Category: Pam Crooks

Try It! You Might Like It! ~ Pam Crooks

Did your mother ever tell you that very thing when she placed a plate of something unfamiliar and distasteful-looking in front of you?  Mine sure did, and oftentimes, she was right!

My sister filly, Julie Benson, had a super-fun blog on pumpkin spice raves and flops in her blog last week.  So many of you joined in and shared your favorites.  If you haven’t had a chance to read “Pumpkin Spice Everything? Maybe Not” and all the comments, just click here.

One pumpkin spice marketing ploy that received several mentions was Pumpkin Spice Spam.  Not a single one of you had tried it–or wanted to.  Ewww!  I recalled seeing it on my grocery store shelf, and I had the same impression.  Ewww!  But when I decided to write this blog, I searched numerous stores and couldn’t find a single can.

So that led me to my friend, Google.  I came across several interesting articles.  And lo and behold, the novelty–and taste!–of Pumpkin Spice Spam was so greatly loved that the Limited Edition meat product sold out online in hours, and alas, is no longer available.  Anywhere.  Well, except eBay if you want to pay THAT much for it.  Hormel claims it has no plans to bring it back anytime soon.

For those of us who never gave Pumpkin Spice Spam a chance, those who did claimed it tasted like breakfast sausage or a Christmas ham.   Cinnamon, clove, allspice and nutmeg were added to the original Spam base, and nope, not a bit of pumpkin.

Who knew?

Hormel first introduced Spam on July 5, 1937, and derived its name from “spiced ham”.  Due to the difficulty of delivering fresh meat to the troops during World War II, Spam soared in popularity throughout the world.  It was the only canned meat that did not need refrigeration, was affordable, accessible and had a longer shelf life.  In the years since, literally billions of cans of Spam have been sold–and eaten.  Spam even boasts having its very own Spam Museum in Austin, Minnesota, all 14,000 square feet of it.

So yep, I grew up on the stuff.  We loved it.  In fact, I’ll share a recipe my mother made for us more times than I can count.  We ate tons of these!  And oh, my mouth is watering as I write.

Spam Jobbies (family nickname – but really an open-faced sandwich)

1 can Spam

Velveeta cheese

Ketchup

Hamburger buns

Grate equal measures of Spam and cheese into a bowl. Hold it together with ketchup.  Add 1 Tb. grated onion, if desired.  Spread over split hamburger buns.  Arrange on oven rack or cookie sheet.  Broil until edges begin to turn brown.

All this talk about foods that get a bad rap is not so different than what my hero went through in A CATTLEMAN’S UNSUITABLE WIFE.  Anyone who reads westerns likely knows that cattlemen despised the sheepherder.  Sheep ate valuable grass the cattle needed, and no self-respecting cattleman would ever eat a bite of mutton.

Well, guess what my poor hero, Trey Wells, had to do, thanks to the heroine’s cleverness.  Zurina–the daughter of a sheepherder–made sure she knocked Trey down a peg or two, and well, to find out what happens next, you’ll need to read their story.

Book 1 in the Wells Cattle Company Trilogy!  

Zurina Vasco despises Trey Wells for the power he wields over her people and their beloved sheep. But when tragedy strikes, there is no one else she can turn to for help but him.

Trey doesn’t have room in his life for a beautiful woman like Zurina–until the night his father is murdered. Only she can help him find the truth and satisfy the revenge he craves.

Bound by the secrets that will tear them apart, they flee into the wilds of Montana Territory and find a love worthy of legends.

#kindleunlimited

Available on Amazon

Did you eat Spam growing up?  How did you fix it?

What foods have you tried and you didn’t think you’d like, but did?

Let’s talk about foods that once made you go EWWW! and then made you go YUM!

A lucky person who comments will win a $5 Amazon Gift Card!

 

 

Updated: October 9, 2019 — 2:45 pm

Grandma’s Potato Tips. Who knew? ~ Pam Crooks

Who doesn’t love a potato?  Baked, boiled, fried, smashed, mashed or hashed, served with ranch dressing, sour cream, ketchup or just plain salt and pepper, they’ve been a staple in our diets for centuries.

