Oysters & Champagne – New Year’s Celebration in the Old West


Champagne and oysters were a favorite combination to ring in the new year on the frontier. As odd as it may seem, oysters were a trendy food in America during the 19th century. While they were mainly imported from the East Coast, some came from Mexico and the West Coast.

In Grant, Nebraska, The Perkins County Herald advertised dances and oyster suppers to their subscribers. And in the beloved Little House on the Prairie series, author Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote that she had never tasted anything as good as “the sea-tasting hot milk with oysters at the bottom” when Ma, Pa and the three girls dined on oyster stew with neighbors on New Year’s Day.

While it seems a little incongruent for pioneers to be dining on what we perceive as delicacies on the frontier, it was surprising to learn that during the late 1800s through the turn of the century, oysters were cheaper than meat, poultry or fish thanks to plentiful oyster beds all along the East Coast. Chicago, St. Louis, and other inland cities throughout the Midwest imported the mollusks from the east, then shipped them, usually by rail, to the western frontier in large barrels full of small tins packed in ice.

Oysters were used by ladies in Helena, Montana in 1875 to raise funds for the Catholic church. Held at the International Hall, they advertised “…refreshments, including oysters in every style will be served at all hours…”

Kansas City, Missouri, celebrated the arrival of 1891 in high style with oysters, champagne, and a snowstorm. As the wicked weather continued, one host treated guests to oysters in cream, ham basted in champagne sauce, lobster salad, Saratoga chips, Roman punch, ladyfingers, fruits, and nuts.

In 1892, San Franciscan residents ushered in the new year in style. Those who could afford to dine at the luxurious Palace Hotel feasted on turkey, chicken, ham, pressed meats, salad with fried oysters, asparagus on toast, artichokes with hollandaise sauce, and prime rib of beef. If they had left room for dessert, they could choose from English trifle, plum pudding with rum sauce, mincemeat, apple or pumpkin pie, and coconut cream sandwiches…and if that wasn’t enough, they could end the meal with ices that included orange water, strawberry, and pistachio ice cream!


Although champagne in the mid-19th century could only come from France, winemakers from California were already creating some sparkling wines. German immigrant, Jacob Schram founded Schramsberg Vineyards on Diamond Mountain in Napa Valley, California in 1862.

Mt. Diamond property

Hillside caves for wine-aging & storage

The Jacob Schram family

Today, Schram, Cooks, and Korbel are still made in California. They were and still are wildly popular and well-known. In 1887, French champagne averaged about $30 a bottle…compare that to a miner’s salary which was $4 per day!

The New Year’s meal on the frontier was an occasion that looked to the future, where families welcomed neighbors and visitors, and perhaps mended fences and worked out (or forgot!) differences. It was a time to realize that a united front was certainly the most beneficial, both for individuals and for the community as a whole.

From our home to yours,

Neither my husband nor I like oysters or champagne; nor do we normally go out on New Year Eve. As for watching the ball drop, we haven’t seen it proclaim a new year since 2000…and amazingly, life still went on!!! For a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card, leave a comment to the question below:

How do you celebrate New Year’s Eve? Dinner at a restaurant? Host a family & friends party? A quiet evening at home on the couch?

Winner will be chosen by Random.org.


Kaitlene Dee Tells About Traveling Food, Covered Wagons, and Romance!

Get ready for a fun time. This week, the Fillies are entertaining Kaitlene Dee aka Tina Dee and she’ll talk about covered wagons, the food they prepared on the trail, and some romance. She mentions a giveaway so don’t miss that.

In my new story, Grace, which is part of the Prairie Roses Collection, nineteen-year-old Grace loses her best friend and inherits her three-year-old daughter, Emma. It was her friend’s dying wish that Grace would raise Emma because the little girl is without any other family.

Adam begrudgingly comes to the rescue of Grace and Emma with a marriage of convenience proposal—and together, they set out to help an elderly couple of sisters move their tea shop business from one town to another in a covered wagon to carry the sisters’ precious bone china and heirloom cabinet. They head from northern California to southern California. What should only take two to three weeks travel time turns out to be a much longer trip, ripe with danger and disaster. In all this, Grace and Adam find out how much they must trust in God as He guides them into discovering that they truly need one another.

