Wednesday Brunch with Josie Malone: Coffee, Donuts, Cowboys

Good Morning everyone.  Ready for a wicked wicked brunch?  I know I’m sorely tempted.  Shannon Kennedy, who writes as Josie Malone,  is sharing some family recipes for donut holes and Cowboy Coffee.  Yummmmmmmmmmm.  My early love was horses, so I’m living vicariously in many levels.  Hi Shannon!

Hi Mona,

Thanks for inviting me. I’m glad to be here and talk about horses…..

I grew up on a pony farm in Silver Lake, a community just outside of Everett, Washington. I say, “grew up” although we didn’t actually move to the farm until I was seven years old. I received my first pony, Star, as an Easter present that year. And I learned everything the hard way, i.e. how to feed carrots, how to avoid being kicked, how ponies see – and no, they don’t like mud puddles. Got that lesson by being bucked off into one and walking home looking like the Loch Ness Mud Monster – Star made it to the barn before I did.

Back in the 1960’s when I was growing up, people still did things the old-fashioned way. I learned to ride from the old cowboy who ran my 4-H club like a drill sergeant. His wife used to throw live firecrackers under our horses’ hooves to prepare us for the Fourth of July parade every year. The lecture went something like, “The safest place for you is in the saddle. You don’t want to bust your head like a watermelon on the city street when some dude does that to your horse.”

This was in the days before our horses were our “friends” and natural horsemanship meant you left your saddle in the tack-room and rode your horse on a grocery string hackamore. Yes, I can still do it, but I sure don’t let the kids I teach try that one. I also insist on equestrian helmets – another “new” innovation. So, when I wrote my western romance novels, I remembered those “good old days,” and tried to incorporate that traditional attitude into the books. If you think of horses as the equivalent of pickup trucks, you start to understand how cowboys viewed their working buddies.

Horses come in all shapes and sizes, especially at the family riding stable. It’s grown over the years and my mother and I are the only ones who work here now. And for me, writing has always provided an escape from every day responsibilities. While I didn’t know that it would take years before I sold my first romance, I wasn’t going to give up on the genre.  Now, I write mainstream western romance as Josie Malone. I write realistic young adult fiction under what the kids at the barn call, my real name, Shannon Kennedy The horse knowledge comes from what I learned on the family farm and now I create heroes who help my heroines save the day.  And yes, sometimes the baggage from fifty years of living plays a big part in my stories.

In the first western romance I did for BookStrand, A Man’s World, everybody raves about Missus Sims’ doughnuts or “bear sign” – yes, sign means what you think it does – “poop,” and Ma Sims as everyone calls her always takes offense at the description. The recipe I had for the doughnuts comes from the 1908 edition of the Fannie Farmer’s cookbook. It was the one my grandmother used and I always got to dump powdered sugar into a brown paper sack and put in the hot doughnuts and shake, shake, shake until the fresh doughnuts were covered with sugar.

And of course, then we got to eat them – my grandfather swore that he always needed a fresh pot of coffee to go with them or it didn’t count. He liked it when we made coffee in the tin camping coffee pot, but Grandma swore the electric percolator was just fine. And since it was “her” kitchen, that’s the way things were. If you decide to go with Grand-dad’s coffee, let it perk in the pot until it’s a dark brown – then you can dip the doughnuts.


Easier to make and more cakelike than yeast-leavened doughnuts, these doughnuts have a fine, creamy crumb. The temperature of the cooking oil is crucial, so use a frying (candy) thermometer.

½  cup milk                                         1 tablespoon butter, melted

½  cup granulated sugar                    1 ¾ cups white flour, approximately

2 teaspoons baking powder               Vegetable shortening or oil for frying

¼ teaspoon nutmeg                            Confectioners’ or powdered sugar
½  teaspoon salt                                 for dusting

1 egg, beaten

Mix the milk, granulated sugar, baking powder, nutmeg, salt, egg, and butter in a large bowl. Add the flour gradually, using just enough so that the dough is firm enough to handle yet as soft as possible. Cover the dough and chill for about one hour. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead for a few minutes. Roll out about a ½ inch thick.

Cut with a doughnut cutter or sharp knife into 3-inch rounds, cutting out and saving the centers (which can also be fried). Place on a lightly floured piece of wax paper and let rest for about 5 minutes. Using a heavy pan and a thermometer, heat about 4 inches of shortening or oil to 360°F. Fry three or four doughnuts at a time, turning them with a fork or tongs when one side is browned and continuing to fry until brown all over. Drain on paper towels and dust with sugar.

(Mona’s note–I dragged Shannon away from barn duties to share the Cowboy Coffee recipe.  She says if we’re brave we can chance it)

COWBOY COFFEE (from 1908 Fannie Farmer Cookbook)

“Boiled” or Cowboy Coffee. To make coffee successfully using this old-style camping method, you shouldn’t boil the coffee; rather let it come just to the boil. Measure 2 level tablespoons of regular grind coffee for each cup desired into the bottom of a clean saucepan or an old-fashioned coffee pot and pour the required number of cups of cold water on top.

