Sunday, July 11, 2010

Welcome Guest Blogger - Karen E. Olson

Please join me in welcoming Karen E. Olson to Mystery Lovers' Kitchen today. I loved getting to know Karen when she, Hank Phillippi Ryan and I were invited by the incomparable Molly Weston to visit North Carolina. Molly set up a book tour extraordinaire! We visited stores, libraries, classrooms, and we even had time to stop for some authentic barbecue! But the best part of the trip was getting to know Karen, Molly, and Hank. These are some fabulous women!

You've all met Hank here on the blog and I'm sure you've picked up some of her books. Now, I hope you check out Karen's tattoo shop mysteries. Does Karen have a tattoo? Nope. And I confess that as a tat-less person myself, I didn't know if I could get into the stories. Don't let that stop you. Her protagonist Brett Kavanaugh is a strong, fearless, and creative woman with a complicated life. You will love meeting her. I recently finished PRETTY IN INK - tattoos and drag queens. Can it be any more fun? And loved every roller coaster moment.

Okay, enough of me talking. Here's Karen:

When Julie asked me to guest blog, I had a little bit of a panic. You see, I don’t cook anymore. I haven’t cooked in years. Because my husband does. Every night.

He’s a great cook. He whips up chicken marsala, steak and broccoli stir fry, Arctic char with a maple syrup and soy sauce glaze, all after his usual nine hour work day. He likes it.

I’m not going to take that away from him.

Because he’s in the kitchen so much, he’s become a lot more aware of what we’re eating, and because of some health issues, about six months ago he decided that he’s going to try to get us off processed food as much as possible.

He’s making me spice muffins with raisins and sunflower seeds for breakfast, so I don’t have to stop for a bagel in the morning. He even started making his own bagels, trying recipe after recipe until he found one that got it right. He makes all our bread, and the one week we had to buy a loaf because he didn’t have time, well, let’s just say we don’t want that happening again. He’s tending a garden this summer, with lettuce, carrots, arugula, tomatoes, basil, green beans, and zucchini. He shops at the farmer’s market for what we call happy eggs from happy chickens, he buys fresh fish at a local store, and he gets all our beef and chicken from a local butcher.

Let’s say we’re eating pretty well and it’s incredibly healthful.

We took it one step further last weekend.

We made our own mayonnaise.

I’d had a boyfriend years ago whose mother used to make her own mayonnaise. By hand. It took what seemed to be hours. Making mayonnaise seemed very intimidating.

But we pulled out our trusty cookbook by our favorite New York Times columnist Mark Bittman. We had all the ingredients. We had a food processor. And he said he would only take 10 minutes to make.

He was right.

It was the most amazing mayonnaise ever.

Mark Bittman’s mayonnaise recipe:

1 egg

1 tsp dry mustard

2 tbl fresh lemon juice

1 c canola oil (it says you can use olive oil, but we tried that first and the flavor was too strong. Canola was much better, much more neutral)

salt and pepper to taste

Put egg, dry mustard, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and 1/4 c of the oil in a food processor. As you mix, pour the rest of the oil in very very, very slowly. It should start to get thick when you’ve poured about half of it in. If you want it thicker, you can add up to a 1/4 c more oil, but we found the consistency perfect for the potato salad we made with it.

Karen E. Olson is the author of the tattoo shop mystery series, including THE MISSING INK, and PRETTY IN INK.

DRIVEN TO INK, the third in the series, will be out Sept. 7.

Check out her books at www. or her blog at


  1. Hi, Karen, it's great to see you here! I'm a big fan of your books, have read both and really enjoyed them. Love the mayonnaise recipe, and may try it - the last time I tried making homemade mayonnaise it never thickened. Your method looks easier than the one I was using, though.

  2. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the Tattoo Shop mystery series. Brett is an amazing lead character. It sounds like this mayo is much easier than giving yourself a tattoo so I'll give it a shot.

  3. This recipe looks so easy and simple. I've made mayonnaise before and I know it didn't turn out right because I've never made it again.

  4. Karen - I'm just thrilled to have you here on Mystery Lovers' Kitchen today! Not only are your books fabulous, but I remember how much we all talked about food on our NC tour - and the stuff you talked about your husband making and that you'd enjoyed with your daughter. I knew that everyone here would just love to "talk" with you too. Glad you could be here!


  5. This recipe sounds quick and easy. I like the idea of making your own. Thanks for the recipe. Looking forward to checking out your series. Best of luck with your upcoming book.

    Thoughts in Progress

  6. Welcome, Karen, to the Mystery Lovers' Kitchen! Great to see you here and to get this wonderful recipe for mayo! Your husband sounds like a real peach...wish you could lend him out because lately I've not been in much of a cooking mood! Too hot here. :)

  7. Thanks so much for having me here! We actually made this recipe because we were having someone for dinner who has a soy allergy. To our dismay, the store bought mayonnaise had soy in it, but this is a great alternative. It also doesn't have all the preservatives. We are total converts now.

    And yes, it's easier and less stressful than getting a tattoo!!

  8. Karen, I try to avoid soy. Unfortunately, it has become the oil of choice in almost all commercial mayonnaise and salad dressing. Hain makes a terrific canola mayonnaise. It has passed the taste test of my pickiest eater.

    I love the idea of making my own mayonnaise, though. My mom makes mayonnaise all the time and insists that it's not difficult. This uses such simple ingredients that we all have at home anyway that I'll have to give it a try.

    What a great husband you have!

    ~ Krista

  9. Wow - I want to come to your house for dinner!

    Karen, thanks for the mayo recipe. I love mayo, but it always freaks me out that the store bought stuff lasts basically forever. You have definitely inspired me!

  10. Karen, what a sweet hubby. Congrats on your success with your tattoo series. So clever.

  11. LOOK at those AWESOME bagels!! Color me impressed -- and I'm typing this at bagel-ground-zero (NY, NY). Woops, back up, now, Cleo --

    Hi Karen, I'm so happy to see you here in our kitchen - Welcome. I love men who cook, too -- aren't they much sexier than men who don't? Also love Mark Bittman - great recipe to share. And your Tattoo Shop Mysteries are wonderfully fresh. Congrats on DRIVEN TO INK releasing in September. Woot!

    Fresh-Baked Bagel-Lovin' Cleo
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter