COOKING IN WRITING BY CHERYL PIERSON

Cooking is the bane of my existence.  I know, I know. I hear the gasps of disbelief now! (Big grin here, because I know there are some people who agree with me, too.)  I think the reason for this is that my mother was TIRED by the time I came along. She was 35 when she had me, and already had her hands full with my 10-year-old and 12-year-old sisters. Like the Merle Haggard song says, “Mama Tried”—but it just didn’t work out.  I would have rather been climbing trees than making cookies.

When I was around 5 years old, our entire family went through the allergy clinic.  I got a wonderful flash of news that day. The doctor told my parents to let me eat whatever I wanted for breakfast—even if it was a hotdog.  I never liked “normal” breakfast food at breakfast—I usually just wasn’t hungry in the morning. I married a man who could wake up and eat a huge breakfast—but not me. Opposites DO attract.

So when I began to write, I tended to forget that my characters needed a meal every once in a while.  I still don’t write long cooking scenes, or even dinner scenes.  I know that dinner scenes most usually have a deeper meaning in our writing, or are meant to reveal something. I will confess, I have never forgotten the part in Sweet Savage Love where the Mexican general makes Ginny come to his room as he is eating breakfast, offers her a bite, and then makes sure Steve sees it. I almost hated Ginny in that moment, seeing the scene through Steve’s eyes after he’d given himself up to save her. I had to remind myself she was just as duped as he had been. Anyone else remember that scene?

I wrote a scene in my novel TEMPTATION’S TOUCH, where Kendi is making breakfast for herself and Jackson Taylor, the wounded DEA agent she’s caring for.  In FIRE EYES, Jessica makes oatmeal, and at one point she has cooked something earlier. But my cooking scenes are few and far between.

How about you? Do you love to cook? Hate it? Love to read about it or write about it? Anyone have a most memorable cooking scene in reading or writing ventures you want to share?

I will leave you with an excerpt from TEMPTATION’S TOUCH where Kendi and Jackson share a meal, as well as an easy recipe—the first thing I ever learned to bake—Blonde Brownies.

Amidst all this, I should say that I’m very very thankful to be able to cook and do it well. It’s a talent I never cultivated, but I’m thankful every day that I have the appliances I have to cook with rather than what was available in the old west.  Yes, I’m going to cook tomorrow, but will be glad to have the leftovers to fall back on in the day after.

HAVE A WONDERFUL THANKSGIVING!

EXCERPT FROM TEMPTATION’S TOUCH:

She stirred the eggs and laid the unbuttered slices of bread onto a cookie sheet, then popped it into the oven to toast. Jack’s earlier confession about running drugs had been quite a surprise. He obviously wasn’t used to sharing information about himself, especially something so personal.

She sighed, turning the bologna, then cutting a slice in each piece as it rose up in the center. That confession had been honest, though totally unexpected. There were only two choices—to trust him, or not. If not, she needed to find him one of Tal’s old shirts and send him packing no later than tomorrow morning.

If she did trust him, that was a bit stickier. That meant more doctoring, more talking, more caring…and letting him stay until he recovered enough to…to what? Go back and get himself killed trying to rescue this ‘partner’ of his?

Kendi gave a caustic chuckle as she pulled the toasted bread from the oven. Some partner. She’d never forget the way Clint Rivers had bent and put the gun close to Jack’s head. That he’d shot to the side is beside the point, she thought indignantly. Logically, she realized if the man had wanted to, he could have killed Jack. But in her heart, she was angry he hadn’t killed the shorter man with him and driven Jack to a hospital for the care he needed. Didn’t partners take care of each other?

She lifted the eggs up from the pan to the plate, then the bologna, which she cut up. Even that small task would be too much for Jack to manage with his wounded hands.

Somehow, she realized her dilemma was solved. She couldn’t say how or why, but looking at the tray she’d put together, she knew Jack would be staying. No matter what happened, her life was already entwined with his. It had happened the moment she witnessed his ‘murder’—and it might very well end with her own.

Oddly, that was why Kendi trusted him. She had brought him into her home, and she had not called for help. She had cleaned and bandaged his wounds and sat up with him through the rest of the night. She had even laid down beside him to give him her own warmth.

She wanted to laugh at herself. Her fate had been decided the minute she stepped out of the house last night, intending to scare the high school kids off her property. She tried to tell herself there wasn’t room on the tray for two plates, and that was why she’d put the food on one common dish for both of them. But in her heart, she knew it was more.

