Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Salabat (Filipino Ginger Tea) #Recipe by Mia P. Manansala (@MPMtheWriter)

Salabat with bottled calamansi juice and local Chicago honey

I develop a nasty cough every year around this time--my lungs are relatively weak, and the dryness of a Chicago winter wreaks havoc every time. (I love you, Chicago, but I will forever be bitter about your awful winters). 

Because of that, I make sure to stay hydrated, keep a humidifier in my bedroom, and drink gallons of this delicious ginger tea. If I’m having trouble sleeping, a shot of alcohol added to this spicy brew warms me up and knocks me out. My favorite kind of hot toddy.

My protagonist, Lila, makes a fancier version of this drink in ARSENIC AND ADOBO, but this is my basic, everyday salabat recipe.

Salabat (Filipino Ginger Tea) Recipe

About 2-4 servings; I usually double this and keep it in the fridge

  • 4-6 cups water (depending on how strong you like it)
  • 1 cinnamon stick (optional)
  • 1 thick thumb-sized (~4 inches) piece of ginger, sliced (I usually don’t peel it, but you can if you want)
  • Honey
  • Lemon or calamansi
  • Whiskey, vodka, or rum (optional, but encouraged)
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional, but adds an excellent bite)

Salabat cast of characters (I didn't use the small piece of ginger, only the large one)

Bring water, cinnamon, ginger, and cayenne (if using) to a boil, reduce & simmer for about 15 minutes. The salabat will be a rich amber color when done.

I normally like it darker, but was making this to share with my husband, who prefers a lighter flavor

Strain if desired, pour into a mug, and add honey and citrus  juice (and alcohol!). You can store the excess in the fridge and serve either hot or cold, adding honey and lemon to each individual serving.

NOTE:  Personally, I like it really strong, so I’ll simmer it for 20 minutes or more. I know people who only simmer it for 10. Keep in mind that if the brew is stronger than you like, you can always dilute it to your desired strength, but there’s not much you can do with a weak brew.

Dear Readers, what’s your go-to cough or cold remedy? Bonus points if they’re as tasty as this tea!

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Vegetable Bouillabaisse #recipe by @LeslieBudewitz

LESLIE BUDEWITZ: Mr. Right and I made our first trip to France in the fall of 2009 and fell completely in love with the country and the food. That next year, I was in San Francisco for Bouchercon and wandered through the Ferry Terminal Market with our dear, late friend, Sheila Connolly.

I have a soft spot for the Book Passage bookstore, long the host for the Elizabeth George Intensive Writing Workshop I attended many years ago. The main store is across the bay in Corte Madera, but there’s also a small, sweet shop in the Ferry Terminal building, and that’s where I found The French Country Table by Laura Washburn, which quickly became one of our favorite cookbooks. Washburn is greatly influence by the great Julia Child, but her focus is the simple bistro-style cooking that adapts so well to the home kitchen. The recipes are reliable, and actually turn out like the photographs, always a plus. 

Like all vegetable soups, this recipe requires a fair amount of chopping. But it keeps easily for several days, so make a few extra croûtons—toasted bread slices—and enjoy the leftovers for lunch. 

(Clean those leeks with ease; here’s my Leek-Potato Soup with instructions. Save the tops in your freezer for your next sauteed greens or vegetable soup.)

One disadvantage of living in a small town is that the grocery stores don’t offer the same variety as larger stores in larger towns. We had to use green pasilla peppers for the sauce, which have a similar punch but a slightly different flavor, and don’t add the same lovely red color. I think pimento or roasted red pepper would also be lovely, adding flavor and color without heat. Use what you can find that suits your taste. Rouille, by the way, is said ruh-wee, rhyming with ratatouille.  

Vegetable Bouillabaisse

adapted from The French Country Table by Laura Washburn

1/4 cup olive oil

2 leeks, white and light green parts, halved length-wise and sliced crosswise 

1 large onion, coarsely chopped

1 fennel bulb, halved and chopped

3 garlic cloves, chopped

3 large ripe tomatoes, cored and chopped

3 small red potatoes, cubed

2 quarts vegetable stock

1 bay leaf

1 sprig of thyme or ½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1 strip of orange peel, about 1"X 3" 

1 teaspoon saffron, sweet paprika, or sumac 


kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

a handful of chopped flat-leaf parsley, for serving


1 garlic clove, minced

1-2 peppers, seeded and minced (see note above)

1 egg yolk, at room temperature

about 1-1/4 cups extra virgin olive oil

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat oil in a 6-8 quart stock pot. Add the leeks, onion, and fennel and cook about 10 minutes, until vegetables are soft, translucent, and just beginning to brown. Stir in the garlics, tomatoes, potatoes, and 1 teaspoon salt, and cook 1 minute. Add the stock, bay leaf, thyme, orange peel, and saffron (or alternative), and stir. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer gently for about 40 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Add salt and pepper to taste; cover and let stand at least 1 hour. (You can also make this a day ahead and refrigerate overnight.)