Personally, I love outdoor cooking, and writing this story was fun with all the cooking that goes on in it. I enjoyed researching foods pioneers packed and ate for their journeys. Guidebooks made suggestions to hopeful travelers on things to pack in their provisions.

But most interesting to me, was the spices. Some were used for medicinal purposes, as well as for flavoring. Some curatives that were packed were: Cinnamon bark for the relief of diarrhea and nausea and to aid against digestive issues, cloves for its antiseptic and anti-parasitic properties, and nutmeg or mace, which were used for tonics. (FoodTimeline.org –an awesome and fun resource! They refer to Randolph B. Marcy’s A Handbook for Overland Expeditions, a valuable resource manual for those traveling west).

Some folks also packed potable meat (cooked meat packed tightly into a jar, then covered with some sort of fat such as butter, lard, or maybe tallow and then sealed), and portable soups, desiccated dried or canned vegetables, powdered pumpkin, and dried fruits. These were a surprise to me since, prior to research, I pretty much thought their only options were beans, cornmeal mush, biscuits, bacon, flour, milk if they had a cow, and eggs.

On their journey, Adam used oxen to pull the covered wagon because they were strong, dependable, and able to do well on less abundant food sources. It was fun researching about wagons as well. I didn’t know the wagons carried a pail of pitch under the wagon bed. But discussing covered wagons is for a future post.

The story of Grace is a Christian marriage of convenience, pioneer romance set in the western frontier and is part of the multi-author Prairie Roses Collection. All books in the series are stand-alone stories and can be read in any order. Not all of the stories are set on the Oregon Trail, some travel across state or from one state to another, but all of the stories are romances that occur while on their covered wagon journeys. They are in Kindle Unlimited and are also available for ebook purchase on Amazon.

Next spring, I’ll be contributing two more stories to the Prairie Rose Collection. The stories will be ripe with adventure, romance, and food and I’ll make sure they satisfy your Old West reading cravings.

What kind of food would you pack to bring on a journey like this? Anything special?

Leave a comment to be entered in the drawing for an ebook copy of GRACE

Kaitlene Dee lives on the west coast, enjoys outings along the coast and in the nearby mountains, hiking, supporting dog rescues and outdoor cooking and camping. She also writes contemporary western Christian romances as Tina Dee. Kaitlene and Tina’s books can be found on Amazon.

Please feel invited to join my newsletter at and receive a free story: Kaitlene & Tina Dee’s Newsletter

Please follow me on Bookbub at Kaitlene Dee: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/kaitlene-dee

Potato Candy Anyone?

Ahh, research! What amazing things you find. Have you ever heard of potato candy? Apparently, women made it pretty regularly in the Depression from recipes brought over from Russian, Irish, and German immigrants in the 19th century who came through the Appalachian Mountains.

With only three ingredients, it was cheap to make and that was a definite plus.

Though a large portion of potatoes are used, it doesn’t have the potato taste. It consists of leftover mashed potatoes, powdered sugar and peanut butter. It’s rolled into a log and chilled. You don’t cook it. Just slice and serve.

The starches in the potatoes turn this into something smooth and creamy. Kinda like fudge or divinity.

Instructions: Boil a small, peeled potato cut into chunks until it’s very soft. Place into a bowl and mash until it’s smooth and no lumps. Next incorporate 4-6 cups of Powdered Sugar into the mixture. It’ll be very sticky at first but get thicker as you go and wind up the consistency of cookie dough. Then roll out on a piece of wax paper and spread it with either peanut butter, Nutella, chocolate or any other filling you want. Roll into a log and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Slice and serve.

Some cooks like to add a teaspoon of vanilla to the mashed potatoes before the powdered sugar. Your choice. And some people prefer to roll into balls and dip in melted chocolate! Wow.

But, I hear your minds turning. How did those early setters get powered sugar?

The answer is they made it themselves. They blended regular sugar with corn starch and sifted. The ratio is one tablespoon corn starch with one cup of sugar.

Modern cooks use a food processor or any other high-powered mixer and it’s much easier and faster than hand sifting.

