Exploring Elsing Green Plantation #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel

I’ve mentioned before that one of the most interesting kinds of research for me is to visit historic sites. Today I’m going to talk about Elsing Green plantation in West Point, Virginia, which was once the home of Martha Washington’s uncle and aunt, Col. William and Unity Dandridge. I was very fortunate to be granted a private tour of Elsing Green by one of owners, Virginia Lafferty, in the spring of 2015. I am sad to say that when I reached out to Mrs. Lafferty to let her know about the upcoming release of Becoming Lady Washington, I discovered she had passed away suddenly last summer. She was such a gracious woman and spoke at length about her beloved home and the history associated with it. The website for Elsing Green has been taken down, so apparently it is not open any longer for tours or events, which is a sad thing, too.

Elsing Green main house with the Hunting Lodge, the original manor, off to the right.

Here’s the description of the property from the above link to the Virginia Department of Historic Resources:

“One of the state’s most impressive Tidewater plantations, Elsing Green is marked by a prodigious U-shaped house, a grand expression of colonial Virginia’s formal architecture. Stretched along the Pamunkey River, the plantation was owned in the 17th century by Col. William Dandridge. The property was purchased ca. 1753 by Carter Braxton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, who probably built the main house. The house burned in the early 19th century, but its brick walls survived unmarred. Rebuilt within the walls, the house was long the home of the Gregory family. In the 1930s, during the ownership of Mr. and Mrs. Beverley D. Causey, architect Edward F. Sinnott restored the original roof pitch and installed 18th century-style woodwork. Edgar Rivers Lafferty, Jr., who purchased Elsing Green in 1949, developed the plantation into a model farm and wildlife preserve.”

The Hunting Lodge at Elsing Green Plantation

Elsing Green is situated upriver and on the other side of the Pamunkey River from Chestnut Grove, Martha Washington’s childhood home. Today there are two houses on the site along with a few outbuildings. The smaller of the two houses is called the Hunting Lodge and is the original manor Martha would have been most familiar with. Family legend tells us that Martha once rode a horse either up onto the front porch or into the house. I have no way to prove or disprove this legend, but it does say a lot about the spunk she must have possessed to foster such an idea!

I was impressed by the solid construction of the Lodge. The red and white brick exterior is a statement of strength and financial well-being. Thick doors and sturdy wood floors. I absolutely fell in love with the library’s shelves upon shelves of books, too. The tall grandfather clock was beautiful. Heck, the whole place was lovely! If I remember correctly, the décor is from the period but may not have been original. It’s been 5 years, so my memory is a bit fuzzy on the details. I’ll share several of the photos that I took so you can have a virtual tour. You’ll notice in the pictures that it had snowed the night before my husband and visited.

I found it interesting that they had a kitchen and dining room in the basement of the Lodge so it was cooler during the summer to enjoy their meals. It may also have been easier to heat in the winter, as well. Notice the number of windows they could open to allow the breeze through to cool the upstairs, too.

I enjoyed strolling through the building, trying to imagine little Patsy (Martha’s pet name) walking or running (doubtful?) around playing with her cousin Martha. I wonder what kinds of toys or dolls she played with. Maybe took dancing lessons when the itinerant dance instructor made his visits. Played the pianoforte or spinet, perhaps. I let my imagination run as I roamed through those historic rooms.

I can only wonder what the future of Elsing Green may be since Mrs. Lafferty’s death appears to have closed the venue for visitors. It had been in continuous operation since originally built in the 17th century. I imagine her family felt the blow too much to continue without her. (If any of the Lafferty family happens to read this post, please know my heart goes out to you all.)

As a reminder, there are a few of my books available to read for free. Find out more here. And as always, thanks for reading!

The catch phrase here in north Alabama is “stay safe; stay separate; and sanitize.” Hang in there, folks. It’s a tough time but we will get through this eventually. My heart goes out to everyone as we find our way through this pandemic crisis. Please listen to and follow the guidelines from the health experts so we can shorten the duration as much as possible. Take care of you and yours and I’ll do the same.

Thanks!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Available for preorders now! Releases June 2, 2020…

Martha “Patsy” Custis manages an immense eighteenth-century plantation in the Virginia colony. But as a young widow she’s hard pressed to balance her business and to care for her two young children. They need a father and protector. She needs a husband and business partner…one she can trust, especially now as tensions rise between the motherland and the American colonies. Her experience and education have sustained her thus far but when her life veers in an unexpected direction, she realizes she has so much more to learn.

