Come in, visit with writer Helen Henderson, read an excerpt from her romance fantasy Fire and Amulet, and discover her recipe for Lokse.

Welcome to Food of Love, Helen Henderson. Tell us about your books and your writing:

I honestly never planned on writing a novel, let alone a romance. Nope, not at all. But here I am, the author of 10 novels, 3 novellas, and an anthology. On the dark side, I am also the writer of three local history books.

The first things I wrote were short stories (with enough rejections to paper the bathroom before the first acceptance.) My writing career began not in fiction, but in computer programs and associated user manuals and marketing literature. I fell into publication as a feature story writer/correspondent. Eventually, I was able to transition from a bylined writer to an author.

On a personal note, I grew up a farm girl which may have contributed to the inclusion of horses in my fantasies. The equines may look like nothing more than big horses, but actually, they are magical creatures of intelligence, unusual speed, and stamina, loyalty, and character. And sometimes they can even communicate by telepathy with their riders.


My Recipe

For my recipe, I chose lokse, a dish from my Slavic coal-country ancestry. Although we always referred to them as a type of potato pancake (and more recently they have been referred to as potato tortillas), lokse is a thin flatbread made of potato dough baked dry in a pan. My grandmother cooked it on the top of a coal-fired, cast-iron stove, but adapted the recipe for a cast-iron frying pan. In the old country, lokse can still be found at holiday festivals with different fillings including plum butter or poppyseed spread. Although my favorite and the one most used by my family is just plain butter.

Lokse was made in our house with left-over mashed potatoes (no cream, no butter, just smashing the potato enough so that there were no large chunks.) As a result, the holidays weren't the only time we had lokse. Whenever Grammy B was coming to visit, we made sure to accidentally boil too many potatoes so we had a large bowl of "left-over" mashed potatoes awaiting her special touch. Grammy was the only one who knew how much a pinch of salt was. Even more importantly, no matter how hard she tried to teach us we never mastered the art of rolling the potato pancakes to the proper thickness. If we got them thin, then we couldn't do the necessary flip into the cast-iron frying pan without them falling apart. She also was the only one who could do the spin necessary to keep the lokse from sticking in the pan with her fingers.

Here's the recipe.

  • Boil potatoes (about six medium-sized) until soft.
  • Coarsely mash and let cool.
  • Mix in 2 eggs and 1/2 cup flour. Add additional flour as needed until a soft dough forms.
  • Roll out by 1/4 cup balls on a floured board.
  • Sprinkle a pinch of salt in the bottom of an iron frying pan, and place the pancake in the pan.
  • Brown on one side (about two to three minutes), spinning occasionally.
  • Flip over and brown on the other side.
  • When done, rub with a stick of butter on both sides. Fold into a roll and eat. (For those more elegant circumstances, you can cut the roll into inch-long sections and eat with a fork.)


While cooking you may notice hot air pockets forming in the flatbread. This is normal. Take a fork and prick the air pockets to release the steam.

Excess flour can easily accumulate on the cast iron pan. Make sure to dust it off with a clean dry kitchen towel over the kitchen sink.

To avoid a rush, they can be wrapped in foil and kept warm in a toaster oven. That is if you can stop them from disappearing as soon as they come out of the frying pan.




Excerpt from Fire and Amulet


The sensation of eyes on Deneas broke her focus. Only Caldar or his son Karst would be bold enough to interrupt her. A bet with herself, and she turned to see Karst leaning in all his arrogance against the side of the house. She stood the sword point down and placed her hands crosswise on the hilt so she wouldn’t be tempted to swing the blade at the self-appointed master of Darceth.

His perpetual sneer drew even higher as his gaze raked her body from head to toe, lingering on the sweat-darkened breast band. “Slayer Deneas, the council demands your presence in their hall.”

A deep breath to control the urge to wipe the lust from Karst’s face, Deneas forced her tone level. “I will attend them shortly.”

“Now, Deneas. You are to come with me NOW!” The abrupt gesture towards the large circular building that served as the village’s gathering place brooked no delay. "On your back or your feet. Your choice.”

Although she knew she would pay for it later, Deneas let a bark of laughter slip past her lips. “Really, Karst. You think you can take me? You’ve never been more than a candlemark’s walk beyond the village wall. Let alone run the slayer obstacle course.” To add to the boast, she swung the blade in a single-handed series of figure eights. “You never could best me in armed or unarmed combat.” The idea of beating her oppressor and getting revenge for all his insults sent a tingle of excitement through her body. “While it is the challenged who gets to choose weapons and site, today I gift it to you. Which shall it be? Sword or staff? I promise to only bruise you a little.” Now she added a hint of sultriness in her tone. “Please don’t refuse on account of my sex. After all, I’ve heard so much about your prowess, I’d love to see it.”

Crimson crept up Karst’s neck, yet he stood silent. His tight lips showed the effort he took to control his temper.

You really shouldn’t antagonize Karst that way, whispered Deneas’ sense of self-preservation.

But it is fun, another part of her mind answered. Still, she kept at bay the grin that tried to twitch itself into existence. Heartbeats later, she decided she had toyed with her prey long enough. “Very well, another time.” Quick steps took her to the garden wall and the scabbard. A shove slid the sword into place. Without a word, she spun and walked into the house.

She knew the leering Karst followed close behind, but refused to give him the satisfaction of acknowledging his presence. Mentally counting his steps, she waited until she figured he was on the doorstep. A backward kick slammed the door in his face. In the same movement, she spun and dropped the wide plank into the lock brackets.

Karst’s grunt from outside told her that the door stopped at the edge of his nose. This time Deneas allowed her smile free rein.

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More about Helen Henderson

  Although the author of several local histories and numerous articles on the topics of American and military history, antiques, and collectibles, Henderson’s first love is fiction. Her work in the museum and history fields enables a special insight into creating fantasy worlds. The descendent of a coal miner's daughter and an aviation flight engineer, her writing reflects the contrasts of her heritage as well as that of her Gemini sign. Her stories cross genres from historical westerns to science fiction and fantasy. In the world of fantasy romance, she is the author of the Dragshi Chronicles and The Windmaster Novels. In her books, she invites you to join her on travels through the stars, or among fantasy worlds of the imagination.

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