I had never heard of this until a writer friend mentioned that her mother used to make when she was a kid. I don’t think my mom ever knew about this or she would’ve made it. She liked to experiment and made us mayonnaise cakes, Coca Cola cakes, 7-UP cakes and anything unusual. She had a huge sweet tooth.

There’s also Potato Fudge. I image the list goes on.

What is the most fun and interesting thing on any subject that you discovered, present or past?

Now shifting gears….

Courting Miss Emma is coming out on November 7 and I made a book trailer for it. I’m so proud of myself. Usually I have to get my sister’s help. Not this time.

A little about this second book in the Hangman’s Daughters series. Emma Taggart has been run of town and told not to return simply because of her father’s occupation. She’s 26 years old and never been courted once so she’s resigned to living out her life as a spinster. But a new neighbor moves next door to the orphanage she runs and her life begins to change. Stone Landry has just mustered out of the Frontier Army and has brought a pair of camels he rescued. It’ll take both of them joining forces to defeat the man determined to take their land.

So, I hope you watch the short video and preorder the book. Please Note: It’ll only be out in ebook form until March when Severn House Publishing will release it in trade size print.



ALSO, for a FREE SHORT story

Thanks for spending time with me. Hope you enjoyed it.


The Big Cheese

Hello everyone,  Winnie Griggs here. Happy Monday.

A while back I read a little historical footnote that in 1804 President Thomas Jefferson attended a public party at the Senate where an enormous loaf of bread, dubbed the “mammoth loaf” was part of the food offering.

If you know anything at all about me you know I couldn’t just let this intriguing bit of information go without digging into it further so of course I did some research. And oh boy, did I ever find out more than I bargained for – in fact in the process I came across an even more intriguing bit of trivia.

It seems that enormous loaf was baked to go with a mammoth wheel of cheese that President Jefferson had received as a gift two years earlier.  And for the record, I’m using the word mammoth deliberately, because that’s how these items were described at the time.  I found a notation that stated Americans of this period were enamored with the term due to their fascination with the then recent discovery of the skeleton of a giant woolly mammoth in the state of New York.

This massive wheel of cheese was the brain child of John Leland, the Elder of a Baptist  congregation made up of the staunchly Republican citizens of a farming community located in the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts. The goal was to recognize and commemorate Jefferson’s long-standing devotion to religious freedoms. Leland asked every member of his congregation who owned even one cow to bring all the milk and/or curd produced on a particular day to a local cider mill.

It was reported that the milk from about 900 cows went into the making of the cheese and that the cider press they used measured six feet in diameter.  The final product, once cured, measured more than 4 feet in diameter, 13 feet in circumference and 17 inches high. I read one report that said it weighed in at 1,235 pounds and another that reported 1325 pounds but in either case it was BIG. In fact it was so big it couldn’t be safely moved the entire distance on wheels. The logistics in and of themselves were interesting – it traveled by sleigh from the town to the Hudson River, from there by barge to New York City. Then it was moved to a sloop which carried it as far as Baltimore. The final leg of the trip to Washington D.C was accomplished via a wagon pulled by six horses. All in all, the approximate 500 mile trip took over three weeks to accomplish.

President Jefferson praised the people who had donated the extraordinary gift for the for their skill and generosity   Because he believed he should refuse gifts while in office, he paid Leland $200 for the cheese.

The cheese lasted for quite some time as it was gradually consumed at various White House functions over the next couple of years.  Finally, on March 26, 1804, the President attended the above-mentioned party designed to rally support for a naval war with the Barbary States. A Naval baker created a huge loaf of bread to accompany the remnants of the mammoth wheel of cheese as well as large quantities of roast beef and alcohol.  It’s assumed that the last of the cheese  was consumed during the event.  An alternate theory is that after this party, the remnants were disposed of in the Potomac River.

Is this bit of historical trivia something you already knew about?  And why do you think people are fascinated by things of an unusual size?  Is it perhaps the novelty of it all or is it something else entirely?

Food Preservation the Pioneer Way ~ by Patty Smith Hall


One of my favorite childhood memories was harvest time at my grandmother’s house. After the crops were picked, Mom, my sister Rose and I would rise early, knowing we had a long day ahead of us. But whether it was shelling peas, snapping green beans or peeling apples, we had a good time just sitting and talking while we worked. It’s a good memory and one I relive every year when I’m canning various vegetables and fruits out of my garden.  

