Friday, March 20, 2020

Recipes and WILD ROSE PASS by Karen Hulene Bartell

Karen Hulene Bartell is here to share a recipe, and she also shares some information about why scents and memories are so connected. Thanks for being here, Karen!

Thanks so much for hosting me on your blog. It’s a pleasure to be here!


Food is essential. I love preparing and sharing it—as well as writing about it. As a result, food becomes a crucial element of my novels, and readers participate in the scenes through taste and smell, even engaging with their favorite characters because of the recipes I include.

The sense of smell is closely linked with memory. What better way to recall past holidays than through the aromas of traditional food? What comes to mind when you read the next paragraphs?

Then, she brought the pièce de résistance on an oversized platter— 

His mouth watering at the sight and scent of home cooking, Ben inhaled the spices’ pungent aromas and the turkey’s savory bouquet.

Thanksgiving? Christmas? What do you recall?

Using thick potholders, Cadence took the mincemeat pie from the warming oven. Cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, apples, currants, and dried apricots bubbled together in a buttery lattice pastry. As she carried it into the dining room, its spicy aromas wafted back, and she breathed them in along with memories of earlier Thanksgivings with her parents.

Food also introduces us to foreign cultures, flavors—and sometimes concepts. Textures and tastes take us on tiny culinary adventures.

When Cadence inhaled the fresh cornbread’s familiar aroma, she detected an unusual nutty scent. She bit into the crumbly bread, slowly chewed it, and smiled. “This tastes like a sweet cornbread. What’s that subtle flavor?” 

“Mesquite meal. It makes the corn meal go further.” 

“Where did you get it?” She did a double-take. 

Ben translated. “I ground mesquite beans on a makeshift metate of flat rocks.”

Scent and taste are also subtle sexual communicators. Some scientists believe kissing evolved from sniffing and tasting potential partners. Think of phrases like “Sexual appetite” or “His eyes devoured her” or “Lips tasted like wine / honey / strawberries…”

As he reined away his horse from the veranda, she inhaled, catching the masculine scents of sun-warmed leather and horses. Warmth crept to her cheeks.

Her nearness, the clean scent of her hair, and the feathery tickle of her breath on his neck stirred him, and he bent his head to kiss her.

But the topic of today’s blog is Recipes, so try your hand at this spicy favorite—but with a Texas twist: agave syrup.

Ben shook his head as he ladled peaches over his steaming gingerbread, their sweet and pungent aromas mingling as he inhaled.



2-1/2 cups white flour
2-1/2 teaspoons yeast powder (or 1 packet instant yeast)
2-1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
4 egg yolks, beaten
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup agave syrup (or maple syrup)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter one oblong baking pan. Combine the dry ingredients. Mix the egg yolks with the butter, sugar, and syrup. Combine the dry mixture with the egg mixture. Turn into the buttered pan. Bake for thirty-five minutes, or until center springs back when touched. Serve warm with canned peaches, if desired. Serves 12-16.

Wild Rose Pass by Karen Hulene Bartell


Cadence McShane, free-spirited nonconformist, yearns to escape the rigid code, clothes, and sidesaddles of 1880s military society in Fort Davis, Texas. She finds the daring new lieutenant exhilarating, but as the daughter of the commanding officer, she is expected to keep with family tradition and marry West Point graduate James West.

Orphaned, Comanche-raised, and always the outsider looking in, Ben Williams yearns to belong. Cadence embodies everything he craves, but as a battlefield-commissioned officer with the Buffalo Soldiers instead of a West Point graduate, he is neither accepted into military society nor considered marriageable.

Can two people of different worlds, drawn together by conflicting needs, flout society and forge a life together on the frontier?


Reining his horse between catclaw and prickly-pear cactus, Ben Williams squinted at the late summer sun’s low angle. Though still midafternoon, shadows lengthened in the mountains. He clicked his tongue, urging his mare up the incline. “Show a little enthusiasm, Althea. If we’re not in Fort Davis by sunset, we’ll be bedding down with scorpions and rattlesnakes.”

As his detachment’s horses clambered up Wild Rose Pass, the only gap through west Texas’ rugged Davis Mountains, Ben kept alert for loose rocks or hidden roots, anything that might trip his mount. A thick layer of fallen leaves created a pastiche of color shrouding the trail from view. He glanced up at the lithe cottonwood trees lining the route, their limbs dancing in the breeze. More amber and persimmon leaves loosened, fell, and settled near the Indian pictographs on their tree trunks. When he saw the red- and yellow-ochre drawings, he smiled, recalling the canyon’s name—Painted Comanche Camp.

“How far to Fort Davis, lieutenant?” called McCurry, one of his recruits.

“Three hours.” If we keep a steady pace.

Without warning, the soldier’s horse whinnied. Spooking, it reared on its hind legs, threw its rider, and galloped off.

As he sat up, the man groaned, caught his breath, and stared into the eyes of a coiled rattler, poised to strike. “What the…?”

Flicking its tongue, hissing, tail rattling, the pit viper was inches from the man’s face.

A sheen of sweat appeared above the man’s lip. “Lieutenant—”

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About the Author:

Author of the Trans-Pecos, Sacred Emblem, Sacred Journey, and Sacred Messenger series, Karen is a best-selling author, motivational keynote speaker, wife, and all-around pilgrim of life. She writes multicultural, offbeat love stories that lift the spirit. Born to rolling-stone parents who moved annually, Bartell found her earliest playmates as fictional friends in books. Paperbacks became her portable pals. Ghost stories kept her up at night—reading feverishly. The paranormal was her passion. Westerns spurred her to write (pun intended). Wanderlust inherent, Karen enjoyed traveling, although loathed changing schools. Novels offered an imaginative escape. An only child, she began writing her first novel at the age of nine, learning the joy of creating her own happy endings. Professor emeritus of the University of Texas at Austin, Karen resides in the Hill Country with her husband Peter and her “mews”—three rescued cats and a rescued *Cat*ahoula Leopard dog.

Connect with Karen:

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  1. Thank you, Jana, for hosting me today! This is a great way to spend Friday!

    1. Thanks for being my guest and for the interesting, thought-provoking post. Stay well!

  2. Totally agree how certain food smells trigger memories. Enjoyed your post, Karen! Will definitely try your recipe. Love Gingerbread! All the best. :)

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by, Mary <3 Yes, gingerbread DOES bring back memories!

  3. Yummy recipe! Good luck with the book.

    1. Hope you get a chance to try it, Jennifer. It's especially good with the agave syrup! Have a great day <3

  4. Great idea! I think I'll use your recipe today and make some gingerbread. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by! If you're interested in Campfire Recipes, I'll have a cast-iron cornbread recipe in an upcoming blog ;)

  5. Can't wait to try the recipe. And yes, some food smells definitely trigger memories--most of them good :) continued good luck with your book.

    1. "Most of them good" - had to chuckle at your remark ;) My FIRST attempt at gingerbread was when I was three, and I put lemon extract in the batter...Thanks for stopping by, Barbara!

  6. Can't wait to try it. Even I couldn't mess this recipe up. Thanks for sharing. Happy sales.

  7. Thanks for dropping by, Anna! Hope you'll try the gingerbread recipe - though in Wild Rose Pass, they top it with canned peaches. Might want to try it that way ;)