Posts Categorized: Books

Writing Historical Fiction by the Cookbook

Cripple Creek Church History Cook Book

You’re not likely to find me flipping channels looking for the Food Network. Fact is, my hubby does most of the cooking and baking at our house. But don’t ask me to write about a new setting without a cookbook from the time period and location.

Cripple Creek Church History Cook Book
For The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series, I pored over the Church History Cook Book from the First Congregational Church in Cripple Creek, Colorado. A yummy resource for time period dishes and recipes, listings of ingredients, people names from the time and place, and other juicy tidbits.
All four Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek novels, now available!

All four Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek novels, now available!

Here’s a fun tip offered by Mrs. J. S. Bates: “To keep apples from turning dark when peeled, use a silver knife.”

I can hear Ida Sinclair sharing that household hint with her younger sisters in Too Rich for a Bride.

Ginger Snaps with Mrs. Ira Hart and Mrs. Theodore Hartman
1 cup molasses
1 cup sugar
1 cup shortening
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 tablespoon ginger
1 level teaspoon soda
1 egg
Add flour to roll.
Bake in a quick oven.

Yep, I can see one of the Sinclair sisters nibbling a ginger snaps at Miss Hattie’s Boardinghouse in Two Brides Too Many, Too Rich for a Bride, The Bride Wore Blue, or Twice a Bride.

St. Charles Celebrating Our Heritage Cookbook

For The Quilted Heart, three eBook novellas, Celebrating Our Heritage from the St. Charles German Heritage Club provided me with tasty recipes and fun tidbits.
Dandelions on the Wind, Bending Toward the Sun, and Ripples Along the Shore

Dandelions on the Wind, Bending Toward the Sun, and Ripples Along the Shore

Hunter’s Schnitzel from the German Club Archives

Pork or veal cutlets
Salt
Pepper
Brown sugar
1 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced
Cream
Cooking sherry (if desired)
Crushed garlic (if desired)
Onions (if desired)
Butter for browning

Make sure the cutlets are thin. Wash the cutlets, dry with a paper towel and rub with pepper, salt and just a little brown sugar. Cook the cutlets on both sides in real butter in an open pan until the meat is done and takes on a nice brown color. Put the schnitzels in a serving dish and keep hot. In the meat juice left in the pan, cook fresh sliced mushrooms (about one pound for 2 schnitzels) until the liquid is mostly gone, adding pepper, salt and a touch of sugar to taste (not too much sugar or the mushrooms will be spoiled). Stir in fresh cream until you get a thick sauce. Pour on top of the schnitzels and serve with potato pancakes. Another variation is to add a little cooking sherry, onions and/or garlic to the mushroom gravy (the onions and garlic are cooked together with the mushrooms; the sherry is added with the cream).

Sounds to me like a “receipt” we could find in Emilie Heinrich’s kitchen in Bending Toward the Sun, a Quilted Heart novella.

Hunger ist der beste Koch. (Hunger is the best cook.) One of the many sayings I found in the German heritage cookbook, along with fascinating bits of history.

Oregon Trail Cookbook (2)I turned to The Oregon Trail Cookbook, A Historical View of Cooking, Traveling, and Surviving on the Trail for culinary inspiration and cultural tidbits for Hearts Seeking Home, my next series. Look for Prairie Song, Book 1, to release on August 6th!
Prairie Song

“Originally called ‘The Emigrant Road’ by the early pioneers, the route commonly became known as ‘The Oregon Trail’ and later as ‘The Overland Trail.’ Regardless of its name, emigrants always referred to it as ‘the road’ and not a ‘trail.’”

Sourdough Griddle Cakes

2 c. sourdough starter
4 c. warm water
4 T. oil
1 tsp. salt
4 T. sugar
5 c. flour
2 eggs
½ c. condensed milk

2 tsp. baking soda

Mix starter, flour and warm water the night before. Reserve 2-3 cups to replenish starter. To what is left, add eggs, oil and milk; over dough and gently fold in. Let rise 3-4 minutes. Fry on hot griddle. Serve immediately.