It also got me wondering—how did people back in the 1800s preserve food before canning and refrigeration were widespread?  

The type of food helps determine the best way to preserve it. Take corn. It could be shelled, ground into cornmeal, or left on the cob and stored in a corn crib. But what about other vegetables like green beans, cabbage or potatoes? One way of preserving fruits and vegetables in the early 1800s was to run a heavy thread through them and hang them by the fireplace or in a warm, dry room. This helps remove the moisture from them and keeps them from rotting. In order to cook them, you’d treat them the same way we do dry beans today. You’d put them in water overnight to rehydrate, then cook the following day. 

Another way to preserve food was by using a root cellar. If you’ve never been in one, it’s basically a small room, very dark and much cooler than the temperature outside. The walls have roots growing out of them and there’s a strong scent of dirt, fresh vegetation, and kerosene from the lantern used to light the room. Barrels filled with sawdust line the walls and inside them are various fruits and vegetables. Green beans and peas are strung from one side to the other. Root cellars were used up until the mid-1900s when home refrigeration become popular. 

When considering modern food preservation methods, it is essential to prioritize food safety in addition to convenience and longevity. With the increasing concerns surrounding foodborne illnesses and contaminants, ensuring that preserved foods are safe for consumption is paramount. This is where the use of toxin test kits can play a crucial role. By employing these kits, individuals can proactively test their preserved food items for any potential toxins or harmful substances that may have inadvertently been introduced during the preservation process. Incorporating such safety measures not only provides peace of mind but also aligns with the evolving standards of food quality and consumer health. By combining the convenience of modern food preservation techniques, such as dehydrators, with the vigilance offered by toxin test kits, individuals can confidently enjoy the fruits of their labor while upholding the highest standards of food safety.

In today’s era, while we have the luxury of widespread canning and refrigeration, modern food preservation methods continue to evolve, offering convenient options to ensure the longevity of our harvests. Whether it’s preserving the bountiful produce from your own garden or carefully selecting artisanal ingredients, one valuable tool to consider is how to choose the perfect food dehydrator. With its ability to gently remove moisture from fruits, vegetables, and even meats, a food dehydrator allows you to preserve flavors and nutritional value while extending the shelf life of your culinary creations. By harnessing the power of controlled temperature and airflow, you can savor the taste of peak-season produce year-round, all while honoring the traditions of the past and embracing the advancements of the present.

However, back in the days, we can thank Napoleon for home canning. In 1795, the French emperor offered a reward for anyone who could come up with a way to preserve food for his army. It was fifteen long years before Nicholas Appert unveiled his method of heat processing food in glass jars. Over the course of the next century, improvements to the equipment were made. John Mason introduced a glass jar with a screw-top lid and rubber seal. William Charles Ball and his brothers got into the home canning business and marketed their canning jars across the country, making it easier for families to preserve their own food. And Alexander Kerr developed the wide-mouth jar (praise the Lord!) and the metal ring with a lid that sealed the preserved jar. 

Funny story—I went to high school at a former Agricultural and Engineering College built during the 1890s. While I was there, one of the original buildings was torn down. The workers found the A&E school’s root cellar with canned beans, pickles, and squash dating back to 1913. And they still looked as fresh as the day they were picked! 

Do you can or freeze food for your family?   

Let’s Chat!  I’ll give away two print copies of THE HEART OF THE MIDWIFE 

The Heart of the Midwife

If Not For Grace by Patty Smith Hall
New York City, 1889
After her friend’s death in childbirth, Grace Sullivan converts her family home into a haven for immigrant families preparing for the birth of a child. But when the city threatens to close her down, her only hope is to ask for help from an unlikely source—her former fiancé, Patrick O’Leary.


Barnes & Noble

Bio: Multi-published author Patty Smith Hall lives near the North Georgia Mountains with her husband, Danny, her two daughters, her son-in-law, and her grandboy. When she’s not writing on her back porch, she’s spending time with her family or working in her garden.  

