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, BELLE BLACKBURN, and her favorite recipe for WHITE CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY CHEESECAKE!
THE DOCTOR’S DAUGHTER
Journey to Justice
BY BELLE BLACKBURN
Everybody, including her mother, believes that Kate’s father committed suicide. Determined to prove otherwise, Kate sets out on a fascinating and sometimes hysterical journey through antebellum law and medicine. Set in 1860s Nashville and told with a biting wit, determined Kate finally discovers the truth – but at what cost? Will she ruin her own life trying to defend the life of her dead father?”
THE DOCTOR’S DAUGHTER
Journey to Justice
BY BELLE BLACKBURN
We tied bonnets on our heads and wrapped up warmly. Mama grabbed her bag and I swathed the stew pot in woolen rags to keep it warm and keep the handles from burning my hands. Danny sat at the front of the wagon with his father, and Mama and I sat in the back facing Danny’s mother. We took off with a jerk, with the pot a warm oasis between my feet.
“What fortunate timing this is for the Goads, with their daughter in town,” Mrs. Davis said. “Now she won’t have to come back for the funeral.”
Mama nodded. “Mr. Goad has been so ill the last weeks, it really comes as no surprise.”
Harley Goad was a crusty old octogenarian who was married to Minnie, an even crustier octogenarian. I had heard many adjectives used to describe Minnie Goad but ones I had never heard included sophisticated, genteel or sweet. Ones I had heard were ornery, cantankerous and vexatious. She also seemed to be missing the gate most people have that keeps the things you think in your mind from jumping out of your mouth.
Mrs. Goad had really gotten my goat awhile back when she stopped me and said, “I saw your daddy the other day. He had a brick in his hat and was weaving down the road like a Virginia fence.” My gate was apparently functional since I did not call her a nasty old hag and tell her I hoped she fell off her broom, which I wanted to. Daddy occasionally would take to drink when he was feeling despondent over his business but it was not that often and it was rude and unkind of Mrs. Goad to make an issue of it.
To say the Goads had a contentious marriage was putting it mildly, but I guess they liked it that way since they had been together for sixty-five tumultuous years. Mrs. Goad was a believer in hellfire, brimstone and damnation and seemed intent on raining it down on her husband. Early in their marriage Mrs. Goad got wind that Mr. Goad was involved in a card game. She grabbed her shotgun and went to reiterate to her husband that no one in their household would ever play cards. When Mrs. Goad got to the barn where the sin was occurring, she walked in, pointed the gun level at the head of her husband and told him to git. Commotion ensued and shots were fired and Mrs. Goad lost an eye, though no one knows for sure who fired that shot. Her eye was sewn shut then. She continued to try to stalk Mr. Goad into religious submission throughout their marriage and he continued to evade it.
I asked my father why he stayed married to her and he said that for every man there was a woman and there was a nut for every bolt, so while her voice was grating to everyone else, it was probably music to her man’s ears.
A crowd had gathered by the time we arrived and the house was filling up. Someone had taken on the job of building the coffin, evidenced by the hammering and sawing sounds from the barn. The table groaned with food and pots sat on the hearth near the fire.
Danny and I wandered from the crowd to look for Mr. Goad and found him in his bed. A candle on the bed table flickered in the waning sunlight. He was in a suit so obviously he had been bathed and dressed. He was not lying on planks like they sometimes were while still on the bed before the coffin was ready. His hands looked like two spotted frogs lying crosswise on his chest: translucent, fragile skin dotted with brown spots overlying small, delicately threaded veins and pale blue nails.
I leaned over for a better look. His beaked nose rose prominently off his face like a lone mountain on a plain and the tissue-thin skin covering it sank in under his cheekbones. His neck looked like a grizzled little chicken’s.
I was reaching out to smooth back a wisp of wayward hair when I saw a flutter of his eyelids, then his eyes popped open and fixed on me.
“Oh, damnation!” I squealed and leaped back, bumping Danny into the wall behind with a resounding thud. My heart was hammering and I clapped my hands over my mouth to mute any other expletives that might jump out.
Mr. Goad continued to stare at me and whispered, “What do you want?”
I certainly didn’t want to tell him why we were there but before I could come up with an explanation, people started coming into the bedroom to see what the commotion was.
Mrs. Goad pushed her way past them and lumbered in her wide-based gait over to the side of the bed, hands on her hips, yellow-white, pencil-thin braids circling around the back of her head. She focused her one icy blue eye on me, then on her husband.
“What the hell is going on, you old crow?” He growled in a whisper, trying to clear his throat weakly.
“These people have come to pay you respects, so act right.”
He glanced down at himself and observed his suit curiously before stating the obvious. “I ain’t dead.”
“You will be soon enough. We ain’t burying you ‘til tomorrow.”
“Why, you…” Whatever Mr. Goad was going to say was interrupted by a long, low, rumbling cough that seemed to start at his toes and work its way slowly up to a weak exit from his mouth. He licked his dry lips.
