Friday, June 10, 2022

Steeple Chase: Use Your Words


Air Fryer Coconut Chicken Fingers, these chicken fingers have a hint of orange and are air fried for a healthier crunch. | recipe developed by | #recipe #dinner
Today’s post is a monthly writing challenge. If you’re new here, this is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once. All of the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s  participating knows who got their words and in what direction the recipient will take them. Until now. 

At the end of this post you’ll find links to the other blogs featuring this challenge. Check them all out, see what words they got and how they used them.

I'm using: grass ~ totem ~ munch ~ steeple ~ hill
They were submitted by Diane of On the Border.

When I first saw these words, a short story came to mind. I wasn't sure it was what I wanted to do with them, so I decided to spend a few days thinking about it.

Here's the thing about word prompts, once I make an association in my head, I can't seem to move on from it, it pushes itself forward every time I see the words.

So, fiction it is. It's that or let these words haunt me, and who has time for that? A little clarification before I start, though, about my story and one of the main reasons I didn't want to write it. 
My friend Diane is a talented writer, both on her blog and as a published author of multiple books. We both participate in 4 monthly blog challenges together, 3 of mine (including this one) and 1 of hers. Often, she writes about fairy tales, or I should say rewrites, interprets, and changes them up in hilarious form. Although the words I'm using today coincidentally came from Diane, I want to be clear that I am not copying her idea. There is, in my story, no Jack, no Jill, no pail of water, and no broken crown. Well, possibly a broken crown . . . but it's about a steeplechase, of sorts.
Here goes:
The twins, Betty and Rose, had arrived last night. School was finally out and it was late spring. Every year, as far back as they could remember (and even further), they spent the summer on grandma's farm. It was a joyous break from the city, one they looked forward to every year. 

It wasn't just the fresh air, green grass, carefree lifestyle, and time spent with their grandma, although it was definitely all of those, it was the friendships they'd come to cherish over the years. Kids from neighboring farms they'd grown up with, even if it was only for 3 months a year. The experiences they had with Al, Lou, Molly, Max, Evy, Marilyn, and Joe, were so uniquely different from any friendships they had back home. Their adventures, the way they grew up over those summer months, unlike anything they could have anywhere else. 

This year, for their first day back, grandma had planned a surprise. All of the kids were in middle school now, and grandma felt they were old enough to hike the half mile out to the swimming hole without adults. She had them put on their bathing suits under their clothes (although, really, they pretty much did that every day at grandma's), packed them a blanket and a picnic lunch, and let all of their summer friends know when to arrive.

The kids headed out through the pasture, chatting, and laughing and all talking at once. They laid the blanket out by the clear, cool stream at the bottom of the hill. At the very top of the steep hill, was an abandoned church, one the kids had explored many times over the years. Joe, the instigator among them, stood up, pointed to the steeple, called out "last one to the steeple is a rotten egg," and started to run.
Steeple Chase, a writing challenge short story | graphic designed by, fearured on, and property of | #MyGraphics #Blogging


Well, if you know anything about kids, you know that no one wants to be the rotten egg. Ever. So they all started to run. Well, all except Betty.

Betty too, of course, didn't want to be the rotten egg, but Betty, ever the thoughtful one, wasn't so sure about this. The run up the hill would be exhausting, but that wouldn't deter her, it was the steep trip down the hill. The grass was wet, really wet, and she was not going to spend the summer in a cast. The year Rose broke her leg on the farm (long story) was miserable for Rose, who pretty much made everyone else miserable. So Betty sat. And started unpacking the food.

"Rotten egg, rotten egg," the kids, laughing, taunted Betty from the top of the hill, then raced each other down.

Lou was the first one to fall. Ass over tea kettle (as they say), he came tumbling, rolling, and bouncing down the hill. Problem was, Lou was the highest one up. And with precision, rarely accomplished with a bowling ball (for these kids, anyway), he took down all the pins along the way. They landed at the bottom, stacked up like a totem pole. Lou, Al, Molly, Joe, Rose, Evy, Marilyn, and Max at the top.

Betty looked over as they all moaned and "ouch"ed, and disentangled, checking their arms and legs and yes, crowns. Sitting on the blanket, munching on one of grandma's famous Air Fryer (yes, grandma has an air fryer on the farm, it was a gift, and she loves it) Coconut Chicken Fingers, Betty calmly imparted this little nugget (get it?) of pain free wisdom: "Turns out, I would rather be a rotten egg," she told her friends, "than Humpty Dumpty." 
"Oh," she added, standing up, "last one in the stream is a rotten egg!"