Website: http://www.pattysmithhall.net 

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/authorpattysmithhall 

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/authorpattysmithhall/boards/ 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authorpattysmithhall/ 

Satisfying That Old-Time Craving for “Sweeties” – Part 1 by Pam Crooks

Years ago, my mother gave me a cookbook reprinted from 1888 that offered all kinds of advice and recipes for the homemaker. One section was devoted to Confectionaries, and I found their selection of candies, sodas, and ice cream fascinating.  Who knew they had so many? And yep, they called them “sweeties.”

Given that I have had a sweet tooth since the time I was old enough to hold a lollipop, I’d love to share with you my trip through history in both the 19th and 20th centuries in the next few blogs. 

The author of my cookbook mentions the fortune made by a Mr. Pease in New York with his horehound candy.  Ditto with a Mr. H. N. Wild’s candy store on Broadway which must have been a super store at the time, given the description of great numbers of customers (mainly ladies and children) who shopped there at all hours.

But my focus is for the common housewife who made “sweeties” for her family.  She was encouraged to use the best refined sugars that left behind no sediment and that had a bright color, such as sugar from the West Indies or Louisiana.  She was also encouraged to buy coloring materials and flavoring extracts rather than try to make them herself since educated chemists at the time had perfected them for consistency as well as reasonable price.

After a listing of tools needed, the recipes followed for Butterscotch and Everton taffy. Peanut and black walnut candy were different than what I imagined – no chocolate but covered with a sugar syrup then cut into strips.  The Cocoanut and Chocolate Cream candies sounded pretty good, as did the Fig and Raisin Candy, where figs and raisins were laid out in a pan and covered with sugar syrup, cooked slowly over a fire.

Rock candy in various flavors and Ginger candy was pretty self-explanatory. I must admit to being confused on what “paste drops” were. Made with currants, raspberries, pears, apples, and pineapple, I can only imagine them being similar to our Fruit Roll-Ups.

Candy “Tablets” followed. Again, it took some imagining, but since the sugar was boiled, flavored, and poured into molds, I’m thinking the tablets were like our hard candies. Flavors were ginger, orange, vanilla, clove, rose, and fruits like currants, strawberries, cherries, and raspberries, cooked and pressed through a sieve for their juice.

Housewives made their own chewing gum with balsam of tulu, sugar and oatmeal, soaked, mixed, and rolled in powdered sugar, then shaped into sticks.

Caramels were a favorite and poured into 1 inch molds. Caramels came in intriguing flavors like lemon, orange and lime, coffee, chocolate, and orange cream and vanilla. Yum!

Popcorn balls were made with molasses. I bet they were pretty good, too!

Soda Water and Soda ‘Sirups’ were popular, and while it wasn’t impossible to make one’s own for their families, the process was much easier while living near a big city for obvious reasons.  Flavors, however, were quite numerous and ranged from Nectar, Sarsaparilla, Walnut, Wild Cherry, Crabapple, and Lemon, to name a few.

Confectioners in the city generally offered “Ice Cream Saloons” to their stores. Adding a saloon was inexpensive and very profitable.  The cookbook provided a recipe that made a large quantity. However, other than the traditional flavor of vanilla, only Coffee or Chocolate flavor appeared to be available.

Well, there you have it.  A glimpse into an 1800’s homemaker’s candy kitchen!

Do you have a sweet tooth? 

Do you enjoy making candy or ice cream?

What is your favorite?


Popcorn, Anyone?


I don’t know why in all the stories I’ve published that I’ve never written about popcorn until this Christmas book I’m writing. A great oversight on my part!

Anyway, I’ve done some research and what I found is interesting.

Even though popcorn is grown on ears, it’s very different altogether from sweet or field corn. The hull of popcorn is just the right thickness to allow it to burst open. Inside each kernel of popcorn is a small droplet. It needs between 13.5-14% moisture to pop. Don’t ask me how it gets the water inside there.

All I know is that the water turns to steam when heated and pressure builds.



The oldest ears of popcorn were found in a cave in New Mexico in 1948. The oldest found there were 4,000 years old, so it’s been around an awfully long time.

The Aztecs used popcorn in their ceremonies, decorations, and dances. It was an important food for them as well. When Spanish explorers invaded Mexico, they were astounded by these little exploding kernels of corn.

