An Index to the Website
may be found by clicking here.



Windbreak House
Now on Facebook.


If you Like me on this Facebook page you'll get notifications of my newly-posted blogs as well as announcements about my books, writing retreats, and other events to do with Windbreak House.

www.Facebook.com/​WindbreakHouse

No kitten videos, but I post Tuesday Writing Tips, Wednesday Word Posts, and various other writing-related stories, announcements, book reviews, photos and the occasional joke.



An Index of Blog Topics
may be found lower down in this left-hand column so, for example, you can search for all blogs with "Writing Suggestions."

A dated archive of blogs is also available below the index.

Click here to jump to the index, or scroll down to see what you might find in this left-hand column.



Between Urban and Wild
Read about the author of this book in the September 15th blog.


Summer Basil, Winter Pesto
Read about Linda's basil harvest and how she saves it for winter in her September 10th blog.


VOTE!


Want to know more about this critter?

See the Gallimaufry Page for more photos and some odds and ends that don't fit anywhere else on this website.



More Stories and Essays by Linda
may be found on this website.

* Home Page Message archives
Many of these essays have writing advice. All have photos, some have recipes, a few have poems.

* Poetry Page essays
Read suggestions for writing and performing poetry and the stories behind some of Linda's poems.

* Critter Stories
Brief stories and photos of birds and wildlife seen on Linda's ranch may be found on this page.

* Gallimaufry Page
Stories and photos that don't fit anywhere else.



Linda on YouTube

Nancy Curtis, publisher and owner of High Plains Press, recorded a couple of videos of Linda reading her poetry and posted them on YouTube.

To see Linda read "Where the Stories Come From"
click here.

To see Linda read her poem "Make a Hand"
click here

Or go to www.YouTube.com and search for Linda Hasselstrom.

You may also want to visit the High Plains Press facebook page where you will find these two poetry videos and much more about the many great western books-- poetry and non-fiction-- published by High Plains Press.

Thanks, Nancy!

# # #





Index of Blog Topics

Quick Links

Find Authors

Notes from a Western Life
Ranging Far and Wide on the High Plains and Beyond
Linda M. Hasselstrom's Blog



Altitude Adjustment: how to change your life and write about it

October 31, 2014

Tags: Book Review, Writer: Mary Beth Baptiste, Writing Suggestions

. . .
I’m always reading about private lives. Since I conduct writing retreats, much of what I read when working with prospective writers is about their struggles to live satisfyingly and with meaning. I've never become cynical about these writings because every one of us is doing the same thing: trying to figure out how to get the most from our time on earth. We can learn from one another.

Mary Beth Baptiste’s Altitude Adjustment has joined my shelf of books I will recommend to writers who are trying to figure out just how to write about that divorce, that disastrous love affair, or that terrible loss. With courage, and a discerning eye, she has looked at her own past, at the way she left a bad marriage in suburban Massachusetts to become a woodswoman in the Rocky Mountains.

Have you got a difficult story to tell? Read this book for clues on how to do it.

How do you handle the reactions of relatives to your decisions? Mary Beth’s parents weren't happy about her divorce or her plan to move west. Sounding a lot like my mother, hers said, “No man would ever want you again.”

How do you handle swatches of your life that you don’t want to write about, because they were unsatisfactory or boring or nobody’s business? She tells us enough about the marriage she left to be convincing, but doesn't hammer at the subject, understanding readers don’t need every detail in order for us to understand. In a sentence or paragraph, she summarizes several events that aren't part of the quest of the subtitle.

What about love and sex? Mary Beth handles scenes of intimacy with relish but with restraint; your mother won’t be embarrassed to be caught reading this book.

