Thursday, December 25, 2008


Roberta C.M. DeCaprio

Recently I survived an ice storm here in upstate New York that blacked out some 230,000 residents; many areas were declared a “state of emergency”. For two days I had no heat or electricity, eating oatmeal, soup and hot chocolate heated over an open flame. The driving conditions were made dangerous because of slick roads, fallen tree branches and downed electrical wires. I was one of the fortunate homesteads….hundreds of others were inconvenienced for a week longer.

While sitting (and sleeping) in my rocking chair before my living room fireplace, I began to think of the pioneer days and what kind of Christmas they experienced without the modern conveniences we enjoy today. With no malls to purchase presents and no lights to adorn their trees and homes, how did they celebrate the holidays?
My research found, at Christmas pioneer homes were decorated with green branches. Because homes were small, there was no room for a large tree. Pine cones, nuts, berries and popcorn chains, as well as figures of dolls made out of straw or yarn, cookie dough ornaments and gingerbread men were hung on the tree.

Food preparations for Christmas dinner began weeks ahead of time. The Christmas goose was fattened up and the plum pudding left to age in a pot.

Gift making began months before. Such presents as corn husk dolls, sachets, carved wooden toys, boxes and footstools, pillows, embroidered hankies, knitted scarves, mittens, hats and socks all took time to make.

If there had been a good harvest that year, stockings hung on the fireplace mantle were filled with cookies and fruit.

On Christmas Eve everyone gathered by the fireplace to sing carols and tell stories. Christmas Day the whole family attended church and returned home to a Christmas meal. Then it was time to visit with friends and neighbors.

The holiday spirit wasn’t much different then what most of us do at Christmas now, just minus the ease in which we do it. After spending two days without that ease, I can tell you I’m happy to be born in the century I was.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Homespun Christmas

I confess, since I only just arrived home from nearly two weeks of vacationing in Costa Rica, I haven't spent much time thinking about Christmas. My children are grown up now so we take a winter vacation instead of exchanging gifts, decorating the house or indulging in any of the usual Christmas traditions.

But, on Monday morning I swam in the pool in our "casa" in Playa Flamingo, then flew home to Seattle to one of the worst winter storms in recent memory. The airport was in chaos, as many stranded travelers tried to get out to their holiday destinations.

Yesterday we had a day of reprieve and I managed to get to the library, (I always need more books) and the local Costco. With reading material and food, I feel like a pioneer storing up for the winter storms. And that's exactly what we woke up to this morning. Swirling snow, a cold wind and warnings to stay off the roads will keep us housebound for Christmas.

It seems like "old times" for me, because I grew up in upstate New York, where blizzards were common and we'd often spend days stranded at home. We were in the country, seven miles from town, so we had to prepare for winter by being self-sufficient. My grandparents were farmers, so there was always plenty of canned fruit on the shelves and vegetables in the freezer. The cows still had to be milked everyday, and one of the neighbors made butter. We were all "localvores" but that was long before that concept was popular. Soups were made, bread was baked and the holiday cookies and pies kept us well fed.

The biggest problem we faced was the possibility of developing "cabin fever" from being cooped up together for too long. How did we manage to get through day after day of blizzard conditions without hundreds of cable TV stations, computers or iPods? We learned to enjoy playing games and making things.

I can remember spending days playing an endless game of Monopoly with one of my cousins. The wealth would move back and forth between us, and we'd take breaks to don our snowsuits, boots, mittens and hats to go out sledding or to build a snowman. We had paper, crayons, glue and lots of different household items for creating an endless series of craft projects.

When I grew older, the blizzards became an opportunity to read, study and work on craft projects. A howling wind and snow were a signal to pull out the fabric and notions to create something. One of my favorite memories is of a six day storm that kept us housebound while I created a doll and wardrobe for my younger sister on my Great-Grandmother's pedal sewing machine. "Grandma Lucy" and I were linked by the process of sewing something for loved ones and one of my favorite family heirlooms is the quilt top she created from the fabric scraps she treasured.

