Tag Archives: Cooking


Welcome to the mother of all blog tours.

3) THIS TOUR STARTS: Monday, June 13, at Midnight (Arizona Time)
THIS TOUR ENDS: Monday, June 20, at Midnight (Arizona Time)
Winners will be drawn and posted June 21st! ***

As a participating author, my theme is Summer in the Big House, Old Southern Plantation Recipes~

A gracious welcome to my stately plantation home. Please have a seat in the wicker chairs on the veranda and relax in the shade of the towering live oaks.    Listen to the warbler singing high overhead in the moss-draped boughs and savor the sweetness of jasmine while I serve refreshing mint juleps and peach upside-down cake prepared with old Southern recipes from Charleston Receipts.

This cookbook ‘was first published in 1950 and the oldest¬†Junior League¬†cookbook¬†still in print. It contains 750 recipes,¬†Gullah¬†verses, and sketches by Charleston artists. Inducted into the McIlhenny Hall of Fame, an award given for book sales that exceed 100,000 copies.’

My copy is actually my mother’s book which she purchased in the early 1960’s while our family was on vacation in Charleston South Carolina. ¬†I kind of borrowed it from her and still have it. ūüôā


For each cold goblet use:

Several mint leaves, sugar syrup (2-3 teaspoons), Crushed, dry ice, 2 ounces bourbon, 1 sprig mint

Crush leaves and let stand in syrup. Put this into a cold silver julep cup or glass and add ice which has been crushed and rolled in a towel to dry.  Pour in the whiskey.  Stir, not touching the glass, and add a sprig of mint. Serve immediately.~

Peach Upside-Down Cake:

1/3 cup shortening, 2/3 cup sugar, 2/3 cup milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 2 eggs, 2 teaspoons baking powder,  1  and 2/3 cups flour, 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon almond flavoring

Cream shortening and sugar.  Add remaining ingredients and beat well.  Pour over peach mixture. Serves six.

Peach Mixture: 1/3 cup butter, 1 cup light brown sugar, 1 1/2 cups sliced peaches

Place butter and sugar in a sheet cake pan and heat slowly, stirring constantly until well browned.  Add peaches.  Cover with cake batter, bake 3/4 hour at 350.  Turn out peach side up.   Serve hot or cold with whipped cream.  Other fruits may be substituted for peaches.  ~

For my blog hop prize, I’m giving away an ebook of my Revolutionary War romance novel, Enemy of the King, and Native American historical romance novel Through the Fire.


1780, South Carolina: While Loyalist Meriwether Steele recovers from illness in the stately home of her beloved guardian, Jeremiah Jordan, she senses the haunting presence of his late wife. When she learns that Jeremiah is a Patriot spy and shoots Captain Vaughan, the British officer sent to arrest him, she is caught up on a wild ride into Carolina back country, pursued both by the impassioned captain and the vindictive ghost. Will she remain loyal to her king and Tory twin brother or risk a traitor’s death fighting for Jeremiah? If Captain Vaughan snatches her away, he won’t give her a choice.~


At the height of the French and Indian War, a young English widow ventures into the colonial frontier in search of a fresh start. She never expects to find it in the arms of the half-Shawnee, half-French warrior who makes her his prisoner in the raging battle to possess a continent‚Äď‚Äďor to be aided by a mysterious white wolf and a holy man.~

Thanks for visiting me. Leave me a question or a comment here at my blog below. Please also leave your email address so I can notify you in case you are a winner!

THE NEXT STOP ON OUR FUN BLOG HOP IS AUTHOR RACHEL VAN DYKEN SO POP ON OVER TO : http://deliciousromancebyrachel.blogspot.com/2011/06/party-til-your-heels-fly-off-author.html

Old Country Recipes and Cookbooks

My mother-in-law, sadly losing her memory, brightened visibly when I asked her about a salad dressing she used to make for dandelion greens. ¬†Getting shakily to her feet, she made her way to the tiny kitchen in their townhouse in the retirement village where she and my father-in-law live and retrieved a worn cookbook that for some reason I hadn’t even realized she had, possibly because she prepared so many of her ¬†day-to-day dishes by memory. ¬† With the cookbook in hand, she settled back in her armchair and happily turned the pages, recalling many of the recipes penned on the sides or inserted on ancient pieces of paper. ¬†Names of women now long gone came back to her, great-aunts, great-grandmother, old friends…whose famed cakes or other culinary delights had once been well-known among the country people of our beautiful valley.¬†The Inglenook Cookbook, copyright 1911, itself is a treasure and I immediately came home and ordered a used copy online. I love these vintage volumes worn and marked with use. ¬†At a glance I can glean which were the favorite dishes from the stain-marked pages. ¬†Added recipes are handwritten in various corners.

