Saddle Up Saloon; Recipe Rustlin’ Character Klatsch

Written by D. Avery @shiftnshake

       Read my writing and see my books at

November 22, 2020

“Kid, I feel like we come back strong after thet vacation. We’ve had author Sean Prentiss here at the Saddle Up, then a bunch a fine readings fer 5 At the Mic an’ jist this past week, T. Marie Bertineau, Keweenaw author of The Mason House. What’s the plan fer this week?”

“Pal, folks’ll be busy but’ll have food an’ family on their minds this week so we’re jist gonna see if folks got recipes ta share, mebbe a story ta go with it.”

“Thet’s a good idea. Hey! Weren’t the ranch hands goin’ on ‘bout avocado toast over at the ranch? I’ll ride on over there an’ git thet avocado toast link.”

“It’s slow here, Pal, I’ll ride with ya. Mebbe come up with somethin’ ta contribute.”


Meanwhile, back at the Saloon… it’s Ramona Gordon, from the WIP of Charli Mills:

“Kid? Pal? Anyone here? I’m here with dinner for you! Hallooo? Well, I’m going to leave it on the counter with the recipe.”

Ramona Gordon’s Family Spaghetti


2 pounds ground beef

10 mushrooms, sliced

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 large red onion, diced

5 cloves of garlic, minced

3 carrots grated


1 quart canned tomatoes from the garden (or 28 oz can from the store)

1 8-oz can tomato paste

1 tsp. dried basil

5-10 sloshes of tabasco sauce

1 tsp. Mexican oregano

1 tsp. dried, crumbled rosemary

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

Simmer on low for three hours

Make 16 oz Spaghetti Noodles according to the box

Double everything for company and serve with a green salad and garlic bread.

“There’s the recipe. No one here, so I’m going to wet my whistle with a wee smidge of apple cider while I wait.”


Meanwhile, still riding back to the Ranch…

“Dang you, Kid, ya wanted ta ride along, but now ya ain’t bein’ present. Shouldn’t ya put thet book down an’ watch where yer goin’?”

“Hoss knows the way. I’m readin’ Bowled But Not Out, by Ruchira Khanna. It’s ‘a delightful story of a conventional Delhi girl who finds herself in the eye of a storm’.”

“Sounds good. Read some ta me, Kid.”

“Okay. Saru entered her unadorned apartment after a grueling day at the University. The thick textbooks needed attention since assignments were due. Frost swirls coated the windows and created a rime on ledges. 

Cold winds were knocking on her window as if wanting to come in. Fatigue and sleep were overpowering her brain as she eyed her mattress and the comforter, but her will power wanted to work on her homework. 

“I wish I’d learned how Momsy used to make that strong cup of tea every morning for me,” she muttered. She looked at her watch, calculated the time back in India, and made a call using her calling card.

“Mom, I have only two minutes on my card.”  Saru came to the point. “Please tell me what all you used to add to my cup of tea every morning?”

“Pour one and a half cup of water in a pan. 

Crush 8 inches of ginger, two cloves, two cardamoms. 

Let the water boil. 

Allow it to turn pale brown. 

Add half a cup of milk.

Add two teaspoons of loose black tea or two tea bags.

Add one teaspoon of sugar.

Boil until the liquid develops a dark brown color.

Sieve and pour into your cup. That’s Saru’s ginger tea!”

“Kid! There’s a recipe! We kin serve thet ginger tea with the avocado toast!”

“Yeah. A good start on recipe rustlin’.”

“Hey Kid, let’s pull over ta this place here, rest the hosses. Mebbe have a snack. Funny I ain’t never noticed this place afore.”

“That’s ‘cause it’s fictional, with fictional characters, but I recognize ‘em from the Ranch. That’s Lexi an’ Tessa, they’s writ by Sue Spitulnik. You know, Michael an’ his band played at the Saddle Up Saloon one time.”

“Oh yeah. Well speakin’ a rustlin’ recipes, look whut Lexi’s up to.”

“What is she up to? She’s rustlin’ through a recipe box, but is she rifflin’ or riflin’?”

“Let’s keep it fam’ly frien’ly, Kid, no riflin’. Jist rifflin’”

“Gotcha. Okay, let’s lissen in on these characters.”


Lexi riffled through her mother’s recipe box. “Hey, Date Nut Bread. Wasn’t this your Grandma’s recipe? Why did you stop making it? I remember the loaf never lasted long.”

Tessa smiled at the memory. “The loaf disappeared because I ate most of it. I sliced it warm so the butter melted. I ate it cold with tons of butter. I hid the last slices for me. It’s one of those treats I can’t leave alone.”

