Showing posts with label Krista Davis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Krista Davis. Show all posts

Monday, March 5, 2018

Around the Kitchen Table: What do our characters eat? w/tote bag #giveaway

We have another MLK Around the Kitchen Table 
tote bag to give to one commenter. See below...

SHEILA:  Sometimes I wonder how much ordinary detail we as writers are suppose to put in our books. We know we need some backstory, some description for our cast of characters, a glimpse of where the protagonist and her crew lives, sometimes even details about the heroine’s wardrobe. What about the weather? Or the pet trying to drag her out of bed each day?

But there’s one really important thread in our cozies: what do our characters eat? Can they cook? What’s in their pantry? Or do they forget to eat entirely? (I wouldn’t trust anyone like that.) I have more than one protagonist who doesn’t do much more than boil water, and they don’t all particularly enjoy cooking (although most do enjoy eating). But to make up for some of those lapses, in one of the Orchard Mysteries (Red Delicious Death), I invented an entire new restaurant in the town of Granford, which uses only locally-sourced foods (and the farmers are partners in the restaurant). I had a lot of fun doing the research for that, learning all sorts of facts about table turnover, pricing, kitchen equipment—and of course, recipes.

Here's a picture from the Good Things Cafe,
with Chef Carmel Somers, that you'll meet
in the next (still nameless) County Cork
Mystery, coming January 2019

What about your characters? With all those diverse locations in our books, many known for the local cuisine, tell us what your characters choose from the menu!


LESLIE: What don't they eat? My protagonists are omnivores, and I wish I had their metabolism! But then, as Pepper from my Spice Shop series says, running in circles and jumping to conclusions is great exercise. Pepper works in Seattle's Pike Place Market and lives nearby, so her eating and cooking are inspired by the Market itself. She likes to see what's in season and how she can spice it up -- she's only owned the shop a short while, so she's still learning spicery herself. In the WIP ("work in progress"), she's working on next season's spice blends, so she's scouting for possibilities. (Which means we're taste-testing at home, too.) Her good friend Laurel owns a deli and catering company, so the food and drink at their Tuesday Night Flick Chicks gathering usually upstages the movie!

Erin, the star of my Food Lovers' Village Mysteries, is all about local foods. Not so easy in Montana, but she has an eye and palate that go well beyond huckleberries and wheat. She's also got a big Italian family that gets together often, giving me a lucky chance to play with Italian food! Every book features a festival, and what's a festival without food? Popcorn seasonings for the food lovers' film festival, steak recipes for the annual grill-off, and coming soon, cookies for Christmas!

Ah, the research! Ah, my waistband...


DENISE In my three mystery series, my sleuths range from Dev, who does not cook at all, to Skye, who has learned to cook throughout the series, Dani who is a chef. But despite their various level of competency in the kitchen, the all love to eat and their curvy figures prove it. Dev and Skye enjoy the home cooking of their grandmother and mother, while Dani likes fancier fare. She loves to try new dishes and, of course, she has to taste as she cooks.   


DARYL: All of my series feature food. Charlotte in the Cheese Shop Mysteries ate cheese, of course. And lots of it. But she believed everything in moderation.
Chocolate and Cheese Platter
I can't tell you how many cheese-y dishes I created so SHE could eat them.  LOL In the Cookbook Nook Mysteries, Jenna doesn't cook (at first; now she does) but she was always a foodie. Because the Cookbook Nook abuts the Nook Café, Jenna is often visiting her chef and pal Katie for a snack, and Katie often brings treats to the shop for customers to enjoy.  In the latest book, PRESSING THE ISSUE, all the treats were Renaissance-themed foods. I had a blast having Jenna taste meat on a stick, Scotch eggs, and sin-in-a-cup desserts.
Sin in a Cup frozen dessert
In the French Bistro Mysteries, Mimi was a chef but now she owns the bistro and the neighboring inn. She taste-tests the food the kitchen is putting out. She sets the menus. My cooking game has had to step up a notch to keep up with Mimi's tastes. I'm not trained in French food, but over the past year, I've learned oodles about the five mother sauces of France.


