Sunday, December 11, 2011

Day 3 - 15 Days of Christmas - Rebecca Grace!

Our guest today is the ever bouncing Rebecca Grace.  I did a book signing Friday night with this energetic lady and another author friend and it was a night of laughter, brainstorming and talking with readers…what fun!  Today Rebecca is sharing Christmas memories with us and a recipe she makes year round, holidays included.

The chance to win a signed copy of Deadly Messages is Rebecca’s prize, plus the winner gets their name in the drawing for the England offering, yet to be purchased.  So relax and read my friends, then comment.  Rebecca loves comments!!!!! 

Christmas Memories

We learned early in my family that people had to work on Christmas. My father worked in a veterans’ hospital so unless Christmas fell on Sunday or Monday, we celebrated whenever we could. Years later when I lived outside Colorado and worked in TV news, I always seemed to work Christmas Day. For me, the holiday meal was turkey dinner served between newscasts.
I would fly home to Colorado whenever I could for our “official” family celebration, but sometimes that could be tricky, like in 1982. Colorado was hit by a massive snowstorm two days before Christmas with a full blizzard blowing in on Christmas Eve. The old Stapleton Airport closed so I couldn’t catch a flight until Christmas day.  
My parents tried to drive 200 miles up I-25 from Trinidad so we could all gather at my sister’s house in Denver. My uncle told my dad Mother was a “crazy woman” for making him try the drive. My brother was 35 miles away in Walsenburg along I-25. When they all heard the roads were open, Mom and Dad left Trinidad, with my uncle still thinking divorce should be an option. The roads were so bad my brother couldn’t drive to meet them so he walked a mile to the freeway to wait. This was before the days of cell phones, of course, so the time was hit or miss. He got lots of offers for rides from charitable drivers before my parents finally picked him up. They only got as far as Colorado Springs before I-25 was closed again. They ended up staying at a little motel and eating Christmas Eve dinner at the Royal Fork. The next day the road re-opened and they got to Denver.  
I flew in that morning and told them I’d catch a cab from Stapleton so they didn’t have to drive all the way across town to get me. What I didn’t know was that with 25 inches of snow on the ground, the streets hadn’t been cleared. Imagine my surprise when I discovered no cabs were running. Luckily people with four wheel drive vehicles were spending their Christmas Day earning extra money by hauling people around. It cost me $50 to catch a ride to a hotel near I-25 so they could pick me up.
We had Christmas late, but we all got together. Two days later, when it was time to go back, hundreds of people got stalled in traffic trying to get to the airport. One of my friends says it took her family 6 hours to drive 5 miles. Her mother kept telling her she might want to get out and walk. Seeing that massive traffic jam on TV, I delayed my flight and flew back the next day. Since they were stuffing us all on planes in no particular order, I somehow ended up in first class!
Our family tradition which we still hold dear is baking cookies. Lots of cookies. Dozens of sugar cookies. We don’t give them away, because no one would want them. We use those cookies to show off our inner Picasso. We all sit down with our little palettes of white frosting, food coloring, colored sugar sprinkles and plates of bell, star, tree, ornament, and Santa cookies. But you can turn your cookie into anything. My made a fish out of a tree one year. But if your decoration isn’t up to snuff, the chorus rises, “Eat it, Eat it, EAT IT!” 
Alas, you have to eat that cookie. And some of those art critics among us are vicious! One year my sister’s husband tried to impress us with his artistic abilities. He kept selecting the larger shaped cookies and painting landscapes on them. They were quite impressive, beaches with palm trees, desert scenes. Well, after the fourth one we’d had enough. We made him eat that next one and it was BIG with lots of frosting.  
My brother is always inventive. When his food coloring turned an army green one year, he cut up a cookie and turned it into a fighter jet. He ate it. He also ate the football-shaped cookie he decorated for his favorite football team. It wasn’t the weird brown coloring or even the fact he was rooting for the Dallas Cowboys. It was that he’d misjudged the cookie size and when the lettering got to the end he’d managed to write only, “Go Dalla.” 
 Oh, well, it was always a fun day. We’d have carols playing in the background and we often had a pot of chili cooking on the stove all day or for the next day if we were too sick to eat that night.
We’re already gearing up for this year’s competition. I hope my stomach’s ready.

¼ lb Mexican Chorizo sausage
2 Lbs Lean Ground Beef (half can be Ground Buffalo)
1 Sweet onion
1 to 2 Tablespoons ground red New Mexico Chili (in the packets in the Mexican aisle of the grocery store – season to your taste)
1 -  teaspoon Cumin
1  Cup Water
2 - 4 Oz cans Hatch Diced Green Chili (Mild)
1 - 4 oz can diced Jalapeno (Use only if you want it hotter and add only to your heat level)
1 - 14.5 oz can Diced Tomatoes
1 -15 oz can Pinto Beans
1 -15 oz can Red Kidney Beans
1  Small can Refried Beans (used for thickening)
Salt & pepper to taste 

Cook chorizo in skillet, drain off oil. In separate skillet, brown hamburger and onions until meat is cooked through and onions are translucent. Place in slow cooker or Dutch Oven, add Chorizo. Add 1 Tab chili pepper and cumin. Mix together until blended. Add Diced Green Chili and small amount of Jalapeno if desired. Add diced tomatoes and 1 cup water. Mix
Cook on high for slow cooker or on low heat if on stove top in Dutch oven for 3 hours.
Keep checking for taste after 2 hours. Add addition chili powder if necessary.
Add Kidney and Pinto Beans and cook for additional hour
Add Refried Beans and add more chili powder if necessary. Cook for additional hour.
Serve with saltines and enjoy! (always better the second day!)
Serves 6 

