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.
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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?
Several years ago, after Hurricane Sandy devastated so much of the East Coast, help began to pour in immediately. But here in the farther inland parts of the U.S., we were left wondering what we could do, other than donate money?
In times of disaster, we all wish we were able to do more. Many people don’t want to give to a nebulous charity, fearing scams of all sorts.
One of my publishers friends, Rebecca Vickery, came up with the idea of a recipe book. The authors that wrote for her three imprints were asked if they wanted to contribute recipes to go in the book. The proceeds from the sales of the book would go to one of two charities, which we voted on. By a large margin, Save the Children was our choice.
The book was a work of love that we all participated in, some with more than one recipe. It was filled with quite a variety, and even though on the cover it says, “Featuring favorite holiday recipes by various authors”, there are several in this book that I have made all through the year. Who can wait for the holidays to have some of these scrumptious treats–especially now when we are at home more and more?
I’m sharing my contributions with you today, but there are plenty more where this came from in this little gem of a book—many of them easy and geared for our hectic lifestyles. I’ve been cooking a lot more lately with the COVID-19 pandemic going on, so I’m always on the lookout for new and different recipes!
I can certainly vouch for the two below—Blonde Brownies has been a staple in our family since I was born. It was on a “Brownie” recipe sheet when both of my sisters belonged to a troop, and my mom was a leader. This recipe is one of those that doesn’t last long around our house—the ingredients are items you usually keep stocked, and it’s easy to make. Same with the Hello Dolly Bars.
Though the book is out of print, it’s still available in limited quantities on Amazon from 3rd party sellers.
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 30-40 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.
HELLO DOLLY BARS
½ cup butter
1 ½ cup graham cracker crumbs
1 six oz. package chocolate chips (I always add extra!)
1 can Eagle Brand milk (sweetened condensed milk)
1 1/3 cups shredded coconut
1 cup chopped nuts
Pour melted butter into a 9×13 pan. Cover evenly with the following: graham cracker crumbs (press down to soak up the butter), nuts, chocolate chips, coconut. Pour milk on top. Bake at 350 F. until lightly brown or chips have melted (about 25 minutes). Cool before cutting.
(You can also add some butterscotch chips along with the chocolate chips for variation.)
I ask because I think that a person has to actively search it out today, whereas in times past it was a fairly common hard candy.
Horehound is the common name of the Marrubium plant, a member of the mint family. Horehound has been used for centuries by many cultures to treat just about everything–fevers, malaria, snake bite, hepatitis, bites by rabid animals. It’s useful in treating digestive problems, respiratory problems, jaundice, parasitic worms. It is used as a poultice, and inhaled as a snuff. The leaves are boiled into tea and made into cough syrups.
And it’s also made into a candy, but after compiling that list, I kind of wonder why. I guess it’s like medicine candy.
If you are the adventuresome sort, it’s easy to make homemade horehound candy. To begin, you boil several handfuls of horehound leaves in water for 15-20 minutes, smooshing the leaves as they cook down. Then you let the brew sit for a spell so that the water becomes a horehound tea.
Strain the liquid from the leaves. This is where the math comes in. You’ll need to measure your liquid and add 4 times that amount of brown sugar. So if you have 1 cup of horehound tea, you’ll use 4 cups of brown sugar. Then, more math, you add light corn syrup in 1/4 the amount of the liquid. So again using 1 cup of tea, you’d add 1/4 cup of light corn syrup.
Cook this mixture to the hard crack stage (the liquid solidifies into a ribbon when you drop it into ice water) which is about 300 degrees if you go modern and use a candy thermometer. You pour the mixture into a buttered pan, then score the top while it’s soft so that you can break it into squares later.
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.
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.
ANGEL FOOD CAKE
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!
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.
Hi everyone, Thanksgiving is two days away and my thoughts are on food…well actually desserts. Maybe I’m being sentimental or maybe I’m just hungry. Ha, probably both!
As I’ve often talked about, times were extremely hard when me and my baby sister Jan were growing up. My parents barely made enough to keep the wolf from the door and in a few instances he slipped in anyway.
Also, as most know, Jan and I have a huge sweet tooth. We learned to be very creative and make things that called for only a few ingredients. Our treats were simple, but satisfying.
Mama made us cookies from pie dough. She’d make up the dough like normal, roll it out and cut into designs, then sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on top and bake. They were yummy. In England, they called these tea cakes. We didn’t know we were being fancy.
