Thursday, November 24, 2022

It's Not All About the Turkey! - Side Dishes Served at the First Thanksgiving by Jo-Ann Roberts


Happy Thanksgiving! 

No holiday is so completely defined by its food as Thanksgiving. No matter what part of the country you're in, it's safe to say at least some of the foods listed in this blog will be served on your table today. Read on to discover the sometimes-surprising history behind your favorite holiday dishes.

While we don't know the exact menu of the first Plymouth (or Plimouth - an alternative spelling that got my husband in trouble during elementary school!) feast, there was evidence of wild turkeys. In addition, boiled duck with onions, geese, and even passenger pigeons were the more prominent and available fowls. And given their proximity to the ocean, oysters, lobsters, clams, and eel were likely on the menu.

However, stuffing was quite different from what we're used to. Plymouth colonists didn't have white flour or butter so traditional bread stuffing wouldn't have been possible. Instead, they used chestnuts, herbs, and chunks of onions to flavor the meat.

Like local fowl, cranberries were widely available in the area along with Concord grapes, blueberries, and pawpaws (its taste compares to pineapple, mango, or
banana). The cranberries grew in such abundance, they were mashed with lard and dried venison to create pemmican.

Potatoes weren't yet cultivated in Plymouth prior to the first Thanksgiving, so how did mashed potatoes become a holiday staple?  Thank Sarah Josepha Hale, editor of Godey's Lady's Book. Her frequent appeals to officials and President Lincoln were compelling enough for him to declare Thanksgiving a national day of celebration in 1863. Her writings included recipes and descriptions of idealized Thanksgiving meals, which often featured--you guessed it--mashed potatoes!

Despite the lack of potatoes, it's likely a gravy of some sort accompanied the meats. Cooking meat in sauces dates back hundreds of years, and the word "gravy" was found in a cookbook from 1390.

To make the gravy, the remains of the roasted meat were put in a pot to make a broth. That broth would be thickened with grains to create a gravy to liven day-old meat...a precursor to today's leftovers!!!

Corn was a staple of the Native American diet and would have been nearly as plentiful then as it is today. But it was prepared either as a cornmeal bread or mashed or boiled into a thick porridge-like consistency. Sometimes it was sweetened with molasses.


Like cranberries, pumpkin pie does have ties to the original Thanksgiving but not in the way you might think. The Pilgrims knew how to make pie pastry but couldn't make it without flour. In addition, they were perplexed by pumpkins which were larger than the gourds they knew in England. Especially when they noticed the Native Americans using pumpkin as a dessert meal. They baked the pumpkin and squash in the ashes of a dying fire and sweetened with honey or maple syrup. It was likely that Sarah Josepha Hale was inspired by those stories when pumpkin pie appeared in her column!


As you gather with family, friends, loved ones, or neighbors today, remember it's not what's on the table but who's around the table that make us truly grateful for the blessings and bounty we have received.

My newest release, Noelle - Christmas Quilt Brides, goes live tomorrow, November 25th!!!!! Give yourself or your favorite reader an early Christmas present!

A widow reluctant to love again...
A deputy determined to win her heart...

Two years ago, Noelle Prentiss lost her husband to an outlaw's bullet. With two children to raise, a small farm to tend, and a job making quilts to sell at the mercantile, she's doing her best to keep her property and life intact...until a man claiming to be the new deputy rides into her life captivating her children with his dog, his smile, and his easy-going charm.

When Coleman West agrees to stop by the Widow Prentiss's home on his first day as a deputy in a small Kansas town, he has no way of knowing obeying the sheriff's order will change his life. Spurned by love years before, he became a lawman, dedicated to protect and serve. Yet, he has no idea the widow and her children would call to his heart in a way he never expected.

With Christmas looming, will the growing attraction between Noelle and the deputy reveal the gift of a second chance?

Or could a stranger from the deputy's past threaten the man who captured her heart?

Wednesday, November 16, 2022


  Post by Doris McCraw aka Angela Raines

Photo property of the Author

In the early days of Colorado Springs William S. and Helen (Hunt) Jackson were quite the coupleWilliam, as the majority owner of the El Paso County Bank, treasurer of the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad, and later the receiver of the same company when it went into bankruptcy, was a major influence on the financial health and confidence in Colorado Springs. Helen (Hunt) was already an established author when she arrived in Colorado Springs. Her writings about the area were responsible for the view many Easterners and those from Europe had of the region.

How did these two come to achieve this status? Perhaps it will help to have a bit of background on the two individually.

William Sharpless Jackson

Born in Pennsylvania to Caleb S Jackson and Mary Ann Gause Jackson. His parents were involved in the Underground Railway, their home being a stop on that historical line, in Kennett Square, Chester County, Pennsylvania. His parents were also Quakers, the faith that William Jackson Palmer, one of the founders of Colorado Springs, also belonged to.

