From Story to Table

Posted by on Jul 16, 2013 in From Story to Table | 24 comments

We’re going on a little adventure today that will take us from the heart of two upcoming novels right into the comfort of our own kitchens! First, we’ll visit Colonial-era New York in 1784 with author Lori Benton for homemade succotash and then it’s off on a wagon train adventure across the Midwest in 1866 with author Mona Hodgson for homemade trail biscuits! 

Planting corn, beans, and squash together in scattered hillocks… that’s how the Six Nations of the Iroquois traditionally grew their primary vegetable and grain crops. For good reason. Sown together in this manner, each plant aids the others as they grow. Emerging bean vines latch onto sturdy cornstalks for support, while the broad-leafed squash and pumpkins at their bases shade the earth, keeping it moist, cool and relatively weed-free. The beans add valuable nitrogen back into the soil to nourish the other two.

Some prominent European Americans in the 18 century were quick to realize the benefits of such planting, including Benjamin Franklin, who much admired the Iroquois.

Succotash is the name of the dish the Iroquois often made of these three staple foods they called the Three Sisters. Here’s my recipe, with a few creative additions. 

Succotash Recipe

3-4 strips of bacon (more if you really like bacon)

up to a Tbs. of cooking oil

½ cup chopped yellow onion

1 tsp. minced garlic (from a jar is fine)

1 c. frozen or fresh corn

½ c. chopped fresh tomato

1 c. each yellow squash and zucchini, chopped

¾ c. lima beans, cooked tender (don’t overcook), or canned

¾ c. pinto beans, cooked tender (don’t overcook), or canned

salt & pepper to taste

a pinch or two of basil, fresh or dried


Fry bacon. Preserve drippings in pan (up to about a Tbs., more if you love bacon, as this will flavor the vegetables and beans). Set bacon strips aside. Add about a Tbs. of cooking oil to the pan, if needed. Sauté chopped onion and minced garlic until onion is tender. Add corn and tomatoes. Sauté a few minutes. Add chopped zucchini and yellow squash.* Sauté until tender. Add beans, salt, pepper, and basil to taste. Stir until heated through and mixture is cooked to your satisfaction. Crumble the bacon and sprinkle on top, or stir it in too. Serve warm. Makes 3-4 servings

* Feel free to modify ingredients/portions. Substitute different types of beans and squash, or something else entirely. Add a bit of vegetable broth. You can even make it sans bacon, though I never shall. Enjoy!


Lori Benton was born and raised east of the Appalachian Mountains, surrounded by early American and family history going back to the 1600s. Her novels transport readers to the 18th century, where she brings to life the Colonial and early Federal periods of American history, creating a melting pot of characters drawn from both sides of a turbulent and shifting frontier, brought together in the bonds of God’s transforming grace. To learn more about Lori and her debut novel, Burning Sky, you can visit her website at





Boney’s turn to cook supper. A fact that has the Boone’s Lick Wagon Train Company captain, Garrett Cowlishaw, and the other four trail hands sticking close to camp. All the wagons are set in their curved line, the livestock graze hobbled in the meadow, and the company’s children haul buckets of water up from the creek. Men are greasing wheels and tending hooves while the women tend to their families.

Outside the company’s chuck wagon, supper boils in an iron pot suspended over the campfire. The scraping of the wooden spoon along the sides of a tin bowl says mealtime won’t be long off now.  

Granted, Boney’s Salt Pork and Beans are worth waiting for. Savory and rich. But it’s the wiry fellow’s biscuits his buddy’s mouths water for. Steaming. Golden brown and flaky. 

Good news! Since Boney and I go way back and I featured him in the Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series, I was able to talk him into sharing his recipe.


Boney’s Trail Biscuits 

2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup soft butter
1 cup buttermilk (or add 2 tablespoons lemon juice to milk to make 1 cup and let sit for about 15 minutes)
3/4 cup (loose) grated/shaved cheese (we used medium cheddar), if desired
2 tablespoons butter for brushing the biscuit tops, if desired

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Cut in butter until the mixture looks crumbly. Quickly stir in the buttermilk until mixture is moist. On a lightly floured surface, knead dough . Dough will be moist but not sticky. Roll or pat to about 1/2 inch thickness. Cut with biscuit cutter or follow Boney’s lead and use the top of a tin cup.

Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet in preheated oven at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes. About  10 to 12 minutes into the baking brush biscuit tops with the extra softened butter.

NOTE: Boney would’ve baked his biscuits in a Dutch oven at the campfire. My hubby used Boney’s recipe and baked them in an oiled (olive oil spray) cast iron skillet, which takes about five minutes more oven time.