Perhaps it’s only been recently that scientists have confirmed just how nutritious the vegetable is, too, particularly when cooked in its skin with little or no fat.  The potato is heaped with fiber, vitamin C, B vitamins, potassium, iron, zinc and calcium.

But, of course, our grandmothers didn’t know that.  They only knew it filled bellies and grew cheap.  They also knew it had other benefits as well.

I’ve collected fun little pamphlets about recipes and remedies from our pasts and always enjoy reading how mothers and grandmothers took care of their families using what little they had.  Some were clever.  Some made me frown.  Some grossed me out.  But all were fascinating, and I’d love to share of few from my collection.

Medicinal Tips, in the patient’s own words:

“I had a wart on my hand as a child growing up in Brooklyn.  My mother cut a potato in half and rubbed it on the wart, then she buried the potato.  The wart disappeared and never returned.”

“When I had a headache as a child, my grandmother would slice a potato, put the slices on my forehead and tie them with a bandanna.”

“A potato poultice will give rapid relief from sunburn.  Grate raw potato and spread between two layers of gauze.  Apply to the face or other affected parts  For severe sunburn, a doctor’s advice is necessary.”

“To soothe swollen eyelids, apply raw potato cut in rounds each morning and evening.”

“If there is no broken skin, rub minor burns with a slice of raw potato.”

“When we were growing up in the 1920s (there were 14 of us kids), if we got sick, Mama cooked sliced potatoes on top of a wood stove. After the potatoes were brown on both sides, she put salt and homemade butter on them. We kids thought that was really worth getting sick for.”

**Disclaimer:  These tips are for your reading pleasure only.  I do not endorse them in any way. If needed, please consult your doctor.

Handy tips from the kitchen:

“To rescue over-salted dishes, put some rounds of raw potato in the middle of the dish.”

“Boiled potatoes for a salad will absorb less oil and taste better if you sprinkle them with white wine while they are still warm.  Add the dressing when they have absorbed the wine.”

“Rubbing a raw potato on your shoes before polishing them helps to make your shoes shiny.”

Of course, we can’t have a blog on potatoes without including a recipe, can we?

Cheesy Vegetable and Potato Soup

4 chicken bouillon cubes

1 1/2 cups of potatoes (I add more)

1 cup chopped celery

1/2 cup diced onion

1 20 oz bag California blend vegetables (or two 12 oz.)

2 cans 98% fat-free cream of chicken soup

1 lb lite Velveeta cheese

1 can chopped chilies

  1. In small stock pot, dissolve bouillon cubes in 4 cups of water.  Add potatoes, celery and onion.  Cook 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, cook California blend vegetables until tender.  Drain and chop into smaller pieces.
  3. Add to potato mixture and cook about 6 minutes.
  4. Add both cans of soup, the Velveeta cheese and chilies.  
  5. Stir to melt cheese and heat through.

Note:  I made this often when I was on Weight Watchers.  It’s surprisingly low in calories and so good!  You can use more potatoes and Mexican Velveeta cheese but they will be a bit higher in calories.

What about you, your mother or grandmother?  Did they use a potato for a home remedy?  What other home remedies did your family use?

 

Be sure to stop back and see if your name has been added to the list of semi-finalists! 

You can’t win if you don’t comment, right?

Old-Time Surgeons & Modern-Day Robots ~ Pam Crooks

As I write this, I’m recuperating from hernia surgery.  I’ve always been blessed with excellent health, and this was my first surgery ever.  Needless to say, I didn’t know what to expect after they wheeled me out of the operating room. 

But I admit to an undying gratitude for modern-day medicine.  In my case, the surgeon was very skilled, he commonly does hernia surgery, and recovery is faster than it’s ever been. In fact, my paperwork listed the procedure as “Robotic assisted laparoscopic bilateral inguinal hernia repair.”

Quite a mouthful, isn’t it?  But one word should jump out at you.

Robotic.

That’s right.  My surgeon used a robot to help him fix my hernias.

Oh, my, my, my.  What a far cry from surgeries in the 19th century.  While researching with the assistance of Doctor Google (hey, who doesn’t run to Google when they need a little self-diagnosing?) I came across an interesting story that I’d love to share with you.