The Inglenook Cookbook,¬†a collection of recipes contributed by the sisters of the Church of the Brethren, is¬† ‘Stated in simple language so they are readily understood.’ ¬†I love the quaint wording of many of these recipes, such as, ¬†For Chicken Salad, ‘Take 3 boiled chickens chopped fine…’ ¬†I think this woman assumes you’re cooking for a crowd. ¬†People had larger families back then.

Or from a recipe for Snitz and Knep: ‘This is to be made only on bread-baking day. Soak one pint of dried apples for 2 hours, then place in a kettle with a pound of smoked ham or shoulder not too old and boil for 1 and 1/2 hours. ¬†Take from your raised bread dough a sufficient quantity to make at least one fair-sized bun for each of your family. ¬†Work into this one egg, leave it rise for awhile, then work in tiny cakes; leave them rise until quite light, then gently drop them, one at a time, into the kettle with the meat and ‘snitz’ (soaked dried apples). ¬†Let them boil for 20 minutes, when all will be ready to serve. ¬†Do not lift the lid before the 20 minutes, unless you want heavy and soggy biscuits. In eating them they are good when covered over with the broth they have been boiled in, or spread with jelly, preserves, or apple butter. ~

The image above is from a recipe for Schnitz and Knepp at this link:

It seems to me that most Americans have sacrificed quality and ¬†flavor, along with healthful eating, family traditions, and all those things that go with freshly grown and prepared foods in exchange for their hectic lifestyles. ¬†There’s much to be said for getting back to some of the old-time ways of doing things. ¬†Begin with a home garden, or visit your local farmer’s market, do more of your own cooking, bake some of your own breads…and go from there.

I came across an interesting post about the origins of The Inglenook Cookbook at A Yellow Brick Journey Through Life. ¬†A quote from the post says, “The¬†Inglenook Cookbook¬†was an outgrowth of¬†The Inglenook¬†(*a magazine). The good sisters of the Church of the Brethren and their friends were encouraged to contribute their favorite recipes of its “Home Department.” These recipes were gathered together to form the text of the¬†Inglenook Cook Book¬†published in 1901. It was offered as a bonus to subscribers of the magazine.

The book was revised and enlarged in 1911. It containing 1,000 recipes, was an immediate success and sold more than 100,000 copies and continued to be used in Brethren and other kitchens for more than forty years. In 1970 the cookbook was reprinted from the original plates.”~

***Please note the new information about availability of this cookbook in the comment section below.

Rhubarb Pudding

One of my spring rites is making rhubarb pudding from the plants that have grown along the garden wall since¬†well before my time, and I’ve lived here for several decades. ¬†I’ve added some of the new, deeper red rhubarb plants over the years, but only one has survived. ¬†This improved cultivar seems to lack the vigor of the old. ¬†So I cut a few stalks from it, then return to the faithful clumps for the bulk of my harvest. ¬†Today was my first pilgrimage to the rhubarb patch and I returned to the kitchen with a goodly supply of stalks. ¬†Now the pudding is chilling in the fridge in the big brown and white pottery bowl I’ve had for ages.

I love this stuff. ¬†Not everyone does and rhubarb may be an acquired taste, but many of our little people like it, and young children haven’t had much of an opportunity to acquire a taste.

I don’t use an actual recipe because, as with many old Southern dishes, my mother-in-law taught me how to make this, and I’ve adapted it somewhat, but I’ll take a stab at a recipe for you.

Cut or purchase several good handfuls of rhubarb. The amount can vary. Chop the stems into two inch pieces and put them in a large saucepan (I use a 2-3 quart one) and barely cover with water. ¬†Simmer, stirring frequently, until the stems are completely broken down. ¬†Then whisk the cooked pieces until smooth. ¬†Season with sugar to taste (I use about one to two cups depending on the amount). ¬†Add two-three heaping tablespoons of instant tapioca (again, depending on how much liquid you’ve used) and simmer until the tiny pearls are clear. Add 2-3 tablespoons of strawberry gelatin and stir until dissolved. ¬†Set mixture aside and chill in fridge until it sets. Add cut up strawberries if available after the pudding has cooled.