I know many residents of the area will be sad to discover they might not make it to the mall to finish their Christmas shopping today. I'm sad for them, but for me, today will be an opportunity. I'm going to get out all my bead supplies and make some earrings and a matching bracelet for my son's girlfriend. I'll bake my special holiday bread to share with our neighbors and I'll make an apple pie for our holiday dinner tomorrow.

And I think I'll dust off our Monolopy game to challenge my family to a marathon! Instead of cursing the storm, I'm going to be grateful for a warm fire, the company of my loved ones and the safety of shelter from the storm. Like the pioneers of old, if you strip away all the glitz and false expectations of the season, you'll discover the important thing about Christmas is that you're with the people you love.

May your holiday be filled with peace, joy and love.

Deborah Schneider

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


It’s been nearly one hundred years since he died—and the mystique still surrounds Geronimo.

Who was he, really? Even now, historians can’t be completely sure of the facts. Some biographers list his birth date as June of 1829. Others say he was born somewhere between 1823-1825. He was the fourth child in a family of four boys and four girls, but even his birth name is disputed. Some say he was called “The One Who Yawns,” his name being “Goyathlay.” Others spell it differently: “Goyahkla.” But by the time he was in his mid-twenties, he was called by the name we remember: Geronimo

In 1850, because his mother, his young wife, (Alope) and his three children were murdered in a raid on their village by Mexican troops, Geronimo pledged that he would avenge their deaths. He received “the Power”—the life force of the universe that gave him supernatural abilities. These included being able to see into the future, walk without leaving tracks, and hold off the dawn. In a vision, he was told that no bullet would ever bring him down in battle, a prophecy that proved true.

Geronimo fought so savagely, so fiercely, that the Mexican troops began to call to Saint Jerome for deliverance from him. Thus, their cries for help became the name he was known by: Geronimo.

In addition to fighting the Mexicans, Geronimo found himself and his Chiracahua Apache tribe at odds with the U.S. Government. By the early 1870s, the federal government’s newly-instituted policy of placing the traditionally nomadic Apaches on reservations was the cause of regular uprisings. Geronimo fought for his peoples’ hereditary land for years.

In 1885, he led a group of more than 100 men, women and children in an escape from the reservation, to the mountains of Mexico. During this time, his band was pursued by more than 5,000 white soldiers, and over 500 Indian auxiliaries were employed to achieve Geronimo’s capture. It took over five months to track Geronimo to his camp in Mexico’s Sonora Mountains—over 1,645 miles away.

On March 27, 1886, exhausted and hopelessly outnumbered, Geronimo surrendered. His band consisted of only a few warriors, women and children. Also found was a young captive, a white boy, name Jimmy “Santiago” McKinn who had been kidnapped six months earlier. The boy had become so assimilated to the Apache way of life that he cried when he was forced to return to his parents.

As the group began the trek back to Fort Bowie, Arizona, Geronimo and some of the warriors, women and boys escaped once more, making their way back into the Sierra Madre.

On September 4, 1886, Geronimo surrendered for the last time to General Nelson A. Miles at Skeleton Canyon in southern Arizona. He was sent to Florida in a boxcar, a prisoner of war. It was May of 1887 before he was reunited with his family, and they were once again moved; this time, to Mount Vernon Barracks near Mobile, Alabama.

In 1894, Geronimo was again moved with other Apaches to Fort Sill, Oklahoma. He attempted to try and fit in, farming and joining the Dutch Reformed Church. He was expelled from the church for his penchant for gambling.

The federal government made many empty promises to Geronimo and his people, but they allowed him to keep the money he made from selling buttons from his clothing or posing for pictures at numerous fairs and exhibitions such as the Omaha Exposition in Omaha, NE (1898), the Pan American Exposition in Buffalo, NY (1901), and the St. Louis World’s Fair in St. Louis, MO (1904).

