Sunday, April 11, 2010

Jane Cleland - guest author

Today, let's welcome mystery author Jane K. Cleland.

Her multiple award-nominated and IMBA best selling Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery series [St. Martin’s Minotaur] has been reviewed as an Antiques Roadshow for mystery fans. “Josie” stories have also appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. Jane chairs the Wolfe Pack’s literary awards, which include the Nero Award and the Black Orchid Novella Award, granted in partnership with Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. She is a past chapter president and current board member of the Mystery Writers of America/New York Chapter.

Jane's latest: SILENT AUCTION, St. Martin’s Minotaur.

Reviewers say: The Josie Prescott Antiques Mysteries. "Ingenious ... engaging!" Publishers Weekly. Jane does Business Communications training work, too!

And now let's hear from Jane!

Josie’s Mom’s Cookbook:

A Legacy of Love

by Jane K. Cleland

My protagonist, antiques appraiser Josie Prescott, loves to cook. Often she uses the cookbook her mother made for her in the days before she died. Josie was only thirteen then, but she’s come to understand that the cookbook was an important part of her mother’s legacy.

In the days before she died, Josie’s mom wrote out her favorite recipes, complete with little illustrations and cooking tips like serving something sweet with something savory.

Isn’t hand-writing a cookbook a lovely idea? What a thoughtful and enduring legacy. Now, decades later, the mere act of touching the leather-bound cookbook sooths Josie’s soul, enabling her to feel connected to her long-deceased, much loved, and much missed mother.

Not all mothers are like that. My mother, for instance, took a different approach to sharing recipes. My mother kept her recipes on index cards filled with lies. She didn’t want anyone to be able to cook her specialties so she changed ingredients, quantities, and/or instructions.

Isn’t that amazing? She lied even to me, her only daughter! My mother was a crackerjack cook, but darn, I wish she hadn’t had that odd kick in her gallop when it came to sharing recipes. I can laugh about it, but I also think it’s sort of sad.

Some of my favorite dishes are gone forever because my mother didn’t write them down. I no longer have her luscious cinnamon roll-ups or her red wine pot roast or her quirky Hawaiian chicken.

I include many mentions of food in my Josie Prescott Antiques Mysteries, and I’ve posted many of the recipes on my website, Here are two that are among my favorite dishes, Josie’s Mom’s Scrambled Eggs and Orange Chicken. Preparing and sharing delicious food is one of the ways we humans show our love for one another. I hope you try them, and I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

And if anyone has a good recipe for cinnamon roll-ups, I’d love it if you’d e-mail it to me at

Josie’s Mom’s Scrambled Eggs

[from Consigned to Death]

In advance, prepare the egg mixture:

Figure on 2 eggs per person.

1. Crack the eggs one at a time in a small bowl to ensure no shell pieces fall in. 

2. Transfer the eggs to a bowl large enough so when you whisk the eggs briskly, there will be no spillage.

3. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

4. Add 1/8 tsp. vanilla per 2 eggs.

5. Add a pinch of freshly ground nutmeg.

6. Whisk the egg mixture briskly. Set aside.

In advance, prepare the


One medium-sized tomato per 2 eggs, chopped coarsely. Salt the tomato generously, and stir gently. ½ medium-sized white or yellow onion, chopped finely. Add salt and pepper to the onion to taste

To prepare the eggs:

1. In a frying pan (choose the size of the pan based on the quantity of eggs you’re cooking), melt 
 butter over low heat. Plan on using 1 tab of butter per 2 eggs.

2. Add onions and sauté gently until golden brown.

3. Add tomatoes and sauté gently for a minute or two, until the tomatoes are soft, but not mushy.

4. While the tomatoes are cooking, whisk the egg mixture again until it’s frothy.

5. As soon as the tomatoes are ready, add the egg mixture.

6 .Stir occasionally, not allowing any area to be still for more than several seconds. 

7. When almost cooked, remove pan from heat and immediately scrape eggs onto plates.

Josie’s mom recommends serving the eggs with a fruit salad, toast (buttered and sprinkled with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar), bacon, and broiled tomatoes.

Orange Chicken[from Deadly Appraisal]

To prepare the marinade, mix together:

1 c. fresh-squeezed orange juice, with pulp

3 oz. soy sauce

1 tsp. ground ginger 

3 garlic cloves, finely minced


1. Remove skin from 2 chicken breasts, split.

2. Marinate, breast down, in orange juice mixture for at least four hours.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

4. Place chicken pieces breast up in a small baking pan. Make sure the marinade almost covers the chicken.

5. Spread peach jam liberally over the exposed parts of the chicken.

6. Bake for forty minutes to an hour, basting as needed, until the jam is golden, and the chicken is cooked through, but not dry.