Colonel George Washington takes an interest in her and she’s surprised to find him so sociable and appealing. They form an instant bond and she is certain he’ll be a likeable and loving husband and father figure for her children. She envisions a quiet life at Mount Vernon, working together to provide for their extended family.

But when trouble in the form of British oppression, taxes, and royal arrogance leads to revolt and revolution, George must choose between duty to country and Martha. Compelled to take matters into her own hands, Martha must decide whether to remain where she belongs or go with her husband…no matter what the dangerous future may hold.

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Lessons Learned while Writing Becoming Lady Washington #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel

I’m a life-long learner by nature. I guess that’s why I don’t mind researching to write historical fiction. I always learn something! While researching and writing Becoming Lady Washington, there was a lot I didn’t know about Martha Washington’s life and times. There’s probably more to know, too.

I don’t claim to be the expert on her, but I did do quite a bit of research into what life on a plantation was like, what the clothing/attire said about the person wearing it, 18th-century dances, and much, much more. I’ve visited many of the historical sites that Martha frequented such as Mount Vernon, Elsing Green, Colonial Williamsburg, the army headquarters in New York and New Jersey, the presidential house site in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I’ve read two biographies written about Martha, a collection of her letters both sent and received, as well as a dictionary of the people who corresponded with George Washington (fascinating approach to knowing him, too). Plus many online and printed books on an array of subjects related to 18th-century America.

I mention that only to show that I’ve tried my best to write her story as authentically as I could with the knowledge I gleaned from many resources. Those who read the story to give me their feedback before I publish it all enjoyed the story and made few suggestions to improve on it. Therefore, I hope others will enjoy it, too. But I did learn a few things that I’d like to share that you won’t find spelled out in the book.

First, I learned how loving and faithful Martha was to her family and friends. Her “family” included everyone who lived and worked on the plantation. She seemed, from what I read in her letters, to admonish people to work hard, do their best, not be lazy, etc. Whether that person was her granddaughter or one of her enslaved maids, they both seemed to receive equal pressure on those fronts. I do not know, of course, how she treated them in person: facial expressions, gestures, tone of voice. But her words on paper seemed to me to be fairly even handed.

Second, I came across a line in one of her letters that I think nicely sums up her approach to life. In a letter to her friend Mercy Otis Warren, she wrote: “I am still determined to be cheerful and to be happy in whatever situation I may be, for I have also learnt from experianence [sic] that the greater part of our happiness or misary [sic] depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances; we carry the seeds of the one, or the other about with us, in our minds, wherever we go.” I agree with her.

Third, when she married George she may not have ever traveled farther from her home at Chestnut Grove than to reach Williamsburg, Virginia. Yet she moved with him to northern Virginia and Mount Vernon, far away from her family and friends. Moreover, during the entire seven years of the American Revolution she braved terrible roads and sometimes rivers in all kinds of weather, in a coach-and-six, or a carriage, or a sleigh, or even boats (which she didn’t like at all), so she could be with George at the army headquarters during the winter break from fighting. Keep in mind that the length of time it took to go from Mount Vernon to Annapolis, Maryland took two or three days, not hours. To New York was weeks, depending on whether she faced muddy roads or snow or a swollen river she couldn’t cross for days. Think of the many places she’d have to stay overnight and how she’d find food, or carried it with her, depending on the circumstances. I think that demonstrates just how much she loved George.

Finally, the general sense I have of Martha is of a philosophical woman who strove to be fair, informed, and constant, not flighty or overly emotional. I’ve read several mentions of her patriotism and of her exhorting others to fight for freedom from tyranny. Probably another reason she wanted to be with her husband, to show her support of his leadership.

Those are my main takeaways from delving into Martha Washington’s life and times. I’ve tried to reflect what I believe was important to her in Becoming Lady Washington. I hope you will also enjoy reading it and then please let me know what you learn about this remarkable woman.

Thanks!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Available for preorders now! Releases June 2, 2020…

Martha “Patsy” Custis manages an immense eighteenth-century plantation in the Virginia colony. But as a young widow she’s hard pressed to balance her business and to care for her two young children. They need a father and protector. She needs a husband and business partner…one she can trust, especially now as tensions rise between the motherland and the American colonies. Her experience and education have sustained her thus far but when her life veers in an unexpected direction, she realizes she has so much more to learn.