Air Fryer Coconut Chicken Fingers, these chicken fingers have a hint of orange and are air fried for a healthier crunch. | recipe developed by | #recipe #dinner
Air Fryer Coconut Chicken Fingers 
Air Fryer Coconut Chicken Fingers with Sweet Hot Orange Sauce | recipe developed by | #recipe #dinner
with Sweet Hot Orange Sauce

PS: The kids in this story were lovingly named for my grandma, Betty, her twin sister Rose (husband Al), their sister Molly (husband, Joe), their brothers Lou (wife Evy), and Al (wife Marilyn), along with my grandpa Max. ליה השלום

Use Your Words, a monthly group writing challenge | developed by and graphic property of | #bloggingchallenge #MyGraphics
Here are links to all the other Use Your Words posts:

Baking In A Tornado signature | | #MyGraphics

Air Fryer Coconut Chicken Fingers

about 2# boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 eggs
2 TBSP orange marmalade 
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper 
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 1/4 cups panko bread crumbs
3/4 cup sweetened coconut flakes
3 tsp paprika
olive oil
OPT: serve with my Sweet Hot Orange Sauce
*Slice the chicken breasts into about 1 inch wide slices. Place into a gallon size plastic bag.
*Whisk the eggs, orange marmalade, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Pour into the bag with the chicken and seal. Massage to be sure all of the chicken is coated with the egg mixture. Refrigerate for at least an hour to overnight, turning the bag now and then.
*Mix together the panko bread crumbs, sweetened coconut flakes, and paprika on a plate.
*Remove the chicken fingers from the plastic back and press each into the coating, making sure the chicken is completely breaded. Place on parchment or wax paper in the refrigerator for an hour.
*Preheat air fryer to 380 degrees for 4 minutes. Grease the basket or shelves with olive oil. Add as many chicken fingers to the basket or shelves as will fit leaving room between them. You may have to work in batches.
*Spritz the top of the tenders with olive oil, place in the air fryer and cook for 5 minutes. Flip them over. If using shelves, move the shelves around to different locations within the fryer.
*Spritz the top of the tenders with olive oil again, and cook for another 5 minutes. Check to be sure they are fully cooked through, with no pink in the center and the juices running clear. Continue to cook at 1 minute intervals if not done. Keep warm and repeat with the remaining chicken fingers.
*OPT: serve with my Sweet Hot Orange Sauce.



  1. Hahahaha! Brilliant!
    And ouch!
    Never before were words of mine put to such good use! ;)

  2. I grew up in New York City, and my best friend from childhood's grandfather lived about two hours away in a rural part of New York State, in a house built in (I think) the 1830''s. He had renovated it after coming here as a refugee from Nazi Germany. I was fortunate enough to be invited up there twice, for a week at a time, but she spent the entire summers of her childhood up there. You brought back a lot of fun memories, none of which involved steeplechases or swimming holes. Although there was an incident with a dirt bike....Alana

    1. Now that sounds like it could be an interesting story.

  3. Cute story. Betty definitely was the smart one!

  4. I am so glad you did not resist that story when the words insisted.

  5. I'm going to go with this challenge. Life's wicked busy right now (I'm buying a house and the one I'm living in now is a disaster), but challenge away I will!

    1. I developed this challenge idea (and my others) for bloggers to work together, challenge and support each other. You're welcome to join us, email me for the particulars (my email address is on my "about" page).

    2. I will. Once the "dust" settles with my new house. We close on the 24th and the place we're in now is a disaster. Getting away to write is a great way to escape pandemonium.

  6. Great story, you did well using the words.

  7. Love the story. These days it seems to be all about the air fryer.

    1. I don't use mine a lot, I'm trying to experiment with it more. Everything I've tried we've really enjoyed so far.

  8. I was worried at first it was going to take a really bad turn, at least they only broke their crowns!

  9. She who laughs last, laughs best :-)
    Being able to resist peer pressure and make - and stick to - your own decisions is a great quality!
    Love how Grandma allows the youngsters to do their own thing.

    1. I forgot that old saying, but it certainly works here.


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