Readers always ask writers of nonfiction, “Is this true? Did this really happen?” We've all become a little cynical after learning that writers we trusted made the whole thing up. Mary Beth has written an author’s note that clarifies the way she has handled the truth so well that I must quote the whole thing:

“I sincerely hope that those who recognize themselves in these pages will understand that I wrote this story from a place of love and gratitude for all of you who crossed paths with me during this magical time of my life. The events in the narrative did occur. Whether others will recall them as I have is debatable. To protect privacy, I changed some names, genders, physical identifiers, draft numbers and birthdates, radio call numbers, and other finger-pointing characteristics, and I created a character to take the heat. Some local place names have been changed.

A chronology of events does not a memoir make. To create narrative flow, I reconstructed dialogue, scrambled chronology, and compressed time. To keep the book to a manageable length, some people and events had to be left out.”


Besides all this, she writes with skill about her new home and the people in it; her prose is lyrical and strong. “Snow sheets over the ground and feathers up the mountainsides, lending a paradoxical softness to the landscape.”

Writing about your life? Mary Beth shows how to do it honestly and with grace. Mary Beth writes, ”The mountains called, and I came. I found my way home. . . . I finally feel the power of my life, and it matters. . . . I don’t pretend to understand it all, but this I know: Dreams won’t die, no matter how hard we try to slay them.”

She's not only provided a lesson in writing about your life, but the book will give you goose bumps too.

# # #

For more information:

Altitude Adjustment: A Quest for Love, Home, and Meaning in the Tetons,
by Mary Beth Baptiste
Helena, MT: TwoDot, an imprint of Globe Pequot Press.
ISBN 978-0-9134-7. Paperback. 272 pp.

Visit the author’s website at: marybethbaptiste.com

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Fuligo septica: Dog Vomit Slime Mold

October 15, 2014

Tags: Gardening, Slime Mold

Dog vomit slime mold.
photo from all-free-download.com

. . .
I discovered this critter at the base of one of my potted tomato plants on a warm September day. A few days before, I’d dumped a full pot of spider plants in beside the tomato, as I repotted and rearranged house plants for winter. Now a foamy blob of bright yellow rose beside the tomato. I neglected to take a picture of it, but poked it with a finger. Despite the yellow color, I was sure it wasn't dog vomit, since mine are short dogs, and would have had to stand on their hind legs to vomit into the tall pot. Before I had a chance to look for information, the mold had collapsed into a dry brown mess.

The best source of information I've found is margaretsgarden.wordpress.com (see link below), which shows photos of a slime mold that’s not nearly as vivid as the one I saw, but clearly the same thing. As the writer says, the correct name is Fuligo septica but the common name is considerably more metaphorical and accurate.

Slime molds-- there are more than 700 species-- give no warning. They simply appear, usually in spring or summer in warm, wet locations on decaying plant matter, as a creeping mass called a plasmodium, a huge cell that moves slowly like an amoeba to feed itself on bacteria and fungi. The mold may range in size from 6 inches to two feet in diameter. Once it stops moving, it enters the spore-bearing stage. During one or two days, it hardens and dries to a dull orange. Disturbed, it emits dust: zillions of spares being released to grow in other locations.

While there is apparently no way to keep Dog Vomit Slime Mold out of your garden, it is completely harmless to plants, pets, and humans. Considered edible, it’s cooked and eaten in Mexico-- just like the scrambled eggs it resembles-- in a dish called Caca de Luna. (According to my memory of Spanish, that translates as “excrement of the moon,” which seems less than appetizing.) If you aren't planning to eat it, you can carry it away, or blast it with a hose-- though the latter method just spreads the spores. If you wait a few days, it will vanish by itself.

Leaving its spores behind. (Cue the creepy music.)

# # #


For more information:

Dog vomit slime mold blog at Margaret's Garden website.

Slime mold photos and botanical information at Wayne's Word, an online "Textbook of Natural History" by Professor W. P. Armstrong, Palomar College.


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The Black Hills Yesterday and Today, by Paul Horsted

September 19, 2014

Tags: Book Recommendation, Photographer: Paul Horsted

. . .
I’m so glad that I finally bought this book!

Paul Horsted spent four years of intense work visiting archives, museums and photo collections to glean some of the early images of the Black Hills region, in which he includes the area “within view of the Hills, including towns like Newell, Belle Fourche, Wall and Sundance,” as well as towns that boomed and died, like Cyanide and Crook City. He even included Hermosa, which is often absent from books about the scenery of the Hills.

From the work of about 50 different photographers, he selected images that showed significant scenes in the Hills. The original photographers included Eastman, William Henry Illingworth, Rise Studio, Stanley J. Morrow, and many unknowns. And then, incredibly, he located the spots from which those photographs were taken and provided a modern view of the same scene.

That’s amazing enough, but he didn't stop with the photographs. He included the date of the original photo, if possible, credited the photographer and collection, provided GPS readings for the location (unless it was on private property or in a few other instances). Furthermore, he added field notes, which included descriptions of what he encountered while locating the photograph, or other observations he made.

The photographs are delightful; Horsted hauled his camera to the top of rugged cliffs so we don’t have to climb there in order to see the sights these early photographers observed. In some cases he placed his camera’s tripod in the precise location where a photographer had taken a photo a hundred years before.

I studied each photo and learned so much about the Hills. But my favorite part of the book is the field notes, because of Horsted’s generosity. He says things like, “It is a beautiful place to have a picnic lunch and ponder the changes that have taken place in more than 100 years of Black Hills history.”

Additionally, he notes where changes have taken place since the original image, or since his own photograph. He explains how he balanced on roofs and dangled from rusty ladders to capture a shot. When photographing from streets, he was occasionally threatened by cars, and in Newell, SD, he was nearly run down by a thrashing machine.

He adds travel suggestions like this, “When you go to Deadwood, be sure to stop at the Adams Museum behind the depot. It is a treasure trove of Deadwood history that could easily occupy a few hours.”

A handy index helps the reader quickly locate favorite photos. Many of the images in the book are available as prints.

The Black Hills Yesterday and Today was published in 2006; I never should have waited this long.


# # #

For more information:

To learn about this and other books by Paul Horsted, visit his website at www.dakotaphoto.com

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Between Urban and Wild

September 15, 2014

Tags: Writer: Andrea M. Jones, Book Promotion

Andrea M. Jones with her book.

Andrea Jones, who came to her first Windbreak House retreat in 2007, came to her sixth retreat in September this year (2014), bringing a friend. While on retreat, Andrea, hikes and thinks and writes ferociously and this year she's working on a proposal for her second book.

Her first book, Between Urban and Wild: Reflections from Colorado (see information below), explores the crucial question of whether it's too late for residents of the West to really live with the land, rather than perching on it. And she offers hope.


At my Road Scholar presentations, I always display postcards advertising Andrea's book, along with cards about other books I recommend. The cards are scattered attractively among my books, which I also sell to participants.


I was signing one of my books last Friday when a woman from the class snatched up Andrea's postcard and said, "Do you know her?"


I was able to say, "Yes, I do. As a matter of fact, she is at my retreat house right now, working on a second book."


"Oh, good," said the woman. "I want to get her book!" And, carrying the postcard, she turned away from my stack of books.


Then she turned back around, blushing, and stammered, "I mean, not that I don't want your books, but she's from Colorado, where I'm from and . . . ."


I assured her that I was perfectly happy for Andrea to make a sale!


# # #

For more information:

Between Urban and Wild: Reflections from Colorado by Andrea M. Jones
is available from University of Iowa Press, www.uiowapress.org or 800-621-2736.

Andrea's website with information about her book and an entertaining blog BetweenUrbanAndWild.com


For information about the Road Scholar program in the Black Hills see www.roadscholar.org

Or see "Where in the World is Linda M. Hasselstrom?"


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Summer Basil, Winter Pesto

September 10, 2014

Tags: Gardening, Herbs, Recipe: Basil Pesto

The basil harvest done by hand.
I've had better success growing basil in a very large pot near the house rather than in the garden.