I can almost smell the griddle cakes Caroline Milburn will cook over the coals of a campfire out on the prairie in Prairie Song.

Read the prequel to Prairie Song in Dandelions on the Wind, Bending Toward the Sun, and Ripples Along the Shore.

Do you have a favorite regional cookbook?

© 2013 Mona Hodgson, Author and Speaker

Women in History: Mary Claver Coleman

March is National Women of History Month. To join in the celebration, I’ve chosen to feature one of the “real life” women from my Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series in today’s post.

Mary Claver Coleman was one of those wonderful finds during my research for Two Brides Too Many  My hero was a new doctor coming to Cripple Creek from Boston.

Bob’s Corner: No E-Reader, No Problem

Bob looking dapper for a book signing at Glen Eyrie in Colorado Springs.

Bob Hodgson, resident techie, chief cook, and dapper driver for book signings.

Howdy from Bob’s corner!

TODAY is Release Day for Dandelions on the Wind, the first novella in Mona’s new series, The Quilted Heart. The three mid-1860s stories are available this spring exlusively in e-Book format, but you don’t need a fancy schmancy handheld e-Reader to read Dandelions on the Wind.

Since you’re reading this post, I’m guessing you already have a computer, iPod/iPad/iPhone, Android tablet, or smart phone. That means you have the ability to install a free app that will allow you to enjoy the new series (and all of Mona’s historical fiction) on your device.

The app that seems the universal choice is the Kindle app, available from the Amazon.com website. All compatible platforms are listed on the site, including those with a fruit logo, but keep reading for an important caveat.

If you have a PC or Android, you can purchase the books in Amazon/Kindle, then read it on any device with the Kindle app installed.

If you own a Mac and iPhone, iPad, or iPod, you can and should install the iBook app from Apple. Keep in mind that if you use an Apple product, they do not allow what are referred to as in-app purchases. So, with a Kindle app, you can read the book, but you will have to purchase it on some other device. You would be ahead to keep it all in-house.

E-Books are not transferable between different brands of e-Readers. My advice is to go with the strongest brand for you, so you don’t have to re-purchase your books if you change readers.  Kindle and iBooks both allow you to read your books on any of your compatible devices. Start on your desktop, and continue on your handheld.

There are other readers available. If you plan on purchasing one of them, you would want to go to their website and see about downloadable readers for your current device. Then, when you buy that reader in the future, you will be able to transfer the books to your device.

I hope I have not confused the matter in my “simple” explanation. If you have any further questions, go to the website of your device or operating system. They get paid to make it complicated.

CLICK HERE to read and excerpt from Dandelions on the Wind and to order from your favorite eBookseller.

Good reading!

The bob

The Quilted Heart Novellas

The Quilted Heart Novellas

Mollie Kathleen Gortner: A Cripple Creek Woman

Mollie Kathleen Gortner GoldMineTours.com

The fascinating women of the 1800s were not dissimilar to you and I, even though their circumstances varied greatly and required extra doses of pluck. They loved and lost. They laughed and cried. They tried and failed. Many tried again and were victorious. Relationships and community mattered to them. Faith played an important role in their strength and resiliency.

Mollie Kathleen Gortner was one of those women in Cripple Creek, Colorado.

Mollie Kathleen Gortner

Mollie Kathleen Gortner

In the spring of 1891, Mollie Kathleen’s son Perry left their home in Colorado Springs as a surveyor to map mining claims in Cripple Creek. All he talked about was the gold there. Wanting to see for herself what the fuss was all about, Mollie Kathleen loaded the family wagon with supplies and joined other wagons headed to Cripple Creek. She set up housekeeping in the log and canvas tent Perry had recently completed.

One day that September, Perry returned home from surveying with stories about seeing a huge herd of elk. Again, Mollie Kathleen decided to go out and see for herself. But she never made it up high enough to see the elk. When Mollie Kathleen stopped to rest, she looked downward and noticed an interesting rock formation winking at her. Pure gold laced in quartz. Having seen several prospectors in the area, Mollie Kathleen forced herself to remain calm and hid the ore sample in her clothing.