“Well I think we should make some for the holidays. Will you give me a lesson?”

“We’ll have to get dates.”

“I’ll go now.”

Date Nut Bread

1 cup chopped dates or one box

1 tsp. baking soda

1 cup hot tap water

1/2 cup sugar

2 tbs. butter-room temperature

1 egg

2 cups sifted flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1/2 cup chopped nuts

Coarsely chop dates and put in small bowl. Sprinkle the baking soda over them, and then cover with hot water. Make sure all the dates are immersed. Let cool while mixing the rest of ingredients. In a medium sized bowl cream sugar and butter, add the egg and cream again.

Add the dry ingredients. Mixture will be thick.

?Add water from dates to the mixture and mix till smooth then dump in the rest of dates and liquid and nuts. Stir until just mixed.

Pour into greased bread pan. Bake in preheated 325 degree oven for 50 to 60 minutes until inserted toothpick comes out clean. 


“Yeehaw! We rustled anuther recipe! Soun’s like a good one too. ‘Cept I seem ta have trouble findin’ dates.”

“Mebbe somethin’ ta do with all yer kids.”

“Ya mean my goats?”


Meanwhile, back at the Saloon… Ramona’s grandson Ike Gordon and his wife Danni, from the WIP of Charli Mills, have just showed up:

“Mo wants us to bring her garlic toast recipe by the Saddle Up?”

“Yep. Here it is:

Garlic Toast

Dig garlic from Grandma’s patch when she’s not looking or she’ll come after you with a hoe.

Get your wife to peel it and chop it up into tiny pieces.

Add it to a stick of butter and nuke it.

Use a brush (not your wife’s archeology brushes) and get butter and garlic on two halves of French bread.

Have Grandma stick it in the oven.

Steal a piece when Grandma is slicing it (tastes best stolen).

“Ike, I’m not sure this is a legitimate recipe.”

“Sure it is. That’s how I make garlic toast.”

“With your court case pending, you’d best strike that last line.”

“Hey, is that Grandma’s spaghetti pot on the saloon counter?”


Meanwhile, having collected the avocado toast recipes from the Ranch and riding back to the Saloon…

“Feel like we been gone a while, Kid. Hope ever’thin’s okay at the Saloon.”

“What could go wrong Pal? Hey. Listen.”

“Bethenia Ann Harris! You let the biscuits burn to a crisp again! I doubt the hogs will even eat them.”

“Why, Kid, now we’ve come across some characters from Donna Armistead’s WIP, her first YA novel, inspired by family stories about her great-grandparents, who farmed 100 acres in Georgia on the eve of the Civil War.”

“Yer right. Hey there, Bethenia. I’m Kid, this here’s Pal.”

“Oh, hello. Don’t mind my Aunt Eliza’s hollering. It’s just that Aunty despaired that I would ever amount to any kind of a cook in spite of all her efforts to teach me. Her specialty was her apple stack cake, which folks clamored for whenever we had a dinner on the grounds. Here is her recipe as far as I can recall:

Aunt Eliza’s Apple Stack Cake

You need about 8 to 12 cups of dried apples. Fresh won’t work, nor will applesauce…make the cake too soggy. Simmer them in a saucepan with about 3 cups of water, 2 pounds of sugar and a couple teaspoons each of cinnamon, nutmeg and molasses. Mash into a thick paste and set aside to cool.

Now for the layers. It’s a deal of work! Sift together four and a half cups flour, a teaspoon each of salt and baking powder, half a teaspoon of soda and a big pinch of cinnamon. Then cream together 6 ounces butter, a cup and a quarter of sugar, three quarters of a cup molasses (sorghum works too) and 2 eggs which you beat in one at a time. Add in the dry mix, alternating with half a cup of buttermilk a little at a time, till you get a stiff batter. Roll into a ball, wrap and cool for a spell in the spring house.

When it’s cold, divide and roll out in 6 or 8 equal circles. You can use a cake pan to trim the circles. Aunt Eliza said it works better to bake them not in pans, but on a sheet in a slow oven for about ten minutes. This takes a while, depending on how many you can fit in the oven at a time.

When the layers are cool, spread a cup or so of the apple filling on one, and build your layers. Now, this is important: Wrap the cake in dish towels and leave it set in a cool place for at least a day. This way, the flavors will blend real good. You can dust the top with fine sugar, if you’ve got any, right before serving.

Make sure everybody gets a slice before Uncle Frank and old Mr. James Timothy Hardy come back for seconds. Because they will, if I know them.

“That soun’s real fine, Bethenia, thank ya so much fer the recipe. Reckon ya better git back ta yer Aunt an’ to yer story now.”

