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, MARI ANNE CHRISTIE, and her favorite recipe for CORN BREAD!!
Freedom of the press is in peril. Families are torn apart by politics and principle. Opposing political parties manipulate the public in speeches, public meetings, and the media, grasping for votes and consolidating power. Foreign nations peddle influence in all directions to achieve their own ends. The struggle between citizens and government tugs at the threads of the American Constitution… and democracy itself. In a matter of moments, the United States will shatter, beginning the long march of the American Civil War.
Harry Wentworth, gentleman of distinction and journalist of renown, spends a lifetime of social and financial capital, exploiting his position as Executive Editor of the Philadelphia Daily Standard, to try to arrest the momentum of both Union and Confederacy. To his sorrow and disgust, his calls for peaceful resolution are worth no more than the ink he buys to print them. As such, he must finally resolve his own moral quandary: comment on the war from his influential—safe—position in Northern Society, or make a news story and a target of himself south of the Mason-Dixon Line, in a city haunted by a life he has long since left behind?
In the 1970s, American artist Christie (Phillips) Whaley produced a hand-lettered, illustrated compendium of bread recipes from around the world, A Loaf of Bread. In 2014, thirty years after her untimely death, her daughter colorized the original black-and-white pages and re-released this stunning collection of illuminated recipes. Traditional bread-baking methods in many delicious variations—Portuguese White Bread, Orange Bread, Corn Bread, Sourdough Bread, and more—are presented in the finest tradition of American folk art, suitable for framing and perfect to accompany your next meal.
In this excerpt, the hero of Blind Tribute, Harry Wentworth, demonstrates to his skeptical servants-who-are-not-slaves, his ability to cook adequately for himself and his oldest friend—his father’s slave, Elias. His cook, Maisie, however, will have none of his self-sufficient nonsense and provides them with side dishes (and later a full meal, assuming he must have ruined the raw ingredients he requested). Her offerings, which Harry has deemed the best food he has had in years, include her cornbread. As I wrote this scene, I imagined the cornbread to be my mother’s recipe (and her mother’s), which she left to me in the pages of her cookbook.
A knock at the door revealed Elsbeth with cold drinks and glasses, followed by Maisie and Tobias carrying his requested foodstuffs, along with a cast-iron skillet, a salt cellar and pepper mill, and a basket of cornbread and pan of cobbler. After they had been relieved of their burdens, Elias opened a conversation with all three of them, mostly about the trials of working for Harry, while Elsbeth set out plates and glasses and utensils.
Meanwhile, Harry set the skillet in the fire to heat and peppered the meat. Once the pan was nearly red-hot, he rubbed it with bacon grease. Cooking over the open flame reminded him of his time in Texas, but for the exorbitant furnishings now surrounding him. But even earlier, as a boy and young man, he had killed and cooked game in his father’s woods, the hunt for winter meat a good excuse for living on the land a day or two at a time, to escape his father with Andrew or Edward Whaley and, more often than not, with Elias in tow.
In a half-hour, without being asked, Elias did some of the hard work of establishing trust between Harry and his servants, telling tales Harry barely remembered about his own childhood, or had never heard, memories Elias shared with the slave children he had known, during times it hadn’t been prudent for Elias to be friends with Harry.
But when Harry asked Elias purposefully in front of them, “Will you talk to me about your life? For a book I want to write?” Elias’ brows screwed together, and he replied, “We might could talk about it, Mister Harry, but I can’t think of any good to come of it.”
Harry seared the venison to a deep chocolate brown and removed it from the pan and added the potatoes and a tight lid. Pulling the pan closer to the flames, he left the meat to rest and the potatoes to soften, and joined the tail end of the conversation. Elias cast him a glance, wordlessly asking the one question guaranteed to set Harry’s stomach roiling: should Elias tell the others his story—the story—about Harry? Harry blushed for the first time in years and he turned his eyes away with the slightest shake of his head. He might confess it one day, but he preferred his servants think well of him, rather than consider his substantial missteps as a young man. No matter how often Elias said it showed him in a better light than he thought, Harry had never in his life believed it. He wasn’t going to start now.
When Tobias, Elsbeth, and Maisie had taken their leave, Harry served a perfectly cooked supper. If there was one thing Harry knew how to do in the wilderness, it was cook meat. As a side dish, he thanked Elias for not embarrassing him, nor allowing his servants to think he might do the same thing to them.
Elias clicked his tongue as he slipped into the chair Harry had offered at the table. “I am sure you could be embarrassed about lots of things, Mister Harry. I’d be disappointed to think differently after the life you’ve had. But not about that. You might be surprised how knowing what you did changes the way your people think about you.”
“I’d rather not find out today. And I thank you for the consideration.”
Award-winning author Mari Christie was “raised up” in journalism (mostly raising her glass at the Denver Press Club bar) after the advent of the web press, but before the desktop computer. She has since plied her trade as a writer, editor, and designer across many different fields, and currently works as a technical writer and editor.
Under the name Mari Christie, she has released a book-length epic poem, Saqil pa Q’equ’mal: Light in Darkness: Poetry of the Mayan Underworld, and under pen name Mariana Gabrielle, she has written several Regency romances, including the Sailing Home Series and La Déesse Noire: The Black Goddess. Blind Tribute is her first mainstream historical novel.
She holds a BA in Writing, summa cum laude and With Distinction, from the University of Colorado Denver, and is a member of the Speakeasy Scribes and the Denver Press Club. She has a long family history in Charleston, South Carolina, and is the great-great niece of a man in the mold of Harry Wentworth.
Links to Mari Anne’s website, blog, books, etc.
A LOAF OF BREAD
I hope you enjoy the recipe Mari is sharing today on Karen’s Killer Fixin’s. Happy Eating!
P.S. We’re at 384 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.
**SPECIAL GIVEAWAY**: Mari is giving away an ebook copy of BLIND TRIBUTE to one lucky reader and a print copy of A LOAF OF BREAD to a second lucky reader who comments on her Karen’s Killer Fixin’s blog.
Thanks, Mari, for sharing your book with us!
Don’t miss the chance to read this book!