The weather definitely has changed around here—thank heavens! Our very long, very hot, dry and smoky summer is officially in our rear view mirror. That means it’s time to think about comfort foods. For me, that means soup.

 Cooked legumes and vegetables in a bowl

I am an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink kind of soup enthusiast. Last night’s meal was inspired by finding a great deal on smoked ham hocks and a package of dried beans in the cupboard—the sixteen-variety-soup-mix type. (Cool thing about this kind of dried beans is you don’t have to soak overnight.)

Here’s the recipe. It’s super simple, not super fast. I didn’t start early enough in the day to use the slow cooker, but the smell of this simmering on the stove all afternoon was definitely a plus.

  1. Start the beans. Follow the directions on the bag: add beans to 6-8 cups hot water. Heat, boil for five minutes, then set aside and let soak for 1 hour.

  2. Start the body of the soup. Chop 2 medium onions and peel four cloves of garlic. Add ham hocks to pot. Cover with water and set on medium heat to boil for several hours.

  3. Squish the soften garlic cloves with the back of a spoon. Add the beans when they are done soaking.

  4. An hour or two before serving, pull out the ham hocks and cut the meat to bite-size pieces. Discard bones and return meat to the soup.

  5. Add chopped carrots, celery, or anything you need to use up. (In my case, leftover green beans, leftover sweet potato, and a bit of chard from my garden.)

  6. Add beef or chicken broth or water for desired consistency. Simmer until ready to serve.

  7. Given the salty flavor of the ham hocks, the only seasoning I added was pepper.

  8. Serve with bread, crackers or cornbread.

 How’s that for simple? Do you have a favorite soup? I’m always looking for new recipes. Feel free to share on my DebraSalonenAuthor Facebook page.

Have a great weekend!



I’m reading the first book in this awesome boxed set by C.J. Carmichael. I’m so hooked! The heroine’s father! What’s up with this man? Grr.

Welcome back, Storybroads! It’s good to be home.

Thanks to Tara Taylor Quinn for getting this valued blog back up and running. I don’t know what went on behind the scenes, but I’m sure Tara got in a good punch or two because here we are. ;-)

I’m currently working on a new series while enjoying a much needed break in the weather. This has been a rough summer for my part of California: hot, dry and way too many fires. To kind of bring you up to date, I’ll share a bit from my most recent newsletter.

Welcome, Autumn header

We just celebrated my daughter’s “Fabulous & Forty” birthday with a big party and dancing under the stars. The weather finally has a touch of chill in the evenings, and we couldn’t be happier. The photo below is of Kelly with two great friends from high school. (Kendra, left, Jenni, middle, and Kelly, right.) I’m so proud of these awesome women, who are kind, generous, supportive of each other, involved in their community, and great role models for their children.

Kelly and pals

The day after the party, my hubby and I made a 50-mile drive to view some of the more remote burn areas of the Detwiler Fire. We were amazed by how huge the scope of this fire was, but you can’t help but be impressed by how many homes were saved. Kudos to CALFIRE and all of the fabulous First Responders. Every day, we see huge trucks on the highway carting away debris from the fifty-plus destroyed homes, but Mother Nature has already begun the work reclaiming her hold at the base of so many of the skeleton trees.

after the fire

Next week, I’ll share a couple of fun autumnal recipes and other timely news, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t share the latest–and final–book in our Love at the Chocolate Shop series.

Sweet Dreams, Baby

by C.J. Carmichael


Three weeks ago, Portia Bishop mailed a letter to the father of her baby, Saddle Bronc rider Austin Bradshaw. It’s a letter she should have written a long time ago—like when she first found out she was pregnant, shortly after she ended things with Austin, dropped out of college, and went running to her family in Marietta, Montana.Austin has loved Portia since he first laid his eyes on her in college. A year ago, he convinced her to do something impulsive and very romantic. Now, as he opens her letter, Austin has two reasons to return to Marietta–win back the heart of the woman he still loves and convince her he’s a good bet for a forever man and father.

Twelve months, twelve sweet romances, six authors. If you like chocolate and romance, you can’t go wrong. #whatlovetasteslike

All 12 covers


I hope you’re enjoying the last few days of September. See you next week! It really is good to be back.


And we’re off…

Hubby and I are leaving for South Dakota in the morning. It’s been two years since I’ve been back. I’m really looking forward to a taste of autumn.


Plus, it’s been a crazy busy month for me so far.

Wednesday was release day for my new Black Hills Rendezvous book: BLACK HILLS NATIVE SON. This book always tugs on my heart. It came to me one night as I closed my eyes and a voice said, “There’s an old black woman who lives in my head.” As you might imagine, that caught my attention. I tried to ignore it, but I HAD to find out more so I went to my office and wrote–just wrote. I was too tired to think, so what came out was quite a story. One I knew belonged to Char Jones, a member of the Wine, Women, & Words book club. And once I met Eli, I was seriously hooked.


Here are the links, chickadee:


Yesterday, I turned in my manuscript for my next Tule Publishing book. I’m super excited about MONTANA SECRET SANTA because it’s part of a 12-book series with 5 fabulous, celebrated and successful authors: C.J. Carmichael (who’s 2015 Tule Christmas book just sold to Hallmark!), Melissa McClone, Roxanne Snopek, Steena Holmes, and me. Here are the first three covers. Aren’t they gorgeous?


SAVE THE DATE : Oct 12, from 4-7 PM (Pacific) to join us for a Launch Party in the Main St. Marietta Facebook group. You’ll need to join the group to attend, but feel free to leave after the event! Click here to go to the group. There will be prizes!


I may not have the best wifi during my stay in South Dakota, so if I’m not here blogging here next Friday, you’ll know why. But hopefully I’ll be here to share some great fall photos.

Happy reading, my friends.


What are you reading?

I get asked this all the time, but this week, the question came up more often than usual…because, I as I learned, it was READ ACROSS AMERICA Day on Wednesday.


Who knew?

So…what are you reading?

I’m finishing up the last of my six RITA books, which are top secret so I can’t discuss the titles or my opinion of them. But I can tell you that for the first time EVER, all of the books were from Indie publishers. Not a single title from a New York traditional publishing house. Wow.

On my Kindle, I’m reading:

Exposed by C.J.Carmichael             AMAZON


This is the third book in the trilogy, but BURIED, the first in the series, is FREE. I highly suggest you give it a try if you like mysteries. I am really enjoying the series and will be sad when it’s done. (But I’m also looking forward to some answers. ;-) )

Speaking of FREE books, MONTANA COWGIRL, Book I in my Big Sky Mavericks series is free for a few more days. Here’s how BookBub described it:

A heart-tugging Montana love story! Fifteen years after leaving for rodeo stardom, Bailey returns home to rebuild her shattered life. Can she find a second chance with Paul — the man who cursed her for leaving him behind? 


$4.99 Free!

Available for a limited time