She put the coffee carafe on the tray then slowly opened the silverware drawer and took out two forks. Eating separately from the shared plate was a lot like living individually in the same, suddenly small universe. She started toward the stairs with mingled fear and wonder, knowing there was nothing she could do to stop this world of theirs from turning, toward whatever end Fate dealt them. She wondered if Jack knew it, too.

BLONDE BROWNIES

4 eggs

1 tsp. Vanilla

1½  cups flour

2 ½  cups brown sugar

½ tsp. salt

1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

½  cup (OR MORE!) choc. Chips

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Beat eggs well. Add brown sugar gradually, beating until well mixed. Add vanilla, flour, salt and mix well. Add chopped nuts and mix. Pour into a greased, 9×13 pan and sprinkle chocolate chips over top of the batter. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes (depending on your oven). This makes a 9×13 pan of brownies. You can half this recipe for an 8×8 pan, and reduce cooking time to 25 minutes.

FOR A COMPLETE LIST OF ALL OF CHERYL’S WORK, CLICK HERE:  http://www.amazon.com/author/cherylpierson

Cheryl Pierson
A native Oklahoman, I've been influenced by the west all my life. I love to write short stories and novels in the historical western and western romance genres, as well as contemporary romantic suspense! Check my Amazon author page to see my work: http://www.amazon.com/author/cherylpierson
I live in Oklahoma City with my husband of 37 years. I love to hear from readers and other authors--you can contact me here: fabkat_edit@yahoo.com
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36 Comments

  1. LOL, Cheryl. Loved hearing that I’m not the only one who doesn’t love cooking. My mother was a wonderful cook. But I take after my Dad’s mother who wasn’t. While my family was growing up I cooked and cooked and cooked. Now that they’re grown, I’m done. When my kids come over we order pizza.
    Great excerpt. Love your writing, even though the thought of bologna for breakfast makes me gag…
    🙂

  2. My heroine in the book I just finished is a terrible cook…who runs a diner.
    I think it’s a pretty funny situation. She doesn’t realize she’s a bad cook, she just detests underdone food and prefers to err on the side of thorough cooking…and she’s so pretty all the lonely cowpokes come in and eat no matter how bad it tastes.

    Her son, who tried to stop her from opening the diner–everyone thought he was so unsupportive, the brat, but he KNEW IT WAS A POOR EXCUSE FOR AN IDEA–says at one point, “My ma seems to have a powerful fear of rawness.”

  3. Hi Elizabeth,
    I’m so glad I have a kindred spirit in you! LOL When my kids were growing up, I ran a cafe from my kitchen for them. I think it’s because I truly was never forced to eat things I didn’t like (fortunately, I was not a picky eater.) LOL Anyhow, my son didn’t like the texture of noodles, and my daughter didn’t like potatoes. So every meal I tried to please both of them. My son was sick a lot when he was little, so I tried anything and everything to get him to eat so he could take his medicine. FINALLY, they are both showing signs of wanting to learn to cook! Imagine that! LOL So we’re doing a “real” Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow so they can actually take part. Hmmm. Should be interesting. LOL Happy Thanksgiving, my filly sis!
    Hugs,
    Cheryl

  4. Mary, as always, you are making me laugh as I’m reading your comment. What a great “problem” to give your heroine. I love that! And love the comment from her son. Your characters are always so different and I love them. I will have to get that book–I did manage to burn the beef stew the other night…yeah. I’ve never done that before. Old age is setting in, I guess.
    Happy Thanksgiving!
    Hugs,
    Cheryl

  5. ELIZABETH! I forgot to say, we never had bologna growing up for breakfast, but I had friends who did, and my husband, who grew up in WV, had it. It’s actually not bad if you’re a bologna lover (I always was growing up). Anyhow, it’s a “poor man’s bacon”. When we were first married, that was a staple at our house–on the weekends, we’d have fried bologna, biscuits and gravy, and home fries. My arteries are probably still clogged from all that.
    Cheryl

  6. I used to love fried bologna sandwiches. It was a standard afterschool snack. Now it sounds just dreadful.
    It might be delicious but I’m afraid to check!

  7. I’m in charge of pie for my family thanksgiving. Here’s a secret. If you buy the pie crust (don’t tell!) pumpkin and pecan pie are the easiest things in the universe to make.
    I mean even easier than fried bologna.

