Sunday, February 6, 2022

AROUND THE KITCHEN TABLE: Eating While Writing + 4 Book #Giveaway

VICKI DELANY: This month’s Around the Kitchen Table topic was suggested by a reader on Facebook.  We’re always happy to hear what you have to say so let us know if you have an idea for a great topic we can discuss over a virtual cup of coffee or tea.

“I would love to see one of these posts discussing your writing process and the foods you eat when writing. Do you stop for lunch or just snack when you can? Are there certain foods you eat regularly? Do you have foods you must have or avoid when writing? Just curious!”

Nothing very exciting from me, I’m afraid.  I write by a dedicated schedule.  Every morning, if I’m at home, from around 9 to 1 or 2.  And then in the afternoons I do any business stuff that’s needed, such as putting together this blog post.  I drink about six cups of coffee a day, while I’m writing. I have nothing to eat before, and I take a break after about an hour to have a bowl of cereal (Usually Shreddies or All-Bran flakes, sometimes Special K).  If I have any on hand, I like to add a handful of blueberries to that cereal.  I eat the cereal while reading emails and Facebook posts and the like and then get back at it.  I never snack while writing (or any other time).  

No variety, no cooking, no snacking.  All pretty boring, but it works for me.

Vicki's Breakfast (every single day)


LESLIE BUDEWITZ: I'll venture a guess that we've all learned the hard way not to actually cook while we're writing -- even the most aggressive oven timer can go unheard when you're caught up in the story! I try to keep a similar schedule to Vicki's, with a break around 12:30 for lunch -- usually eaten at my desk while I read articles, newspapers, and blogs. It's not all that easy to eat while actually writing -- I can sip my coffee (morning) or tea (afternoon), but the point is to keep the hands busy on the keyboard! 

But my cozies all feature food, so it's never far from my mind when I'm writing. (Or, in truth, at any time.) Once I know the main herb, spice, or flavor for a Spice Shop mystery, I'm always on the lookout for recipes that will fit that motif. So I'm the only gal you know who, during a streak of June days that topped 90, made a peppermint mocha every morning. Recipe testing. Or made no-bake Christmas cookies and candy in July, to Mr. Right's delight. And because the plot line sometimes dictates recipes as well, I may spend part of my writing time planning Pepper's menu -- then make it that evening, as when she visited an Asian grocery in Pike Place Market, not far from her shop, in The Solace of Bay Leaves, bought a couple of varieties of sesame oil to explain her presence, then visited a produce stand and a butcher's shop, gathering more information. Of course, she and I put the goods to good use that evening, making Cold Sesame Noodles and a stir-fried beef dish, such as this one Beef and Sugar Snap Peas. (The book includes a traditional Broccoli Beef recipe.) So I'm eating with my characters long after the day's writing is done!    


PEG COCHRAN/MARGARET LOUDON:  I usually get on my computer first thing in the morning (after our morning walk although that's been curtailed due to ice) and read emails, check Facebook, etc. while eating breakfast--sometimes a soft boiled egg, sometimes toast or an English muffin.  After an hour or so I begin writing.  I eat lunch at my desk as well--leftover soup or a dish from the previous night. I have a small laptop table pulled up to my desk and the food and drink go on that so there's no way I'm going to spill my meal or my drink on my computer.  (The floor is a different story, but no need to go there!)  I have coffee or tea with breakfast and vast amounts of cold water the rest of the day guaranteeing lots of potty breaks! I don't snack much--I might grab a few grapes from the bowl in the kitchen when I refill my water but that's about it.  Oh, except for one square of dark chocolate with sea salt after lunch! I live for that lol.  Like Leslie, I often write about food--various English favorites like bangors and mash, Chelsea buns or lemon drizzle cake for Penelope Parish in my Open Book Series and anything with cranberries for Monica Albertson in my Cranberry Cove Series.