“The Garden is the Poor Man’s Apothecary”~German Proverb

Parsley: a member of the carrot, parsnip and celery family.  We always grow parsley and usually start our own plants from seed.  Slow to germinate, there’s an old saying that parsley must go to the devil and back seven times before it comes up and the devil likes it so much he always keeps some.  The flat-leafed Italian variety is best for cooking.  Parsley is one of the herbs preferred by the Eastern Black swallowtail butterfly to lay its eggs on.  If you spot some funny looking caterpillars eating your parsley or dill don’t be alarmed, they will transform into lovely butterflies.  There’s nothing like fresh parsley in leek and potato soup made from your own vegetables.  Home grown onions can be substituted for the leeks.

Let thy kitchen be thy apothecary;
and, Let foods be your medicine.
–¬† Hippocratus

From Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs:

Parsley has the misfortune of being a token herb on plates of steak and fish.  But that resilient sprig is really edible and its high chlorophyll content makes it a natural breath sweetener.

The Romans are said to have used it at orgies to cover up the smell of alcohol on their breath, while aiding in digestion. (Who knew this even mattered at a Roman orgy?)

And there‚Äôs the unflattering reference remark that was once made about those who looked as if at death‚Äôs door: ‚ÄúThat man‚Äôs in need of parsley.‚ÄĚ (Corpses were sprinkled with parsley to deodorize them.)

*First two images of parsley in garden are of ours.

In ancient Greece parsley was used in funeral ceremonies long before it was thought of as a garnish.  It was also placed in wreaths given to winning athletes because the Greeks believed that the god Hercules had chosen parsley for his garlands.  And for athletic horses, the greens were thought to give stamina to win races.

The Greeks also associated parsley with oblivion and death.  According to one legend, parsley sprang up where the blood of the Greek hero Archemorus was spilled when he was eaten by serpents.  The Greeks used the wreaths for graves.

By the Middle Ages, parsley had made its appearance in herbal medicines. It has been given credit for curing a great range of human ills, especially those having to do with kidneys and liver.  It has also been used against plague, asthma, dropsy, and jaundice as a carminative, an emmenagogue, and an aide to digestion.

*A carminative is an herb or preparation that either prevents formation of gas in the gastrointestinal tract, or facilitates the expulsion of said gas, thereby combating flatulence.

*An emmenagogue is an herb that has the ability to provoke menstruation and may be mild or dangerously potent.  More on this subject at: http://www.sisterzeus.com/Emmeno.htm

“Garlic is as good as ten mothers.”~

From A Modern Herbal:

Culpepper tells us:

‘It is very comfortable to the stomach‚Ķgood for wind and to remove obstructions both of the liver and spleen‚ĶGalen commendeth it for the falling sickness‚Ķthe seed is effectual to break the stone and ease the pains and torments thereof‚ĶThe leaves of parsley laid to the eyes that are inflamed with heat or swollen, relieves them if it be used with bread or meat‚ĶThe juice dropped into the ears with a little wine easeth the pains.’

Of our Garden Parsley (which he calls Parsele) Gerard says, ‘It is delightful to the taste and agreeable to the stomache,’ also ‘the roots or seeds boiled in ale and drank, cast foorth strong venome or poyson; but the seed is the strongest part of the herbe.’

Though the medicinal virtues of Parsley are still fully recognized, in former times it was considered a remedy for more disorders than it is now used for. Its imagined quality of destroying poison, to which Gerard refers, was probably attributed to the plant from its remarkable power of overcoming strong scents, even the odour of garlic being rendered almost imperceptible when mingled with that of Parsley.~

“Eat leeks in oile and ramsines in May,
And all the year after physicians may play.
(Ramsines were old-fashioned broad-leafed leeks.)

Royalty free images except for tiny bunny

Old English Plum Pudding from The Virginia House-Wife Cookbook

Old English Plum Pudding~

Beat eight eggs very light, add to them a pound of flour sifted, and a pound of powdered sugar; when it looks quite light, put in a pound of suet finely shredded, a pint of milk, a nutmeg grated, and a gill of brandy; mix with a pound of dried currants, and a pound of raisins stoned and floured–tie in a thick cloth and boil it steadily for eight hours.

A variation of that theme is just called Plum Pudding:

Take a pound of best flour, sift it, and make it up before sunrise, with six eggs beaten light; a large spoonful of good yeast, and as much milk as will make it the consistency of bread (dough); let it rise well, knead into it a half pound of butter, put in a grated nutmeg, with one and a half pounds of raisins stoned and cut up; mix well together, wet the cloth, flour it, and tie it loosely, that the pudding may have room to rise.