  8. LOL – cooking is the ONE domestic chore I actually enjoy. And I love experimenting in the kitchen – though the results are not always a success. I’m in hog heaven today preparing for the Thanksgiving meal. Now if I could just get some help in cleaning up this house…

  9. I enjoy cooking–probably a good thing for a lunch lady to enjoy. 🙂 But sometimes, I really just want someone else to cook. But that doesn’t happen too often in my household. That’s what restaurants are for.

    Growing up we always had bologna–but it was for sandwiches (yummm, on squishy white bread with miracle whip…) I’ve never had it fried. Seems like I’ve missed out on some important culinary history.

    My bro is baking the pie for tomorrow–with a little help from Villiage Inn. LOL

  10. Oh… and cooking and eating in my books? Yep, the characters do both. To varying degrees of success. One of my heroines bakes when she has problems to work out. Kneading bread is a great meditative activity.

    One of my favorite eating scenes is after the heroine has rescued a group of children from slavery. (In a galaxy far, far away…) She’s introducing a small boy to favorite childhood foods–which are essentially a hot dog and french fries. With ketchup. He loved the ketchup.

  11. Hi Cheryl,
    When I was growing up, my Mother wouldn’t let me cook. She told me many years later that I was messy and she didn’t want to clean up my mess! Well, because of that when I married all I could cook was custard and cookies.
    Now, after over 50 years of cooking–I love it. My daughter is taking over and cooks anything from a stew to gormet. She does a wicked Indian Taco, too. Her fry bread is tod die for. (Talk about clogged arteries.)
    I actually can’t imagine fried bologna at anytime. Is that where Tom T. Hall got his ideas for his song? I’ll eat Spam, but not fried bologna.
    And I have added a breakfast and potluck to several stories.

  12. Hi Cheryl! We’re cut from the same cloth! I don’t like to cook at all, except for Thanksgiving. I make a great turkey dinner, but other than that, I’m not a fan of kitchen time unless it results in cookies or something sweet. Baking is relaxing; cooking, not so much!

  13. Mary, I loved those fried bologna sandwiches too. They’re great with mustard, too, if you are a mustard fanatic like I was! I do indulge sometimes, I have to admit. But nothing tastes as wonderful as it used to–that red rind bologna sliced thick and…Now I’m getting hungry thinking about it. Maybe it’s more of a southern food? I don’t know.
    Cheryl

  14. Mary, you know what’s even easier? Buying the pies already made. LOLLOL
    Cheryl

  15. Winnie, I hate cleaning too. LOLLOL Now that I’m a “grown up” I just don’t want to do anything but write. I think it’s because I had to do it for so long–plus working full time, etc. And I just couldn’t wait until I had 5 free minutes to spend on my writing. Now…a lot of things get “let go” so I CAN write. LOL
    Happy Thanksgiving!
    Cheryl

  16. Lizzie,
    I know just what you’re talking about with the soft white bread and the Miracle Whip…MMMM MMMMM GOOD! LOL You really should fry it and try it sometime. I like it with mustard, mayo or Miracle Whip. One of my good friend’s moms made “Spanish Hats”–fried bologna on the bottom, leftover mashed potatoes on the center, and grated cheese on top. The bologna curls up around the edges to make the “hat”–my mom never made those, but I sure did love them. I love that you have that in your story about the little boy loving ketchup–that is such a staple in our meals isn’t it? And hot dogs–what kid doesn’t love those?
    Happy Thanksgiving, Lizzie!
    Cheryl

  17. Mary J., I am going to have to get your daughter’s recipe for fry bread. I love that stuff sooooo much. We went to the Chickasaw Cultural Center the other day and had one of the best Indian tacos there, made with super fry bread…makes me hungry thinking about it! LOL Fried Spam is good, too–I used to make fried Spam sandiches and soup for lunch for hubby and me–that was a treat. We still eat it sometimes–just get hungry for it! I have to admit, I could eat bologna pretty much any time. When I was pregnant with my son, I would get up in the morning and eat a bologna sandwich along with salsa and chips, every morning. LOL
    Happy Thanksgiving!
    Cheryl

  18. Vicki, YES!!!! I don’t mind baking at all, but actual cooking is truly not enjoyable for me at all, although I CAN do it, and I have a few recipes that are standards that I make quite often. In the winter, I don’t mind it so much, because I can make a pot of beans or soup or stew or homemade spaghetti sauce, and we can eat on that for a couple of days.

