Thursday, November 04, 2010

November Recipes

Autumn is finally here in Texas, with cool temperatures at night and not-so-sweltering days. It's a lovely time of year. In a few hours we are heading out to the lake in Mineola, TX to enjoy the annual Iron Horse Festival on Saturday. The train played a big part in the town's development and Amtrak still stops there. If you ever want to visit, it's about halfway between Shreveport and Dallas. Here's a photo of Lake Holbrook from last November, just after we closed on the house.

With the cooler weather comes the desire for warm, hearty food. I want to share two recipes for soup this month. Last night I made a pot of bean soup, which is an unwritten old family recipe that I'm sure lots of people have made before. I didn't make a big pot because there are just the two of us at home and hubby isn't a huge fan of leftovers. In case you don't have a recipe or have forgotten how good bean soup can be, here's our version, which makes about four big bowls.

Victoria Chancellor's Bean Soup

3/4 of small bag of Great Northern Beans

1 T. butter or oil

3/4 c. of diced fresh or frozen onion

2 stalks of celery, diced or sliced thin

3/4 to 1 c. diced leftover ham or other similar meat

6 oz. can of tomato paste

Salt and pepper to taste (You need a little more salt than you think you'll need!)

Soak beans overnight. Change water several times and rinse well.

In a large saucepan or pot, Dutch oven or other covered cookware, place rinsed beans and over about 1 inch over top of beans with water. In a small saucepan saute the onion, celery and ham in butter or oil until limp and slightly browned. Add to beans in saucepan/pot along with tomato paste, salt and pepper, and stir well. Raise temperature only until bubbly, then reduce temp, cover and cook for about three hours, until beans are tender. Serve with cornbread and ice cold milk for a great dinner.

This second recipe is from the blog of friend and fellow writer Winnie Griggs, who is also from the East Texas region. I haven't made this gumbo yet, but if you have a little more time and need to serve more folks, it sounds like a great recipe.

Winnie Griggs' Cowboy Gumbo

(from Petticoats & Pistols blog 9/30/10)

■1/4 cup butter or vegetable oil

■2 tblsp flour

■2 cloves garlic, minced

■1 small onion, chopped

■1/4 cup green onions, chopped

■1 stalk celery, finely chopped

■1/3 cup chopped bell pepper

■5-6 cups chicken or seafood stock (can substitute water if this is unavailable)

■1 can (12-15 oz) diced tomatoes (if you’d like an extra kick, use the kind with chopped green chilies or southwestern style)

■1 can (6-8 oz) tomato paste

■2 bay leaves

■2 tablespons Worchestershire sauce

■3 teaspoons chili powder

■1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

■1 lb sliced okra (best if sauteed separately with ½ teaspoon vinegar until ‘slime’ is gone)

■4 lbs meat – any one kind or a combination of your favorites. Meats that work well in a gumbo are Sausage (cut into ½ inch slices), deboned chicken or other fowl, pork, shrimp, crawfish, crab or even game meats

■Tobasco sauce or liquid crab boil to taste (optional)

■Use flour and oil or butter to make a roux. Do this by combining the two ingredients in a heavy saucepan and cooking over a low heat, stirring constantly until the mixtures turns the color of a copper penny (about 15-20 minutes).

■Add garlic, onions, green onions, celery and bell peppers. Cook until tender

■Add the remaining ingredients EXCEPT okra (and shellfish if applicable) and bring to a boil.
■Reduce heat, cover and cook for 30 minutes

■Add okra (and shellfish if applicable). Return to a boil.

■Reduce heat and simmer for another twenty minutes.

■Remove bay leaves, skim excess oil, and serve over rice.Leftovers (if there are any!) can be frozen for later consumption.

Enjoy your hearty soups and stews! See you next month for some holiday inspired recipes. Best wishes, happy reading and happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

The Heirloom

Don’t tell my son, but we now have an elephant foot in our house. Yep. It’s real, it’s old, it’s icky, and my 19 year old son wanted it badly.

Perhaps I should back up. My husband’s Aunt Sandy used to be a flight attendant for TWA. Back in the 70′s, she brought home an elephant foot table from Africa for her dad-my husband’s grandfather~AKA-the man who had everything. Rumor has it that the table was used and bragged about, and was the focal point of more than one house tour.

