Winnie’s Winners!

congratulations

A Great Big THANK YOU to everyone  who stopped by to offer up ideas on my What’s In A Name post.  There were so many fabulous suggestions I decided to select 7 winners.  So I tossed them all in a cyber hat and randomly selected

Alisha Woods

Linda Groth

Janine Catmom

Caryl Kane

Denise Holcomb

Lori Smanski

Colleen

Congratulations ladies!  Select with book you’d like to have – you can find a list on my website at https://www.winniegriggs.com/booklist.html
Once you’ve decided, send me the title and your mailing info (you can use the Contact button on my website) and I’ll get the book out to you in a few days.

What Should I Tackle Next?

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. Today’s post is a bit different than my usual post. Instead of sharing information I came across in my research I’m going to ask you to help me with a bit of research of the reader variety.

I have three older releases that I’ve received the rights back for and I’d like to reissue them as self-published editions. However, they all need to be gone through and updated and right now I’m working on a contracted book that has a firm deadline. That means I have limited time to focus on them and will need to do them as low-priority side projects. So I’d be interested in learning which of the books intrigues you the most. So please rank the following in the order in which they interest you – and there are no wrong answers.  I’ll select at least one person to receive their choice of any book from my backlist (and I still have several copies of the below out of print books I’ll throw in the mix as well)

Book 1 – this was first published in 2002 under the title Whatever It Takes. Here’s the original blurb:

Flirting With Perfection…

To adopt the little girl she’s come to love, widow Maddy Potter needs a fiancé, not another husband. Luckily, she’s found the ideal beau for her purpose:

Clayton Kinkaid agrees to court her, propose marriage, and then leave her at the altar as she requested. But when he arrives on her doorstep she knows their charade will never work. Clay is too handsome, too smooth… too potent. Who would believe such a charming, good-looking man wants to woo her?

Clay accepted Maddy’s proposal in order to repay a family debt of honor. He traveled to Missouri expecting to find a reserved widow, not a beautiful young woman—a woman who has the temerity to suggest he comb his hair differently, mess up his clothes a little, maybe even walk with a limp. She even has the audacity to instruct him on how to court her!  Clay knows he could be the perfect suitor. What he didn’t realize was that he’d soon long to be the perfect husband.

Book 2 – this was originally published in 2004 under the title A Will of Her Own. Here’s the 2004 blurb:

Will Trevaron’s grandfather demands that he leave America and return home to England to claim his title of Marquess. Will is expected to put himself on the marriage market but balks at the idea. He hits on the perfect solution: a marriage of convenience to Maggie Carter. A union with a “nobody from the colonies” would shock and horrify his stuffy family and rescue from poverty the woman who had once saved his life. Will didn’t count on getting three spirited children in the bargain though. And he didn’t expect to fall for his wife.

But as Maggie sets his household straight about what an independent lady from an ‘unsophisticated country’ would and would not accept, the new marquess begins to discover that his marchioness has a will of her own.

Book 3 – this one was originally published in 2010 under the title The Heart’s Song. The 2010 blurb reads:

Widower Graham Lockwood hasn’t stepped foot in church since he lost his family. So he can’t possibly say yes to his new neighbor’s request that he lead the hand bell choir. But widowed mother Reeny Landry is so hopeful—and her fatherless children so in need—that Graham agrees to help.

Suddenly, the man who closed himself off is coming out of his shell. And he finds himself acting the father figure to Reeny’s sweet, mute daughter and her loner son. But going from neighbor to husband is another matter altogether. Until a loving family teaches Graham to hear the heart’s song.

 

So there you have it, the three projects I’m itching to get to work on. Let me know which order you think I should tackle them in and why, and I’ll throw your name in the hat for the drawing!

 

Horsepower – History and Trivia

 

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. Last moth I did a post on the Transcontinental Railroad. While I was doing my research I came across a little footnote on the term horsepower, one of those little trivia nuggets that led me down a rabbit trail. Today I thought I’d share the results of that little research sidetrack.

The concept of horsepower was created in the eighteenth century by a man named James Watt. And believe it or not, it was created as a last ditch marketing gimmick.

In the 1760s, Watt was tasked with repairing a defective steam engine. But Watt was an enterprising inventor and noted some inefficiency problems with the overall design that he thought he could correct.

So instead of completing his assigned task, Watt created a new and improved steam engine that was far and away better than anything on the market at that time. However he had trouble finding any customers willing to give his product a try. The problem was, previous steam engines had failed, in sometimes spectacular ways, making folks unwilling to replace their familiar and reliable horses with yet another version of the engine.