Helen was born Helen Marie Fiske on October 18, 1830, in Amherst Massachusetts. Her father Nathan Fiske was a teacher at Amherst College. Her mother Deborah Waterman Venal Fiske, taught Helen and her younger sister Anne at home whenever possible. There were two other children born to the Fiskes. Both were boys and died in infancy. Both of Helen's parents wrote. Her father wrote adult books and her mother wrote children's stories.

Helen came to Colorado in 1873 at the request of her doctor. She had been having fevers and sore throats. It was thought that the climate in Colorado would help Helen heal. She first arrived in Denver but did not like the town. It was suggested that she try Colorado Springs which was a few miles south of Denver.

Her doctor had said she needed to come to a warm, dry climate. When she arrived in Colorado Springs in the late fall it was snowing, overcast, and cold. She had thought that it might be best to go back to the east coast. To her Colorado Springs was raw, new, and not very welcoming. Helen felt the mountains were foreboding and the plains flat and ugly.

Helen H Jackson
from Wikipedia

Helen agreed to give Colorado one month. During that time, the sun came out again and Helen had a chance to see so many wonderful things. She soon fell in love with the area and over time traveled over a lot of Colorado. She wrote about what she saw and many of her essays were published in magazines back East. These essays described Colorado so well that people wanted to see what she wrote about.

While in Colorado Springs Helen met many people and one was William Sharpless Jackson. He worked for the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad and also was involved in banking. The two spent time traveling around the area and both loved the mountains and outdoors.

In October of 1875, Helen and William were married. This was Williams's first marriage and Helen's second. Helen was eight years older, but that did not seem to make any difference to William, or as Helen called him Will.

Williams's work kept him traveling a great deal; sometimes Helen would accompany him and sometimes she would stay in the home he had bought for them or travel on her own.

To Helen, Cheyenne mountain was the most beautiful mountain in the world. She and Will had spent much time around the mountain. Their favorite spot to 'camp' was an area in South Cheyenne canyon where it overlooked the city and the stream that flowed through the canyon.

Helen continued to write and travel. Sometimes she traveled without William and sometimes with him. Still, she kept writing her stories, essays, and poems. She would also return to the east coast where her sister Ann and family lived.

Up until Helen's death in 1885, this couple followed their own rules, and in the process did much that benefitted many. They both left a lasting legacy.

Doris McCraw

Monday, November 14, 2022

Thanksgiving Greetings from Zina Abbott












I’m taking the quick and easy way out.

Last month, I featured Thanksgiving – Canadian Thanksgiving, which you may read by CLICKING HERE.

Today was "upload on Amazon” day. My last book of the year will be released this Friday, November 18th.

During a period of temporary insanity, I somehow discovered I scheduled three books between October 10th and November 18th. That is far too ambitious of a publication schedule for me.

In addition, I am still managing three (yes, three) multi-author series—all at the same time.

I’m exhausted.

The last thing I had time for today was researching and writing a blog post. Therefore, I'm going to share some of my favorite Thanksgiving greeting images—most from United States Thanksgiving. 

I always enjoy running across these Victorian era images, and I hope you do, too.

At the end, I’ll feature the Thanksgiving romances I wrote and published earlier. They both are doing well, and I am getting some wonderful reader reviews for these books. I hope you enjoy reading them this holiday season.




My second Thanksgiving romance, LovingLila, is Book 1 in the Thanksgiving Brides series. To find the book description and purchase link, please CLICK HERE.



My first Thanksgiving romance published in 2022 is Bee Sting Cake by Brunhilde, Book 12 in the Old Timey Holiday Kitchen series. To find the book description and purchase link, please CLICK HERE.


Thursday, November 10, 2022


Today is the day!

Once a year, I host a celebration on Facebook called Cowboys & Christmas to kick off the holiday season and generate both funds and awareness for the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund.

You're invited!

Please join us beginning at 10 a.m. (Pacific Standard Time) for a day full of games, giveaways, guest authors, and some fun surprises!

You're invited!

Please join us beginning at 10 a.m. (Pacific Standard Time) for a day full of games, giveaways, guest authors, and some fun surprises!

The event is part of my 9th annual Read A Book, Help A Cowboy campaign.

From October 1 through December 24, I donate 10 percent of my net proceeds from all book sales to the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund. 

Books make great gifts! Any book in any format goes toward the total (ebook, audio, paperback - and even Kindle Unlimited pages read!)

I hope to see you at the party today. Just click on the link below to join in the fun! 

After spending her formative years on a farm in Eastern Oregon, hopeless romantic Shanna Hatfield turns her rural experiences into sweet historical and contemporary romances filled with hope, humor, and hunky heroes.

When this award-winning author isn’t writing or covertly seeking dark, decadent chocolate, Shanna hangs out with her beloved husband, Captain Cavedweller.

Shanna loves to hear from readers. Follow her online!

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Westward Expansion and Quilts- A parting gift reminiscent of the journey by Kimberly Grist

When Congress presented President Abraham Lincoln with the Homestead Act of 1862, he believed that his signature would send a clear message that this nation would endure despite being in the midst of a bloody Civil War.

