Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Post-Thanksgiving Update

So, I didn’t quite finish Tarashana. Two reasons: the weather was pretty nice, and, as always, the draft is stretching out with more words than I expected and therefore is taking a little more time than I really thought it would. (Even though I TOTALLY ALLOWED FOR THAT. Regardless of how much I allow for that sort of expansion, it’s never enough.)

I didn’t write 80 pages over the four-day weekend, but I did write 72, so that wasn’t so far off. The manuscript is up to 198,000 words, which is, yes, fairly ridiculous. It’s going to wind up just a bit longer than the first Tuyo draft. Which is fine, but still, kind of a ridiculous length. But there we are. I will trim it back before anyone sees it, but at least one person is going to get a longish version with a request to, among other things, note if and when something is too slow or boring or whatever.

What I did over the weekend: wrote the climactic scene, mainly. This is not a big battle scene. You might say it’s a more intimate battle scene. A little rough on various characters. You might say that Ryo and Aras had a pretty brutal Thanksgiving. But, I trust this is not too much of a spoiler, they are recovering now. More or less.

I had written three chapters past that point, so I connected up the climax to those post-battle recovery chapters. That’s a big accomplishment. I’ve been looking forward very much to getting through this part.

What’s left: The denouement. Two important denouement scenes plus transitions. I trust I can get this section to flow from one of the important scenes to the other in some not-too-jarring way, even though they’re not intrinsically related to each other. Except that both are important to Ryo.

I would very much like to finish this before NEXT Monday, so that I have time to fiddle around with Tenai and get that trilogy in shape to send out to readers and put covers in motion and all that, before Christmas break starts. I would prefer to open up the month of Christmas Break so I can work on something different during that time. We’ll see.

Meanwhile!

I do not like pumpkin pie, but I do like to do something pumpkin-pie-adjacent for Thanksgiving. This year, I made a pumpkin cheesecake that turned out really well. I added marshmallows for extra Thanksgiving cred, since we weren’t making those yams with marshmallows, something I remember fondly from when I was a kid. Just in case any of you might like to try this, here is the recipe:

No Bake Pumpkin Marshmallow Cheesecake

3 8-oz pkg cream cheese

1 1/2 C pumpkin puree

1 1/4 to 1 3/4 C powdered sugar, depending on whether you add the marshmallows

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice, which I didn’t have, so I used cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, mace, and cloves, all of which I did have. I didn’t bother looking up the proportions typical for pumpkin pie spice. I just used a quarter teaspoon of each of those, except heavy on the nutmeg and ginger and light on the cloves.

1 tsp vanilla

1 envelope unflavored gelatin

1/4 c water

3/4 C cream, whipped

Half a bag of miniature marshmallows, or so

Graham cracker crust or vanilla wafer crust or whatever; actually, I made this without a crust of any kind. That’s why I added the gelatin, which was not included in the original recipe. I needed this cheesecake to stand up firmly because I wasn’t going to have a crust that would help support it. But use a crust if you wish, and if you do, then if you prefer to leave out the gelatin, fine. Just whip the cream extra stiff and probably that will work fine.

So:

Soften the cream cheese — I just microwave it briefly — and beat it with the pumpkin and powdered sugar. If you aren’t going to add marshmallows, use the larger amount of sugar. If you are, then perhaps the smaller amount, but it would probably be fine either way. You can start with a smaller amount, taste the batter, and adjust, of course.

Beat in the spices and vanilla.

Stir the gelatin into the water and microwave on low power just to melt the gelatin. Stir to make sure the gelatin is dissolved. Add that to the cheesecake batter and beat in.

Beat the cream until stiff.

Cream always whips just fine, except for mine this past Thanksgiving, which WOULD NOT WHIP. That was a new one on me. Fortunately, since it is a 40-minute round trip to the grocery store, my mother had a different carton of cream. HER cream whipped just fine, thus establishing that the problem was with my cream, not my mixer. I was utterly boggled by this experience and would really like to know what the stuff in my carton WAS. It wasn’t cream. I think it was ordinary milk? One person on Facebook said she had that happen to her this spring. Has anyone else ever opened a carton of cream and found out it wasn’t cream, but milk? Or maybe half and half?

Anyway, my mother’s cream whipped, which was a relief.

One way or another, get the cream whipped until it is stiff and fold it gently into the pumpkin cheesecake batter until thoroughly combined. You could substitute 6 oz of Cool Whip, if you can stand Cool Whip, which I do not like, but at least I imagine Cool Whip is always whipped when you buy it and therefore does not involve the risk of staring at frothy milk that is not turning into cream.

Fold in all but a handful of the marshmallows.

Spread the cheesecake batter over your crust, if you are using a crust, or into an 8-inch springform pan, or whatever size springform pan you have, or a pie pan, or whatever. One of the joys of no-back cheesecakes is it just does not matter what kind of container you put this in. Divide it up between little glass dessert dishes if you prefer and that will also work just fine. Whatever you do with it, sprinkle with the remaining marshmallows.

Chill overnight. Remove the rim of the springform pan, if that’s what you used, and serve.

Very nice for those of us who prefer a less pumpkiny dessert that is still in the pumpkin pie family. One hundred percent of spaniels surveyed also agreed this was tasty.

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