MAMA TRIED! (WHAT DOES A MEAL MEAN IN OUR 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 in Oklahoma City.  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.  But, 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 breakfast scene 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–while she’s half-dressed! 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? It’s stayed with me after all those years, and I can still recall that feeling of shock and betrayal when I read it for the first time.

 

 

 

 

 

I wrote a scene in my novel BEYOND THE FIRE, 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 BEYOND THE FIRE, where Kendi and Jackson share a meal. I’m also including a DIVINE, 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.

Have you read or written any “meal” scenes that revealed something so deep you couldn’t get it out of your mind? Inquiring minds want to know! This subject intrigues me because it’s such a basic thing, but something that truly IS so revealing.  If you can’t think of one, tell me what your favorite thing to cook is–I’m always looking for new recipes and ideas!

I’m giving away a digital copy of one of my books of your choice–FIRE EYES (western historical romance) or BEYOND THE FIRE (contemporary romantic suspense) today to a commenter! Be sure to leave your contact information in your comment. 

 

EXCERPT FROM BEYOND THE FIRE:

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:  https://www.amazon.com/author/cherylpierson/a/strong/em?tag=pettpist-20

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: https://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
Follow me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cheryl.pierson.92
http://petticoatsandpistols.com/sweepstakesrules

24 Comments

  1. Cheryl- I’ve never thought of this, but I do guess in most books I read they are often a scene where they eat ot at least heat coffee up and either eat hardtack or jerky or in the most modern day books, a pastry of some sort. I loveD both of these books & who ever wins one is in for a great treat. Good luck to everyone, these books rock. My favorite meal is bean tacos, easy and fast for supper after a long day working. I fry up my corn tortillas where they are just soft. Then I spoon warmed up refried beans, topped it with Louisiana Hot Sauce, tomatoes, lettuce, & cheese In That order and I’m in Heaven. Bean tacos is my husband and my favorite meal. He had never had them until he came into my family and now he even will make them and have them ready by the time that I arrive home, since he works close to home & my job is 30 miles away.
    You have a great week Cheryl, I’ll be trying your blonde brownies, oh they sound delish. Love & hugs!!!

    1. Oh, Tonya! Those bean tacos sound so wonderful. When I was young, growing up here in Oklahoma, I was probably about 12 or so before I ever had a taco–and I thought those were the most wonderful things I ever ate! They are still one of my favorite foods. And listen, I could eat Mexican food every single meal. As I got older and more able to eat what I wanted when I went with friends, etc. living here in Oklahoma we all gravitated toward the wonderful Mexican food that became more and more available. I married a West Virginia guy and brought him back to Oklahoma and introduced him to Mexican food–he loves it as much as I do. I will be making these bean tacos, for sure–especially now that he is having to give up red meat for his health.

      Those blond brownies are just wonderful, Tonya. I could eat those (and have eaten them!) for breakfast. LOL

  2. Some of the recipes in books appeal tome by I have lots of food issues.

    1. Oh, Debra I’m sorry to hear about your food issues. I have been so incredibly lucky in my adult life. As a kid I was allergic to a lot of things (including chocolate) but thank goodness I’ve outgrown most all those allergies as I’ve gotten older.

  3. I don’t cook much anymore but I enjoy reading about meals in a book or recipes added.

    1. Melanie, I don’t either, now that the kids are grown and gone and it’s just the two of us. Sometimes I will make a big pot of beans, or stew, or chili, but usually all that in the fall/winter. In the summer in Oklahoma, it’s just not a good thing to heat up the kitchen for the two of us. And lawzies, how in the world did we ever live without a microwave?

  4. If I am cooking for more than just me, I don’t mine to cook, but for myself not so much. I love to read books that have good cooking scenes in the them. Makes me think, Hey I could do that….

    1. I cooked a big Easter dinner this year, Kathleen. And I swore again I would not ever do that again. LOL Not much help from anyone and I was so tired–I’d cooked stuff for 2 days. Everyone sat down and devoured the food and it was all overwith in less than an hour. Way less. LOL So, next year, we’ll probably just be looking at trying to find a place to go out and eat–and it’s harder than I realized to find a good place to eat on many of the holidays either due to them not being open or having to endure long lines/waiting time. Sometimes I just get really hungry for comfort food, and will make myself some hashbrowns or fried potatoes. I don’t do it often, but sometimes, I just have to! LOL

  5. Hi Cheryl, oh I love blondie brownies. My bff Tina makes them every year for our SuperBowl Chili Cook off. I have put foodie scenes in my city-slicker wagon train series because I remember some of those yummy Dutch oven meals from our real trip.And I guess once in a while I’ve used a pertinent food item in a historical. Mostly Arbuckle’s. My favorite thing to make is my late Aunt Grace’s banana bread. It’s simple, and I use the mixing bowl she gave me for my bridal shower more than 40 years ago. Good memories. Fortunately I married a fireman who loves to cook!

