Showing posts with label Barb Goffman. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Barb Goffman. Show all posts

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Tomato Aspic

Please welcome returning guest blogger Barb Goffman who brings a new Thanksgiving recipe.

Let’s be honest. There are two kinds of Thanksgiving. There’s the one held by folks who love their families, who are sad being apart, and for whom Thanksgiving is a joyous time to come together and share food and happiness.

Then there’s the rest of us. The ones who think fondly of the bird and the day off from work and who try to put out of our minds the annoying aunt who always shares embarrassing stories and the uncle who gets drunk and tries to feel up every woman in the room.

Yes, Thanksgiving can be a crapshoot. No one knows that better than Felicity, the main character in my story “Murder a la Mode,” in the new anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry: A Second Helping, published by Untreed Reads Publishing. Felicity is a good southern woman. She’s in her early twenties. Married a couple years. And now, to her horror, she’s spending Thanksgiving with her husband’s family—at a nudist colony.

Between averting her eyes, getting uncomfortable hugs, and avoiding the stare of lecherous Great-Uncle Lester, the afternoon is bad enough. And that’s before someone dies. There’s probably not a person reading this who hasn’t dreamed of killing someone during Thanksgiving dinner. But what happens when it actually occurs? You’ll have to read the story to find out.

In addition to reading and laughing your way through Thanksgiving, I have one more coping suggestion: comfort food (much better than murder). Here’s a recipe for tomato aspic, which is a retro southern side dish that Felicity would like. This recipe comes courtesy of Mary Stuart Andrews, mother of author Donna Andrews. “We always had it for Thanksgiving,” Donna said. “I was a fussy eater, and this was one of the things I would eat.”

Tomato Aspic

1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
2 cups tomato juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons catsup
1 teaspoon meat sauce (Worcestershire, A-1)
1 tablespoon minced onion (optional)
1/2 cup chopped celery


Soften the gelatin in a half-cup of the cold tomato juice for five minutes.

Heat the salt, catsup, meat sauce, and remaining tomato juice to boiling.

Remove from heat and stir in the gelatin/juice mixture.

Add celery (and onion, if used).

Chill in the refrigerator until it starts to congeal. (Takes about 30 minutes.)

Stir and pour into a serving bowl. (Hint: Use a clean, non-greasy spoon for the stirring so not to slow down the congealing process).

Chill in the refrigerator until firm. (Minimum time to reach firmness is two hours. Overnight is best.)

Makes six servings.

I hope you enjoy the recipe. I also hope you’ll share your stories about interesting places you’ve spent Thanksgiving. Can anyone top Felicity’s nudist colony?

Happy Thanksgiving!

“Murder a la Mode” is one of seventeen stories in the new anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry: A Second Helping, published by Untreed Reads Publishing. All the stories in the book are funny and involve Thanksgiving. This anthology is a follow-up to one I wrote about here on Mystery Lovers Kitchen two years ago, simply called The Killer Wore Cranberry. That book contained eight humorous Thanksgiving food tales. Both books are published solely in electronic format and are available at all the usual online outlets, as well as directly from the publisher, at And until the end of the month, if you buy right from the publisher and use code THANKSGIVING at check-out, you’ll get 30 percent off.
Barb Goffman's published fiction has all been in the crime short-story realm. Her stories mostly focus on families, because the people you know best are the ones you'll most likely want to kill. Barb has been nominated for the Agatha Award four times and for the Anthony and the Macavity awards once each. In her spare time, Barb serves as a co-coordinating editor of the Chesapeake Crimes series (Wildside Press) and as program chair of the Malice Domestic mystery convention. She's an avid reader and a doting mom of a very cute dog. You can learn more about her at and you can like her on Facebook.



Sunday, November 14, 2010

Welcome Guest Blogger, Barb Goffman!

We here at Mystery Lovers' Kitchen have been fortunate to host Barb once before. Today she brings us entertainment in the form of fun Thanksgiving stories as well as a fabulous mushroom gravy recipe.

Welcome, Barb!!

Get Through Thanksgiving with a Good Laugh and Some Marvelous Mushroom Gravy

With 11 days remaining until Thanksgiving, you may be a little stressed. The family’s coming! You have to clean the house. Buy all the food. Cook all the food! (Or maybe you’re going to a certain relative’s home where you fear you’ll have to eat all the food.) It’s enough to make you crawl into bed, pull the covers over your head, and wait for December.

But since that’s not a viable option (it’s not, right?), I have an alternate solution: Read some funny mystery stories involving Thanksgiving foods. There’s nothing like a good laugh to help you relax and cope, especially when the laughs come from stories about fictional characters suffering through far worse Thanksgivings than you ever have (I hope).