Dr. Ephraim McDowell was a respected frontier surgeon in Kentucky in the early 1800’s when he traveled to a primitive cabin to examine 45-year-old Mrs. Jane Crawford, who, due to her protruding stomach, believed she was pregnant with twins.  However, after examination, Dr. McDowell determined Jane wasn’t pregnant at all, but instead carried a massive tumor in her abdomen.  He advised her he would attempt to remove the tumor, but she had to ride to his home in Danville where he had surgical tools and medical staff to help.

Mother of four children, Jane was forced to make the decision whether to have the surgery and risk death–or keep the tumor . . . and risk death.  After what must’ve been great angst, she left her children with her husband and traveled alone by horseback SIXTY miles through treacherous Kentucky wilderness to the surgeon’s home.

Yikes. 

Once she arrived, he bade her rest several days for stamina to endure the ordeal, er, operation. He often performed his surgeries on Sundays so that the prayers offered at his church would be with him. Indeed, he carried a special prayer in his pocket for divine intervention as he performed the surgery.

Now, mind you, they did not have anesthetic in those days. While poor Jane relied on uttering her psalms for strength, Dr. McDowell relied on two medical assistants and a nurse to hold her down while he made a twelve-inch incision in her belly.  Immediately, her intestines spilled forth, forcing him to turn her over onto her side to get them out of the way so he could delve deeper–and see what he was doing!–to remove the tumor.

Well, after twenty-five agonizing, perspiring but steady-handed minutes, he succeeded. The tumor was out and weighed TWENTY-TWO POUNDS.  

Five days later, she was strong enough to make her bed.  By the end of three weeks, she climbed back onto that horse and made the arduous sixty-mile journey through that Kentucky wilderness to return to her family.

What a joyous reunion that must’ve been, eh?  She went on to live another 32 years.

Later, Dr. McDowell was named the “Father of Abdominal Surgery” and was known for cleanliness while he worked, a factor that no doubt helped many of his patients to live.

For me, it was just my husband and a nurse in the recovery room after the 90-minute procedure.  Afterward, he made a five-minute drive in an air-conditioned car to take me home. 

What a difference a couple of centuries makes, eh?

Needless to say, I’m happy to live in this day and age with its medical marvels.  I’ll be the first to admit I’m no Jane Crawford.  I’m pretty sure I’d be a sniveling wimp if I’d had to go through what she did!

How about you?  Have you had a surgery before?  Two or three?  Are you a wimp when it comes to pain?  

 

Updated: September 2, 2019 — 8:19 pm

It’s here! The C Bar C Ranch Duo! ~ Pam Crooks

 

Hot off the press! 

KIDNAPPED BY THE COWBOY

Book 2 of the C Barb C Ranch Duo is now available! 

 

 

So what does the word ‘series’ mean to you.  Two?  Three or more?

Merriam Webster defines series as “a succession of volumes or issues published with related subjects or authors, similar format and price, or continuous numbering.”  But the respected dictionary doesn’t define at what number a series makes.

In my opinion, anything two or more, as long as they are related, fits a series.  As you may know, series are extremely popular in the romance world.  Authors could typically have a half-dozen books in one series.  Multi-author groups could have their series stretch on for literally dozens of books.

In my case, The C Bar C Ranch series is two books with related characters on the same ranch.  Two books.  A duo, right?  Or a series, if you will.

Let me tell you a bit about my duo of stories that will always have a special place in my heart and were a joy to write.

Book 1

http://amzn.to/2TPWiJg

Carina Lockett is driven to build a legacy for her young daughter, and she doesn’t need a man to help her do it. But when her precious child is lured away and held for ransom, she must swallow her pride and ask for Penn McClure’s help.

Penn McClure had no intention of playing cowboy for any woman, especially one as strong-willed as Carina.

But driving a herd of cattle to Dodge City was no easy task. And he had a score to settle with the man waiting for them at the end of the trail.

Along the way, he discovers Carina is pure female–and that her legacy has become his own.

