Sunday, August 7, 2016

Welcome guest, author Laurie Cass!

Laurie Cass grew up in Michigan and graduated from Eastern Michigan University in the 80’s with a (mostly unused) Bachelor of Science degree in geology. She and her husband live on a lake in northwest lower Michigan. When Laurie isn’t writing, she’s working at her day job, reading, yanking weeds out of her garden, or doing some variety of skiing.

Laurie is offering a giveaway - see below and leave a comment!

Take it away, Laurie!


In the fall of 2013, my husband and I, for the first time ever, traveled to the great state of Louisiana. Our destination was not New Orleans, but Baton Rouge, because the reason for the traveling was to attend the American Bookmobile and Outreach Services (ABOS) conference.

The trip was research for the bookmobile cat books, but it was also a vacation. We stayed at a Hilton in a room with a Mississippi River view, and had a great time touring the capitol building, area museums, and trying a different restaurant for every meal.

One particular dinner, however, we didn’t go to a restaurant at all, because down the street from the hotel was the city’s annual Jambalaya Jam, an event sponsored by the local United Way. We bought our $10 tickets and received wrist bands that allowed us to roam and sample jambalaya from forty-odd competing teams. (I think we made it through seven.)

We had a great time talking to folks and listening to live music and headed home determined to try our hand at making jambalaya. The following is the result, non-spicy because that’s the way the female half of this partnership prefers it.

Jambalaya – Non-Spicy
3 slices         Bacon
1 lb.              Raw pork loin, cut into cubes
1 lb.              Mild smoked sausage, diced or sliced into 1/4” rounds
1/4 lb.           Shrimp - peeled and diced
1/4 cup         Water
2 cups          Onion, chopped
1 cup            Green pepper, chopped
1/4 cup         Celery, chopped
1 TB.            Garlic, minced
1 qt.              Beef stock or broth
3 cups          Water, heated
1/4 cup         Green onion, sliced
1/2 teas.        Thyme, dried
1/2 teas.        Basil, dried
1/2 teas.        Parsley dried, plus extra for garnish if desired
4 cups          Rice, long grain
For table       Bottled hot sauce

Slice bacon into a 6 quart Dutch oven and cook until fat is rendered. Add cubed pork and cook over medium high heat in the drippings, stirring regularly, until meat is heavily browned and browned bits have formed in the bottom of the pot. In a separate pan, cook the shrimp in a tablespoon or so of oil.

To the Dutch oven, add the sausage and shrimp, cook and stir for 3 minutes, then add the 1/4 cup of water a little at a time, using a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom. This will add both flavor and color to your jambalaya.

Add onion, bell pepper and celery, cook and stir for 4 minutes; add the garlic and cook another minute. Stir in the beef stock, bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat, cover and let simmer for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Add the 3 cups of hot water, green onion, Cajun seasoning, thyme, basil, parsley and rice; stir well.

Cover, transfer pot to the oven, baking at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Remove, let stand covered until ready to serve, or for at least 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork before serving. Spoon loosely into a serving platter if desired, but do not pack down. Garnish with parsley, serve with a side salad or green vegetable, and pass a bottle of hot sauce at the table.

Note:  We freeze the leftovers in individual plastic zip bags with about 12 ounces of jambalaya in each. When reheating, we’ll add a quarter cup or so of chicken broth to keep it moist. Yum!

I’ll be giving away a copy of the latest release in the Bookmobile Cat Series, Cat With A Clue. And, as an added bonus, I’ll include a copy of Murder at the PTA, the first book in my other mystery series, written under the pen name Laura Alden.


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Cat with a Clue
Released August 2, 2016

Early one morning while shelving books in the library, Minnie stumbles upon a dead body. Authorities identify the woman as an out-of-towner visiting Chilson for her great-aunt’s funeral. What she was doing in the library after hours is anyone’s guess . . . but Minnie and her rescue cat Eddie are determined to save the library’s reputation and catch a killer.

As rumors about the victim circulate through Chilson, the police are in a bind over a streak of baffling break-ins. Luckily, Minnie and Eddie are traveling the county in their bookmobile, and they'll stop at nothing to find the spineless killer before the final page is turned on someone else.