Consequently, Mrs. Mollie Kathleen Gortner became the first woman in the Cripple Creek District to discover gold and strike a claim in her own name.

MollyMine

Although Mollie Kathleen staked the claim and owned the mine, it was her son Perry who kept an office out at the Mollie Kathleen Mine. As soon as Mollie Kathleen would set foot on the mine site, the miners would scramble up out of the tunnels. Turns out they were a superstitious lot who refused to be caught in a one-thousand-foot vertical shaft with a woman on the grounds.

In each of the four Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek novels, readers meet at least one real-life woman from Cripple Creek history. I introduced Mary Claver Coleman, the Reverend Mother of the Sisters of Mercy, in Two Brides Too Many. In Too Rich for a Bride, business entrepreneur Mollie O’Bryan helped add layers to Ida Sinclair’s journey. Doctor Susan Anderson, known as Doc Susie, came alongside our cast of fictional characters in The Bride Wore Blue. Mollie Kathleen Gortner is the primary real-life woman in Twice a Bride. Like the women in the previous stories, Mollie Kathleen’s portrayal in the story is a fictionalization.

I begin with fact—what I can learn about the woman from research. Then starting with what I know about “her story,” I figure out where her experience might intersect with my main characters in their story.

As a secondary character in Twice a Bride, Mollie Kathleen Gortner plays a pivotal role in Trenton Van Der Veer’s adjustment as a businessman in the Cripple Creek Mining District. Mollie Kathleen also serves as an inspiration to newcomer Willow Raines Peterson, a widow in search of a fresh start.

Mollie Kathleen Mine, Cripple Creek, Colorado

Mollie Kathleen Mine, Cripple Creek, Colorado

Fun Fact: The Mollie Kathleen Mine on the outskirt of Cripple Creek, Colorado is open to the public and offers underground tours into the 1,000 foot vertical mine shaft. See what life was like for the Old West hard rock miner. A fun and educational summer stop for families. For more information on the mine and the tour season, go to: http://www.goldminetours.com/goldminetours.com/Home.html.

Have you visited a mine? Gone into an underground mine? Which one?

© 2012 Mona Hodgson, Author and Speaker

All four Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek novels are also available for your eReader?

Research, Cookbooks, and Christmas Plum Pudding

PlumPudding[1]

Research can be many things: Fascinating, engaging, time-consuming, surprising, delightful. Even yummy.

If you’ve been reading The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek novels, you know Miss Hattie attends First Congregational Church in Cripple Creek, Colorado. In Two Brides Too Many, the Sinclair sisters began attending the church. By the end of Too Rich for a Bride, Ida’s husband Tucker Raines served as the church’s new pastor.

Photo Credit: Zarbo Delicatessen & Cafe

Photo Credit: Zarbo Delicatessen & Cafe

As part of my research for a series, I like to visit museums in my setting.

In those museums, I peruse any local books offered in the gift shop.

The Cripple Creek District Museum is one of my favorite hangouts when I’m in Cripple Creek.

Imagine my delight when I came across a red book titled:

Church History Cook Book
First Congregational Church
Cripple Creek, Colo.

The small, thin cook booklet actually lists the names and addresses of the cooks offering the recipes. But there’s more—the year(s) of the cook’s residence in Cripple Creek. The First Congregational Church of Cripple Creek existed for twenty years, spanning the late 1890’s, the time in which the Sinclair Sisters series is set. And now I have a collection of recipes used by women in that time and place. One of the reasons I enjoy researching a time period and setting, its culture and its people.

Since it is December and Christmas is upon us, I thought it would be fun to share three Christmas Plum Pudding recipes from the First Congregational Church cookbook published by the Cripple Creek District Museum.

Christmas pudding is a pudding that was traditionally served on Christmas Day (December 25). It originated in medieval England, and was best know as plum pudding in our Victorian era. Many families had a recipe handed down generation to generation. The early English Christmas pudding was boiled in a pudding cloth, and often presented as a rounded mound of pudding. Victorian tradition involved putting the batter into a basin and steaming it.