#kindleunlimited  #singletitle  #sensualromance

Buy on Amazon or read in KU

 

Book 2

Callie Mae Lockett is betrayed by the man who claims he’s responsible for her young brother’s tragic death. She chooses another to help carry on her precious legacy, the C Bar C Ranch , and he’s the farthest thing from a cowboy she’s ever met.

TJ Grier has always been one of the C Bar C’s best cowboys, but one horrible night destroys all he’s ever known.

Desperate to prove his innocence, he steals Callie Mae away, and together they plunge into danger to solve the secret that has torn them apart.

#kindleunlimited  #singletitle  #sensualromance

 

Buy on Amazon or read in KU

 

Would you like to win a copy of KIDNAPPED BY THE COWBOY?

Many of my books are in a series.  Just tell me if you’ve ever read one of them.  If so, which one? Or two?   Otherwise, what series have you read and loved?

Here’s a few of my western romances in a series:

                                    http://amzn.to/2TPWiJg     

Updated: August 8, 2019 — 7:42 am

From Barbie to Wild Bill Hickock: The Allure of the Dead ~ Pam Crooks

If you’re a history lover like me, there’s something fascinating about famous historical people.  DEAD famous historical people.  Nothing like visiting a grave to get my imagination juices going about the life they led, the death they may (or may not) have suffered, and what the world they lived in would’ve been like.

A few years ago, my husband and I visited Deadwood, South Dakota.  Seeing the Mount Moriah Cemetery outside of town was a tourist must.  First stop was Wild Bill Hickock’s plot. His burial was in 1879.

Wild Bill Hickock Grave

You can see how large his plot is and how well the community cares for it.  He did, after all, put Deadwood on the map.

Nearby was Calamity Jane’s (Martha Jane Burke) grave.  To this day, I’m not sure where her grave began or where it ended.  It was quite a large retaining wall with the plaque bearing her name.

If you get a chance to visit Deadwood’s famous cemetery, you’ll see even more burial places of notorious characters from the Wild West. But I didn’t have to travel far from home to discover some fascinating graves right here in my own city.

Holy Sepulchre Cemetery

Holy Sepulchre Cemetery is Omaha’s oldest, active cemetery.  The first recorded burial was on June 6, 1873. Holy Sepulchre is special because many members of my family are buried here, the oldest being my great-great grandmother, Salvatarice Salerno, who emigrated to America from Carlentini, Sicily, in the mid-1800s.  My husband and I have burial plots there, too.  In fact, our marker is already in place.

It was extremely important to my parents, especially my father, to keep the memories of our ancestors alive.  With his help, I wrote a map and detailed directions to each grave so we can “take the tour” every year and decorate the graves.

Last month, we took our daughters and grandchildren “on the tour.”  Along the way, we found some pretty fascinating graves of some pretty fascinating people.

Have you heard of Edward Creighton?  Along with his brother, John, he was one of Omaha’s earliest and most prominent businessmen who contributed substantially to our city’s growth.

One of his legacies is Creighton University. 

Creighton University

Three of our four daughters attended college there, as well as numerous other family members.  In fact, two daughters were married at the beautiful St. John’s Church on its campus.  You can see it here in this aerial view of Creighton’s campus today.

Creighton Campus

I’m sure Edward is smiling in his grave at the legacy he started that is thriving today as a world-renowned educational institution.

Anyway, back to the graves.  As a testament to his wealth and prestige, he and his family occupy a good chunk of land at Holy Sepulchre.

Creighton Obelisk

His obelisk is a landmark in the cemetery.

Creighton Family Markers

There are plain markers around the obelisk for various Creighton family members. I found them quite unusual.

Holy Sepulchre is home to many who once led very colorful lives.  Vincent Chiodo was one of them. This is his mausoleum.

Vincent Chiodo Mausoleum

He was Omaha’s first Italian millionaire.  He made his money in real estate and helped build homes for newly-arrived immigrants from his home country, which gained him their unwavering respect and honor. 

Along with all the good works he did, though, his life was full of tragedy and drama.  He was acquitted of murder twice, lost his fortune in the 1929 crash, and endured the death of his beloved son in his home. The death remains a mystery to this day.

Chiodo home

But his mansion still stands.  If you’d like to read more about him, here’s a recent article about him in our Omaha newspaper.  Just click HERE.

