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#welcometomyjourney #food+friends=fun

Good evening everyone! I hope you've all had an enjoyable weekend as we all continue to social distance and stay safe. I don't know how it is where you are, but here in Illinois we moved to Phase 4 of our governor's plan two days ago. This meant movie theaters could open their doors to a limited number of moviegoers, bowling alleys can again hear the sound of those pins falling, and gyms are open for buff bodies to get buffer (if that isn't a word, I just coined it).


This also meant our local restaurants could begin serving people inside as well as outside as they'd been doing for weeks. I had lunch outside at my favorite Mexican restaurant with one of my very best friends earlier this week. The staff had done a fantastic job setting up an outdoor dining area that made me feel extremely comfortable during this crazy pandemic. We were seated MORE than 6 feet away from the nearest table. Our waiter was masked and politely kept his distance as he took our order and brought our food. I watched them disinfect tables and chairs after diners left as if their lives depended on it (which I guess their financial lives do depend on it). Kudos to all the wonderful staff at El Toro Loco!


It was a beautiful sunny afternoon with a slight breeze and the food I'd missed for months was delicious. But even better was the time spent with a good friend enjoying being out of the house for the first time in a long time. We chatted for almost three hours about everything from family and friends, to work and the people around us. It was just nice to feel and act somewhat normal again under very abnormal circumstances.


Later that evening, I began thinking about the role food plays in our social interactions. When we gather with family and friends for different occasions, some kind of food is usually served. On birthdays, there is always cake and ice cream. On the holidays, most families have their menu of traditional food they serve. Even for something as casual as my Girl's Nights, I plan and prepare a full dinner for my gal pals. This led me to think about how I wrote about food in my novel, Murder by The Books. Does food play a large part of my characters lives? I'll let you be the judge of that with this week's teaser.


~~~ Jillian sat for some time enjoying her tea and the quiet of the early morning. Suddenly, she gasped and sat up straighter in her chair. Today was Wednesday, she realized. She just remembered her date tonight with Travis! They would be going on their first date tonight, and she’d almost forgotten all about it. Now, she began to panic. What should she wear, where would they go, would they have enough things to talk about? It had been a long time since Jillian had been on a first date, and she wasn’t sure she would know what to do and how to act.

Before she could freak herself out any further, Jillian was saved by a soft knock on her door. Jillian glanced up at the clock and saw that it was four-thirty. There could only be one person coming to visit this early. She walked to the door to welcome Becca in.

“Hey Jilly,” Becca greeted her cheerfully. “I was on my way to the bakery and saw your light on. It’s a little early for you to be up, isn’t it? Is everything ok?” Becca walked right in and made herself at home at Jillian’s kitchen table fixing her own cup of tea. Then like magic, she pulled something that smelled warm and delicious out of her bag and set it on the table.

“Well hello to you, too,” Jillian began sarcastically. “Please by all means come in and make yourself right at home. I’m having some chamomile tea to help me sleep. Feel free to help yourself to some.” Jillian looked at Becca, and they both burst out laughing. She may still be tired, but just seeing her best friend made Jillian feel better.

After they both settled themselves into their seats, Jillian sniffed at the bag of treats sitting in the center of the table. “What delicious creations do you have in there, and why aren’t they on my table ready to eat?”

“I’ve been up since before three, so apparently you weren’t the only one that couldn’t sleep. Since I was awake, I got busy baking a new recipe that’s been rattling around in my head since last night. Max’s amazing cheesecake inspired me to come up with a muffin recipe that

imitates his flavors.” Becca pulled four beautiful, warm, and lightly-browned muffins from the bag and placed them on a plate.

“These are Strawberry- Chocolate Cheesecake Muffins. Try one and tell me what you think.”

Jillian did not have to be asked twice. If those muffins tasted even half as good as they looked and smelled, Becca would have a huge hit on her hands at Sugar & Spice. Quickly peeling the paper off the muffin, Jillian helped herself to a big mouthful, and she moaned with pleasure as she savored that first taste. The muffin was moist and creamy, practically melting in your mouth. Becca had somehow swirled strawberries and cheesecake throughout the dough, and there were tiny chunks of chocolate in every bite. Jillian could not stop herself from finishing the first one and starting in on the second one.

“Well, I guess you really like them,” Becca said laughing at how fast her friend was devouring muffin number two. “Maybe I should bake a fresh batch once I get to the bakery for today’s early morning crowd to sample.”

“That’s the best idea I’ve heard so far today,” Jillian said around her final mouthful of muffin.

“That’s not saying much,” Becca replied. “It’s only a little after four o’clock in the morning. You can’t have heard too many ideas yet.” ~~~


All this talk of food has made me a little hungry, and I already ate dinner! I guess this means I'll be having a nice bowl of mint chocolate chip ice cream here in a bit. Those who know me well, know I'll use any excuse to justify indulging in my favorite treat.


Thanks for stopping in and checking out this week's post. As always, I'd love to hear your comments and thoughts; and please feel free to share my blog with others. As I always like to say-the more, the merrier. And most importantly, take care and stay safe.


Until next time,


Jodi

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