What book is it that will dispel the gloom and doom? It’s The Killer Wore Cranberry, an e-book that has nine funny crime stories, including my story “Biscuits, Carats, and Gravy.”

In this story, you meet Dotty, a neat-freak, Martha Stewart-wannabe grandmother whose whole family has come for Thanksgiving. Everything’s perfect until she learns her grand-nephew has proposed to an airhead who wants Dotty’s deceased mother’s engagement ring. That simply won’t do. So Dotty comes up with a plan to save the ring that involves cunning, deception, and some horrible, horrible gravy. But you know what they say about the best laid plans…

This anthology can be downloaded onto any e-reader, as well as as a PDF onto any computer. You also can buy any of the stories individually if you don’t want to buy the whole book. You should be able to find it at all the online bookstores, as well as from the publisher,, through its online store. In just a few minutes, you can be reading and laughing and forgetting all about the fact that your family is coming! In eleven days! Ahhhh!

Do you have any Thanksgiving horror stories you’d care to share? Please do. Remember, we’re all in this together!

As I prepared to write this post, I reached out to friends, asking for a gravy recipe. My story focuses on awful gravy, so I felt it important to provide a recipe for fabulous gravy. Most of my friends said that there is no recipe for gravy; you just make it from the turkey juices. Not very helpful. Thankfully my friend Elizabeth Amore-Yingling came through. She has her own gravy recipe, and we’re both happy to share it with you. Happy Thanksgiving!

Marvelous Mushroom Gravy

Serves 8


4 TBSP unsalted butter (½ stick)

2 shallots, finely minced

1 pound Cremini or mini Portobello mushrooms (cleaned and finely chopped)

¼ c flour

3 cups turkey or chicken stock

Kosher or sea salt to taste

¼ tsp dried thyme leaves

Finely ground white pepper


Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté until soft, about one minute (do not brown). Add mushrooms and sauté (stir frequently) until mushrooms soften, about 5 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour with ½ c chicken or turkey stock until the flour is dissolved (this helps prevent lumps!)

Add the remaining 2-½ cups of stock to the mushrooms in the pan and bring it to a simmer. Wisk in the flour/stock mixture and simmer until the gravy thickens (about 3-5 minutes). Add salt (approximately ¼ tsp.), dried thyme leaves and a pinch of white pepper to taste. Keep warm until ready to serve.


Barb Goffman is a two-time Agatha Award nominee for “The Worst Noel” from The Gift of Murder and “Murder at Sleuthfest” from Chesapeake Crimes II. Barb’s stories also have appeared in The Killer Wore Cranberry, Murder to Mil-Spec, the Deadly Ink 2010 Short Story Collection, Chesapeake Crimes: They Had It Comin’, and Chesapeake Crimes 3. A slightly altered version of her story “Volunteer of the Year” will be re-printed this winter in Magnolia Blossoms and Afternoon Tales. Barb is program chair of the Malice Domestic mystery convention, serves on the national board of Sisters in Crime, is a past president of the Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters in Crime, and is a coordinating editor of Chesapeake Crimes: This Job is Murder, due out in 2012. Learn more at

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Welcome Guest Blogger - Barb Goffman!!

We here at Mystery Lovers' Kitchen are absolutely delighted to welcome Barb Goffman back for a special visit. Today Barb is here to talk a little bit about Malice Domestic (which is where I met Krista and Avery last year!) And, of course, she has a recipe to share, too!

Let me step aside now and allow Barb to jump in...

~ Julie

If you love mysteries, particularly traditional mysteries, take note: Only 96 days until Malice! Yep, just four months before Malice Domestic begins. On April 30th, the largest annual fan convention devoted to the traditional mystery begins its 2010 adventure in Arlington, Virginia – right outside DC.

And an adventure it is. If you’ve been to Malice recently, you know the fun we’ve had. (Yes, as program chair, I’m biased, but I’m also right!) If you haven’t been to Malice recently, here’s a little bit of what you’ve been missing:

· Parnell Hall in drag, appearing as his character The Puzzle Lady

· Peter Lovesey sharing the hilarious results of his books being translated into Japanese

· Marcia Talley sharing all her dirty little secrets

· Carole Nelson Douglas morphing from Delilah Street into Midnight Louie

· The chance to snag an empty seat at your favorite author’s table and share a meal with her. (I had breakfast on the fly last year with Anne Perry!)

· Meeting mystery fans from throughout the U.S. and beyond. Perhaps you’ve heard from Doris Ann Norris, the 2000-year-old librarian, on listservs like DorothyL. At Malice you can meet her in the flesh.