But Watt was not one to give up easily. He decided the answer to his marketing problem was to come up with a unit of measure that would allow him to compare his engine to horses. He poured a lot of time and thought into how he would do this. Watt eventually came up with a unit of measure that was defined as the power exerted by a single horse to move 33,000 pounds of material one foot in one minute. He dubbed this unit of measure the horsepower.

 

His calculations went something like this: He had observed ponies at a coal mine and  figured out that on average the animals were able to move 220 pounds of product over a mineshaft 100 feet long in one minute. By his calculation, that was equivalent to 22,000 pounds over one foot in one minute. Then he made one additional tweak to his calculation – he figured a horse could do 50 percent more work than a pony, thus his new horsepower measurement would equal 33,000 foot-pounds of force per minute.

As you can see, the manner in which he computed his horsepower measurement was not truly scientific, nor was it entirely accurate, but the important thing to Watt was that it gave him a method to convey the power of his engine in a manner people could visualize. Armed with this new way of measuring his engine’s power, he claimed his machine had the power of ten horses, in other words ten horsepower. It worked – people were receptive to this new way of looking at his engine and so were willing to reconsider the value of his machine.  This tactic proved so successful that his competitors began using horsepower in their advertisements and sales pitches too.  And this unscientific measurement that was developed as a marketing tactic is still in use today, more than 240 years later.

A couple of additional bits of trivia

  • Because of The Watt Engine’s rapid incorporation into many industries, many consider the Watt engine to be one of the defining developments of the Industrial Revolution.
  • James Watt was later recognized for his contributions to science and industry, the unit of power in the International System of Units, the watt, was named for him.
  • An actual horse’s peak power has been measured at  just under 15hp. However, for prolonged periods of time, the average horse can’t deliver even one horsepower.

There you have it, a short accounting of what I discovered about the origins of the term horsepower. So what do you think, did any of the information in this post surprise you?  Leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for a copy of any of my backlist books.

Winnie’s Winner

A big thank you to everyone who stopped by to tell me about their train adventures on Monday. The winners of their chaice of any of my backlist books are:

February Jones

Linda Klager

Congratulations to both of you. Just check out my list of books (https://www.winniegriggs.com/booklist.html ), then contact me via my website with the title you selected and your mailing info.

The Transcontinental Railroad

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. According to my This Day In History Calendar, today is the 152nd anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad (May 10, 1869), an event that had a profound effect on everything from commerce to the environment of this country.

So today I thought I’d share a bit of history and trivia around this event.

First a timeline of key events:

  • 1832 – Dr. Hartwell Carver made his first push for construction of a railroad to connect the east coast to the west coast. That proposal didn’t make it through, but Dr. Carver didn’t give up and over the next several years continued to write articles supporting his proposal.
  • 1853 – Congress commissions a survey of 5 possible routes. These were completed by 1855
  • 1862 – The Pacific Railroad Bill signed by Abraham Lincoln. The act offered government incentives to assist “men of talent, men of character, men who are willing to invest” in developing the nation’s first transcontinental rail line.
  • 1863 (Jan) – The Central Pacific Railroad breaks ground in Sacramento. They lay the first rail in October of that same year.
  • 1863 (Dec) – The Union Pacific Railroad breaks ground in Omaha. But because of the Civil War it isn’t until July of 1865 that the first rail on the eastern end is laid.
  • 1869 – Transcontinental Railroad completed

Now on to some other Interesting facts and trivia:

  • The railroad line followed a route similar to that used as the central route of the Pony Express primarily because this route had been proven navigable in winter.
  • There were two main railroad companies involved in constructing the historic line. The Central Pacific Railroad received the contract to construct the line from Sacramento to points east. The Union Pacific Railroad was awarded the contract  to forge the path from Council Bluffs, Iowa west. As noted above, construction began in 1862 and in the early days the place where the two legs would meet up and become one was not decided.
  • As the project neared completion, President Ulysses Grant set Promontory Point Utah as the place where the two rails would meet. On May 10, 1869, the final spike was driven and the Transcontinental Railroad was deemed complete.
  • The final spike driven is often called the Golden Spike. However the spike was actually gold plated, a solid gold spike would have been much too soft to drive into the rail.
  • The total length of the rail line was 1,776 miles. 1086 miles was laid by the Union Pacific crew and 690 miles by Central Pacific. At the time of its completion it was one of the longest contiguous railroad in the world
  • The chosen route required 19 tunnels to be drilled through the mountains. This was no easy task during this time period and it managed to push forward barely a foot per day. Even when  nitroglycerin was introduced to blast through the rock it only increased their progress to 2 feet per day.
  • When completed, the Transcontinental Railroad allowed passengers to cross the country in just one week as opposed to the four to six months it had taken before.
  • The fare to travel from Omaha to San Francisco was $65 for a third class bench seat, $110 for a second class seat and $136 if you wanted to ride first class in a Pullman sleeping car.

