Tornadoes

Cindy Ervin Huff, fellow author in “The Cowboys,” shares some background for her new historical romance book release. Welcome back to Historical Nibbles, Cindy!

by Cindy Ervin Huff

Tornadoes are a force to be feared. And even more so in the 1800s, when there was no way to predict when they might come. It was so feared that the word “Tornado” wasn’t permitted to be used when reporting the news. 

Westward expansion into the Great Plains brought about the need to study tornadoes. The frequency of the whirlwinds and the intensity of its power had to be understood to keep the burgeoning communities safe.

A twister can rip a path of destruction through a farm, change course at any moment. It may take one home in a neighborhood and leave the rest or flatten an entire community. There is a report of a home in 1870s Kansas being destroyed but an oil lamp remained lit resting under a nearby tree.

Another tale was of a train ticket booth being ripped away to land in a field. Although the building was badly damaged, the window was untouched.

I was amazed to discover that until Doppler radar was adapted for use in tracking weather in 1974, predictions were hit or miss. When 149 tornadoes dubbed the Super Outbreak touch down in a 24-hour period on April 3 – 4,1974, it called for a more accurate way to measure the winds that made up tornadoes. 

The setting of my latest novel—Angelina’s Resolve, Book #1 in the “Village of Women” series—is in Kansas. Twisters are still a real threat in that state. It is part of what is called Tornado Alley, and Angelina, Edward, and the people of Resolve, Kansas are not immune from its fury.

One had to have a bit of iron in their veins to uproot and move to a new area, not knowing what obstacles would stand before them. Tornadoes and other natural disasters could make or break a homesteader and even a new town.

About Cindy

Cindy Ervin Huff is an Award-winning author of Historical and Contemporary Romance. She loves infusing hope into her stories of broken people. She’s addicted to reading and chocolate. Her idea of a vacation is visiting historical sites and an ideal date with her hubby of almost fifty years would be a live theater performance. Visit her on her website or on Facebook.

Angelina’s Resolve

Architect Angelina DuBois is determined to prove her worth in a male-dominated profession by building a town run by women, where everyone is equal, and temperance is in the by-laws. Contractor Edward Pritchard must guard his heart as he works with the beautiful, strong-willed yet naïve Angelina. He appreciates her ability as an architect, but she frustrates him at every turn with her leadership style. When the project is completed, will it open doors for more work or make him a laughingstock? Can two strong-will people appreciate their differences and embrace their attraction as they work together on to build their town?

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Mandie and the Cherokee Legend by Lois Gladys Leppard

by Sandra Merville Hart

Book 2 of the Mandie Mysteries series

I loved the historical story of this book. I was happy to learn more about the Cherokees who stayed behind in North Carolina after the tragic Trail of Tears.

Mandie is a young girl traveling to the home of her Cherokee relatives when the story begins. Her cousin, Tsa’ni, doesn’t like her at all and causes trouble for her many times during the story.

After Tsa’ni leaves Mandie and her friends in a cave to find their own way out, they find something that would greatly help their tribe. This discovery stirs up more trouble, adding to the adventures of the novel.

There are plenty of adventures for this spunky heroine—and danger, too. This book is a page-turner for young readers, who will want to know what happens next.

I enjoyed this story. I didn’t learn Mandie’s age, which is an important detail for children reading the story. Perhaps I missed it.

So much backstory from the previous book was given in the first chapter that it slowed down the story. The chapters also seem a bit long for the targeted age group.

As an author of historical novels set in American history, I enjoyed learning details of everyday life.

Recommended for children 8 to 14 and for lovers of American history.

https://www.christianbook.com/the-mandie-collection-volume-1/lois-leppard/9780764204463/pd/204463

Announcing an Upcoming Civil War Book Release!

I’m thrilled to announce that Avenue of Betrayal, Book 1 of my new “Spies of the Civil War” series will release February 8, 2022! Not only that, it’s already on preorder!

Though the series is about a fictional family, there are actual historical spies who touch the stories.

Avenue of Betrayal is set in Washington City (Washington DC) in 1861, where a surprising number of Confederate sympathizers and spies live.

Here’s a bit about the book:

Betrayed by her brother and the man she loves …

whom can she trust when tragedy strikes?

