Authors in the Kitchen: Sylvie Kurtz

Today's guest is Sylvie Kurtz, writer, pilot, and baker of "scuffins." Welcome, Sylvie!

Food and Stories

When I think of my childhood, people and food pepper my memory. One seems to go with the other. High tea with one grandmother. Buying curd cheese straight from a farmer with my other grandmother. The scent of my grandfather's post-dinner peppermint candies. Sharing some Perrier with my other grandfather, loving the bubbles tickling my nose. Sunday dinners—especially dessert. Holiday meals with a table crammed full of people laughing and heaving with fancy dishes.

These days, I'm trying to eat more healthily, but food still creates the center of any family gathering. Sunday cheat breakfast with my husband where we make pancakes or waffles or scones. Monday dinners with my daughter, where I try to stuff her with at least one good meal during the week. Speaking of my son's latest grilling adventure during his weekly call.

And of course, in my stories, food tends to play a role. Even when the world's falling apart, people still have to eat. One agent told me that reading my manuscripts always made her hungry. Food became such an integral component of my stories that I started including recipes.

Here's the one from my latest romantic suspense e-book, Hidden Legacy. Juliana Shales's neighbor and nanny, Ella, takes good care of the single mother and her daughter—that includes making all of their daily meals. She loves to bake. For her feeding people is a way to show love.

ELLA'S BANANA SCUFFINS A scuffin is a cross between a muffin and a scone. They're not quite as fluffy as muffins or as rich as scones, but have a crumbly texture that's quite addictive.

1 1/2 cups whole-wheat white flour

1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

3 tbsps. raw sugar

1 tbsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1/4 tsp. sea salt

1/4 cup chopped dates

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

2 egg whites

3 tbsps. coconut oil, melted

1 ripe banana

1/3 cup low-fat milk

cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400º F. In a large bowl, mix flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, nutmeg and salt. Stir in chopped dates and nuts.

In a small bowl, mash banana. Whisk in egg whites, coconut oil and milk. Add to dry ingredients and stir until just combined. The texture should feel thicker than muffins, but not as doughy as scones. Adjust milk accordingly (the amount of milk depends on the size of the banana).

Spray muffin tin with cooking spray. Don't use paper liners because they'll stick. Divide batter among eight muffin cups. Bake until golden and a toothpick comes out clean—about 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before placing scuffins on a wire rack to finish cooling.

Enjoy with someone you love! Flying an eight-hour solo cross-country in a Piper Arrow with only the airplane's crackling radio and a large bag of M&Ms for company, Sylvie Kurtz realized a pilot's life wasn't for her. The stories zooming in and out of her head proved more entertaining than the flight. Not a quitter, she completed her pilot's course, earning her commercial license and instrument rating. Since then, she's traded in her wings for a keyboard, where she lets her imagination soar to create fictional adventures that explore the complexity of the human mind and the thrill of suspense. She believes organic dark chocolate is an essential nutrient, likes to knit with soft wool, and justifies watching sappy movies by knitting baby blankets. She has written 21 novels. Visit www.sylviekurtz.com for more information.