    1. I love banana bread, Tanya! And how lucky for you to be married to a guy who loves to cook! My son loves to cook, too–I think it’s because he loved chemistry so much all through his schooling and that’s another kind of chemistry. LOL I love good food–I appreciate it so much–but I just have never enjoyed preparing it and I guess that gene got “all used up” in my family with me being the youngest, because my mom and both my older sisters just loved to cook so much. Wish I did!

  6. I grew up on a farm with 3 brothers – needless to say I didn’t want to learn about cooking. So, I’m a terrible cook and hate to do it! My poor mom tried and she is a fabulous cook, but I didn’t get much of it into me. 🙂

    1. Susan, I don’t blame you. My mom tried too, and she loved to cook–and was a fantastic cook–she made up her own recipes and they always were wonderful. Made everything from scratch, too. But I just had no interest in it at all. I DO cook, but I’m pretty much self-taught and had to just make stuff out of box mixes for the first few years I was married, or follow a strict recipe. Now, I add stuff in that I think would be good, etc. but it took me a long time to get to that point.

  7. I love to cook and love to make up my concoction as I call my dishes for they usually consist of a little of this and that. My husband before he ask me to marry had me cook for him and he said he knew when he ate my cooking he certainly had to marry me, He said my cooking was his deciding factor in asking me to marry of course he tells me this after we marry. LOL! I also had a an aunt tell me once she knew why I stayed overweight it was because I cooked so damn good and she knew I ate it too LOL she is right!! I even have got a cowboys cook book that I bought after reading Western Historical Romance books because I wanted to try some dish I had read about in some book from back in the 1800s. I also even bought a campfire coffee pot just so I could make my coffee the way they do in the books. I would have loved to have lived back in the Old West and cooked on a Wood Burning Stove! I learned to cook by calling my Granny up and tell her what I was cooking and ask her what it was supposed to look like when done.

    1. Oh Cheryl by the way I love the 2 books I have read of yours Fire Eyes and The Half Breeds Woman. Wonderful throughly enjoyed both

      1. Yay! I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed the books! That makes my week, lady!

    2. Aw, Glenda, that made me smile! What a great memory about calling up your granny to learn what it was supposed to look like! I love that! And like you, I bought a couple of those cowboy cookbooks. When my hubby and I were first married, I would cook something new before he would get home from work. If it turned out icky, I would throw it out and always have my stash of pot pies in the freezer to fall back on that night! LOL Sometimes I would make the recipe again, if I had time. I only had to throw it out 2 or 3 times–but I didn’t tell him that until years later. LOL

  8. Hi Cheryl
    Your explanation makes me want to reread Sweet Savage Love!
    Sometimes I put too many eating scenes in my stories, because I enjoy cooking so much! Funny!
    Beautiful covers on your books. Lots of luck!!

    1. Oh, Char, I have that book on my keeper shelf and go back and re-read it every so often. That was the first actual historical romance I ever read and it made a huge impression. That scene just made me cry when I read it the first time. It just crushed me to know they’d been set up and to feel the despair from both of them for totally different reasons, and for them to not be able to even exchange a word of explanation that would have taken care of that entire problem! LOL But what a masterful scene that was. I won’t ever forget the impact it had.

      Thank you so much for your kind words! I love those covers, too, and will always be grateful to Livia and the way she works so hard to get the “perfect” cover for all of us. Thanks for stopping by!

  9. Yeah, can’t forget to feed your characters!! But then again, not everything is mentioned…. Like brushing teeth, showers, deodorant, drinking through the say to stay hydrated, etc. Sometimes the mundane things though can move along the story and show awesome traits of the characters.

    I remember one book where the girl was upset and decided to make brownies. She forgot to lock her door (despite a killer on the lose) and her man snuck in behind her and scared her…. Which led to a spoonful of batter being thrown on his chest. Which then led to….a need for a shower. Lol

    Another favorite book of mine included lots of meals/food mentioned. The guy over dinner asked the girl (after she went on and on about how her parents and grandparents had awesome food/recipes) if all her memories come with food. She answered yeah, cause food is love. He responded saying no, it wasn’t, but making it for the ones you love so they could brag about it was. I loved that scene. Melted me. Showed such beauty and love wrapped into caring and feeding your family, and having them together to spend time together and build those memories.