In 1905, Geronimo rode in President Theodore Roosevelt’s inaugural parade. It was also during this year that he told the story of his life to S. M. Barrett, who wrote “Geronimo: His Own Story”, which was published in 1906.

In 1909, Geronimo was riding home after drinking too much. He fell off of his horse and lay, wet and freezing, beside the road until he was discovered several hours later. Never having seen his beloved Arizona homeland again, he died of pneumonia on February 17, 1909.

Geronimo is buried at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, in an Apache POW cemetery. There is a simple stone monument at his gravesite where people still bring icons and offerings and leave them. Baggies of sage, seashells, scraps of paper—homage to the greatest warrior who ever lived.

Geronimo was not a chief. He was not a medicine man. He was a leader of men—a fighter whose battle tactics are studied still in military institutions. In the quiet of the cemetery, his children, warriors, relatives and wives buried nearby, he is still a leader, respected and recognized all over the world.

Did you know: “Apache” is a word for “street thug” in France?
Did you know: There is a rumor that some of Geronimo’s warriors “disappeared” mysteriously from the boxcar as they were being transported to Florida?

Did you know: Signers of the Medicine Lodge Treaty were given burial rights in the main post cemetery at Fort Sill? (Quanah Parker and others are buried with white soldiers in the regular base cemetery.)

Did you know: The custom of paratroopers yelling, “Geronimo!” is attributed to Aubrey Ebenhart, a member of the U.S. Army’s test platoon at Ft. Benning, Georgia. He told his friends he would “yell Geronimo loud as hell when I go out that door tomorrow!” Which he did!

In my upcoming release, Fire Eyes, Kaed Turner was abducted by the Apaches as a young boy, just as Jimmy McKinn was kidnapped by Geronimo’s band. Kaed and his younger siblings were traded to the Choctaw, where they were assimilated into the tribe.

This excerpt is a remembrance between Kaed and Chief Standing Bear, the man who raised him. I hope you enjoy it.


Standing Bear dismounted and came forward to stand beside Kaed, and Kaed turned his full attention to the warrior, waiting for the older man to speak.
It was as it had been all those years ago, when Kaed had come to live with the Choctaw people. The Apache had killed his mother and father, then taken Kaed and his younger brother and sister into captivity. The Choctaws had bartered with the Apaches for the youngsters, so they’d been raised in the Choctaw way.
The healing bruises Kaed wore today were reminiscent of the ones he’d been marked with when he first met Standing Bear, close to twenty years earlier.
“Seems we’ve stood this way before, Chief.”
“Yes, Wolf. You were marked as you are today. But still strong enough to wear defiance in your eyes. Strong enough to stand, and fight.”
Kaed gave him a fleeting grin, remembering how, as a nine-year-old boy faced with being traded away, he had rammed his head into Standing Bear’s rock-hard belly, catching him off guard, nearly knocking him to the ground in front of the Apaches and Standing Bear’s own warriors.
Standing Bear smiled and put his hand to his stomach. “This recovered before my pride did.” He nodded at Kaed’s arm. “I hope it is not so with you, Wolf. You did all you could, yet I see you still hold some blame in your heart for yourself.”
Kaed had to admit it was true, and he didn’t understand it. When he went over it logically in his mind, as he had done a thousand times, he knew he wasn’t to blame, that he’d done everything he could have. But he’d never expected White Deer to do what she had done, and he understood the parallel Standing Bear was drawing. The chief had never expected the young boy Kaed had been to lower his head and run at him, either.
Standing Bear spoke in his native tongue. “Have you thought upon my words concerning Fire Eyes? Or will she go to one of my warriors?”
“She is my woman now,” Kaed said in the same language, “and will belong to no other man.”

Christmas Stocking

When I came up with the idea of writing about the origin of the Christmas stocking I figured it originated in Europe and was brought over by immigrants, I just didn't realize how close to my family it would fall.