    I am actually looking forward to tomorrow since my kids will be here and I’ll have some help. But truthfully? I’m looking forward to dessert.
    Happy Thanksgiving!
    Cheryl

  19. Hey, I hate to cook too, Cheryl. And I’m lousy at it because I don’t have the patience to stand there waiting for food to cook. Too much else to do. Fortunately, since I was a bit of an invalid the past year and a half and had to depend on my husband to feed me, things around here have changed. He got into the habit of buying meals from Costco that you just pop in the microwave and even though I’m back on my feet again, he still buys meals for us. I love it. Not only is it really easy, the food is great. At least I got one advantage from being so ill and breaking my neck.

  20. Hey! I remember this story pretty well, but I do not remember cooking bologna. We did plenty of that growing up–a favorite after-school snack, although we had to take time to fry it.
    I don’t love cooking, but I sort of like it at times. I’m happiest cooking something special–not every day mundane meals. Those really get to me. We’d eat out more often, but we really don’t care to do that, either. Bottom line–we’re not big eaters–but certainly enough.
    Today, though I went crazy.. This morning–sausage and biscuits (a can of Texas Size Buttermilk bisuits, and ten frozen sausage patties–“Ol’ Folks Sausage Patties” are the best kind. Cook separtely, split the biscuits, pop in the patties, and freeze. Heat in microwave.–these are for my husband–I try not to eat any meat.)
    Plus a huge pan of Focaccia Bread with red onion and jalapenos and Kosher coarse salt. Yum. That took three hours.
    Plus a dozen Banana Nut/Oatmeal/walnuts muffins. Freeze. Pop one in the microwave for breakfast.
    Tomorrow–pecan pie plus our little TD Day dinner for two. We celebrated Monday with our daughter.
    I’m trying to think if any of my heroines cook and I can only remember once in one book. I should pay more attention.
    Wonderful post, Cheryl–Happy Thanksgiving.

  21. CHARLENE! WOW, I didn’t know you had had that happen to you! Your husband is really one in a million. I’m like you–I just don’t have the patience, because I’m thinking of all the other things I could be doing, and as my daughter so wisely said to her brother at the ripe old age of 7, “Casey, it’s just a meal. You’ll have another one tomorrow.” LOLLOL I can eat rice or a sandwich and be fine–I don’t need a huge meal. If I get hungry for that, I go to the buffet once in a while. I wish we had a Costco nearby–that sounds like heaven to just be able to pop something in the microwave and be done with it. So glad you are on the road to recovery! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, Charlene!
    Cheryl

  22. I have a love/hate relationship with cooking. I love to cook, but I love to go big time, different recipes, huge meals, fancy desserts etc. I hate the mundane everyday breakfast, lunch, and dinner kind of cooking. So something like Thanksgiving dinner turns my crank…not so much eggs and bacon the morning after. 🙂

    I usually have some deep conversation or reveal over a meal in my stories. I think it’s because it was usually over dinner all our family’s deep discussions took place.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    –Kirsten

  23. Oh, Celia! You DID go crazy didn’t you? LOL Simple is best, I think–I don’t ever make anything really elaborate. Probably the most elaborate thing I DO make is homemade spaghetti sauce. We do eat out quite a bit, but try to eat at home mostly. I don’t think I have a whole lot of heroines cooking. They’re usually in situations where that’s the last thing on their minds. For one reason or another.
    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving tomorrow, Celia!
    Hugs,Cheryl

  24. Oh, Kirsten, will you come visit me? For about a year? LOL My sisters both love to cook-LOVE TO COOK. I think a lot of me not liking it was because my dad worked in the oilfields and kept irregular hours, and my sisters were both gone to college by the time I was 8. So a lot of the time it was just Mom and me and we ate very simply–fish sticks in the oven and jello. LOL Just stuff like that. Of course, when he was home, she cooked and she was a wonderful cook. I have several of her recipes that I make and after all these years have finally gotten them to approximate the taste hers had. But she made everything from scratch. Good grief. I would lose my mind. LOL
    I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving Kirsten! Are you all settled into your new place?
    Hugs,
    Cheryl

  25. Cheryl, my mouth fell open when I read that Kendi was cooking bologna. (And the scene is dynamite — I could even smell that dang bologna.) I’m not a breakfast person either, but I still remember Momma cooking bologna just that way — slits leading away from the puffy middle and all — when I was a kid. My father loved fried “baloney” for breakfast; I detest it to this very day. Ick! 😀

    I do love to cook, though. In fact, I’d better get back to making a mountain of pies (sweet potato and pecan) and other goodies for tomorrow. I wish you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving, my Okie friend! 🙂