Christmas Plum Pudding

One cup currants
1 cup suet, chopped fine
2 cups bread crumbs
1 cup sugar
1 cup seeded raisins
1 cup sour milk
1 level teaspoon soda
½ cup candied citron, sliced
1 teaspoons cloves
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt.

Roll fruit in flour and add flour enough to make a stiff batter. Steam or boil four hours. Serve with a sauce.

Mrs. Philbrick, 1899

Christmas Plum Pudding

3 cups bread crumbs
2 ½ cups suet
2 cups sugar
1 lb raisins
3 cups currants
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmegs
1 teaspoon soda
3 cups buttermilk
Flour to thicken quite stiff
Boil four hours.

Dr. B. Murray, 1895

Christmas Plum Pudding

1 cup beef suit, chopped
2 cups bread crumbs
½ cup citron
1 cup English walnuts
1 cup seeded raisins
1 cup currants
1 pint of flour
4 eggs, well beaten
1 heaping cup sugar
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 level teaspoon soda, dissolved in a little warm water

Mix fruit with some of the flour. Put eggs, sugar and salt into the milk and spices, add fruit bread crumbs and suet, then add soda and the rest of the flour. Mix thoroughly. Steam four hours.

Mrs. T. P. Connor, 1895

We’ll want a sauce to go with our pudding.  Favorites include cream, hard sauce, brandy butter, and golden sauce. I’ll share Miss Ella’s recipe for the latter.

Golden Sauce

½ cup butter and 1 cup sugar beaten to a cream. Add 3 egg yolks beaten light, then add the bell beaten whites. Lemon extract to taste. Place in a double boiler, stir till it thickens. Serve hot.  Miss Ella Hummer, 1894-1909

 

Have you ever eaten or made Plum Pudding?

What Family recipe are you most looking forward to this Christmas?

 

© 2012 Mona Hodgson, Author and Speaker

Make That 8 Sinclair Sisters Gift Ideas

fudge[1]

Can’t believe I’d forgotten #8 when I first made this list!

We all know books make great gifts. What makes an even better present? A themed gift package centered around a book. Since I’ve heard from a few folks who are gifting my Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek books this Christmas, I decided to add to the fun and put together seven gift package ideas that would compliment the series.

  1. A Checkers Game, a Sinclair Sisters favorite. I used a checkers tournament to first introduce the four Sinclair sisters in Two Brides Too Many.
  2. A Family Bible–like the one the Sinclair Family has, with pages for Family Records. Or simply a Bible that you can personalize for your sister, mom, daughter, or aunt. The Family Bible played a key role in Vivian Sinclair’s story in The Bride Wore Blue.
  3. First Congregational Church Cook Book with recipes from Cripple Creek folks at the time of the Sinclair Sisters series. Also, the First Congregational Church was Miss Hattie’s home church in Cripple Creek and where Tucker Raines from Too Rich for a Bride pastored.
  4. A camera (even just a good disposable one) in honor of Trenton Van Der Ver, the hero photographer in Twice a Bride.
  5. A journal, giving a nod to Kat Sinclair, who by the end of Two Brides Too Many has her first job as a “real” writer.
  6. A tin or box of tea. Peppermint was a Sinclair Sisters favorite, featured in Too RIch for a Bride, The Bride Wore Blue, and in Twice a Bride. Camomille tea scented the parlor in Two Brides Too Many. Ginger tea was served in The Bride Wore Blue.
  7. Photo Credit: McFadden's Fabulous Fudge

    Photo Credit: McFadden’s Fabulous Fudge

    A copy of Harper’s Bazar, the magazine Kat Sinclair Cutshaw was writing for in Too Rich for a Bride. I had fun finding my copies of the magazine in antique stores and thrift shops.

  8. Fudge. Pecan fudge was a big deal in Cripple Creek in Twice a Bride.

You can purchase or order any of the four Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek novels from your favorite bookseller, but here are some links, for your convenience.

