Showing posts with label Closet Confidential. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Closet Confidential. Show all posts

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Everything Old Is New Again! Guest Post - Mary Jane Maffini

Mary Jane Maffini writes several mystery series, including the Charlotte Adams Organizing Mysteries. What a perfect reason to snoop, um, I mean sleuth in other people's homes! In fact, Charlotte says, "Show me your closets and you show me your secrets." Isn't that the truth? Welcome, Mary Jane!

Mysteries and baking seem like an ideal partnership to me. In fact in a perfect world you could nibble the baking results and savor the books while nestled against your pillows. What a great life!

In a related partnership, one of the delightful results of toodling around promoting my mysteries has been the warm and welcoming reaction of readers. Some of the tastes of this travel will stay in my memory forever. But every now and then, I just have to have the recipe. In particular I am thinking about Nova Scotia Oatcakes. I grew up in this gorgeous rocky province on the east coast of Canada. There is a strong Scottish heritage there and it shows in the traditional foods. Of course, it was tough going in Nova Scotia in the bad —I mean good— old days. Fresh foods would have been in short supply and the traditional recipes reflect this. Staples would have been butter or shortening, eggs, vanilla, flour, brown sugar and oatmeal. These simple ingredients were put together in many marvelously adaptive ways.

So, on with my story: On a book tour though eastern Nova Scotia, my mystery writing friend Barbara Fradkin and I were welcomed with open arms by the historic Village of Sherbrooke. Have a look:

The local librarians had knocked themselves out making this a special event. The Sherbrooke ‘ladies’ had set out quite a spread and the community center was jammed with readers. For years I dreamed of the fabulous oatcakes we had there. This past year, I was lucky enough to get that recipe from my friend, the librarian Lesley Brothers, who in turn made sure to get permission from the Historic Village of Sherbrooke for me to use it as it was part of their fundraising cookbook. Old-fashioned and so delicious, these oatcakes evoke childhood and church fairs and trips to visit Grandma. They are a hit with men, women and children and a sign that everything old is new again—and should be! They are also inexpensive and really easy. I should add that they’re particularly good nibbled in bed with a mystery. What’s not to love?

Sherbrooke Oatcakes

2 1/2 c oatmeal (not instant)

1 c brown sugar

1 c flour

1 tsp each - vanilla, salt, baking soda

1 c shortening ( I used butter!)

1 egg, beaten

Combine dry ingredients and cut in shortening or butter. Add vanilla
 and egg. Roll out to desired thickness and cut into shapes. 
Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Dough may be chilled before 

Mary Jane Maffini is a lapsed librarian, a former mystery bookstore owner and a lifelong lover of mysteries. She is a former President of Crime Writers of Canada. In addition to the four Charlotte Adams books, she is the author of the Camilla MacPhee series, the Fiona Silk adventures and nearly two dozen short stories. She has won two Arthur Ellis awards for best mystery short story as well as the Crime Writers of Canada Derrick Murdoch award and was nominated for a Barry Award in 2006.

Mary Jane’s latest Charlotte Adams book is Closet Confidential (Berkley Prime Crime, July 2010). She says she’s grateful for all the tips she gets from Charlotte although she wishes Charlotte would learn to cook. She lives, cooks and plots in Ottawa, Ontario, along with her long-suffering husband and two princessy dachshunds. Visit her at

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Mary Jane Maffini Cooks with Characters!

Mary Jane Maffini rides herd on three protagonists and mystery series: Charlotte Adams is a professional organizer in upstate New York, while lawyer Camilla MacPhee snoops in Canada's capital, and Fiona Silk must be the most reluctant sleuth in West Quebec. Before turning to crime, Mary Jane had lots of mysterious fun as a librarian and a mystery bookseller. She lives and plots in Ottawa, Ontario with her long-suffering husband and two princessy dachshunds. Really, she should be working on the page proofs of her new Charlotte Adams book Closet Confidential (July 2010) instead of attempting the impossible.

For more on MJ and those stubborn sleuths, drop in to


Take my three protagonists. Please! I mean they can outwit a killer, but they can’t cook to save their lives. Today I am doing my best to bail them out in the kitchen with some three-ingredient recipes that anyone can master. I hope.

For instance, Charlotte Adams former successful financial analyst turned professional organizer seems to eat nothing but Ben & Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk straight out of the freezer. And when Fiona Silk last appeared in Too Hot to Handle, she was forced to use her friends’ recipes to create an erotic cookbook. Those bananas flambé were flaming in every sense. Luckily Fiona’s friends have insurance and her own house should be rebuilt by the time the next book comes out. As for Camilla MacPhee, she has been eating out for the last ten years. I know that Canada’s capital has wonderful restaurants, but it’s kind of embarrassing here on Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen.