Colonel George Washington takes an interest in her and she’s surprised to find him so sociable and appealing. They form an instant bond and she is certain he’ll be a likeable and loving husband and father figure for her children. She envisions a quiet life at Mount Vernon, working together to provide for their extended family.

But when trouble in the form of British oppression, taxes, and royal arrogance leads to revolt and revolution, George must choose between duty to country and Martha. Compelled to take matters into her own hands, Martha must decide whether to remain where she belongs or go with her husband…no matter what the dangerous future may hold.

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Let’s talk about the story behind the title Becoming Lady Washington #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel

Writing a book takes a long time and a lot of thought. The title that is attached to the story should also be well considered and reflect some aspect of what the reader should expect from the book. I had a working title for my June release of Martha Washington’s story: The Life of Lady Washington. But I wasn’t happy with that one. It didn’t say enough about what one can expect.

When a child is born its future is unwritten and unknown. Parents have their hopes and dreams for their child, but we never can know what the future holds. Even for ourselves, as individuals, we make decisions and choices and handle situations with an eye toward where we want to end up, but unforeseen opportunities or roadblocks or what have you can change everything. All we can do is try to educate ourselves toward the future we hope we’ll have and then be ready to adjust as needed.

My one-sentence description of Becoming Lady Washington is “How a simple girl from a middling plantation ends up America’s very first First Lady.” I’m fairly certain that when John and Frances Dandridge welcomed Martha into the world they expected her life would mirror her mother’s to some degree. But that wasn’t to be the case. Not entirely, anyway. My goal in writing Martha Washington’s story was to show how she unknowingly prepared to be a general’s and then a president’s wife.

Obviously, she couldn’t know where her path in life would take her. Certainly, she assumed she’d be a wife and mother, most likely on a plantation in Virginia. So her lessons as a child and young woman would have focused on domestic skills: sewing, mending, fancy stitching, cooking and baking, gardening, candle making, caring for her younger siblings, making simples (medicines) to treat illnesses, and a myriad of other tasks.

These fundamental home management skills her mother taught her as a girl. As she grew into womanhood, the lessons she learned and the situations she faced during her first marriage to Daniel Custis added to her tool set. Then she faced the unexpected adjustment to widowhood and managing the enormous estate left to her and her children. Followed by how she had to change from staying home on the plantation in Virginia—she never traveled out of the state until years after she married George Washington—to having to decide what to pack to provide for herself and family on long trips to other states.

All throughout her long life, Martha Washington kept her sense of humor, sense of duty and honor, and her caring ways for her family and friends. All of these tools in her toolbox helped to guide her decisions and actions through the American Revolution and her husband’s presidency. She was his bulwark and true love. She really was the woman behind her man.

Becoming Lady Washington is available in hardback, paperback, and digital formats for preorder now. It will publish on June 2 in honor of Martha’s 289th birthday.

I hope you enjoy reading it and learning more about our first First Lady. Thanks!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Available for preorders now! Releases June 2, 2020…

Martha “Patsy” Custis manages an immense eighteenth-century plantation in the Virginia colony. But as a young widow she’s hard pressed to balance her business and to care for her two young children. They need a father and protector. She needs a husband and business partner…one she can trust, especially now as tensions rise between the motherland and the American colonies. Her experience and education have sustained her thus far but when her life veers in an unexpected direction, she realizes she has so much more to learn.

Colonel George Washington takes an interest in her and she’s surprised to find him so sociable and appealing. They form an instant bond and she is certain he’ll be a likeable and loving husband and father figure for her children. She envisions a quiet life at Mount Vernon, working together to provide for their extended family.

But when trouble in the form of British oppression, taxes, and royal arrogance leads to revolt and revolution, George must choose between duty to country and Martha. Compelled to take matters into her own hands, Martha must decide whether to remain where she belongs or go with her husband…no matter what the dangerous future may hold.

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Martha Washington’s Cookbook #Receipts #Recipes #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel

One of the most treasured gifts Martha Washington received after her first marriage (to Daniel Custis) was her mother-in-law’s cookbook. (You can see pictures of the original book at that link.) Now, Martha never knew her mother-in-law, Frances Custis, because the poor woman had died years before. However, this book contained a collection of recipes for everything a wife and house mistress would need to make. From simple medicines (aka simples) to breakfast cakes and side dishes and meats to desserts (aka sweet meats).

