inglenook cookbookWe’ve inherited a well-worn volume of The IngleNook Cook Book, circa 1911 (ours is black and white). The book belonged to my husband’s grandmother, then his mother, now us. She’s still living but, sadly, suffers from dementia. Every blank spot on these dog-eared pages are inked in with faded recipes for everything, including croup. The ones written in pencil are almost beyond deciphering, and the book is full of jottings on yellowed scraps of paper. Originally compiled by Old Order Brethren women, similar to Old Order Mennonite and Amish, each recipe is attributed to sister so and so. My DH’s family is Mennonite and some of his relatives still drive horse and buggies. There are various orders of Mennonites, old, new, and many in between, I discovered when I married into these people. But back to the book. It’s a record of how women went about their daily lives,  a compilation of their history, what mattered to them, their story.
Many recipes use measurements such as ‘butter the size of an egg’ or lard the size of a walnut’ and suggest you let the baked beans, or some such dish, simmer while you make bread, visit after church, or fix the family breakfast because everyone knew about how long that took.
Old Order Mennonite Mother and infantWithin its pages are old-time cures. For chest congestion, make a salve of melted lard and camphor to rub on, or a mustard plaster, and cover with flannel. For croup in infants and small children, apply a milder camphor salve, or give equal parts of butter and honey melted together by mouth. Another remedy for croup is to slice onions very thin and sprinkle with sugar. Allow to dissolve and give the juice in teaspoonfuls frequently. This is from The Shenandoah Valley, I noted. My home base. (Old Order Mennonite Woman and baby outside the church up the road. Image by hubby. Also the one below.)
An interesting treatment for sore throat. Slice a thin piece of bacon (the assumption being that you have a hunk of your own from hog butchering which my husband remembers his family doing) and stitch this to a piece of flannel and make it black with pepper. Warm it and fasten closely around the throat. Do not remove until inflammation has been drawn to the outside. When the meat is removed, anoint throat with Vaseline and bind up in flannel until you are well. It doesn’t say what to do if you never are, but there are other treatment options.
Old Order Mennonite churchHighly evident from all the added recipes and those heavily used in the book is that my mother-in-law,  her mother, their friends and relations, loved cake. Given the hard work these country people knew, not to mention suffering through the Great Depression, a delicious freshly baked cake was a rare treat.
A Cake Recipe from (I don't know how many 'greats') Aunt Leona:
2 cups sugar, 3 eggs, 2 cups flour, 1/2 cup butter, 1 cup sweet milk, and one level Tablespoon of (I’m not sure of what). Dissolve in milk, 3 blocks of chocolate. Stir in 1/2 cup extra milk (for large cake) and cook, let cool. Got that? This is the way many recipes read. You’re just supposed to know stuff.
Grandbaby Chloe in my flower bedI love this book and the added notes, a wonderful glimpse into the past. The generations roll on, but with the awareness of those who’ve gone before them. My oldest daughter is also fascinated by this book, and my youngest grandbaby, Chloe, sat beside me as we perused its pages.
Chloe in my flower bed, image by daughter Elise. My garden and flower beds used to be my mother-in-laws. I am the caretaker now, until whoever comes after me. I hope they carry on our living legacy.

As the name implies, the History Lovers are a group of readers and authors who love both history and romance, especially when they’re combined in a delightful story. (Obviously, I'm one of them, or I wouldn't be posting today.) If you feel the same, you’re welcome to join us on our Facebook page.

Below you’ll find authors of historical romances set in a wide variety of time periods. Perhaps by participating in our Grand Tour you’ll discover some new authors for your future reading pleasure. Hop around to your heart’s content, feel free to comment on the posts, hunt for answers to the authors’ questions, and perhaps you’ll be one of our 25 lucky prize winners (see contest details below)…although you’re already a winner if you find a new story to read, don’t you agree?
The theme for this tour is Courting Rituals, which strangely enough are under discussion in the story I'm writing now!

Stork's nest -- whence comes the result of courting rituals.

In my story, the hero and heroine have just been married (two whole days), but they haven’t yet consummated their marriage (for reasons I won’t get into here). It’s a marriage of convenience (which should actually be called a marriage of inconvenience, seeing as neither of them wants it). They hardly know each other. They’ve been thrown into marriage without any of the usual courting rituals. They have to get acquainted after the wedding rather than before (not that this was all that uncommon, but I won’t go into that here, either). Anyway, the hero wants the innocent (i.e. virginal) heroine to look forward to (no, crave) her first sexual experience. He suggests getting to know one another (i.e. he gets her heated up) via a courting ritual—flirtation.

He tells her, “It’s quite primitive, I think—rather like mating rituals of birds or beasts.”