In South America, popcorn was found in 1,000 year old burial grounds and was so well-preserved it still popped.

Long before corn flakes made an appearance, Ella Kellogg ate ground popped popcorn with milk every morning for breakfast. Her husband, John Kellogg, praised popcorn as being easily digested and highly wholesome. I don’t know if I’d want it in a bowl with milk.



In Victorian times, popcorn decorated fireplace mantels, doorways, and Christmas trees. Kids used to string popcorn and cranberries and was often the only thing on trees unless paper ornaments.



Here are some Corny facts:

Today, Americans consume 15 billion quarts of popped popcorn yearly.

Most of the popcorn consumed throughout the world comes from the U.S.

Major states producing it are Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, and Ohio.

National Popcorn Day is January 19th or whatever day the Superbowl falls on.

* * *

Darn, I’m itching to go to the movies! I can smell the popcorn now.

So, I’ve just added a scene in my Christmas book where my heroine pops popcorn for two little kids and they also string some to decorate with. In case you’re curious, the title of the book is A Cowboy Christmas Legend. Look for it September 2021.

Okay, your turn. How much popcorn do you eat? And what is the most surprising fact you learned?

Pioneer Cooking by Linda Hubalek

Man, your mouth is going to water today! Historical author Linda Hubalek is talking about how the pioneers got by and may have some lessons for us so make her welcome.

In this unprecedented time, when we are all home due to the virus affecting the world, we have to prepare meals for ourselves and our families. Luckily, we still have electricity and the appliances that keep and prepare our foods.

Can you imagine what life would be like if we didn’t have electricity right now? Talk about shutting down the world!

Being a writer who has spent a lot of time researching history, I think we still have it easy in 2020 compared to pioneer ancestors.

Consider the work it took to prepare a meal back in 1870 on the frontier Plains compared to today. Here are photos from the KansasMemory.org to share with you the work which had to be done before you prepared your meal. And I’ve also added recipes from my book: EGG GRAVY: Authentic Recipies From the Butter in the Well series.

Want to make a cake and need two eggs?

First, you had to raise the chickens who will produce the eggs for you!

And you wouldn’t have a box cake mix on hand either. Here are recipes to make an Angel Food Cake, and Sunshine Cake to use up all those egg yolks.


Whites of 11 eggs

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 cup cake flour

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Sift sugar and flour together seven times. Put cream of tartar and salt in eggs and beat very light, fold in sugar and flour, add vanilla. Put in a cold oven and bake slowly for 1 hour. (Make your cake flour by sifting 4 cups flour and 1 cup cornstarch together four times.) 


1 cup butter

2 cups sugar

1 cup sweet milk

11 egg yolks, beaten light

3 cups flour, sifted three times with 2 tps. baking powder

Bake in tube pan 45 minutes. Use any flavoring desired.


Need milk to drink or butter to use in a recipe?

Go milk a cow!


Pour ripened cream into butter chum and chum for about 30 to 35 minutes until the butter is about the size of wheat grains. Draw off the buttermilk and add cold water. Slowly chum for a few minutes, then draw off the water.

Put the butter in a wooden bowl and mix in 2 tablespoons of salt per pound of butter. Let stand a few minutes, then work the butter with a wooden paddle to get the last of the liquid out and the salt in. Press in crocks or butter molds and store in a cool place.


Bacon for breakfast?

Today, we pull a pound of bacon from the refrigerator and cook it in a skillet or the oven. In the past, you had to raise the pig before you butchered the animal for the meal.

Sugar Cured Meat

After butchering, cool the meat thoroughly and cut into family-sized chunks. Rub each chunk with coarse salt and set aside for 24 hours. Tightly pack the meat in an earthen vessel-a syrup barrel is good-putting hams and shoulders in the bottom and bacon slabs on top.

Heat 4 gallons of water. Let the water boil and then cool a little before adding the following ingredients. For each 100 lbs. meat, weigh out 10 lbs. salt, 4 lbs. brown sugar and 2 ounces saltpeter. Let mixture cool thoroughly and pour over meat. This amount should be sufficient to cover the meat in the vessel.