LUCY BURDETTE: I'm pretty darned boring for lunch and breakfast too. Lottie and I (and sometimes John) walk to the Cuban Coffee Queen every morning where I get a cafe con leche and she gets some turkey. I read email and fiddle with blogs while sipping that. Then--cereal with berries, and for lunch, melted cheddar on a bagel over arugula with pickled jalapenos on top. 

Dinner is where I get creative, often channeling Hayley Snow, my food critic character. In A DISH TO DIE FOR (coming next August), lots of the recipes are old-fashioned so that's what I've been cooking. And I'm also thinking ahead to the current work in progress, where several baking guests arrive in Key West. The Irish soda bread I featured last year will be one of things they make. If it wasn't for Mystery Lovers Kitchen and my culinary mysteries, I bet our eating would be a lot less interesting!

🌿 🐂 🍒

LESLIE KARSTI've been eating the same thing for lunch pretty much every day since junior high, when I'd make it each morning before heading off for school: cottage
cheese with tomatoes and lots of salt and black pepper. Back then, I'd also include a dollop of mayonnaise, but now? Well, you know...that middle age love handle. (And I try not to snack between meals, for the same reason.)

While I'm working on one of my Sally Solari books, however--which includes much research about seasonable fruits, vegetables, and seafood, as well as describing the to-die-for dishes served at Sally's French-Polynesian restaurant, Gauguin--I have a hard time not salivating all over my computer keyboard, and I've been known to take a lunch break to whip up something like a melty grilled cheese sandwich with red onions and baby spinach (recipe in A Measure of Murder) instead of my usual fare. 


MADDIE DAY: What a great question! And now I want Leslie K's lunch. I haven't bought cottage cheese for years and used to love it. In the mornings, I take my mug full of dark roast and a splash of whole milk upstairs to my office, do about an hour of Internetting, and start work by seven. I haven't been eating breakfast for a number of years, but midmorning I often munch on a piece of string cheese or thirteen roasted almonds (the number comes from my old Weight Watchers days, when I learned thirteen almonds were about an ounce). After lunch I always enjoy a Dove Dark Mini. Otherwise I don't snack while I'm writing unless I'm on a solo retreat, when I'm known to write morning, afternoon, and evening. In that case, it's cheddar Goldfish all the way!

I do the savory cooking and recipe testing for my Country Store and Cozy Capers Book Group series in the afternoons. Like Leslie B, half the time I'm trying to test a summer recipe that screams out for fresh tomatoes and herbs in the dead of a New England winter - or sipping a hot cider drink in July. That's when the imagination comes in handy. In fact, today I was looking for fresh mint for a post about a drink recipe from Batter Off Dead, which releases in two weeks. The book takes place in July and right now there is zero mint to be had in northeastern Massachusetts!  I'm relieved that I've started writing Murder in a Cape Bookstore, which will take place in March - exactly when I'll be finishing it and testing recipes.


MOLLY MACRAE:  Eating, yes, I love it! I'm an early riser, like many of you. I like being up when the house is quiet before the others are out of bed. I also like steel cut oatmeal and eat a small bowl with oatmilk every morning, mixing in ground flax seed, a pinch of salt, two or three walnut halves broken up, and a few blueberries. I read the paper while I eat and while a pot of black tea is steeping. By the time I'm finished, the others (my husband and our youngest son and his wife) are stirring. I pour myself a cup of tea, tell them "goodbye, I'm off to work," and I go upstairs to write.
Mystery Lovers' special - haunted oatmeal!

I've gotten into the habit of dealing with email, social media, and blog posts in the morning, to get them out of the way. Then it's off to Scotland or California or Tennessee, depending on what book I'm writing. Right now it's the coast of California, near Carmel, and that's been lovely, because in the real outside of central Illinois we have a foot of snow and my writing room has no heat source - just warm air rising from downstairs and repeated cups of hot tea. Also, I have lots of sweaters and warm socks. 

Lunch is usually leftovers. I take a break, go downstairs, and work on a crossword puzzle while eating. Supper is best of all. Our son does most of the cooking these days and he's a superb chef (which makes the leftovers for lunch a real treat). I write until I reach my word quota for the day. Sometimes I hit it in the afternoon, sometimes in the evening. I rarely snack, and never after supper. But I don't count dessert as a snack. 


