Saturday, September 10, 2016

Enjoy Joan Hall-Hovey's suspense trailer.  Love this one     

Traditional Recipes for when the Chill is in the air

It's September, and time to start thinking about slow cooker recipes and the kind of traditional foods that make you feel all warm inside.  My husband, John has a book called Gifts from the Grandmothers, and I've tried some of those recipes. They are excellent reminders of the days when soups and stews sat all day on the back of the cook stove waiting for the hungry workers and children to sit up to the table.

Here are a few you might like to try

(If you don't have buffalo, beef will do just fine)

Buffalo Oven Stew

2 lbs. of buffalo meat, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 T. fat
1-1/2 T. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/4 cup flour
1 large onion, chopped
1 can stewed tomatoes
4 carrots, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
4 potatoes, chopped

Brown buffalo cubes and onion in fat on high heat. Reduce to simmer. Mix flour, salt, pepper and paprika sprinkle over browned meat; stir and gradually add water to form gravy. Place mixture in casserole dish. Add tomatoes, carrots, celery and potatoes and sufficient water to cover (leave room in the dish for the biscuit topping to be inside the rim of the dish). Place into baking dish, bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Cover with biscuit topping and return to 425 oven to brown topping.

Biscuit Topping
1-3/4 cups flour 4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup shortening
1 egg
2/3 cup milk

Sift dry ingredients. Cut in shortening to consistency of cornmeal. Beat egg with milk. Make a well in the center of dry ingredients. Pour in milk mixture. Stir until dough binds together. Place on floured board. Pat into circle, place on top of Buffalo Stew fit to edges of pan until snug. Bake at 425 for 15 – 20 minutes or until top is lightly browned.

Roundhouse Pea Soup
1/2 cup dried split peas, 4 cups water
1 lb. Ham shank or 2 hocks
1 cup grated carrot
1 tsp. salt
1 onion, minced
10 peppercorns, 1 bay leaf
1 cup milk
2 T. flour
Wash peas and soak overnight in water. Place ham shank in slow cooker, add peas and
water in which they were soaked, add salt and seasonings, set to high, and allow to
cook several hours. If cooking in stew pot, bring to boil, reduce to simmer and allow to cook several hours.
Moosejaw Chili
4 lbs. Course ground lean beef/venison/moose
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 T. Chili powder
8 T. Flour
4 tsp. Salt
2 T. Cumin (comino)
1/2 cup beef suet
1/4 lb. Butter
2 cups onion, diced
2 quarts hot water
1 pint tomato puree
3 cups cooked beans (optional)
Season meat with garlic, chili powder, flour, salt and cumin, using your hands to work into meat. Heat suet and butter in heavy kettle and sauté onions until soft but not brown. Stir in meat mixture and cook 20 minutes, stirring often. Add water and tomato puree. Simmer 1 hour, stirring often. Stir in beans and cook 30 minutes longer. Make 1-1/2 gallons of chili.
Sourdough Starter
2 cups warm water into container
1 pkg. active yeast or 1 level T. dried yeast
1 cup white flour
Mix ingredients to form smooth paste, cover loosely with lid. Place container in warm place, leave for 24 hours. Sourdough starter can be kept in refrigerator for several weeks.
Each time you use starter, pour off 1 cup of starter and set it aside as a starter for the next baking. Replenish by adding flour and warm water, nothing else. The mixture improves with time and once fermentation is under way, this cup of starter will be sufficient to sour the flour overnight.
White Sourdough Bread or Rolls
Put 1 cup of starter into mixing bowl
Add 2 1/2 cup of flour and stir lightly
Add 2 cup warm water
Mix thoroughly. Cover with plastic wrap.
Place in warm spot overnight (12 hours)
In the morning add:
1 cup water, warm
1 pkg. yeast (1 T.)
2 T. butter
1-1/2 T. sugar
2 tsp. salt
4 cups white flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
Add yeast and sugar to warm water. Stir until yeast is broken down (about 10 min.). Add to starter in your mixing bowl, liquid alternating with flour, stirring and adding until too stiff to mix with spoon. Turn out on floured board, kneading with hands, and adding more flour if needed to make soft dough. Briefly knead dough. Place kneaded dough in greased mixing bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until double in bulk. Knead briefly. Divide dough into pieces to fill bread pans, fold into the shape of a loaf, place in warm greased pans, and brush with melted butter. Put in warm place, and let rise until double in bulk. Preheat oven to 425. Bake loaves for 5 min. Reduce oven to 350 and bake for 20 to 25 min. until bread is loose on sides of pans. For rolls follow above steps, but add 1 T. shortening and 1 T. sugar and shape into rolls. Place on greased baking pan. Bake for 20 min. At 400 degrees.
I hope you enjoy these.  John and my mom (Lillian) spent many hours updating some of these recipes so that they would work for today's cooks. 