. . .
Near the end of August, when the gardening chores become lighter, I love harvesting basil-- though it can be harvested several times in a season.

I clip off individual leaves with my thumbnails-- giving them black tips for a month no matter now much I scrub-- and each leaf drops into my bowl. I try to pick clean, that is with no stems, no dried or yellow leaves.

Then all I have to do is wash the basil thoroughly in a big bowl and tip it into a strainer. To finish the drying I bundle the leaves in a dish towel, take it outside, and swing it around. Then I spread those leaves I’m not using for pesto in my homemade food dryer. (see website information below)

Once the leaves are crisp, I'll pack them into recycled jars for use in soups, stews and spaghetti sauces during the coming winter. Some go into decorative jars for gifts to friends who appreciate the scent.


Here’s my recipe for Basil Pesto:

INGREDIENTS:
1 Cup (firmly packed) snipped fresh basil
1/2 Cup snipped parsley May omit
1/2 Cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese (approximately 2 oz.) – don’t skimp; use more if you like it
1/4 Cup pine nuts, walnuts, or almonds
1 to 2 cloves garlic, quartered (may use 4-6 if you love garlic)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 Cup (or more) olive oil


FOOD PROCESSOR:
For each batch of basil pesto, put above ingredients, except olive oil, in the food processor. Turn it on and begin pouring in olive oil in a thin stream. Cover and process briefly a couple of times, then use the ON button until the paste is smooth; takes about a minute.

Possible additions: a few drops lemon juice when serving, or a few sprigs coriander.


GOOD EATING:
Serve over pasta, without any other sauce. Spread on sandwiches, or bread or crackers


STORING:
Pesto can be kept in refrigerator for weeks if covered with a layer of olive oil to keep it fresh and prevent discoloration.


FREEZING:
You can freeze pesto in muffin tins lined with paper cups; once it’s frozen, pop each “basil muffin” out of the tin, and package several in a double layer of plastic bags. Each “muffin” is enough for a single serving of pasta, and one batch of ingredients makes 6 pasta “muffins.” Or put one or two servings in small plastic bags, flatten them, and freeze. Then enjoy this summer green all winter long.


This year I'm not making pesto because I have an ample supply in the freezer left from last year. Still I can't resist nibbling some of the leaves as I pick, and will no doubt sprinkle some over the scallops and pasta I'll fix for lunch.


# # #
For more information:

Living Foods Dehydrators website: www.DryIt.com

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Death Sentences by Don Watson

June 9, 2014

Tags: Book Recommendation, Writer: Don Watson

. . .
I just discovered a book that I highly recommend to folks like me who cringe at the language of politicians, daily newspapers, radio announcers and others.

Death Sentences: How Clichés, Weasel Words, and Management-Speak Are Strangling Public Language by Don Watson. (Gotham Books: 2005.)

If I deface a war memorial or rampage through St. Paul’s with a sledgehammer I will be locked up as a criminal or lunatic. I can expect the same treatment if I release some noxious weed or insect into the natural environment. It is right that the culture and environment should be so respected. Yet every day our leaders vandalize the language, which is the foundation, the frame, and joinery of the culture, if not its greatest glory, and there is no penalty and no way to impose one. We can only be indignant. And we should resist.


Here’s another significant statement:

Wherever demagogues and bullies went, there also went obfuscation, pomposity, and doublespeak. . . . Civilized society depends on the exercise of common sense, which depends upon our saying what we mean clearly enough for everyone of reasonable intelligence to understand. The political point follows from the general one Ben Jonson made. ‘Language springs out of the most retired and inmost parts of us, and is the image of the parent of it, the mind. No glass renders a man’s form and likeness so true as his speech.’

