Sunday, September 19, 2010

PTA Driving You Crazy? Meet Laura Alden!

Welcome Laura Alden! Longtime Guppy and member of SinC, Laura's first book, MURDER AT THE PTA debuts October 5th! It's available for pre-order through bookstores and on-line sellers now.

My first reaction when Krista asked if I’d write a guest post for this blog was, “Sure, I’d be honored!” My subsequent thought was, “Ahk! I haven’t cooked in months. What on earth am I going to write about?”

With a full-time job, a book coming out in October, and another book due at the publisher’s on November 15th, the most cooking I’ve done since spring is choosing what toppings I want on the take-out pizza. (Usually mushrooms and onions, though I occasionally take a walk on the wild side and order mushrooms and olives.)

In the dim and distant past, my husband and I worked together in the kitchen for almost every meal. We’d both taste test, get in each other’s way, and generally have a good time. If I peer ahead into the not-so-distant future – say November 16th – I’m thinking this will happen again. Hooray!

But until then, most of our meals are being selected on two criteria: one, does the recipe require less than seven ingredients, and two, do we actually have those ingredients in the house?

Here’s one of our standard weeknight meals. Fast, easy, and, if you add a nice salad, fairly healthy.

Asiago Pasta

16 oz. angel hair pasta

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 garlic cloves, minced

Dash of salt

1-1/4 cup Asiago cheese, grated

In a large pot, start heating water. At this point we turn the oven to a very low temperature and start heating a big bowl into which the pasta will eventually be dumped. If we remember we’ll also heat individual pasta bowls.

Melt the butter either on the cook top or in your microwave. (If melting in the microwave, be careful!) Grate the cheese.

Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan and sauté the garlic until almost golden. This doesn’t take very long, so be careful. Warning: if you happen to turn away to do something else while cooking the garlic, say to let a cat in, and the garlic burns, toss it out and start over. Burned garlic will ruin dinner, but if you work it right the whole thing can be blamed on one of the cats.

Cook the pasta. Drain it and put it into the heated bowl. Add the butter and a dash of salt. Add the heated olive oil and garlic. Mix well, but gently. Serve individual portions, sprinkle with Asiago cheese, and put on the table straight away.

Note: when we cook this entire recipe for the two of us I end up with Asiago Pasta for lunch three days in a row. Bonus!


P.S. My debut mystery, Murder at the PTA, has a release date of October 5. After writing fairly seriously for 12 years, I’m a teensy bit excited about this. Here’s a short description:

As the owner of a children’s bookshop in the quaint town of Rynwood, Wisconsin, and a divorced mother of two, Beth Kennedy has a full plate. So when her best friend, Marina, asks her to become the secretary for Tarver Elementary School’s Parent Teacher Association, Beth can think of better ways to occupy what little free time she has. But after some arm twisting (Marina's favorite activity), Beth agrees to come on board.

The course of PTA meetings never did run smooth, but when Tarver’s unpopular principal turns up dead, Beth realizes that making bake-sales wheat free and funding class trips weren’t the only things on the agenda. Then the local gossip blog, WisconSINS, starts fanning the flames of speculation, and it seems like everyone’s a suspect - especially certain members of the PTA. Beth knows she must race to find a killer before he teaches another fatal lesson. All too quickly, she discovers that murder is anything but elementary.


  1. Thanks for sharing the book, recipe and cute pic of the kitties. Love it.

    I love this website....Mystery Lovers Kitchen!

  2. Funny idea. Many PTA issues nearly lead to murder! Interesting setting for do-gooders who are hiding secrets.

  3. Thanks for this easy recipe and I can't wait for your debut book to hit the shelves.

  4. Thanks for the recipe, Laura, and welcome to the Mystery Lovers' Kitchen! I'm looking forward to your novel--I've frequently thought that the PTA meetings made the perfect setting for murder. :) Best wishes for your debut!

  5. I found your website today and love it. I just finished reading my first ever "culinary mystery" and can't believe I never read them before! Looks forward to reading more of you ladies! Angie

  6. A great quick and easy recipe. Love the photo of the kitties and I'm looking forward to reading your book. Best of luck.

    Thoughts in Progress

  7. Welcome, Laura! With that schedule, I can see why you've resorted to pizza and easy menus. And, I'm sure the cats don't care.

    Good luck with Murder at the P.T.A. I'm looking forward to reading it.

  8. Laura, welcome! What a fun cover for your new book. I'm very excited for your debut! Wahooo!


  9. So many people have said that PTAs seem to be made for murder that I'm surprised no one has written this book before :)

    One thing I forgot to mention about the recipe is that it's easy to toss in some broccoli, or tomatoes, red peppers, or whatever you have sitting around in the refrigerator that should be eaten soon. Just cook the veggies gently in a little olive oil and mix with the finished pasta.

    Thanks for all the good wishes with the book!

  10. I just made myself a note get the book Oct 5th (or maybe the 6th, since I'll be on an airplane most of the 5th).

    The recipe looks doable, too. For me, that means easy. Do you have the recipe book "Six Ingredients or Less"? It's my favorite.

  11. Thanks for joining us today, Laura! The PTA does seem like a natural setting for conflicts.

    I love fast pasta like this for dinner, and you're right -- garlic burns fast! Been there, done that.

    ~ Krista

  12. Pasta, garlic, butter, and cheese ... it doesn't get much better than that!

    So excited about the book - it looks wonderful! And your victim Agnes Mephisto's post on was wonderfully intriguing!

  13. There's a cookbook called "Six Ingredients or Less"? Oh, my. I *must* get a copy of that...

  14. Hi, Laura.

    I used to be an education reporter, and I've written about PTA conflicts. Your setting is dead on.

    In other news, I'm the program chair of Malice Domestic. I bet our fans would love to meet you and hear about your book. I hope you'll consider registering for our next convention (April 29 - May 1, 2011). You can learn more at (And so can all the mystery readers out there. We'd love for you to come!)

  15. This sounds the perfect recipe for my crazy house.
    And now I have confirmation why I have hesitated joining the PTA at Lady K's school....

  16. Love the premise of your series, Laura, and your recipe is a winner, too. Congrats on what's sure to be a stellar (or should I say killer?) debut! :)

    ~ Cleo

  17. Your book sounds exactly what I love. Now my list of books to buy on or just after Oct 5th has grown. Now to find the money to get them all.

  18. Laura,
    I can't wait to read your book!!