Showing posts with label Killing Thyme. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Killing Thyme. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Thyme for a Backyard Party -- Tequila-Thyme Lemonade & Lemon Thyme Shortbread


LESLIE BUDEWITZ: Readers of my Spice Shop series tell me they like seeing how the herb in the title is woven in to the story. Thyme was clearly the perfect herb for a mystery delving into the past, as in the third Spice Shop mystery, KILLING THYME (December 2016).

Pepper and her mother, Lena, who is visiting from Costa Rica, have a strange encounter with a potter new to the artists’ stalls in Seattle’s Pike Place Market. In Pepper’s childhood, her family lived with another couple and their children—including Pepper’s employee and BFF, Kristen—in a big house on Seattle’s Capital Hill that belonged to Kristen’s parents. The house, loosely based on one friends of mine lived in in the early 1990s, has recently been remodeled after decades of neglect. Kristen and her husband celebrate the conclusion of the remodel with a backyard party, and invite the potter. During a tour of the house, Kristen reveals a surprise discovery she made during the remodel. When the potter turns up dead a few days later, Pepper is drawn into investigating the ties between the mysterious potter’s death and an unsolved crime from thirty years ago that threatens not only her beliefs about her family, but her life.

Whew. Sounds heavy, doesn’t it? Not at all—and especially not if you serve it with these treats from the party, both in KILLING THYME. And both would be lovely for a holiday gathering as well, as we celebrate both Independence Day in the US and Canada Day with our friends to the north.

And Happy Release Day to Peg Cochran -- Sowed to Death, in her Farmer's Daughter series, is out today!

Tequila-Thyme Lemonade

Serve as a spiked lemonade, or at cocktail strength, or allow guests to choose. Tequila adds a fun summer flavor, but gin, vodka, or white rum are also tasty—and it’s equally delicious without alcohol.

1-1/2 cups sugar
8-10 sprigs thyme or lemon thyme
2 cups fresh lemon juice (about 10 lemons)
1 cup tequila (or other alcohol) for spiked lemonade; 2 cups for cocktail strength
cold water
thyme sprigs for garnish (optional)

In a small saucepan, bring sugar, thyme, and 1 cup cold water to a boil. Stir until the sugar is dissolved—about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool, allowing the thyme to continue infusing the syrup.

Juice the lemons.

Strain the syrup into a medium bowl, and discard the thyme sprigs. Strain the lemon juice into the bowl, and discard the pulp. Stir the mixture and pour it into a serving pitcher. Add six cups of cold water. Chill at least an hour before serving.

To serve, add the tequila to the pitcher, garnish, and serve over ice. Or set out a variety of alcohol and a jigger, and allow guests to choose their own flavor and strength. In a standard highball or cocktail glass, ½ ounce of alcohol will “spike” the lemonade, while 1 ounce will make a standard-strength cocktail.

Makes 8-10 servings.









Lemon Thyme Cookies

The herbs give these shortbread squares a light, summery touch that would be terrific in any season. Serve with lemon sorbet for an elegant pairing.

½ cup butter, softened
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon fresh thyme or lemon thyme leaves
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
Coarse white or granulated sugar, for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat butter with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add 1/4 cup white sugar and mix until combined. Add thyme, lemon zest, lemon juice, and cardamom, scraping the sides of the bowl if necessary to get all ingredients combined. Gradually stir in the flour and mix.

Form the dough into a ball. To make it easier to work, divide dough into three equal portions. Roll each out on a floured surface into a 6 X 4-1/2 inch rectangle, about 1/4 inch thick. Cut into 1-1/2 inch squares with a knife or a serrated pastry wheel. Sprinkle with coarse or granulated sugar. Place squares on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 12-15 minutes, until edges and bottom are golden. Cool on a wire rack. Makes 36 small cookies.