And there you have it, a short and sweet lesson on the Transcontinental Railway. So what about you, do you have any experience with trains and railways you’d like to share? If not, would you like to ride a train someday?

My only personal experience was on a vacation to the Grand Canyon – we road the train from Williams AZ to the south rim, a trip of about 2 hours. It was a really fun addition to our vacation experience.

Leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for a choice of any book from my backlist.

 

Winnie’s Winners

Thanks to everyone who joined me Monday to speak about our love (or not) of grilled cheese sandwiches. I threw all the names in a figurative hat and the names selected are:

Patricia B.
Kathy Bailey
Congratulations ladies.  Select which book from my backlist you’d like to have (You can find a list at https://www.winniegriggs.com/booklist.html ) and contact me via my website with the title and your mailing address and I’ll get it right on out to you.

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?

Let’s Talk Gumbo – With a Cowboy Twist

Hi everyone, Winnie Griggs here.

Did you know that, in addition to this being Columbus Day, it is also National Gumbo Day? And since I was born and raised in south Louisiana , gumbo is one of my favorite dishes – especially this time of year when nothing hits the spot like a nice hearty dish of soup or stew – or gumbo!.  So today, I thought I’d pull out a recipe I shared here over 10 years ago and present it again.

Gumbo has, of course, been a staple of south Louisiana cuisine for nearly 300 years and there are as many variations on it as there are cooks. While I learned from my mother who learned from hers, and my daughters are now learning from me, you can sample gumbos from each of us and you’ll discover no two taste the same. All true gumbo cooks put their own spin on their dish.

Gumbo is a true multi-cultural dish. While there are debates over its origins, there is no doubt that it contains strong influences from the French, African, Acadian and Native American cultures as well as lesser influences for the Spanish, Italian and even Germans.

There are two theories as to where the dish got its name. The most popular theory is that it originated from the West African word for okra, ki ngombo.  The other theory is that it comes from the Choctaw word for sassafras, which is kombo. (filé powder, a common gumbo ingredient, is ground sassafras).

Gumbos start with a roux, a mixture of flour and oil employed by French cooks as early as the 14th century.  Much of the thickness, color, and texture comes from the use of this flour and oil mixture.  As for the rest, some cooks prefer to thicken with okra, some with filé.

I actually love to cook (it’s the cleaning up after part I hate!).  I also like to experiment in the kitchen.  I call it being creative.  My less generous friends call it my inability to let well enough alone. <g>    I especially like dishes that I can make a big batch of and freeze portions of for later use.  The recipe below is one such.

For this version of gumbo, I’ve added a few extra elements to give it a little western twist (not entirely my idea – I saw the concept in a magazine and then added my own spin to it).  As with any gumbo you can just use whatever meats you have on hand (For instance, it’s a great way to use leftover turkey from those upcoming holiday meals!)

So without further ado, here is my take on a Cowboy Gumbo 

Ingredients: 

  • 1/4 cup butter or vegetable oil
  • 2 tblsp flour
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup green onions, chopped
  • 1/3 cup chopped bell pepper
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 can (14-15 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1 can (6-8 oz) tomato paste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 lb sliced okra (sautéed with ½ teaspoon vinegar until ‘slime’ is gone)
  • 4 lbs meat – you can get away with less but I like to be generous with the protein. Meats that work well in this gumbo are sausage (I like andouille sausage), deboned chicken or turkey, pork, or game meats. You can use any one of these or a combination of two or more
  • Tobasco sauce or liquid crab boil to taste (optional)

 

Directions:

  • Use flour and oil or butter to make a roux. 
    Do this by combining them in a heavy saucepan and cooking over a low heat,  stirring constantly until the mixtures is a medium brown color (about 10-15 minutes).
  • Add garlic, onions, green onions, celery and bell peppers.  Cook until tender
  • Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. 
  • Reduce heat, cover and cook for 30 minutes
  • Add okra.  Return to a boil. 
  • Reduce heat and simmer for another twenty minutes.
  • Remove bay leaves, skim excess oil, and serve over rice.

As you can probably guess, this makes a very large batch.  Leftovers (if there are any!) can be frozen for later consumption.

So how about you? Do you like gumbo or do you have another favorite hearty dish for fall and winter?

Winnie’s Winners!

Thanks to everyone who took time out of their Labor Day celebration to stop by and share a comment.  I threw the names in a hat and pulled out

Estella Kissell  

and

Rose Ann Folger

Congratulations ladies! Simply decide which of my books you’d like to have (you can find a complete list on my website or on Amazon) and send me the title along with your mailing info and I’ll get the book on out to you.