April 28, 2010

Wednesday's Chow- Coffee Cake

Here's a side-dish from TEXAS CHUCK WAGON CUISINE: Real Cowboy Cooking by Evan Moore.  TCWC is a cute little cookbook, with lots of authentic Texas recipes.  Being the last Wednesday, here's a dessert recipe:



1 (10-count) can buscuits, not the flaky type
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup finely chopped nuts
1/2 cup raisins
1 tsp cinnamon


Put biscuits in bottom of a Bundt pan.  Heat other ingredients just long enough to melt sugar.  Spread mixture over the biscuits.  Bake 25 to 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

April 26, 2010

Guest author Blythe Gifford: “You had to research what?”

Not long ago, I was having a conversation with a friend and fan about my May release, HIS BORDER BRIDE. She asked me with sincere interest “What did you have to research?”

The answer, of course, goes far beyond the expected of dates, kings, political and military history, and clothing. Here are just a few of the things I had to chase down in an effort to get the authentic feel for life on the Scottish border in the 14th century.

I’ve added just a hint of how I used each one – or didn’t -- in the final manuscript.

The coat of arms of John of Eltham. Blessedly easy. Thank goodness for Wikipedia. My hero is the illegitimate son of this brother of King Edward III of England and as such, he was entitled to wear his father’s arms.

In the book: My hero is wearing the surcoat with the arms in the opening scene, and there is an important action specifically related to them. I ended up not describing the design at all, but only referring to the colors. Still, it was important to me to be able to picture them clearly.

How to clean chainmail. Put it in a barrel of clean sand and roll the barrel down the hill. Really.

In the book: I could not figure out how they would have found clean sand in the Border hills, so I compromised. This entire exploration ended up as literally six words: “patiently polishing an individual iron link.”

The recipe for a 14th century Scottish after dinner drink. No whisky in the 14th century, I discovered, which lead me to brogat, a honey-mead sort of drink that includes cinnamon. But it wasn’t called cinnamon in the 14th century. Cinnamon was called cannelle then and it was very costly and came in pieces, not ground into powder. (Can you see the happy hours fly by on Google as I write these words?)
In the book: The drink is consumed throughout and I did incorporate the specifics of the ingredients into a scene late in the book as a bone of contention between the heroine and a secondary character.

An old French insult. I love the internet. There’s actually a website that lists old French insults.

In the book: Watch for Lichieres pautonnier, which is translated as “wicked evildoer” but has much more insulting connotations. (Be careful how you use it. Thems fightin’ words.)

Medieval sheep farming in the Cheviot Hills. Much of the lord’s income came from selling the sheep’s wool, so I needed to know how they were raised, where they were pastured, and so on. (No Border collies in the middle ages. Not until much later.) In fact, the now famous Cheviot sheep breed came later, too. I’m sure you’ll be interested to know, since you won’t learn it from my book, that the sheep were small, perhaps knee-high, with “high-set prick ears.”

In the book: There are a few vague references to sheep.

So, what about you? As writers, have you ever chased an obscure fact? And as readers, what details seem to really pull you into the world? I’ll give a copy of HIS BORDER BRIDE to one lucky commenter.

Thanks to Anna Kathryn for having me here. You can read an excerpt from HIS BORDER BRIDE on my website, http://www.blythegifford.com/.
BLYTHE GIFFORD is the author of five medieval romances from Harlequin Historical. She specializes in characters born on the wrong side of the royal blanket. With HIS BORDER BRIDE, she crosses the border and sets a story in Scotland for the first time, where the rules of chivalry don’t always apply. Here’s a brief description:

Royal Rogue: He is the bastard son of an English prince and a Scotswoman. A rebel without a country, he has darkness in his soul.

Innocent Lady: Daughter of a Scottish border lord, she can recite the laws of chivalry, and knows this man has broken every one. But she’s gripped by desire for him—could he be the one to unleash the dangerous urges she’s hidden until now?

She loves to have visitors at http://www.blythegifford.com/ or www.facebook.com/BlytheGifford or www.twitter.com/BlytheGifford.

Cover Art used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises Limited. All rights reserved. ®and T are trademarks of Harlequin Enterprises Limited and/or its affiliated companies, used under license. Copyright 2010

April 21, 2010

Wednesday's Chow - Chicken Casserole

I've found a cute little cookbook called "Texas Chuck Wagon Cuisine: Real Cowboy Cooking" and since this the the blog where "Tumbleweeds Hang Their Hats" I figured I should give ya'll some "Real Cowboy Cooking."  So here's a quick and delisious looking recipe.

Chicken Casserole
From “Texas Chuck Wagon Cuisine: Real Cowboy Cooking”


4 cups cooked chicken, cubed
2 cups grated American cheese
12 flour tortillas, quartered
2 onion, finely sliced

1 cup chicken broth
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup


Layer half the chicken, cheese, tortillas, onion and sauce in a well seasoned skillet. Repeat for second layer, putting cheese on top.

Cook uncovered for 1 hour in oven at 350° or over medium-high heat of a fire.

Anna Kathryn Lanier
Where Tumbleweeds Hang Their Hats

April 19, 2010


It's official.  I recieved in an email today my contract from The Wild Rose Press for a new novella. For those who read A PRICELESS GIFT and wanted Jacob's story, well, here it is....or will be soon.  Hopefully, this Christmas.

A Gift Beyond All Measure


Arriving home for Christmas, the last thing Jacob Scott expects in his house is a sexy, shotgun-toting stranger. Worse, his attraction to her bothers him even more than the gun. Still reeling from the deception of his long-time girlfriend, he’s not looking for romance.
Tessa Jones has learned one hard lesson, when everyone in your life has failed you, the only one you can trust is yourself. Still, facing the whispers of the townsfolk and an arson charge, Tessa unexpectedly finds herself trusting Jacob with more than her legal troubles.

Struggling between the promise of the present and the hurts of the past, can these two lost souls overcome their pain long enough to discover a gift beyond all measure?

Unedited Excerpt:

Jacob Scott raised a brow, then broke away from her hypnotic stare to glance at the shotgun pellets embedded in his wall. “You could have killed me.”

“You broke into the house in the middle of the night.”

He reached into his jeans’ pocket and pulled out his keys. “I didn’t break in. I have the damn key to my own front door.”

She put a hand on her hip and cocked her head. “And how was I to know it was you making all that noise? You’re not supposed to be here.”

Irritation boiled inside his gut. She was treating him like a criminal for entering his own home.

“Well, I am here and this is my house. And just who are you?”

She drew in a breath and glanced to her left. “Tessa Jones,” she mumbled.

The name rattled around in his brain. It was familiar. She was familiar, but he didn't think he'd actually met her before. He sure would have remembered that thick auburn hair and lush body if they'd been introduced. So, why did he know the name?

Not that Tessa Jones.

“Tessa Jones? The cook for Baxter’s Diner who burned down half of Spencerville after she started a kitchen fire last month?” Thrusting a hand through his hair, he shifted his weight “What are you doing in my house?”

Her face reddened as she glared at him. “I’m the cook for the cowboys here on the Triple H.”

What was Christina thinking? Hiring an arsonist as a cook?

What he thought must have shown on his face, because the hand on her hip fisted, bunching the flannel and inching it up to reveal more of her lovely thighs. Fire blazed in her eyes. “You know, things aren’t always what they appear to be.”

With that, she strode down the hallway to a bedroom and slammed the door behind her.

Anna Kathryn Lanier
Where Tumbleweeds Hang Their Hats

Guest Author - Jeannie Marsland

Hi, Melinda. I’m really excited to be here today, because I’ve just completed the second novel in my Wallace Flats series. But first, I’d better back up and tell you a bit about the first, McShannon’s Chance, which came out last October from Bluewood Publishing.

I’ve written all my life, poetry, lyrics and short stories, but I’d never considered attempting a novel. Too long, too daunting. Then, in September of 2006, the hero of McShannon’s Chance simply materialized, fully formed, in my imagination. Tall, a bit on the lean side, dark hair and molasses-colored eyes. Cajun mother, British father. A Georgia boy who turned traitor and fought for the Union in the Civil War. I suppose all the Westerns I read growing up had been perking away in my subconscious, because I knew instantly who Trey McShannon was and what drove him. It’s summed up pretty well in the cover blurb:

Trey McShannon survived the carnage of the Civil War, only to discover that the deepest wounds are those to the heart. A traitor to his home state of Georgia, Trey has built a new life for himself in the untamed Colorado Territory. Now it’s time to find a wife to share the future he’s worked so hard for – but can he free himself from his past?

Beth Underhill is looking for choices. Needing to marry to escape being sent back East, she prefers Trey’s honest business proposal to false promises of love. Can a union between a man who isn’t sure he can still feel love, and a woman who doesn’t believe it exists, blossom into more than a marriage of convenience?

I was on a camping trip when Trey made his presence known, and couldn’t find anything to write on but paper towel. I grabbed three sheets and a pencil and started writing. I still have those sheets tucked away. Lesson learned: Carry a notebook! Six months later, I came up for air with the first draft of a novel on my hands. The road to publication was not boring, to say the least, but it’s been worth the ups and downs along the way.