Democracy depends upon plain language. It depends upon common understanding. We need to feel safe in the assumption that words mean what they are commonly understood to mean. Deliberate ambiguities, slides of meaning, and obscure, incomprehensible, or meaningless words poison the democratic process by leaving people less able to make informed or rational decisions. They erode trust.” (p. 120)


Don Watson, who is Australian, goes on:

That is why we should not vote for any politician who says, for instance, there are no quick fixes more than three times a year. Punish her for banality and the contempt for us that it implies.” (p. 137)


And he adds a glossary of words and phrases that should be banned from our language. The list includes (but is not limited to) the following:

Action/actioned/actioning, bottom line, closure, commit/committed/commitment, core, customer, deliver/deliverable, empower/empowered/empowerment, enhance (and all its forms), event, going forward, hopefully, impact, implement, input, in terms of, issue, outcome, point in time, prioritize, product, scenario, strategic in any form, and workshop.

Thank you, Don Watson.

# # #

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Scam Warning: No such thing as a free book

June 4, 2014

Tags: Scams, Copyright Infringement, My Book: Dirt Songs

. . .
Twyla M. Hansen, Nebraska State Poet and co-author of our poetry book DIRT SONGS: A PLAINS DUET, warned me today that she was notified about an unauthorized downloadable PDF version of the book.

When Twyla contacted our publisher, The Backwaters Press, they checked into it and this is what they learned:

"I found many websites saying that www.download-genius.com is a scam. That is the website that it directs the person to 'download' the book. I read complaints from people saying they signed up, gave their credit card for a $3.99 trial run fee and then they never could download anything and they had to cancel their credit card because it was impossible to cancel the subscription. So NO ONE sign up please!"

They also turned up this site complaining about Download Genuis:
http://bookblogs.ning.com/forum/topics/alert-copyright-theft-of-our-ebooks

So, as the old saying goes, if it is too good to be true (Free Books!) you should be very cautious. And hey, the copyright holders of books, music, and videos deserve to be paid for their time, effort and (ahem) creative genius, don't they?

# # #

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When I Discovered Mari Sandoz

May 2, 2014

Tags: Writer: Mari Sandoz, Family: Father, Inspiration for Writing

Linda with Mari Sandoz sculpture, 2004
at the Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center, Chadron, Nebraska.

. . .
No doubt it was my father who introduced me to Mari Sandoz, maybe by handing me a copy of Old Jules without realizing his resemblance to the title character. I clearly recall shivering because I recognized her home place; I knew the hills and plants and coyotes and buzzards and people who were the subjects of her fiction and nonfiction because they so closely resembled the inhabitants of the western Dakota prairie ranch where I lived. At five years old, I’d gotten a library pass and begun reading books, but that was my first realization that someone like her-- someone like me-- might write them.

Studying Western history and literature in college, I asked why her work wasn't included-- and only then realized that almost no women appeared as authorities in those studies. The writing lords of the same era were always men: A. B. Guthrie, Walter Van Tilburg Clark and Stanley Vestal. I found their views narrower than Mari’s, their writing competent but less stimulating.

Older, I learned to relish Sandoz's careful research and historical accuracy, even in her fiction. More important to me was her deeply personal knowledge of the grasslands, and her demonstration that in understanding a small community, one may learn and relate important universal truths. Likewise, she prepared me for being treated as a several minorities-- as a woman, a westerner, a grasslands resident, and a rancher-- by publishers.

When I began writing about my own life on the prairie, my father ferociously objected, and even quoted Old Jules, insisting that writers and artists are the “maggots of society.” But Sandoz hadn't quit writing, so I didn't either.

Sandoz also fought for respect as an expert in information unknown to many editors, publishers, and readers. She was an authority on homesteading the Nebraska plains because she’d lived it. So I've had to defend my knowledge as a working rancher to editors who have never set foot on prairie grass, never met a cow, never hefted a firearm. In both cases, editors felt free to contradict knowledge we gained from direct and sometimes painful experience.