Married forty years to her leading man, Mona from Arizona lives in the Southwest where trees have arms instead of branches, rock yards replace lawns, and salsa takes the place of ketchup. When Mona isn’t writing or speaking at a women’s event, she’s playing Wii games with her Arizona grandson, spending time with her mom, picnicking, chatting on Skype with her grandchildren in Africa. To learn more about Mona, or her historical fiction, visit her website at 






A special thanks to Mona and Lori for sharing these recipes! 

They’re going to be popping in some time today, so if you have a question for either of them, please feel free to say hello in the comments!


  1. Good morning, all! So fun to see Boney’s recipe here, Joanne. Thanks for sharing it, and my enthusiasm for the new wagon train series. Blessings!

  2. mmmmmmmmm, I’ll bring dessert!!!

    • Perfect, Jennifer! Something we could stir up on the Oregon Trail? Blessings!

  3. Wonderful blog! Great recipes and fun to see a little more about these two fine authors. Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks for stopping by, Nettie. I sometimes had succotash growing up (not this particular recipe, which I created in my own kitchen), but never knew its origin until I began the research for BURNING SKY.

    • Hi Nettie! How sweet you are. Hope you enjoy our recipes. And our books. :) Blessings!

  4. Fun! Thanks so much for having us here, Joanne. I’m tickled how well our recipes go together.

    BURNING SKY and PRAIRIE SONG also share the same publication date, August 6.

  5. What a great post! Thanks to Lori and Mona for the wonderful recipes! I loved learning more about your books and backgrounds, too.

    • I’m glad you stopped by Jocelyn! This was a great idea Joanne had to share a bit of our stories via something tangible like a recipe. I had fun creating the succotash recipe and it was a hit here at our house.

    • Jocelyn, so good to see you here! Glad you enjoyed the recipes and stories. Joanne did a fabulous job on the post. Blessings! Mona

  6. Yummy!!! I’m hungry now ;) What a fun post – I love posts like this that really help immerse you in the story, especially since both of these are on my to-read list. Congratulations, ladies on your upcoming releases!


    • I’m sure Mona would agree–that’s music to an author’s ears. Thank you!

      • Sweet music indeed. Burning Sky captivated me from the first line. I know you’ll enjoy it, Beth.

    • Hi Beth, Thanks for joining us here. It was fun to be a part of Joanne’s From Story to Table. Happy eating, and happy reading! Mona

  7. Oh, what fun! I think you should turn “Story to Table” into a physical potluck event someday, with each author bringing a dish inspired by or from their book(s). Sell tickets. Become millionaires. ;)

    • Oh, Amanda, I do love the way you think! I say, why not think over-the-top. :) Thanks so much for joining us all here.

  8. Loved the glimpses into your books & those two recipes will definitely be on the menu when it’s my night for dinner soon!
    I am curious–what is one unique, out-of-the-blue thing that inspired you each back in the beginning stages of these novels?

    • Great question Meghan. I’ve written quite a few novels, but BURNING SKY got its start a little differently than any other of my stories–and what’s more I still remember it (which isn’t always the case). It started off with two separate flashes, or visions if you will. One day I had a sudden vision of an old woman living alone in a ramshackle cabin, surrounded by ridges and trees. It was a sad and lonely picture, and I wondered what had made her that way. I knew her name was Willa. I tucked that away for a while–months maybe–and eventually had another vision of a young woman, very tall and strong but also sad and alone, striding over mountains with a basket on her back, coming home… to the very place I’d seen the old woman. I knew that his was also Willa and that the vision I’d seen of her as an old woman, still alone and sad, was going to be her destiny unless someone (or Someone) intervened. From that point I did what writers do, played “What if” until a story began to crystallize.

    • Hi Meghan! So glad you enjoyed the glimpses and the recipes. Hmmm. For me…for Prairie Song, recollection of my Aunt Elva’s covered wagon lamp and curiosity concerning that kind of journey. Blessings and Happy Reading! Mona

  9. Thanks for sharing your recipes, ladies!


    • You’re most welcome, Andrea. Thanks for joining us here. Blessings, Mona

  10. So happy to have you here Lori and Mona. Your recipes look and sound so yummy!! I just love, too, the way they tie into your stories. I think I’m a wee bit of a foodie… but it always makes the setting and lifestyle come alive.

    • What fun, Joanne, to share the book fun and recipes here today. Thanks so much for the opportunity. I have an idea . . . how about you do a recipe and story on my blog for My Heart is Found? Maybe we could start a tradition?

  11. A traditon of sharing recipies and stories…That would be awesome. Mona I think that goes with quilts doesn’t it !!!! I just started Burning Sky and Keep looking at Prairie Song and saying its the next one on my list to read. I need to read more. Can’t wait to read all these fine books by all my author friends… God is so good to give me so many wonderful writers to read. Hmmmm, Mona, now I must look for one of Grandmothers recipies to share in my story for your blog !
    Blessings to All
    Linda Finn
    Faithful Acres Books

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