Friday, March 17, 2017

Guest Fran Stewart

Please welcome Fran Stewart to MLK. She writes about a Scottish-themed shop in Vermont, and though it's Saint Patrick's Day today, we won't hold it against her. She's giving us a recipe that is both easy and fun. Plus a giveaway!




Why would anyone wonder why I write not one, but TWO mystery series with a protagonist who either can’t or doesn’t like to cook? Isn’t it obvious?

Peggy Winn in the ScotShop series likes to eat the leftovers from her friend Karaline’s restaurant. Biscuit, the librarian in the Biscuit McKee series, cooks three things – soups, bread, and cookies. Anything else is the responsibility of Bob, her ever-patient husband.

Those two characters just about sum me up. I can’t imagine how much trouble I’d have writing a series if I had to come up with recipes for each book.

That said, I do have a recipe for you, but you’ll have to improvise a lot, since it’s based to a large extent on what was in my cupboard one particular day.

I loved the moment I discovered crockpots. I can throw a whole bunch of ingredients in there in the morning, let it simmer all day long, and have a number of meals to chomp on (like about five of them – supper this evening, lunch and supper for the next two days).

I can hear you asking – “What!!!! Eat the same thing three days in a row?!!!!”

Well, yes. Food is not a high priority for me (as I’m sure you already figured out). If you don’t want to duplicate menus, feel free to freeze meal-sized batches for later.

Now, I do admit that sometimes the crazy combinations I put together end up being, shall we say, less than satisfying. Since I hardly ever cook for company, though, I don’t have to worry about it. I’m someone who can make a complete meal out of fresh homemade bread and creamy butter, along with hunks of cheese and good strong tea. Throw in some soup (even if it tastes a little weird), and the meal is even better.


So, here’s the way my throw-together soup happens:
1. Crockpot, dribbled with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil to keep things from sticking.

2. Layer the bottom with a cup of rice (preferably brown) uncooked.

3. Dump an entire undrained can of Italian-cut green beans on top of the rice.

4. Add an undrained can of light red kidney beans (You can use the dark red, but they turn the rice sort of muddy looking. Not too appetizing unless you’re eating by candlelight.) If you’d rather, you can soak dried kidney beans overnight and add them during this step.

5. Chop up a smallish dill pickle and add it on top of the kidney beans. Why, you ask? Why not?

6. Sprinkle with a generous amount of pepper. At this point, I usually throw in some sort of herb or spice. The last soup I put together had a couple of teaspoons of mustard seed. I’ve also been known to add a little cumin and a fair amount of ginger.

7. Chop up some chicken (cooked or uncooked) or fresh salmon and layer the pieces over the rice and such. If you don’t want to chop, four to six drumsticks work just fine.

8. Add another layer of rice – if you make it wild rice, it’ll add a nutty consistency that’s delicious – and one more can of green beans. You could use the French-cut beans, but they’re a little harder to eat without dribbling. Once I used a can of each, and it just looked messy, so now I stick to the stubby Italian-cut version.

8. Top with four or five pieces of pickled okra, sliced thinly.

9. Add enough water to make it sort of soupy.

Cook on high from 4 to 6 hours (or on low overnight). You may need to add more water halfway through.

I almost never add salt – but you might want to in step #6 if you’re a “salty” kind of person.

That’s it. Simple. Quick. Tasty (we hope).


Fran will be giving away one copy of her book to one lucky reader who leaves a comment!


About the book:

The annual Highland Festival in Hamelin, Vermont, means caber tossing, sword dancing, and just a spot of murder...

Hamelin is overflowing with tourists enjoying the Scottish-themed games—and most of them are donning tartans from Peggy Winn’s ScotShop. And her fourteenth-century ghostly companion, Dirk, has been indispensable, keeping an eye out for shoplifters and matching customer’s family names to their clan plaid.

Adding to the chaos is Big Willie, a longtime champion of the games, but not everyone is happy to have him in town. So when he misses the first event of the weekend, Peggy senses something is awry. After Willie is discovered dead in his hotel room, the victim of a bagpipe-related crime, Peggy decides it’s up to her and Dirk to suss out a murderer—because another death would really blow... 