Rice Krispy Treats were easy and quick with cereal, butter, and marshmallow cream.
But our favorite of all was Chocolate Oatmeal No Bake Cookies. Oh man, we ate a bunch of those at our house.
Here is the list of ingredients:
½ cup of butter
1 ½ cups of white sugar
½ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup of plain milk
4 Tbs cocoa
1 pinch of salt
2 teas vanilla
3 cups dry quick-cooking oats
Put the first 6 ingredients into a medium-sized sauce pan, bring to a rolling boil and once it reaches the boil keep it cooking for one minute. Add the vanilla and stir and then add the dry oats. Drop by spoonfuls onto waxed paper and cool. That’s it.
I learned to make Applesauce Cake and that was easy as well. It didn’t take any eggs, oil or milk so that made it affordable. All it had was applesauce, butter, flour, sugar, baking soda, and cinnamon. If we had walnuts, we’d throw them in but we usually didn’t. You’ve never eaten such a moist cake. Here’s the link if you’d like to make it: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/7380/applesauce-cake-i/
Mama and Daddy like to make homemade taffy as well, but that when we were too young to help and it was really hot to work with. I still remember watching them stand face to face a few feet apart and pull that taffy back and forth.
I didn’t make this back then but I sure do now—Chocolate-Cherry Cake. Oh my dear Lord, it’s good. Just mix together a dry chocolate cake mix, 3 eggs, and a large can of cherry pie filling. Bake and enjoy.
Back in the 1800s they didn’t have many ingredients to work with either. They made a lot more pies then they did cakes for the simple fact that it cost less.
What were or still are your favorite treats? I’m giving away this beautiful Christmas ornament to someone who leaves a comment.
When I was thinking about a title for today’s blog post, of course my brain went right to Cowboys and Christmas. But from there, it tripped along over a fun old Christmas song. Emmylou Harris’ version is my favorite and the one playing on the soundtrack in my head this morning.
Truthfully, I’ve had Christmas on the brain for months and months (okay, maybe it’s been there since last Christmas!). But I have a good reason. Well, several good reasons, but I’m excited to share three of them with you today.
The first reason I’m so excited for the holiday season is my newly released non-fiction book – A Cowboy Christmas.
The book features interviews with rodeo and ranch families who share their favorite holiday traditions. Readers will find holiday how-tos, gift ideas, decorating tips and recipes (more than 70 of them). Some of the recipes are my family favorites and others come from the ranch and rodeo families. I tested (and tasted!) them all. I also had fun taking all the photographs of the food and how-tos. It was a great learning experience and one I’m so happy I had the opportunity to explore.
Several of the families mentioned in the book have had their lives touched by a special organization called the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund. The JCCF steps in when a rodeo athlete sustains a catastrophic injury and is unable to work for an extended time. They’ve provided $8 million in funds to more than 1,100 athletes, giving the cowboys a hand up when they need it most. And every dollar donated goes directly into the fund without any administrative fees removed.
Back in 2013, I was working on the first book in a new series and reached out to the Justin Sportsmedicine Team with some questions. They kindly helped me and that’s when I first learned about the JCCF.
This is the sixth year I’ll donate ten percent of my book proceeds to the fund.
Any Shanna Hatfield book purchased between now and Christmas counts and will help benefit a great cause.
There’s nothing like a little Christmas glow to light up a holiday romance. . .
When the bright lights and big city lost its luster, Carol Bennett returns to her Montana hometown disillusioned and ready to embrace a simple, quiet existence. After she takes over the Christmas Mountain bookstore, she is determined to forget the glitzy world that left her with broken dreams. The store provides the perfect place to hide from her past while indulging her secret joy of reading sappy romances.
Then she encounters a cowboy too handsome for his own good and too insightful for hers. Although she adores his grandmother, rancher Tim Burke is stubborn, bold, and opinionated. He refuses to let her hide when he sees her all too clearly and does his best to draw her out of her protective shell.
In spite of her determination to detest the man, the sparks sizzling between them could light up the town’s Christmas tree. Carol has to decide if she’ll choose being brave and latching onto happiness or staying safely tucked away in her store.
Will two such opposite people be able to find love somewhere between romance and Christmas?
Also in its sixth year, I’m thrilled to invite you all to join me for the annual Cowboys and Christmas party taking place on Facebook November 7! There will be guest authors, game, giveaways, and so much fun! Hope to see you all there!
What about you?
What is one thing you are looking forward to about the holidays?
Post your answer for a chance to win a digital copy of Between Christmas and Romance!