Soldiers are pouring into Washington City every day and have begun drilling in preparation for a battle with the Confederacy. Annie Swanson worries for her brother, whom she’s just discovered is a Confederate officer in his new home state of North Carolina. Even as Annie battles feelings of betrayal toward the big brother she’s always adored, her wealthy banker father swears her and her sister to secrecy about her brother’s actions. How could he forsake their mother’s abolitionist teachings?

Sergeant-Major John Finn camps within a mile of the Swansons’ mansion where his West Point pal once lived. Sweet Annie captured his heart at Will’s wedding last year and he looks forward to reestablishing their relationship—until he’s asked to spy on her father.

To prove her father’s loyalty to the Union, John agrees to spy on the Swanson family, though Annie must never know. Then the war strikes a blow that threatens to destroy them all—including the love that’s grown between them against all odds.

Preorder your copy today on Amazon and other retailers.

The Call of the Wild by Jack London

by Sandra Merville Hart

Buck is a St. Bernard-Scotch shepherd, a large, strong dog who has known only a kind, loving owner when the story begins. Buck is stolen from his California home and sold to a cruel man who beats him. Buck is taken north to Alaska for the Gold Rush in 1897.

There Buck, a dominant yet untrained dog, learns to pull a sled with a team. He learns to fight with other dogs, often to the death. New owners buy him from time to time, and Buck grows increasingly wilder. Each new situation is worse than before until John Thornton rescues him.

There’s a lot of violence between the dogs and terrible abuse from the owners. The story is written in Buck’s point of view, making those scenes especially difficult to read.

This is my first time reading Jack London’s classic novel. I’d heard it was a children’s story, but it’s better suited for middle-grade or older due to the recurring violence and abuse at the hands of Buck’s cruel owners.

It’s a strong, well-written story but I’m not recommending it for children.

Corn Dodgers Recipe

by Sandra Merville Hart

I recently read On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Her family moved to Minnesota when she was seven and first stayed in a sod house built into the creek bank. The details of everyday life in the 1870s fascinated me.

The Ingalls family was very poor and often ate corn dodgers. In fact, the author mentioned them so often that I searched for a recipe.

As I suspected, they are similar—yet different—to corn muffins. These are baked on a cookie sheet in mounds.

I had some coarse ground cornmeal that I used to make this recipe, which I believe is more authentic to the times than the finely ground cornmeal we all know.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix together 2 cups cornmeal, 1 teaspoon of salt, and a tablespoon of lard (I used vegetable shortening.)

Pour 2 cups of boiling water into the cornmeal mixture and stir well. The batter is thick but if you have trouble stirring it, add a little more water.

Prepare a cookie sheet, well-greased with shortening or butter or use cooking spray.

Scoop the batter into mounds on the cookie sheet. The center of the dodgers is “quite high.”

I used 1/3 cup of batter for each one to make 6 dodgers.

Bake about 25 minutes until lightly browned.

I really liked these dodgers. They’re heartier than corn muffins and more filling. We ate them as a side with soup for supper. It was a nice change from cornbread and biscuits.

These took only about five minutes to put together—and most of that was waiting for the water to boil! It’s quick and easy and a bit of a novelty because, well, I’ve never eaten one before. Maybe it’s a new recipe for you, too!

Sources

Compiled from Original Recipes. Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping, Applewood Books, 1877.

North Carolina’s Mt. Airy is a Trip back to Mayberry

by Sandra Merville Hart

My husband is a big fan of the 60s TV show, The Andy Griffith Show, so when we planned a trip over the summer to North Carolina, it included a stop in Mount Airy.

Andy Taylor, the show’s main character, is raising his son with the help of his aunt in the small fictional North Carolina town of Mayberry. The sheriff’s family, the deputy, town barber, school teacher, mayor, and so many others tugged at our hearts. We fell in love with Mayberry.

It turns out that the fictional town is inspired by Andy Griffith’s home town of Mount Airy.

We arrived late in the day and ate at Walker’s Soda Fountain. It had a nostalgic feel that welcomed us right away. My husband let me try his chocolate milk shake—delicious! The owner discovered we were there to see “Mayberry” and shared many fun facts about the town with us.

One was that Andy Griffith worked in the drug store (formerly known as Lamm Drug Store) that is now Walker’s Soda Fountain. Another is that all the Mayberry locations mentioned in the show are real.