And, if while you're waiting for those soups and stew to cook you have some reading time, I'd love for you to get a copy of the new mystery Jamie Hill and I have just finished.  It's called "New Directions" and it takes my Kelly McWinter PI characters from the Deadly series in an entirely  new and exciting direction.

Pre-order now from Amazon. Released on September 13th,

Friday, September 9, 2016


I thought I was pretty strong in my beliefs regarding nature until I met an acquaintance. This isn't a person that calls occasionally for a friendly chit chat. Nope, this person lives close by. A couple houses away. I am sometimes honoured with face to face chats with her.

We live in the country. We get critters and lots of them. Deer, wild turkeys, lots of birds, squirrels, chipmunks, you get the idea. Her love of critters can be a bit extreme. Now, don't get me wrong, raccoons have a beautiful face, but, they can be destructive. So can skunks. Given the fact my dog loves the great outdoors even though she sleeps beside our bed, I really don't want either racoons or skunks nosing around on my property.

This acquaintance encourages both racoons and skunks to set up house around her deck. I'm serious. Yes, their deck is attached to their house. When I complain about the broken bird feeders, she tells me to stop feeding my birds. Apparently her feeders don't attracts the critters. 
"If there isn't any bird feed, they won't go there." 
Ugh. I refuse to argue with that. I'm not going to stop feeding my birds. Not going to happen. 
She came over a few weeks ago, as spring was ever so slowly springing. In late April, I still expected cold nights and the potential for frost. She had put her hummingbird feeder out and wanted me to put mine out. Not trusting mother nature, it was too early. 

"How do you know that? Have you actually seen him?" I asked. 
"No. But there is poop on my deck. It's so small, it must be his."
I've never fought as hard to restrain from laughing in my life. OMG.  Send for Bird Poop Analysis. As I relayed the story to my husband, it dawned on me. I think our property value just decreased. 

Heather Greenis is the author of The Natasha Saga 
Empowerment shatters traditions and lives. Greed and pride have devastating consequences. Sacrifices must be made. Written on multiple levels, the saga deals with hope, relationships, and giving, set against a background of conflicting values. Through a series of dreams, modern day couple Keeghan and William follow the triumphs and tragedies of multiple generations of the Donovan family. A chance encounter changes Natasha’s life, forever. In her diary, Natasha writes of her dream, and her hope to escape a horrid dictated future. Will Natasha's legacy survive an uncertain future?
website     blog       facebook

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

School Days, School Gail Roughton

"School days, school days, dear old Golden Rule Days....". Well, the country's school kids are back in school now, most of them a lot earlier than those of us of a certain generation ever walked back down those long hall. Doesn't Fall take you back? The smell of school has to be one of the most distinctive smells in the world, even if chalk doesn't really feature in the medley of aromas anymore, having given way to to dry erase markers and computer screens.

But no matter the technology employed, those heroes and heroines of the classrooms we call teachers still strive to shape and form the minds of the next generation. And where would we be without them? I was lucky. Looking back, I don't think I ever had a bad teacher in my life, but I think everyone has one or two teachers they'll never forget, teachers without whom they wouldn't be the individuals they are today. 

I had Miss Louise Parker. Yes, Miss.  Not Ms. See, back in the dark ages when I was in grammar school, Ms. hadn't been thought of yet.  Ladies were either Miss or Mrs., and in a child's pronunciation, there wasn't a lot of difference in sound between the two, but Miss Parker was truly a Miss. She'd never been married and she lived with her sister in an old house in a little town about thirty miles away from the school. A former college English professor, she chose to leave the politics and drama of college behind and teach seventh grade at a little rural grammar school named Florence Bernd Elementary, back in the days when grammar school was first through seventh grade and Junior High started with the eighth grade. And no, I never did know the story behind that decision.  

I don't, in fact, even have any idea how old she was at the time I walked through the doors of her Seventh Grade classroom. She was an institution herself at the time. She'd taught seventh grade at Florence Bernd for years, she'd always looked exactly the same, from her straight skirt, white blouse and sensible shoes to her short gray hair and black rimmed glasses. Most of the kids were petrified of her, even back in the day when school authority was absolute, a teacher was judge, jury and executioner and woe, woe unto you if you were sentenced to the principal's office. But for some reason, Miss Parker never scared me, and I was probably one of the few kids who actually wanted the start of school roll call to assign me to Miss Parker's room.  