PEG: I love to cook and I love to eat, and I've been fortunate in that I've been able to sublimate some of my food cravings into my writing in order to spare my waistline! Gigi Fitzgerald from my Gourmet De-Lite series makes low calorie gourmet food for a number of clients and is a very good cook.  Monica Albertson from my Cranberry Cove Series is an accomplished baker making all things cranberry--scones, muffins, cookies and breads. Her cooking is a little more pedestrian--her go-to meal is a steak on the grill and a salad.  Shelby McDonald from my Farmer's Daughter series not only cooks, she grows her own produce and cans it, too!  And then there's Lucille Mazzarella from my Lucille Series who doesn't think a dish is worth eating unless it's covered in tomato sauce and loaded with cheese.


LINDA:  My Dinner Club Mysteries are devoted to the foodies of the Culinary Capers Dinner Club. As the newest member, J.J. Tanner, my event planning amateur sleuth, is a newbie when it comes to cooking. But she's well-practiced in the art of perusing cookbooks, especially those with color photos. Her cooking skills develop over the three books of the series, and in MARINATING IN MURDER, the newest book which releases tomorrow (YAY!) she's gained a lot of confidence and even some daring. In each book, the foodies choose a real cookbook from which they put together their meal. Their latest adventure is an early fall picnic and they're using Summer Days & Balmy Nights. Did I mention, they love eating?


Krista:  Obviously, the divas in the Domestic Diva Mysteries cook. I always say that everyone is a little bit of a domestic diva because we all want to live in lovely homes and eat good food. The divas represent a spectrum. Nina Reid Norwood doesn't cook at all. She has been known to order food and dump it into her pots to make it appear that she cooked a meal. In spite of that, Nina loves to eat and is always at Sophie's house noshing on something yummy.

Sophie cooks a lot. In the summer she has a garden in her backyard where she grows tomatoes and fresh veggies. She tries to keep it simple, but there's no sparing the bacon, cream or butter. Her friends gather around her kitchen table (by the fire in the winter) to enjoy great meals in good company. Sophie often finds herself wedging into trousers with elastic waistbands.

No one gathers at Natasha's house. She cooks the latest trends, mixing curious ingredients, often outrageously spicy, that don't always work out. She considers herself the best cook of all, but she doesn't eat.

Over in Wagtail, at the Sugar Maple Inn, Holly doesn't do much cooking. But living in an inn has its perks and one of them is the food. Five mornings a week, hot tea, chocolate croissants, a dog biscuit and a kitty treat are delivered to her quarters before she even rises. Then she ambles downstairs and has her choice of gourmet inn breakfasts that often feature local berries and farm fresh eggs. Leftovers are distributed to needy locals, but a good bit also ends up in the "magic" refrigerator located in the private kitchen.

And lastly, Florrie Fox in the Pen & Ink Mysteries loves to bake. She shops at the local farmer's market and often bakes coffee cake or muffins to take to the bookstore with her. Happily for Florrie, her boyfriend, Sergeant Eric Jonquille, is the son of a restaurateur who runs a farm to table restaurant. Growing up, Eric learned to cook and is a wiz at whipping up a delicious breakfast to go along with Florrie's baked goods.



We have another MLK Around the Kitchen table totebag to give to one commenter. 
Tell us, what things have you learned about our characters by what they eat or don't eat?

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Happy Book Birthday to Krista with a Pan of Crispy Rosti!

As followers of this blog know, today is the launch day for my fellow blogger's brand new Pen & Ink mystery series with COLOR ME MURDER.

Learn more by clicking here.


Congratulations on your 

Book Birthday, Krista!

As for today's recipe, Krista inspired that, as well. She once shared some great tips on making a delicious crispy rosti (also sometimes called potatoes rosti or rosti potatoes).

Rosti is a Swiss dish. Basically, it's a large potato pancake. It makes a fantastic side dish for breakfast or brunch. One big cake can be sliced into four or more servings. You can serve it plain or with toppings like sour cream and chives, or smoked salmon. You can even jazz it up with bacon and/or cheese. 

For this post, I used Krista's recipe from this blog, which you can find here. Then I snapped a few photos to show you how my rosti turned out.


Makes 1 giant potato pancake
(using a 10-inch skillet)


1 pound potatoes
3/4 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil


If you’ve heard of the dish but never attempted it, here is your chance. Krista will teach you the simple technique and offer great tips. Once again, for the recipe click here to read Krista's original post with rosti joy! 

☕ ☕ ☕

Eat (and read) with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries 

Alice and Marc in Central Park. 
Together we write as Cleo Coyle. 

Learn more about us here.
Friend us on facebook here.
Follow us on twitter here.
Visit our online coffeehouse here.

