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
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.”
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, http://www.untreedreads.com, 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
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 .
Let me step aside now and allow Barb to jump in...
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 www.malicedomestic.org/registration.html. 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
Chopped fresh parsley
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!
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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 www.barbgoffman.com.