*Raisins for pudding or cakes should be rubbed in a little flour to prevent their settling to the bottom–see that it does not stick to them in lumps. *Cloths for boiling puddings should be made of German sheeting; an article less thick will admit water and injure the pudding.

She doesn’t say anything more than this. I’m assuming this pudding is also to be boiled for the above mentioned eight hours. I never made either but thought they looked fascinating.

In doing more investigation on English plum pudding, I came across a wonderful account and old recipe with more details. He says to cover the pot in which you’re boiling the pudding and check to be sure it doesn’t boil dry: http://www.homemade-dessert-recipes.com/plum-pudding-recipe.html

From The Virginia House-Wife Cookbook, circa 1825

I came across this antiquated volume tucked back in among my collection of cookbooks.¬† I vaguely recall someone, maybe my husband, thinking I would appreciate its quaint take on cookery and the role of women in that far-flown age.¬† I did, but then The Virginia House-wife got lost behind the other larger books and forgotten.¬† Yes, it’s definitely from another age.

To quote from the author, Mrs. Mary Randolph, also known as The Methodical Cook, as she calls herself, “The grand areanum of management lies in three simple rules: “Let everything be done at a proper time, keep everything in its proper place, and put everything to its proper use.”

“If the mistress of the family will every morning examine minutely the different departments of her household, she must detect errors in their infant state…early rising is essential to the good government of a family.¬† A late breakfast deranges the whole business of the day…when the family breakfasts by detachments, the table remains a tedious time;¬† the servants are kept from their morning’s meal…No work can be done until the breakfast is finished. The Virginia ladies who are proverbially good managers employ themselves while the servants are eating…arranging the cruets, the mustard, salt-sellers, pickle vases,¬† and all that apparatus for the dinner table. ”

“The husband who can ask a friend to partake of his dinner in full¬† confidence of finding his wife unruffled by the petty vexations attendant on the neglect of household duties, who can usher his guest into the dining room assured of seeing that methodical nicety which is the essence of true elegance,¬† will feel pride and exultation in the possession of a companion who gives to his home charms that gratify every wish of his soul…”

And so on regarding the attainment of perfection for married women. And you thought this was just a cookbook.¬† No, it’s also a moral treatise on the expectations heaped on new housewives.¬† But I detected one vital element that helps make this ideal state attainable, SERVANTS!

Amazon, that has everything, also has The Virginia House-wife and says it was originally published in 1825, so we have a later reprint from 1897. Of the book, it states, “The Virginia House-Wife was the most influential cookbook in nineteenth-century America. Considered the ultimate how-to cookbook, it rivals some of the currently popular cookbooks with its commonsense knowledge and advice which remains practical to this day.”

Well, maybe not ALL of its advice remains practical, but it’s chocked full of recipes and quite interesting to read over.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies~

This recipe is from The More With Less Cookbook and they are the best cookies. Totally yummy.¬† I like this cookbook quite well for the most part.¬† Its aim is to make recipes more healthful as well as tasty, with an eye to being careful with our resources as reflected in the ‘more with less’ title.¬†¬† Not a bad idea in light of the current economy.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies:

Cream together 1 cup shortening (may use half margarine, half lard) *I may try substituting more healthful coconut oil, 1/4 cup peanut butter, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 2 eggs, 1 tsp vanilla extract Add: 1 1/2 cup flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 cups rolled oats, 2 cups chocolate chips (I like the dark chocolate chips) and 1 cup nuts if you like. I never add nuts because some family members object.

Mix well and drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes. Makes 6-8 dozen cookies.

Pumpkin Bread

This recipe for pumpkin bread is from our church cookbook, contributed by my sister in law and adapted by me.¬†¬† It’s a family favorite.¬† Enjoy!

Ingredients:¬† ¬Ĺ cup shortening or oil (I use coconut oil), 1 cup sugar, 2 large eggs, 1 cup pureed or canned pumpkin, ¬ľ cup dark molasses

1 2/3 cup flour, ¬ľ tsp baking powder, 1 tsp. baking soda, ¬ľ tsp cloves, 3/4 tsp salt, ¬Ĺ tsp cinnamon

Mix wet ingredients together.  In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients then add these to the wet mixture.   If needed, blend in 1/3 cup of water.  Normally I don’t need to add the extra liquid.  It depends on how moist your pumpkin is.  I sometimes substitute butternut squash or sweet potatoes for the pumpkin and that can make the mixture more or less moist.

