Early in my writing career, I realized I had a problem: most of my food-related scenes weren’t descriptive enough. For example, I would say a character had “breakfast,” when a better option would’ve been to give her “French toast, dusted with confectioners sugar and drenched in warm maple syrup.” Readers need to taste a meal in a story the same way they hear a hooting owl or see a glow on the horizon or feel a soft fleece blanket. It’s a sensory thing and not all that hard to do if you take the time and have access to the right resources.
One of my favorite resources when it comes to writing Amish food scenes is The Homestyle Amish Kitchen Cookbook by Georgia Varozza. Whenever I need to write about an Amish meal, I’ll pull out this book, flip through its pages, and almost always find something that fits perfectly with the characters—including this recipe for Crackletop Cookies, which were shared by Clayton and Miriam while on a picnic in The Amish Clockmaker.
- 4 cups flour
- 2 T. unsweetened baking cocoa power
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 ½ cinnamon
- ½ tsp. cloves
- ½ tsp. salt
- ¾ cup butter, softened
- 1 ¼ cup sugar, divided
- 1 cup molasses
- Mix together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, and salt.
- In a large bowl, beat together the butter and 1 cup sugar until fluffy. Beat in molasses.
- Gradually add flour mixture and beat just until mixed.
- Divide dough in half. Pat each half into a flattened 1-inch-thick round. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour.
- Heat oven to 375° and lightly grease cookie sheets.
- Form tablespoonfuls of dough into 1-inch balls; roll in remaining ¼ cup sugar.
- Place one inch apart on prepared cookie sheets. Bake 10 minutes. Cool on cookie sheet for 1 minute before removing cookie to a rack to cool completely.
- (FYI, I split the above recipe so that I could make half with sugar and the other half with Splenda. Both batches came out great, as you can see from the photos.)
Mindy Starns Clark is the bestselling author of the inspirational Million Dollar Mysteries, the Smart Chick Mysteries, and three standalone mysteries, as well as the nonfiction books The House That Cleans Itself and A Pocket Guide to Amish Life. Her latest book is The Amish
Clockmaker, written with Susan Meissner. It is the second installment in The Men of Lancaster County series.
Mindy is also the author of numerous plays and musicals which have been performed all over the United States. She has written textbooks, articles, short stories, and more than 75 computer software manuals.
A former singer and stand-up comedian, Mindy lives with her husband and two teenage daughters near Valley Forge, PA. She enjoys speaking to churches, civic groups, and libraries across the country. Her unique blend of humor and insight make her an audience favorite.
Connect with Mindy: Website
Purchase Mindy’s books here.