Amazon.com

Christianbook.com

What have you paired with a book in a gift package? Which book? What gift?

© 2012 Mona Hodgson, Author and Speaker

A Devotional Book for Girls

Real Girls 31 Day

Before I began writing historical novels–The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek–for WaterBrook Press, I was writing children’s books for Zonderkidz.

A FaithGirlz Devotional

Featuring thirty-one women from both the Old and New Testaments—including Esther, Leah, Rhoda, Mary, Sarah, Ruth, Martha, Anna, and Elizabeth—each devotional centers around the woman’s faith-journey and includes a scripture verse, prayer, suggestions for further reading, and even an item called Body Talk intended to promote a godly self-image.

The text is sprinkled with Fun Facts (Miriam led the singing of the first song of worship ever recorded in Scripture!). In every story, girls see God’s holy character and glimpse their own potential in relationship with Him.

What Readers Have Said

“Real Girls of the Bible (A Devotioanl) is a HIT! I would love more of your books!” Samantha, Age 10, from Canada

“I am the children’s director at our church. We started using Real Girls of the Bible in our Girls Tween class in January. The girls are taking two of the Girls in the Bible a week and each girl “teaches” on this particular Girl in the Bible. I have talked to many of the moms who have said they do not have to remind the girls to do their study They are doing it on their own! Praise God they are developing ownership of their walk with Jesus! Thanks for writing this book. I have also enjoyed going through it and gleaning from it!” Jennifer

“We used REAL GIRLS OF THE BIBLE as our devotional presentation this week. The oldest girl in the group, age 16, gave the devotions and did a nice job.” Diana, Girls Club Leader 

While I wrote Real Girls of the Bible with girls ages 8 to 12 in mind, I’ve heard from both younger and older girls who enjoyed it, and from adult women who used Real GIrls of the Bible in their personal Bible study time.

Yes, Real Girls of the Bible: A 31-Day Devotional is also available as an eBook.

As you consider gifts for your children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews, your neighbor children and the children in your church, please take a look at my children’s books.

Read about my Zonderkidz I Can Read Books here!

Are you looking for a place to buy a copy of Real Girls of the Bible: A Devotional?

Christian Book

Amazon

Do you have a favorite Bible woman? Why is she your choice?

 

Bob’s Corner: Mining with a Steam Shovel

Bob Glen Eyrie

Howdy, and welcome back to Bob’s Corner!

Today, I thought we’d talk about another type of ore removal. Since a gold mine is normally thought of as a below-the-surface operation, we tend to think of mineshafts, elevators, and total darkness.

In reality, Cripple Creek District gold is just as likely to be found in surface material. Or, at least material that is easily collected at or near the surface. In Cripple Creek, the famous Molly Kathleen Mine, still in operation as a tourist attraction, began with a lump of Quartz found on the surface.

A lady named (are you ready for this?) Molly Kathleen Gortner went in search of the herd of elk her son had talked about. Stopping to rest, she looked at her feet and saw the rock. She knew enough about mining that if you found a piece of quartz that had shiny veins of gold running through it, you pick it up and stake a claim. She did, and soon became the richest woman in town.

The video shows a steam shovel (or bucket, depending on where you’re from) that was a tremendous improvement over backbreaking pick and shovel work of those early days in the 1890’s. It could be driven up to a hillside, and one person could move tons of material in no time. The equipment in the video is actually parked near the entrance to the Molly Kathleen Mine. From the looks of things, this steam shovel will still be there when you visit.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jQr4azp0qk&w=560&h=315]

 

The active mines in the area to this day have resorted to this Open Pit type of mining. There is no danger of cave-in or elevator malfunction. Modern techniques consist primarily of explosives to blast sections of rock, then mechanical shovels to load it into trucks that haul it to a crushing mill. It may take tons of ore to produce ounces of gold, but this keeps the expense down so the mine can actually be profitable.

What aspect of mining most fascinates you?

Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek RECIPES

Sinclair-Sisters-Oct2nd

I read fiction for a variety of reasons: compelling characters, fascinating settings, appealing hypotheses, historical information, a sense of community, spiritual nourishment, encouragement, distraction, insight, entertainment.