Make the croûtons. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Slice two or three pieces of the baguette for each serving. Arrange flat on a baking sheet. Top with cheese and bake 5-8 minutes, until golden and cheese is lightly melted. 

Make the rouille. Place garlic, peppers, and egg yolk in a small, deep bowl, or the container of an immersion blender. Beat well. Add the oil gradually and beat well, until the mixture is thick like mayonnaise. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve, warm the soup if necessary. Ladle into bowl. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and top with a tablespoon or so of rouille. Aarrange toasts or croûtons on the edge of each soup plate. 

Serves 6-8. 

From the cover of BITTERROOT LAKE, written as Alicia Beckman (coming April 13, 2021 from Crooked Lane Books in hardcover, ebook, and audio): 

When four women separated by tragedy reunite at a lakeside Montana lodge, murder forces them to confront everything they thought they knew about the terrifying accident that tore them apart, in Agatha Award-winning author Alicia Beckman's suspense debut.

Twenty-five years ago, during a celebratory weekend at historic Whitetail Lodge, Sarah McCaskill had a vision. A dream. A nightmare. When a young man was killed, Sarah's guilt over having ignored the warning in her dreams devastated her. Her friendships with her closest friends, and her sister, fell apart as she worked to build a new life in a new city. But she never stopped loving Whitetail Lodge on the shores of Bitterroot Lake.

Now that she's a young widow, her mother urges her to return to the lodge for healing. But when she arrives, she's greeted by an old friend--and by news of a murder that's clearly tied to that tragic day she'll never forget.

And the dreams are back, too. What dangers are they warning of this time? As Sarah and her friends dig into the history of the lodge and the McCaskill family, they uncover a legacy of secrets and make a discovery that gives a chilling new meaning to the dreams. Now, they can no longer ignore the ominous portents from the past that point to a danger more present than any of them could know.

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries, and the winner of Agatha Awards in three categories. Death al Dente, the first Food Lovers' Village Mystery, won Best First Novel in 2013, following her 2011 win in Best Nonfiction. Her first historical short story, "All God's Sparrows," won the 2018 Agatha Award for Best Short Story. Watch for her first standalone suspense novel, Bitterroot Lake (written as Alicia Beckman) in April 2021 from Crooked Lane Books.

A past president of Sisters in Crime and a current board member of Mystery Writers of America, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat, an avid bird-watcher.

Swing by her website and join the mailing list for her seasonal newsletter. And join her on Facebook where she shares book news and giveaways from her writer friends, and talks about food, mysteries, and the things that inspire her.

Monday, March 1, 2021

Monday Pot Luck: On the Farm with Vicki Delany

The first Monday of the month is the day one of us gets to talk about anything food-related she likes.  And, as I like talking about food, it’s a great day for me.

We all know the importance of trying to eat locally. The closer to home our food is grown and produced the less it has to travel, resulting in less fossil fuel expenditure, more jobs for people who live near us, and the food is likely to be fresher as well.

It’s not always easy, and particularly not for us Canadians in the depths of winter, when the farmers’ fields look like this (The tracks are mine, returning from a walk): 


The rest of the year, I’m lucky enough to live in a farming district.  Many of the farms around here are small-scale, not industrial. My little house is surrounded by farms.  I get produce from my immediate neighbours when they’re feeling generous, and I have no more than a couple of kilometers to travel to buy directly from the people who grew it. I try to stock up in the fall, with lots of root vegetables that will store over the winter, and to freeze sauces and soups for those cold winter nights.  

This picture shows a basket my local farmer gave me:  

This winter my immediate neighbours have gone away for several months and I’m helping to feed the pigs.
  Talk about composting! Here they are enjoying the fruits of my kitchen.


All of which has me dreaming of my favourite time of the year. Tomato season. How’s this for tomatoes, locally grown and delicious.(Although not grown by me!) 