MAYA CORRIGAN: Like Molly, I need tea. I drink three cups of strong black tea, English style with milk plus a 1/4 teaspoon of sugar. My caffeine is spaced throughout the day. First thing in the morning, I have tea with my everyday breakfast (a bowl of yogurt with blueberries, banana slices, and cereal mixed in). A few hours later I have second breakfast (nearly always buttered toast) and another cup of tea. Lunch is whatever I can scrounge from the fridge--leftovers if I'm lucky, or cheese or hummus on bread with an apple, occasionally an omelet. I have a mid-afternoon snack of tea and something sweet like cookies or a piece of pie. That replaces after-dinner dessert because I need the sugar high earlier in the day. If my stomach tells me to take another break from the computer, I'll eat a piece of fruit. My routine is the same, whether or not I'm working on a book. 


MIA P. MANANSALA: I'm a bit of a snacker, and considering my series revolves around food, it's hard to avoid the munchies when writing! If I'm just casually drafting, I'll try to stick to tea or coffee with a short snack break or nibble. Cadbury mini eggs or the Trader Joe’s peanut butter-filled pretzel nuggets are some faves. But if it’s crunch time, I become absolutely ravenous and take frequent snack breaks for sandwiches, cake, and/or scones with jam and all the caffeine. I tell myself that the brain power necessary for writing requires sugar, sugar, and more sugar.


TINA KASHIAN: I work a day job and then walk my dog, Joy, as soon as I get home. Then I prepare dinner for my two teenage girls. John helps cook. I don’t sit down to write until about seven in the evening. I’ve always been a night writer. I do drink green tea the entire time. I’m like Mia and a bit of a snacker. I’m a dark chocolate lover and eat a square of Lindt dark chocolate while I write. It gives me the boost I need. On weekends, I switch everything and write all day, then take the nights off. Until I retire (not until I pay for college for both girls!), then this works for me.


To be entered in this week's drawing,
join us in the comments.

How does food fit into
your daily routine?

Do you have a favorite
meal or snack?

Join the

Include your email address,
so we can contact the winner!

Comments Open through
Wednesday, February 9


> DEATH ON THE MENU by Lucy Burdette

> SCAM CHOWDER by Maya Corrigan

> BATTER OFF DEAD (ARC) by Maddie Day

Comments Open through
Wednesday,  February 9

Don't forget to include
an email address!



  1. That Irish soda bread looks so tasty!

    "How does food fit into your daily routine?"

    I'm trying to eat whole grains, etc. I think I'm finding that it's a lot easier to be healthy if I eat the right things. (That must sound trite, but it's true.)

    "Do you have a favorite meal or snack?"

    I like to have spoonfuls of honey. I figure two or three in a day is okay.

    jsmith[delete brackets]3may[delete brackets]2011

    [at symbol]


  2. Unfortunately I nosh too much of the time - m&m’s, dry roasted peanuts, or Oreos (unless it’s this time of year when it is Thin Mints).
    Sara. UCLASara (at) yahoo (dot) com

    1. Dry roasted peanuts mixed with chocolate chips - love!

    2. Peanuts! I can either eat all the peanuts or none of the peanuts. When I start, I can't stop.

  3. I'm a big foodie.

    Food fits in my daily life a lot. I have a small business that I cook and deliver meals for small parties or get-togeters. Also for me cooking and baking are my way to relax.

    My favorite snack? Depends on my mood. If I've made cookies it's my go to snack. Or I'll make some puppy chow, always a sweet treat. Occasionally I'll just toss together some nuts, dried fruit, and chocolate chips for a quick movie watching snack.

    Love this sight and all the books and recipes.

    1. Great snacks, James. I especially love nuts, dried fruit, and chocolate chips.

    2. Your job sounds like the perfect one to write a cozy mystery series around!

  4. Age and medical issue (taking medication) have definitely changed my eating habits. I was never a breakfast person. Well we have breakfast for supper so that doesn't count does it? However, now it's a must in order to take my morning pills. I still go light with either a small bowl of dry cereal (usually some plain kind and not a sugar coated one) or maybe a small bagel. Learned not to eat while on the computer or reading because they are empty calories. You start off nibbling and before you know it whatever was in the bowl is gone and you can't even remember eating it much less having enjoyed the food. Supper has always been our "big" meal of the day. However, the older we get the earlier supper gets. Have to laugh at myself because I use to laugh at the senior early bird supper discounts at restaurants. Now I understand it.

    My favorite snacks tend to be salty instead of sweet. Love things like Chex party mix. As far as a sweet snack, anything with the word cheesecake in it is awesome. Having been all over the scales - many times - I use to be able to counter any food I ate with activities like yard work or taking long walks. Now my mobility is limited and painful most times when I do move. That means I have to be more vigilante on what I eat, how much I eat and when I eat. Kind of takes the fun out of snacking, but so goes finding the balance for a senior citizen.

    Thank you for the fabulous chance! Shared and hoping.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    1. My husband often "forgets" to eat lunch until as late as
      5 pm sometimes. I always joke and say "so now I don't need to make you dinner?" That means we eat our dinner late. I always have since I used to commute to NYC and didn't even get home until 7 pm.

    2. Breakfast for dinner is such a comfort, isn't it? I was probably well past 30 when I realized those evenings my late mother made breakfast for dinner were the times she needed a little comfort herself!

  5. I love food. Especially sweets! Thanks for all the yummy recipes. ckmbeg (at) gmail (dot) com

  6. Since I don't get breaks at work my eating consists of whatever little snack I can stuff down quickly while still working. Supper is my only real meal on workdays. On days off I do eat breakfast, a rare treat to me. At home when I'm thinking/working on a project my go-to snack has always been M&Ms.

  7. My favorite snack is hummus on a slice of baguette, especially during the winter alongside a mug of tea. So soothing. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  8. Due to health concerns, my diet must be low-fat, low-salt, low-sugar, and low carb. But I do allow myself one piece of dark chocolate every afternoon, savoring it slooowwwllly. I close my eyes and think of all the wonderful places I have traveled in this world and call up my favorite memory of one of those places.

    1. Lovely idea, Judi! I often eat a single piece of chocolate while reading in bed at night, and should take your advice and savor it while recalling some beautiful memories.

    2. You have a wonderful afternoon ritual, Judi!

    3. Not only a lovely ritual, but a very healthy one, Judi! A dose of theobromine is good for heart and soul!

  9. This was such a fun post today. Thank you everyone for sharing.
    How does food fit into your daily routine?
    Well I wont lie, I am not big into cooking. But since I got
    married it seems to be a big thing. LOL Everyone wants to eat.
    LOL. So I learned to cook and bake. I really love to bake. I
    taught both kids to cook and bake and hopefully the joy of
    creating something fun to eat. Not that they are gone, I have to
    remember my husband is home. LOL So I cook meals and freeze them
    and I can. This way all we have to do is pull something out of the
    freezer or the canning cupboard.
    Do you have a favorite meal or snack?
    My favorite meal is spaghetti squash with a mushroom/chicken sauce
    I make to go over the squash. For snacks, I love fresh fruits.
    quilting dash lady at comcast dot net

  10. I’m not a big breakfast fan but I have to take medicine that I cannot take on an empty stomach so I eat dry toast with peanut butter, usually a granola bar at lunch and hubby cooks a fabulous supper. Thanks for the chance to win!

  11. i love to cook food it makes me smile ,i eat healthy snacks,to i try to stay on track with my soda bread looks yum ty for the chance! :)

  12. I don't really have a routine when it comes to eating. Some days I eat breakfast, other times I don't. I try to cook on my days off so that I have leftovers for lunch and dinner during the work-week. I am a chocoholic so there will be dark chocolate in some form after dinner. cindystamps(at)juno(dot)com.