When I read Mari’s collected letters, I kept saying, “Yes!” in agreement with her answers to readers who disagreed with her, lectured her, and asked her for help. When my pile of mail threatens to bury me in a paper avalanche, I quote her: “I either answer letters or write books-- never both.” Yet Mari wrote hundreds of letters, offering friendship and encouragement to other writers, and perhaps gaining validation of her work, and relief from the solitude of writing. I've tried to emulate her generosity as well, helping other writers, especially those in the very minorities where Mari and I found our writing selves.

By the time I read Crazy Horse, I’d had my own strange experiences while researching the strange man of the Oglalas; and at the Custer battle site, I’d argued with authorities who at that time refused to stock her book The Battle of the Little Bighorn.

When Mari Sandoz died in 1966, I sat at a desk in a newspaper office and cried. I’d always fantasized that I might meet her, tell her directly that she was the only writer I’d found able to convey my feelings about the Great Plains and its people.

Still, though I never heard her voice, I have continued to learn from her, from her writing, her research, her letters, and most of all, her spirit.

# # #

Note: This essay was originally published in the StoryCatcher newsletter, May 2010.

For more information:

See the website for The Mari Sandoz Heritage Society at www.MariSandoz.org
The Mari Sandoz Heritage Society publishes the Story Catcher newsletter four times per year-- they are archived on their website.
Stories about people's connections to Mari Sandoz are a regular feature.

Also see the website www.SandozCenter.com

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The Diversity of the South Dakota Grasslands

February 5, 2014

Tags: Spiders, Grasslands

A male Theridion pierre spider found on the Fort Pierre National Grassland. The tiny spider was discovered by L. Brian Patrick, an arachnologist from Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, SD. [photo courtesy L. Brian Patrick]

. . .
Recently I read that an arachnologist from one of South Dakota’s small universities, Dakota Wesleyan in Mitchell, discovered a new species of spider on the Fort Pierre National Grassland. Named for the grassland, the Theridion pierre spider is one of more than 500 species confirmed and announced in a six-month span.

Experts believe only 10 percent of spider species, and in fact all animals on earth, have been documented by humans so far, says the discoverer, Brian Patrick. He thinks he may identify as many as five new species from the spiders he has already trapped in the area.

Patrick has also found spiders in his traps whose find in South Dakota is the farthest west, east or north they've ever been documented. That's because few scientists are working on the sparsely-populated northern Great Plains, says Patrick, who is probably the only arachnologist working in the state. "It's not very sexy to work in South Dakota," he said. Big grants are usually given to study new species in places such as the rain forests of Borneo.

"I'm poor; I have to work in my backyard. Turns out my backyard is pretty fertile," he said. He added that "another common misconception about the prairie is that it's a two-dimensional environment, unlike rivers or forests where completely different creatures can live at different depths and heights." The researcher said in talking with colleagues, he's learned that, "I always have more diversity in my grasslands than they do in their forests."

I'm so delighted to see this story for several reasons. First, the local newspaper gave it prominent placement; I can't help think the management is reminding readers that they should not be so hasty to encourage "developments" that include mining and paving the prairie. Second, this is more confirmation for the fact that we haven't begun to discover what rich knowledge the prairie might still conceal.

# # #

For more information:

See the article in the Rapid City Journal.

See the article in the Capital Journal, Pierre SD.

See the article in the Sioux City Journal.

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Janet Lembke: Leaving Us Wanting More

January 7, 2014

Tags: Writer: Janet Lembke, Recipe: Cheese Bread, Recipe: 13-Bean Soup

Janet Lembke's "Soup's On!"
Published 2001 by The Lyon's Press.

When my Christmas card came back the other day, I feared the worst and found it was true: My friend Janet Lembke, the author of 20 books, a friend and chicken enthusiast, died in September. She was working on her memoir, "I Married An Arsonist"-- I was really looking forward to reading that.

Among her many books, I particularly enjoyed Because the Cat Purrs: How We Relate to Other Species and Why it Matters; Touching Earth: Reflections on the Restorative Power of Gardening; and The Quality of Life: Living Well, Dying Well.

