Today is my stop during the blog tour for His Hometown Girl by Karen Rock. This book blitz is organized by Lola's Blog Tours. The book blitz runs from March 31 till April 13, you can view the whole tour schedule here.
He'd always managed to best herÖ
Jodi Chapman will do whatever it takes to get top care for her autistic son. If that means going home and convincing local farmers to sell their land, so be it. Even if her biggest opponent, childhood rival Daniel Gleason, is equally determined to convince farmers to buy into his co-op plan. And he's not playing fair.
Facing off against Daniel is the last thing Jodi wants. The attraction that's always fueled their competitiveness is as strong as ever and just as distracting. But with both their futures on the line, and years of distrust between them, how can they ever be on the same side?
You can add His Hometown Girl to your to-read list on Goodreads.
You can buy His Hometown Girl here:
- Amazon U.K. (Print and Kindle
- eHarlequin (Print Book)
Karen Rock Farm Anecdote: The Proof is in the Salsa
Although I wasnít raised on a farm, I spent every Sunday and lots of weeks in the summer on my grandparentsí Century dairy farm in Malone, New York. A Century farm means that itís a farm thatís been owned by the same family, continuously, for over a hundred years. My family had raised cattle on that land in upstate New York for over two hundred plus years. It always gave me so much pride whenever we took the turn up their long, sugar maple-lined drive because Iíd imagine that Almanzo Wilder, another Malone farm kid, would have grown up seeing the same things I did. As a huge fan of the Laura Ingalls Wilder series, Little House on the Prairie, this meant so much to me.
Although there were lots of things I loved doing on the farm, spending time with neighbors was also a big favorite. There were lots of excuses to get together and the best ones involved potluck suppers. While these gatherings were friendly affairs, there was something a bit electric and competitive feeling about those suppers. Women brought their best main courses, side dishes and desserts and anxiously watched to see that their pan was scraped clean. My grandmother was just as eager to have her cooking skills praised and/or recognized as the rest. Whenever a potluck approached, weíd spend lots of time discussing what sheíd bringÖ everyone loved her three bean salad, but last time Nancy Martineau had brought the same dish which meant weíd come home with- gasp- leftovers. That could not. Would not. Happen again.
Weíd picked blackberries and her cobbler could not be beat, so we were all set for bringing a desert. As for a main course, we settled on meatloaf with a sweet ketchup sauce on top. It wasnít my Gramís favorite thing to make, but Bernice, who usually provided this staple, had broken a hip and no potluck was complete without it. As the Vice President of the local Daughters of the American Revolution chapter (DAR), my grandmother had the clout to fill Berniceís shoes- temporarily. But a side dishÖ the agonyÖ what if Nancy breeched the unspoken etiquette of who brought what and produced another three bean salad? Gram could make coleslaw but another neighbor always made that. The same was true for potato salad, pasta salad and fruit salad. Pistachio and Ambrosia salads were also popular but other ladies had claimed those long ago too.
So perhaps a hot dish? I voted for scalloped potatoes but Gram reminded me that Marlene always made them. When I suggested baked beans and bacon, the green bean salad topped with fried onions, or creamed baby onions she just shook her head sadly. Nope. The politics of a potluck supper ran deep. It was an insult and a bit of a challenge to bring the same dish another neighbor was known to contribute. Yet we needed something extraordinary to avoid loading a half-filled aluminum tin in the back of the pick-up on the way home.
Then it came to me. Salsa! Weíd been picking tomatoes for days. Jarring them too. And since we also had fresh peppers and onions, we couldnít miss. When I suggested it to Gram, she looked puzzled and shook her head. It would stick out. Sounded too exotic. People wouldnít know what to make of it. But I pressed on, certain that our old-fashioned Yankee potlucks could use a little updating- though I never wanted us to lose the bread pudding or banana cream pies! Finally, if only to make me happy, she gave in and we took a rare trip into town to get some cilantro, hot sauce and tortilla chips.
We ran into Marlene who was very curious about what we had in our shopping cart by the way she kept looking. But I had to hand it to Gram. Once she committed, she was all in and didnít give away a thing other than to observe that ñ yes- the corn was coming along nicely this season. I could have laughed at the shocked look on Marleneís face when she caught sight of the hot sauce jar.