Hi everyone! I was thinking about how much I love fried potatoes tonight when I was making them for dinner. Those are a great “comfort food” to me, and one I don’t think I’d ever get tired of. But I imagine the cowboys of yesteryear grew sick of the fare they ate constantly–beans, chili, stew, potatoes, and the like–when they were on a cattle drive.
Dinner time at a cowboy’s camp, banks of the Yellowstone, Montana, U.S.A. Original source: Robert N. Dennis collection of stereoscopic views.
Here’s another awesome picture that is around 120 years old–Wonder what they’re having to eat? Chili? Beans? Maybe biscuits and gravy? Or…POTATOES??? These color pictures were produced using a method called photochrom. This is making colorized photos from black and white negatives through the direct photographic transfer of a negative onto lithographic printing plates.
It was invented in the 1880s and by the 1890s, was extremely popular (when this image was shot). Credit: Mediadrumimages/PublicDomain
Here’s a really good recipe for — what else? COWBOY POTATOES!
2 medium potatoes, scrubbed
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1?4 cup onion, diced
1?4 cup bell pepper (or jalapeno for spicier fare!), diced
salt and pepper
Peel potatoes, if desired or leave the peel on and cut into 1/2″ cubes.
Heat oil in large skillet. Add the potatoes, spreading into a single layer. Let them get brown on one side before stirring.
Stir the potatoes, and let them brown on another side. Stir once more, and add the pepper and onion. Cook until the onions and peppers are tender. If the potatoes are not done, reduce heat to low and cover the skillet until they’re done.
Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve.
YUM, YUM! Hope you enjoy these! Do you have a favorite potato recipe? I’m sure we have a LOT more variety than the cowboys did! Don’t forget to comment for a chance to win some great prizes!
When I was younger and visited my Grandma Walter on their northeastern Iowa farm, I always pestered her to teach me something. She taught me how to crochet and to make cream puffs. (I posted her recipe in a blog a while ago.) She had a huge garden where she grew potatoes, green beans, onions and I can’t remember what all else. While I didn’t inherit her green thumb despite her tutoring, I did receive her love of growing things. Every spring I plant a garden. This year I have high hopes since I’ve gone to a raised garden to keep out the dogs and the bunnies!
My grandmother also taught me to sew. I refined that skill during home economics. It’s amazing how much money I’ve saved because I could sew bed skirts, window treatments and my children’s Halloween costumes. Okay, the later didn’t really save money as much as it allowed me to create exactly what they wanted. 🙂
It saddens me when I hear how children say their middle and high school schedules are too full to take Skills for Living, what my generation knew as home ec. My youngest took the class in middle school, and we both enjoyed it. Together we shopped for the fleece material for the pajama bottoms he sewed. He made a lot of the recipes he learned in the class for us. But the best part was, he became an expert pie maker!
Every Fourth of July he and I make what we call a Red, White and Blue pie. The basic recipe is the strawberry pie recipe from his Skills for Living class. The blue comes from adding blueberries and the white is whipped cream. Today just in time for the Fourth, I’m sharing the recipe with you.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Measure 1C flour and 1/2 tsp of salt into a bowl. Cut in 1/3 C shortening with a pastry blender until shortening particles are pea sized. Add 4 TBS of ice water. Form into a ball. Roll from the center out until crust is pan sized. Fold edges under and crimp. Bake 10 minutes or until lightly brown.
Clean 1-2 pints of strawberries.
In a saucepan, mix 1 1/2 C sugar (I use slightly less) with 1/3 C cornstarch. Add 1 1/2 C water and mix completely. Cook mixture, stirring constantly until it’s thick and translucent.
Remove from heat and add 3 oz. package of strawberry jello. Put some of cooled glaze in bottom of the crust. Add berries and continue covering them with glaze. Refrigerate and serve topped with whipped cream.
NOTE: Add blueberries and make you have a Red, White and Blue Pie!
Giveaway: Leave a comment sharing your favorite Fourth of July food or tradition to be entered in the drawing for a signed copy of A Cure For the Vetand a cactus T-shirt from my favorite shop, Rustic Ranch.
In my new contemporary western romance, A COWBOY AND A PROMISE, my hero’s (Beau) mother brings dinner out to the family’s ghost town resort under construction by my heroine (Ava). She made the meal, appropriately titled “Cowboy Stew” (recipe below) in a slow cooker, often called a Crockpot.
