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Where Can Jane Find a Good Cup of Coffee?

Where Can Jane Find a Good Cup of Coffee?

Where can Jane find a good cup of coffee? Java is important to fiction readers if the response to my recent Instagram post about our home espresso machine is any indication. As a result, I’ve been thinking about where Jane would find a good cup of coffee if she wants one in a future scene. So far, I haven’t come up with a decent answer, and here’s why.

For starters, the first Tipperary County mystery, See Jane Run! is set in 1977. That was at least a decade before coffee roasting and quality coffee became a thing in the United States. I’m not sure it was possible to make a good cup of coffee in the days when the big cans of ground Maxwell House, Folgers, and Hills Brothers were the only choice. Quality food requires quality ingredients and all that.

Furthermore, much of See Jane Run! and subsequent books in the series are based on the years when our young family lived in northwest South Dakota. I was not a fan of Maxwell House, Folgers, and Hill Brothers coffee and only drank tea back then. I have no idea how coffee served in homes and cafes tasted.

On the other hand, I grew up hearing my parents, as well as aunts and uncles, rave about the egg coffee my maternal grandmother made for large family gatherings. Mom’s family was from southern Minnesota, and while Grandma wasn’t Scandinavian, she learned how to make it from neighbors who were. Since the population of northwestern South Dakota was heavily Scandinavian, I assumed the Camp Crook Centennial cookbook would have a recipe for egg coffee. It did not.

The only people who can help with this conundrum are the good citizens Harding County. If you ever lived or now live in Camp Crook, Buffalo, or on a ranch in Harding County, I’d love to hear from you. First, where could Jane have found a good cup of coffee? Second, did you or your parents or grandparents make egg coffee? Third, if they did what was their recipe?

Thanks in advance for your comments. Unlike me, Jane prefers coffee over tea. She’s going to be very cranky until she gets her hands on a good cup of brew, and her bad mood will make writing about her a challenge!

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Stir Up in a Bucket: What Is It?

Stir Up in a Bucket: What Is It?

A post from a couple weeks back featured the 1982 Camp Crook Centennial Cook Book. Friends and former students (who are, to be clear, no longer my students but are my friends) left comments about how they still use the cook book. I do too, but there are a few recipes I have never tried. My hunch is that no one else has either.

While I don’t plan to whip them up in my kitchen, they provide taste of life in Little Missouri where See Jane Run! and other books in the Tipperary County series are set. That’s why I’ll be serving them up from time to time on this blog.

Today’s offering, Stir Up in a Bucket, was briefly mentioned in the Centennial Cook Book post. It was submitted by Walter Stuart (pictured above), a thrice widowed rancher who had a tiny farm in the middle of town, right behind the school where I taught. The character Merle Laird in See Jane Run! is modeled after but not identical to Walter. More on their similarities and differences in future posts.

For now, let’s focus on the recipe for Stir Up in a Bucket. If you, dear reader, have the intestinal fortitude necessary to prepare and eat this delicacy, please leave a comment about whether it’s edible, what it is, and what it tastes like. I’m dying to know, but not enough to try it myself because dying is not at the top of my bucket list.

Readers who don’t have the intestinal fortitude to try Stir Up in a Bucket are welcome to leave a comment after reading the list of ingredients and the spare cooking instructions. It’s a head scratcher for sure, and a tiny glimpse at the ingredients available to early settlers in Tipperary County. Boy, am I glad we didn’t live there then!

Stir Up in a Bucket

1 quart flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Add enough bacon grease to keep it from sticking to pan. Add water until you get a heavy batter. Pour into a frying pan. Cook until brown on the bottom and turn. Cut like a cake.

Sign up to receive website updates and See Jane Run! book news on Gravel Road’s home page right under the picture of–you guessed it–the gravel road.

The Camp Crook Centennial Cook Book

The Camp Crook Centennial Cook Book

The Camp Crook Centennial Cook Book holds a special place in my heart. This little town on the prairie, population 92, celebrated its centennial while we and our baby boy lived there. Cooks from all over Harding County submitted recipes, and I don’t think any were turned away. It was the first publication to accept and feature my work.

All in the form of recipes.
All for foods my mom taught me to cook.
Almost all of them being desserts.

Which just goes to show I’ve had my priorities straight since a young age.

I found this little cook book to be valuable primary source material while I wrote and rewrote at least 10 times–yes, that’s right, 10 times–See Jane Run! Paging through it and seeing familiar names beneath recipes brings back memories of life in a place where the “old timers” had lived in soddies and shacks built by their homesteader parents.

My favorite section is the one for candies and old time recipes. It contains recipes for homemade soap, grandma’s sweet pickles, hand lotion, corn cob syrup, homemade mustard, and something called “stir up in a bucket.”

I have no idea what “stir up in a bucket” is. The first sentence in the instructions which reads as follows–”Add enough bacon grease to keep it from sticking to pan”–doesn’t have me rushing to try it for supper any time soon.