There are two versions of how the Christmas stocking came to be. One is that a kind nobleman had lost his wife and was trying to raise three daughters. He'd lost all his money in bad investments and it was time to marry off his daughters. Only he didn't have money for dowries. On Christmas Eve the three daughters washed out their stockings as usual and hung them by the fire to dry. Saint Nicholas peered through the window and spied the stockings. He placed bags of gold in the garments and in the morning the daughters found enough money in their stockings to marry.

The version I like because it was told to me by my mother-in-law, who is Dutch, is the tradition started in 16th century Holland. The children put straw in their clogs(wooden shoes)for the reindeer. Their shoes sat by the fireplace and treats were left for "Sinterklass" also. When Sinterklass found the treats, he left presents for the children. There is also the tale of Black Piet. He is Sinterklass's helper. He is covered in coal dust and if the children have been bad during the year, he leaves them a chunk of coal. My mother-in-law said a friend or relative dressed every year as Black Piet and scared the children to keep them from being bad.

In Holland the present exchange actually happens on December 5th. If you want to learn more about the Dutch tradition, you can go to this site, and it also states that the Dutch Settlers brought the notion of Saint Nicholas to New Amsterdam, USA.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Swedish Woven Hearts...too pretty not to pass on

Oh, I'm not a bit Swedish, but I've long loved these woven paper heart baskets. For being so simple, they are so simply festive during the holidays. I can just picture them adding Christmas cheer on the prairie in Cactus Rose's favorite time period--the 19th century. A homespun craft made from materials close at hand.

Years ago, I helped a seventh grade class make them while I was a substitute teacher, so I know it can be done LOL. One one of my favorite places to visit on California's central coast, a little Danish enclave called Solvang, honors all aspects of Scandinavian culture, and the heart baskets appear frequently about town--especially at Christmastime.

In my first novel, The Outlaw's Woman, the outlaw (who of course is A Good Guy) snowbounds himself at gunpoint with a beautiful widow in her cozy Nebraska farmhouse in 1877. He wiles away the time until it's safe for him to escape and shows her how to weave them.

After he's long gone and she pines for him, she makes them to decorate her house when Christmas comes. I even made a few for a book signing.

They aren't all that hard to make...but it does take a little bit of practice. Called jhartkorgar, they'll be hung on the Christmas tree in Sweden and filled with candy or little gifts. Mini jhartkorgar can be strung together to make garlands for the tree.

Hilltown Families, a grassroots network for families living in Weston, Massachusetts, has kindly let me use their directions for this project. And Hilltown welcomes writers and artists to share their check them out and see if your creativity is a fit!

(The directions uploaded a tad small, so click here as needed.)

Another fine site, Craft Ideas, has a template for making the sides of each heart.

And of course, you can construct them in pink and white for Valentine's Day.

Now, how about making a few woven hearts and hanging one on each of your neighbor's doorknobs on Christmas Eve filled with a tasty treat?

And on December 15, I'd be truly honored if you fellow Cactus Roses were to download my free online read, His Christmas Angel. In this short story, I spun off a character from my June 2009 release, Marrying Minda...and I hope you enjoy meeting him!

Merry Christmas to you all!

~Tanya Hanson

Women Rebels

Women Rebels

History records that since the time of Joan of Arc, women have been disguising themselves as men. These women were not transvestites, nor did they cross-dress out of some demented reasoning to pull ‘the wool’ over men’s eyes.

In an era where women had no rights to own property, no rights to protect themselves from sexual harassment, to escape rape, and with very little job opportunities to support themselves or their families, it is no wonder that these brave women chose to give up their lives as females.
These women quickly learned to cuss, chew, drink, fight, and often became deadly shots with weapon of choice. To them, it was a simple matter of two choices: survival or death.

One-Eyed Charlie was a stagecoach driver, a job that commanded considerable respect back in 19th century Oregon. Hostile Indians, ruthless highwaymen, and inclement weather plagued these frontier thoroughfares. Even without such hazards, bouncing along for days on end on a buckboard seat, minus shock absorbers and air conditioning required considerable fortitude. Of all the drivers on the Oregon-to-California line, One-Eyed Charlie was the driver of choice whenever Wells Fargo needed to send a valuable cargo. Despite a salty vocabulary, and opinionated demeanor, and a rough appearance, all of which might have rankled some passengers, no one was better at handling the horses or dealing with adversity.