Of course, as their creator, I have to take the blame for this. I have always loved cooking, so what was I thinking? Don’t get tied up in the kitchen in case there’s a pot on the stove when you dash off in pursuit of a villain? Hardly. If you can solve a mystery and fend off a villain, you can probably turn off a burner.

Maybe it’s because, in a way, each sleuth is like a child for this author: they’re fun, they’re engaging and they’re easy to spoil. Whatever the reason, it’s time for mine to get over this. We’ve all got to grow up sometime and really, it’s time. So consider these recipes gifts to my darlings. If they were any easier, my dogs could make them.

Camilla: You first. You’re always hanging around D’Arcy McGee’s pub munching on sweet potato fries. You probably could have bought a yacht with what you’ve spent on them over the years. But if that man in your life actually is moving a thousand miles closer, you might not want to ask him to do all the cooking, Here’s an easy equivalent that even you, yes really you, can master. No need to measure anything. Just don’t leave the house with the oven on. I mean that.

Oven-Baked Sweet Potato Wedges

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

1 or more sweet potatoes cut in wedges (or whatever shape suits you)
Good quality olive oil – 1 tbsp per sweet potato
Sea salt (makes a BIG difference)
Optional: Sprigs of thyme or a sprinkle of dried thyme.

Slather oil on sweet potato wedges. Dust lightly with sea salt. Sprinkle thyme.

Bake about 35 - 40 minutes or until sizzling.

Nice with chili mayo, although that would be five ingredients or even a separate recipe. (Teaspoon of chili powder in a quarter cup of mayonnaise)

You can serve any sweet potato leftovers (as if!) with a savory vinaigrette, green onions plus a few nuts and dried cranberries.

Oh Charlotte, at barely thirty-one, you are still the baby. Now I know you think of Mars Bars as a main course, but sooner or later, baby, you are going to have to cook dinner or find some one to cook it for you. As for Jack Reilly, the love of your life, he isn’t any more adept than you are. Let him fix the bikes and dodge bullets, while you make this soup. Try it just once and you’ll be hooked. We’re find a recipe for him sooner or later.

Awesome Avocado Soup

1 ripe avocado – peeled and diced
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
Sour cream

Bring broth to a boil. Add avocado and whip with a stick blender until smooth. Or transfer to a blender or food processor and process until creamy. Ladle into bowls and top with a dollop of sour cream. Feel like going crazy with a fourth ingredient? Add a swirl of your favorite salsa for a zippy variation. (Served in pretty cups, this is good enough for a dinner party, not that Charlotte would ever have one.)

As for you, my darling hopeless Fiona, oh dear. Can you live on hummus and pita forever? I think not. The consensus is that you would be a more successful romance writer if you had a sex life. Hard to argue with that. So in the hope that you and your Marc-André live HEA, here’s a sexy recipe to share as you cuddle on the sofa in a candlelit room, with perhaps a warm fire flickering, but in the fireplace this time.

Fig and Brie Spread

Jar of fig spread
1 small wheel of Brie
1 crusty baguette, sliced (or could be crackers)

Put brie on an ovenproof or microwave safe shallow dish. Spread brie with a layer of fig spread. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes or 1 minute (or so) in microwave, until soft and runny in the middle, while brie holds its shape. Serve, and savor with someone you love. Pair with wine or even martinis (3 ingredients also).

There you go, girls. You’re off to a running start. Let me know if you have trouble turning on your stoves. Nothing can go wrong, although with your track records …

New April Contest!!!!DELICIOUS    SUSPICIOUS cover

The first book in the Memphis Barbeque series, Delicious and Suspicious, will be released July 6. To celebrate its upcoming release, Riley is throwing a giveaway! :) Are you interested in winning Williams-Sonoma’s Ultimate Grilling Rub Collection? It’s easy enter! Just send an email to with “Contest” in the subject line.

Grilling Rub   Collection Really, really want to up your chances? You’ll get one extra entry if you follow us on Twitter, one extra if you subscribe to our posts (in the right hand sidebar under “Subscribe”), and one extra for becoming a follower (by clicking the “follow” button in the right hand column under our book covers and blog roll.) Just send us an extra email at and let us know what you’ve signed up for. If you’re already a follower or subscriber, let us know that, too!

Happy Easter to all our friends

from Mary Jane Maffini and the authors at

Mystery Lovers' Kitchen!