Courage and a Bonus Recipe by Gail Kittleson

Gail Kittleson

Life shrinks or expands according to one’s courage.” Anais Nin

This quote could be the back cover material for my debut women’s fiction, In This Together, because Dottie Kyle’s horizons expand as she faces her challenges and fears head-on.

I want to be like Dottie, and as you get to know her, you will, too. She’s an ordinary, honest, solid World War II era woman, but her recent losses—of her son in the war and her husband soon after—launch her into other kinds of change she never would have imagined.

Isn’t that just the kind of alteration we try to avoid? Dottie does, too, but change keeps batting her in the face, first through a rather nasty employee at Helene’s boarding house, where Dottie cooks and cleans.

But even more heart-opening (I could say wrenching, but let’s think positively), are her widower neighbor Al Jensen’s advances. It’s only been a year or so since he lost his wife, Dottie’s best friend, to cancer, and Dottie hasn’t even entered Nan’s kitchen in all that time.

Now, Al invites her to go fishing one summer night, and then for a fish fry the next evening. To Dottie’s surprise, both invitations lead to pleasant time spent with someone always close at hand, but relatively unknown. She finds comfort in sharing with Al and values his insights. Best of all, his rather nervous, conscientious personality doesn’t throw her off.

One other thing remains the same through it all: Dottie’s cooking. She’s a meat and potatoes kind of gal, like Helene’s male boarders. Let me share a recipe from Dottie’s reserve, kept in her noggin, with a host of others.

Special Mashed Potatoes

A big pot of peeled, cooked white or red potatoes, drained except for about 2 c of liquid
A few chicken bouillon cubes
Lots of fresh, rich butter from the creamery down the street

Soak the bouillon cubes in the hot water. Mash potatoes and add butter. Salt and pepper to taste, and then stir in the liquid mixture gradually. Feeds six easily, or stretches for unexpected guests.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about Dottie’s recipe and/or times when courage has expanded your life.

Dora here. Gail has graciously volunteered to give away one pdf copy of In This Together to one commenter today

Purchase Link

Dottie Kyle is the kind of woman you’d want for your friend, steady and reliable. When World War II steals her son and she loses her husband soon after the Allied victory, she takes a job at Helene’s boarding house. Cleaning for the boarders and making nutritious meals gives her a reason to wake up in the morning. But when her daughter in California experiences complications in her third pregnancy and needs help with the little grandchildren Dottie longs to meet, old fears of closed-in spaces hinder the required cross-country train trip.

Meanwhile, unexpected challenges arise at the boarding house, and Dottie’s next-door widower neighbor Al pays her a new sort of attention. Could their growing friendship hold the clue to conquering anxieties that hold Dottie captive?

About Gail: Sometimes we learn what we’ve done only after we do it. I wrote my memoir Catching Up With Daylight over a ten-year period, but learned the term “spirituality writing” only after the book was published. Figuring things out after the fact is a life theme for me, but even though it isn’t the easy road, I learn a lot in the process. My very patient husband (37 years) and I live in St. Ansgar, Iowa, where a small creative writing class meets in my home, and we enjoy our grandchildren. I facilitate workshops on creativity/memoir writing/aging with grace. My first fiction release with Vintage Rose, titled In This Together, will release November 18, 2015. 

A Little Recipe Love and Sweet Freedom a la Mode by Jennifer Hallmark

Don’t you just love recipes passed down through the generations? I do, and I’m thrilled that Jennifer Hallmark was willing to share this recipe today. Check out…Halupki or Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

One of my favorite dishes Mom makes for the family is halupki. It was passed down from her mother. When Mom was a child, her mother, Lena, would rise early, cooking for a houseful of children. She would go to the slaughterhouse for fresh ground beef. As Grandma mixed the ground beef and rice, Grandpa would sneak bites of the raw beef mixture, certainly not recommended today. Grandma harvested cabbage from her garden across the road from the house. Enjoy!

Halupki or Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
Yield: Serves 8

2 ½ pounds lean ground beef
1 medium onion, diced
1 pound bacon, cut small
1 pound cooked rice
Salt, pepper, Nature Seasoning, to taste

1 can tomato paste
1 can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons vinegar
Wash rice, cook only ten minutes. Drain excess water, rinse, then set aside. Fry bacon and onion until golden brown. Drain excess oil.

Put rice in large mixing bowl. Mix in ground beef, bacon and onions and mix well; add seasonings. Set aside.

Cut cabbage, core out about two inches deep and place head of cabbage in boiling water to steam until leaves can be removed easily. Repeat until you remove all cabbage leaves that are big enough to roll. Line the bottom of a large pot with leaves you don’t use.