Bake at 350 for one hour in greased and floured bread pan.  Makes one loaf.  A sweet, spicy bread, excellent plain or with butter and jam or honey.

*Pic Some of this years Cinderella Pumpkins from our garden

Ties to the Past~Succotash and Sage

During my vast research for historicals set in early America I came across a wealth of plant lore and recipes.  An avid gardener, I love to grow herbs, heirloom flowers and vegetables. To see, smell, touch and taste the same plants known to my ancestors is a rich connection to those who’ve gone before me.  A common thread in my work, whether writing straight historical or paranormal romance is my passion for the past.

The following early American recipes are lifted from a slim volume I picked up at the nearby Museum of Frontier Culture located outside of historic Staunton Virginia in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley where my family has lived for several hundred years.¬† By ‚Äėfrontier‚Äô they mean colonial.¬† At one time, the valley and mountains were the colonial frontier, the setting for my new release colonial Native American Romance Novel Red Bird‚Äôs Song.

From The Good Land: Native American and Early Colonial Food by Patricia B. Mitchell


“To make your own Indian style succotash, combine equal parts cooked red or kidney beans and cooked whole kernel corn. Season to taste with salt and pepper, butter or margarine (or bacon drippings)¬† and¬† heat.

Historically speaking, succotash is the forerunner of the popular Southern ‘Big-pot’ combination of vegetables and meats known as Brunswick stew. (Incidentally, boiled soup was typical Indian fare.¬† The Iroquois served soup at almost every meal. Each person had his own spoon and wooden bowl, and when invited to eat with a friend, he took along his own utensil and bowl.)

Sage is indigenous to the North shore of the Mediterranean, but when the Europeans brought it and other herbs here, the Indians were quick to investigate the new plants. They found sage useful as a curative for ‘a host of ills.'”

*The colonists were equally eager for the plants/herbal knowledge shared with them by the Native Americans.

Recipe for Old Sage Cornmeal Scones:

2 cups yellow cornmeal, 2 cups whole wheat flour,  Tab. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. baking soda, 3/4 tsp. sage, 3 Tabs. vegetable oil, 3 tsp. honey, 1 1/2 cup buttermilk or sour milk

Combine the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl mix the liquids and then stir in the dry ingredients. Mix well. Using your hands, form two balls. On a level surface flatten these balls into discs about 3/4 inch thick. Cut each disk into eight wedges. Place on baking sheet and bake at 375 F. oven for about 10 minutes. Turn the scones over and bake another five minutes. Serve hot.

The Cranberry in Colonial America and Cranberry Apple Crisp

Information and recipe from The Good Land by Patricia B. Mitchell, a slender volume about Native American and Early Colonial Food.

Cranberries, called ‘fen berries’ by the early settlers from England, were quickly incorporated into the colonial American diet.¬† ‘Fen’ meaning ‘bog’ accounted for that early name which gradually changed to ‘craneberry’ due to the slender curving stems of the fruit and then later to cranberry as they are known today.¬† The trailing evergreen shrubs which grow in marshes and bogs and produce pretty,¬† wine red berries were also familiar to those newcomers from Europe where it is sometimes called ‘Moss Berry.’

The Wampanoag Indians called the cranberry ‘sasemin’ and made a juice from it which they sweetened with maple syrup or honey. They also used cranberries as a curative for cuts and arrow wounds. The mashed fruit was placed on open wounds to draw out the poison and what we would call bacteria.

Cranberries were also used as a dye for blankets and rugs.  The berry grows as far South as parts of Northern Carolina and West Virginia and was regarded by the Delaware tribe in New Jersey as a symbol of peace.

Cranberry Apple Crisp:

3 cups apple slices, 2 cups whole fresh or frozen cranberrries, 2 tablespoons honey

1/3 cup butter or margarine, 1 cup rolled oats, 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup chopped nuts, 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Toss together apple slices, cranberries, and honey.¬† Make topping in a separate bowl.¬† Mix butter, rolled oats, flour and sugar until crumbly.¬† Stir in nuts and vanilla.¬† Place the apple/cranberry mixture in a 11 3/4″ x 7 1/2 inch dish. Put on topping. Bake at 350 about 50 minutes or until fruit is tender. If mixture gets too dry pour a little hot water over it.