Oh, yes, and the food. My favorite stories often feature teatime or mealtime conversations. It’s no wonder then that my Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek novels include dialogue centered around a supper table or a tray of goodies in a parlor.

Two Brides Too Many, Too Rich for a Bride, The Bride Wore Blue, and Twice a Bride

Two Brides Too Many, Too Rich for a Bride, The Bride Wore Blue, and Twice a Bride

I thought it’d be fun to celebrate the completion of the Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series with three recipes from two of our beloved Cripple Creek women: Miss Hattie, the proprietor of Miss Hattie’s Boardinghouse, and Nell Sinclair Archer.

Miss Hattie’s Lemon Scones

Nell Sinclair Archer’s Peanut Cabbage Salad

Miss Hattie’s Vanilla Pound Cake with Berry Sauce

As Julia Child would’ve said, “Bon Appétit!”

Which recipe would you choose to make first?

 

If you do make one of the Sinclair Sisters Recipes, please take pictures and post them on Facebook–your page and mine at https://www.facebook.com/Author.Mona

 

 

 

Bob’s Corner: Mine Elevators and Ore Cars

Glen Eyrie Bob

Bob Hodgson

Bob here. Welcome back to my Corner.

Today, I want to share a little about the workings of a hard-rock gold mine at the end of the 19th century.

In the Cripple Creek District, the mines were mostly vertical shafts, blasted through solid granite. In a previous post, Headframes and Hoists, I explained that this had to do with the need to not trespass on another person’s claim. Folks were touchy about that.

Blasting a hole through rock requires a drill and explosives. The drill in this era was powered by steam, delivered through a cloth and rubber hose from the surface. Not a major feat when at or near the surface, but mighty noisy and claustrophobic as the shaft made its way down. And way down is where these shafts went. Some of the mines could reach 1500 feet.

As the depth increased, there were horizontal shafts cut to follow veins of gold-bearing ore. Each was carefully surveyed and monitored to avoid any encroachment of the surface measured claim. The court system at the time was glutted with accusations of trespassing, keeping a cadre of lawyers busy with suits and countersuits.

Headframe

About this time, you’re wondering how people got down into those holes to work, and how the ore got to the surface. Well, in the video titled “Mine Elevator,” you’ll see an example of a typical elevator of the time. This car would have been suspended by cable from the headframe, attached to the machinery we discussed in the earlier post, Headframes and Hoists. Each car pictured would hold six men, and these cars were stacked so that a team of twelve would be inserted into the shaft together. Six men over six men. In total darkness. Slowly lowered 1500 feet into the earth.  Some of the larger mines would have a double spool cable rig that would balance the work by bringing up an equal size crew at the same time. That’s twenty-four men suspended by cable in a completely dark tunnel, jerking and bouncing against the guiderails, for fifteen minutes or so, twice per shift. My commute to work suddenly seems tame.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NQJI4CTy-JA&w=420&h=315]

Once the men were in place with their drills and shovels, they would proceed to drill into the rock face. The Powder Monkeys would then step in, to place dynamite charges into the holes and light the fuses. Employee safety was always a consideration. When the fuses were lit, the men would be herded into one of the aforementioned side tunnels to keep them from being injured by exploding rock. This kept the incidence of open wounds down, but the concussion must have been brutal.

Typical ore cars

The muckers would then follow with shovels, placing the broken ore into wheelbarrows and ore cars. There was a miniature rail system within the larger mines that allowed these ore cars to be pushed to the vertical shaft. The ore cars were tipped into a bucket that was attached to the same cable that deposited the men into the mine. This is seen in the video titled Ore Bucket. These buckets were also stacked to get the most material out as possible with each trip. Overzealous bucket loaders were frowned upon. Any ore that was loaded over the top of the bucket edge would have found its way back down the shaft. The hardhats of the day would have been of little use against a five pound rock falling 1500 feet.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9WgnBOfyFng&w=420&h=315]

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