Scoop filling and place in leave, tucking in ends and rolling. Pack stuffed cabbage in pot, then fill with sauce, adding hot water until barely covered. Place a plate on top, weighted down to keep stuffed cabbage from floating. Cook on medium low for an hour. Good served with hot sauce or ketchup.
Sweet Freedom a la mode
Sweet Freedom a La Mode
For some, the fourth of July is a celebration of freedom; for others it is a reminder of bondage. Of pain. Of fear. Of hopelessness. But there is a hope that is deeper, a love that is truer, and a freedom that no one can ever snatch away. 

These pages contain numerous stories: a woman longing to start again but bound by the failures of her past; a young man who, upon reaching adulthood, must face his fears of death; a woman offered a chance of true love but held back by crippling insecurities. 

Is God even there? Does He care…enough to reach down and pull these men and women from the messes they’ve landed in, some of them by their own hand? 

Freedom. Peace-saturated, joy-infusing freedom. 

Jennifer Hallmark
Meet Jennifer Hallmark: writer by nature, artist at heart, and daughter of God by His grace. She loves to read detective fiction from the Golden Age, watch movies like LOTR, and play with her two precious granddaughters. At times, she writes. Jennifer and her husband, Danny, have spent their married life in Alabama and have a basset hound, Max.

Lynn Chandler-Willis shares Chocolate Raspberry Dessert and The Rising

Chocolate Raspberry Dessert
Chocolate Raspberry Dessert
Submitted by Lynn Chandler-Willis

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 stick (½ cup) butter or margarine, softened
¼ tsp baking powder
4 eggs
1 ½ cups (16oz can) Hersey’s Syrup            
Raspberry Cream Center (recipe follows)
Chocolate Glaze (recipe follows)

1) Heat oven to 350F. Grease 13x9x2 inch baking pan
2) Combine flour, sugar, butter, baking powder and eggs in large bowl; beat until smooth. Add syrup; blend thoroughly. Pour batter into prepared pan.
3) Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely on wire rack. Spread Raspberry Cream Center on cake. Cover and refrigerate. Pour Chocolate Glaze over chilled dessert. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour before serving.
Raspberry Cream Center: Combine 2 cups powdered sugar, ½ cup (1 stick) softened butter or margarine, ¼ cup raspberry preserves, and 1 tsp. Water in small bowl. Beat until smooth.
Chocolate Glaze: Melt 6tbs, butter or margarine and 1 cup Hershey’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips in small saucepan over very low heat. Remove from heat; stir until smooth. Cool slightly.

Mmmm. This sounds and looks yummy! Thanks for sharing the recipe, Lynn. Now how about telling us a little about your latest Pelican Book Group release, The Rising?
The Rising
Purchase Link

A little boy, beaten and left to die in an alley. A cop with a personal life out of control. When their worlds collide, God intervenes. Detective Ellie Saunders’s homicide investigation takes a dramatic turn when a young victim “wakes up” in the morgue. The child has no memory prior to his “rising” except walking with his father along a shiny road. Ellie likes dealing with facts. She’d rather leave all the God-talk to her father, a retired minister, and to her partner, Jesse, a former vice cop with an annoying habit of inserting himself into her life. But will the facts she follows puts Ellie’s life in mortal danger? And will she finally allow God into her heart forever?


“Jack told me you were at lunch. Caper’s is one of my favorites, so I thought I’d take a chance.” He winked at her then sidled closer. “Anyway, I was thinking about your dead kid—“

“He’s not dead.”

A waitress slammed a sandwich down in front of Ellie, and Jesse helped himself to a homemade chip.

“OK, so he’s not dead. You have sent his picture to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children?”

She huffed. “Did Jack send you?”

“No, Jack didn’t send me. I was just thinking if the center didn’t get a hit, I’ve got a few connections with the FBI, and they’ve got some really cool equipment.”

Ellie pulled a piece of bacon from her sandwich and chewed on one end. “Thanks, but no thanks. I really don’t want the Feds involved.”

Jesse snatched another chip and shook his head. “No black suit with shades is going to swoop in and take your case, Detective Saunders.” He grinned and helped himself to another chip. “I thought we could get them to run his picture through the facial recognition scanner. Maybe we’ll get a hit.”

What was with all the we stuff? The case was complicated enough. The last thing she needed was Jesse involved. She didn’t need a constant reminder of her downward spiral.

Sound great? Yeah, I think so, too. You can scoop it up and read the rest by purchasing The Rising here

Meet Lynn Chandler-Willis

Lynn Chandler-Willis has worked in the corporate world (hated it!), the television news business (fun job) and the newspaper industry (not a fan of the word “apparently” and phrase “according to”). She keeps coming back to fiction because she likes making stuff up and you just can’t do that in the newspaper or television news business.

She was born, raised, and continues to live in the heart of North Carolina within walking distance to her kids and their spouses and her nine grandchildren. She shares her home, and heart, with Sam the cocker spaniel.

She is the author of the best-selling true crime book, Unholy Covenant. The Rising is her debut novel.

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