Showing posts with label Nova Scotia Oatcakes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nova Scotia Oatcakes. Show all posts

Saturday, September 28, 2013

BOOK CLUB WEEK: The Christie Curse (and maybe some chocolate)

Welcome. We’re so glad you’re here! Of all the fun activities that an author gets to participate in, book clubs have got to be the best. This is our chance to meet and mingle with readers and potential readers. Book clubs are all about people who love books and are almost always full of folks who also love food and drink. That’s just one of the reasons why this week’s theme is so much fun. Mystery Lovers Kitchen is the perfect blog for a book club theme. 

We make great use of everyone’s recipes and our index all the time and for today, we’re using some of  MJ's and Victoria's own favorite past posts with easy and delicious book club treats for your book club. 

We love all book clubs whether they meet in someone’s home, a church hall, or a library. We’ve been to gatherings where the hostess served an entire dinner around the dining room table and others where the meal was pot luck on a groaning buffet table. Some groups serve desserts and coffee, other appetisers, cheese and wine. In churches and libraries, people strut their stuff with cookies. It’s all quite wonderful. Even in online book clubs, you get the impression that people are happily munching at their keyboards. 
One thing we have noticed is that there is almost always chocolate at book clubs. This is for the health benefits, of course.  May we suggest these delicious little pots-de-chocolat that are so pretty and yet easy enough that you could make them in your sleep. 

You can put serve then in any little cups or glasses that you have around. They would still be good if you served them in a jam jar.You'll find the link below!

For today, of course, we are thinking about suggestions for a book club meeting to discuss The Christie Curse. For those of you who are new to us and our series, here’s a bit of background on the first in the book collector mysteries. 

 But first, how about enjoying one of these delicious traditional Nova Scotia Oatcakes that MJ was served at a fabulous book club event in scenic Sherbrooke, Nova Scotia. You'll find the link to the post and the recipe below.

 And now at last a bit about The Christie Curse. Read on:

In 1926, Agatha Christie disappeared—making headlines across the world—only to show up eleven days later at a spa under an assumed name. During those eleven days, did she have time to write a play?

Jordan Kelly needs a new job and a new place to live. She’s back in Harrison Falls, New York, living with her not so law-abiding uncles, in debt thanks to a credit card–stealing ex and pending grad school loans. Enter the perfect job, a research position that includes room and board, which will allow her to spend her days hunting down rare mysteries for an avid book collector. There’s just one problem: her employer, Vera Van Alst is the most hated citizen of Harrison Falls.
Make that two problems: why is that cute young police officer taking such an interest in her?

Jordan’s first assignment is to track down a rumored unpublished and unproduced Agatha Christie play that may or may not exist. It seems easy enough, but Jordan soon finds out that her predecessor was killed while looking for it, and there is still someone out there willing to murder to keep the play out of Vera’s hands. Jordan’s new job is good…but is it worth her life?  

Now it’s time for us to toss out some questions and some delicious ideas for your real or dream book club meeting. Here are some questions we often get asked and some others we’d like to answer. 
As most of you know we are a daughter and mother team writing this series together. We often get asked what it’s like to write with your mother or your daughter.
That sounds dangerous, people suggest.

Of course, it is fraught with peril as are all such m & d relationships. However, we balance each other out. Victoria is taller and funnier and MJ has a lot of experience and is also quite tricky. We respect each other’s viewpoint and what we each bring to the table.  There’s lots of negotiation because the fact is that neither one of us actually owns the book. It’s a joint effort and we can’t afford to be unilateral or, ahem, princessy. We laugh a lot and compromise plenty.   No one needs to die off the page. Somehow it all comes together.

What drew you to the Golden Age of Detection?

We have both always read and enjoyed mysteries, something we’re sure we share with you. MJ was raised on Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Rex Stout, Margery Allingham, Ngaio Marsh and the rest of the mystery royalty and Victoria has also read and enjoyed the greats.  As book sellers we were both were involved with the Prime Crime Mystery Bookstore in Ottawa. Life in this mystery focused world made total sense to us. We get book collecting and the fascination of the genre. 
What can go wrong?

