Patricia is the author of the August release, The Desert Hedge Murders, the second book in the Sylvia and Willie mystery series. She loves to look at the pictures in her new favorite cookbook, the Junior League of Denver's colorado classique: A Collection of Fresh Recipes from the Rockies. Visit her blog at http://patriciastoltey.blogspot.com.
When Riley Adams invited me into the Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen, my first reaction was to laugh. My goal is to throw a meal together in about thirty minutes and clean up in ten. Occasionally I cook from a recipe, although to me a recipe is a lot like the scene outline I use to write novels—it serves as a guide, but it won’t hold me back if I come up with a better idea along the way.
I was raised on a farm where the mid-day meal during the growing season was intended to feed a room full of field hands. A common meal included a big platter of fried chicken, a ton of mashed potatoes, white gravy, and vegetables out of the garden. Many years later, when I spent two years in the South of France, my taste buds went through culture shock. I adapted quickly, however, and brought home a few new habits. For instance, I use a lot of extra virgin olive oil and Herbes de Provence.
1. Keep it simple.
2. Keep it colorful.
4. Avoid packaged products with a long list of strange ingredients.
5. Change recipes to suit your tastes and use whatever you have on hand.
6. Be creative.
I make up a lot of recipes just for fun. Sometimes they turn out well, sometimes not so much. I still blush to think of the frozen peach yogurt pie I served company last year. It was so solid that when one of my guests pushed her fork into the slice, most of the piece sailed off her plate and onto the floor.
On the other hand, here’s an interesting side salad I developed that tastes great (and I think it’s much better than the traditional three-bean salad).
Bean Salad: Prepare about two cups of frozen shelled edamame according to directions on the package. Rinse and drain one can of garbanzo beans and one can of dark red or kidney beans. Toss the edamame, garbanzo beans and kidney beans in a bowl with homemade vinaigrette dressing. Chill for a couple of hours before serving, stirring the salad occasionally to mix well.
Homemade vinaigrette: In a container with a lid (so you can shake the dressing before serving), mix 1/3 cup olive oil, 1/3 cup red wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence, 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, and 1 teaspoon sugar. You may, of course, vary the amounts of mustard, herbs and sugar according to taste. And if you don’t care for the stronger flavor of olive oil, substitute canola oil.
Thanks a bunch for inviting me to visit the Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen. It’s been fun.