Put on a wooden or china cover over the top and weigh it down with a stone to keep meat under the brine. If it isn’t enough brine to cover the meat, add more. Put vessel in a cool place and let stand for six weeks (ham) and only one week for the bacon slabs. If hams are large, leave in for eight weeks. Take the meat out of the brine, then hang and smoke it.

Feel better about cooking a meal now?

After this brief memory back to the 1800s, I hope you enjoy having the convenience of cooking meals for a while, even if we have to wear a mask and gloves to shop at a grocery store.

Please stay safe and stay well!

Linda Hubalek

Drawing for FIVE winners

Five readers will win an ebook copy of (The Mismatched Mail-Order Brides Book 2) by commenting on what you’d serve as a meal if you had no electricity today. 


BOOK 1 is FREE! It sets the story theme for the Mismatched Mail-Order Brides series. Either click HERE or on the cover and grab your copy!



Linda Hubalek has written over forty books about strong women and honorable men, with a touch of humor, despair, and drama woven into the stories. The setting for all the series is the Kansas prairie, which Linda enjoys daily, whether by being outside or looking at it through her office window.

Her historical romance series include Brides with Grit, Grooms with Honor, and the Mismatched Mail-Order Brides. Linda’s historical fiction series, based on her ancestors’ pioneer lives, include Butter in the Well, Trail of Thread, and Planting Dreams.

When not writing, Linda is reading (usually with dark chocolate within reach), gardening (channeling her degree in Horticulture), or traveling with her husband to explore the world.

Linda loves to hear from her readers, so visit her website to contact her or browse the site to read about her books.



Dr Pepper and Fritoes … the All-American Team!

What is your favorite snack? In Texas when I was growing up everybody would order a coke for their drink, only to be asked “Do you want a Dr Pepper, root beer, or a Coca-Cola? This shows my age because we went on “coke dates”! Even today we ask if someone wants to stop at a drive-thru for a coke, regardless of what they want to drink.

I found some interesting facts when I begin to think about this Southern way of thinking.

Of interest, Charles Elmer Doolin was a candy maker from San Antonio, Texas, during the Depression. He got hooked on the first local version of a fried corn chip…the Frito.

Mr. Doolin promptly bought the recipe and the business, making it his life’s work to perfect the flavor of Fritos. After varying the recipe, he created his own hybrid corn, and developed a conveyor-belt manufacturing unit to make the chips more efficiently. Along the way, he also invented the Cheeto.

In 1955, he opened the Casa de Fritos restaurants. One was in Disneyland and the other in Dallas.
Pix of Frito Pie: Recipes developed for the Frito, including one of my favorite “go to” dish, Frito Chili Pie, which was invented by his mother. Ironically, Mr. Doolin was a healthy eater…a vegetarian who avoided fat and salt.

Now for Dr Pepper which is the oldest carbonated soft drink among popular soft drinks in the United States. The unique Dr Pepper mix originated in Waco, Texas at a small town drugstore called Morrison’s Old Corner Drug Store. Most people agree Charles Alderton, the pharmacist at Morrison’s, created the Dr Pepper mixture while working. He spent a lot of time mixing fruit syrups and coming up with new flavors for their carbonated soda machine. He later named his creation, containing 23 different flavors, Dr Pepper.

Px on right of Morrisons Drug: The drink became so popular that the drug store owner, couldn’t keep up with the demand. Every establishment that served soda fountain drinks wanted his Dr Pepper syrup. The period in ‘Dr Pepper’ would later be removed.’ While Alderton was a brilliant pharmacist, he had no desire to take the Dr Pepper drink any further and handed it over to Morrison, the drug store owner, and a man by the name of Robert Lazenby. He was a professional beverage chemist and he and Morrison subsequently worked to improve the drink and take it even further in the market. Due to the drink’s colossal success the two started what we now know as the Dr Pepper Company.

The real defining moment was at the 1904 World’s Fair when Lazenby and his son-in-law J.B. O’Hara graced the crowds with the Dr Pepper drink. Nearly 20 million people showed up to the fair and tried the addictive drink. Over the years the drink went global, emerging on the market around the world. It also held many different marketing slogans like ‘the friendly Pepper-Upper’ and ‘King of Beverages’.