I contributed a recipe to her collection Soup’s On: Sixty Hearty Soups You Can Stand Your Spoon In. This was one of those publishing stories: the book was published, and then because someone at the publishing house saw a competing book by a better-known author, the ENTIRE PRINTING was shredded. Janet later was able to get the book republished-- but I have one of the few copies of the original printing that she was able to get before it was destroyed. Lesson 9,999,999 in the strange world of publishing.


Besides the luscious soups, the book contains my favorite cheese bread recipe-- much better than Red Lobster’s.

Cheese Bread

2/3 Cup water
½ Cup butter, cut into pieces (not bad with Smart Balance)
2/3 Cup flour
¼ tsp salt
3 large eggs
½ Cup Swiss cheese, shredded (I use cheddar)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Bring the water and butter to a rolling boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat and immediately add flour and salt. Beat with a wooden spoon until blended. Return to the heat and beat vigorously until the dough balls up and leaves the sides of the pan, about 1 minute. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 5 minutes.

Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until the batter is glossy. Blend in the cheese thoroughly.

Dampen a shallow baking pan or cookie sheet with cold water. Drop dough in large dollops onto the pan to form a ring, with the sides of the dollops touching.

Bake for 30 minutes, until puffed and golden brown. Remove from the oven and loosen immediately from the pan with a spatula. The cheese bread will stick a little.

Serves 6. Or maybe only two if you can’t stop yourself.

Janet said she got this recipe from her daughter Elizabeth.

* * *

Here is my recipe used in Janet Lembke's book:


Jerry and Linda’s Lucky 13-Bean Soup Mix

My partner, Jerry Ellerman, and I developed this recipe some years ago as a Christmas gift. For each recipient, we packaged all the beans and spices in a single quart jar, and tied a tiny bottle of Tabasco sauce in the bow.

Beans:
Black-eyed peas, green and yellow split peas, lentils, pearl barley, bulgur, and the following beans: black, anasazi, baby lima, red, navy, pinto, and garbanzo.

Spices:
1 bay leaf
1 chopped onion (or 1 Tblsp onion flakes)
1-2 garlic cloves (or 1 tsp garlic powder)
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp savory
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp dry basil
peel from 1/2 lemon, or 1/8 tsp lemon peel


To Make the Soup:
Use any combination of beans available. Dump beans into colander and wash. Cover with water and soak overnight. (Or see Options, below)

Pour one glass of your favorite wine or beer. Sip slowly as you follow these instructions.

Drain water and discard. Cover with 2 quarts water and simmer slowly until tender.

Add spices provided, and choose from the optional stuff listed below. The bay leaf will keep the beans free from crawlies for at least a year. Toss it in the pot too. But don't eat it. Bay is good luck as seasoning, very bad luck if eaten.

Simmer another 20-45 minutes. Serve with french bread, crackers, and a green salad. Sprinkle with Tabasco sauce to taste. Or shred cheese on top.

Options:
To skip soaking the beans overnight, simmer them slowly for two hours. Or, if it's too late, put beans in a large casserole with 3 cups cold water. Cover with lid or vented plastic wrap. Microwave on High 10 min., or until boiling. Stir. Microwave on high another two minutes, covered. Let stand covered for an hour.

Add red peppers, salt and pepper to taste, along with tabasco sauce.

For a thicker soup, mash or puree some of the beans and return to soup.

Add almost any meat, including sausage, hot dogs (bleah!), leftover meats, bacon, or ham. Add ham bones, or, to avoid having to remove them later, boil ham bones and scraps and add the water (stock) to beans as part of the 2 quarts, above.

Add a can of tomatoes, tomato paste or sauce, or leftover vegetables.

Add 1-2 Tablespoons of chili powder, cumin, oregano, or other spice.

Add a handful or two of pasta 10 minutes before serving. Dump in some of whatever you're drinking, unless it's milk.


# # #

For more information:

Janet Lembke's official website

Janet Lembke's GoodReads author book list


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