Find A Wee Homicide in the Hotel at:

Amazon
AmazonSmile
iBooks
Books a Million
Books a Million


About Fran:

Hoping to be judged on her writing ability and not on her cooking ability, Fran is the national best-selling author of fourteen books, including the Biscuit McKee mystery series (seven books so far) and the ScotShop mystery trilogy; as well as a standalone mystery A SLAYING SONG TONIGHT; and FROM THE TIP OF MY PEN: a workbook for writers, written to help emerging writers use the English language more effectively. She lives and writes quietly beside a creek on the other side of Hog Mountain, Georgia, after having moved repeatedly from her birth through her fourth decade. The small fictional towns she writes about embody the hometown she always wanted—except for the murders.





46 comments:

  1. Welcome, Fran! The soup sounds great and the book sounds like a wonderful read! EMS591@aol.com

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  2. Good luck with the soup, Liz - adventuresomeness in cooking can be great fun.

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  3. Welcome, Fran! This is the kind of recipe that everybody should have tucked away somewhere--sounds great.

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    1. And it varies so much depending on what's in the pantry! I've done it meatless and with turkey, with lima beans or lentils. The black beans were a disaster, though -- it looked like mud!

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  4. I think the soup sounds tasty. turtle6422(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Thanks, Jana Leah. Hope you'll give a try.

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  5. Fran, even though it's in the 80's here in Houston, that recipe still works! Sounds like a week-end meal for me & Billy! Hugs!

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  6. I use my crockpot year-round. Like the British and their hot tea to open the pores and cool the body, soup is good any time of year. Of course, opening pores for the evaporative quality of the heat only works when the humidity is less than stifling...

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  7. I don't have a crockpot.
    sgiden at verizon(.)net

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    1. I've made similar concoctions in my cast iron dutch oven (covered) in the oven. Seems to work as well, and we all know that cooking in cast iron is good for the blood...

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  8. I would enjoy this captivating book. Soups are a year round item in our family. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. If you eat soups year-round, then you and I are definitely soul-connected!

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  9. sounds interesting - love my crockpot- soup is great anytime

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    1. As I mentioned in an earlier comment, this type of throw-together recipe works in a dutch oven as well as a crockpot. I've used a big soup pot on top of the stove, too, but for overnight cooking, you can't beat a crockpot.

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  10. The soup is enticing. We enjoy soups anytime. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

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    1. The trick is to have fun with it. That way, even for someone who isn't a particularly good cook (and doesn't plan to work on becoming one!) the whole experience is enjoyable.

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  11. That is quite an unusual combination of flavors! I gather you like pickles.s
    libbydodd at comcast dot net

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    1. What's not to like about pickles? Actually, I threw them in the first time just on a whim, but I liked the added testiness so much, they've become one of my favorite additions. Naturally, they're optional. Heck! The WHOLE RECIPE is optional!

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  12. While I do love soup I think I'll pass on this one. Especially since I hate crock pots. I prefer my 20qt stock pot that I use for my chicken soup, split pea soup, and my turkey, bean, barley and veggie soup. LOL

    I studied cooking under the finest chefs on television! I learned so well that when I invited one of my kids friends over (a C.I.A. Graduate Chef) he loved the food and gave me some great compliments. He's now been "assimilated" into our family (extended member) and does the holiday baking for us (I hate baking).

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  13. I'm completely in awe of people when their family and friends enjoy eating with them, Nora. My daughter always invites me to her house for the holidays -- most likely to escape my disastrous food offerings. <> The only thing she'll let me bring is pumpkin bread or my special molasses chewy cookies, but since I do enjoy baking those particular items, that's just fine with me. Your turkey-bean-barley-veggie soup sounds wonderful, by the way.

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  14. It is nice to know there is someone else "out there in the universe", that eats the same thing a few days in a row!! Most of my cooking...is this way...to me..it is the ONLY way!! LOL!! the3beersus at yahoo dot com

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    1. How wise you are, SueAnn! I figure people like us save all sorts of energy by not having to cook every single day. We are the true eco-warriors, right? LOL

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  15. I could (and have)make a meal out of bread and butter or cheese and crackers. I love the scottie dogs on the cover of A Wee Homicide in the Hotel.

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    1. Glad you like the Scotties, Pat. As the mere author, I have no say-so on how the cover turns out, but I must admit I love the covers of all three of my ScotShop mysteries. As to bread & butter or cheese & crackers -- I agree whole-heartedly. I've also been known to make an entire meal out of popcorn...

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  16. I think my hubby would even try that recipe---Thanks. Happy St. Pat's Day!
    suefarrell.farrell@gmail.com

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    1. And the luck of the Irish right back to you, Sue. I'm sure we Scots are allowed to wear a bit of green on this day. If hubby tries the soup - do let me know how it turns out!

