Sunday, February 26, 2012

My Ol' Recipe Box

My Ol' Recipe Box

   This week found me digging in my kitchen cabinets for my stuffed, much used-and-abused recipe box. Why? Because I'm contributing to an upcoming group cookbook. And as always happens when I go through that box, I was immediately assailed with the memories which each and every tattered card evokes. Memories of the friends and family members whose handwriting is now fading. So, for a change of pace, my post today is about food. Hope you enjoy the following.

Pear Honey 

9 cups of chopped, fresh pears
1 large can of crushed pineapple (undrained)
5 cups of sugar Cook until thick and seal in hot jars

I have no idea why the recipe bears that name, since it doesn’t contain any honey, it was given to me by my mother-in-law, a wonderful cook. The combination of these three ingredients produces a unique flavor, delicious as a topper for toast or homemade biscuits (yum-yum). It’s one of my husband’s favorites

Catfish Charlie (9-day slaw)
1 large cabbage, thinly slithered
1 large onion, sliced thin
 ½ cup of sugar
 Sprinkle sugar on sliced cabbage & onions and set aside. Then combine the following in a small pan:
 1/3 cup of sugar
 1 t. dry mustard
 1 t. celery seed
 1 cup of white vinegar
 ½ cup vegetable oil
 Bring this combo to a boil and pour over cabbage/onion mixture. Chill thoroughly (overnight is good). Stir well before serving. Keeps well.

    Another of my recipes with an odd name, the above was my mother’s specialty and requires a very large mixing bowl. She and my step-dad were big on fishing and fish-fry gatherings, so I’m pretty sure that’s where the Catfish Charlie name came from. (Note: Splenda may be substituted for all or part of the sugar.)

 Fresh Tomato Relish 
 1 qt. fresh tomatoes
 ¼ large green bell pepper
 1 small white or yellow onion
 Chop into a tall container and top with
 1 t. salt
 2 T. sugar
 2 T. of white vinegar
 DO NOT STIR. Let set overnight till ready to serve. Then stir

  That recipe came from my mother-in-law’s sister, also a wonderful cook. We love fresh sliced tomatoes, but when I have an abundance, this relish is a delicious change.

   All of these people are now gone from my life, but the recipes -- and the memories -- will always remain. I hope it’s the same at your house, and you have a recipe box of memories like I do. Bask in those wonderful memories, and use the feelings they evoke in your writing. The result will be true-to-life emotion and very real characters.

 Ramona Butler

Sunday, February 12, 2012



You already know there are many, many kinds of partners. Exercise. Conjugal. Drinking (lol). Some of which are way more difficult than others. And the most difficult of all? If you said "Marriage" you get a gold star. But have you ever considered a writing partnership?

Before I wrote my BORDER HEAT (published as an ebook by Champagne Books, Calgary), I was one-half of a writing partnership which authored six short, contemporary romances, four of which found publishers in Australia and the Netherlands (paperback) and in the USA (hard cover, paperback, and electronic). Plus, we've now "indie" published (as ebooks, available for Amazon's Kindle, Barnes & Noble's NOOK, and others) all six: JADED HEARTS, DANCE WITH DESTINY, HIGH FLYING LOVE, SAGEBRUSH CINDERELLA, SABRINA SAYS, AND TROUBLE IN 3-D.

That, and the fact I've been married for several decades, should tell you I have a bit of experience in partnerships. The secrets of my marital partnership, I’ll keep to myself, but I'm going to let you in on some of the fun -- and frustrations -- of a partnership in the writing arena.
First, if you're going to write with a partner, always remember, the goal is to produce the best book possible -- and to do it with the least amount of bloodshed the two of you can manage.

"Did my partnership result in bloodshed?" you ask. Nope, but like any partnership there were both ups and downs, pluses and minuses. For instance, my writing partner was a speed demon writer, while I agonized (and it takes a bunch of time for me to agonize) over every word. The plus of that, she forced me to write faster (just to keep up), but I forced her to dig deeper (for the exact word or action and/or reaction).

Two other aspects of our partnership: (1) My partner disliked losing valuable writing time to research. Me? Research gave me a reason to ask lots of questions and investigate subjects I might otherwise never have visited. (2) She looked at life through a fresh window, unclouded by my additional twenty years of battling the good -- but never-gonna-win -- battles. (3) She'd never traveled out of California, but I'd traveled to fifty states, including Hawaii and Alaska -- i.e.I had first-hand knowledge of distant, intriguing settings for our stories.

So, would I consider co-writing again? Yes, but only if we -- as we did in that original partnership -- were both certain our personalities could co-exist without damage to either, and that we would be equal partners in the endeavor.

Bottom line, would I recommend writing with a partner?
Yes, but choose wisely . Remember that, as in marriage, there will be lots of give and take. Which also means you will be giving up a certain amount of control over the final product.

P.S. I'm happy to report that although my ol’ co-writer no longer write together, we are still friends.

by Ramona Butler
Sabrina Says
Trouble in 3-D
Sagebrush Cinderella
Dance with Destiny
High Flying Love
Jaded Hearts
Border Heat

Border Heat Excerpt:

A gunshot shattered the silence. And from out of nowhere, a large form, blacker than the black night, slammed her to the ground, covered her. Air swooshed from her lungs. She gasped for breath, twisting, thrashing, fighting the hulk that had landed on top of her. When her knee struck soft tissue, she was rewarded with a oath, then a hoarse, low-pitched, "For God's sake, stop your squirming. I'm trying to save your unappreciative hide!"
Stunned by recognition of that husky rumble, she stilled. "Jess?" Lord, he was heavy. Solid muscle.
"Shhh, don't talk." Words breathed against her temple.
"Get off me, you--"
His callused hand covered her mouth and shut off her words. She twisted again, writhing, bucking--with no success whatsoever.