And the heroine thinks, Primitive. What an odd word to use of flirting, which had always seemed a highly civilized behavior until now.   

That’s what courting rituals are – attempts to corral the most primal of urges into civilized patterns of behavior. In the Regency (at least amongst the wealthy classes), young, single women were hedged about with chaperones. A girl’s reputation was paramount. She couldn’t risk being alone with a man (except her father or brother). She might be forced into marriage because of something as innocent as a kiss. About the nearest a couple could get to a date was a drive in a curricle (or other open carriage so that the couple would be in plain sight at all times) to Gunter’s for an ice or sorbet. The closest an unmarried couple could get physically was a waltz—still considered a scandalous dance by some. The advantage of all this corralling was (usually and in theory) that a girl only got to consider suitable men. Suitable is such a boring word, isn’t it? But in a world where an upper class woman had no way to support herself except by marrying well, finding a suitable man (and avoiding unsuitable ones) mattered.  

(But have no fear! Not everyone followed the rules, especially romantic heroines -- see below.)

The prize I am offering is a download of two of my novellas, The Magic of His Touch and Bewitched by His Kiss (or two of my other novellas, winner's choice). For a chance to win, comment on this blog with the answer to my question: In what kind of carriage would a couple drive to Gunter's? Then click on the History Lovers Grand Tour page and fill in the same answer (unless you think you've got it wrong, in which case go ahead and guess something else) for a chance at the grand prize. 


Peony Whistleby, the heroine of The Magic of His Touch, longs to fall in love and marry. She has already gone the approved route (the London season ad nauseam) and found no suitable man to marry. So she resorts to another courting ritual – a magical one! She rolls naked in the dew on May Day morning, because folklore says this will bring her true love to her side.


“Get up! Get dressed!”

Peony froze in mid-roll. A strange man bounded toward her, gesturing, his voice low but urgent. She scrambled to her feet, a shriek catching in her throat.

“I won’t hurt you,” he said, but he kept on coming. Her heart clambering into her gullet, she tried to cover herself with her hands.

“Who— What—” She couldn’t get a word out.

“Don’t stand there like an idiot, girl! I already know what you look like naked.” A blush crowded up her neck and burned her cheeks. “Get your clothes on, and be quick about it.” With brisk, shooing motions he herded her toward the hawthorn where she’d left her shift and gown.

Anger swelled up, overcoming her fear. How dare he order her about? “Go away,” she said, hating how her voice trembled as she fled before him. “What are you doing here? You have no right.” A little way round the circle of meadow, she spied a horse cropping the grass at the edge of the wood.

“You should be thankful I’m here,” he said, stopping several feet away when she reached the hawthorn. “I don’t know what foolishness you’re up to, but clearly your lover isn’t coming, and—”

“No, because you spoiled everything,” she said. Her hair had fallen out of its ribbon and stuck wetly to her face. She clawed it away, wanting to hit him. Her chance at finding love was gone. “Go away!

He folded his arms and just stood there, scowling—and looking at her as if, underneath that frown, he was enjoying himself. “Not until you put your clothes on and be off home where you belong.”

Another flush overwhelmed her, this time of shame and misery, as she realized what he meant. He thought she’d come out here to tryst with some likely village lad, as if she were a scullery maid. And who was he, anyway? She’d never seen him before. He was dressed like a gentleman and spoke like one, too, but he didn’t belong here.

“Who gave you the right to order me about?” she demanded. “This is private land.”

His eyes widened. “You silly little fool, I’m trying to protect you. I traveled here with a friend. To him, a naked woman is a blatant invitation. You’re lucky it’s I who came upon you and not he.”

She grabbed her shift and turned it right side out. “Stop staring at me.”

“You’re a beautiful girl without any clothes on,” he said. “I wouldn’t be much of a man if I didn’t stare.”

The Magic of His Touch buy links:

History Lovers Grand Tour Authors

Rue Allyn • Amylynn Bright • Collette Cameron • Téa CooperBeverley Eikli • Susana EllisAileen Fish • Debra Glass Amy Hearst • Evangeline Holland • Piper HuguleyEliza Knight Kristen Koster • Cora Lee Georgie Lee • Suzi LoveDenise Lynn • Deborah Macgillivray • Barbara Monajem Shelly MunroElla Quinn • Eva Scott Shereen Vedam Elaine Violette 

1.       Each author will offer a prize for a contest, the specifics of which is set up entirely by her. The contest will be open to all participants, regardless of geographic location. For logistical purposes, authors may substitute a digital prize (gift card, etc.) of equal value for another prize that might prove difficult to mail to a distant location.
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