Sunday, January 13, 2013

Welcome Mollie Cox Bryan

A very warm welcome to Mollie Cox Bryan. We're very excited to have her join us today because Mollie is a cookbook author in addition to writing mysteries!

Even though my mysteries are scrapbooking-themed, food is also front and center. After all, my characters are a group of Southern women who get together weekly to scrapbook. Of course food will be involved! 
In the first book, there was a lot of Southern food, as there is in SCRAPPED (Cumberland Creek Mystery #2).  But one of the reasons I like to write about food, even in my fiction, is that it crosses cultural boundaries. For example Vera, who grew up in Cumberland Creek discovers poppy seed rolls on her trip to New York City. She had never seen them in her Virginia town. DeeAnn, who hails from the North, was quite familiar with them. 

Enter Cookie Crandall, the new person in Cumberland Creek. She’s a vegan, a yoga teacher, and a witch who has evidently traveled extensively—though she never really talks about her past. (She sometimes lets things slip.)
Take this scene from SCRAPPED:

“Oh my God, this is good,” said Cookie, taking another bite. “This is just the way they make it in Eastern Europe.”
“You’ve been there?” Annie said.
“Ah, um, yeah, I was, as a child,” she said, obviously a little uncomfortable talking about herself, as usual. “Where did you get this, Vera?”
“From a little neighborhood bakery in Brooklyn. I try to pick Mom up a roll or two when they have it,” Vera answered.
“I never had it before Vera brought it home. I’m quite taken with it,” Beatrice said. “I’ve only had poppy seed in lemon poppy seed rolls. I understand you can make all kinds of things with it.”
“We ate poppy seed cake every year for the holidays,” Cookie said, grinning and suddenly looking like she was seven years old.
“Cake? Really?” Beatrice said.

Yes, really.  I grew up eating poppyseed cake every year at Christmas.  It's one of the most unusual cakes I've ever had—and of course, it's nutty, spicy and oh so delicious. We always had it at Christmas—but it's good any time of the year. My mom has been baking it for over 40 years and has perfected this dense cake.
Please leave a comment on the blog for a chance to win a signed copy of SCRAPPED. 

Photo by April Younglove (

Poppyseed Cake


3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups sugar
10 ounces, vegetable oil (You can use less, Mom says, but it won't be as moist.)
4 eggs
13 ounces (1 can) of evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 jar Baker's Poppy Seed Filling (Mom is adamant that Baker's is the best kind to use.)
Sift all the dry ingredients together. Then mix in all your liquids and eggs. (You can add nuts if you want; Mom never did. I think black walnuts would be fabulous.) Mix for 2 minutes on medium speed.
Pour into a well-greased and floured tube pan. Bake at 350 for 50 to 60 minutes.
Cool the cake at least five to 8 minutes before taking it out of the pan. Mom sprinkles powdered sugar on it. But a rum glaze would be lovely.

About Scrapped: ( Cumberland Creek Mysteries, Book #2)
The ladies of the Cumberland Creek Scrapbook Crop are welcoming an eccentric newbie into their fold. A self-proclaimed witch, Cookie Crandall can whip up a sumptuous vegan meal and rhapsodize about runes and moon phases with equal aplomb. She becomes fast friends with her fellow scrapbookers, including freelance reporter Annie, with whom she shares shallow roots in a community of established family trees. So when Cookie becomes the prime suspect in a series of bizarre murders, the croppers get scrappy and set out to clear her name. Annie starts digging and discovers that the victims each had strange runic patterns carved on their bodies - a piece of evidence that points the police in Cookie's direction. Even her friends begin to doubt her innocence when they find an ornate, spiritual scrapbook that an alleged beginner like Cookie could never have crafted. As Annie and the croppers search for answers, they'll uncover a shockingly wicked side of their once quiet town - and a killer on the prowl for another victim.

About the Author
After years of working as an editor and writer for nonprofits and corporations in the DC area, Mollie gave it all up for the "glamorous" life of a stay-at-home mom and part-time freelance writer. When she moved the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, she began to hear stories about the famous Mrs. Rowe's Restaurant and its owner, Mildred Rowe. Intrigued, she investigated and found most of the stories were true. Two cookbooks later, Mollie turned her writing skills to penning mysteries. One of her goals as a writer, as a person, is to explore many venues, genres, and to continue to learn and grow.
She grew up in Western Pennsylvania in a rural area (Raccoon Township) just outside of mill town Aliquippa, known for its football greats. She danced, did gymnastics, and wrote all the way through her youth. She started many novels—but finished her first one when she was a senior in high school. It was called "Circles" and featured a ballerina involved with a gang.
Today, she is the mom to two daughters who both dance and write. For Mollie, writing is like breathing, dancing, and love. She doesn't like to go a day without it.

Keep in touch with Mollie—loves to hear from readers!
@molliecoxbryan (Twitter)


  1. The cake and the book look both delectable and delightful! Can't wait to make the cake and read the book!

  2. Thanks Heather! You won't be sorry. This cake is SO good!

  3. thanks for bringing the cake to MLK Mollie! looks delicious. I used to make a poppyseed cake from Moosewood that I'd forgotten all about.

    And what fun to co-write a cookbook! Tell us more about what that food was like?

  4. Yum! Now where did I hide my poppy seeds...

  5. Lucy, I've written two cookbooks, Mrs. Rowe's Restaurant Cookbook: A Lifetime of Recipes from the Shenandoah Valley and Mrs. Rowe's Little Book of Southern Pies. The fist book is a narrative cookbook that weaves stories in about Mrs. Rowe's life (a remarkable woman, the restaurant, local history and of course, the food. The second book came about because we didn't have enough room in the first book for all the pie! Mrs. Rowe was famous for her pie. For a very good reason. Yum!
    Thanks for commenting Sheila. And if I could help you find those poppy seeds I would. ;-)

  6. Welcome, Mollie. I am a fan of poppyseed cake and didn't have a recipe. Now I have what looks like a delicious one!

    Thanks for that. It was nice getting to know you at MLK.

  7. We love all of Mollie's cookbooks and now Mysteries. We are so excited about the release of Scrapped.

  8. Thanks, Mary Jane. Glad to help!
    Thanks so much Kelley! So lovely to read those kind words.

  9. I love poppyseeds, on rolls, bagels, and cake. I love poppyseed cake...and I am from Western New York!

  10. Thank so much for joining us today, Mollie. The poppyseed cake sounds delicious. I may finally have to try baking one.

    ~ Krista

  11. Be sure your poppy seeds are fresh. They can go off with age, so don't dig in the back of your spice cabinet and brush off a dusty container.
    This looks too good to spoil with less than fresh seeds.
    Thanks for a tasty sounding recipe. My husband (and I) love poppy seeds, so this is a must.

  12. Thanks for having me, Krista! It's a great cake. Katreader, glad to meet another poppyseed cake lover. I hope you do try the recipe Libby, the poppy seeds are front and center--so you'll love it!

  13. Mollie, thanks for being on MLK. The cake looks nice and moist. I love poppyseed muffins. Must try this.

    * Libby - interesting note about having fresh seeds. I didn't know that. :)


    Avery / Daryl

  14. I will be trying this recipe and I look forward to reading this book as I really enjoyed the first....

  15. Avery, thanks for commenting. This cake is very moist. Thanks so much Alicia--glad to know you enjoyed Scrapbook of Secrets.