☕  ☕  ☕

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are bestselling
works of amateur sleuth fiction set in a landmark
Greenwich Village coffeehouse, and each of the
16 titles includes the added bonus of recipes. 


To see mini plot summaries 
for every title and links
to Cleo's recipe guides, 
click the covers above
or the button below...

🔎 🔎 🔎

Marc and I also write
The Haunted Bookshop Mysteries

For a free title checklist, 
with mini plot summaries,
click the covers above
or the button below...

To learn more about the books
books and meet Jack Shepard, 
PI ghost, click the ghost above
or the button below...


If you'd like to be entered in our
giveaways and receive special
bonus recipes, sign up for our 
Coffeehouse Mystery Newsletter...


Simply write an email with the words 
"Sign me up!" and send it to:

When you sign up, you will receive links
to past newsletters, including the one above. 

Monday, February 5, 2018

Around Our Kitchen Table: Food Mystery Mentors + book #giveaway

Today we welcome you to sit and chat with us around our kitchen table. Read all the way to the bottom for the super giveaway we're offering...

Lucy Burdette: I’ve been thinking about how food has become such a major part of my character’s life—and hence my Key West food critic mystery series—that it’s hard to imagine not including it in a book. And I’m certain that writing about food and creating recipes for the series and for this blog has helped me become a better cook. It’s been life-changing...

How did I even get started down this path? I can point to Diane Mott Davidson’s series starring Goldy the caterer as a major influence. I loved reading about how Goldy cooked—so effortlessly. And then how her new cop husband took care of her by baking special treats, creating homey dinners, and making her delicious coffee. I inhaled the food in these books! Food was love, and that’s how my character Hayley Snow thinks about it, too. (And so you can imagine how thrilled I was to have a quote from Diane Mott Davidson on my first Key West book...)


Writers, how did you get started writing culinary mysteries? Can you point to a certain influence?

Sheila Connolly: Everyone eats, right? So food--both making and consuming--is a common thread that links us all.

Diane Mott Davidson was one of the first cozy mystery writers I ever read, and when I went to a signing of hers, rather than her book I asked her to autograph one of her recipes. I watched Julia Child give a cooking demonstration in San Francisco, and I dedicated a book to Alice Waters. I've been a foodie since before the term was invented!

Then it hit me: Nero Wolfe! The main character in Rex Stout's series who was more interested the the menu for his next exquisite meal than in solving the crime at hand. I bought the Nero Wolfe Cookbook (which Stout is said to have supervised carefully so it remains true to the series) when it was released, and I have used it regularly for decades.

Oddly enough, many of the main characters that I've written don't cook, or no more than enough to keep themselves alive, but there's almost always a friend or sidekick who cooks.


Denise Swanson: Not all of my main characters cook, but they all like to eat. In my Scumble River series, Skye has learned to cook, in my Devereaux's Dime Store series, Dev has no interest in learning, But in my new Chef-to-Go series Dani Sloan has always loved puttering around the kitchen and finally gets to fulfill her dream of becoming a chef.

I'm betting nearly all mystery writers who write culinary cozies were influenced by Diane Mott Davidson. I LOVE her books and her recipes. But I was really influenced to write a culinary mystery series by all the television cooking programs. I watch Hell's Kitchen, Iron Chef, Chopped, Top Chef, all the baking shows, and, yes, even the America's Worst Cooks. 



I'd been writing unsold mysteries for years when I shifted gears to write my first published book, Books, Crooks and Counselors: How to Write Accurately About Criminal Law and Courtroom Procedure. After that, I didn't know what was next, but in my heart I was still a mystery writer. The culinary mystery had begun to emerge--including books by some of my friends--and I devoured them! We'd also just taken a month-long trip to France, which completely changed our relationship to eating and cooking. Krista, Daryl, and Peg were the fairy godmothers of my first published mystery, Death al Dente, reviewing the proposal and helping me find an agent and editor.

I, too, was inspired by Diane Mott Davidson's Goldie series, not just for the food, but because she recognized that the cozy could be about something serious. She incorporated social justice issues into the mystery. Later, I discovered Cleo's Coffeehouse Mysteries and saw that she did something similar, inspiring me to weave issues related to homelessness, domestic abuse, and immigration into my Spice Shop series, along with the food and fun. The cozy really can do it all!