Now, I’d warrant all of you reading this has had a Crockpot at one time in your life. Maybe you still do. While the first slow cooker was actually invented in 1940, most of us will remember the Rival Crockpot, which was officially introduced in 1971 and quickly grew to be the RAGE. I got married in 1975, and you didn’t have a bridal shower (or a wedding) until you got a Rival Crockpot as a gift. We all did. In fact, I still have mine. A 4-
quart, bright orange model. Works great to this day.
As my family grew, I graduated to a 6-quart model which I love, too. However, as most things go, even what’s been wildly popular will eventually lose its stardom for something new and exciting.
Enter the Instant Pot.
Oh, be still my heart. I got mine for Christmas. A complete surprise cooked up (pardon the pun) by my daughters who thought I needed one. I admit to being quite intimidated by it at first. In fact, I didn’t even take it out of the box for a week. But once I did, and I accomplished the first step—boiling water, by the way—I was hooked.
Believe it or not, pressure cookers have been around a very long time. The first one was
invented by a French physicist in 1679, which he called the digester. Yuck. But the name stuck for a couple of centuries, until it was replaced with ‘pressure cooker’ by the military who needed a way to make fast meals in camps, as well as other inventors working to improve canning and beef extract production.
As the years rolled by, the pressure cooker became smaller, more user friendly, and made cooking and preserving food more economical. I’m quite sure no one expected the primitive digester to evolve into an Instant Pot that can make everything from hard-boiled eggs to yogurt so fun and easy!
Here’s the recipe for my Cowboy Stew. I’ve had this recipe for ages, and I’ve made it in my Rival Crockpot too many times to count. Beau and Ava enjoyed it, too!
4 medium potatoes, sliced
4 large carrots, sliced
1 green pepper, cut in strips
3 stalks celery, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced in rings
Arrange in Crockpot in layers, beginning with the potatoes. Salt and pepper each layer.
Pour 1 8 oz can of tomato sauce on top.
Mix well in a bowl:
1 lb. hamburger
½ cup milk
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 slice bread, crumbled
Salt and pepper to taste
Press into circle over vegetables to form a cover. Pour another can of tomato sauce on top. Sprinkle with ½ tsp. oregano leaves.
Cook until meat and vegetables are done. May be baked in 350 degree oven for one hour, or until vegetables are tender.
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Here’s my favorite Instant Pot recipe. Since IP recipes tend to be lengthy from the steps needed, I won’t type it all out, but I’ll give you the link from the food blog, Rachel Cooks. It’s DELICIOUS!
I think my love of the west and cowboys grew out of my love for my grandparents’ Iowa farm. I loved that place. I did a lot of thinking and dreaming there. I also learned a lot, mainly from my grandmother. The older I get the more I appreciate what I learned from her. She was an incredibly strong woman, but she possessed a quiet strength. She worked the farm and raised six children. I always thought her the most patient person I knew. She never had a cross word for anyone, and I can count on one hand the number of times she lost her temper.
My grandmother always made time for me and my endless questions. Such a simple gift, her time and attention, and yet, such an important one. And I had a lot of questions about whatever she was doing, whether it be gardening, crocheting, sewing or cooking. All of which I still enjoy doing today.
One day when she was making one of my two favorite treats, cream puffs–the other was her angle food cake with fresh strawberries–I asked questions and wrote down what she told me. Because of my curiosity, I have my grandmother’s recipe for cream puffs.
For a holiday gift, I’m sharing her recipe with you.
½ C butter
½ tsp salt
1 C water
1 C sifted flour
Combine butter, salt and water in heavy saucepan. Bring to a hard boil. Remove from heat and dump in flour all at once. Stir until the mixture sticks together in a ball and leaves the edges of the pan. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Cool 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating until egg has been completely absorbed. Drop by tablespoonful, heaping in the middle, on greased baking sheet with 3 inches between each. Bake 30 minutes at 400 degrees. Reduce temperature to 350 and bake 10 minutes. Do not open oven during baking or cream puffs could
4 Tablespoons sugar
2 egg yolks (beaten)
1 heaping Tablespoon cornstarch
2 Tablespoons milk
In a heavy saucepan, bring 1 C milk to a boil. Stir in above mixture. Reduce heat and cook until thick. When cool combine with ½ pint whipped heavy cream.
Leave a comment about your favorite holiday treat and be entered to win a cup and plate set along with a copy of Family Ties. May 2019 be filled with many wonders and joys for you and your family, and remember, of all the gifts you can give, the best is your time and attention.