· Sitting with your favorite author at the Agatha Awards dinner

· Learning how to kill with undetected poisons from The Poison Lady herself, Luci Zahray

· Hearing funny lady Elaine Viets lead this panel of comedians: Don Bruns, Jeff Cohen, Parnell Hall, and Pari Noskin Taichert

· Watching Sherlock Holmes face off against Hercule Piorot in the greatest-sleuth-of-all contest. (Sherlock won.)

· Learning CSI techniques from real-life technician John French.

· Attending a whirlwind charity auction run by Hank Phillippi Ryan and Pari Noskin Taichert and winning the chance to name a pet in Sandy Parshall’s next book

And here’s just some of what you’ll miss this year if you don’t attend:

· Mary Higgins Clark. Need I say more? The queen of suspense will be our lifetime achievement honoree, and she will be in the house.

· William Link. Don’t recognize the name? Well, maybe you’ll recognize these names: Columbo, Mannix, and Murder She Wrote. He co-created and produced them all and he’s this year’s Poirot Award honoree.

· A tribute to Ed Hoch. The man had nearly 1,000 mystery short stories published. His passing two years again was a real loss to the mystery world. This year his friends and family will gather to honor his memory.

· The return of some real fan favorites. Margaret Maron. Dorothy Cannell. Charles Todd. Carolyn Hart. Katherine Hall Page. Louise Penny. Donna Andrews. They’ll all be there, sitting on panels, signing books, chatting with fans. Maybe even with you.

· Some ladies from a little blog called Mystery Lovers Kitchen. Yep, Avery Aames, Krista Davis, and Riley Adams (aka Elizabeth Spann Craig) are all on the schedule.

· Rhys Bowen as toastmaster. If you’ve never heard this funny lady, well, you really shouldn’t deprive yourself of the treat.

· And last, but certainly not least, our guest of honor, Parnell Hall. He sings. He acts. He tells jokes. Oh yeah, he also writes great books and is a hell of a nice guy. You can meet him, but you’ve got come to Malice to do so.

So how do you do that? Simple. Go to You can register online or download the snail mail form. Then make your hotel reservation, arrange your transportation, and mark your calendar for April 30th – May 2nd. And like me, you too can start counting the days.

Here’s a little something to keep you occupied while you wait for Malice: Our chair Verena Rose’s Seven Deadly Sin Salad.


1 pound fresh spinach, torn

1 medium head lettuce, torn

6 hard cooked eggs, sliced

1 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled

1 eight-ounce can of sliced water chestnuts, drained

1 ten-ounce package of frozen English peas, thawed

1 cup mayonnaise

½ cup sour cream

½ a package (four ounces) of buttermilk dressing mix

Optional ingredients

Sliced onion

Chopped fresh parsley

Grated cheese


Layer the first six ingredients (plus onion, if desired) in the order listed above in a large salad bowl. Combine the mayo, sour cream and dressing mix and then mix well. Spread this mix over the top of the vegetables in the bowl, sealing to the edge of the bowl. Garnish with chopped parsley or grated cheese, if desired. Cover tightly and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Toss before serving. Yields 12 to 15 servings.

Hope you like the salad. If you’ve been to Malice before, we’d love to hear your favorite Malice memories. Please share! And if you’ll be a first-timer, we’d love to hear what you’re most looking forward to!

* * * * *

Barb Goffman is an Agatha Award-nominated author who toils as a lawyer by day to pay the vet bills at night for her miracle dog, Scout. (He had cancer three times, but now he’s cured!) She’s program chair of Malice Domestic and writes short stories in her spare time. Barb’s most recent story is “The Worst Noel” in The Gift of Murder and she’ll have a new story coming out in April in Chesapeake Crimes: They Had It Comin’, the fourth volume in the Agatha- and Anthony-award-winning Chesapeake Crimes series. Barb’s website is

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Welcome our Guest Blogger Barb Goffman!

I am very happy to introduce Mystery Lovers' Kitchen readers to Barb Goffman. When you read her pie story below, and then about the The Gift of Murder anthology in which she has a story -- and you'll understand why those of us here on the blog who know Barb are so delighted to have her join us today. She will be popping back in here after the first of the year to talk about the Malice Domestic conference (don't miss it!)



No matter what you’re cooking, you won’t end up with a good dish unless you use quality ingredients. This applies whether you’re baking a pie, making lasagna, or ... putting together a short-story anthology. Yep. A good book of short stories is only as good as the writers who wrote them, the ideas that inspired them, and the editor who helped shape those stories.

Now I’m no expert on pies. The only time I ever made one, my brother-in-law looked at it cooling and said, “Where’s the top?” I knew it hadn’t looked right when I took it out of the oven, but I had followed the recipe exactly, and the recipe hadn’t mentioned a crust. Sigh.