From the cover of TREBLE AT THE JAM FEST, Food Lovers' Village Mystery #4 (Midnight Ink, June 8, 2017):  

Erin Murphy, manager of Murphy’s Mercantile (aka the Merc), is tuning up for Jewel Bay’s annual Jazz Festival. Between keeping the Merc’s shelves stocked with Montana’s tastiest local fare and hosting the festival’s kick-off concert, Erin has her hands full.

Discord erupts when jazz guitarist Gerry Martin is found dead on the rocks above the Jewel River. The one-time international sensation had fallen out of sync with festival organizers, students, and performers. Was his death an accident?or did someone even the score?

Despite the warning signs to not get involved, Erin investigates. And when the killer attacks, she orchestrates her efforts into one last crescendo, hoping to avoid a deadly finale.



Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. The past president of Sisters in Crime, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat, an avid bird-watcher.

Swing by my website and join the mailing list for my seasonal newsletter. And join me on Facebook where I announce lots of giveaways from my cozy writer friends.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Herby Cheesy Spread -- #bookgiveaway

LESLIE BUDEWITZ:  I’ve often said one of the secrets to adult life is to have friends who cook well, and I’m particularly fortunate in that regard. When I visited Seattle for the launch of ASSAULT & PEPPER, my first Seattle Spice Shop Mystery, I stayed with Lita, my best friend from college. She inspires me in many ways, not least in the kitchen. She’s got a knack I’ve given my main character, Pepper, for being able to step into her kitchen and emerge with what appears to be spontaneous deliciosity.

The moment I tasted this dip, loosely based on a three-cheese dip she watched Alton Brown make on his TV show, I knew I’d have to share it with Mr. Right—and with you.

If you’ve read my Spice Shop Mysteries, you know that the recipe section includes one or two recipes for the seasonal spice blends Pepper and the crew are mixing up at the shop. KILLING THYME includes a terrific Italian blend. I posted the blend two weeks ago with the Herbed Black Bean Pasta Salad; here’s the link. You can also use a commercial blend if you have one.

This spread is even better the second or third day—if you can keep yourself from eating it all at once. An easy flavor variation: substitute 2 tablespoons of the Italian blend for the herbs and spices listed below, and omit the ½ teaspoon salt.

(Sorry the pictures aren’t so great—I took them with the old camera, now-deceased!)

Leave a comment below for a chance to win a signed copy of KILLING THYME, the second Seattle Spice Shop Mystery!

Pepper’s Herby-Cheesy Spread 

4 to 5 ounces Parmesan or Parmesan-Reggiano, cut in small cubes
4 to 5 ounces Asiago, cut in small cubes
4 scallions or ¼ cup chives, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon fresh or 2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1½ teaspoons Aleppo pepper***
1 clove garlic
½ teaspoon salt
1½ teaspoons black pepper
½ cup olive oil, more or less

***Aleppo pepper is hard to find these days, because of the war in Syria. Substitute Maras peppers, the Turkish counterpart, or any good red pepper. A paprika, especially a smoked paprika would also be tasty.


Place the cheese cubes in the bowl of a large food processor and pulse or chop until coarse. Add the scallions or chives, and the oregano, red pepper flakes, Aleppo pepper, garlic, salt, and black pepper. Process until fully mixed.


Pour in the olive oil and process until fully blended and smooth. Use less oil for a thicker spread, more oil for a thinner, smoother spread. Taste and adjust the seasonings to your palate.


Let the spread sit at room temperature until you’re ready to serve it, to allow the flavors to develop. Store leftovers in the fridge, but let the spread return to room temperature before diving in again to get the fullest flavor. Serve with hearty crackers, crostini, or cut vegetables.


DO YOU have a favorite recipe from a friend? Do tell!

Leave a comment below, with your email address, for a chance to win a signed copy of KILLING THYME, the second Seattle Spice Shop Mystery! The winner will be chosen on Friday, October 21.