When the stage would roll into Portland or Sacramento, Charlie would collect a paycheck and disappear for a few days. It was said Charlie was a heavy drinker and gambler. However, when it came time to make the next trip, Charlie was back at the helm, sober and cantankerous as ever. At Charlie’s death, the coroner made a startling discovery while preparing the body for burial. One-Eyed Charlie was really Charlotte Darkey Parkhurst (1810-1879) (Oregon Handbook, Moon Publications, 1998, p. 396). Orphaned at birth, Parkhurst first donned male clothing to escape an orphanage in Massachusetts. She learned how to drive a six-horse team and began driving stagecoaches. She is reputed to have killed at least one bandit. She died at the age of 67.

Records show that Sarah Edmonds Seelye was Canadian by birth. She assumed the alias of Franklin Thompson and enlisted as a private in the Second Michigan Infantry in Detroit on May 25, 1861. Her duties while in the Union Army included assisting the regiment’s doctor before becoming a mail and dispatch carrier. Her regiment participated in the Peninsula campaign and battles of First Manassas, Fredericksburg, and Antietam. On April 19, 1863, Edmonds deserted because she acquired malaria, and feared that hospitalization would reveal her gender. In 1867 she married L. H. Seelye, a Canadian mechanic. They raised three children. In 1886 she received a letter from the secretary of war that acknowledged her as “a female soldier who…served as a private…rendering faithful service in the ranks.” Sarah Edmonds Seelye died September 5, 1989, in Texas.

Cathay Williams’ story is as unique as they come. She was born a slave near Independence, Missouri in 1842. Her father was free, but her mother was a slave. Cathay served as a house girl for a wealthy planter until his death. Shortly, thereafter, the Civil War began, and she was liberated by the 13th Union Army Corps. With no home, a freedom that she didn’t know how to cope with, and no way to make a living, Cathay disguised herself as a man and changed her name to William Cathay. She told the recruiting officer that she was a 24-year-old cook. The recruiter described her as 5’9” tall, with black eyes, black hair, and black complexion. Fortunately, no medical examination was required.

Cathay was assigned to the 38th U.S. Infantry, and she learned to perform all the soldierly duties. She could shoot, march, and stand guard with the best of them. Orders were soon given to transfer the new recruits to the west, where they would join the army’s fight against the Indians. They were sent to protect pioneers traveling through one of the most dangerous routes to California, called Cooke’s Canyon.

After two years of service, she was honorably discharged at Fort Bayard, New Mexico, in October 1868, after making her place in history as the first-and only-female Buffalo Soldier. Some say she revealed her gender before she was discharged. Others say no one knew she was a woman until 1891, when she applied to the army for a pension, at the age of 49. Her application was denied. I can only assume that it was refused because women weren’t allowed to serve in the army—and wouldn’t be allowed to until 1948.

I am in awe of these women who pushed the boundaries of the place society had made for them, who created a path where footsteps had never trod, who found the courage to go where no woman had gone before.

We owe them everything!

P.S. Unfortunately there were technical difficulties uploading photographs of these women. I was unable to locate a photograph of Cathay Williams, however, the others can viewed simply by googling them.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Four out of Ten

Dear Cactus Rose Authors and Editors:
This is not exactly a blog, and it's not my day, but I really want to point this out. I started to post it on numerous blogs and Yahoo! sites to "brag," but then I thought, that's not how my mama taught me. She always said, "Don't brag on yourself, honey, it's not becoming." Well, dang. I want to. Just once? Okay? Amongst ourselves?

