today’s book: This Is Where It Ends by Cindy K. Sproles
We are moving right along on our summer-long Road Trip Reads Giveaway where we will be visiting all 50 states on the pages of recently released books. Because road trips are always better with friends – and books – right? So grab your fave snacks, a cold soda or bottled water, an upbeat playlist and let’s head to the place where I graduated high school and college and met & married my husband!
today’s stop: Kentucky
THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS by Cindy K. Sproles
GENRE: Inspirational Historical Fiction
RELEASE DATE: June 27, 2023
Award-Winning Author Pens a Unique Southern Tale
When Minerva Jane Jenkins was just 14 years old, she married a man who moved her to the mountains. He carried with him a small box, which he told her was filled with gold. And when he died 50 years later, he made her promise to keep his secret. She is to tell no one about the box or the treasure it contains.
Now 94, Minerva is nearing the end of what has sometimes been a lonely life. But she’s kept that secret. Even so, rumors of hidden gold have a way of spreading, and Minerva is visited by a reporter, Del Rankin, who wants to know more of her story. His friend who joins him only wants to find the location of the gold. Neither of them knows quite who they’re up against when it comes to the old woman on the mountain.
As an unlikely friendship develops, Minerva is tempted to reveal her secret to Del. After all, how long is one bound by a promise? But the truth of what’s really buried in the box may be hidden even from her.
Q: Can you please provide a brief summary of This Is Where It Ends?
Cindy: This is the story of Minerva Jenkins, an elderly woman living alone on a mountain in Kentucky, who made a promise to her dying husband that ruled her life. She is a faithful widow who comes to grips with a wasted life in her final days, until she meets a reporter who ends up being the family she didn’t know she had. The question becomes, How long do you keep a promise, even if it is detrimental? To the grave.
Q: How does your own background influence your writing?
Cindy: My mountain heritage plays a huge part in my writing. I was raised in the mountains of East Tennessee, and my family carried those mountain values and abilities that make the culture so rich. I’ve learned from the experience of deep-rooted family members, and that is something they don’t teach in school anymore. I don’t want it forgotten.
flour bowls and mountain biscuits
by Cindy K. Sproles, author of This is Where It Ends
Welcome to the mountains of East Tennessee – home of the Great Smoky Mountains and the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The Appalachian Mountains are home to many innovative people and skills, but one thing folks enjoy most is the fine meals mountain women make. In my book, This is Where It Ends, Minerva Jane Jenkins prides herself in serving biscuits and gravy.
Mountain women keep a flour bowl – a huge glass bowl filled with fine, soft flour. That doesn’t sound like anything unique, but there is a skill to using a flour bowl. The skill lies in mixing directly into flour and never measuring it into another bowl. We use the backs of our fingers and press a nest into the middle of the flour. A nest is a deep compacted indention in the flour. We mix our biscuits or bread directly into that nest, gently using the tips of our fingers to pull small amounts of flour into the center of our bowl with the wet ingredients, then mixing with a “tender touch. Once our dough is mixed, we remove it and loosen any pressed flour. The wonderful thing about nesting is when your dough is removed, the remainder of the flour is perfectly dry. We cover the bowl with a dry towel and store it. Learning to nest takes a little practice, but mountain women begin teaching their daughters early.
Flour was a precious commodity in the 1800s, and a flour bowl prevented waste. I’ll share our family biscuit recipe so you can enjoy them at home. So, wash up. Start with clean hands and turn your oven to 500 degrees to preheat.
We measure differently in the mountains, rarely using measuring cups. Instead, we use our hands and the comparison method. You’ll need a palm of lard or Crisco. Dig your fingers into the Crisco and take out a palm full. Compare your palm of lard to the size of an extra-large egg. Drop it in your bowl.
Next, scoop three cups (or double hand fulls) of flour into your bowl. Dig both hands into your flour and scoop up a heaping handful. Both hands will be a cup. One hand would be a little over a half cup. Are you starting to see how the women of the mountains cook?
Finally, you’ll need buttermilk. If you don’t have buttermilk handy, then we’ll curdle some. Fill a nice-sized cup with milk, and add three capfuls of white vinegar. Stir. In just a few seconds, you’ll feel the milk thicken. Give it a minute, then pour half into your bowl. I use my hands to mix, but a wooden spoon is fine. Mix until your flour forms a soft dough. You’ll know it’s right when it doesn’t stick to the side of the bowl or your hands. This is where you have to “eye” your work. Sometimes you add more buttermilk, but only a tiny bit at a time, until your dough is in a soft ball and not sticky.
Flour your counter, form a nice dough ball, then gently press it out in a circle with your palms. I like to measure my thickness up to the first knuckle of my finger. If you don’t have a biscuit cutter, a nice-sized drinking glass works fine. Biscuits are always wonderful when baked in a cast iron skillet, but your cookie sheet is fine if you don’t have one. Lay a piece of foil on the bottom of your pan, cut your biscuits, and line them on your pan. Melt some butter and brush on top – a good amount makes soft, tasty biscuits, then pop them in your 500-degree oven until the tops are golden brown. Somewhere between 9-10 minutes, depending on your oven.
You’ve just made tender, break-apart, melt-in-your-mouth mountain biscuits from scratch. Enjoy this tasty treat of the Appalachian mountains.
Revell is offering a print copy of This Is Where It Ends by Cindy K. Sproles to TWO of my readers! (US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.
What about you? What makes you want to read This Is Where It Ends by Cindy K. Sproles? Have you ever visited Kentucky?