From the cover of KILLING THYME. out October 4 in paperback, e-book, and audio:  

At Seattle Spice in the Pike Place Market, owner Pepper Reece is savoring her business success, but soon finds her plans disrupted by a killer…

Pepper Reece’s to-do list is longer than the shopping list for a five-course dinner, as she conjures up spice blends bursting with seasonal flavor, soothes nervous brides fretting over the gift registry, and crosses her fingers for a rave review from a sharp-tongued food critic. Add to the mix a welcome visit from her mother, Lena, and she’s got the perfect recipe for a busy summer garnished with a dash of fun. 

While browsing in the artists’ stalls, Pepper and Lena drool over stunning pottery made by a Market newcomer. But when Lena recognizes the potter, Bonnie Clay, as an old friend who disappeared years ago, the afternoon turns sour. To Pepper’s surprise, Bonnie seems intimately connected to her family’s past. after Bonnie is murdered only days later, Pepper is determined to uncover the truth. 

But as Pepper roots out long-buried secrets, will she be digging her own grave?


Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. The 2015-16 president of Sisters in Crime, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat Ruff, a cover model and avid bird-watcher.

Swing by my website  and join the mailing list for my seasonal newsletter. And join me on Facebookwhere I often share news of new books and giveaways from my cozy writer friends.




Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Pepper's Gingersnaps and a Launch Day #bookgiveaway


LESLIE BUDEWITZ: Launch Day, Launch Day! So pleased to present KILLING THYME, the third installment in my Spice Shop Mysteries, set in Seattle's famed Pike Place Market.

Congratulations to Victoria Abbott on the release of The Hammett Hex, Book Collector Mystery #5, and Sheila Connolly, for Seeds of Deception, Orchard Mystery #10!

Leave a comment below for a chance to win a signed copy of KILLING THYME, Spice Shop #3!

I’ve often joked that in my childhood home, there were three spices: salt, pepper, and cinnamon. And of course, salt is actually a mineral. We did occasionally have a fourth—bay leaves—but I’m not sure my mother, bless her, had any real idea what to do with them.

So when I moved to Seattle as a college freshman (freshwoman?), the discovery of a real live spice shop in the Pike Place Market was the proverbial treat for my senses. I began drinking spice tea—they keep an urn going in the corner—and often walked around the Market sipping. When I got my first apartment and began learning to cook, I inched past spice tea into the herbs and spices themselves.

So what’s different or unusual about cinnamon and pepper? Cinnamon, a bark and one of the oldest known spices, comes from several countries. Each variety has a slightly different flavor, some sweeter, some mellower. Much grocery store cinnamon is actually cassia, the bark of a different but related tree; to my palate, it tastes a little darker and more bitter.

Pepper—which grows on trees, and was once used as money, so your dad was wrong—is often called the King of Spices. Black peppercorns has a history almost as old as trade itself. Although pepper trade drove the Age of Exploration, it also had a key role in the 18th century American economy, when the fleets from Salem and Boston became involved.

These gingersnaps combine the bark of cinnamon with an extra bite from a few twists of black pepper. They are Mr. Right’s favorite cookie, and when I was writing a scene in which Pepper’s ex-husband, Tag, drops by unexpectedly, it seemed perfectly natural that she’d be pulling a tray of fresh-baked gingersnaps out of the oven—and that they’d be a favorite of his, too. Even though Pepper knows good and well that Tag is not Mr. Right.

I do hope you enjoy both the cookies and the newest adventures of Pepper and her gang. 

Pepper’s Gingersnaps

The classic, with a bite of a little something extra. Call it Pepper’s personal touch.

2¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon finely ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup packed brown sugar
¾ cup vegetable oil, such as corn or canola
¼ cup molasses
1 egg
¼ to ½ cup white sugar for topping (optional)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.


In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, and salt.


 In a small mixing bowl, combine brown sugar, oil, molasses, and egg. Beat well. (No need to dirty your mixer and clean the beaters—the oil makes this dough easy to mix by hand.) Add flour mixture and stir until well mixed.


Shape the dough into 1-inch balls. If you’d like to top the cookies with sugar, pour the white sugar into a small soup or pasta bowl or on a small plate. Roll cookie balls in the sugar. Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet or a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicon sheet. Bake about 10 minutes, until bottoms have darkened slightly and tops begin to crack.

Makes about 4 dozen. These cookies will be soft at first, but crisp up nicely. They freeze well.





What's the favorite cookie in your house?

Leave a comment below with your email address for a chance to win one of TWO signed copies of KILLING THYME. The winner will be chosen on Thurs, October 6.  


At Seattle Spice in the Pike Place Market, owner Pepper Reece is savoring her business success, but soon finds her plans disrupted by a killer…

Pepper Reece’s to-do list is longer than the shopping list for a five-course dinner, as she conjures up spice blends bursting with seasonal flavor, soothes nervous brides fretting over the gift registry, and crosses her fingers for a rave review from a sharp-tongued food critic. Add to the mix a welcome visit from her mother, Lena, and she’s got the perfect recipe for a busy summer garnished with a dash of fun. 

While browsing in the artists’ stalls, Pepper and Lena drool over stunning pottery made by a Market newcomer. But when Lena recognizes the potter, Bonnie Clay, as an old friend who disappeared years ago, the afternoon turns sour. To Pepper’s surprise, Bonnie seems intimately connected to her family’s past. after Bonnie is murdered only days later, Pepper is determined to uncover the truth. 

But as Pepper roots out long-buried secrets, will she be digging her own grave?



Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. The 2015-16 president of Sisters in Crime, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat Ruff, a cover model and avid bird-watcher.

Swing by my website  and join the mailing list for my seasonal newsletter. And join me on Facebookwhere I often share news of new books and giveaways from my cozy writer friends.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

#bookclub Herbed Black Bean Pasta Salad

 LESLIE BUDEWITZ: Oh, how I love book clubs! I’ve belonged to two, in different communities, each for about eight years, and that once-a-month gathering was such a treat. People—men and women in the first, women only in the second—who loved books as much as I did, who cherished time reading and discussing, and who introduced me to their faves and welcomed the chance to meet mine. That is true friendship.

Wine and food help, too.

As an author, I enjoy visiting book clubs. Readers ask great questions! Even readers who don’t read a lot of mysteries dive in, finding themes and symbols, relating to the characters and their problems as if they knew them. And that satisfies me deeply, because one of my goals as a storyteller is to illuminate a bit of life. Maybe we haven’t found a dead body on the doorstep, thank goodness, but we’ve all faced loss and grief, dealt with secrets and betrayal, and felt the ache of love and loneliness. If my characters’ responses help a reader make a little sense of some aspect of this human experience, I’m beyond happy.

This salad, from KILLING THYME (out October 4), is great for bookclubs where a light dinner is served, or for a potluck, because it’s hearty without being heavy, easy to transport, and doesn’t need to be served hot. It’s also colorful and a little unusual, always a plus! At home, it’s terrific by itself or as a side dish, especially with chicken or salmon. Whole-grain pasta and beans make it an excellent source of protein for vegetarians—something Laurel keeps in mind when stocking Ripe’s deli case. (Or she would, if she lived anywhere but on the page!)

You’ll love the color the turmeric and fresh herbs add—and the combination of fresh herbs in the salad and the dried herbs in the dressing gives an extra punch of flavor.

Leave a comment below for a chance to win a signed copy of KILLING THYME, out October 4! TWO winners will be chosen!

Herbed Black Bean and Pasta Salad

For the salad:
1 pound regular or whole-grain penne pasta
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 to 3 carrots, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow or green bell pepper, chopped
1 small sweet onion, diced
1 cup marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
¼ to ½ cup fresh basil, chopped
1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

For the dressing:
1/3 cup mayonnaise
¼ cup Dijon mustard
1 heaping tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon Italian herb blend blend (below)
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground pepper

Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain and rinse in cool water to stop the cooking. Meanwhile, drain and rinse the beans and chop the vegetables and fresh herbs. Place the beans, veggies, and herbs in a large bowl. Add the pasta and stir to mix.