  26. Kathleen! Thanks so much for your very kind words. My dad would eat it fried on sandwiches, but liked it just as well plain. When I was little, my paternal and maternal grandparents lived at each end of a small little town–Calera, just outside of Durant OK. My cousins on either side all knew each other as a lot of them lived in the same area. We’d walk from one end of Calera to the other, and stop at the old country store, Petey’s. He had an old meat and cheese counter there, where you could have the ‘baloney’ cut to different thicknesses (the red rind, wonderful stuff!) and would wrap it in butcher paper–my granddad would go down there just about every other day and buy lunch meat. The best thing about Petey’s was, it was one of those old stores with the screen door on the front, and the old coolers filled with ice with the cokes set down into it. I will never forget how wonderful it was to be able to stop in and reach down in the cooler for a bottle of coke (whatever kind you might like!) and have something to drink as we walked. Then we’d come back by and leave the bottle to get our 2 cents back. LOL I love sweet potato pie! Jessica and I are the only two in my family who like sweet potatoes. I hope you have a great Thanksgiving, Tex! I sure wish I was there to help you eat that sweet potato pie!
    Hugs,
    Cheryl

  27. Cheryl, I tend to put too much about eating in my stories. I have to really watch it or they’re eating in every scene. Ha, I wonder what that says about me! It just makes a conversation more intimate to be having it over a meal. I loved Fire Eyes and Temptation’s Touch. Both are excellent romances. You have such a wonderful historical voice.

    Happy Thanksgiving!!

  28. Cheryl, I’m not fond of cooking which is why I raised a chef. Not only did I raise one I insisted she marry one. Hey, I’m no dummy.

    Happy Thanksgiving,

    Hugs!

  29. I can’t say I love to cook because I don’t. I do cook about every day, so I think I just get tired of it. I am a pretty good cook because I get a lot of practice. I am going to cook a Thanksgiving dinner on Dec. 1 for my sister’s birthday and then she cooks Christmas dinner. Tomorrow we will go to my mother in laws to eat. I will take mashed potatoes and no-bake oatmeal cookies. My son say he is glad I am taking the mashed potatoes because I make the best ones. Pealing potatoes for about 18 people is a lot of work.

  30. Linda, thank you so much for the compliment, my dear friend. I appreciate that, coming from you! There’s a book out there called something like How to Learn Literature Like an English Professor or something like that–I have it, but haven’t looked at the title for awhile. One of the chapters is about the meaning that meals have in books. It is really fascinating. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving tomorrow!
    Hugs,
    Cheryl

  31. Oh Margaret, you smart thing! That’s fabulous! Now you just have to make sure you live close enough forever so they can do the meals and you can just come enjoy. LOL Happy Thanksgiving, my filly sis!
    Hugs,
    Cheryl

  32. Quilt Lady,
    When we lived in West Virginia, we’d always go up to my mother-in-law’s house for the holidays. She had 8 kids and I don’t know how many grandkids, so my sister-in-law and I would get in the kitchen and peel potatoes until the world looked level. I know exactly what you mean. LOL I do love mashed potatoes, but have gotten lazy in my old age, and my husband is satisfied with the fake ones. But tomorrow, I will most likely do real ones. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
    Cheryl

  33. Hey Cheryl, I asked my daughter about the recipe and she said that it would be hard to tell you because she does the old fashioned way–pour stuff in the hand and a pinch of this and a shaker of that. Water that has to be a certain temperature. She fries her bread in lard! Texture is another thing. To me it sounds like she doesn’t want to give up her secret.
    I have made it with a yeast/bread recipe. You can try that. It actually tastes pretty good, but it is the “white man” version!!
    Hugs

  34. Those Brownies sound scrumptious and I love the way you use a simple thing like making breakfast reveal how a character feels about someone. You can tell a lot about how someone feels by how they prepare food for someone else — the quick slap together of a ham sandwich or the careful arrangement of sandwich and garnish on a plate…

  35. Mary J, that is how my mom and my oldest sister both cooked. LOL I knew you had to use lard–I have a Choctaw friend I’ll get it from, no worries–I know some people don’t like to give up their recipes. Hope y’all have a great holiday!
    Hugs,
    Cheryl

  36. Alison, there’s an old Asian saying that goes something like: A mother’s heart is shown in her child’s lunchbox. LOL Odd, but true–I know what you mean about meal preparation–my mom always wanted to be sure it always was arranged and looked nice. Thanks so much for your kind words, my friend! I’m off to make those brownies right now–even though we have pie and cheesecake for dessert, I still want to have those brownies, too. LOL
    Cheryl

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