“An’ we best git back ta the Saloon, Kid. Bye Bethenia.”


Sometime later, almost back at the Saloon…

“Feel like we been gone a while, Kid. Hope ever’thin’s okay at the Saloon.”

“Almost there, Pal. Oh, somebody showed up. Idaho plates…”


Meanwhile, back inside the Saloon… Ramona’s grandson Ike Gordon and his wife Danni, from the WIP of Charli Mills are still here; but where’d Ramona go? Oh yeah, she was going to just wet her whistle with a wee smidge of apple cider while she waited for Kid and Pal to show up:

“That is your Grandma’s spaghetti pot on the bar. I thought it smelled like her spaghetti in here. But she only said that we needed to drop off recipes for Kid and Pal. Where are they, anyways?”

“Who knows? Kid’s an odd one. He writes poetry and keeps goats.”


“Pal, did you hear that guy?”

“Yep, Kid I did.”


“I don’t like goats, Ike.”

“You and our writer.”

“Pal! We gotta git in there!”

“Hey, Danni, want a cider? I’ll leave tenner on the counter for the bar keeps who ain’t keeping.”

“Pal, that’s Danni Gordon! She seemed nicer when she was here before.”

“Oh, yeah, thet archeologist. I ‘member her from yet anuther visit.”

“A Sierra Pale Ale would be great, Ike. Pal keeps them in the small fridge.”

“Mo! Hey, Danni, Mo’s on the floor behind the bar!”

“Hey! Hi! Ho! Whoa! Mo? Yo, Ike! Oh, no! Kid, the old broad’s hit the boards.”

“What Pal? Oh, no! Did she fall?”

“Grandma, are you hurt? It’s me Ike.”

“Where’s the…hic…Twins?”

“Ike, is Grandma—“

“Than a skunk! She smells like a still.”


“What’s that jug?”


“Not cider, Mo. This is hooch!”

“This is a recipe for disaster!”

“We better get her home, Ike. Sober her up with coffee.”

“Cowboy Coffee?”

“Of course.”

“What’s thet recipe, Ike? I’ll git it goin’.”

Cowboy Coffee

“Fill percolator with water, preferably clean. Toss a heap of ground coffee and eggshells to settle the grounds. Put over a fire and bring to a boil. It’s not cooked until you can stand a spoon in it. Will sober up any whiskey-laden cowboy who needs to get on a horse.”

“But will it sober up Ike’s Granma?”

“Jist don’t let her drive.”

“Hic… I can drive the cattle!…hic… Down in the valley…”

“Danni, Ike, what’re the three a ya even doin’ here?”

“Mo— Ramona— Ike’s Granma– said to drop some recipes off for you.”

“Thet’s yer story?”

“Yes. That’s our story. Now, I’d be thankful if I could have that Sierra Pale Ale, Pal.”

“Sure thing, Danni. Folks, if ya got a recipe an’ a story ta go along with it, they’s plenny a room in the comment boxes. What’re yer characters cookin’ up?”

If asked, Pal & Kid will deny that they spill from the pen of D. Avery. They claim to be free ranging characters who live and work at Carrot Ranch and now serve up something more or less fresh every Monday at the Saddle Up Saloon. If you or your characters are interested in saddling up to take the stage as a saloon guest, contact them via

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  1. Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

    Matty hasn’t done any cooking in 50 years, but here’s her social worker’s response to her first attempt, with lots of assistance:

    Macaroni cheese with green beans: stodge Janice could get at Ghyllside canteen any day, and at a conventional meal time, instead of eleven in the morning. The beans, fresh from a tin, lacked the bite and colour of those she picked in summer from her dad’s allotment, and the pasta sloshed on the plate. But Janice relished every mouthful. For a cook who, until recently, couldn’t make a cup of tea, it was haute cuisine.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      ‘Preciate the contribution, Matty! S’prised ya had time ta cook up anythin’, what with gittin’ ready fer publication an’ all. Ya must be all giddy ’bout Matty Windsor Is Coming Home. Dunno ’bout yer cookin’ but yer a star!

      • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

        It’s all part of the preparation. They want her to develop some rudimentary cooking skills to survive in her new home ,,, if she ever gets there!

  2. ellenbest24

    I read about Millie at the mic last week, for the saloon and maybe Millie’s soup made by her sweet husband was what kept her wanting more for so long.
    Millie’s Sweet potato & carrots lightly spiced Autumnal soup.

    Carrots, sweet potato, garlic.
    Gently fry:
    onion Turmeric, ginger ground cardamom, cayenne pepper,
    2pints fresh chicken or veg stock in a crock pot with ground salt and pepper and one med cubed potato and 4oz red split lentils (soaked)
    When onions translucent and veg soft in the oven, add to stock. Cook low in oven for an hour.
    Add red chilli flakes blitz with a stick blender add more liquid if needed.