Serve with Wild Rice

And if anyone has a good recipe for cinnamon roll-ups, I’d love it if you’d e-mail it to me at


  1. Hi Jane! Thanks so much for joining us at the Mystery Lovers' Kitchen today. :)

    My mom's problem is that she comes up with these wonderful recipes but doesn't jot down her notes as she goes! Then she can't remember the ingredient details later. Sigh.

    Thanks so much for these wonderful recipes!

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  2. Oh, I know exactly what you mean! It's so frustrating when that happens! And it's worse when your mom is a good cook!

  3. Hi, Jane. Your orange chicken sounds just wonderful. It's officially going on my list of dishes to try. I love cooking with jam. Apricot is usually my jam of choice for these things, but I'll give peach a shot this time!

    Thanks so much for joining us today!

    ~ Krista

  4. Greetings, Jane,

    I have to applaud your honesty about your mom. Few of us (if any – let’s be real) have had perfect childhoods or perfect lives. It’s a testament to your honesty as a writer (not to mention your awards and best-seller credits) that you’ve shared such a very real memory. I think we can all nod our heads and say, “Oh, yeah, I can relate to a mom who wasn’t perfect!” Doesn’t mean we don’t love and honor them, just means we’re human and so are they. I live in NYC and I’m sorry we have not yet met, but I hope we do someday soon. In the meantime, I must say that I love, love, love the flavors of your Orange Chicken: soy sauce, ginger, and garlic? I'm there! And so easy, too. Brava!

    I’ll try to help with the cinnamon rollups. Not sure at all if this is what you had in mind, but my husband and I enjoy this: I’ll make my sweet pie crust, click this hot link for my recipe Sweet Pie Crust. I'll roll the crust out into a flat rectangle, liberally sprinkle cinnamon sugar on it, slice it up and bake the little rolls @350 F. for about 10 to 12 minutes.

    Finally - Mucho congrats on the release of SILENT AUCTION. It's such an honor to have you as our guest today in our virtual kitchen. :-)

    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  5. Jane, congratulations on your Library Journal coup! Chosen as a "core title" for cozies in libraries. I'm tweeting about it next! Hooray. Thanks for being our guest today.

  6. Jane! So wonderful to have you here at Mystery Lovers' Kitchen! I just love hearing about all the great things happening in your life and congrats on SILENT AUCTION. I know it's going to be another great read. I have to confess I haven't had a chance to read KILLER KEEPSAKES yet, but it's on my side table waiting for me and I've been eager to dive in. Not much downtime this year, unfortunately.

    Thanks for sharing your stories and your recipes. Always great to connect with you!


  7. Jane,

    These recipes sound delicious! The vanilla in the eggs was definitely a surprise. Sorry that you don't have your mother's true recipes, but that is definitely an interesting personality quirk that she had about them!

  8. Girls of the MLKitchen, thanks for introducing me to this series. I love antiques hunting (but do it through garage sales, ebay and Craigslist). I just ordered her book through Amazon and looking forward to the read.

    Jane, Thanks for stopping by, love the story of your Mom (I learned cooking at church basements, where hiding an ingredient was assumed)

    And that chicken recipe sounds wonderful, simple but filled with flavor!

  9. Thank you all for such thoughtful comments. I look forward to hearing how you enjoy the recipes. A few specific replies:

    -- Re apricot jam vs. peach... the original recipe called for orange marmelade, and some people might prefer that, too.

    -- I think that assuming people are hiding an ingredient while cooking in a church basement is a complete hoot!

    -- Cleo, I will definitely try your cinammon roll-up idea. Great! Also, my launch party is at Partner's & Crime this coming Tuesday evening at 7 p.m. Come on down for a Lemon Drop! I'd love to meet you! (details of my full tour are at

    -- You are all so welcoming... thank you.

  10. Jane-

    I love this. I use my grandmother's old recipe box and I love seeing her hand written notes. It
    keeps her with me. I can't wait to try your eggs -- I never thought of vanilla. Thanks for joining us today! Your books are wonderful!

  11. Thanks, Jenn. I've so glad you enjoy my books. There's something about those handwritten notes. It's as if the person is standing beside you. Your grandmother must have been a wonderful woman.

  12. One more comment... for those of you interested in the newest Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery (out tomorrow, 13 April 2010), it's about ambition and what it can do to people and relationships... and scrimshaw, a uniquely American form of folk art. I hope you'll give it a whirl... and it would be wonderful if you'd ask your librarian for it! Thank you.