Add a pinch of salt and cover. Bring the coffee slowly to the boil and just as soon as the bubbles break through the crust, stir it and remove from the fire.  Crack an egg and mix it, crumpled-up shell and all, into the coffee grounds before pouring on the water. It

will help the grounds to settle. In either case one is apt to have a slightly muddy but good strong brew.

According to Cowboy Wisdom by Terry Hall:

“Just take a pound of coffee, add water, boil it for thirty minutes and throw a horse-shoe in. If the shoe sinks, add more coffee and start over.”

My newest book was a lot of fun to write because it’s a spin-off of the first western romance I did for BookStrand, A Man’s World. In that historical western romance, Trace Burdette masqueraded as a man, fooling everyone but new neighbor, ruggedly handsome Zebadiah Prescott. With their love on the line, they had to deal with the past and the outlaw who killed her grandfather and stalked her. By the time that A Woman’s Place begins, Trace and Zeb have been married for just over six months when renegades rob the bank she owns in the town of Junction City.

So, our hero, Rad Morgan, the marshal of Junction City sets off to capture the miscreants. Along the way, he meets his match, and Iraqi War veteran/homicide detective Beth Chambers takes no prisoners. She’ll fit right into 1888 Washington Territory. Of course, I had to figure out how to get a woman from 2012 to the Old West and why she was even there, but that was part of the adventure and the paranormal elements kept escalating.  Much to Rad’s initial dismay, Beth and Trace become fast friends.


Trailing a serial killer, Homicide Detective Beth Chambers is thrust into 1888 Washington Territory where she encounters injured Rad Morgan, a ruggedly handsome marshal who believes A Woman’s Place is behind her man. Now, Beth must save Rad’s life, apprehend the killer, and prove herself capable as a law officer.

Former soldier and survivor of Andersonville Prison Camp, Marshal Rad Morgan faces his toughest challenge in Beth Chambers, a determined woman from the future who’s never learned “her place.”  But when he is shot and left for dead, he must put himself in Beth’s hands if they both want to survive.

Can these two headstrong people put their pride aside and work together to find the deadly killer and stop him before he destroys this world and their future?  As they fight for justice, love helps them discover A Woman’s Place is what and where she chooses to make it.


As a child, I loved to dream away the days in an old cherry tree on my family’s pony farm. In my imagination, the tree became a beautiful Arabian stallion, a medieval castle and even a pirate ship. I got in trouble for making my little sisters walk the plank, but hey, they never broke any bones. On rainy days, I headed for my fort in the hayloft. While the rain thudded on the cedar shingled roof, I read books, eventually trading Carolyn Keene for Georgette Heyer. I used the setting of the pony farm for my second romance from BookStrand. The Daddy Spell is a finalist in the Colorado RWA Award of Excellence contest.

Today I live on the family ranch in the Cascade foothills of Washington State in what was once a summer vacation cabin. It’s been modernized and even has indoor plumbing – woo-hoo!  I share the cabin with my two cats, or maybe they share it with me.

I usually write at night after a long day on the ranch. Some days are longer and harder than others, but I still write from 8PM to 2AM, seven days a week. As a substitute school teacher, I love the school breaks but I’m just as busy, since there are 36 horses to look after, along with other assorted animals.

With all the critters on the ranch, I don’t have time for a husband. As for kids, I have to give back the ones who come to learn how to ride at the end of each day. Now, I’m teaching the kids and grandkids of the ones I taught way back when we started. I’ve had a lot of adventures over the years – and in my next 50 years, I plan to write all about them. I hope you enjoy reading about them!


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8 responses to “Wednesday Brunch with Josie Malone: Coffee, Donuts, Cowboys

  1. Hi Shannon and Mona,
    Sounds like a great place to grown up. I love horses. I have no experience with them, but they are such a beautiful animal.

    A Woman’s Place sounds like a fun read, especially the paranormal aspect. Good luck,



  2. I was horse-mad as a kid – actually, even longer. But that ended when I developed a severe allergy. I can’t even go to a racetrack any more. That said, I still love horses and I envy you.

    Best of luck with your new book


  3. I shouldn’t be reading about coffee and donuts at this time of nigh, but the recipes sound great and add a certain flavor to the post! That was a fun addition to Josie’s personal stories, which I really enjoyed. The book sounds like a great read. Best of luck!


  4. D'Ann Lindun

    I’m a life-long horsewoman, grew up in the family stable. Drank more cowboy coffee than could sail a ship!

    Your books sound great, I’ll have to get copies!


  5. Celeste Deveney

    Loved the recipes, Shannon. I’d read before about adding eggshells to coffee grinds (in Chicago they call it Wedding Coffee, for some unknown reason) but I’d never heard of adding a whole egg. But what sounds even better than the coffee and donuts are the books. I hope your success with them is delicious!


  6. jadirogers

    I’m excited to read A Woman’s Place! Thanks for letting us into a little corner of your world.


  7. Thanks everybody,
    I will admit to having gotten spoiled over the years and switched to “drip” coffee, but nothing beats homemade doughnuts. Hope everybody enjoys the books.


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