Showing posts with label Leslie Budewitz. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Leslie Budewitz. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Zucchini with Shallots #recipe @LeslieBudewitz

LESLIE: When I served this easy vegetable dish the first time, Mr. Right said “Why haven’t you made this before?” Just because I didn’t know about it doesn’t mean you don’t, but I’m sharing anyway. I spotted it in the NY Times, which credits the late French chef Pierre Franey, who hosted several TV cooking shows in the 1990s and wrote NYT columns as the Sixty Minute Gourmet. The original calls for fresh bread crumbs; we used Panko, the crispy Japanese-style breadcrumbs we adore, and they worked beautifully. Use what you have and like. (And as usual, I’ve tweaked the instructions a bit.)

The first time I made this, I was afraid of the heat and as a result, didn’t get the zucchini properly browned and crisped. But the heat is necessary and short, so there’s really nothing to fear. Use a chopstick or the handle of a wooden spoon to check the temperature of the oil; touch the end to the hot oil and if you see bubbles, it’s ready!

This dish also turned out to be a great vehicle for taste-testing some flavored salts my BFF sent at Christmas—smoked Maldon, fennel with citrus, and porcini (mushroom) salt, all from Big John’s, a specialty foods wholesaler in Seattle open to the public. We liked all three, but the fennel-citrus salt was probably the best match for the flavors of the zucchini and shallots. If you’ve got unusual salt or spice combos hanging around your shelves, give them a try on veggies like these.

And if you’ve got leftovers, dress them up by serving them as a side with a different main course.

Congratulations to my blog sisters on their new releases: Linda Wiken, Marinating in Murder: Dinner Club Mysteries #3 (Penguin Random House), and Cleo Coyle, Dead Cold Brew: Coffeehouse Mystery #16 (mass market paperback reprint, Penguin Random House). 

And I'm thrilled to announce that I've signed a contract for two more Seattle Spice Shop Mysteries, to be published in 2019 and 2020!

Zucchini with Shallots

1-1/2 pounds small zucchini
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons fresh bread crumbs or Panko-style dried bread crumbs
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons chopped shallots
4 tablespoons chopped parsley

Rinse the zucchini and pat try. Trim the ends, but don’t peel. Slice into 1/8 inch rounds.

Heat the oil in a large nonstick pan. When hot, add the zucchini and saute over high or medium-high heat, shaking the pan to toss the zucchini gently. Add salt and pepper and cook 5 minutes.

Add the bread crumbs and butter. When the crumbs begin to brown, add the shallots and cook one more minute, tossing. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with the parsley.

From the cover of AS THE CHRISTMAS COOKIE CRUMBLES, Food Lovers' Village Mystery #5 (Midnight Ink, 2018, available for pre-order now):  

In Jewel Bay---Montana's Christmas Village---all is merry and bright. At Murphy’s Mercantile, AKA the Merc, manager Erin Murphy is ringing in the holiday season with food, drink, and a new friend: Merrily Thornton. A local girl gone wrong, Merrily’s turned her life around. But her parents have publicly shunned her, and they nurse a bitterness that chills Erin.

When Merrily goes missing and her boss discovers he’s been robbed, fingers point to Merrily—until she’s found dead, a string of lights around her neck. The clues and danger snowball from there. Can Erin nab the killer—and keep herself in one piece—in time for a special Christmas Eve?

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. A 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.

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 6, 2018

Spinach Acini di Pepe Soup -- #recipe @LeslieBudewitz

LESLIE: Acini who?

Acini di Pepe, and you'll be delighted to meet her. Him. It -- what pronoun do you use for tiny yummy pasta? Doesn’t matter – you’ll love these little pellet-sized pasta in spinach soup. 

I’m a big fan of recipes from the backs of cans and boxes – they’re often the classic recipe we know and love, like pumpkin pie from the back of the Libby can or the pecan pie from the Karo bottle. This one comes from the back of the Ronzoni pasta box. I think my mother first told me about it, though how she found it, I have no idea. Now I am doing my part to make it better known!

As usual, I’ve revised the instructions but the ingredients are the original – dare I say the classic – recipe? Serve with a green salad and fresh, crusty bread, and you’ll be happy!

Spinach Acini di Pepe Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
48 ounces of chicken or vegetable broth
½ cup Acini di Pepe pasta, uncooked
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
salt and pepper, to taste
grated Parmesan

Heat the oil or butter and saute the onion and garlic until soft but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Add the pasta, nutmeg, and pepper; reduce heat and simmer about 5 minutes. Add the chopped spinach and simmer an additional five minutes, stirring occasionally. Season to taste. Ladle into bowls and top with grated cheese.

Makes 8 servings.

It's a classic!

From the cover of AS THE CHRISTMAS COOKIE CRUMBLES, Food Lovers' Village Mystery #5 (Midnight Ink, 2018, available for pre-order now):  

In Jewel Bay---Montana's Christmas Village---all is merry and bright. At Murphy’s Mercantile, AKA the Merc, manager Erin Murphy is ringing in the holiday season with food, drink, and a new friend: Merrily Thornton. A local girl gone wrong, Merrily’s turned her life around. But her parents have publicly shunned her, and they nurse a bitterness that chills Erin.

When Merrily goes missing and her boss discovers he’s been robbed, fingers point to Merrily—until she’s found dead, a string of lights around her neck. The clues and danger snowball from there. Can Erin nab the killer—and keep herself in one piece—in time for a special Christmas Eve?

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. A 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.

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.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Around the Kitchen Table and Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Sometimes a new year brings changes and that's the case for Mystery Lovers' Kitchen. We're waving a teary farewell to Victoria Abbott. We hope she'll still drop by once in a while to tell us what she's doing. On a happier note, today we're welcoming Denise Swanson to the kitchen. Many of you know Denise from her beloved Scumble River Mysteries. She has a tasty new series coming, too. But we'll let her tell you all about that!

Today on Around the Kitchen Table, we're chatting about our "possibilities" for the upcoming year and maybe give you a few insights into what is coming up in the publishing world.

One commenter will win this cute Around the Kitchen with MLK authors tote bag. See giveaway below.

From Daryl:  Well, the publishing world turned a bit topsy-turvy this past year. I lost two contracts, but I gained two new ones. So as I  keep a positive mental attitude about what the future may hold, I continue to write and drum up new characters. I love living with my characters. They bring me joy. They help me problem solve. I find wonderful resolution solving cases and serving up justice to the "bad guy." What's coming for me this year?  The 6th Cookbook Nook Mystery, PRESSING THE ISSUE, will come out in February. Because this is through a new publisher, it will have a different look and the paper version will only be available on Amazon, through print on demand. I hope that won't put you off. It's still the same gang of characters and set in Crystal Cove. The Renaissance Fair  has come to town and Bailey is planning her wedding at a vineyard, hence the title using the word: pressing (grapes).  I don't have the cover yet, but it will be available SOON. In June, the paperback version of the first French Bistro Mystery, A DEADLY ÉCLAIR, comes out. In July, you'll see the release of the 2nd French Bistro Mystery, SOUFFLÉ OF SUSPICION. Better get my PR dancing shoes ready!


From Krista:  Those of you who aren't involved in the publishing business might not know that one publisher decided to cut back on cozy mysteries, and another cut them altogether. We have lived through some turbulent times! I'm pleased to say that I have a new series, the Pen and Ink Mysteries. By day, Florrie Fox manages a bookstore and by night, she's creates adult coloring books. She's a doodler, too, and doodles the clues she's thinking about. You can find them on the cover of the book, which can be colored! COLOR ME MURDER will be released on February 27th.

The Domestic Divas have moved to a new publisher and will be back on May 29th in THE DIVA COOKS UP A STORM. Sophie and friends are back (including Natasha). When a neighbor dies under odd circumstances, everything points toward his wife as the killer. Sophie is the only one who can't believe this woman killed her husband. But is she right?

I am also happy to announce that the ink is drying on a new contract for two more Wagtail books!


From Sheila: Once upon a time, in a universe far, far away, the publishing world was simple. It was made up of a handful of long-established and well-respected publishers, and any new writer's dream was to be accepted by one of them. But then the Internet was invented and things changed. And even those of us who were published by the Big Six (and then the Big Five) were sometimes orphaned. It happened to a lot of talented people. Publishing is a business, and decisions were based on sales numbers, not whether we were talented, hardworking writers.

But the good news is, we at Mystery Lovers' Kitchen have survived, and we've found new publishing homes, or in some cases created our own. We write because we love to write, so we're still writing. I will miss some of the characters from series that did not go on, but I can have some of them drop into new series, or I can go ahead and publish more books in a series myself. There are a lot of opportunities these days.