I’ve always loved history. Glimpses of the past spark my imagination. The whole McShannon family took root in my mind like a set of distant relatives. The second book, McShannon’s Heart, is a prequel featuring Trey’s twin sister Rochelle. When her mother dies just before the outbreak of the Civil War, Chelle accompanies her father to his old home in the Yorkshire Dales. She leaves behind the man she loved, who wanted her to choose between him and her family. She has no intention of risking her heart again, and neither does talented musician Martin Rainnie, a widowed Dales farmer who’s turned his back on his baby daughter. As little Greer slowly draws them together, Martin begins to heal and Chelle discovers where her heart’s true home is.

Though the setting is different, the stories are tied together by common themes: family and a sense of community. I enjoyed spending some time in the Dales as much as I did with Trey and Beth in Colorado Territory. For excerpts of both books, check my website: http://www.jenniemarsland.webs.com/

Thanks again, Melinda. I’ve really enjoyed my visit today. For your readers: What is your favorite historical setting for a novel? Why?

Visit Jennie at her blog, too. http://www.jenniemarsland.blogspot.com/

April 14, 2010

Wednesday's Chow - Side Dish - Corn Casserole

I hope I haven't put one of these up before....after nearly 2 years, it's hard to remember.  But this is a good recipe for family or church dinners or picnics, so worth repeating if it has been posted before.



2 cans creamed corn
1 can whole sweet corn
1 cup sour cream
1 cup Jiffy Corn Mix
2 tsp sugar
1 stick butter
1 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded


Mix all ingredients together and pour into a 3-quart casserole dish.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Anna Kathryn Lanier
Where Tumbleweeds Hang Their Hats

April 12, 2010

Guest Author Paty Jager on Researching a Book

Anna Kathryn,
Thank you for allowing me to spend time on your blog today.
My name is Paty Jager, and I write historical and contemporary western romance. While researching for my books I can get lost in the newspaper archives and local museums as well as trekking to the areas I set my books.

For my latest release, Miner in Petticoats, my daughter and I loaded up in my Jeep and headed to the gold mining area around Sumpter, Oregon. I wanted to get a feel for the Cracker Creek area since that was where my hero would set up a stamp mill. While there was a good deal of mining on the Cracker Creek, there was never a stamp mill. That's where I like fiction. I can take a real area and add what makes my book work.

We did run across several old mining sites, but they were either boarded up or looked too precarious to search through. But I did get a good feel for the area and when I wrote my scenes I could easily visualize the canyon and tree filled mountain sides.

With the whole book being based on Ethan setting up a stamp mill, I had to research the different ways of finding gold as well as how a stamp mill worked and the set up. A stamp mill could be anywhere from three up to ten stamps. The stamps were heavy iron "feet" that moved up and down in a synchronized pattern and smashed the rock to separate it from the gold or silver ore. The huge mills were usually set up on the side of a hill to allow gravity to feed the rock down through the machines. Before electricity or in areas of no electricity water or animals were used to make the mechanics for the mill run.

In my book, Ethan finds the perfect spot on the side of a hill with a good section of fast running water on Cracker Creek to run the mill. The only problem is the widow who owns the land isn't about to give it up. And thus the sparks fly.

Here's an excerpt from Miner in Petticoats available at The Wild Rose Press in e-book or print and Amazon.

“Mrs. Miller?” he asked, extending his hand. She kept her head tipped forward just enough her face was shadowed and hidden behind the brim of the hat.

“Who be askin’?” Her voice caught his attention with its deep, lyrical tone.

“I’m Ethan Halsey. My brothers and I have a claim just over the ridge.” It aggravated him he couldn’t see her face and register how she took his words.

“Are ye lost?” The voice vibrated under his skin, causing his body to warm.

He cleared his throat. “No, I’m not lost. I’m looking for Mrs. Miller. I’m assuming that is you,
since you’re the only grown woman I see here.”

“Ah m Aileen. Ah dinnae fancy bein’ called Mrs. Miller.”

This disclosure piqued his curiosity. “Mrs— Aileen. I’ve come with an offer.” Her head tilted, tipping the wide-brimmed hat to the side and revealing a slip of her face.

“And whit may this grand offur be?” He saw the slightest curve on one side of her lips.