On the Wild Rose Press home page on the Month's Best Seller's List, four out of ten are---ta-da!--Cactus Rose stories. Now, this is monumental to me, because I don't know how many times I heard and read and was told--the Western Historical is dead. Not the Regency Historical, those are still going great guns, but the Western? Probably as dead as a doornail. But I am, as I have been told, as stubborn as a mule. Western Historical or none.

My new release a couple of weeks ago first appeared at Number Three. I can tell you, I jumped up and down and called my husband--Look! Look, I debuted at Number 3! He, of course, hugged me, congratulated me, and walked from the room shaking his head. ("What has gotten into my sweet, settled wife? She's gone ballistic.") The next couple of days, I was at Number One. Yeah!

Here's the best part. Today, mine, ALL MY HOPES AND DREAMS is at Number 4. Kathy Otten's A CHRISTMAS SMILE is at Number 6. Linda LaRoque's A LAW OF HER OWN is at Number 9, and Lauri Robinson's A WIFE FOR BIG JOHN is at Number 10.

So, is this okay? That I bragged about us? Listen, y'all, I'll celebrate any success any of us receive. One for all, and all for one.
Celia Yeary

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Weddings in the 1800's

Due to the number of weddings and funerals that happened along the trails, most Wagon Masters would not head west until a Vicar was procured to travel with the group. Out of necessity, Wagon Masters could perform these duties, but most didn’t relish the extra burdens. Often the Vicar or Circuit Preacher would return and travel with the next train west. Traveling preachers also provided many of the first trail stations or towns along the way with weddings or church services on a regular basis. The Circuit Preachers were also responsible for stopping at county seats or state capitols and filing all the deaths, births and marriages.

Even in towns, church weddings were rare in the early 1800’s. Usually the affair happened in the home of the bride or groom, or a family friend. Attendance was generally small, just a few relatives and friends. (This was true of funerals as well, and it was up to the family to prepare the body for burial. Usually more people attended funerals than weddings because a death meant the entire community had suffered a loss.) If needed small communities would assign one person to reside over weddings and funerals until a preacher traveled through and officiated the already performed ceremony by completing and filing the paperwork.

After their wedding, a newly married couple was expected to stay home for the next few days so others could call. The dress was something the bride could wear again or already had. It wasn’t until 1840 when Queen Victoria wed Prince Albert in an elaborate white, satin gown that the tradition of a white gown started to spread. However, the color and ability to keep it clean held the tradition at bay until the early 1900’s.

Here’s an old poem, published on many internet wedding sites, (I couldn’t find the date of its origin)… “Married in white, you will have chosen all right. Married in grey, you will go far away. Married in black, you will wish yourself back. Married in red, you’ll wish yourself dead. Married in blue, you will always be true. Married in pearl, you’ll live in a whirl. Married in green, ashamed to be seen, Married in yellow, ashamed of the fellow. Married in brown, you’ll live out of town. Married in pink, your spirits will sink.” (Perhaps it wasn’t Queen Victoria, but this poem that encouraged brides to wear white!)

There were a few traditions most weddings tried to uphold. The veil being one of them, it signified maidenhood, and therefore usually skipped by the bride for a second wedding. Often veils were passed down from generation to generation. The tradition of the wedding veil comes from the times of arranged marriages. The bride wore a veil so the groom couldn’t see his bride’s face until after the ceremony, assuring the man couldn’t back out once he saw his bride. Also, a law in 1775 forbid brides to wear any kind of make-up, assuring the groom wasn’t trapped by an ‘illusion’.

The cake was also important, it signified fertility and abundance, and it was generally a fruit cake—that is until baking powder and baking soda were invented, then a white cake became popular and the fruit cake became the groom’s cake, which was usually cut into pieces and sent home with the guest.

And the ring…It signified eternal love. The wedding ring dates back to 2800 B.C., this was the time of ‘ownership’ and the ring signified possession. The tradition the wedding band to be worn on the third finger of the left hand is because it was believed that finger has a vein that runs straight to the heart.