Becky Martinez, aka Rebecca Grace, is a former broadcast journalist who spent 30+ years in television newsrooms around the West. She writes romance, romantic suspense and mystery, both in short story and novel lengths. Her latest novella, Shadows from the Past, is a gothic romance and will be published in March 2012 by  The Wild Rose Press, Her previous book, Deadly Messages, received four stars from RT Book Reviews. She also teaches online writing classes and presents workshops before writing groups and is one of the co-authors of the book—Ten Steps to Creating Memorable Characters

Blurb for Shadows from the Past (coming March 2012)

When Stacey Moreno goes undercover on Evergreen Island, she's looking for answers to a friend's mysterious death, not trouble. Stacey's not adventurous—she lives vicariously through her cartoon creation and can't tell left from right. But from the moment she moves into spooky Redfern Manor and meets her sexy new boss, sparks fly. Hobbled by injuries, former journalist Mack Warren came to Redfern Manor looking for escape, not romance. He’s interested only in writing the story of a former occupant of the manor and prefers to ignore the strange feelings his lively new assistant inspires. As Stacey digs for answers, she’s drawn to her mysterious boss, but he’s obsessed with a ghost. As danger draws near, can Stacey persuade Mack to face the shadows from the past that threaten to destroy their future?


Unknown said...

Rebecca, I had to laugh at your tale of the 1982 blizzard! My mother in law flew in that day and did the same as you, caught a ride with someone in their 4wd. She made it to our house and actually made it back to the airport the same day and was one of 3 flights that got out! Talk about luck! Anyway, I really like your blurb on your new book! Sounds like a great read! I hope you are very successful in your writing!

JBarr5 said...

happy holidays. the food challenges sound too good. something we do here in town: have a mans bakeoff where the men fix all the desserts for the feast and they are judged by other relatives. it's hilarious to say the least.
thanks for having this contest.

Connie Kline said...

I had to laugh at your recall of the Blizzard as well. Those were a tough few days to get around. We also celebrate the holidays when we can. One year we celebrated Christmas in February because my brother was in Iraq, the funny part was the day before "our Christmas" my moms pipes broke and she needed a plumber,so picture this plumber coming over in February to see a Christmas tree and house all decked out still. It was amusing to us to see his reaction. Love the Blurb on your new book, can't wait till it comes out.

Debby said...

I remember that blizzard. It worked out as my kids had chicken pox. So no one really wanted to come anyway.
debby236 at gmail dot com

JeanMP said...

That sounds like quite the adventure, luckily haven't had to deal with a blizzard and getting to and from family gatherings. Copied off the recipe, it sounds really good.

skpetal at hotmail dot com

Rebecca Grace said...

Thanks for the comment. That was lucky for your mother to get out. Those were a few crazy days! We all just sat in the house, talk about cabin fever!

Rebecca Grace said...

Thanks for the comment. I like the idea of a man's bakeoff. In our family, unfortunately, the men are all the better bakers!

Rebecca Grace said...

Thanks for the comment. We've celebrated as early as Thanksgiving and as late as mid-January, but never February!

Rebecca Grace said...

Thanks for the comment. It sounds like you really had your hands full on top of the snowstorm!

Rebecca Grace said...

Thanks for the comment. I hope you enjoy the chili!

Anonymous said...

Becky, I can relate to the working on Christmas memory. My dad worked for the post office, and although there was no delivery on Christmas, there was mail to sort and double time to be earned. We often worked our gift exchange and holiday meal around his schedule.

Our Colorado snow tale is not as dramatic as yours except that ours included a new granddaughter. Zoe was born 3 years ago January 2 in Pueblo. In our zeal to meet her as soon as possible, we drove our 40-foot motorhome from Florida. It started snowing on us somewhere in New Mexico and kept it up until we turned off I-25 toward the marina where we camped. We couldn't get our car off the tow dolly until the next day because the tie down straps were frozen solid and the car was covered with black ice. Not the smartest thing we ever did, but totally worth it.

Thanks for your memories, and best of luck with your new book.

Christmas blessings,

Jennifer Mathis said...

what a great tradition :)

Pam Jones said...

Yum, I'll try this chili...
Christmas is just my favorite time of year...Family, Friends and TIME OFF
Merry Christmas Everyone

Rebecca Grace said...

What a great story! It's always an adventure to travel in winter in Colorado.

Rebecca Grace said...

Our tradition gets a new victim this year as our sister in law partakes for the first time. Hope she's hungry!

books4me said...

I feel so Christmas stories to tell that I can think of.
Thank you for the giveaway!

Happy Holidays!!!!

books4me67 at ymail dot com

akaterrie said...

Becky is the best...her words heat up a cold winter night, and her chili sounds pretty smokin' too!

Shadow said...

Your book sounds so intriguing! Its definitely drawing me in. ;) The chili sounds pretty good. Ill have to try this! Thanks!

Lizzie said...

Thank you, Rebecca. Always love having you guest with us.

And the winner is:

Connie Kline!

Connie, you are one lucky lady!!!! Congrats again!