Today we welcome Liz Lipperman to talk about Ranchero, Texas.
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When I was asked to write about a cozy small town from one of my mystery series, I chose Ranchero, Texas, population a little under 23K. For those of you who are familiar with my Clueless Cook series, I hope you’re smiling right now.
I love Ranchero. It reminds me so much of the small town where I grew up with 8 siblings in Goosetown, a city consisting of only a few streets with a dry cleaners and a beer joint. I’ve never quite been able to figure out how it got its name since it was nowhere near a lake or farmland, nor were there any fowl to be found in the county.
Although Ranchero is bigger than Goosetown, it has the same friendly atmosphere, a “where everyone knows your name” feel. My main character in the series, Jordan McAllister, is a journalist, who spent her last years at the University of Texas covering all the sports events before following her boyfriend all over Texas and ending up as the culinary reporter at the Ranchero Globe.
What? How did a woman with all things sports running through her veins end up in a job like that? And wait—did I mention that she has never even made a grilled cheese sandwich without burning it and that her idea of gourmet food comes with fries?
Ah, but the beauty of Ranchero is that none of that mattered after the culinary reporter at the small newspaper broke her hip and ended up in rehab for six weeks. When the editor offered her the job because of her journalism degree, she let him believe she wasn’t as clueless about the whole cooking/gourmet thing as she really was. Anything was better than her old job of writing Personals for desperate people looking to hook up. And with the help of her friends passing off casserole recipes with fancy names as gourmet dishes, the good people of Ranchero soon fell in love with my girl.
But I still haven’t told you how she ended up in the small town 75 miles north of Dallas in the first place. It’s a story that has sold a lot of country music, number one hits. Girl follows boyfriend all over Texas while he pursues his dream job taking whatever she could get while boyfriend builds a resume doing exactly what she dreams of doing, then getting dumped for the cute little weathergirl at his new prestigious job at a Dallas TV staion. I can hear Carrie Underwood singing it now. Yeah right! We all know what Carrie would do about a cheating boyfriend, and it involves a Louisville slugger and a set of keys!
Jordan takes the high road—literally—and runs as far away from Dallas as she can go to avoid going back to Amarillo where her 4 brothers were waiting to say, “I told you so.” Enter Ranchero, Texas, where she finds shelter in a rundown apartment and is immediately embraced by the wacky neighbors surrounding her.
And although Ranchero has more cowboys driving pickups than the Ewing family in an episode of Dallas, it’s a place where God-fearing, card-carrying rednecks take the time to smile at one another and warm up chicken soup when someone is sick.
But don’t let that sweet, small town persona fool you. Somehow, my girl Jordan always manages to find herself in the middle of trouble at every turn. Fortunately, she has her friends from Ranchero around to help her out.
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Liz Lipperman is the author of the Clueless Cook Mysteries and the Dead Sister Talking Mysteries. Chicken Caccia-Killer is the latest Clueless Cook Mystery and is available now from Amazon and other retailers.