In the fourth Sherlock Holmes bookshop mystery, A SCANDAL IN SCARLET, Gemma and Jayne venture far outside of their comfort zone to a recreation-17th century farm.

“Baby pigs remain with their mother until they’re... uh, one year old,” said Jayne, who knew as much about farming as I did. For all I knew baby pigs stayed with their mothers until they graduated from high school.

                                                                                  A Scandal in Scarlet by Vicki Delany

I’d love to hear your stories of local eating (or maybe not!).  I’ll give a copy of A Scandal in Scarlet to one reader. Please leave a comment here, with your email address so I can contact the winner  


Sunday, February 28, 2021

Guest Kaye George with Clark Bars from Into the Sweet Hereafter + #Giveaway!

Please welcome author Kaye George back to the Kitchen! Kaye is sharing a fun recipe from her Vintage Sweets cozy mystery series. Her third title in the series, Into the Sweet Hereafter, will be published in March, and she's giving away a copy today. Learn more below. Now...

Take it away, Kaye!

🍨 🍉🍭 🍦

hanks for having me back for a recipe from my third Vintage Sweets cozy mystery. I love being here! 

Tally got most of the recipes that she makes and sells in her sweet shop at Fredericksburg TX from her grandmother in New Jersey, whose hobby was recreating her favorites in her own kitchen. 

This is a simple, easy recipe, with a few pitfalls which I’ll point out. I’ll let you guess how I discovered them.

Clark Bars from
by Kaye George


1 c. sugar

1 c. corn syrup

1 c. smooth peanut butter

6 c. Rice Krispies

12 oz. package of semi-sweet chocolate chips
(or possibly a few more)


One: Heat first two ingredients in large saucepan until just boiling, remove from heat

Two: Add peanut butter to the pan and mix well

Three: Stir in cereal (you can also use corn flakes or Special K)

Four: Spread into 9x13 buttered baking pan

Five: Press into corners

Six: Melt chocolate chips in another pan, spread on top

Seven: Refrigerate, then cut into squares or rectangles


Heating these two is easy, unless you spill the sugar all over the stove. (This picture is before that happened.)


Then add peanut butter.


When you stir in the cereal, if you’ve used the size pan I did, you will realize you need a bigger one. NOTE, USE DUTCH OVEN FROM THE BEGINNING. Honestly, I sometimes think they just have me here for comic relief.


Now it’s time to butter a cookie sheet/baking pan/whatever you want to call that 9x13 thing and spread this out. It cools quickly, so work fast.


Scrunch it into the corners with your fingers. By this time, it’s not too hot, if you work at the same speed I do, which is less than lightning quick.


Melting the chocolate is easy. Spreading it out is not. This cools even more quickly than the cereal and peanut butter mixture.

See, this is why I think it would be better to just use more chocolate chips. I couldn’t spread them think enough without tearing up the bottom layer. 


Now you can put them in the fridge and go do something else for a while.

(It’s worth noting that you’ll need a pretty sturdy implement to lick the chocolate. It not only cools quickly, it cools hard.)


I don’t think you should use a Teflon cookie sheet. That make it hard to cut these. They’re very solid. I managed to get one row out, then lifted the whole thing to a cutting sheet to use a sharp knife.

ALL DONE! They taste very good!

You’re allowed to ignore this part for a bit. 
Maybe the maid will show up.

I love to bake and used to like complicated recipes that took all day. Time has passed, however, and I gravitate toward easier recipes. 

Do you like to dirty every pan and spend a lot of time creating marvelous concoctions, or do you like simple, easy things to make?

Answer Kaye's question in the comments
and you will be entered to win an e-copy
of her new release (learn more below).


About Our Guest

Kaye George is a national-bestselling, multiple-award-winning author of pre-history, traditional, and cozy mysteries (her latest is the Vintage Sweets series from Lyrical Press), as well as over 50 short stories. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Smoking Guns chapter (Knoxville), Guppies chapter, Authors Guild of TN, Knoxville Writers Group, and Austin Mystery Writers. She lives and works in Knoxville, TN.

Keep in touch at:



Spring has sprung in the charming tourist town of Fredericksburg, Texas, and one of the tastiest attractions is a trip to Tally’s Old Tyme Sweets—until a bizarre burglary leaves a bitter aftertaste. 

