Rain has been pouring off and on for two days. My driveway is a small pond, the backyard is more than saturated, all of our plants look perky and happy, and so am I. As long as I know that my guys are all safe, and I don’t have to go anywhere, I love a rainy day. When I was a little girl, cold rainy days meant that my mother probably had a simmering pot of soup on the stove, meatball, chicken noodle or navy bean…meatball was my favorite… and more importantly, there would be warm cookies waiting when I got off the bus from school. My boys could count on much the same when they were growing up.
It’s funny how a rainy day makes me think of my mother’s cookies, or my own little boys walking in the door inhaling deeply hoping for the aroma of their favorite chocolate chip, peanut butter or snickerdoodle cookies.
I just finished a Valentine’s novella, that will be releasing next month, and I’m working on my 1920’s historical women’s fiction novel, and even while I’m writing, food comes up. Some of my characters love to cook, others eat in fine restaurants, others eat absentmindedly at their desks while they work.
As a former food writer, it’s not surprising that I love to write about the dishes my characters enjoy…or not. Some of my favorite research is looking for recipes in antique cookbooks, new cookbooks, online or perusing restaurant menus. Old restaurant menus can give you a real taste of the times, great descriptions and even prices. And antique recipe cards or cookbooks can tell you how differently we cook today. The ingredients, cooking tools, and terminology all can be clues to the era or region of a story.
Since I love both books and cooking, I have a ridiculous number of cookbooks. I have culled the number after a couple of recent moves, but I look for them whenever I’m in used bookstores, and people often give them to me for gifts. One of my favorites is The One Maid Cookery Book, printed in London in 1913. I found this in an antique store. The minute I saw the title I knew I had to have the book. One maid, I have no maid! Oh, wait, I might be the maid!
Another is The American Woman’s Cook Book edited by Ruth Berolzheimer, and published by Garden City Publishing Company in New York, 1943. This book was left behind in a house my husband and I rented years ago. It’s filled with information on table setting, entertaining, menu planning for every day, holidays, or a limited budget. The pictures are wonderful and set a real flavor for the time.
The rain seems to have slowed outside, and my husband and youngest son will be home soon. I think I’ll go get something warm in the oven. Today I think I’ll go with the chocolate brownies that are loved by Lucy, the main character in my Valentine’s romance #PleaseSayYes.
What are your favorite food memories? Do you use food to set the scene or add to the story when you write? When you read do you skip the food descriptions or do they speak to you? Can you be found sitting in the bathtub reading a cookbook like a novel? Or maybe that’s just me…
Since Thanksgiving is a week away, it’s only natural that many of us are thinking about food. I love autumn and all the wonderful dishes that make up the traditional Thanksgiving feast, but did you know how many of them are New World foods?
The food supply expanded when Columbus “discovered” the New World. There were no potatoes, yams, tomatoes, pumpkins turkeys or maize (Indian corn) in the Middle Ages.
In Medieval Underpants and Other Blunders: A Writer’s (& Editor’s) Guide to Keeping Historical Fiction Free of Common Anachronisms, Errors, & Myths, author Susanne Alleyn takes a swipe at Cinderella’s pumpkin carriage in the Disney movie. The carriage it doesn’t bother me so much, since Disney’s Cinderella is apparently set in the 18th century, if the gowns are anything to go on. At least it’s an improvement on the scene in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs where the Huntsman leads Snow White into an American forest. I’m pretty sure I spotted a raccoon and an alligator. (Known fact: You can’t trust Hollywood when it comes to research.)
There was also no chocolate, no tea and no coffee in the Middle Ages. Peasants drank beer at every meal. The nobility drank wine. The introduction of coffee and tea in the 17th century helped to sober up Europe for the Industrial Revolution, thank goodness. Even the sober Pilgrims and Puritans drank beer in the 1600’s. If you’re writing a Medieval romance, don’t show your characters drinking tea, even if it’s herbal. The word “tea” comes from the Chinese, and didn’t enter the English language until around 1655. Herbal infusions, sometimes called tisannes, were mainly used for medicinal purposes.