The County Cork Mysteries have been picked up by Crooked Lane Books, and the newest one, Many a Twist, will come out this month. I've got a new series coming from St. Martin's Press: the Victorian Village Mysteries, starting with Murder at the Mansion, which will appear in June--and that's where some of the characters from the Museum Mysteries will appear now and then. I'm planning to continue the Orchard Mysteries with Beyond the Page Publishing in the fall, and the Relatively Dead series as well.

Our characters become our friends, and a part of our lives. We can't just let them disappear, so we find new ways to get their stories into our readers' hands. We hope you'll continue to enjoy their company.


From Peg: You know the saying, when one door closes, another opens. As those posting before me have already said, the publishing world is changing...again. Nothing is a constant in today's world. But I'm pleased to say that a lot of new opportunities have opened up as well!  I'll be continuing my Cranberry Cove series with Beyond the Page--like Daryl and Sheila with two of their series. I'm also debuting a brand new historical mystery series, Murder, She Reported, with the Alibi imprint of Random House. It will be ebook only. It's a new profit model for writers, and I'm excited to see how things turn out! The series is set in 1938 NYC and my protagonist, Elizabeth"Biz" Adams, is a debutante turned crime photographer for the Daily Trumpet. The first book comes out on July 31.  I will also continue my Lucille Series for at least one more book--when Lucille and family and friends go to Italy and have fun with gondolas in Venice, motorbikes in Rome and a close encounter with Michelangelo's David in Florence!  Wishing you lots of exciting possibilities in the year to come!


LESLIE: Like my blog sisters, I too was affected last year by the post-merger decision of Penguin Random House, home to Berkley Books, where we all started our mystery careers, to significantly cut paperback original fiction. (Not just cozies and not just mystery; it was a business model change, not a reflection on sales or on readers' tastes or buying habits.) As a lawyer, I can understand those changes; as a creator, I know how they can mess with the mind. Fortunately, I can cook and soothe my sore head and twisted tummy with tasty food! My Food Lovers' Village Mysteries moved to Midnight Ink, and the 5th, As the Christmas Cookie Crumbles, will be out in June 2018. I've got a lot of proverbial irons in the proverbial fire---and I'm looking forward to a smokin' New Year!


LINDA: Okay, you've heard it all before, the news about the topsy-turvy publishing world. I look around at the demise of series written by friends, series I was hooked on, and think, what's going on! Obviously, I wasn't consulted. Nor was I consulted about my own series. The third book in the Dinner Club Mysteries from Berkley Prime Crime, MARINATING IN MURDER, comes out in March, 2018 but I'm sad to report, that series  has not as yet been renewed, and I don't expect it to be. I'm happy to report though, that I'm writing a new series for a new publisher, Crooked Lane, where a number of us has happily landed. It's called the Castle Bookstore Mysteries and the first one (working title is The Body at the Blye) appears in Nov., 2018 and along with the new everything, I'm a new person, too. Hope you'll make note of the name Essie Lang, that's me, and that's who's now immersed in the life of bookstore co-owner, Malin Stahr, and the day to day business of bookselling, and murder, in spectacular Blye Castle, on Blye Island in the Thousand Islands. Here's to great reading adventures for us all in the New Year!


LUCY: I too have found a new home with Crooked Lane, this for two more books in the Key West food critic mystery series. DEATH ON THE MENU will be out on August 7, and I'm busy writing #9. After that, who knows? I have two other projects in the works that are not cozy mysteries. Hopefully I can get them in readable shape and find homes for both. I look forward to many more books from my friends at MLK--and we are so grateful for you, our readers and friends!

CLEO: Marc and I have been writing professionally for decades and non-professionally (as a vocation) since we were children. What we know for sure about this sort of life is that nothing is sure. When we entered the publishing business, it was described as a volatile landscape, full of seismic changes—that was more than thirty years ago. And so it goes. With few exceptions, the artist’s life has more in common with a roller coaster than a carousel (which explains why you sometimes see authors throwing up hands and screaming). Our philosophy: never lose your love of storytelling; make friends with risk (there are virtues in it); try not to take yourself too seriously; and always be game for a wild ride. For now, our ride is continuing with our longtime publisher, and we sincerely thank our readers (along with so many kind booksellers and librarians) for the priceless treasure of their support. If you are among them, we hope you will continue to enjoy our upcoming works. Our 17th Coffeehouse Mystery will be published in April, read more about it here. Our 18th is now underway and scheduled for release next year; and our 6th Haunted Bookshop Mystery finally has a firm pub date of October 2, 2018 (and will be available for pre-order soon). If you'd like to keep in touch, subscribe to our newsletter so you don’t miss updates to our writing life. Whether you read our works or that of our co-bloggers, we thank ALL READERS for supporting your favorite authors. You can give us no better gift. We wish you all a happy, healthy, and industrious New Year!


And from our newest writer, Denise Swanson: Happy 2018! It's wonderful to begin the new year with a new project and joining Mystery Lovers' Kitchen has got to be one of the most fun. Like many of my fellow cozy mystery writers, 2017 brought a LOT of changes for me. After 17 years and 25 books, I left Penguin Random House. And in September my new publisher, Sourcesbooks, debuted a reboot of my long-running Scumble River series, dubbing it Welcome Back to Scumble River. While the titles are no longer Murder of a.... and the covers are markedly different, the characters and setting are exactly the same. In my most recent book, Dead in the Water, Skye experiences a tornado, a kidnapping, and she gives birth!

April of 2018 will bring about my new culinary mystery series, Chef-to-Go. In the first book, Tart of Darkness, you'll meet Dani Sloan a former HR consultant and the brand new owner of the Chef-to-Go culinary business. She and her three boarders, college girls from the nearby university, immediately get elbow deep in a murder.

My third series, the Dime Store mysteries are on hiatus for a year. I may bring them to another publisher or I may publish them myself, but Dev and the gang will continue to solve mysteries in Shadow Bend, MO.


Victoria Abbott Well, it's good-bye from me and alter ego Mary Jane Maffini. We are still hoping to have more book collector mysteries following all the turbulence in the industry. MJ is finishing the seventh in her Canadian Camilla MacPhee series and we have several projects in the planning stages. Sign up for our newsletter if you want to stay in the loop. Just click here

We have loved being part of Mystery Lovers Kitchen and the fabulous group of friends and readers here and we'll be popping to get recipes and the news. You will really enjoy having Denise Swanson here 'in the kitchen'. I know you'll welcome her with open arms.


Leave a comment and tell us what are you looking forward to this coming year. 
Remember to include your email so we can contact you if you win the tote bag.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Lemon Cardamom Crescents #ChristmasCookies @LeslieBudewitz

LESLIE BUDEWITZ: December, in my childhood, was the Month of the Christmas Cookie. My mother made easily a dozen varieties—spritz, Russian teacakes, date pinwheels, and on and on, keeping some for the family, and spreading the love with plates she carried into other people’s homes like sacred offerings.

Which I guess they were.

So, when I started choosing recipes for the 5th Food Lovers’ Village Mystery, As the Christmas Cookie Crumbles (coming in June 2018, from Midnight Ink), I had an embarrassment of riches. Not to my surprise, it turned out that most of my favorites include nuts or chocolate, so I scanned my memory and my mother’s recipes for some that didn’t. Alas, most of the non-nutters involved a level of manual dexterity that my mother had in spades, but that I lack, such as berlinkranzer, the tiny wreaths decorated with snips of candied fruit, and candy cane cookies. I’ve got her spritz press and who doesn’t love eating spritz? Who loves making them? Ah, yes, I see the hands going down. It’s not that it’s hard, exactly, just maybe a little more time-consuming than most of us want in a cookie.

So I turned to my collection of cookie cookbooks. (No, I’m not telling you how many I have.) This recipe comes from Better Homes & Gardens Cookies for Christmas (1985). Coriander has a lemony taste to it, so the lemon peel and juice are a natural complement. Use a microplane for zesting if you have one. (Thanks to my BFF Lita’s stop at the local kitchen shop on her annual visit this fall, I’ve got one now and love it!) The flavors are delicate enough to go well with a cup of tea, and sturdy enough for a cup of coffee or a snifter of something stronger.

Ultimately, I didn’t include this cookie in the book, not because it isn’t worthy but because Erin, my main character, chose another as a favorite. But these little crescents might become one of ours and, I hope, yours.

What's your favorite holiday cookie?

Lemon-Cardamom Crescents

3/4 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup powdered sugar
½ teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup powdered sugar

Heat oven to 325 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter until softened. Add 1/3 cup powdered sugar and beat until fluffy. Add lemon peel, lemon juice, and cardamom, and beat well. Gradually add the flour and mix well.

Shape dough into 1-1/2 by ½ inch logs. Curve into a crescent shape, being careful not to break the dough at the curve, and taper the ends. Place on a baking sheet and bake 18-20 minutes, or until golden on the bottom. Cool on a rack. When completely cool, place 1/3 cup powdered sugar in a plastic bag and shake a few cookies at a time to lightly coat.

Makes about 4 dozen. How many you keep is up to you.

From the cover of AS THE CHRISTMAS COOKIE CRUMBLES, Food Lovers' Village Mystery #5 (Midnight Ink, 2018, available for pre-order now):  

In Jewel Bay---Montana's Christmas Village---all is merry and bright. At Murphy’s Mercantile, AKA the Merc, manager Erin Murphy is ringing in the holiday season with food, drink, and a new friend: Merrily Thornton. A local girl gone wrong, Merrily’s turned her life around. But her parents have publicly shunned her, and they nurse a bitterness that chills Erin.

When Merrily goes missing and her boss discovers he’s been robbed, fingers point to Merrily—until she’s found dead, a string of lights around her neck. The clues and danger snowball from there. Can Erin nab the killer—and keep herself in one piece—in time for a special Christmas Eve?

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. A 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, December 5, 2017

Shrimp and Leek Bread Soup #recipe @LeslieBudewitz

LESLIE BUDEWITZ: I heart kitchen shops. One of my favorites is the original Sur La Table, in Pike Place Market in Seattle. In my fictional version of the Market, the unnamed kitchen shop is the Spice Shop’s nearest neighbor, just up the hill. So wonderfully dangerous. Since I first discovered the shop, when I lived in Seattle as a college student and young lawyer, it’s gone big-time, with a terrific catalog operation and stores all over. I’ve been in several, but still love the original, cramped and crowded as it is. Many of my favorite dishes and kitchen tools came from its shelves.

But not my newest kitchen tool. When my BFF and her husband visited in September, she served as my prep cook, but she wasn’t impressed by the selection of graters I offered her to zest an orange. They spent an afternoon in the village of Bigfork, aka Jewel Bay, and brought me a micro-plane from our local kitchen shop, Roma’s, home of many treasures and much inspiration. (It's the inspiration for Kitchenalia, in my Food Lovers' Village books.) Mr. Right and I loved how evenly it zested the lemon for this soup, without cutting into the pith, or human flesh! Easy to clean, too.

When you think of leeks and soup, you probably – justifiably – think Potato-Leek Soup. This is a lighter alternative, which I found on the Sur La Table website, from A Pleasant Little Kitchen by Rebecca White. The original called for a combination of fish and chicken stock; with shrimp, that makes sense, but we didn't have fish stock so I simplified that. Toasting the bread gives it an earthy flavor that carries through even after boiling and simmering. To crust or not? Depends on your bread. I used a couple of slices of ciabatta from the Park Avenue Bakery in Helena, Montana, one of the inspirations for Le Panier, the bakery where all of Jewel Bay gathers.

We served this soup with toasted bread – can’t ever get enough – and a California chardonnay.

Inspiration is where you find it. I hope this recipe inspires you, and your taste buds!

Shrimp and Leek Bread Soup

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 garlic gloves, rough chopped
1½ cups sliced leeks
2½ teaspoon kosher salt
4 cups day-old bread, cubed
½ tsp paprika
1½ cups white wine
6 cups stock (chicken or vegetable)
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
1¼ pound raw, peeled and deveined shrimp
¼ tsp oregano
Zest of 1 lemon
Fresh lemon juice
kosher salt and fresh black pepper

 In a soup kettle, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the leeks, garlic and 1½ teaspoon salt and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the leeks are softened.

Add the bread and paprika. Stir well to coat. Cook until the bread is lightly toasted, stirring occasionally to prevent the garlic from burning, 3-4 minutes.

Add the wine, stock, and red pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Let the soup simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the shrimp, oregano and 1 teaspoon salt. Stir well to combine.

Add the shrimp and lemon zest to the soup and let it cook through, about 4 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve warm with a squeeze of lemon juice.

Serves 4.


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