My characters cannot cook. In Gold Digger, the first book in the Klondike Gold Rush Series, Fiona MacGillivray says, “I once boiled an egg. Forgot about it and left the pot over the fire until all the water had evaporated. The egg exploded as I reached into the burnt pot to take it out. I never dared to try cooking again. I wouldn’t call the horrid food I managed to scrape together on the Chilkoot trail cooking. Angus had to intervene out of sheer desperation.”
Molly Smith, modern young policewoman, isn’t much better. She prefers take-out from Trafalgar Thai or popping into her mother’s house to see what’s in the oven.
I, on the other hand, can cook. And I’m not a bad cook, if I do say so myself. I’m also a good baker. Since moving to the country three years ago I am very much into eating locally and seasonally. Right now my freezer is filling up with berries, and my fridge is full of blueberry cake and blueberry scones and muffins. Pretty soon, I’ll be picking my own tomatoes and preparing tomato sauce and soup for the winter and stuffing myself with tomatoes and pasta.
And then that will be it for the year. I am not committed to a local diet nor do I stay out of the supermarket, but I don’t eat berries or tomatoes or a lot of other vegetables out of season (unless I have frozen them myself). Not only because of course they are so much better either picked from the garden or bought at the local farmer’s stall, but because I believe we have lost a great deal when we’ve given up the pleasure of anticipation. I have houseguests right now. Last night we had a barbeque followed by blueberry pudding cake. Tonight it will be pasta with cherry tomatoes. Neither blueberry cake nor the pasta dish will be served over the long Canadian winter. I, and my guests, will just have to wait until those foods are back in the field next year.
Vicki Delany’s Blueberry Pudding Cake1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp cornstarch
2 cups fresh blueberries
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 375. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan. (I have a silicone baking pan which works just great and no need for buttering.) Stir together 1/3 cup sugar, water, lemon juice, cornstarch in small saucepan over low heat. Stir in blueberries. Simmer, stirring occasionally for 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, 1/2 cup sugar in a medium bowl. Whisk together egg, milk, melted butter, vanilla in a large bowl, then add flour mixture, whisking until just combined. Spoon batter into baking pan, spreading evenly, then pour blueberry mixture evenly over batter. Bake about 25 to 30 minutes.
Enjoy while reading a good book.
Vicki Delany writes everything from standalone novels of suspense (Scare the Light Away, Burden of Memory) to a traditional village/police procedural series set in the mountains of British Columbia (In the Shadow of the Glacier), to a light-hearted historical series (Gold Fever) set in the raucous heyday of the Klondike Gold Rush. Winter of Secrets, the third in the Constable Molly Smith series published by Poisoned Pen Press, received a starred review from Publishers Weekly. Vicki was lucky enough to be able to take early retirement from her job as a systems analyst in the high-pressure financial world and now lives the simple writer’s life in bucolic rural Prince Edward County, Ontario, where she writes books, grows vegetables, and rarely wears a watch.
Negative Image, the fourth book in the Molly Smith series, will be released Nov. 1, 2010. Visit www.vickidelany.com