Back home, we chopped, diced and mixed and the smell was so good even my Uncle Bob, a notoriously picky eater, wandered into the kitchen to investigate. We set the bowl in the ëfridge and, since I was spending the night, went to sleep. The next morning, I rushed to the kitchen to find Gram with her head stuck inside the refrigerator, checking on the salsa. It smelled even better than yesterday, but she decided, after tasting it, to add a little sugar to sweeten it. Gram was never big on measuring. She tasted, she looked and she smelled. Thatís how she cooked and despite the lack of scientific measurements, her dishes won prizes at fairs and were the talk of potluck suppers. She was widely known as one of the best cooks in the county. Would her reputation stay intact after this risky potluck contribution?
At the supper, long foldout tables were laid out, end to end in a long ëLí shape with deserts down on one end, main dishes at the other and the sides in the middle. We arrived early to set up and I noticed that, although Gram had set out her meatloaf which earned her cautious praise (no one dared say it looked better than Berniceís), and her berry cobbler, the salsa was nowhere to be found. Had she left it in the truck? After a quick trip to check, I came back empty handed. Weíd worked so hard. Maybe weíd left it at home. My heart sank. I just knew people would have liked this new treat and now theyíd never taste it.
Locals filed in and the noise grew even louder until the minister raised his hand for the blessing. We all bowed our heads, though mine was already low. I barely listened for thoughts of the salsa until I heard him actually say the word. Salsa. Whatís more, he mentioned me. He was giving thanks to me for bringing my first dish to the supper and when I peaked up I saw my grandmother behind the table, her sparkling eyes meeting mine as she nodded at the bowl on the table in front of her. The salsa!
After grace, I joined her to help serve, and she told me sheíd wanted to surprise me. I was so happy that my feet didnít feel connected to the ground. Even better, people were lining up to taste this fresh garden salsaÖ and coming back for more. Suddenly, I felt the pressure and responsibility of having brought a tasty dish. It wasnít until someone scooped out the last spoonful that I breathed easy and shared a jubilant hug with Gram. Iíd done it! My contribution was a hit- especially with the men who confided that they liked spicy food- something you rarely heard up North.
The ride home was full of excited chatterÖ mostly mine. Uncle Bob asked me if weíd kept any more of the salsa back home and I promised him Iíd make more. In fact, from there on out, I always made salsa for potlucks. It became my dish. While I never quite earned my grandmotherís reputation as a great cook, I was happy to contribute to our neighborly gatherings. Itís the best part about being in a close community like ours.
Karen Rock has adored romance since receiving Harlequin Presents books from her grandmother each summer. She formed her Young Adult writing partnership, J.K. Rock- pseudonym for the CAMP BOYFRIEND series, with her sister-in-law and Blaze author, Joanne Rock in 2011. When Karen heard of a call for submissions to Heartwarming, Harlequinís latest line, she was inspired by the possibilities of writing unforgettable, deeply romantic, tender love stories that mothers would feel comfortable sharing with their daughters. Since then, her first Harlequin, WISH ME TOMORROW came out in September, 2013 and her next novel HIS HOMETOWN GIRL comes out in March, 2014 with three more releases expected this year.
When sheís not writing, Karen loves scouring estate sales for vintage books, cooking her grandmother's family recipes, hiking the ëhigh peaksí, and redesigning her gardens. She lives in the Adirondack Mountain region with her husband, daughter, and two Cavalier King cocker spaniels who have yet to understand the concept of ìfetchî though they know a lot about love. For more information about Karen's upcoming books, check out her website at http://www.karenrock.com, Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/karenrockwrites or follow her on twitter at http://www.twitter.com/karenrock5 . Sheíd love to hear from you!
You can find Karen here:
There is a tour wide giveaway for the book blitz of His Hometown Girl. These are the prizes you can win:
- Grand Prize: $50 gift card and a signed copy of Karen Rock her earlier Heartwarming Wish Me Tomorrow and her YA contemporary romance, Camp Boyfriend.
- Two runner-ups both win a 15$ amazon gift card
For a chance to win enter the rafflecopter below:
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