Ah, but I’m saving my favorite for last.  Again, thanks to an article in the newspaper, I learned about another famous person who rests at Holy Sepulchre.  She was much less flamboyant than Edward Creighton or Vincent Chiodo, but her legacy endures today in a different way.

I, like millions of other little girls, loved my Barbie dolls.  Charlotte Johnson was born and raised here in Omaha, but moved to Los Angeles where she became a fashion designer and instructor. In the mid-1950s, while working alongside Ruth Handler, who co-owned Mattel with her husband and is credited with conceiving the idea for the Barbie doll, it was Charlotte who designed Barbie herself, along with her glamorous wardrobe that so many little girls dreamed of having for their own.

I thought it was just the COOLEST thing she was in my cemetery!

Sadly, Charlotte never had a daughter of her own to play with the doll she helped create into an international sensation.  She died in Los Angeles, but came back home to Omaha to be buried.

Charlotte Johnson’s Niche

To learn more about Charlotte, click HERE

How about you?  Have you visited any famous graves?  Do you find them fascinating?  Any cool stories to tell?

 

Let’s chat, and you can be eligible to win an ebook of my new contemporary romance, A COWBOY AND A PROMISE (currently on sale for $1.99!)

 

Buy on Amazon

Or visit the Tule Publishing Bookstore for all formats!

 

Warning! Tim McGraw will make you cry.

For those of you who lived through the Vietnam War, you’ll remember the violence and discontent from our country’s involvement.  As crazy as it sounds, many Americans blamed our soldiers for being there, and their suffering and the terrible things they witnessed made no difference to those back home.  The soldiers were shunned and rebuked upon their return to US soil.  They were made to be the enemy when they were, in truth, fighting to help keep us all free, something everyone should have appreciated more than they did.

Nowadays, thankfully, the tide has turned, and the men and women in our military are honored and revered, as they should be.  Patriotism is surging.  The flag once again flies with respect.  Who can keep a dry eye while watching a news clip of a soldier dad returning home to surprise his child?

One of the ways to show our patriotism is through songs and videos.  Yesterday, my sister-filly, Cheryl Pierson, wrote an excellent blog with many examples of patriotic songs, and our readers loved chiming in.

Funny how great minds think alike.

Tim McGraw is one of my top three country singers, and I’m sharing his popular video for “If You’re Reading This.”

During our Special Event week celebrating patriotism, please enjoy.  And be sure to grab a Kleenex.

Updated: June 24, 2019 — 4:24 pm

Taking a Book and Making it REAL ~ Pam Crooks

Just this past Saturday, June 1st, I had the pleasure of releasing a new book.  TRACE is Book 1 in the Bachelors and Babies series, and I threw a baby shower in our readers group to celebrate.  It was fun, a little different, and the whole event was very celebratory.

But to get to that point–a finished book–is not nearly as much fun and much more stressful.  Since I was the launch book, the pressure doubled.  I had to have a book as good as I could possibly make it to build the buzz and give my sister-authors a boost.

One of the ways to make a book GOOD is to make it REAL.  To do that, I relied on pictures to help my writing about Trace and Morgana (the hero and heroine) be more vivid and to immerse the reader in the time period.

TRACE is set in Wallace, Kansas, which was an authentic cow town in 1881.  Today, it’s a shadow of its former self. Here’s a few of my pictures.

I based Morgana’s home on this photo, and a large portion of the book is set here.  It really was a house in Wallace and still stands today.

One of Morgana’s dresses.

After a terrible tragedy, Morgana immerses herself in music.  The harp is her favorite.

Another picture crucial to the story.  Baby’s carriage.  (You’ll just have to read the book to figure out why a baby carriage is crucial.  Ha!)

Any idea what this is?  It’s a vaporizer!  They were new to the medical community at the time, and I was thrilled to find that they were just beginning to use them in 1881.  This vaporizer is extra, extra crucial to the story.  Yep!  Read the book to find out how.

These are the books in the series.  They’ll come out the first of every month.  You’ll see some familiar names, including my sister-filly, WINNIE GRIGGS, and former filly, CHERYL ST.JOHN.