Chocolate is native to the Americas, so the Spaniards were the first Europeans to encounter it. It became popular at court after the Spanish added sugar or honey to sweeten the natural bitterness. From there, chocolate spread through Europe in the 1600’s, and how thankful I am that it did. The best hot chocolate I’ve ever had was the dark, molten variety you find in France.
Coffee drinking started in Arabia in the middle of the 15th century and had spread to Europe in the 16th century. It became more popular after 1600 when Pope Clement VIII declared it a “Christian” beverage. When Britain cut off America’s tea supply during the War of 1812, Americans turned to coffee and we’ve been a coffee-drinking nation ever since.
Tea comes from Asia and was introduced to Holland in 1610, in common use by 1675; introduced to England about 1660, where it steadily increased in popularity. The ritual we know as afternoon tea didn’t start until the 1840s. Afternoon tea was for the idle rich and includes finger sandwiches, scones and pastries. High tea, which isn’t nearly as grand as it sounds, was the name for the evening meal used by the working class and features a hot dish like a meat pie or stew.
Linda McLaughlin w/a Lyndi Lamont
When the calendar changes to September, the days begin to quickly change. The neighborhood kids walk to school with brand new backpacks and shiny lunch-boxes, and I can hear the morning announcements from the elementary school one block from my house. The leaves will soon turn oranges, golds and browns and slowly drift from the trees, and the air will turn brisk and nippy… okay, well maybe not here in Los Angeles, but it’s happening somewhere besides my imagination. Autumn is a time of renewal, exciting and fresh with lots of possibilities.
Passing Labor Day for me still means putting away my white clothes…although here in Southern California we never really put away our summer clothes… working on holiday projects and planning new menus.
I re-evaluate and update my goals for the year, and I remind myself to count my blessings, as we head toward the end of the year.
So now that Labor Day has passed and the days are moving quickly toward autumn, have you paused to take stock of your goals and count your blessings and do you put away your white clothes for another year (or is that just me)?
Before I began writing fiction I was a food writer. I thought I’d share one of my favorite autumn recipes with you.
Autumn Delicious Cake
1 spice cake mix
1 small box instant vanilla pudding
1 cup canned pumpkin
½ cup water
½ cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar
1-2 T cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a Bundt pan with cooking spray.
Combine cinnamon and sugar and set aside.
Put cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, pumpkin water and oil into a large mixing bowl and beat on low speed until combined, then on high speed for 2 minutes. Spread half of batter in the prepared pan. Sprinkle with ½ of the cinnamon sugar, then top with the remaining batter spreading it evenly over the sugared layer, reserve half of the cinnamon sugar.
Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until a fork or skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
Cool for 10 minutes, then flip onto a serving platter, sprinkle with remaining cinnamon sugar and cool completely. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.
And the Kindle Scout benefits just keep on coming…
Cinderella is a smart shopper and she loves a deal.
Especially from Amazon.
Amazon loves to promote their Kindle Scout winners (officially Kindle Press or KP Authors). I’ve seen my fellow authors show up on Kindle Daily Deals, as the lead book in emails, and earning that coveted “#1 Best Seller” Orange Banner.
This month until November 30th, my Kindle Scout book, LOVE ME FOREVER is an Amazon Holiday Deal! The discounted price is $1.99. Check out my video below:
Another benefit is the wonderful support you receive from the other authors.
Iâ€™m so proud to be a Kindle Scout Winner and Kindle Press Author â€” a big bonus for me was meeting and hanging out with the other winners.
Such a talented, witty group â€” and good cooks, too!
So a bunch of us decided to cook our books. Weâ€™ve just released a FREE anthology of recipes:
You can read an excerpt from my book along with a fun chat with my heroines, Liberty and Pauletta Sue.
She wore gray.
He wore blue.
But their love defied the boundaries of war.
I’d love to hear from you. You can find me on social media: