Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Book Blog Tour and Giveaway - Gone to Dallas: The Storekeeper 1856-1861 by Laurie Moore-Moore

Welcome to my stop on the book blog tour for Gone to Dallas: The Storekeeper 1856-1861 by Laurie Moore-Moore. This blog tour was organized by Lone Star Book Blog Tours. On my stop, I am spotlighting the book, and I also have an interesting guest post regarding squirrel stew from the author. There's also the tour wide giveaway to win a signed copy of the book. Be sure to visit the other stops on the tour for more content. Enjoy!
Title: Gone to Dallas: The Storekeeper 1856-1861
Author: Laurie Moore-Moore
Publisher: Goat Mountain Press
Publication Date: October 4th 2021
Print Length: 348 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Sara’s husband was a disappointment in life, but she had to admit he was a handsome corpse.

Climb aboard an 1856 Dallas-bound wagon train and join a plucky female protagonist for the journey of a lifetime in Laurie Moore-Moore’s richly entertaining new book, Gone to Dallas: The Storekeeper 1856-1861. Far from your average historical novel or western, Gone to Dallas is a compelling tale of migration, betrayal, death and dreams—peppered with real people, places, and events. With a cast of interesting characters and more bumps and hazards than a wagon trail, Gone to Dallas tells the unforgettable story of a formidable frontier woman in the context of true Texas history.

It had seemed so romantic when Morgan Darnell courted Sara in Tennessee, finally convincing her they should marry and join an 1856 “Gone to Texas” wagon train traveling along the “Trail of Tears,” through Indian territory, and across the Red River into Texas.

In a twist of fate, Sara arrives in Dallas a 19-year-old widow, armed with plenty of pluck, and determined to open a general store in the tiny settlement of log cabins on the Trinity River. Standing in her way as a young woman alone are a host of challenges. Can Sara (with the help of her friends) pull herself up by the bootstraps and overcome uncertainty, vandalism, threats, and even being shot?

Follow Sara as she strives to create her store while living Dallas’ true history — from the beginnings of La RĂ©union (the European colony across the Trinity) to a mud and muck circus, a grand ball and the mighty fire that burns Dallas to the ground. Dallas is a challenging place, especially with the Civil War looming.

Even with the friendship of a retired Texas Ranger and Dallas’ most important citizen — another woman — is Sara strong enough to meet the challenge? The risks are high. Failure means being destitute in Dallas!

In Gone to Dallas: The Storekeeper 1856-1861, author Laurie Moore-Moore spins a page-turner of a tale salted with historically accurate Texas events and populated with real characters. It’s Portis’ True Grit meets Texas history.

My husband, Roger, and I have been blessed with many adventures in life—from trekking across India’s Thar desert on a camel (and sleeping in the sand on our camel blankets) to repeating marriage vows in a remote Maasi village in Kenya (my dowery was one cow and one goat). My favorite adventure? As a fifth generation Texan, it is discovering more and more Texas history and writing about it!

We live in Dallas, Texas but sneak away when possible, to a mountain-top cabin overlooking a lake in former Indian Territory (the Oklahoma Ozark Mountains) The cabin is unique—there is a nine foot chainsaw bear in our entry hall. The house was built around it. Never thought I’d own a piece of chainsaw art, much less a nine-foot bear. Life is full of surprises. . . just like a good historical novel.

Laurie Moore-Moore is a retired entrepreneur who has built and sold multiple businesses and served on the Board of Directors of an international corporation.

Moving West: Squirrel on the Menu
by Laurie Moore-Moore

In Gone to Dallas, The Storekeeper 1856-1861, the main character—Sara Darnell—cooks squirrel stew over her wagon-train campfire. I can almost hear you. “Squirrel stew? Yuck!”

Here’s how my introduction to squirrel stew came about. As a child I often visited my grandparents and could usually be found in their wooden porch swing with a book in my hand. One day my book referred to a character eating squirrel stew. I dashed into the house waving the book to ask my grandmother if people actually ate squirrels.

“Yes,” she said. “Squirrel is pretty good.”

“You’ve eaten squirrel?”

She grinned. “Sure have, many times.”

“Yuck” . . .I wrinkled my nose.

She grinned. “Squirrel was a major source of meat in the 1800s, Laurie. Some of your ancestors traveled to Texas in wagons and what meat they were able to shoot is what they ate—squirrel included. After they arrived in Texas, squirrel remained on their menus.” She looked at me with a twinkle in her eye, “Are you brave enough to try it?”

“Okay.” I thought I’d be safe since Piggly Wiggly certainly didn’t carry squirrel in their meat counters.

But my grandmother surprised me. “Wait here,” she said. She quickly returned with a long gun in hand. My eyes were wide. I didn’t know my grandparents owned a gun. Out we went into the back yard full of tall trees. . .and squirrels. The next thing I knew, my grandmother had bagged three big, furry squirrels. She carried them into the house by the tails. “We are going to have squirrel stew for supper,” she said. And you can help me fix it. We’ll start by cleaning the squirrels.”

“Cleaning them?” I was envisioning shampooing their furry little bodies.

“Cleaning means we’ll remove the head, skin them, and rinse them. Not to different from starting with a chicken you have to pluck. Instead of feathers, we’ll deal with fur.”

“Pluck?” I asked.

“Oh my! You are a city child,” she said with a laugh. Before starting she slipped on a pair of heavy gloves. “We don’t want to handle the head with bare hands.” She removed the head and disposed of it. Then, skinned and washed the squirrels, finally cutting them into pieces.

She handed me her large iron skillet. “Melt half a cup of butter while I dust the squirrel pieces with a bit of flour. Then we’ll fry the pieces until they are browned on both sides.”

Soon the browned pieces were transferred to a Dutch oven. Next, she had me lightly brown two sliced onions in the skillet. “Settlers probably used wild onions.” She added a clove of chopped garlic. “They wouldn’t have had garlic handy, but we’ll add some for taste. Once the onions were light brown she told me, “Toss ‘em in the Dutch oven with the melted butter and add enough chicken broth to almost cover them. Settlers used water, but broth adds flavor.” She sloshed in some white vinegar. “That was a bit more than three tablespoons, I’m guessing.” She shook in salt, pepper, and a bit of thyme. “Grab two of those large tomatoes, chop ‘em into chunky pieces and toss them into the pot.” I nodded. “Give all that a stir and we’ll cover the pot, bring it to a simmer, and cook it on low for about 90 minutes—until the meat will come off the bone easily. Now go read your book, we’ll finish this after a while.”

Later she called me into the kitchen. “The squirrel pieces have cooled enough to handle. Wash your hands and we’ll strip the meat off the bones.” Soon we had a pile of squirrel meat which went back into the pot with several hands full of freshly chopped greens. “We’ll cook this about ten minutes more, until the greens are done. We could eat it this way, but it would be soup. instead of stew” She grabbed a small pan. “I’ll make a white sauce.” When it was thick, she ladled in some of the cooking juice to thin it, then stirred it into the pot, cooking and stirring until the resulting gravy coated the spoon.

My grandfather walked into the kitchen and inhaled deeply, lifted the lid on the pot, sniffed again and said, “Hattie, That’s squirrel I smell. Haven’t had it in years. I hope there’s cornbread, too.

My grandmother nodded. “It’s in the oven.”

What a treat!” My grandfather hurried to his chair. Soon we were all three sitting down to steamy bowls of squirrel stew.

“This is what Texans ate in the 1800’s?” I asked as I finished my bowl of stew.

“Yep, my grandfather said. “Along with lots of other game—from bear steaks, to rabbit, possum, even porcupine. I was shocked. Porcupine? I didn’t say a word for fear a dinner with quills might show up on my plate. Instead, I reached for a bit more squirrel stew and a second piece of cornbread.

How was the stew? Good! If the squirrels don’t stop digging up my flowers, I may try squirrel stew again!
Win an autographed copy of Gone to Dallas: The Storekeeper 1856-1861 by Laurie Moore-Moore - three winners!
(US only.)

(All the Ups and Downs is not responsible for this giveaway, its entries, or the prizes. Lone Star Book Blog Tours is responsible for everything related to this giveaway.)

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1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed the guest post. Still not sure if I'd want to try squirrel stew, though.