Learn more or pre-order
by clicking here



Answer Kaye's question in the comments (and include your email address) and you will be entered to win an e-copy of Kaye's new Vintage Sweet cozy mystery, Into the Sweet Hereafter. Kaye's question is...

Do you like to dirty every pan and spend a lot of time creating marvelous concoctions, or do you like simple, easy things to make?

Saturday, February 27, 2021

#Turkey and Andouille Sausage Gumbo by Denise Swanson

 I was looking for a recipe to use up all the leftover turkey that I’d frozen after our last holiday meal and came across this one. After a few tweaks, like substituting cornstarch for the filé powder, which I couldn’t find, we had a healthy and tasty meal.

  • 5 bacon slices, chopped (I use turkey bacon)
  • ¾ cup chopped onion
  • ½ cup chopped green bell pepper
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups unsalted chicken stock
  • ½ cup chopped yellow bell pepper
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 6 ounces andouille sausage links, thinly sliced (I found pre-sliced chicken andouille sausage)
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can unsalted diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 (10-ounce) package sliced frozen okra
  • 1 Tablespoon dry parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dry thyme
  • 12 ounces cooked skinless, boneless turkey, shredded
  • 2 teaspoons filé powder (I used cornstarch)
  • Cooked brown rice

Cook bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium heat 4 minutes or until crisp. Remove bacon from pan with a slotted spoon.

Add onion, green bell pepper, celery, and garlic to drippings in pan; sauté 5 minutes. 

Add stock, yellow bell pepper, salt, sausage, tomatoes, and okra to pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes.

 Stir in parsley, thyme, and turkey; cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Remove pan from heat; stir in filé powder.

Put a scoop of rice in 4 bowls .

Top evenly with gumbo. Sprinkle evenly with reserved bacon.



A Call to Charms






Chocolate, men, and magic. Who can turn down that inheritance?

     If life had gone as she planned, Lexie Green would have been teaching English at a prestigious university, not persuading spoiled, rich women to buy overpriced clothes they didn’t need and often looked ridiculous wearing. Can you say electric yellow see-through skirts and Torn jeans with unfinished hems?    

     Still, although this isn’t the life Lexie would have chosen, all is going well. At least until Lexie is fired and her deranged ex-boyfriend tries to kidnap her.

     Deciding that it’s better to accept a mysterious inheritance from a great aunt she’s never heard of rather than end up kept in a cage as her ex’s pet poodle, Lexie packs up and heads to Kansas. So, what if she has to go by a new name and live in a town that she can’t find on a map?

     Unfortunately, once she arrives in her new hometown, everyone there seems just a tad off-kilter and Lexie’s cousin insists that the citizens are magical. At least there are a couple of hot guys hanging around for eye candy.

     Even though Lexie doesn’t believe the nonsense about her being the Ravenscraft Shield, she does believe her father was murdered—a father she never knew existed, and she investigates his death.

     Too bad, whoever killed her father, now wants Lexie dead as well.    






There's something fishy just below the surface of Scumble River...


School psychologist Skye Denison-Boyd is getting ready to return to work from her maternity leave and hoping for a peaceful year in her job as a school psychologist. But when an elderly woman disappears on her first day back and a disgruntled parent threatens to sue the school, Skye realizes that her return will be anything but quiet.


When the parent suing Skye's school is found dead and with the missing woman's case is still unsolved, Skye suspects the crimes are somehow linked. With her chief of police husband, Wally, at her side, Skye dives into the investigations. But as tensions rise and Skye and Wally's suspect list lengthens, they start to wonder whether a member of their own tight-knit community could be behind it all...


Once again, it looks like Dani Sloan will get a slice of the action...


In the small town of Normalton, IL, there aren't a lot of opportunities for small business owner Dani Sloan to cater big-ticket events. But that's about to change—a client named Yvette Joubert is marrying Franklin Whittaker, the richest guy around, and they want Dani to cater their engagement party! The swanky event is the perfect opportunity to put Dani on the map for wealthier clients.


But when a storm hits the party after guests arrive, it becomes clear that more than the dinner is ruined: Yvette is found dead beneath the marquee. Is her death a tragic accident, or a perfectly orchestrated murder? Then the case gets even juicier—it turns out that Yvette's ex-husband is Spencer Drake, Dani's almost-boyfriend, and the police start circling. Now Dani must follow an unending list of clues to save her business, her better half, and catch a criminal. Let's just hope they get their just desserts!









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Friday, February 26, 2