A Men of Lancaster County Novel
Eddie Graber’s dream of a sanctuary for rescued farm animals was about to come true when his partner backed out at the last minute. Now Eddie risks losing the twenty-five acre property in Lancaster County—and all the hopes he held for it—before the project even gets off the ground. He needs help, he needs money, but most importantly, he needs to rediscover the belief in a higher purpose that brought him here in the first place.
Samuel Miller worked hard to fit into his Amish community despite his clubfoot. But when his father learns Samuel is gay, he is whipped and shunned. With just a few hundred dollars to his name, Samuel responds to an ad for a farmhand and finds himself employed by a city guy who has strange ideas about animals, no clue how to run his small farm, and a gentle heart.
Samuel isn’t the only lost soul to serendipitously find his way to Meadow Lake Farm. There’s Fred and Ginger, two cows who’d been living in a garage, a gang of sheep, and a little black pig named Benny who might be the key to life, love, money—and even a happily ever after for two castoffs.
Exploring Eddie’s Veganism (with recipes!)
By Eli Easton
I’m celebrating the release of TENDER MERCIES, the second book in the “Men of Lancaster County” series. It features a new couple and can be read as a stand-alone. What the books in this series have in common is being set in Lancaster County, a rural area of Pennsylvania where there are a lot of Amish and Mennonite. It also happens to be where my husband and I have a farm.
In TENDER MERCIES, the protagonists are a tender-hearted city vegan who bought a farm in the country to start a farm sanctuary, and a young Amish man kicked out of his community for being gay. My husband and I have dreamed about having a farm sanctuary. It’s fun as an author to be able to live your dreams vicariously as I did in TENDER MERCIES.
Part of our personal journey has been going vegetarian and then vegan. When we bought our farm seven years ago, we were both lifelong carnivores. But having our own chickens, cows, and even a pig taught us that these animals are just as personable and “aware” as our beloved dogs. Eventually we got to the place where it felt too hypocritical to dote on our own cows, pig, and chickens, and still buy meat at the market. We also went vegan for health reasons after watching documentaries like “Forks Over Knives” and “What the Health”.
I don’t talk about this a lot in my books because I don’t want to come off as preachy or offensive with my personal beliefs. I myself couldn’t imagine going vegan most of my life, so I get it. However, in the case of TENDER MERCIES it was critical to the farm sanctuary theme of the book that Eddie be a vegan. Samuel, the other main character, is Amish and grew up with, of course, lots of meat at every meal. He learns to eat vegan living with Eddie, but he does miss meat. 😊
Since going vegan I’ve found a lot of terrific recipes and meals that we love. We eat a lot of whole grains, beans, starches like potatoes and squash, veggies and fruit. I love carbs, so I’ve enjoyed eating this way and I lost 90 pounds as well!
I thought I’d share a recipe as part of this blog tour. Here’s a simple vegan soup (the beans add lots of protein) and cornbread recipe—perfect for fall!
WHITE CHILI RECIPE
- 2 cups (16-oz) vegetable broth
- 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 1 onion, diced
- 2-3 tsp tomato paste
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 4-oz can of diced green chiles
- 30-oz can white beans (undrained)
- 3 cups (16-oz) corn, fresh or frozen
- green onions or cilantro for garnish (optional)
- hot sauce (optional)
- Sauté onions and garlic in ¼ cup water or broth (or olive oil if you prefer) until translucent.
- Add carrots and cook for 1 minute.
- Stir in tomato paste and spices, stirring to coat well.
- Continue to cook until carrots are almost tender, adding broth as necessary.
- Add green chiles and beans (plus bean liquid).
- Using a potato masher or immersion blender, smash some of the beans to
create a thick and creamy chili.
- Add remaining broth or water to thin as desired.
- Add corn plus salt and pepper to taste.
- Garnish with green onions and/or a drizzle of hot sauce.
- 1 cup white whole-wheat flour
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1-2 tablespoons minced fresh sage
- 1 cup plant-based milk (almond, soy, etc)
- 1/4 cup canned pure pumpkin
- 1/4 cup agave nectar or pure maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons raw sugar (optional)
- Preheat over to 400°F. Use a nonstick 9 inch bread pan, 8 inch square baking pan or shallow glass pie dish and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt together until well combined.
- Add sage, plant-based milk, pumpkin puree, liquid sweetener, plus optional sugar if using and anise if using, and stir until combined.
- Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean and the bread is firm to the touch.
I use these two recipes regularly and our non-vegan friends who have visited have also enjoyed them. The recipes are from Meal Mentor (https://www.getmealplans.com/) which is a great source of vegan recipes that I highly recommend.
I hope you enjoy fall and spending time on the farm with Eddie in Samuel in TENDER MERCIES.
I was a huge fan of Second Harvest by Eli Easton. I love stories that explore men who are fighting their sexuality based on religion. It’s a storyline that is, and will continue to be, realistic for years to come. So, when I saw Tender Mercies, I knew I had to get it, push back everything else in my life, and read it. And I might have kept on reading it in the car (NOT while driving), at a party with the hubster’s friends, at a chili cookoff, and through pizza night with the fam. Yeah, I’m a horrible person when it comes to a good book.
I wasn’t sure what to think at the start of the book. Eddie is a city boy moving to the country. It felt too similar to the start of Second Harvest. But his reasons were different, so I moved along. I still didn’t understand how a city slicker thought it was a good idea to move to the country without prior planning and research to start an animal sanctuary, but whatever… this is Eli Easton and she won’t let me down.
Samuel’s storyline broke my heart. An Amish man, caught giving in to his nature as a gay man. Beaten. Shunned. Broken. Yeah, he stole my heart and had me ignoring the clock across the room.
I will fully admit there were times I caught myself thinking too hard about the story, trying to figure out if what was happening was realistic, but it didn’t matter. This isn’t real life, it’s a grown-up fairy tale about two men falling in love. And I don’t care where Benedict came from, I just know I want a Benny (and maybe a Carrot) of my own.
In the end, I’d give Tender Mercies 4.5 stars.