Summertime, and the livin’ may be easy…. But things are hopping and bopping on my desk.
A few days ago, I got page proofs of The Second Battle of the Alamo. I’ve dealt with copy edits–kudos to Erin Turner at Globe Pequot who did a magnificent and thorough job of editing. Without her experienced touch, the book would not be anywhere as good as I hope it is. And I’ve read the first proofs. But pages—now that’s exciting. It kind of makes you feel the book is real. I have until July 18 to read, comment, and return, so I will be busy.
The Second Battle will be available in February 2020.
And terrific news, also from Erin Turner—Globe Pequot, publishers of the Alamo book, have offered me a contract on a new book, a study of one mega-ranching family in North Texas and Fort Worth and a feminist approach to the subject, looking at the role of the women in the family. It’s interesting stuff, and I’ve been working on it for some time. Slow going but satisfying.
In addition, Globe Pequot will reprint five of my historical novels in 2021 and 2022. I had known for a couple of weeks that they would do four—Jessie, Libbie, Cherokee Rose, and Sundance, Butch and Me. But the surprise was the addition of Mattie to the list. Mattie was my first adult novel—I had written three novels which were marketed to young-adult readers, though I did not sit down and consciously think that I was writing a young-adult story.
With Mattie, I told the story from the viewpoint of an elderly woman looking back on her life. It’s a trope I’ve used in novels and short stories, a way of telling someone’s story that makes me comfortable. I settle into the character and live her life with her. Mattie is based on the life of Dr. Georgia Arbuckle Fix who was a pioneer physician on the empty plains of western Nebraska in the late nineteenth century. This novel won a Spur Award as the Best Western Novel in 1988 from Western Writers of America.
And there’s more: in 1986, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram commissioned me to write a novel about Texas to be serialized in the newspaper in recognition of the Texas Sesquicentennial (Texans will remember how hard it was to learn to pronounce that!). I wrote a novel titled So Far from Paradise, loosely based on the founding of one ranch. Much of my current research retraces material I explored back then. The newspaper has given me permission to reprint the novel in ebook form. It is with an editor now, and an artist is working on a cover. It will come out sometime this fall—wonderful thing about being your own publisher is that the only deadlines are those you set yourself.
I continue my almost daily blogging. Every Thursday, I post on my “Gourmet on a Hot Plate” blog and always offer a recipe, almost always one that is not in the cookbook. So be sure to check the blog, even if you have the cookbook.
Speaking of Gourmet on a Hot Plate (which is not only a blog but a book too), I did a blog tour to promote it and garnered some lovely quotes. Here’s my favorite:
“Something that really stood out to me that makes this recipe book different from others is all the commentary and the back story. I so enjoyed getting to know Judy through her storytelling.
“Some people don’t think that recipe books can be a form of storytelling, but they clearly haven’t read Gourmet on a Hot Plate. Judy is great at giving little tidbits and backgrounds to her recipes and how they have evolved since she started cooking.”
—A. Borreol, five-star review on Amazon
The summer is flying by…
Lucky kids basking in the Caribbean sun!
I am pretty much home for the summer and content, working on my new book, but my family is going hither and yon. One grandson had to have surgery to repair a leg broken skiing in March but never quite healed right. Glad to report he is doing well. One couple was off to the Caribbean; another was busy preparing a house for in-laws move-in.
My Frisco son and one granddaughter came one afternoon to take Jacob to Top Golf and go-karts, and Jacob got a lesson in extracting meat from crab legs—he loves shellfish.
In a few days I will celebrate my eighty-first birthday—really? I guess I was having a good time because I can’t imagine that much time has gone by. The Frisco family will come a few days before for a mini-birthday, and on the real day we will have local friends and Thanksgiving dinner. That’s what I asked for because we are always gone for the turkey holidays, and we never get leftovers. So that’s what I wanted. Do you know how hard it is to find turkey in July?!
I’ve been cooking a lot this summer and loving it. Cold soups are one of my favorites, and so I want to share with you a great cold soup that I found.
A summer recipe
It’s okroshka, a traditional Russian cold soup of vegetables and a cooked meat in a base that was, historically, something called kvass, a nonalcoholic beverage made from fermented black or rye bread. The meat could be beef, veal, sausage or ham. Sometimes the soup was garnished with sour cream. Later versions used kefir, a fermented milk beverage like a thin yogurt, and there lies the foundation for today’s updated version of this soup.
Not my picture but the soup is a slightly different version of okroshka. Doesn’t it look goooood?!
Cold Cucumber Soup (serves two with lots left over—or at least six at one seating)
Dice and combine in a large bowl:
1 medium Yukon Gold potato, boiled, cooled, peeled and diced – if you chill the boiled potato, it’s easier to peel and holds together better when diced
2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and diced
1 small cucumber, peeled and diced
1 cup diced meat (I used chicken, but I think ham would also be good; beef might be too heavy)
4 radishes, cleaned and sliced thin
3 green onions, sliced
In a separate bowl, mix:
2 cups plain Greek yogurt
2 cups buttermilk
2 cups cold water
1 lemon or lime, scrubbed and sliced thin
½ tsp. Kosher salt
You can just as easily use 4 cups yogurt or 4 cups buttermilk or kefir if you can find it in a specialty market. I liked the mixture a lot.
Pour the liquid mixture over the vegetables. Stir and chill before serving. At serving, garnish with chopped parsley if you like.
And a Paradise giveaway!…
Enter now for a PDF of So Far from Paradise—the Texas historical to be reprinted this fall. To participate in this giveaway, email me at with your name and a photo of your pet(s) – because I love animals, especially dogs and cats! Even if you don’t have a pet or don’t attach a picture, a simple greeting and your favorite pet or literary quotation will suffice. You will then be added to the giveaway list. Sometime in the Fall I will email a PDF to each of the five lucky winners chosen at random by my grandson. Don’t miss out. I’ll post the winners’ first names or initials on my Facebook and on a future newsletter.