Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Thyme for a Backyard Party -- Tequila-Thyme Lemonade & Lemon Thyme Shortbread

LESLIE BUDEWITZ: Readers of my Spice Shop series tell me they like seeing how the herb in the title is woven in to the story. Thyme was clearly the perfect herb for a mystery delving into the past, as in the third Spice Shop mystery, KILLING THYME (December 2016).

Pepper and her mother, Lena, who is visiting from Costa Rica, have a strange encounter with a potter new to the artists’ stalls in Seattle’s Pike Place Market. In Pepper’s childhood, her family lived with another couple and their children—including Pepper’s employee and BFF, Kristen—in a big house on Seattle’s Capital Hill that belonged to Kristen’s parents. The house, loosely based on one friends of mine lived in in the early 1990s, has recently been remodeled after decades of neglect. Kristen and her husband celebrate the conclusion of the remodel with a backyard party, and invite the potter. During a tour of the house, Kristen reveals a surprise discovery she made during the remodel. When the potter turns up dead a few days later, Pepper is drawn into investigating the ties between the mysterious potter’s death and an unsolved crime from thirty years ago that threatens not only her beliefs about her family, but her life.

Whew. Sounds heavy, doesn’t it? Not at all—and especially not if you serve it with these treats from the party, both in KILLING THYME. And both would be lovely for a holiday gathering as well, as we celebrate both Independence Day in the US and Canada Day with our friends to the north.

And Happy Release Day to Peg Cochran -- Sowed to Death, in her Farmer's Daughter series, is out today!

Tequila-Thyme Lemonade

Serve as a spiked lemonade, or at cocktail strength, or allow guests to choose. Tequila adds a fun summer flavor, but gin, vodka, or white rum are also tasty—and it’s equally delicious without alcohol.

1-1/2 cups sugar
8-10 sprigs thyme or lemon thyme
2 cups fresh lemon juice (about 10 lemons)
1 cup tequila (or other alcohol) for spiked lemonade; 2 cups for cocktail strength
cold water
thyme sprigs for garnish (optional)

In a small saucepan, bring sugar, thyme, and 1 cup cold water to a boil. Stir until the sugar is dissolved—about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool, allowing the thyme to continue infusing the syrup.

Juice the lemons.

Strain the syrup into a medium bowl, and discard the thyme sprigs. Strain the lemon juice into the bowl, and discard the pulp. Stir the mixture and pour it into a serving pitcher. Add six cups of cold water. Chill at least an hour before serving.

To serve, add the tequila to the pitcher, garnish, and serve over ice. Or set out a variety of alcohol and a jigger, and allow guests to choose their own flavor and strength. In a standard highball or cocktail glass, ½ ounce of alcohol will “spike” the lemonade, while 1 ounce will make a standard-strength cocktail.

Makes 8-10 servings.

Lemon Thyme Cookies

The herbs give these shortbread squares a light, summery touch that would be terrific in any season. Serve with lemon sorbet for an elegant pairing.

½ cup butter, softened
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon fresh thyme or lemon thyme leaves
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
Coarse white or granulated sugar, for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat butter with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add 1/4 cup white sugar and mix until combined. Add thyme, lemon zest, lemon juice, and cardamom, scraping the sides of the bowl if necessary to get all ingredients combined. Gradually stir in the flour and mix.

Form the dough into a ball. To make it easier to work, divide dough into three equal portions. Roll each out on a floured surface into a 6 X 4-1/2 inch rectangle, about 1/4 inch thick. Cut into 1-1/2 inch squares with a knife or a serrated pastry wheel. Sprinkle with coarse or granulated sugar. Place squares on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 12-15 minutes, until edges and bottom are golden. Cool on a wire rack. Makes 36 small cookies.

From the cover of TREBLE AT THE JAM FEST, Food Lovers' Village Mystery #4 (Midnight Ink, June 8, 2017):  

Erin Murphy, manager of Murphy’s Mercantile (aka the Merc), is tuning up for Jewel Bay’s annual Jazz Festival. Between keeping the Merc’s shelves stocked with Montana’s tastiest local fare and hosting the festival’s kick-off concert, Erin has her hands full.

Discord erupts when jazz guitarist Gerry Martin is found dead on the rocks above the Jewel River. The one-time international sensation had fallen out of sync with festival organizers, students, and performers. Was his death an accident?or did someone even the score?

Despite the warning signs to not get involved, Erin investigates. And when the killer attacks, she orchestrates her efforts into one last crescendo, hoping to avoid a deadly finale.

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. The past president of Sisters in Crime, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat, an avid bird-watcher.

Swing by my website and join the mailing list for my seasonal newsletter. And join me on Facebook where I announce lots of giveaways from my cozy writer friends.


  1. The lemonade and cookies both sound so refreshing for a summer's day! Thanks so much for sharing the recipes!

    1. My pleasure! They weren't exactly timely (thymely?) when Killing Thyme came out in October, but they're perfect now!

  2. Perfect treats for summer or any time...especially in south Florida.
    My copy of Treble at the Jam Fest just arrived! I'm looking forward to reading it. Thanks

    1. Enjoy! Some fun recipes there, too, I promise!

  3. Two fabulous recipes! Thank you and Happy 4th! Hugs.

    1. I saw the Clydesdales today! They are magnificent -- the hits of our local parade!

  4. Will have to try those cookies. Yum.

    1. Herbs in cookies may sound odd, but I guarantee, they taste great!

  5. I love lemonade and currently have lemon thyme growing in my garden. I think I'll add vodka instead of tequila though.

  6. Looks amazing. Your cookie dough sure looks good. (sorry i love cookie dough, lol). Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks, Kay -- with all that butter, of course it's good!