Church weddings grew in popularity throughout the 1800’s and by the turn of the century weddings, which included dances following the ceremony, became more popular, namely because when the couple was married in a church, more people could attend, therefore the event became a social gathering.

In my recent release, Shotgun Bride—The Quinter Brides Book One, Jessie Johnson and Kid Quinter are married, not by choice, in his mother’s kitchen. Here’s an excerpt…

The brothers scrambled out the door in such a flurry they left it wide open. Cool, night air filled the room. Jessie took a deep breath, hoping it would clear her confused mind and calm her jumbled nerves. Was she really married? That’s all it took- a few words from a preacher and a kiss on the cheek? She’d never dreamed of falling in love and living happily ever after, knew that wasn’t a reality in the harsh, vast land of the west, but she’d always held a slight longing of finding someone she could care for, some one who’d care for her as they fought to survive their lot in life.

“There’s no need for you to ride over to my place. It’s out of your way. I assure you, I’m not going to harm them,” Kid Quinter said.

The sheriff let out a low chuckle and walked across the room. “You must be forgetting how well I know you.” He tipped the brim of his wide hat her way then pulled the door shut as he walked out.

Blood pounded in her ears. She’d hoped Kid was the good brother, while Skeeter was the bad. But from what the sheriff implied, it appeared to be the other way around. Her gaze went to Russell. Eyes closed, his head rested on the back of the chair. He didn’t appear to be at all concerned for her welfare. Many times over the past ten years she’d felt alone, but she’d never felt as lonely as she did at this moment. Tears pricked at her eyes again. She tried to buck up, to face this new adversity with courage, but felt her shoulders droop, even valor had deserted her.

The door behind her flew open. Skeeter and Hog, or maybe it was Snake, the two looked a lot a like, walked in. “Ma, we’ll bring your chair back,” Skeeter said as they picked Kid up, chair and all, and carried him through the open door.

Stephanie Quinter walked over to the table. “You don’t have anything to worry about, sweetie, Kid will be good to you. He’s a good man, the best of the bunch.” The woman’s voice sounded soft and sincere.

Jessie didn’t know how to respond. He may be the best of the bunch, but it was a very rough bunch.

Available now at The Wild Rose Press

Monday, December 1, 2008

Texas Fruitcake

Time got away from me and I didn't get my blog post ready in time. I hope you'll forgive me and accept this Christmas recipe as a substitute.

We've all received one of those terrible canned fruitcakes as a gift, but here is one you'll be proud to bring out and share with friends or give as a gift. I'm not crazy about fruitcake, especially the dark ones with more fruit than cake, but I love the the ones made from this recipe. It came from a cookbook of Favorite Recipes of Home Economics Teacher. I taught Home Economics for 30 years in Texas and we sold these cookbooks back in the 60s and 70s. I've used this recipe since 1970. The first time I made it my daughter was a baby and I've been hooked ever since.

1/2 lb. candied pineapple
1/2 lb. candied cherries
1/2 lb. raisins
1/2 lb. chopped dates
4 to 5 oz. candied orange peel or sliced candied orange slices
2 lbs. shelled pecans
1/2 lb. shelled walnuts
5 C. flour
1 & 1/4 lb. oleo
2 C. white sugar
1 C. brown sugar
6 eggs
3/4 t. soda
1/2 C. molasses
3/4 C. apricot preserves
3/4 t. cloves
3/4 t. allspice
3/4 t. nutmeg
3/4 t. cinnamon

Cut fruit; dredge fruit and nuts in 1/2 C. flour. Cream oleo & sugars; add eggs, and beat. Mix soda and molasses; stir into sugar mixture with preserves. Add flour and spices (sifted together); add nuts and fruit. Grease two tube pans; line with waxed paper. Grease paper. Turn batter into pans; put pan of water on bottom shelf of oven. Bake 4 hours at 250 degrees.

I use my turkey roaster to mix this all together as it's the largest thing I have. Nothing else seems big enough.

I hope you'll give it a try and your family enjoys it as much as mine does.