Several of the locations visitors will associate with the show are on or near Main Street. Floyd’s City Barber Shop, a Mayberry police squad car, Opie’s Candy Store, and other shops are on Main Street. Andy Griffith’s Homeplace is a short drive away.

There’s an Andy Griffith Museum, Andy Griffith Playhouse, Wally’s Service Station, and Mayberry Replica Courthouse that will give fans of the show feelings of nostalgia.

There are a few shops on Main Street. I’m sure we would have enjoyed the Good Time Trolley Tours, but we arrived as some places were closing.

If you’re a fan of The Andy Griffith Show, I think you’ll enjoy a day’s visit to this town. Arrive around lunch to eat at a diner. Shop. Enjoy an ice cream. Drive or stroll to the bronze statue of Andy and Opie walking to the fishing hole.

It was an enjoyable visit for everyone in our group.     

Sources

Mount Airy North Carolina, 2021/08/23 https://www.visitmayberry.com/.

The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes

by Sandra Merville Hart

This children’s chapter book is a treasure.

I read it many times to my daughter when she was in elementary school.

Wanda Petronski didn’t come to school for a couple of days before Maddie missed her. Wanda was quiet. She didn’t have any friends at school. She wore the same clean, faded blue dress every day.

So when she claims to have a hundred beautiful dresses in her closet, the girls laugh at her. Then they ask her about them daily.

Maddie is poor too. She doesn’t laugh or ask Wanda to describe the dresses as Peggy, her best friend, does.

As the days pass and Wanda doesn’t return, Maddie begins to worry about her and to examine her own actions.

A poignant story with believable characters that tug at your heart.

Recommended for children in elementary school.   

https://www.christianbook.com/the-hundred-dresses-eleanor-estes/9780152052607/pd/2052607

Stuart Little by E.B. White

by Sandra Merville Hart

Stuart Little is a mouse, but one thing that makes him extraordinary is that his mother, father, and older brother are human.

Since Stuart is only two inches tall, his bed is a cigarette box. He has plenty of adventures with his family and the family cat before Margalo, a beautiful bird, comes to live with the family.

Stuart exudes confidence and gets into many scrapes dangerous to a mouse.

I didn’t read this book as a child when I might have liked it. As an adult, the story seems disjointed. He acts like more like an adult than a child from the beginning. When Stuart is seven, he leaves his home in the middle of the night without saying goodbye. At seven, he didn’t ask permission to leave, which a young child will notice.

The main character isn’t successful in his quest to find his friend Margalo, who flew north. The book ends on a vague note with no real ending or resolution. It almost seems the author grew bored with the story or perhaps ran out of ideas.

After loving Charlotte’s Web, another book by the same author, I was disappointed in this one.

Mom’s Macaroni Salad Recipe

by Sandra Merville Hart

Sometimes I long for my mother’s cooking. In the summer she often made macaroni salad. She served it in a special, tall glass bowl that was only used for this salad.

The recipe is easy and no one ever wrote it down to my knowledge so I’m sharing it here.

We attended a family reunion where my aunt brought macaroni salad. As I went back for another spoonful, I asked my aunt what made it taste so delicious. She leaned over and whispered, “I put cucumber in mine.”

So, when I made it over the summer, I included her secret ingredient. Amazing tip! It adds another layer of flavor and crunch.

16 Ounces elbow macaroni

½ – 1 green pepper

1 large tomato

1 medium onion

1 large cucumber

1 ¼ – 1 ½ cups mayo

Salt

Cook the macaroni until tender. Drain and set aside to cool. Hint: Stir it a couple of times to release trapped heat and steam.

Chop the vegetables. I only used one half of a green pepper but a whole one doesn’t overpower the salad because there are several vegetables.

I like a lot of tomato in this salad. A large tomato was enough to add vibrant color and flavor.

Once the cooked macaroni begins to cool, stir in the chopped vegetables.

I never measure the mayo when making this salad but I did it this time to tell you. Cooked macaroni tends to absorb the mayo. After adding a cup of it, I spooned it in a bit at a time until it reached the desired creamy texture.

Delicious! The different soft and crunchy textures were even tastier than I remembered.

It may have something to do with my aunt’s secret ingredient. 😊