    Toss in flaked salt and a tiny coating of olive and sesame oil, then add enough to barely coat the shredded stalkless Cavalo Nero. Put on a baking tray 150°f not on fan cook, or it will blow away.
    Toast sesame seeds in a dry pan and put to one side.
    Watch the Nero carefully as soon as crisp put in a bowl sprinkle the sesame seeds over and use to garnish the soup.

    It is so ludicrously warming and tasty you will make batches to freeze. I have a photo of it on my Instagram, as I made a batch only yesterday. Millie’s Sunday Soup day.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Thank you! This sounds good enough to eat, for real.

      • ellenbest24

        It is real honest, and the most amazing soup I have it as a meal it is so filling.

  3. Charli Mills

    Lot’s going on at the Saloon. Seems my characters escaped. I’ll herd them back to the pages. we have renovations to do. Have fun, everyone!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Hey Shorty! Yep, they’s a lot goin’ on. ‘Twixt these recipes an’ thet latest prompt at the Ranch don’t know if I’m comin’ er goin’. But we ‘preciate yer characters comin’ by. This is whut the saloon is fer, place ta unwind an’ socialize, an’ it ain’t never mattered if the folk are real or fictional characters a folk. Jist so ya’ll know, next week we got a artist takin’ the stage, one special ta Carrot Ranch, then anuther 5at the Mic readin’, followed by a book talk with a special gues, complete with stories, an’ then karaoke fer the solstice an’ holidays. Hopin’ folks send their lyrics in early so we kin git ’em up on the stage. We’re always lookin’ fer showin’s an’ innerviews, January’s comin’. (Email:

      • Charli Mills

        Good times, forging ahead.

  4. Jules

    I enjoyed reading the conversation and recipes. I’m more of a panster when it comes to recipes…
    I did make some homemade guacamole the other day.
    Here’s what I did, but I don’t always make it the same way twice.

    Panster Guacamole

    3 avocados cut in small chunks ( I wanted to use ’em before they went bad.
    Most of a large onion chopped real small (I was saving some of that onion for potato salad)
    a large roma tomato that I took the insides out of – chopped real small
    two heaping spoons of already chopped (in the jar in water) garlic.

    I mixed and mashed it a bit and then ate it with scoop chips.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Soun’s like the Poet Lariat mashed the prompts, circled on back ta avocado!

      • Jules

        I think I picked up them avocadoes because of the prompt! I betcha could spread that guac on toast too! That’d be a good munchy lunch! 😀

    • Charli Mills

      Good job on pantsing guac, Jules!

  5. suespitulnik

    As Tessa’s author, I have recently come into ownership of my grandmother’s diaries. I’m currently reading the years 1948 to 1952. She mentioned making date nut bread in the springtime. My mother always made it to give to deliverymen and friends at Christmas time. I am still making it for the holidays, and I can eat most of a loaf myself, partly because I like it and partly for the memories. I hope you give it a try.
    The spaghetti sauce sounds luscious.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      I enjoy recipes that connect us to our elders and ancestors. Thank you for sharing your family’s treasure here with us.

    • Charli Mills

      What a treasure, Sue. I’m going to give the date nut bread a try!

  6. Norah

    My mouth is watering after reading all these recipes. 🙂

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Jist be glad Pepe ain’t got the smellevision worked out yet.

      • Norah

        I am!

  7. H.R.R. Gorman

    There’s a place in North Carolina called the “Fiction Kitchen”, which this post reminded me of.

      • H.R.R. Gorman

        It’s in downtown Raleigh (the capitol), and it’s vegetarian/vegan. Since I’ve been a long time ago, they’ve added fake pulled pork, so I’ve got to make the journey again sometime and try that.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Oh. That kind of fiction. They’re probably fakin’ bacon and serving alternative brats too. Sounds like a fun place. Bone appetit!

  8. robbiesinspiration

    Thanks for these great recipes, Miss D. Pal and Kid do not want to visit my house as all we’ve been make for weeks is gingerbread for the giant gingerbread project that turned out to be ‘gianter’ than expected. My family are sick to death of gingerbread off-cuts.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Oh, dear, too much of a good thing?
      Thanks for finding time to swing by and step through our swinging doors.

  9. Ruchira Khanna

    Loved all the recipes, D. What a beautiful compilation of stories and the recipes followed after that. Am going to try the date bread…sounds nutritious and hearty for the cold season as I sip my ginger tea 🙂

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Thanks! Yeah, I was just along for the ride on this one. Thank you for your contributions.

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