Saturday, August 27, 2011

Ruth's Buttermilk Biscuits & Shortcake

Ruth misses Horace terribly, but when she leaves the Howland ranch and Idaho Territory, a chunk of her heart will stay behind with little Will Howland. She's been Will's nursemaid and nanny since his birth, and especially shortly after when his mother ran off with the neighbor, back in Virginia. Making a comfortable home for Will and his daddy, has been Ruth's mission in life, and her own love and romance, will have to wait.
On many occasion, when Will wasn't tagging after his daddy and Uncle Travis, he helped Ruth mix and cut out her biscuits.

Taking a nice big, heavy bowl, Ruth would mix 3 cups of flour with a teaspoon salt and 4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1 teaspoon soda. She gently mixed the dry ingredients, then added about 1/2 cup lard and mixed it in with her fingers or a fork until it resembled peas. Too much mixing toughen the finished product, so she'd busy Will with drawing pictures at the table so she wouldn't get distracted and over mix. Then she'd add 3/4 cup buttermilk, to moisten the mixture until it was nice soft dough.
Flouring a board, she'd roll out the dough and have Will help her cut out rounds with the mouth of a drinking glass or cup. Greasing a pan, she'd carefully place the biscuits on the pan and bake in a hot oven for about 15- 20 minutes ore until they were a deep golden brown. If fresh fruit, or even the berries she canned were available, she'd add sugar, about 1/2 cup to the biscuit mix and have shortcake for dessert.
A nice fresh cream, whipped to soft peaks would top off that shortcake and make the men sign when they saw it!
the biscuits were served with fresh churned butter and berry preserves. In the Northwest, there were wild raspberries, dew berries, huckleberries and black caps galore. Ruth spent many a summer day picking berries and making jams. She might even share one of her recipes with you on another day!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Janet Malone's succulent roast beef (or Elk roast)

Janet always had a heavy duty, well seasoned cast iron dutch oven on hand. She brought it west when they moved from Boston to the Idaho Territory.

Line the Dutch oven with lard and set on the hot stove top to season
Next, set in a 3-4 pound rump roast (either beef or elk) Brown it on the stove top, right in the Dutch oven.
Wedge in halves or quarters of onions; small carrots, or chop them in half or quarters
Potatoes (quartered)
sprinkle with salt, peppercorns, chopped fresh garlic (Janet had a garlic bed...grows well in the Northwest)
For lean meat types, lean beef and always for Elk, lay strips of bacon over the top of the roast. 2-3 strips will do.
Fill Dutch oven with fresh water, enough to reach the halfway mark of the cast iron pot. Put on the lid and roast in a medium hot oven for 2-3 hours, checking after an hour and adding water if needed.
When the meat is done, remove the vegetables and arrange on a platter around the sliced roast. Make gravy out of the juice, using a bit of corn starch. Don't forget to mix the cornstarch with a half cup of water first and whip in with a fork.
Feeds a family of 4 and a guest if you're blessed to have one drop in! Serve with fresh greens from the garden if it's summer or early fall, or canned green beans if it's winter. Also good with fresh bread or biscuits! Especially if Ruth happens by and volenteers to make her special recipe!
Thank you, Janet Malone

Dimensional Characters... Please meet Mine!

It's time you met the characters of Dangerous Disguise!  Of course, to really get to know them, you'll need to get the book:) But each character has so much more to their lives then the length and pacing a book will allow us to show.

For instance...I love to cook and to eat, and so do several of my characters, so in Dangerous Disguise, Janet Malone, an Irish Immigrant, who my heroine, Kate McShane stays with in the Idaho Territory, will share her recipes on my blog! She's an amazing cook, and makes appetizing and filling meals with the limited supplies in the Northwest of 1888.

Janet, her husband, Kerry and their children Maura and Kyle, have lived in Hope, Idaho Territory for 7 years at the time of my story, so she has established a functioning household and farm. Janet has a milk cow; a yard of chickens, both for laying and for meat; a sow (mother pig) who brings them wiener pigs every spring to supply them fresh pork in the fall and to sell to neighbors, or to Mr. White's mercantile, in the form of salt pork, smoked hams and Bacon.
Janet also raises a garden each year, and maintains and herb garden she started the year after she moved to Hope. I hope you enjoy her recipes!
Ruth, has served as a nanny to Will Howland, seven year old son of Ethan Howland, who moved to Hope from Virginia after his wife ran off with this best friend. Ruth's a great cook and homemaker, and can't wait until she can return to her finance, Horace, who has moved from Richmond to Boston in his newspaper career.
Mrs. White owns the boarding house and cafe. She makes the most scrumptious scones! (As a gluten free  person, I'll even share my own flavorful tips for gluten free scones:)
I hope you ride along with me on this journey about Kate McShane, finding adventure, love and good friends. Along the way, we'll learn more about the historic Northwest and the strong women who helped settle it. Please look for my continuing posts with recipes and life in the 1880's-1890's Pacific Northwest.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


Is anyone out there as technologically as handicapped as I am??? I only wanted to update  my Yahoo Groups email and contact info to match my author and two hours later, I'm just not getting to my blog and then to the revisions on the query and synopsis of Book 2. Is it me...or is it not user friendly to maintain our sites? Several of my writer friends seem to buzz right through uploading files, changing contact information, even uploading photos, but for me it seems to be an effort. I know organization would help. I simply need to focus on one thing and make it easier on myself.

On another note, it appears the cover for my historical, Dangerous Disguise, is complete, so I'll be uploading :)) the cover as soon as I have it. I'm so excited! I can't lose sight of the reality of selling my book when I get bogged down with the marketing and technology!

So, focus and simplicity is going to be my goal for the future, write down important information in one spot, such as directions on how to edit and add to my Yahoo Groups! My emails accounts and website! I'd love to hear of your challenges and solutions! Please share:)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Book 2

High on the sale of my historical, I quickly sent a proposal for the contemporary off to a very good agency, without taking one more look at trimming the word count on my synopsis. Today I received the response. It's not right for their agency. Whether it's the length of the proposal, or the story just isn't appealing to them, I don't know. They were very professional in their response, and I would recommend them to anyone. Back to work. My dear friend Asa sent a critique after I hastily emailed the proposal off, with some very good suggestions I will now implement them and send out again.

As for my book with The Wild Rose Press...I just emailed the completed edits to the editor! I'm so excited, the thrill hasn't dimmed. The lesson here, is just because one editor likes your style, someone else might not.

This is just the beginning, and I'm not giving up!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

So, it all begins...

Blogging everyday is something I have to work into my daily schedule... The journey to seeing the book I've poured so many hours, tears and sweat into, in print, has begun. Information goes to the marketing department with email address; blog address; website (which I don't have yet). The accounting department needs to verify information, and marketing requires the cover art description forms filled out. I was thrilled when I learned The Wild Rose Press actually includes input from the author. It's so unusual in our industry. Now, I hope I described my characters and the setting adequately. I'm anxious to see what the artist comes up with!
I promised photos of Hope, and I can't believe I drove through there last weekend and didn't snap some with my phone! I will get them posted!  I'm so fascinated with the area, I want to share it's history and beauty!