Linda Wiken: In case you hadn't heard, and I'm happy to share this information whenever I talk about my Dinner Club Mysteries, my character JJ Tanner and I share one very huge trait. We both love cookbooks, and magazines, especially the one with color photos. Now, if that cookbook features cooking from another country along with information on the setting and culinary culture, I'm doubly in.

That's what sparked my interest in writing a cozy culinary series. I wasn't, and still am not, a great cook. But I love reading about something new and especially, combinations of different tastes. As does, JJ. Who knows, perhaps one day we'll both shine in the kitchen.

My inspirations have been the many delicious cozy series and, like Denise, the food programs on TV. I subscribe to the Food Network and spend a portion of my daily viewing time enjoying the shows. Cooks vs Cons is a favorite. And, don't forget those magazines -- Food and Wine, Taste of Italia, and Bon Appetit to name a few.


Daryl Wood Gerber: The foodie genre sort of picked me. My first attempt at writing a mystery was a Nancy Drew mystery, way back when. That was when I was a girl and it has since disappeared. Go figure! LOL Mom was quite discerning in regards to my baby book content. When I really applied myself, I cranked out a few standalone mysteries, but the agent who liked my work said she couldn’t sell “those.” She needed something with more of a "hook"—a series. I put together a number of proposals for her, but those didn’t satisfy her, either. Then Berkley Publishing approached her with a concept for a cheese shop mystery. She asked if I wanted to audition to write it. I'd catered. I'd run restaurants. I was a cook. I loved cheese--the basics. Sure! So I auditioned and got the job. That’s when I turned to writing cozy mysteries, writing The Cheese Shop Mysteries as Avery Aames. I immersed myself in the world of cheese and found that I wrote about cheese and food well. And so I continue to write other food themed mysteries: the Cookbook Nook Mysteries and the French Bistro Mysteries. By the way, to write about French food, I had to do a lot of TASTY research. I'm a better cook because of it. 


Krista Davis: Hmm, which came first? The food or the mystery? Food was a big deal in my family. My parents were immigrants and I have noticed that even while they are assimilating and trying out hot dogs and apple pie, most immigrants seek out the dishes they remember from home. Anyone recall the moussaka scene in the lunchroom in My Big Fat Greek Wedding?

While I was chowing down on my mom's delicious cooking, I was addicted to mysteries. So when the idea for the Domestic Diva Mysteries arose, it seemed like a natural to me. What could be better than a mystery with food?

I have to say that writing culinary mysteries and Mystery Lovers' Kitchen have made me a much better cook. You wouldn't believe how fast you run out of your go-to and family recipes when you have to post one every week!

Like Denise, I love watching cooking shows. My mom was devoted to Julia Child, so I began watching them long before there were channels devoted solely to food. But having to come up with new recipes all the time for books and Mystery Lovers Kitchen has made me even more aware of food. I think I might be a little bit too interested in people's favorite recipes and delicious meals that I have when eating out.

Cleo Coyle: Krista, like you, I grew up in a family with strong food traditions, and I can also relate to My Big Fat Greek Wedding (Italian-style)! As for the link between food and fiction, it really began for me back in the early 1980s with the late, great author and screenwriter Nora Ephron. When I read Ms. Ephron's novel HeartburnI loved that she included recipes and food talk as part of her storytelling. Learning from Ms. Ephron, I try to do the same with my Coffeehouse Mysteries, which I write with my husband, using foods, drinks, and recipes to explore and express character, setting, and story. 

Nora’s book was published back in 1983, long before the current culinary mystery trend, but there was another work, published even earlier (1976), that also left an impression on me: Someone is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe. Do any of you remember the screwball comedy film that was based on the book? Well, that book was penned by married collaborators Nan and Ivan Lyons. A married couple writing fun, foodie fiction seemed like a delicious prospect to me, even though writing is a crazy way to make a living. I'm just lucky my future husband turned out to be a guy willing to take a wild, collaborative ride—and he turned out to be a pretty darn good cook, too! ~ Cleo

We have a fabulous giveaway to go with today's post--copies of Daryl's upcoming release PRESSING THE ISSUE (Feb 20, might take a week or so to get this), Krista's upcoming COLOR ME MURDER, and Sheila's latest release, MANY A TWIST. Plus an MLK tote bag!

Leave a comment about how you got started reading foodie mysteries to be entered in the drawing...
the winner will be announced on Friday.