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 My character, Jules Montgomery tries to cook this recipe from The Improved Housewife or Book of Recipts with Engravings for Marketing and Carving by Mrs. A. L. Webster. It’s an actual book that was published in 1851. Unfortunately for Jules, her soup doesn’t turn out the way it should since she tends to improvise.


Black, or Beef Soup Receipt

For soup the shank of beef is the best joint. Cold beef steak, and cold roast beef bones, make good soup. Boil the shank, in sufficient water to cover it, about five hours. Thirty minutes before putting the soup on the table, take out the meat, thicken the broth with scorched flour mixed with cold water; season it with pepper, salt, mace, and cloves; a little walnut or tomato catsup improves it. Add sweet herbs, or herb spirit, if liked. Some boil onions in the soup; but as they are offensive to many people, it is best to boil and serve them up by themselves. Make force meat balls of part of the beef and a little fat salt pork, chopped very fine, seasoned with salt, pepper, mace, and cloves, and boil them fifteen minutes in the soup.

Here’s a sneak peek at the scene in Taming Julia:

Taming the wild out of Jules is going to take longer than I’d anticipated. Drew seized his glass and guzzled the water, ignoring the dribbles down his chin. Tears streaked his cheeks.

“It’s terrible!” Jules wouldn’t look him in the eye.

What had she put into the stew to make it burn his mouth and throat all the way to his stomach? He couldn’t lie and tell her he liked the atrocious meal she’d prepared.

“I’m a lousy cook.” Jules’s eyes blinked rapidly.

Oh, no. Not tears. “I didn’t—” Drew wiped his sweating forehead.

“You would’ve been better off…” Jules turned her head away.

“If what?

The unfinished sentence hung between them.

Jules shoved her chair from the table and made a dash for the outhouse. When she returned, her pale face concerned him. He pulled her into his arms and held her while she sobbed.

“I don’t understand.” Her body shook.

In one swooping motion Drew lifted and carried her to the sofa. He sat with her snuggled on his lap, rubbing his fingers along her backbone. A waft of the outdoors tinged her clothes, tickling his nostrils.

“What ingredients did you add?”

Her lip quivered. “It was ‘sposed to be beef soup. The recipe in the book from yer ma said to add pepper, salt, cloves, and mace. I weren’t sure what mace was, and we didn’t have no cloves.”

“So what did you add instead?”

He put his finger under her chin and tilted her head so he could see her beautiful, tear-filled eyes.

“I figured since we didn’t have the cloves and mace I’d use somethin’ called cayenne instead. I can’t rightly recall the rest of its name.”

“Cayenne pepper?”

“Yes, that’s it. I put in two heapin’ spoonfuls. Do you think it’s how I ruined it?”

Drew coughed. No wonder his eyes hadn’t stopped watering since the first bite. “Haven’t you ever had cayenne pepper? I hear they use it often in Texas dishes. It’s very spicy.”

“No, we didn’t usually have spices along the trail. Salt, if anything. Is that why it tastes so awful?”

“It probably has a lot to do with it.” He smiled and tucked a tendril of hair behind her ear, surprised by its softness.


Have you ever had recipes that haven’t turned out the way you planned?


Taming Julia

by Jodie Wolfe

In 1875, Kansas bachelor Drew Montgomery’s sole desire is to serve God, but his congregation’s ultimatum that he marry or leave, forces him to advertise for a wife by proxy.

Jules Walker strides into Drew’s life wearing breeches and toting a gun and saddle–more cowboy than bride. After years on the trail, she’s not exactly wife material, but she longs for home and family, and will do anything to ensure Drew never discovers what she really is.

Purchase Links for Taming Julia Amazon


About the Author:

Jodie Wolfe creates novels where hope and quirky meet. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), Romance Writers of America (RWA), and COMPEL Training. She’s been a semi-finalist and finalist in various writing contests. A former columnist for Home School Enrichment magazine, her articles can be found online at: Crosswalk, Christian Devotions, and Heirloom Audio. She’s a contributor and co-founder of Stitches Thru Time blog. When not writing she enjoys spending time with her husband in Pennsylvania, reading, walking, and being a Grammie. Learn more at http://www.jodiewolfe.com.


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