Covered wagon and settlers crossing the West c.1850 (Apic/Getty Images)

As a result of this legislation, the Federal Government offered 270 million acres of land in thirty states for homesteading, creating what would be later called the Western Movement and one of the largest migrations of people in our nation’s history.

Preparation for the Trip

Much preparation was necessary to make a trip West. Pioneers often spent months gathering supplies, wagons, animals, weapons, equipment, tools, household supplies, and food, purchasing coffee, beans, sugar, and flour.

Illustration from: Story of the Great American West. The Reader's Digest Association, Inc, 1977

Pioneer women prepared salted meats, dried fruit, sweet corn, packed dishes, clothing, and utensils, and spent considerable time sewing to prepare for the trip. Travel guides suggested that each family should bring two-three blankets or quilts for each family member. As a result, as Western Expansion continued, friends and family members often created friendship quilts as tributes for those who left to go West.

A wagon is loaded with supplies for the trek west on display at the Trail Center.

The first 1000 Miles

Since the first 1000 miles heading to California and Oregon followed the same trail, women had a thousand miles to create friendship quilts for friends they made before reaching a point near the Continental Divide at South Pass called “The Parting of the Ways.”

These parting gifts often had visual patterns reminiscent of the journey, such as Wagon Wheel, Wandering Foot, Snail’s Trail, Wild Rose, Indian Trail, Evening Star, Road to California, and Friendship.

A Wagon Wheel Design - Artist Unknown

An example of the Evening Star Pattern

The Pin Wheel design reflected the power of the constant prairie wind that blew against the cloth-covered wagons.

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Thanksgiving and the Frontier


Hi, Kit Morgan here and Welcome November! 

Everyone knows the story of the pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving. Okay, so the story varies depending on who’s telling it and where they got their information, but we’ve heard some rendition. But what about the Thanksgivings of the old west? Did pioneers celebrate it? What about cowboys, ranchers, farmers? There was a huge migration of folks back in the 1800s. What did they do?


Well, for one, Thanksgiving wasn’t an official holiday until Franklin D. Roosevelt set the date for us. But that didn’t mean it wasn’t celebrated back in the day. It was a big thing in New England, widely celebrated and even worked its way into the Midwest. President Lincoln was the one that declared it an official celebration of thanks and what day it was celebrated depended the governing bodies where you lived. It was up to them to set a date. Thank goodness President Roosevelt made it on the same day for everybody.


Of course, we mustn’t forget about Sarah Joseph Hale, the editor of Godey’s Ladies Book. Through the magazine the holiday began to take shape and become what it is today. Leave it to a lady’s magazine. I wonder what the recipes in it were like. 

Speaking of food, considering the holiday started in New England, that explains the turkey, dressing, cranberries and loads of pumpkins for pie. Those were regional foods. But out west, those things were a little harder to come by. Life was hard in general, and most folks didn’t even have a cookstove. Dragging one of those out west was no mean feat and very few attempted it. You wanted meat, you had to slaughter it. Butter on your mashed potatoes? Go churn yourself some. Oh, and let’s not forget the sage for the stuffing … what? You mean to say you haven’t ground it up with the mortar and pestle yet or baked the bread? What the matter with you? Get to work!

Needless to say, be glad you have electricity and a stove, not to mention a refrigerator. Me, I’d much rather toddle to the grocery store for a turkey than have to chase it down, catch it, then do all the rest that needs to be done. 


But make no mistake, folks back then were thankful for A LOT! And when all was said and done, were grateful for the food on their table and the roof over their heads.

Until Next Time!



Tuesday, November 1, 2022

YUMMY AND CHEWY: Origin of Molasses Cookies by Marisa Masterson

Gingerbread. That's how molasses cookies began. By the late 1800s, this cookie was called a chewy ginger cookie. While gingerbread is typically crispy, the molasses cookie is always soft and chewy.
The recipe for the cookie traces back to the Boston Cooking School. It appeared in the school's cookbook--a book that connects with the famous Fannie Farmer.

In my novel Molasses Cookies by Minnie, the men
settling Norman, Oklahoma are quite taken by the flavor of Minnie's cookies. Interestingly, the cookie would have been new to them. Most would never have tasted soft and chewy gingerbread.

When the recipe was invented in the late 1800s, baking powder hadn't yet been created. Because of that, it used baking soda and sour milk--the same as was used in teacakes. It also called for eight cups of flour, enough to feed a large family. My molasses cookies recipe still calls for this large amount. They freeze so well, that I make the whole recipe and enjoy cookies for months afterward.

You'll find my molasses cookies recipe at the end of my new book. It was given by a pastor's wife to a dear older friend of mine when she was young. That friend passed it on to me when I was young. Over the last twenty years, I've made it at Christmas for my children. The spices are a perfect compliment to the holiday.

Free with Kindle Unlimited!

Gossip forces them into a marriage. After all, Minnie's been trusted to raise her precious baby sister. She and her husband are determined to make the best of this hurried marriage, but strange things keep happening. Then, Granny is kidnapped...

Will getting the old woman back take the life of the man she's only now coming to love?