Sunday, February 27, 2011

Fun in the Kitchen with Toni Kelner

Fun in the kitchen? I don’t think so!

I have a love-hate relationship with food. I love to eat, but I hate to cook. I’m not a particularly good cook, and I don’t like cleaning up afterward, and I really hate doing the grocery shopping to prepare for it.

I come by this naturally. My mother dislikes cooking even more than I do. When we kids were young, she cooked, but takeout meals became more and more common as the years passed. By the time I hit high school, we ate out nearly every night. Unlike most people we knew, eating out wasn’t a fun treat—eating in was!

When I moved out to my first apartment, I decided I wasn’t going to go that route. I fixed dinner almost every night. It was simple stuff, since it was just me and my dog, but it was home cooked. On Sundays, I invited my parents over for dinner, and got a bit more elaborate. I liked cooking then—it was fun.

Then I moved North and got married, and had a long commute every day. I didn’t have the time or energy for cooking every day, so we became friends with the local pizza delivery place. But my husband and I did cook some, and since Steve is a better cook than I am, it was a lot of fun.

The next big change was kids. When they were babies, I had less energy for cooking, and Steve started working longer and longer hours with a more erratic schedule, making meal planning harder. Both girls turned out to be picky eaters, and didn’t like most of the meals I cooked. It was no fun to cook for me and Steve, and then have to cook something else for the kids. So we started eating out more and more. Eventually I realized that a month had gone by, and I hadn’t cooked a real meal in all that time.

In other words, I became my mother.

So I guess it’s no surprise that Tilda, the protagonist of my “Where are they now?” mysteries, doesn’t do a whole lot of cooking, either. When one of my beta readers was reading Who Killed the Pinup Queen?, she sent a note asking, “Doesn’t Tilda EVER eat a healthy meal?” I started giving her salads after that, and made sure she got vegetables at every restaurant meal.

As for me, I still don’t cook much, but there are a couple of things I do well, and one is deviled eggs, a tribute to my Southern upbringing I’ve included my recipe below, but the best part of the process isn’t really part of the recipe. After the eggs are boiled and cooled, I yell for the girls, and they come running to help peel the eggs, squish the ingredients together, and taste the first couple to make sure they came out all right.

So even for me, sometimes cooking is fun.

Deviled Eggs


6 hardboiled eggs
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
¼ teaspoon yellow mustard
¼ teaspoon dry mustard
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper


1. Peel the hardboiled eggs, and cut the in half, lengthwise.

2. Remove the yolks, and put into a mixing bowl.

3. Mash the yolks.

4. Mix in mayonnaise, yellow mustard, dry mustard, salt and pepper.

5. Spoon the mixture into the egg whites, and sprinkle paprika on top.

6. Cover the dish, and refrigerate before serving. (Unless you’re like us, and can’t wait.)

Unsurprisingly, Tilda Harper doesn't do much cooking in Blast from the Past, Toni's third "Where are they now?" mystery about an entertainment reporter who specializes in tracking down the formerly famous. As for the vampires who feature in Toni's stories in the anthologies she co-edits with Charlaine Harris, the less said about their meals, the better. Toni lives north of Boston, where there are many fine restaurants, which she visits frequently with her husband Steve and their daughters. She is currently trying to solve the mystery of why the four of them are addicted to watching shows on the Food Network.


  1. I've been thinking about making deviled eggs lately and now I think I'll have to! Thanks for sharing your recipe today, Toni. Makes me feel like taking the family on a picnic. :)

    And...don't we all become our mothers, sooner or later? :)

  2. Deviled eggs are like a drug for me! I won't wait for spring on this one. Thanks, Toni!

  3. Toni, thanks so much for joining us today. I think it's hilarious that you became your mother! Like Elizabeth said, I guess it happens to all of us eventually! LOL!

    ~ Krista

  4. I think we spend half our lives trying to be just like our parents, and the other half trying not to be. Which means we end up in the middle, I suppose.

    And I may just have to boil up a batch of eggs myself. They aren't generally something I think of when it's snowing--which is is right now--but...

  5. OMG, you made me laugh out loud with becoming your mother *and* the story of a reader worried about your fictional character’s fictional diet. But then that’s a testament to your talent as a writer—when a reader cares about Tilda as if she’s a living, breathing person with a cholesterol level. My cholesterol level is just fine, which is why I’ll scarf down your deviled eggs any day. Thanks for the recipe, Toni, and for hangin’ in the Kitchen with us.

    Three cheers for vegetarian vamps,
    ~ Cleo
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  6. Ooh... just got back from the store and I know eggsactly what I'm making to enjoy during the Academy Award show tonight! Thanks for visiting the kitchen, Toni! Great to see you here!

  7. Deviled Eggs are a big hit with my family so over the years I have tried out many different recipes. One of everyone's favorites is a recipe I found in a magazine. They are Bacon Jalapeno Deviled Eggs. I make some form of Deviled Eggs for every occasion.