Because of Miss Parker, I never learned another bit of English grammar after the seventh grade, not even in college, because I didn't need to.  And let me tell you something, folks, a noun does not name. A noun is a word that names a person, place, object or thing.  Likewise, a verb does not denote action or state of being.  A verb is a word that denotes action or state of being.  If I close my eyes, I can hear her voice now, and no, patient's not the word I'd use to describe it, repeating the litany that was so driven into my brain I did it with all three of my kids during homework help and I'm doing it now with my grandson.  A noun (or verb or pronoun or adjective or adverb or whatever part of speech) does not do anything. Because it's a word that does--whatever part of speech that word is does.  

Miss Parker taught for several years after I left her classroom for the halls of higher education, but as I recall, she did retire relatively soon thereafter. I hope she knew how much impact she had on all the generations of children she taught, and I really, really wish she could have read my books. Here's to you, Miss Parker, and to all the Miss, Mrs., Ms. and Mr. Parkers in all school rooms everywhere. I like to think you'd be proud, especially of this one...

Visit Gail Roughton at Amazon

Published by Books We Love, Ltd.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Troubles & Cannibalism in the New World by Katherine Pym

Jamestown House c. 1630

I’ve decided one of the reasons it took so long to get the original settlers off the ground and their colonies successful was due to their origins. Merchants wanted money and power and they felt they could get it by banding together to outfit a fleet of ships and send men to the North America. Their money would establish these settlements. Their money would insure the men in these new settlements would give a great return for the merchants’ investments.

There were several merchant companies that ranged up and down the East Coast of North America. Given grants by their monarch, they considered the land theirs from Florida to Newfoundland to do with as they pleased. The colonists were ‘employees’ of these companies. They had to obey what the merchant companies dictated. With the spoils, these merchants in turn, were to give wealth and power to their monarch.

Men came first, then women. They used the tools and supplies provided by the merchant company to build, to trap furs as payment to the merchants. If the colonists found the passage to the Northwest and the Pacific, if they found gold or silver, these, too, were to be given to the merchants.   

Merchant companies did not provide well for the extremes that pervaded this new land; i.e., harsh winters, unyielding soil, wild beasts and the original peoples who could turn violent.

It seemed little thought was given to establishing long term settlements. To do this, one must have tools and the know-how to use these tools to build new tools and implement them into the task at hand. They must have livestock, not for eating but for breeding. When the herd could provide, then the colonists could eat. They must learn the type of seeds that would grow in their soil, their climate.

Settlers relied on the merchants returning each spring/early summer with clothing, food, more implements, powder and shot for their guns. If the governments changed during this time, or the merchant company disbanded, if it took years to obtain more money, sometimes merchants did not return, or if they did, it was years later. This put the colonists at great risk.

Many died of starvation. In the latest archeological digs, signs of cannibalism have been discerned.

Take Jamestown.

George Percy, of early Jamestown, wrote how badly life was. He sadly mentioned people were so hungry, they dug up corpses and ate them.

Capt. John Smith wrote: “One amongst the rest did kill his wife, powdered (salted) her, and had eaten part of her before it was known, for which he was executed, as he well deserved... Now whether she was better roasted, boiled or carbonado’d (barbecued), I know not, but of such a dish as powdered wife I never heard of.”

In the spring of 2013, archeologists revealed they had located the first evidence of cannibalism with the discovery of a 14 year old (Jamestown circa 1609-10). Found in a refuse pile, her remains showed she had recently died.

Someone, or several, cleaved at her body and head. She was dismembered and her flesh removed. Knife tips gouged away at her skull and chin as if to cut away her tongue or throat tissue. “Her brain, tongue, cheeks and leg muscles were eaten, with the brain likely eaten first, because it decomposes so quickly after death.

The clumsy attempts to cut away flesh shows whoever had done this had never butchered an animal for food. This was done by people desperate enough to eat another human being after she was dead.

The skull was restructured, so you can see what she looked like. Due to copyright issues I’m not sure if I can share this young girl’s picture.

Please see:

For the whole article:

And another:

Other sources:
Coleman, R.V., The First Frontier. Castle Books, NJ, 2005
Kirke, Henry, The First English Conquest of Canada, London SE, 1908

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Brides of Banff Springs by Victoria Chatham

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