Oh ho. Well, just recently in book three we were discussing Jordan’s Uncle Kevin (who first appears in The Sayers Swindle).  MJ thought Kev was wiry and fit and Victoria thought he was pudgy and cuddly. We both agreed that Uncle Kev is always an accident waiting to happen and one step from bringing calamity to himself and others and women seemed to love him, but our vision was two different pictures of the dangerous dude. Despite this, we showed our enduring love and affection by munching a few of these little cookies together. The link is below.

 As for Uncle Kev, all will be revealed in The Wolfe Widow (September 2014)     Be there.

Speaking of uncles, are any of your relatives, um, criminals?
No, some of them are Irish and others are Italian, but they’re all solid citizens. A few of them might be known to shout “Eat! What’s the matter, don’t you like it? Eat now!” but your silver service would be safe with them. Still, we love Jordan’s crooked uncles and if you can’t have crooks in mysteries, where can you have them?

People are always eating in The Christie Curse. Why don’t they ever get fat?

Part of the author’s job is to absorb surplus calories in order to save the characters and the readers from tight waistband syndrome.  We hope you appreciate this sacrifice on our part. 

But seriously, we think that food enhances a book, engages our senses and makes everything better.

Speaking of better, this might be a good time to serve the chocolate souffle.  
 Yes, the recipe link is below.

What’s the most fun about writing a mystery book collector series drawn from the twenties and thirties?

Aside from the characters, the books and authors themselves are wonderful. For The Christie Curse, we re-read dozens of Agatha Christie books, plays, short stories and biographies. She’s a great lady who stands the test of time.  Both Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers had lives that were every bit as interesting and exciting as their books. Sometimes more so. Re-reading all the Sayers mysteries was a labor of love while working on The Sayers Swindle.  

And what about the pug?

Well, Walter may be a figment of our imaginations, but Peachy the Pug is the newest addition to our personal stable of pooches ( MJ’s two dachshunds and Victoria’s 14 year old Merlin all welcomed the frisky little rescued pug).  

What's next in the book collector series?

We're glad you asked.  The Sayers Swindle will hit the stand on December 3, 2013 and we are working on The Wolfe Widow. Having fun around here!

If you liked the Christie Curse, we know you’ll also enjoy The Sayers Swindle

Can Jordan keep going straight? Will Vera’s missing Sayers collection be found before Jordan loses her job?  What is Walter eating? Look out behind you, there’s a guy with a shovel! 

You can pre-order from your favorite bookstore or click here 


Is there anything else to eat?

Sure thing! Sometimes you have to get a treat on the table and your day's gone wrong and you're out of time.  Let's call 8-minute plum cake to the rescue!  Well, you do need to allow 25 minutes for it to bake (or you might have one in the freezer like we do)  You'll find the link below!

Click this Mystery Lovers Kitchen  link below for the oatcake recipe!
 Click thisMystery Lovers Kitchen  link for the chocolate soufflé and chocolate heart cookie    blog and recipes:

Click this Mystery Lovers Kitchen link for the pot-de-chocolat blog and recipe.

Click this Mystery Lovers Kitchen link for the 8-minute plum cake recipe.

 Thanks for coming by!  Here's a little bit more about us.  
Victoria Abbott is a collaboration between Victoria Maffini and her mother,  Mary Jane Maffini (who insists all of this IS on her diet).. The Christie Curse, their first book collector mystery, launched in March 2013 and  The Sayers Swindle, the second in the series will be out in December 2013. Please let them know how you like it.

There are lots of ways to reach them. Sign up for their newsletter at
Pleaase note that Walter the Pug in the series is a dead ringer for Peachy, Victoria's new best friend.  
Come over and friend them on Facebook
Tell them you love the pug!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sherbrooke Oatcakes

2 1/2 c oatmeal (not instant)

1 c brown sugar

1 c flour

1 tsp each - vanilla, salt, baking soda

1 c shortening ( I used butter!)

1 egg, beaten

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

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

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