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Toy Run by Charlie Descoteaux

Ian’s Holiday Memory

Thanks for having us, Tempe!

Ian Bowen, the main character in my 2013 Dreamspinner Advent story “Toy Run” is a man of few words. So few it’s not easy to get to know the guy, but it’s usually easier to get him talking when the subject is his grandfather. Today, Ian’s sharing a holiday memory, and a recipe. My contribution is a Rafflecopter giveaway. The giveaway will be open through December 19th, so visit another stop or two along the way for more entries!

Granddad wasn’t big on holidays, except Christmas. He and his buddies always collected toys to drop off at the firehouse or went on toy runs—they’d hit two or three in the state if everyone could get the time off work.

When I was a kid, he’d cook for days—cookies and cinnamon rolls and a huge breakfast that morning. He wouldn’t let me open one present until after I ate, either, the hardass.

My favorite Christmas cookie is still pfeffernüsse—dipped in chocolate or dusted with powdered sugar…not that Granddad approved of fancying them up. Before I learned how fast he’d cave and break out the chocolate I ate a shitload of those spicy Scrabble tiles plain.

This recipe is my favorite, and it makes about 120 little cookies. I’m not the cook Granddad was so I can’t guarantee your results. Just don’t skimp on the chocolate or powdered sugar and you should be okay. The kids will thank you.


  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup candied ginger or candied fruit, finely chopped
  • 1-1/2 tsp grated lemon rind
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup ground almonds
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 pinch ground cloves
  • 1 pinch allspice
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/3 cup icing sugar


In large bowl, beat together eggs, brown sugar and granulated sugar on medium speed until slightly thickened and light in color, about 6 minutes. Fold in candied ginger and lemon rind.

In separate bowl, whisk together flour, almonds, baking powder, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, pepper, ginger, cloves, allspice and salt ; stir into egg mixture with wooden spoon. Turn out onto lightly floured surface; knead until combined. (Make-ahead: Wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate for up to 24 hours.)

Divide into 12 portions. Roll each portion into 10-inch rope; cut into 1-inch pieces. Place, 1/2 inch apart, on 2 parchment paper–lined rimless baking sheets. Bake in center of 325°F oven for 15 minutes or until light brown. Let cool on pans for 15 minutes.

Into bowl, sift icing sugar. Roll cookies in sugar, a few at a time, to coat. Let cool on rack. (Make-ahead: Store in airtight container for up to 1 month.)

“Toy Run,” by Charley Descoteaux

Former physical therapist and reluctant loner Ian Bowen has spent the three years since his grandfather’s death searching for a man to inspire him to park his Harley for a while—without much hope of finding him. On a whim, he shows up for a Toy Run and meets Ed Gonzalez, another loner with a pile of toys lashed to his bike. A few beers at the end-of-the-run party turn into an invite to Ed’s for homebrew. But instead of a night of fun, the unseasonable cold renders Ed immobile with pain. When he tells Ian he just needs meds, Ian does one of the things he does best—he massages Ed’s pain away, allowing him a rare restful night’s sleep and creating intimacy neither wants to lose. Ian thinks two men have to follow certain rules to be together, but Ed’s prepared to show him how wrong he is.

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SUNSHINE STREAMED through the open curtains about five minutes later. At least that’s what it felt like. Ed was still dead to the world, so I helped myself to a shower and then prowled his refrigerator. That kitchen belonged to a man who was happy to stay on his property. Even with my relatively limited skills, I had a half-dozen choices of breakfast. He peeked in as I poured eggs into a skittering-hot frying pan.

He just looked at me for a long time, then walked behind me and sat in a kitchen chair. His appliances were all new, state-of-the-art, but his round oak table and the four chairs around it were as old as the house. Maybe older.

“Sleep okay?”

When he didn’t answer, I looked to make sure he wasn’t coming at me with a knife, and his face looked like Granddad’s after I fixed his bum leg for him. Only not like that at all.

What’s your favorite holiday recipe? After you share, don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter for a shot at 5 prizes: a hand knit hat, Dreamspinner credit, and three books!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Where and When:

Charley Descoteaux has always heard voices. She was relieved to learn they were fictional characters, and started writing when they insisted daydreaming just wasn’t good enough. In exchange, they’ve agreed to let her sleep once in a while. Charley grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area during a drought, and found her true home in the soggy Pacific Northwest. She has survived droughts, earthquakes, floods, and over a decade living in an area affectionately known (in her strange little world) as Portland’s middle finger, but couldn’t make it through one day without stories.

Rattle Charley’s cages—she’d love to hear from you!

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