I think of this compilation as one woman’s private collection of tried and trusted recipes. I know that when I married my husband, whenever I talked with his mother about cooking or indeed shared a delicious meal, we inevitably exchanged recipes. Or tips and tricks for cooking and baking and preparing a tasty meal. In particular the ones my husband liked the most. For my own mother’s part, she’d been teaching me how to cook from the time I was old enough to handle a mixing bowl. I’m glad I paid attention while she was alive as she died a couple years after I married my hubby. Having all those years to observe and ask questions makes a huge difference in being able to interpret and adjust recipes. It’s how we learn and grow when we’re starting out. Or at least, that’s how I did!

I recently found myself thinking how some of my most cherished memories are related to experiences with food and beverages. My dad was a certified bartender (I still have his certificate!) and created his own recipe for a “Solomon Manhattan” which I have in my recipe box in his handwriting. Additionally I cherish the handwritten recipes passed down to me by my grandmother, great aunt, mother and my mother-in-law. I’ve prepared them many times and some I’ve revised to suit our evolving tastes. When my son and daughter went on the French-American Back-to-Back exchange program in middle school, we prepared a booklet of our family’s favorite recipes to send to their host families in France. So some of our go-to recipes have been shared in France as well.

Cover of Martha Washington's Book of Cookery with portrait of George Washington eating a cherry.

When I saw that it had been transcribed and annotated I quickly ordered my own copy. Martha Washington’s Booke of Cookery and Booke of Sweetmeats is on its way to my home where I intend to try many of the recipes. I’m always on the lookout for simple, straightforward recipes with healthy ingredients. Not that I expect every recipe in the book will be healthy, but I will tinker with the ingredients and processes to make them so. I’ve tried out many 18th-century recipes in years past and have blogged about them, so I imagine I’ll continue that tradition once the new cookbook arrives. I’m also looking forward to learning more about what the cooking methods were then and how they’ve evolved into today’s technology and techniques since the editor kindly annotated the cookbook.

You may be wondering why this topic is so important to me. Is it because I enjoy cooking? Sort of. Is it because I love research? Yes. But more importantly, when I wrote both my A More Perfect Union historical romances and Becoming Lady Washington, both set in the 18th century, I endeavored to depict the cooking methods as they existed then. To do that, I had to delve into the way foods were cooked using which devices and methods.

I also made sure to include only foods I could verify were available in that time period and location(s). Availability was impacted by growing season, climate, and inflation during the American Revolution. Some foods I had assumed would be eaten didn’t even exist in America until centuries later (such as zucchini), so it was a good thing I did my research!

Outside of telling a meaningful and entertaining story, I strive to make my stories authentic and accurate to the historical reality. I may not be perfect with that regard; in fact I imagine I probably missed correcting some words that weren’t actually used during the time period of my stories. But I have done my utmost to tell a good, authentic, accurate story.

Becoming Lady Washington is available in hardback, paperback, and digital formats for preorder now. It will publish on June 2 in honor of Martha’s 289th birthday.

Happy reading!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Available for preorders now! Releases June 2, 2020…

Martha “Patsy” Custis manages an immense eighteenth-century plantation in the Virginia colony. But as a young widow she’s hard pressed to balance her business and to care for her two young children. They need a father and protector. She needs a husband and business partner…one she can trust, especially now as tensions rise between the motherland and the American colonies. Her experience and education have sustained her thus far but when her life veers in an unexpected direction, she realizes she has so much more to learn.

Colonel George Washington takes an interest in her and she’s surprised to find him so sociable and appealing. They form an instant bond and she is certain he’ll be a likeable and loving husband and father figure for her children. She envisions a quiet life at Mount Vernon, working together to provide for their extended family.

But when trouble in the form of British oppression, taxes, and royal arrogance leads to revolt and revolution, George must choose between duty to country and Martha. Compelled to take matters into her own hands, Martha must decide whether to remain where she belongs or go with her husband…no matter what the dangerous future may hold.

Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Apple     Books2Read

Martha Washington’s Birthplace #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel

With each book I write I do research. The extent and kind will vary depending on what I need to know to write the story accurately and authentically to the best of my ability. The longest book I’ve ever written, and the one that I had to do a ton of research to write, is my June 2 release, Becoming Lady Washington. Why June 2? Because that is Martha’s birthday. So today I’m going to talk about where Martha Dandridge was born.

Her parents, John and Frances Dandridge, welcomed her to their home called Chestnut Grove sometime between midnight and 1:00 a.m. on June 2, 1731. Chestnut Grove was located alongside the Pamunkey River in Kent County, Virginia. It was a two-story frame house with three rooms on each floor. Not a big house for a plantation in those days. You can see a sketch of what the house looked like here.

