Showing posts with label Janet Bolin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Janet Bolin. Show all posts

Sunday, May 3, 2015

My Mother Liked Salt—Sugar, Too

A very warm welcome to our good friend, Janet Bolin. She was kind enough to join us during our Retro Recipe week honoring our mothers. Janet's latest Threadville Mystery, SEVEN THREADLY SINS releases on Tuesday! In addition to sharing a recipe that's hard to resist, Janet is giving away a copy of her book to one lucky person who leaves a comment today!

And now, heeeere's Janet!

My mother was about five when the black and white photo was taken. On the back, many years later, she wrote, “Me, tomato, and salt.”

When I was a kid, we often did what my mother must have done right before her picture was taken. We took a salt shaker and a knife and moseyed into the garden. We each picked a tomato, still warm from the sunshine, and cut out the spot where the stem had been. Passing the salt shaker back and forth, we sprinkled salt on the tomato, took a bite, sprinkled more salt, took another bite, more salt, another bite…

One day, I decided to avoid all this passing of the salt shaker. I simply poured salt into the little funnel-shaped hole at the top of the tomato. I filled the hole completely.

I took a big bite. There was probably a tiny bit of tomato in that bite…

That was the last time I salted a tomato.

However, I was (was?) fond of sugary things. Liking to please us, my mother devised gumdrop cookies. I don’t have her exact recipe, but it went something like this:


Set oven at 375

1 cup sugar
½ cup softened butter

2 eggs, beaten
½ cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon orange juice or ½ teaspoon extract in a flavor that enhances the flavor of the gumdrops you’re using.

Mix well. Sift together
2 cups flour
½ teaspoon baking soda

Add to first mixture. Blend. Stir in
1 heaping cup of gumdrops chopped to about the size of chocolate chips, in colors to suit the holiday, the team, or your whim (for spring and Mother’s Day, I opted for green, yellow, and orange.)

Drop by teaspoonfuls on a silicone baking mat or parchment paper about 1 inch apart.
Bake about 10 minutes.

I salute my late mother on Mothers’ Day and wish all mothers a very happy Mother’s Day!

In Janet Bolin’s Threadville Mysteries, Willow Vanderling teaches machine embroidery and solve mysteries in a village of textile arts shops. The fifth book in the series, Seven Threadly Sins, will be on store shelves May 5. Willow and six of her friends are accused of committing sins of fashion, and when their accuser ends up dead, Willow figures it would be a sin not to clear her name.

Seven Threadly Sins can be ordered from your favorite bookstore or from these booksellers.

Janet lives on the shore of Lake Erie with two dogs who resemble Sally-Forth and Tally-Ho in the Threadville Mystery series. 

Visit Janet at Threadville Mysteries, on facebook,  and twitter .

Janet is offering a copy of SEVEN THREADLY SINS to one person who comments below.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Welcome, Janet Bolin!

Janet Bolin, Daryl Wood Gerber and I go way back. We all joined Sisters in Crime and their Guppy chapter about the same time. For years we were critique partners, which led to us becoming close friends. I'm always sorry that we live so far apart from each other, and now that I've actually seen the hot fudge sauce, I'm really sorry I wasn't close enough to sneak by Janet's house for the tastings!

And now, Janet!

Fudge, Pure and Simple

I confess—I love hot fudge sundaes. Hold the whipped cream, hold the chopped nuts, hold the cherry on top, and give me gobs of hot fudge sliding down a mound of ice cream and (if I’m lucky) stopping frozen in its tracks.

Years ago, friends and I always went to a certain restaurant for special occasions. Others would order sundaes with all the whipped cream and other goodies piled on top. I went for what they called the “Junior Hot Fudge Sundae.” Yes, the amount was small (well, sort of), but the fudge was semi-sweet and luscious, with no creamy or nutty distractions.

After I moved away, that restaurant closed (hmmmmm….)

What’s a fudge-lover to do?


First of all, chocolate is temperamental. It doesn’t look melted sometimes when it is, and overheating it can cause it to separate. And, as they say, microwave ovens vary, so I had adjust the timing and power to get the chocolate to melt just right. Which means you may have to keep trying and tasting…

First, I tried baker’s chocolate, and it nearly always came out grainy and gritty. It tasted fine, and I could pretend those grains were teeny chocolate chips. However, even in the photos I took, it looked a bit wretched.

The simplest recipe I came up with that can be made in only a few minutes while someone else is doing battle with an ice cream scoop and a container of hard ice cream (desperation for chocolate is the mother of invention) can be a bit grainy:


Melt one square of unsweetened baker’s chocolate in a small, covered dish in the microwave oven. Stir in two tablespoons of honey. Warm it again, but only slightly, and spoon over the ice cream. Serves two admirably.