At one point Dr Pepper sued Coca-Cola for trademark infringement when they came out with a Dr.Pibb, which was not only similar in name but tasted similar to Dr Pepper. Coca-Cola was forced to change the name to Mr Pibb, a drink you can still buy today. Now you can enjoy the Dr Pepper flavor with a hint of vanilla or with reduced sugar, called Dr Pepper Zero, which was invented in the United Kingdom. The actual flavors in the Dr Pepper drink are said to be kept in two different vaults. The top secret information is a mystery that still pulls at the curiosity of Dr Pepper lovers today.

You can still visit the Dr Pepper Factory in the small town of Waco, Texas, for a guide through the many stages of Dr Pepper’s history. The now nationally known soda started in this unlikely city which still cherishes the drink to this day.

What is your favorite snack? Do you ever drink Dr. Pepper and Fritos or Cheetos together?

To one lucky reader who leaves a message, I will give you an eBook copy of my newest Kasota Spring Romance on Amazon or a $10.00 Bath & Body Works gift certificate.


The Great Irish Famine

We had such a great special week about Spuds and Spurs, and it intrigued me to learn more about the food staple we all grew up on. It’s my go-to starchy vegetable.

One part of history particular intrigued me. The Great Irish Famine of the mid-1800’s.
Here are some of the facts and how the “famine” changed not only Britain but the United States.

  • Biases in favor of the landlords caused Ireland to teeter on the brink of disaster. The “middleman system” was introduced to manage land. The effectiveness of a middleman was judged by the amount of money he could extract from the landlords. The law was heavily unfair to the landowners as they dominated Irish representation in Britain. With the population of the island rapidly increasing, widespread unemployment among laborers, caused the majority of the people to live in poverty. Ireland was on the verge of a disaster.
  •  The middlemen split up the land into smaller parts to increase the amount of rent they could extract from the tenants. By the time the famine struck, about 1/4th of the Irish farms were between one and five acres, with as little as 40% being between five and fifteen acres. As the holdings grew smaller and smaller, only potatoes were sufficient enough to feed the tenant families. Poverty was so widespread that 1/3rd of the tenants were not able to pay rent or support their families.
  • Since Britain held a huge market on the beef industry, more and more of the land was used for grazing, the Irish turned to potatoes since no other crop could be grown abundantly in such unfavorable soil. By the 18th century, potatoes became the staple food of the farmers, such as it is today in our country. Of interest, an Irish worker ate ten pounds of potatoes every day. No typo here … ten pounds per day.
  • A potato disease commonly known as the Potato Blight destroyed potato crops across Europe which led to the Irish Potatoes Famine. In 1845 from 1/3 to 1/2 of the cultivated potato crops were lost. The destruction continued the following year when 3/4 of the crops were destroyed the first report of starvation death came into existence. The effect of the failure of potato crops was felt throughout Europe but it was devastating in Ireland in particular since over three million Irish people were totally dependent on potatoes for food. Fortunately, what caused the fungus that created the blight is now totally eradicated. I’d show you some pictures of what the blight did to the potatoes, but they would have to be blurred out because they are so ghastly. It wasn’t until 2013 that the true strain of the virus that caused the crop failure was identified. It was HERB-1.
  • By the time the famine ended in 1851, approximately 1 million people had died in Ireland due to starvation or disease. This was about 1/8th of the island’s population. By 1855 about 2 million people had fled from Ireland. Overcrowded and poorly managed vessels which were called “coffin ships” caused numerous deaths of emigrating Irish people. Even today, more than 150 years later, Ireland’s population has still not recovered from its pre-famine level.
  • I am not going into the political issues, but the Great Famine created a permanent change to the island’s demographics, political and cultural landscape.
  • The Great Famine is memorialized in numerous locations not only in Ireland but also in other parts of the world where large populations have descended from Irish immigrants. In the 1990’s Ireland commemorated the 150th Anniversary of the Great Famine.

Can you imagine having to live on potatoes as your main food source … and eating ten pounds a day?

To one lucky reader who leaves a comment, I will send you a copy of my newest Kasota Springs contemporary romance, Out of a Texas Night.