Historic marker about Chestnut Grove

My hubby and I visited the area back in 2015 when I first started researching to write Martha’s life story. Well, at least from her teenage years! I wanted to see the lay of the land and at least try to imagine what it would have looked like when she was a girl. It was disappointing to find we couldn’t even get close to the site as it’s private property. So online research and pictures had to suffice to inspire my imagination. Here’s a short excerpt from my book where she sees the house:

“As we neared Chestnut Grove, I studied the main house as the boat angled toward the dock. The central sturdy door had been made from poplar, like the window casings. At either end of the good-sized clapboard house rose two brick chimneys poking through the white oak shingled roof. A variety of flowering bushes and plants softened the appearance of the brick-and-board structure. Around it, smaller buildings stood: the kitchen, laundry, smokehouse, privy. Chestnut Grove was the only home I’d ever known. If I’d succeeded in my mission, the two-story frame house would become my childhood home. I’d move away, to a new home, a new husband, a new life.”

But just like Martha’s life, that was only one the beginning. Knowing where she was born and grew up was one piece of the history I needed to learn more about, then understand, and then put myself in her shoes. I really wish the home hadn’t burned down in the early 1900s so I could have seen it for myself. It’s far easier to feel like I’ve walked in my character’s place when I can roam around the same spaces she did. See what the view from the windows would have been. Hear the sounds of movement by others.

I’ve worked hard to write her story in order for others to find out what a remarkable woman she was in her own right. Not just as the wife of a great man. In fact, after all I’ve learned about Martha I don’t believe George would have reached the heights of greatness he did without her support and love.

Becoming Lady Washington is available in hardback, paperback, and digital formats for preorder now. Like I said, it will publish on June 2 in honor of Martha’s 289th birthday.

Happy reading!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Available for preorders now! Releases June 2, 2020…

Martha “Patsy” Custis manages an immense eighteenth-century plantation in the Virginia colony. But as a young widow she’s hard pressed to balance her business and to care for her two young children. They need a father and protector. She needs a husband and business partner…one she can trust, especially now as tensions rise between the motherland and the American colonies. Her experience and education have sustained her thus far but when her life veers in an unexpected direction, she realizes she has so much more to learn.

Colonel George Washington takes an interest in her and she’s surprised to find him so sociable and appealing. They form an instant bond and she is certain he’ll be a likeable and loving husband and father figure for her children. She envisions a quiet life at Mount Vernon, working together to provide for their extended family.

But when trouble in the form of British oppression, taxes, and royal arrogance leads to revolt and revolution, George must choose between duty to country and Martha. Compelled to take matters into her own hands, Martha must decide whether to remain where she belongs or go with her husband…no matter what the dangerous future may hold.

Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Apple     Books2Read

Breakfast Martha Washington Style #colonial #foods #recipes #research #historical #fiction

Years ago I began researching colonial life with a particular fondness for recipes from the 1700s. At the time I was writing my historical romance series, A More Perfect Union, set in Charleston during the American Revolution and so I wanted to have an all-encompassing view of the life and times. Food is a very natural and important part of survival. You may recall I’ve spent a good deal of time sampling and converting colonial recipes to ones we can enjoy today. In fact, the stewed pears have become one of my hubby’s favorites!

The covers for the 5 books in the A More Perfect Union series.

As part of learning about Martha Washington before writing Becoming Martha Washington: A Novel which is planned for release this summer, I tried making sausage and flapjacks that George would enjoy. In fact, Martha included the sausage recipe in her own cookbook.

Before I started, I checked with my hubby to see if he felt brave and daring. After all, while in general we both enjoy the same things, sometimes the recipes don’t turn out as expected. I chose Oxford Kate’s Sausage (1749) and Slapjacks for Ichabod Crane (1796) out of my favorite historical recipe book Our Founding Foods by Jane Tennant. While I realize that 1796 for the slapjakcs is rather late compared to the earlier date for the sausage, I’m guessing that the recipe didn’t change significantly from 1749, just that it wasn’t deemed necessary to write it down before the end of the century because it is such a simple one. But not one I’d have thought of, let me tell you!

I wonder how frequently the Washingtons dined on these sausages. I also wonder if they enjoyed them or adapted the recipe in some way to suit their palates, like I’ve done. For one thing, beef suet is not readily available in the United States today, so I had to find a substitute. I imagine they harvested their own fats/greases when they slaughtered animals on the plantation, so they didn’t face the dilemma of finding an appropriate ingredient.