My old Joy of Cooking cookbook says that chocolate that hardens on the ice cream will “enrapture” children. The first time I tried the above recipe, basically half chocolate and half honey, I put the honey in the dish with the chocolate before I melted the chocolate. The honey boiled. The fudge sauce turned into crunchy chocolate candy. I liked it, but no one became enraptured.

Finally, after many experiments and taste tests (poor me), I gave up on baker’s chocolate and used unsweetened powdered cocoa instead, and the recipe turned out well the first time—yay! A keeper, it’s semi-sweet like the sauce I remembered from those Junior Hot Fudge Sundaes from long ago, and it only takes a few minutes:


In a microwaveable dish, combine:

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons of cold water—added two at a time and stirred after each addition

Stir to create a thickish paste.


1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Cover the dish and heat in your microwave oven for approximately 2 minutes on a medium/low to medium setting.

Stir to completely melt the butter and blend it into the paste (which will now resemble a sauce!)

Cool slightly.

Stir in ½ teaspoon vanilla.

If necessary, reheat (gently) before drizzling the sauce on ice cream.

Hints: The rules for making fudge sauce are similar to the rules for making candy. For best results, make your sauce on a non-humid, non-rainy day. Cooking the sauce longer makes it (or the candy) harder. Don’t beat the sauce. Stir it gently to prevent it from becoming sugary. But don’t worry if it does separate. It will still taste good…

Make it in small batches—each time you reheat the sauce, you risk causing it to separate or turn into something resembling chocolate chips (which, as I said, isn’t necessarily a bad thing.)

With all that talk about whipped cream, nuts, and cherries on top, you probably think I’m a purist when it comes to hot fudge sundaes. Actually, hot fudge tastes just fine over the usual vanilla ice cream, but also over chocolate, mint chip, or orange sherbet. I’ve never tried hot fudge sauce over ginger ice cream. Just the thought makes me swoon…

Oh, and a brownie underneath it all might be nice.

In Janet Bolin’s Threadville Mysteries, Willow Vanderling teaches machine embroidery and helps solve mysteries in a village of textile arts shops. The first novel in the series, Dire Threads, was nominated for an Agatha for Best First Mystery and for the Bony Blithe. The second Threadville Mystery, Threaded for Trouble, is on the shortlist for the Bony Blithe. The third book in the series, Thread and Buried, which involves sleuthing on the way to and from an ice cream stand, will be on store shelves June 4 and can be pre-ordered from your favorite bookstore or from these booksellers. Two more Threadville Mysteries are in the works.

Janet lives on the shore of Lake Erie with two rascally dogs who resemble Sally-Forth and Tally-Ho in the Threadville Mystery series.

Visit Janet at Threadville Mysteries, on facebook and twitter.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Welcome guest, Janet Bolin!

Please welcome our good friend and guest blogger, Janet Bolin, whose very entertaining mystery series: THREADVILLE MYSTERIES, set in the fictional town of Threadville, are some of the most delightful mysteries I've read.

The second in the series, THREADED FOR TROUBLE, debuted this month.  Read an excerpt from her stories by clicking this LINK.  Enjoy!

Take it away, Janet.

My father made every square inch of our garden produce. We had asparagus, rhubarb, red raspberries, peas, and leaf lettuce in the spring, carrots, tomatoes and green beans all summer, and more red raspberries, pears, apples, and Concord grapes in the late summer and into fall. Day after day, my mother filled canning jars with stewed tomatoes, beans, tomato juice, grape juice apple butter, pickles, jams and jellies, and something horrible (everyone else loved it, don’t ask me why) called piccalilli made from ground-up green tomatoes.

These (except for the piccalilli) would be great all winter.

However, in the summer, I found all this cooking ghastly. We didn’t have air conditioning. I went outside and played under trees and dined on popsicles made out of grape juice. It was a tough life . . .

I did, eventually, help with the canning. And I graduated from grape juice to my mother’s iced coffee. As I recall, this is how she made it (except she liked her coffee a lot weaker than I do):


Brew strong, dark coffee and stir in cocoa powder and sugar to taste. Freeze into a slush in your freezer. This can be done quickly in a largish pan containing only a thin layer of coffee. Or you might prefer the convenience of an ice cream maker. Spoon slush into a glass, filling it most of the way. Top up with milk. Grate nutmeg over it and serve with a straw.

* * *

Janet's first novel, DIRE THREADS, was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First novel, and was also nominated for the Bloody Words Light Mystery Award (the Bony Blithe.) THREADVILLE MYSTERIES are available in stores everywhere.

 Visit Janet at facebook and twitter.