Welcome to my Friday bonus feature called Karen’s Killer Fixin’s **Author Special**!! Today, in lieu of one of my own recipes, I’m going to introduce you to a new author who will share one of her favorite recipes. Not only will you and I occasionally learn how to make something new and delicious, but we’ll get a chance to check out some wonderful authors. Introducing author, A.B. MICHAELS, and her favorite recipe: CINNAMON PIE CRUST!
A Story of the Quake
A Sinner’s Grove Historical Novella
By A.B. MICHAELS
HE’LL RISK EVERYTHING TO KEEP HIS WORD
April 18, 1906. A massive earthquake has decimated much of San Francisco, leaving thousands without food, water or shelter. Patrolling the streets to help those in need, Army corporal Ben Tilson meets a young woman named Charlotte who touches his heart, making him think of a future with her in it. In the heat of the moment he makes a promise to her family that even he realizes will be almost impossible to keep.
Because on the heels of the earthquake, a much worse disaster looms: a fire that threatens to consume everything and everyone in its path.
It will take everything Ben’s got to make it back to the woman he loves—and even that may not be enough.
The Promise, a stand-alone novella, is the latest offering from A.B. Michaels’ multi-generational saga “Sinner’s Grove.”
A Story of the Quake
A Sinner’s Grove Historical Novella
By A.B. MICHAELS
[Chapter 7- “Ben”]
I don’t know what came over me. I was possessed, I guess. Possessed by the most overwhelming need to protect this exquisite young woman and her family. I knew the second grunt had gone to flag down Sergeant Pettigrew’s sag wagon—the one for those who couldn’t walk. My time was limited. I kissed the lovely girl on her forehead and braced for her recoil, but it never happened, much to my relief.
I leaned in so that only she could hear me. “Your aunt believes in spirits, then. What did your uncle and cousin die of?”
She told me in a whisper and I quickly walked over to where the older lady sat, now with Berry on her ample lap. Once again I knelt down.
“Ma’am?” I said. “I have some news for you. It’s from your husband and your son.”
Her eyes widened in alarm. “What do you mean? My Toby and Ronnie are dead, sir.”
“I know that, ma’am, but that didn’t stop them from . . . letting me know—man to man, as it were—that they are concerned about you.”
“Concerned about me?” She looked both skeptical and intrigued.
“Yes, ma’am. They think you are staying in harm’s way because of their spirits, but they wanted me to tell you they’ll be traveling with you, so you needn’t worry.”
The woman looked around as if she might see the embodiment of her loved ones floating around the yard. I felt a twinge of remorse for perpetrating such a hoax on one so vulnerable, but I quickly pushed the thought away, rationalizing that it was for the lady’s own good. In fact, I knew it was only for the young lady’s good that I was going through the deception at all.
The aunt narrowed her eyes at me. “How do I know you are telling the truth, young man?”
“Alas, you must take my word for it, as one who is particularly . . . sensitive . . . to the spirits of others—men especially—who have passed through this mortal coil. If it would make you feel any better, your loved ones want you to know they no longer suffer the ill effects of the influenza that took them from you.”
The lady looked at me with surprise, no doubt wondering how I could know such a thing. She paused, then, as if considering my proposal. At last she nodded. “All right, then. Come, Berry. We must do as the soldier says.”
Unfortunately Berry, who as I feared now understood precisely what was going on, decided to balk once more.
“You said Miss Evie would come out when it was all over, but how can she do that when the men are going to blow up Auntie’s house?” The look on her face reminded me so much of my sister’s teary farewell that I made what might possibly be the stupidest decision of my life. I made her a promise.
“You’re right,” I said. “So I will have to coax Miss Evie out of her hiding place before that happens.”
Berry’s sister, who had come to stand beside me, gasped. “You can’t do that,” she said. “It’s too dangerous.” She put her hand on my arm and I felt in that moment that I would do anything, find anything, move anything, build anything, even kill anything, to make her happy.
I put my own hand on top of hers. “I can and I will,” I assured her. Then I turned back to Berry. “Do you know what collateral is?” I asked.
She shook her head.
“Collateral is something you give someone as part of a promise you make to them.” I took a breath, sent a mental thank-you to my sister, and removed the ring she had made for me. “This ring is very special to me, and I would like it back when I return Miss Evie to you.” I handed her the woven circle. It was too big for her finger, of course. I glanced at the ribbon in her sister’s hair and asked, “May I?”
Berry’s sister looked at me quizzically, but stood still as I removed the ribbon barely holding back her silky locks. Once again, I couldn’t help myself; I ran my fingers through her hair to fan it over her shoulders. I then took the ribbon, ran the ring through it, and fashioned it into a simple necklace, which I placed around Berry’s neck. “There. That ring has kept me safe for many years and now it will do the same for you. You keep it and when next we meet, I will take it back.”
Her sister looked at me and frowned. Had I been able to read her mind, she would no doubt have been thinking, How can you make such a reckless promise? A moment later I was thinking the same thing, but there was no time to reconsider because Sergeant Pettigrew drew up with the wagon for disabled passengers. I busied myself hefting the young woman’s traveling bag into the back, but when I tried to pick up her aunt’s, it was far heavier than I’d anticipated. “What’s in this?” I joked. “The kitchen sink?”
