, visitors are kept at the top of the cliff, looking down at them on the beach. There’s also a poor excuse for a restaurant that has pre-made sandwiches. They take American money but don’t make change and don’t accept credit cards. But you can watch armadillos scuttle around the grounds.

Our last stop was in Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay and a very civilized city. We prebooked a tour on a large, comfortable bus with the best guide we had on the trip, but the vehicle was too large to get into the old town. We learned later from other travelers that smaller buses could negotiate the narrow streets. I guess it was a tradeoff–a better narrative but a bus that was restricted to main roads.

My main complaint about the trip was disembarkation from the ship. To get ready for the next batch of passengers, you must leave the ship early in the morning, and flights from Buenos Aires back to the U.S. don’t leave until late afternoon or evening. We did book a tour to Tigre and a fun little river cruise. But we still arrived at the airport by one p. m., leaving us hanging around for eleven hours. I don’t say “sitting” because you can’t check in until three hours before a flight and a lot of people are fighting for the few available seats on the street side of the counter. Because there are no U.S. bound flights for most of the day, the airlines don’t even have representatives available until boarding starts for five o’clock flights. What saved us was my business-class ticket. I was able to check in as soon as American Airlines finished with the early passengers and pay $56 to take Norman into the lounge with me.

But awkward departure aside, the main event is definitely the Antarctic. Even with a few disappointments, this is the trip of a lifetime. If you have the opportunity to take a similar cruise, jump on it.

TRAVEL

I married Mr. Travel. He grew up in Santa Barbara, California, a place many people love to visit because of the ambiance, the beaches and the weather. In fact, my father did his medical internship there and always talked about how wonderful it was. So, I was excited to meet a guy who came from “paradise.”

Here is my father in the late thirties—as an intern and dressing up for the Santa Barbara Fiesta.

I know my mother-in-law thought Santa Barbara was the only place in the U.S. to live. In fact, she loved it so much that she never went anywhere else–-except for short trips to Los Angeles to visit relatives or to Las Vegas to play the slots.

I’ve often said that you either adopt your parents’ attitudes to life–-or you reject them. Your choice. And my husband certainly didn’t inherit his mom’s negative stance toward travel. He loves it, thrives on it, spends a lot of time contemplating and planning trips.

Perhaps that began when he was nine. His grandmother, who lived in Santa Monica, had immigrated from Poland, where she never learned to read, although she supported her three kids with a factory job for years. But when she was in her early fifties. She decided she wanted to visit her relatives in Paterson, New Jersey. How did an illiterate woman travel across the country on a train? She took her nine-year-old grandson along as her reader. They didn’t have a sleeper car. They sat in train seats for four days each way. And much of the food they ate, she packed herself. That was Norman’s first big trip, and he wanted more.

In his teens, he got a scholarship to Harvard and flew there from Santa Barbara, where he couldn’t afford to come home until the school term was over––and where he also broke his leg slipping on the unfamiliar ice. I have heard many stories about his cross-country travels back home each summer. Once he and two other guys drove from Massachusetts to California in 2.5 days, one of them driving, one of them sitting beside the driver, and one sleeping in the back—for the whole trip. And when he and a friend were leaving Cambridge after their senior year, they bought a 1939 Packard hearse and drove it across the country. His friend, a mechanical whiz, kept it going when it broke down a couple of times.

I knew what I was getting into when I married my guy with wanderlust. In our early years together, we took long road trips across the U.S. in a VW Beetle, seeing a lot of the country on our way back and forth to his hometown.

Later, we graduated to plane travel. I remember arriving at the Albuquerque airport, on a trip to Los Alamos, and marveling at how fast we got there.

Our first big cruise ship experience was a birthday present to me. Mr. Travel gave me a choice between The Greek Islands and Alaska. I picked Alaska, but we did the Greece trip a couple of years later. We’ve had memorable trips to Peru, India, Norway, France, and Germany. And now we’re getting ready to take a cruise to Antarctica. I’ll tell you about it when we get back.

Feeding a Baby Elephant in Thailand

Parasailing in Hawaii


Sitting on a Camel in Egypt

OUR PETS

There are a few animals, like elephants, who can live into their sixties and beyond. Unfortunately, family pets do not fall into this category. If you love big dogs and want one, you know they will only be with you for about twelve years. Small dogs may live up to sixteen years. And cat owners are luckier. Cats can live into their twenties. And incredibly, my husband tells me that there’s a cat on record who has lived to be 35.

But for most of us, the joy of bringing home an adorable puppy or kitten is going to end in the sadness of having to say goodbye to our beloved fur baby.

I’ve been thinking about this because we just lost Ozzie, our longest living cat, a few days ago. And I’m coping with the feelings of sadness and disorientation I have now.

We adopted her in 2001. We thought she was a year old because she had a litter of kittens. But we didn’t know for sure. And now she’s gone, leaving Harriet, the cute little daughter we adopted along with her. Harriet was born in March 2001. So, we do know her age. Now she’s got both glaucoma and cataracts and also high blood pressure, and when we go on a trip, we must hire a cat sitter who can administer eye drops and BP medication. Because she’s almost blind, she hangs out mostly in our room, but she does take occasional trips downstairs.

Here are Ozzie and Harriet in their prime–both gorgeous and both Maine Coon mixes. Harriet is on the left, and Ozzie is on the right.

Someone on Facebook sent me this wonderful poem:

I have read it over and over, and every time I do, I cry. But it’s a lovely tribute to a beloved pet. And everyone reading this who has a furry companion will want to take the words to heart.