Thankfully, I’m a bit better at writing. As are the 18 other authors in the anthology The Gift of Murder. This book, which was published in October, has 19 crime stories all set during the winter holiday season. (Festive!) The reviews have been solid. (See some of them at the publisher’s website: The Gift of Murder. Others are on Amazon.) But the sales haven’t gone as well as we’d hoped. And that’s a shame, because the publisher is donating every dime of profits from this book to Toys for Tots.

So let me tell you about the ingredients making up this book. Hopefully, you’ll decide they’re the quality you’re looking for in a good read—both for you and for folks on your Christmas, Hanukkah, and/or Kwanzaa gift lists.
Do you like heartwarming stories, the kind that Hallmark scoops up and turns into feel-good movies? Then you’ll like Earl Staggs’s “Caught on Christmas Eve,” which involves bad choices and second chances. Do you want a solid puzzle in your mystery? Then you’ll be happy with J.F. Benedetto’s “The Seven Dollar Clue.” Are you a fan of amateur sleuths? Authors Marian Allen and Elizabeth Zelvin have you covered. Prefer cops and PIs? We have those, too, thanks to Austin Camacho, Kris Neri, and Sandra Seamans. If woo woo’s your game, Bill Crider wrote about werewolf love (much better than muskrat love) and Gail Farrelly has a Kindle with a mind of its own. Want to kill someone with a waffle iron? Stefanie Lazer’s story is for you. And to round things out, we have stories about folks in bad situations who find their way out of it ... and some who don’t.

I’m so pleased that folks who have read my story “The Worst Noel” have called it both funny and disturbing. (Too bad they’ve also said that about me.) The story starts at Thanksgiving and ends at Christmas Eve, and in between a woman with an overbearing mother and a witch of a sister decides to gift herself with a little less family. If you’ve ever wished you could get rid of that one annoying relative, I think you’ll like my story. Besides, it involves poisoned food, which just rounds out the whole holiday cooking experience, doesn’t it? Now, I don’t recommend putting poison into real-life recipes, but it’s an excellent ingredient in fictional ones.

The chefs behind The Gift of Murder are master storyteller and editor John Floyd and publisher Tony Burton of Wolfmont Press. This is the fourth year in which Tony has persuaded authors to donate their stories so he can raise money for needy children. It’s a great cause. Here’s how you can get the book: Visit the major online bookstores (Amazon also has it on Kindle) or your local brick and mortar shop. You also can get a copy in print form, e-book or audio through The Digital Bookshop. I highly recommend The Digital Bookshop, which has partnered with the publisher so that more money will end being donated to Toys for Tots.

And if you’re feeling lucky, maybe you can win a copy here. Everyone who comments below (before midnight tonight) with a funny story about their own cooking mishap—I can’t be the only one with a pie story, especially with this being the Sunday after Thanksgiving—will have their names thrown in a hat. I’ll mail one signed copy to the winner.

If you don’t win, please consider buying this book for yourself or as a gift to help us help the wonderful Toys for Tots Foundation, run by the U.S. Marine Corps. Not only will you get the joy of knowing you’re helping needy kids, but you’ll also be getting a great book that’s like a buffet. If you don’t love one of the stories, well, there are 18 more to read. Tony and John did an excellent job of mixing all the ingredients together to create a solid anthology with 19 stories that differ in content but blend well because of their authors’ creativity. You can’t get a better recipe than that. Well, except for the following recipe for chocolate pound cake. No poison included. Happy holidays!

Chocolate Pound Cake
Serves: 12-16 (No you don’t have to eat it all—if you’re not having that many relatives over, freeze the leftovers. They’ll keep.)
1 cup butter
½ cup Crisco
3 cups sugar
5 eggs
3 cups flour
½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup cocoa
1 cup milk
2 tsp. vanilla
Powdered sugar, for dusting


Grease a Bundt pan or an angel food cake pan. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Add vanilla to the milk. Set aside. Cream together the butter, Crisco, and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time to the sugar mixture, beating well after each egg. Add one third of the flour mixture to the sugar mixture, beat until it’s incorporated, then add one third of the milk, and beat until it’s incorporated. Repeat these last two actions, alternately adding in the flour mixture and the milk mixture in thirds. Bake for 1 ½ hours or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan. Dust with powdered sugar and enjoy.

* * * * *
Barb Goffman is an Agatha Award-nominated author who toils as a lawyer by day to pay the vet bills at night for her miracle dog, Scout. (He had cancer three times, but now he’s cured!) She grew up on Long Island but figures she must have been Southern in another life because half the voices she hears in her head—oops, sorry, half the characters she creates—are Southern. In addition to the short story mentioned above, Barb has had stories published in the second and third volumes of the Chesapeake Crimes anthology series, and she will have a new story coming out this spring in the fourth: Chesapeake Crimes: They Had It Comin’, a wonderful book with twenty tales of murder and revenge. Barb’s website is