Years passed. The foot went into storage. When both grandparents passed away, Tom’s mom couldn’t bear to just toss out the thing, so it was passed to my husband’s relatives, taking up space in attics. Sitting and, well…molting. (the years have not been kind to this foot)

Fast forward to last month. My husband was talking to our son Arthur, who reminded him that the University of Alabama’s mascot is the elephant.(Roll Tide!) And, well, didn’t Dad think that elephant table would go GREAT in Art’s apartment?

My husband agreed!

(No, I wasn’t consulted)

Two weeks ago, we went to Charlotte to go to Tom’s cousin’s wedding. That’s when my husband decided he was going to track down that foot.

And so he did. Before the wedding and during the reception, Tom went from one relative to the next, just like a police investigator. Finally he discovered that Matt, the groom, now owns this foot! It’s in his mother’s attic. No, Matt’s new bride didn’t know about the foot…and no, she did not want the thing in their new home. (She is beautiful and smart!)

But Matt was not going to give up the heirloom easily.

Turns out, Matt needed tools. So Tom made a deal. He offered to buy Matt and bride tools as a trade for the foot. After all, it was their wedding day.


The next day, Tom drove to his aunt and uncle's house, got that foot, and took it to UPS. There, he asked them to carefully wrap it up. They were grossed out, but just like they say in their ads, no job is too big or too small.

Last Thursday~the 40 year old elephant foot, all hairy, yellowing, icky and molting~arrived here. Tom plans to tie a red bow around it and give it to our son for Christmas!

Until then, it’s out of the box and taking up space in my husband’s office. The wiener dog barks at it every time she sees it. I can hardly look at it.

So…I’m thinking maybe my son needs his surprise Christmas gift sooner than later. Arthur comes home this weekend. Maybe it’s time for an early Christmas present?

I hope we’re not the only ones to have possession of a truly awful family ‘heirloom’. Anyone have something they’d rather not have that gets passed down from generation to generation?

Shelley Galloway

Tuesday, November 02, 2010


CONGRATULATIONS Winter! You’re the October winner. To receive your free autographed books please contact Roxann Delaney and Trish Milburn through their Web sites.

To enter the contest simply leave a blog comment and your name will go into the drawing. Simple and painless. And FREE BOOKS.

So check back often and be sure to leave a comment. Good luck!

Monday, November 01, 2010

Covering the Subject

About a week ago, my December cover flats – printed covers showing both front and back – arrived in the mail. The artist did a great job of capturing the little stars of The Holiday Triplets, along with my pediatrician heroine and my hunky, dark-haired hero.

He’s an obstetrician and hospital administrator with whom she butts heads while adopting the triplets after she learns she can’t have babies the traditional way. This is a love story multiplied by their growing feelings not only for each other but also for the little ones.

It’s impressive that the artist got everything right, from the genders of the babies (two girls and boy) to the hero and heroine’s coloring. Of course, we writers fill out a form for Harlequin, providing this information in advance, but the artist has to find models who fill the bill, compose the picture and capture the warm, loving spirit of this family-to-be.

Recently, I’ve loved all my covers, but that hasn’t always been the case. Before I start grousing, though, I should explain that there’ve been far more hits than misses among my 84 published books (with three more scheduled for next year). Also, I appreciate the work of the professionals even more now that I’m designing smaller, simpler covers for reissues of my early, non-Harlequin books for the ebook reading devices Kindle and Nook.

One outstanding cover received special recognition. In 1999, Harlequin published The Art of Romance, subtitled A Century of Romance Art. This small volume contained 30 postcards, each an actual Harlequin cover beginning in 1914 and ending in 1997. I was impressed to find that the collection included the cover of my 1996 Harlequin American Yours, Mine and Ours. The cover shows the hero, heroine and three small children arrayed pinwheel style, head to head, lying on the floor, and it’s really cute. I only wish the artist had been credited so I could compliment him or her.

What’s my least favorite Harlequin cover? (I have a few least favorites from other publishers too, which I’m very happy to replace as I post the ebook editions). Ironically, it’s The Runaway Bride from 1995, the book that came out right before Yours, Mine and Ours (it was not the same artist; I recall the editor mentioning that). My heroine had an outdated hairstyle and wore an ugly, short wedding gown.

But that beats a historical romance cover I once saw from another publisher. If you looked closely, the hero had three arms. That might have made for some unusual love scenes, but no thank you.

Although we’re all warned not to judge a book by its cover, readers can’t help doing that. As for us writers, we’re grateful and appreciative when our covers match or surpass what we hoped for.