A very warm welcome to Chris Wenger, author of DO OR DINER and A SECOND HELPING OF MURDER, comfort food cozy mysteries from Penguin Obsidian Books. I knew we had to invite Chris to guest blog the second I saw the cover of her book. It makes me want to dive in and read. Oh, and maybe make a little comfort food to snack on . . .
Don't miss Chris's very generous giveaway at the bottom of the post.
What is comfort food? I haven’t consulted a dictionary, but I’ll take a fork stab at the definition: food that comforts.
My mother was the best cook in the world. Her buffets for special events of ours (first communions, graduations, pre- and post-wedding parties, and birthday parties) are legendary.
Mom could really cook, and she knew just what us kids and our friends needed. Is there anything more comforting than a grilled cheese sandwich and a bowl of tomato soup on a snowy day? Or how about homemade chicken soup?
Macaroni and cheese reminds me of Friday night dinners. Bacon and eggs and toast remind me of Sunday morning breakfasts. There was baked chicken most every Sunday for dinner.
The rest of the week was filled with dishes like: spaghetti and meatballs, roast beef and mashed potatoes, roast pork or pork chops, meatloaf, potato soup or B-L-Ts.
Because I am of Polish heritage, there were pierogies (that took forever to make) fried in onions, galumpkie (cabbage rolls), and kielbasa.
The summer was time for splashing in the pool, barbecued meat on the grill and corn on the cob. The winter was a time for soups and stews.
So when I need “comfort”, I make my favorites and I have a craving for pot roast!
(My Aunt Helen was a great cook. She had a small Cape Cod house and a kitchen with little counter space, but she made the most out of every inch she had. I remember sticking to her plastic furniture covers whenever my parents brought us over for a visit. Soon I learned never to wear shorts to her house !)
• 3 to 5 lbs. chuck roast
• 1-1/2 tsp. salt
• 3/4 tsp. ground ginger
• 3 bay leaves
• 1 cup red wine
• 1 onion, cut into chunks
• 1 minced garlic clove
• 2 tbsp. oil
• 1/4 tsp. pepper
• 4 whole cloves
• 1 cup apple juice
• 3 apples, cored and quartered
• zest & juice of 1 lemon or lime
1. Brown roast in oil and add all remaining ingredients, except apples and onions.
2. Bring to boiling, reduce heat, cover and simmer about 2 hours.
3. Add onions and apples, simmer additional 1-1/2 hour or until meat is tender.
4. Remove meat from pan.
5. Slice and serve over noodles or boiled potatoes.
Unfortunately, the knowledge gained from way too many years in night school, didn’t prepare me for what I love to do the most - write!
To date, I’ve written nine romances for Harlequin and “almost” three cozy mysteries for Penguin Obsidian Books.
My first cozy mystery, DO OR DINER, was released from Obsidian Books in August , 2013, and was their first “comfort food” mystery! My second cozy mystery will be called A SECOND HELPING OF MURDER, and will be released on April 1, 2014. A third is completed and will be called DINERS, DRIVE-INS AND DEATH (release date unknown). This trilogy of books all feature the same characters, same small town, and are set around a 1950’s diner.
For fun, I enjoy watching professional bull riding and rodeo with my favorite cowboy, my husband Jim. We put on our cowboy regalia (I look horrible in a cowboy hat!) and have traveled to events in Las Vegas, Florida, Connecticut, and other states.