In Praise of Itch-X, Christmas Pie, and a #Giveaway by Barbara Monajem

OK, so let me get the moaning over with first. I have about a dozen welts which are itching like mad. Fortunately, frequent applications of Itch-X are keeping me sane, but I think the Benadryl from last night is still making me woozy. I have no idea what bit me, but if it’s what caused the same problem last year, the @#$%& bites lasted a month!! If they’re mosquito bites, they must be caused by a particularly evil species, because the usual bites (if left unscratched) go away the next day. Anyway, if I fall asleep in the middle of this blog, you know why. If you fall asleep, my apologies.

On to the Christmas Pie. In The Right to Remain Single, my novella in the upcoming anthology Christmas Kisses, the heroine’s family feeds the whole village Christmas Pie on Christmas Eve. So, because my favorite kind of research is the foodie kind, I had to try making it myself. I used this recipe:

I made very few changes — Panko breadcrumbs and a bit of water instead of fresh breadcrumbs, and boneless chicken thighs instead of breast filets. I even spent $12 on canned chestnuts from France by way of, because there aren’t any fresh chestnuts in the stores yet. Or cranberries, so I had to use a few leftover frozen ones and some rinsed, dried ones. If anyone is interested in my version of the recipe, let me know. It was a lot like an English pork pie, which is maybe one reason my husband liked it a lot, since he lived in England for several years. We ate it with HP Sauce and wished we had chutney, too. I’m sure the villagers in the novella looked forward to it all year. 🙂

I also made jam tarts with the leftover pastry. Yum! My laziness, not to mention complete lack of manual dexterity when lining the muffin cups with pastry, is proof (as if the world needed it) that it’s a good thing I didn’t try to be a surgeon.

My pics aren’t anywhere near as pretty as the one in the recipe (partly my phone’s camera, partly my manhandling of the pastry and the springform pan, partly that chicken breasts would have provided more color contrast, and partly whatever). The recipe says to decorate with Christmas-y pastry shapes, but the only cookie cutter to hand was a teddy bear. 🙂 🙂 🙂 If you look closely at the messy crust, you can see two of them.


Here’s the blurb for The Right to Remain Single:

Faced with the ghastly suitors her father approves, Thomasina Warren decides to lose her virginity so that no respectable man will marry her. Who better to ruin her than handsome, charming James Blakely? But James is an honorable man and refuses point-blank. Humiliated, she resorts to outright refusal to wed, with the help of a ghost who scares her suitors away. But four years later, her father has arranged her marriage to a stodgy gentlemen whose only condition is that the ghost must be banished forever.

James Blakely never forgot the lovely girl who asked him to ruin her, and when he offers to get rid of the ghost, he thinks he’ll be doing a good deed. Instead, he is faced with the hostile Thomasina, her cowardly suitor, pigheaded father, lecherous cousin, an exorcist monk, and a ghost who warns of danger and deadly peril—and a few short days in which to convince Thomasina that with the right man, she might just want to marry after all.

My dh with his first piece of pie and our debris-covered deck in the background, still not cleaned up after the tail end of the hurricane.
Yes, I ate one before I thought of taking a photo.


Do you have a sure-fire cure for itchy bites? If so, let me know! Or tell me about your favorite traditional holiday dish. One commenter will win the Christmas story of her choice, any author, price up to $3.99, as long as it is an ebook from And I’ll also give her an e-copy of the Christmas Kisses anthology as soon as it’s out – which will be October sometime.




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