Though I might give it a try to because it has the potential to be a great scene in the sequel to See Jane Run!, which is called Hear Jane Sing! 

Before I mix up a batch of “stir up in a bucket,” I’ll post the recipe here in a month or so. Then all of you can give it a whirl with me, and we can talk about how to incorporate it into the story.

Until then, I suggest you try this recipe for fresh peach pie. It’s in the Camp Crook Centennial Cook Book, and I can vouch for its deliciousness. I’ll be making it as soon as the Colorado and Missouri peaches appear in the grocery store just like in 1983 when the little town where I once lived turned 100 years old.

They Say Corn Salsa, I Say Corn Salad

They Say Corn Salsa, I Say Corn Salad

They say corn salsa–they being the authors of this recipe I found in a free publication available at our local Fareway grocery store and in their online recipe box. The first time I made it my husband, also referred to as the man of steel in other blog posts at this website, called it corn salad.

And the new name stuck.

Let me be perfectly clear. This recipe was not part of our world when we lived in northwest South Dakota. Therefore it has no link whatsoever to the mystery series which is the reason for the Gravel Road blog. However, testing and exchanging new recipes was a favorite pastime amongst my circle of friends when we did live there.

30 years later, I still use many of them. The recipes, not the friends.

I’m recalling that spirit to share this recipe today. It is too good, too simple, and too easy to keep to myself. Plus this is cilantro season here in Iowa, and this is a good way to use it. All 6 people in our house love this dish. That number includes the 5-year-old who is suspicious of anything where different foods touch one another and the 2-year-old who as a rule refuses to eat anything not smothered in barbecue sauce. Plus it works for the 3 adults who can’t eat dairy, the 5-year-old who can’t eat gluten, and the 2-year-old who can’t have soy.

Yes, we are THAT family.

One more thing–I usually double the recipe because it’s just that good.

They Say Corn Salsa, I Say Corn Salad

1 (16 ounce) bag frozen yellow corn, thawed
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped (put on rubber gloves for this part)
1/2 of a large onion, diced
3/4 cup cilantro, chopped
2 limes, juiced (or 1/4 cup lime juice)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Combine all ingredients. Refrigerate and enjoy!

Coconut Cookies Redo

Coconut Cookies Redo

These coconut cookies are low sugar, dairy-free & soy-free. They are also delicious & bring back fond memories of a friend who gave me the original recipe.

The original recipe for these coconut cookies was given to me in the mid-1980s by a woman who remains a dear friend. I’ve reworked the recipe a couple times to make it dairy-free and as healthy as any cookie can be. You’ll find the most recent version below. Enjoy!

Coconut Cookies Redo

1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup Earth Balance Soy Free Buttery Sticks, softened
1/2 cup lard, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups oatmeal
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups unsweetened, shredded coconut
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Preheat oven to 350°. Toast the pecans in the oven for 5-7 minutes. Remove them from the oven and cool.

Cream sugar, shortening, and eggs until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, flour, soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix well. Add oatmeal, coconut, and nuts. Stir well after each ingredient is added.

Drop dough by rounded spoonfuls onto cookie sheets. Bake for 8 – 12 cookies, depending on how chewy you like them. Makes about 4 – 5 dozen.

Triple Free Monster Cookies

Triple Free Monster Cookies

This monster cookie recipe make yummy treats that are gluten, soy, and dairy-free. They are also low in sugar and high fiber. What more could you want?

My daughter Anne and I developed this variation on monster cookies because her son required a gluten-free, dairy-free, and soy-free diet as a toddler and pre-schooler. Gluten isn’t an issue in monster cookie recipes since they use use oats, a grain he could tolerate, instead of flour. To make the cookies dairy-free, we substituted lard for the butter called for in the recipe we adapted, replaced the M & M’s with peanuts and dried fruit (raisins or Craisins), and used the Enjoy Life brand chocolate chips. (If soy isn’t an issue at your house, Costco’s Kirkland chocolate chips are also a good dairy-free alternative.) Now, on to the recipe!

Triple Free Monster Cookies

3 eggs
1 cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons baking soda
16 oz. jar of natural peanut butter*
1/2 cup lard softened to room tempature
4 1/2 cups rolled, not quick, oats not quick oats!
3/4 cup Enjoy Life or Kirkland chocolate chips
3/4 cups dried fruit (raisins, Craisins, or dried cherries are good)
3/4 cups peanuts

Preheat oven to 350°. Putt baking stones in the oven to heat them.

Cream peanut butter, lard, sugar, and eggs until creamy and fluffy. Add remaining ingredients in order, mixing well after each addition.

Scoop dough with a teaspoon or soup spoon, depending on how big you like your cookies. Shape them into balls and place them on heated baking stones. Press them slightly flat with a fork. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes to desired doneness.

*For best results use natural peanut butter (Skippy or Jiff) that doesn’t need to be stirred after the jar is opened. Otherwise the cookies will not hold together.