Monday, November 21, 2011

Food for Thought

From everything I've been told about my grandmother, she was an excellent cook. She measured flour with her hand instead of a measuring cup. She could take a head of cabbage and feed a table of ten with it during the Depression. She'd bake dozens of dinner rolls every morning to feed her family and share with needy neighbors.

A few of her recipes were past down, and one thing my grandmother taught me was recipes mean a great deal to families --- they are in fact a part of a family's history. So when I was writing my novel 'Surrender the Wind', I decided to include cookery, as it was called in Colonial times, to the story.  Three women, each having their own best dish. A  hero that loves his wife's baking. A housekeeper to an Annapolis lawyer that frets over whether or not her roasted chicken is to his dinner guests' liking. And a servant whose stewed apples tempt the hardy appetite of a local constable.

Over three posts, I will include their recipes. First here is Mrs. Partridge's Colonial Maryland Roasted Chicken. Let me share a bit about her first from the novel.

Stowefield sat at his desk dozing, his steel spectacles hanging low on the bridge of his nose. His hair was a mass of gray locks, matching a pair of bushy eyebrows. His housekeeper nudged him on the shoulder and he shook and sputtered awake.
          “What is it, Partridge?”
Seth waited inside the doorway. He smiled at the pronouncement of the woman’s name. She resembled the bird, with her tiny eyes and spherical face, stout neck and body, the way her arms hung away from her sides when she walked.
          “Mr. Braxton here to see you.” Partridge folded her hands over her apron. “You must rise from your nap.”

Mrs. Partridge's Colonial Maryland Roasted Chicken 

1 Tender hen
1 Sprig of Rosemary 
1 large Onion cut into quarters
Enough red-skinned potatoes to feed the Continental Army
Stuff the fowl rosemary and onion
Cut potatoes and toss with butter
Lay hen in baking dish and surround with potatoes
Roast at 325 until done
Do not allow the fowl to overcook, nor for the skin to blacken. . . even though gentlemen such as Mr. Stowefield ( her employer and Annapolis lawyer) and Mr. Braxton ( the hero ) say it is quite delicious.
Visit my website and read about Surrender the Wind, and a new series, The Daughters of the Potomac, to be released beginning February 1, 2010

Friday, November 18, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving Recipe

Dear Friends,

Here is one of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes perfect for your Thanksgiving Day menu. I never liked the traditional whipped sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top. A few years ago I found this one and it is!
I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Sweet Potato Pecan Casserole
3 cups of mashed sweet potato (about 2 1/4 pounds)
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup skim milk
2 tablespoons margarine or butter melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons margarine or butter
1/3 cup chopped pecans

Combine: first 7 ingredients in a bowl, and stir well. Spoon sweet potato mixture into an 8-inch square backing dish coated with cooking spray.

Combine: 1/2 cup brown sugar and flour in a bowl, and cut in 2 tablespoons chilled margarine or butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in the chopped pecans and sprinkle over sweet potato mixture.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
Yield: 8 servings - 1/2 cup each

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Slide show

I'm putting together a slide show for my website. 
Could you help me out? 
If you have a copy of my latest novel, 'Surrender the Wind', either paperback or on Kindle, would you be so kind to send me a photo of you holding it? I'll add it in. I would really appreciate your help.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Finding Inspiration in Photos

I've learned, as an author I am a visual writer. I visualize the unfolding of a story in my mind like a movie. I see my characters moving through scenes. Old photos also inspire my muse, especially when it comes to my heroines. It's odd that I have not found as many stunning old photos of men that do the same. 

So today, I thought I'd share a few with you. This is a technique you may want to explore for yourself, whether you write or read. As a writer, old photos and paintings for historicals, and contemporary photos for contemporary fiction, can help you develop the image of your characters, not only in appearance but in demeanor. Photographs can express personality, and that is what I look for. It's simple to do. Just type into Google something specific to your genre, the time period, and character.

For example. I am currently writing a proposal for an Edwardian series. In the first book there will be two elderly aunts. So, I typed in my Google box '1900's old women' and found the one here on the left. Are they not perfect. The year is 1910. I've named these aunts Mildred and Maude.

I found photos a plenty for heroines and I will not share they quite yet, not until I have a book contract and I begin writing the stories. But here are a few more.

I searched for 'working men, orphans, families, weddings' in the early 1900s and found a group photos.

As a reader, photographs and paintings can help you visualize the characters in the book you are reading.

Now some people may say that this dismisses the use of the imagination. Go overboard on anything and that is true. So the key is moderation.