The Legend of … TORTELLINI! by Pam Crooks

It’s National Tortellini Day!

There’s a “National Day” for everything, it seems, right? But this one caught my eye because, well, who doesn’t love tortellini?

I don’t recall my mother ever making it. Being Italian, my family had plenty of pasta in our lives, but we were pretty much restricted to spaghetti, mostaccioli, macaroni, bow ties, and occasionally orzo.  (Although, in fairness, grocery stores in my day were decidedly limited compared to the super-stores we shop at today,)

So I began wondering just how long has tortellini been around?  Macaroni has been available in mercantiles throughout the west, and the noodles filled many a cowboy’s stomach, but something as fancy as tortellini?

Well, lo and behold, tortellini has been around a lo-ong time.

Legend claims that Tortellini was inspired by the goddess Venus’ navel. An Italian medieval legend tells how Venus and Zeus, weary one night after their involvement in a battle between Bologna and Modena, arrive at a tavern in a small town on the outskirts of Bologna. After eating a hearty dinner and becoming slightly drunk, they decide to share a bedroom. The innkeeper, captivated after watching them, creeps to their room and peeks through the keyhole of the bedroom door. However, all he can see through the keyhole is the navel of Venus. This vision leaves him spellbound – so much so that he immediately rushes to the kitchen and creates a pasta inspired by Venus’ navel…and so was born the Tortellini.

—www.barilla.com

Cool, eh?  Fun, fascinating, and true?  Maybe. Maybe not.

It’s a legend, right? But I’ll bet you’ll always remember that tortellini was inspired by a famous goddess’ belly button!  I know I will.

How about I share a super-simple and refreshing salad recipe?

Tortellini Caesar Salad

Dressing:

3 Tb lemon juice

2 Tb water

1 1/2 Tb vegetable oil

1 tsp anchovy paste

1/8 tsp ground pepper

1 close garlic, crushed

Salad:

9 oz cheese tortellini, cooked, drained, and cooled

1 head lettuce, cut up

Plenty of FRESH grated parmesan cheese

Combine dressing ingredients and whisk well.

Place lettuce and tortellini in a large bowl. Toss in dressing and top with parmesan cheese.

Serve cold.

**Note: I never make the dressing included in the recipe but use a good bottle of Caesar salad dressing. The above recipe is low in calories, but the dressing is what a salad is all about, right? 

Happy National Tortellini Day!

How about you? Do you love legends?  What’s your favorite? Robin Hood? Lady Godiva?

Do you love pasta? How do you prepare your tortellini?

Please share, and since Valentine’s Day is TOMORROW, I’ll send one of you who comments this gold, sparkly, heart-shaped bottle opener!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

 

                                                         

              AMAZON                                                                                                  AMAZON

Happy New Year’s Eve/Eve and a Low-Cal Cocktail!

Have y’all been enjoying Jingle Jangle Spurs? 

As most of you know, the fillies take the last two weeks off from the regular blogging schedule so we can enjoy the holidays, too.  But we want to keep the festive spirit alive and let you know we’re still thinking of you.  So every year, we try hard to stir up something fun for everyone.

I’m bringing up the tail end of Jingle Jangle Spurs, and even though Christmas is over, New Year’s is just around the corner.  Have you ever wondered how the custom of ringing in the New Year with champagne or a lively cocktail began?

It’s said that after Julius Caesar fiddled with the pagan calendar and ultimately added January, he ordered Roman consuls to begin their new terms then.  Hence, in addition to looking forward to the end of winter, the people heralded in some new politicians as well, and took up the opportunity to celebrate.

The practice of heralding the new year spread across Europe and eventually America in the 1800s. Settlers stayed awake until midnight firing their guns, setting off fireworks, and tolling church bells. Some even went door to door demanding drinks like spiked punch and lemonade, along with snacks. Can’t you just imagine the festive atmosphere with the air filled with noise and raucous (and maybe a little drunken) fun?

Later in the decade, champagne emerged as the cocktail of choice in society parties and fine restaurants. I suspect most of you reading this can recall lifting a glass of bubbly after 9 p.m. on New Year’s Eve?

My husband and I don’t go out to celebrate like we used to, but I’d love to share my favorite Sangria recipe that’s easy to make, festive and LOW CALORIE to boot!

Even better, you don’t have to wait until New Year’s Eve to enjoy it.

 

Tropical Sangria

1 750 ml bottle of white zinfadel wine (use red wine, if you prefer!)

1/4 cup orange liqueur like Cointreau

1 unpeeled orange, thinly sliced

1 unpeeled lime, thinly sliced

8 oz can pineapple chunks or slices, undrained

2 cups lime or lemon-lime seltzer, club soda or carbonated water, chilled

Combine all into large pitcher EXCEPT seltzer. Stir and chill at least 4 hours or overnight.

Add the chilled seltzer just before serving.

 

Wishing you all a healthy, safe and prosperous New Year!

 

 

Read a Book, Have a Party, Help a Cowboy! By Pam Crooks

Just like football players, hockey players, soccer players, etc, professional rodeo cowboys get hurt, too.  Sometimes badly and without the protection of over-sized pads. They are athletes in every sense of the word, and when they are knocked out of the competition due to injuries, their paychecks take a big hit, too.  

That’s where the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund (JCCF) comes in.  The Justin Boot Company teemed up with the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association to form the JCCF as a non-profit charity organization.

To learn more:  https://www.justincowboycrisisfund.org

From the JCCF website:

“JCCF had awarded nearly $8 million in need-based financial assistance to almost 1,100 injured rodeo athletes and their families.

100% of all proceeds go to eligible athletes.”

I love that.  100%.

Who hasn’t heard of big name charities who pay their CEOs hundreds of thousands of dollars in bonuses and benefits and who rake in millions of dollars to pay fancy overhead when the donors think they are helping the needy?  They are, of course, but on a smaller level and not as much as they think they are.

Also from the JCCF website:

“This uncommon practice for a charitable organization (100% of proceeds) is made possible by the joint commitment of the Justin Boot Company and the PRCA, which underwrite all administrative costs associated with managing the JCCF, leaving all monies received through contributions (and as investment earnings) to serve their intended purpose.”

Bravo!!

And that’s where the rest of us come in.  Raising the funds to help the JCCF do their wonderful and charitable works of which 100% goes to qualifying professional rodeo cowboys.

Well . . . it just so happens that TODAY Shanna Hatfield is hosting her 6th annual “Cowboys and Christmas Facebook Party” and it’s bigger than ever.  I have the honor of kicking off the festivities, and I’ll be joined by sister filly Kit Morgan–and Shanna, of course. Fifteen guest authors in all.

Shanna explains:

“The party gets underway Thursday at 10 a.m. Pacific Time (so that’s 11 Mountain, Noon Central, and 1 Eastern). Entries for giveaways will remain open until the following morning, so even if you can’t participate in the party during all the action, you can still check in after the fact and get in on the goodies!”

Trust me.  There will be a TON of goodies. 

Please come!  Just click – Cowboys and Christmas – to join the group!

It’ll be fast-paced and fun.  Here are the particulars:

We hope to see you there!

 

 

Do you have a favorite charity?  Do you try to give to the less fortunate at this special time of year?  Are you coming to Shanna’s party? (I know some of you are!)  Are you a little cautious about donating to big-name charities because of their high overhead?

 

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!

 

 

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?  

 

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