 

And the most important picture of all!

Buy on Amazon.

#sweetromance

#kindleunlimited

Let’s chat and you can win a copy of TRACE (ebook).

TRACE is Book 1 of the Bachelors and Babies series.  The books are not connected (except for the sudden arrival of a baby!) and stand on their own.

Do you like to read series books, connected or not?  What is their appeal to you?  Do you prefer a sweeter romance or something a little more gritty?

Join the Bachelors & Babies Readers Group on Facebook to meet the authors and learn about upcoming releases!  https://www.facebook.com/groups/2143576775865837/

 

Updated: June 6, 2019 — 9:39 pm

Rubbing Elbows with the Rich and Not-So-Famous ~ Pam Crooks

 

Through the ages, savvy businessmen have earned their wealth with a vision and brilliance that others had yet to fathom. Some earned their money with ingenuity, some with skill, others with luck for being in the right place at the right time. For the vast majority of us who weren’t blessed with such fortune, it’s hard to imagine having so much money, one can’t even count it all.

Here’s a few of the richest men in history, with their worth adjusted for inflation:

 John D. Rockefeller – $367 billion. Made his fortune in petroleum beginning in the 1860s.

 

Andrew Carnegie – $337 billion – Made his fortune in steel in the mid-1800s

Cornelius Vanderbilt – $202 billion – Made his fortune in the railroads and before that, steamships, also in the mid-1800s.

To their credit, Rockefeller and Carnegie were generous philanthropists who gave away much of their fortune to charitable causes. Vanderbilt, however, kept his fortune until he died and left 95% to a son, William, (one of thirteen children) and William’s four children. Bet there was some squabbling there from the other twelve, don’t you think? Yikes!

There are few men more wealthy today than Warren Buffet. Warren is special because his fortune began right here in my hometown of Omaha. He still lives in the same home he bought in 1958 in a modest, though very nice, neighborhood. Part of his charm is his thriftiness. I remember seeing him in our local grocery store buying a few cases of Coke (his beverage of choice) when it was on sale. Warren is worth $90 billion dollars and is listed by Forbes as the 3rd richest man in America, behind Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates.

His best pal and right-hand man is Charlie Munger. Together, they have made Berkshire-Hathaway into a world-renowned investment company with eye-popping success. Charlie is worth $2 billion.

I am fortunate to own some BH stock (not the good A stock, mind you, which is worth $315,000 (approximately) a share). Being a stockholder enables us to get into the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting, which is also right here in Omaha, always the first weekend in May.

It is an EVENT, let me tell you. Besides commercial planes, private jets from around the world crowd our airport (about 110 private jets over the weekend.) Tens of thousands of people come to Omaha for the weekend to listen to Warren and Charlie give advice and talk about the year’s investments.  Not only are these guys entertaining and witty, they are SMART!!  They can quote percentages, stocks, companies and logic like men a fraction of their ages.  Oh, did I tell you Warren is 89 years old and Charlie is 95 years old?

My husband and I go to the shareholders meeting nearly every year just to breathe in the atmosphere. It’s fun, organized and INCREDIBLE to mingle with stockholders from so many countries.

One of the highlights of the weekend is the shopping. Literally thousands flow into our big convention center to snatch up BH companies’ products at special prices just for shareholders.  Dairy Queen ice cream treats and Coca-Cola are favorites!

Here’s a few fun pictures:

With “Warren” at the Pampered Chef exhibit

A luxury sports boat with leather everywhere

A special price for said luxury boat just for shareholders–$125,611.00.  A bargain!

Warren Clothing

A juggler

Really running joggers at the cool Brooks Brothers exhibit

Press box for multiple media outlets eager to talk with and about Warren and Charlie!

Are you a Berkshire Hathaway stockholder?  Have you ever rubbed elbows with some really RICH people?  Do you like to dabble in money? What would you buy if you were super-rich? 

Super-Hero Charlie and Warren Rubber Duckies

Let’s chat!  I’m giving away some collector rubber duckies dressed as Super-Hero Charlie and Warren. I tell ya, people were buying these like crazy! A fun keepsake for a fun weekend!

Updated: May 8, 2019 — 8:29 am