The young woman gave her aunt a severe look and bent down to open the bag. Inside was a jumble of broken ceramic figurines. “Aunt Marget, you didn’t pack any clothes?” she cried.
Her aunt raised her head imperiously and looked away. “I did what I could,” she sniffed.
I asked with my eyes if the young woman wanted me to toss the heavy bag into the back with hers. She shook her head. Instead, she picked up two small baskets and shyly handed one to me. Then she took her aunt’s arm and helped her over to the wagon, where Sergeant Pettigrew and the grunt helped both ladies climb aboard. I picked up Berry, who was still clutching her necklace, and carried her over to the conveyance.
“It will keep us safe?” she asked in a small voice.
I recalled what my sister had said. “Yes, it’s magic.”
“And you will bring Miss Evie back to me?”
I swallowed. I was on the fence about miracles, and felt this would be a grand time for God to produce one. “Yes,” I said in a firm voice. “It’s a promise.”
As I placed Berry next to her sister, the little girl threw her arms around me in sudden fervor. “Thank you, Soldier Ben,” she whispered. I was nearly reduced to tears.
“Carry on, corporal,” Sergeant Pettigrew said to me as he slapped the horses’ reins. It wasn’t until they had almost reached the intersection with Post Street that it occurred to me what an idiot I was. I ran after the wagon, trying to keep the contents of the basket from falling out.
“Thank you for this!” I cried. “What is your name?”
“You’re welcome. And it’s Charlie!” Her voice faded as the wagon drove out of sight.
A native of California, A.B. Michaels holds masters’ degrees in history (UCLA) and broadcasting (San Francisco State University). After working for many years as a promotional writer and editor, she decided to try her hand at writing the kinds of stories she loves to read. Her award-winning, multi-generational series, “Sinner’s Grove,” follows different generations of men and women associated with a world-famous artists’ retreat on the northern California coast. Some of the stories, such as The Art of Love, The Depth of Beauty and The Promise, focus on the generation of the retreat’s founders. The contemporary romantic suspense novels, Sinner’s Grove and The Lair, take up the story in the present day. Each novel stands alone, but read together form a far-reaching saga of action, intrigue and intense emotion.
When she’s not writing, A.B. and her husband love to travel, play bocce and cater to their four-legged “sons,” who don’t seem to realize they’re just dogs. They live in beautiful Boise, Idaho.
Links to A.B.’s Website, Books, & Social Media:
Amazon Author Page:
https://www.amazon.com/ Promise-Story-Quake-B- Michaels/dp/099150898X
I hope you enjoy the recipe A.B. is sharing today on Karen’s Killer Fixin’s. Happy eating!
P.S. We’re at 288 recipes and counting with this posting. Hope you find some recipes you like. If this is your first visit, please check out past blogs for more Killer Fixin’s. In the right hand column menu, you can even look up past recipes by type. i.e. Desserts, Breads, Beef, Chicken, Soups, Author Specials, etc.
A Fun Holiday Pie Crust
Charlotte (Charlie) Lindemann, the heroine of The Promise, works in her family’s bakery, and sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls are two of her most mouthwatering creations. Sourdough, which became popular during the California and Klondike gold rushes, gets its unique, tangy flavor from the living yeast that’s added to every recipe to make the bread rise. You can purchase sourdough starter online, or you can make it yourself. If you’re lucky, like me, you can also get some from a friend who’s willing to pass it on, and after a while, you too can share your starter with others. At the end of The Promise, I include directions on how to maintain your starter and make incredible sourdough bread from it. But for those of you who don’t want to go to that trouble around the holidays, here’s a quick recipe I found that makes a lovely change from traditional pie crust:
Why not combine cinnamon rolls into a pie crust? I tried it and it’s delicious! The following recipe from Purewow.com uses the shortcut of a store-bought pie crust dough, but you can also make the dough from sourdough starter (check this page at culturesforhealth.com to try it: http://www.culturesforhealth.com/sourdough-pie-crust-recipe)
CINNAMON PIE CRUST
[One 9-inch Pie Crust]
For one 9 inch pie crust, you’ll need:
- 1 package pie crust (or homemade dough)
- 4 T butter, melted
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
- ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
- On a floured surface, roll out the crust into a rectangle about ½ inch thick.
- In a small bowl, mix the butter with the sugar, cinnamon and vanilla extract. Spread the mixture over the entire crust.
- Roll it up and slice into ½ inch rounds (basically you’re making cinnamon rolls).
- Roll each piece into a 1/4 inch round and press the rounds into the pie plate. Make sure you overlap and press them to seal the entire surface of the plate. Use a little water to “glue them” if they aren’t cooperating.
- Trim excess, poke holes with tines of a fork and chill the crust well before filling and baking with your favorite pie filling, like apple or pumpkin. Yum and a half!
Thanks, A.B., for sharing your story and recipe with us!
Don’t miss the chance to read this collection of stories!