To make the dressing, place all the ingredients in a blender or a small food processor, or use an immersion blender, and mix until smooth. Add the dressing to the salad mixture and toss gently until well combined. (You may fear not having enough dressing, but don’t worry—it will surprise you!)





Serve warm or chilled, by itself or over a bed of chilled hearty greens, such as a mixture of spinach, arugula, romaine, or other sturdy lettuces.

Serves 8 to 10.

Pepper’s Italian Herb Blend 

This is a good basic blend that you can adjust for your own taste. Remember that blends take a few hours for the flavors to meld; because of the mildness of these herbs, you can use the blend generously right away, and taste how the flavors improve over time.

3 tablespoons dried basil
2 tablespoons dried thyme
4 teaspoons dried marjoram
4 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried sage
2 teaspoons dried garlic flakes or garlic powder
2 teaspoons dried rosemary (break the needles with a mortar and pestle or in a small bowl with the back of a sturdy spoon)

Mix herbs in a small bowl. Yield: about 10 tablespoons, just over ½ cup.

Discussion Questions for KILLING THYME 

KILLING THYME releases October 4. I hope this recipe and these questions make it the perfect choice for your next book club meeting! (Find discussion questions for my other books on the For Book Clubs page of my website.)

1. Pepper’s had her challenges hiring staff for the Spice Shop, but she’s back to a full crew now. Do Matt and Cayenne seem like good additions?

2. Lena, Pepper’s mother, makes her first appearance in the series in KILLING THYME. Oh, mothers and daughters! Discuss.

3. Lena says of Bonnie, once called Peggy, that she craves home and community, but repeatedly makes choices that keep her from getting what says she wants. Do you know anyone like that?

4. In this book, Pepper experiences tensions with both Kristen, her life-long best friend, and Sandra, her key employee. Do you think she handles them well?

5. Mr. Adams is both sweet and crotchety, pained by some changes in his neighborhood and pleased with others. How has your neighborhood changed, and how do you feel about those changes?

6. Pepper’s new bridal registry could give the Spice Shop’s bottom line a nice boost. But at what cost? Discuss weddings and the Bridezilla-Momzilla phenomenon! What’s the most unusual wedding gift you received?

7. Pepper’s relationship with Tag reaches an unexpected place of peace in this book. Should they get back together, or not?

8. Do you have a favorite use for thyme?

9. Did you identify the killer? Who did you suspect?

10. What’s your favorite recipe from the book?

Leave a comment below for a chance to win a signed copy of KILLING THYME. TWO winners will be chosen, on Thurs, Sept. 23. The discussion questions may prompt some comments, even though you haven't read the book yet! 


From the cover of KILLING THYME. coming October 4 and available for pre-order now: 

At Seattle Spice in the Pike Place Market, owner Pepper Reece is savoring her business success, but soon finds her plans disrupted by a killer…

Pepper Reece’s to-do list is longer than the shopping list for a five-course dinner, as she conjures up spice blends bursting with seasonal flavor, soothes nervous brides fretting over the gift registry, and crosses her fingers for a rave review from a sharp-tongued food critic. Add to the mix a welcome visit from her mother, Lena, and she’s got the perfect recipe for a busy summer garnished with a dash of fun. 

While browsing in the artists’ stalls, Pepper and Lena drool over stunning pottery made by a Market newcomer. But when Lena recognizes the potter, Bonnie Clay, as an old friend who disappeared years ago, the afternoon turns sour. To Pepper’s surprise, Bonnie seems intimately connected to her family’s past. When Bonnie is murdered only days later, Pepper is determined to uncover the truth. 

But when Pepper roots out long-buried secrets, will she be digging her own grave?




Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. The president of Sisters in Crime, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat Ruff, a cover model and avid bird-watcher.

Swing by my website  and join the mailing list for my seasonal newsletter. And join me on Facebookwhere I often share news of new books and giveaways from my cozy writer friends.