    1. Oh and I love to cook. And my hubby will tell you he loves to eat what I cook. Haha!! And we have a few secrets from his mom where I kinda took favorite place so he won’t even est a few of her dishes anymore. Eek! Lol

      1. LOLLOL! That makes me laugh! My hubby’s mom was a good cook–she had a HUGE family and really did cook some great meals. All comfort food, which is my favorite. My mom was the oldest of 11 siblings and grew up here in Oklahoma during the Depression and Dustbowl days. She made everything from scratch and I don’t think she ever made a bad meal–they were all wonderful! EXCEPT. Growing up I HATED her meatballs because she cooked them in some kind of mushroom sauce. UGH. And she made that a lot on Sundays. When I got married, I figured out why she made those so often. She was able to use a can of mushroom soup and her own concoction of added things to make the sauce/gravy and so it was much simpler! By that point in time, I had come to love those mushroom meatballs, and guess what? Hubby loved them, too! He asked for those a lot! LOL But…kids came along and they…didn’t…like…them. SIGH. Must have just been something that didn’t appeal to kids’ taste buds.

    2. Hi Michelle! That made me think of how, on the tv show BLUE BLOODS they always end with a family dinner–four generations at the table and the grandpa making this wonderful Sunday dinner for everyone–of course the others pitch in “a little”, but I think that’s supposed to be his big deal. I really enjoy that because you get to see a lot of their personalities and even the brothers who are both cops argue about how things should be done, etc. Then the sister, who is the ADA, I think, chimes in with that viewpoint, and of course the father and grandfather who were cops and commissioners have their sage advice to add. The “outsiders”–the grandkids and in-laws, also bring up some excellent points and that allows the viewer to see even more into the personalities of the family members. And you always know, no matter their differences or what happens to them from the outside world, they are going to be family and be very strong in that!

      A lot of people hate to eat alone–my husband is one of them. I’m used to it and always look forward to getting to sit down with a sandwich and a book! LOL

      That last scene you described sounded really sweet! I would have melted, too. I love things like that, especially where the guy has the ability to show he understands how important certain things are from the emotional aspect.

      Thanks for stopping by, Michelle! Always love to hear from you!

  10. I love to cook. I don’t do as much as I used to. We never seem to be home plus I am used to cooking for a large family and it is hard to scale it back for just the 2 of us. I was the oldest of 6 and we learned to cook early on. Fixing a nice pot roast was a favorite. There are lots of things I enjoy fixing. I made some Bourbon Balls to take on a recent trip and they are good treats. When we do special meals, we do chateaubriand, a baked potato or potato casserole (mashed potatoes, onions, sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese), green beans almandine, sour cream crescent rolls (these are so good they melt in your mouth and they are so fattening), red wine, a good rich coffee, and whatever I decide to do for dessert, maybe cheesecake or a pie. The chateaubriand is my husband’s specialty. I fix the rest. We have done the chateaubriand, roasted potatoes, and beans over a campfire using cast iron. I didn’t do it at the same time, but you can bake little cakes in cups made from orange skins, adding the pulpy juice to your cake batter. I did that with my Girl Scout troop.
    I can’t think of a specific scene in a book. I do like scenes that include working with children to cook. It is a good way to bond and spend time with them. It shows a lot about the patience of the adult and how good their sense of humor is. I loved cooking with our children and they learned early. Our son took a cooking class when he was 4.

    1. Oh, Patricia, that brought back fond memories for me! I was not a Girl Scout growing up–there was not a troop in our small town. But when my daughter started school, I’d volunteered to be a “helper”–and two days before our very first meeting, the “leader” called me and said she had decided not to do it but would help ME if I would be the leader. LOL Again, she backed out after the 1st meeting, but thankfully, I had two other moms who came to the rescue to help, and one of them had Girl Scouts in her blood! Her mom and her grandmother had all been scouts! So she knew everything. And boy, that was what we needed. The most fun thing we did, I think, was when we went camping (my family were not campers–never had truly been but a couple of times before) and we cooked on buddy burners we’d made in one of our meetings. First the bacon, for the grease, then either scrambled eggs or French toast. I think I enjoyed that as much as the girls did! LOL I didn’t know the thing about the cakes and orange skins.

      Now that you mention it, I love books with kids in them–and I seem to add kids to a lot of my books. Like you say, it’s a good way to show how the other characters interact and what their personalities are like, truly.

      So glad you stopped by! Always good to hear from you, Patricia!

Comments are closed.

Petticoats & Pistols © 2015