“Ma’am, not to sound bossy, but I’d like to see your face as we discuss this proposition.” Her
shoulders dipped slightly before she squared them, stretched her neck to its full length, and
whipped the hat from her head. Copper sparks reflected off her hair as the sun lit her dark locks.
Ethan hadn’t believed the words of a cowardly man like Miles, and he was happy to see there
wasn’t any kind of mark on the woman’s face, at least none put there by the devil. Her skin was
abundantly sprinkled with angel kisses. That was what his mother had called the freckles on her
face. Angel kisses. He’d always had a fondness for freckle-faced women and children.

“Thank you, I appreciate seeing people’s eyes when talking business.” Ethan took a step closer
to the porch, waiting to be invited to the shade.

“And whit be yer business?” The woman didn’t seem inclined to invite him any closer.

“I’ve scouted the land all around our claim. The five acres of your land down where Cracker
Creek drops in elevation is the perfect spot to set up a stamp mill. The side of the canyon has the
right slope and the water is moving fast enough to power the mill.”

“So yer business is askin’ me tae sell ma land?” She clamped work-reddened hands onto
those ample hips and glared at him.

“We’d give you a fair price for the five acres, and you could use the stamp mill to claim more
gold from your mine.” The information didn’t seem to change her opinion. She still glared at
him. “We’re allowing the nearby claims to build rails to bring their ore to the mill. They can use
the stamp mill, giving us a small cut of their profits.” He smiled at his family’s generosity.

“So ye’re doin’ this oot o’ the goodness o’ yer heart? Takin’ yer neighbor’s land and their gold.”
Her light green eyes flashed with indignation.

Thank you for hosting me today!

Paty Jager

April 11, 2010

Pamper Yourself

Women usually spend more time taking care of others than they do themselves.  I came across a great article on "Feel Good Tasks" for women.  The arthor suggests several ways to pamper yourself during the month.

A few suggestions are:

Hoard your five dollar bills.  Then at the end of the month treat yourself and a friend to a massage or pedi-cure.

Have sex before work.  (Hmmm, maybe men are onto something with the morning sex.)  But an orgasm "releases endorphins, feel-good hormones that relieve stress for up to 12 hours."

Clean out your closet.  Get rid of clothes that don't fit or that you haven't worn for 12 months.

And indulge once in a while....splurge on a hot fudge sundae.

Read the whole article and get all the suggestions at Feel Good Tasks.

Anna Kathyrn Lanier
Where Tumbleweeds Hang Their Hats

April 9, 2010

How well do you know your US Civics and Economics?

Here's a fun quiz, 33 questions on US Civics and Economics.  I took the quiz, but the page which I hoped to show me the answers didn't load.  I see if I register with the website, I can get the quiz and the answers, so I'll.  I think I did good on the civic's part...it's the economics that I'm not so sure about.  What about you?  How do you think you did? 

BTW, an online article states that 60% of the incoming college freshman fail the quiz, but what's even worse, only 54% of GRADUATING seniors pass the quiz. Yale, Duke and Princent grads actually lost points, while those attending small or state schools, like Rhodes College or Colorado State, improved their points.

Get the whole article on the dismal state of Civics Classes in US colleges at Colleges Get Failing Grades on Civics.

I'm going to join the website, so I'll post the answers later....don't want you cheating....lol.
Take the Civics Quiz now.

Anna Kathryn Lanier
Where Tumbleweeds Hang Their Hats

April 7, 2010

Wednesday's Chow - Potato Skins

Well, I don't know what's up with blogspot or my computer, but the 'new post' page wouldn't open so I could post...which I tried to do last night and earlier this morning.  I finally had to borrow my daughter's computer to post.

After last month's special Smucker's recipes, I'm back to my regular schedule of Wednesday's Chow. So, here's an appetizer for the first week of the month.


4 large potatoes, baked
3 tbsp oil
1 tbsp Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 cup cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
Bacon Bits (optional)


Halve potatoes lengthwise and scoop out pulp so shells are 1/4-inch thick.  Mix remaining ingredients and brush over skins.  Sprinkle with cheese and bacon bits, if using.  Bake at 475 degrees for 10 minutes or until crips.

Don't forget to leave a comment to be eligible for this month's prize....a book bag full of books.  And be sure to visit my website to enter the contest there.  www.aklanier.com

Anna Kathryn 

April 1, 2010

March Winners

Congratulations to Virginia for winning my blog comment contest.  She'll receive a copy of Smucker's Best-Loved Recipes cookbook.  And also, congratulations to Becca for winning my website guestbook contest.  Becca gets a Foot Spa set. 

New contests are up (or will be soon), so check out the new prizes: A Spring Reading Bag of Books or a $10 The Wild Rose Gift Certificicate.  All you have to do is leave a blog post comment or comment in my guestbook found on my website.

Anna Kathryn Lanier