HAWTHORNE is set on the banks of the Mississippi, on a sprawling 19th century Louisiana plantation. While I can't claim to have spent much time with the upper crust, I can attest to many a scorching summer in the Bayou State spent visiting my great-grandmother. A Southerner through and through, I totally fess to lovin' the traditional food—rich and sweet—and one of our family faves was banana pudding. However, now that I'm all grown up and know what that meringue is made of, I'm less of a fan. (Have I mentioned I'm a picky eater? LOL.) Besides, who wants to stand over a stove in the heat of summer? With those thoughts in mind, the kids and I developed this recipe to deliver all the flavor of banana pudding … minus the egg and the heat.
SOUTHERN ICEBOX BANANA PUDDING
• 3 bananas, peeled and sliced
• 1 box Nilla wafers
• (2) 3.4 oz boxes instant vanilla pudding
• Milk (to make pudding)
• 12 oz Cool-Whip, thawed
• 2 quart casserole dish (4" deep)
1. Prepare one 3.4 oz box of instant pudding per package instructions.
2. Pour into casserole dish.
3. Top with a layer of sliced bananas.
4. Top bananas with a layer of Nilla wafers.
5. Cover with half of Cool Whip. Spread evenly to the edges of the dish.
6. Prepare second box of instant pudding. Pour slowly and carefully over Cool Whip.
7. Layer as before with sliced bananas, cookies, and the rest of the Cool Whip.
8. Top with crushed Nilla wafers.
9. Chill for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Now I hope you'll make up a dish of it to enjoy while you sit down to enjoy my new release HAWTHORNE! It's only $3 and all proceeds will be forwarded directly from the publisher to benefit Japan disaster relief—please consider donating and telling a friend!
To help raise awareness about our charity titles, Elaina Lee (author of TO URN HER LOVE, which benefits Alabama tornado victims) and I are offering a weekly $10 gift certificate during our promotional period, which ends August 8. You may also win a copy of one of our backlist titles—to be eligible for prizes, all you have to do is leave a comment. Additionally, if you've purchased either HAWTHORNE or TO URN HER LOVE please email me at sarah at sarahballance dot com to request a free gift.
Thanks so much for having me today! This has been a unique experience, and now I'm seriously craving some banana pudding. ;c)
After a terrifying encounter with the unexplained, it took ten years and the news of her grandmother’s passing for Emma Grace Hawthorne to return to her childhood home. She sought peace in saying a proper goodbye, but what she found was an old love, a sordid family history, and a wrong only she could right.
Living in the shadow of Hawthorne Manor, Noah Garrett never forgot about Emma Grace. In a house full of secrets, his search for missing documents revealed a truth that could cost him everything. What he found gave Emma the freedom to walk away from the mansion, her heart free and clear, but at what price to Noah?
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The car slowed to a stop and a decade's worth of memories tumbled onto the sun-blanched asphalt.
The hand-painted sign hadn't changed in years. In the thick, damp air filling the Louisiana landscape, the wood display remain inexplicably unaffected. There it sat—every meticulously scripted letter as crisp and clean as the stark white walls of the manor it lauded, oblivious to the passage of time.
Emma Hawthorne tensed in the seat of the Mustang convertible, staring at her past with ice sluicing her spine Anywhere else, the view would have been gorgeous. The drive, lined on both sides with live oak laden with Spanish moss, was the South personified. At the end, Hawthorne Manor held court. Pristine, proud, the boastful antebellum home beamed, lording over its acreage.
But it harbored the unspeakable. No amount of time could erase what happened to her on the other side of the expanse of green lawn. Nothing could change what she'd seen there. Some might say she was crazy—that she'd imagined or invented the whole ordeal—but her scars were all the proof she needed. Whether the shadows lurking behind the façade of the picturesque plantation were real or born of an overactive imagination, there was no way she was going back into that house.
Especially not for a dead woman.
Sparing a glance in the rearview, Emma steeled herself against a trembling in her hands that threatened to overtake her body. She released a pent-up breath, her heart settling into a less acrobatic rhythm at the thought of leaving. She didn't have to stay here.
Let the South win this one. She was going home.
A split second after she decided to go, something caught her eye. She blinked, trying to see through the swaying canopy of leaves and moss, certain a figure stood atop the widow's walk straddling the roofline of the house. But no one—
Something brushed the car, rocking it. Swallowing panic, Emma tried to tear her focus from Hawthorne Manor, but fear kept her from looking anywhere else. Time and distance hadn't done her any favors; she was a fool for coming anywhere near this place, much less with the ragtop down.
The car rocked harder. The something refused to be ignored.
Fighting the grip of panic tightening her throat—fighting the ghosts of her past—Emma forced herself to look away from the house, toward the intrusion over her left shoulder.
The first thing she saw was an aged set of gnarled fingers resting on the door, blue automotive paint showing through an ugly translucence.
The second was the face—withered, centurion, and expressionless. Haunting.