Sunday, October 4, 2009

Welcome Guest Blogger--Patricia Stoltey

The Desert Hedge MurdersPatricia 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

When Riley Adams invited me into the Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen,Patricia Stoltey 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.

Food_Blog4Oct2009_AcornSquash Here are my guidelines for down home French cooking Colorado style:

1. Keep it simple.

2. Keep it colorful.

3. Use as many locally grown products as possible (but go aheadFood_Blog4Oct2009_NorwegianSalmon and choose Norwegian salmon and French wine from time to time).

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).

Food_Blog4Oct2009_Meal 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.


  1. What is it with you mystery writers all being fabulous cooks also? Is that like part of the rules of the genre? I need to know, cuz I'm writing my first mystery right now and if I have to take cooking classes in order to get it pub'd y'all gotta let me know!

    Seriously, that is a WONDERFUL looking and sounding plate of scrumptious eats. I'm actually pretty darn good in the kitchen myself. Think I'll try these recipes out - thanks!

    The Old Silly

  2. Oh, those really *do* look delicious! Thanks for sharing your recipes :). It's funny; I lived with my family for a while in Illinois, where of course, the culture outside of Chicago is very farm-oriented. The older custom there is to call the midday meal "dinner," and I was told by more than one person that, on the farm, it's a real meal - like yours - instead of a hastily-snatched sandwich or something. Mmmmm.....

  3. [Marvin - you are too funny! Knowing how to cook doesn't make you a better writer, but I think it may encourage fellow writers to drop in for a visit closer to dinnertime!]

    Hi Patricia - What a wonderful blog post! I couldn't agree more with your tips, and I love your comparing a recipe to an outline for a novel--as a starting point to jump off of creatively, lol!

    Like Margot, I enjoyed your memories of farm-life eating, which reminded me of the famous saying by Adelle Davis: "Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper." My own Italian family always had Sunday "supper" as a big midday meal, too, and I had forgotten how much I loved that. (Thanks for the recipe and hanging with us mystery cooks today!)

    "Where coffee and crime are always brewing..."
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  4. Patricia, I love your story about the frozen peach yogurt pie! Yikes! We all have moments like that.

  5. Margot -- Those big midday farm meals contained a bunch of calories, so it's a good thing everyone headed back to the field to work soon after. These days, I stick to plain nonfat yogurt and frozen blueberries topped with a bit of lowfat granola for lunch. It's pretty, and it tastes good.

    Marvin -- I'm delighted to hear you're writing a mystery. What fun! You'll have plenty of time to take your cooking classes during the months between signing your contract and the actual book release. LOL

  6. Cleo and Krista -- This is such a great blog. I've been dropping by from time to time since Riley joined the group, and I'm always entertained. I love the recipes, and I've added some new books to my "must read" list. You're a delightful collection of bloggers.

  7. Thanks so much for blogging for us today, Patricia! I love your tips and your salad/vinaigrette recipe. Thanks! :)


  8. I love Patricia's rules for cooking. Now those are some rules that I don't have a problem following. The salad recipe sounds fresh and tasty. I can't wait to try it!

  9. Well, I've never written a book and I'm not much of a cook anymore, but I do like to read and I do like to eat!

    Pat's comments on the big lunches on the farm brought back lots of memories. Not of farm dinners, but the big weeping willow tree on their farm (she's my favorite twice-published cousin!). It was so beautiful and fun to sit under; I'd never seen anything like it.

    Maybe I'll make your bean salad and eat it while readiing your new mystery!

    Diane Cheatwood

  10. Hi Janel and Diane. Thanks for stopping by.

    Another thing I do to the salad sometimes is add a little sweet pickle relish (like the old-fashioned kidney bean salad that shows up at every picnic I attend).

    And Diane, that weeping willow tree was one of the best things about that whole farm. I miss it.

  11. Okay, Pat, you definitely made me hungry! I have to agree that there are so many mysteries that are food-oriented and often they include wonderful recipes.

    Jacqueline Seewald

  12. Hi Patricia! Thanks so much for guest blogging with us. I have to admit, I've been a "let's get this cooking done *fast*" person myself for a long time. My books and this blog are encouraging me to take a bit more time and have more fun in the kitchen. Thanks so much for taking the time to share your recipes, hints, and stories with us.


  13. Thanks to all who dropped by today (or might drop in later). This has been fun.

  14. That sounds like something I would love to cook and eat, but the ingredients are quite another thing :-(

  15. Great post, Patricia. I'm all over your rules for cooking, including using recipes as rough outlines rather than hard and fast rules. Your updated take on the three-bean salad looks fab!