Let’s start with the sausages. The Tennant recipe called for a food processor, which I do not own, and I’m pretty sure the cooks in Martha’s kitchen didn’t either. A quick online search revealed several other ways to make sausage: 18th Century Recipes: Sausages the 18th Century Way  which shares how the British made them, and Smokehouses which included the fact that pigs were only butchered in cold winter months and then their meat smoked. So why does the recipe call for fresh pork? Makes me wonder again about what might have been included in the actual recipe. But my concerns about seasonal availability aside, let’s see how breakfast turned out.

Ingredients and finished sausages and slapjacks. Yum!

For the sausages I had to make several changes to the original recipe, including shredded butter in lieu of the beef suet, and garlic powder instead of mace. (Mace is a strong spice which neither of us enjoy.) The original recipe called for 2 Tablespoons each of salt and pepper, which I thought was too much, so I cut those back to 2 teaspoons pepper and 1 Tablespoon salt. I bought ground pork and ground beef, both lean, to use; though I could have used venison instead of the beef. The result was very good, and made much more than the recipe said it would. My hubby and I will have many more breakfasts with Kate’s Sausage since the recipe said it yielded 12 and I actually made 26! I could eat only one for breakfast, it was so filling!

After seeing how much sausage I had, I decided to cut the slapjack recipe in two, since the cakes are the size of a medium frying pan. Again, I couldn’t eat a whole one, but I ended up having the second half and another sausage for breakfast the next day. The slapjacks were also good, but I messed up on the eggs when I was halving the recipe and put in 2 instead of 1, which made the batter thicker than optimal. We enjoyed our slapjacks with butter and maple syrup, although George preferred his with honey.

I hope you enjoy the following recipes, and maybe make some adaptations of your own. After all, recipes for me are starting points, something I modify to suit our tastes and preferences.

Betty’s version of “Oxford Kate’s Sausage”

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 lb. lean ground pork
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, frozen and shredded
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 Tablespoon ground sage
  • 4 eggs, slightly beaten

Instructions

  1. Blend seasonings together in a small bowl.
  2. Crumble meats together into a large bowl.
  3. Sprinkle seasonings over meat.
  4. Add eggs and shredded butter.
  5. With your hands, mix together until all ingredients are well blended. Roll sausage out into logs the size of the length and bigness of a finger. Grease a deep frying pan and heat to medium. Add butter to cook the sausage in, be sure the butter is “boiling” before you add the sausage. Cook until brown.

Yield: 26 sausages

Slapjacks (Full recipe)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups ground corn meal
  • ½ cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 Tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • Butter to fry
  • Maple syrup

Instructions

  1. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add milk, butter, honey and eggs. Mix until well blended.
  2. Heat frying pan to medium, add butter to fry cakes. Pour about ½ cup of batter into the center of the pan to spread evenly across the heated surface.
  3. Cook until bubbly, then turn over with a large spatula and cook a minute or two on the other side. Remove from pan and keep warm while frying the rest of the slapjacks using this method.

Yield: 6 slapjacks

What do you think? Want to try these? I love the fact that there is no artificial anything in these recipes, which is one of the reasons I wanted to look into adapting colonial recipes to begin with. To find some new-to-me recipes to add a bit of variety to my diet.

And heads up, folks! Stay tuned for more information about two new historicals I’ll be releasing in June and July. I am really happy to be able to bring these stories to my readers for many reasons which I will share over the next few months. Thanks for reading!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit www.bettybolte.com for more on my books, including the A More Perfect Union historical romances.

Don’t forget about my latest historical! The first in my new Fury Falls Inn series! Book 2 is planned for release in October 2020…

Cover of The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn

Cassie Fairhope longs for only one thing: to escape her mother’s tyranny. She has a plan, too. Seduce the young man, who is acting as innkeeper while her father is away on business, into marrying her. He’s handsome and available even though he doesn’t have feelings for her. Marriage is her only escape. Despite her mother’s strenuous objections.

But Flint Hamilton has his own plans and they don’t include marriage, even to the pretty temptress. He’s focused on securing his reputation in the hostelry business to make his father respect him. He quickly learns that running a roadside inn in northern Alabama in 1821 means dealing not only with the young woman and her hostile mother but also with horse thieves and rogues.

When tragedy strikes, Cassie and Flint are forced to face unforeseen challenges and dangerous decisions together in order to attempt to rid the inn of its newly arrived specter—who doesn’t have any plan to leave…

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