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  17. Congratulations on your newest release, Fran! The soup looks scrumptious and the dill pickle definitely captured my attention. Looks like the perfect meal to nibble on while I'm reading your latest book.

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    1. I should have put in capital letters that the dill pickle and the pickled okra are optional. I don't want people to be repelled by what they see as pickle soup. Try adding some chunks of yellow pepper -- looks peppy and tastes lovely. And I do hope you enjoy reading WEE HOMICIDE as much as I enjoyed writing it.

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  18. I make something similar but I use smoked sausage and a BBQ sauce three kinds of beans, tomatoes, carrots, green pepper, and onion. suefoster109 at net zero.net

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    1. The smoked sausage sounds great, Sue. And I have a scrumptious BBQ sauce - "Janie's BBQ Sauce (Cherry Jam)" that I'll try next time. Thanks for the idea. Now if only Peggy Winn and Biscuit McKee could get inspired to cook!

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  19. I just made The Pioneer Woman's 7 can soup, but ended up using 10, and cleaning out my pantry. It is so easy and good. If I ever get a slow cooker, I would love to try your recipe, especially with the dill pickle and pickled okra! Thanks for visiting and for your giveaway! bobandcelia@sbcglobal.net

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    1. Hahahaha, Celia! I'm not the only one who cleans out the pantry by cooking everything together! This works in a Dutch oven, too. You'll just have to take a bit more care to be sure it doesn't dry out (or burn...)

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  20. Wish I were clever with crockpot ingredients. I need your cookbook!

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    1. You can't go wrong with some rice, some beans, some sort of veggie, and a little imagination, Harvee. Plus, the pickles always help!

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  21. Both the recipe and the book sound great. Thanks for a chance to win a copy.

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    1. If you try either of them, Elaine -- the recipe or the book -- let me know what you think. You can reach me through my website at franstewart.com

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  22. Congrats on the books recent release. Sounds most interesting. I grew up hating okra. My Mom's was always slimy. But when some what older. Had dinner at a friends. The menu included okra. I was prepared to play martyr as a dutiful guest and eat it. Turned out it was nice and crisp. She taught me how to cook it right. So do use it sometimes. The only time I eat crackers is when they are in my soup. I don't like wet soup. The blurb on the book looks great. You are new to me and I so appreciate the ladies having you here. They have introduced me to many new authors and many exciting reads. I am hoping this will be the start on your books. All of which are now on my TBR. Della at deepotter (at) peoplepc (dot) com

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    1. I had to laugh at your comments about okra, Della. I had much the same experience, gagging repeatedly on the slimy stuff my mother served. It took me another three or four decades before I discovered crisp fried, cornmeal-coated okra. The pickled okra is even better as far as I'm concerned. I'm honored to be on your TBR list. I hope you'll like me even better than okra!

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  23. Love soup - especially when it's cold out. Our stir fry dishes are similar to your soup - see what's in the refrigerator and toss it all together.

    jtcgc at yahoo dot com

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    1. Stir-fry, crockpot, clean-out-the-fridge -- it all works, right? Enjoy your soups -- and your reading as well. Thanks for your comment.

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  24. Your kind of cooking makes perfect sense to me. I don't understand the perfect, 3-course or more meals. Not sure about the pickle though.
    lkish77123 at gmail dot com

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    1. Don't worry, Linda. A lot of people aren't sure about the pickles!

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  25. Interesting recipe. Most of my cooking is done in a slow cooker also,and that's not very often. I haven't read this series yet, but I love the cover and description of the book. Would enjoy reading the book.
    diannekc8(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Years ago I was complaining about my perennially messy desk, and someone told me, "Either clean it up or come to terms with your inner slob." I've had the same choice with my cooking - "Either learn to cook well, or come to terms with your inner grazer." I'd rather graze than cook any day, so a lot of my "recipes" (if you can dignify them with that name) tend to be like this one. Hope you enjoy my books!

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  26. My kind of recipe. I always like to use whatever I have on hand and even when I try to strictly follow a recipe I find myself tweaking it. The corned beef and vegetables that started out in the crockpot ended up as roasted vegetables and sautéed cabbage and Reuben sandwiches. I love to cook, but my way, and presentation means nothing to me! Thanks for the giveaway. sallycootie@gmail.com

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    1. And you're my kind of person, Sally! In fact, Sheila Connolly didn't even include the photos I sent of my soup - probably because they looked considerably less than appetizing. Still, it tasted good, and that was fine with me.

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