  13. My goodness you are such careful eaters with so little snacking!
    My main creative outlet these days is cooking, so I'm thinking about it much of the time. Questions like, "If I make X I know my granddaughter won't want it. Do I make it anyway and fix something mindless (frozen chicken tenders) for her?"
    libbydodd at comcast dot net

    1. What would mothers and grandmothers do without chicken tenders!

    2. And Cheerios How did anyone raise a toddler before they existed?!

  14. Food isn't that important to me
    I don't look forward to each meal - my
    husband did that. He lived to eat, I
    eat to live. I was a good cook but now
    that Bob is gone I don't miss having to
    fix a big meal. Now, if you cut off my
    Pepsi's there will be a problem. Been an
    addict all my life (81 years).

  15. I cook healthy meals all week, salmon, kale, tilapia, and orzo. Filling and tasty. Weekends I relax. Snacking is almond butter with multi-grain bread. Yummy. elliotbencan(at)hotmal(dot)com

  16. Breakfast is my absolute favorite meal. Usually scrambled eggs, toast and coffee. I also love cinnamon oatmeal with fruit. I also cook dinner each night. Love salmon and chicken. Dark chocolate is my tempting treat!


    1. I don't often eat breakfast, but when I do, lightly scrambled eggs are one of my favorites!

    2. I often say "breakfast is one of my three favorite meals." And a diner or cafe that serves breakfast for lunch? Heaven!

  17. I try and have oatmeal every other day. I live Dark Chocolate and dry roasted peanuts a handful of those. Thanks. Linda May

  18. My problem is I like to eat. My favorite snacks include chips or something crunchy. Right now I found some chocolate iced gingerbread cookies that are yummy!! My email is

  19. Breakfast is either oatmeal with blueberries and walnuts or Greek yogurt with mixed berries and chia seeds. Favorite snack is popcorn or an apple with peanut butter.
    jtcgc at yahoo dot com

  20. Fruit and dark chocolate is my favorite snack food not together but through out the day. cheetahthecat1986ATgmailDOTcom

  21. I really don't have much of a routine to my day or my meals. I like to snack on nuts and dark chocolate, usually while watching TV.

  22. Loved every one of these posts much fun learning about everyone's food and writing habits, although now I am absolutely starving for every single thing mentioned ! Having not worked since October 2020 ( I refuse to say I'm either unemployed, or retired...hope springs eternal!), I have to say I've turned into a bit of an irregular meal eater....I've never been a breakfast person, but frequently find myself enjoying a corn or bran muffin--with strawberry jam !--'round about noontime after puttering about the house in the morning. IF htere's lunch, it's usually something like cottage cheese and fruit, or some brad and cheese, and then usually my 90 year old mom and I will sit down to "real" supper at night, generally something with chicken, or pasta, or ground beef, with lots of veggies and salad. I AM a slave to carbs, so cookies and crackers do find their way to me as a nighttime snack...and Santa gifted me with a big bag of cashews, which I've been rationing out to myself since Christmas !

  23. I do eat a small breakfast each morning during the week as I take diabetes meds. I eat lunch at 11:30, usually a sandwich. I take a break at 2:00 or 2:30 and have a snack. Supper is usualy whatever I am in the mood for. Thanks for the chance! almaj80(at)suddenlink(dot)net

  24. Chocolate frozen yogurt with Hershey bar and m&ms on it every night (sometimes for lunch too 😁)

  25. I'm also a big foodie, and I like variety in my meals.

    Breakfast is a hearty meal since I tend to do a long walk mid-morning. Either overnight oats with different fruit/nuts added or a breakfast sandwich with egg, avocado, sprouts, or a PB and jam sandwich.

    Lunch can be leftovers or a sandwich or hearty soup.

    Dinner mains change a lot, and depend on the time of year. Last week, I had some unusual dishes to celebrate Lunar New Year: crispy Mandarin duck, pork and veggie dumplings and longevity noodles.