Mrs. Goad swung her arm back toward the people in the doorway, loose flesh making her sleeve wave underneath, and nodded her head toward Mr. Goad. “Do you want your own daughter and her family to miss your wake? You know they have to leave Tuesday and can’t come back. You need to think of someone besides yourself for once. And you best be getting right with the Lord because you’re about to meet Him. Now I got things to tend to.”
Apparently Mr. Goad’s undead status was a surprise to everyone else in the room, too. After Mrs. Goad walked out, the group stood in befuddled silence, looking around as if to see if anyone had any idea what the protocol was in having a wake for a live person. Everyone just seemed generally uncomfortable. Mama went after her bag so I knew she was planning to tend to Mr. Goad.
What a waste of time for the Goads’ neighbors! All of us had chores and work to tend to at home. We had done the honorable thing, leaving to come help bury Mr. Goad, only to discover he was still alive.
Annoyed, I reached over and snatched the black cloth off the face of the mirror. There was a collective gasp from the others. I stood in front of the mirror, looked at myself, then turned to them.
“I am the first person to see my reflection and I’m not going to be the next to die and do you know why? Because there is no one dead here.” I saw Mama flash me that “act nice in front of other folks” look as I went out the door, still clutching the black cloth.
Leaving Mama with Mr. Goad, the rest shuffled behind me as a group into the front room. Mrs. Goad was at the other side of the room, bent over a pot on the fire she was stirring, her broad backside shaking with the effort.
“Should we go home?” Martha Kennedy whispered.
“She rang the bell knowing full well he was still alive. I expect she would skin us alive if we left,” Judson Owens answered.
“But what about the old man?” Tim Kennedy asked. “I’m not sure I would be too keen to wake up at my own funeral.”
“He’s probably hoping his time really has come,” Kenny Bailey whispered. “I doubt he has any fear of death seeing as he’s been living in hell for the last sixty-five years.”
Danny raised his eyebrows in a resigned look. “I suppose we’d best just take part in this Last Supper. If that’s what it is…”
“All the same, someone needs to shut the barn door,” Mr. Owens said quietly. “Even if you’re hoping to die, it still has to blow a chilly gust up your spine to listen to your coffin being built.”
Everyone stayed for the wake, first the meal and then quietly and uncomfortably singing hymns through the night with an occasional nervous tiptoe into Mr. Goad’s room for a peek. I don’t know where he had hidden it or if someone did it for him, but there was a playing card sticking out of his front pocket – one last jab at his wife. I’m sure if he had had the strength Mr. Goad would have doused himself in whisky just to irritate her.
Mrs. Goad thoroughly enjoyed the company and all the attention and her prediction proved true – he was dead by the next morning. I don’t think anyone has ever been so thoroughly checked for a pulse or a breath as Mr. Goad until he was finally pronounced cold as a wagon tire. Mama stayed by him for hours, and he had become stiff by the time the wagon was ready to take him to the church the next day. She said she had never been so glad to see rigor mortis in her life.
I decided that night if I ever had a marriage like the Goads, I would be willing to be buried alive myself.”
I was the little nerdette with a library card in my kindergarten hand, reading the kiddie books and planning what I would write. Come college time accounting seemed a more certain way to bring in a dollar so journalism was a minor. Writing was put on the back burner while dollars were made and kids and parents were raised, however, reading was always on the front burner. A conversation with my husband 20 years earlier about suicide vs. murder percolated in the back of my mind and then announced it wanted to be written. I obeyed and out came The Doctor’s Daughter: Journey to Justice. The history of Nashville during the Civil War is just so interesting and so important at that time but most people won’t sit down with a history book so I sneaked the history and the antebellum law and medicine in with a good story.
Links to Belle’s Website, Books, & Social Media:
I hope you enjoy the recipe Belle is sharing today on Karen’s Killer Fixin’s. Happy eating!
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WHITE CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY CHEESECAKE
Courtesy of Cindy Catudal Shank/AllRecipes.com
1 cup chocolate cookie crumbs
3 T. white sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 (10 oz.) package frozen raspberries
2 T. white sugar
2 tsp. cornstarch
1/2 cup water
2 cups white chocolate chips
1/2 cup half-and-half cream
3 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
- In a medium bowl, mix together cookie crumbs, 3 tablespoons sugar, and melted butter. Press mixture into the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan.
- In a saucepan, combine raspberries, 2 tablespoons sugar, cornstarch, and water. Bring to boil, and continue boiling 5 minutes, or until sauce is thick. Strain sauce through a mesh strainer to remove seeds.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). In a metal bowl over a pan of simmering water, melt white chocolate chips with half-and-half, stirring occasionally until smooth.
- In a large bowl, mix together cream cheese and 1/2 cup sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time. Blend in vanilla and melted white chocolate. Pour half of batter over crust. Spoon 3 tablespoons raspberry sauce over batter. Pour remaining cheesecake batter into pan, and again spoon 3 tablespoons raspberry sauce over the top. Swirl batter with the tip of a knife to create a marbled effect.
- Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until filling is set. Cool, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 8 hours before removing from pan. Serve with remaining raspberry sauce.
- Aluminum foil can be used to keep food moist, cook it evenly, and make clean-up easier.