Mysteries and Food Belong Together

Mysteries and food belong together. Why is food an essential element to the mystery novel? They belong together like peanut butter and jelly or macaroni and cheese.

Mysteries Food


The joy of food balances the sadness of murder.

At the funeral feast, people gather to celebrate life and to share a meal as a community. Dr. Christine A. Jackson, author of Myth and Ritual in Women’s Detective Fiction, says: “After untimely death unleashes chaos in fiction, recipe rituals, meal routines, and dining etiquette offer a semblance of civility to restore balance.” Participating in a meal gives you a sense of normalcy and a feeling of control after an intense loss. Death represents darkness while food represents light.

Food elicits positive emotions.
We eat comfort foods when under stress. What kind of foods does your character choose? Her food choices can help to reveal character as well as shed light on ethnic backgrounds and regional settings. Food brings back memories that often have a positive connotation. This means food scenes can play an important role in revealing character and illuminating the setting.

Offering a meal can be an expression of love.
We want our children to thrive, and so it pleases us to feed them. This nurturing instinct can extend to the community. One way of showing that we care is to offer food.

People often socialize around food and drinks.
This is especially important in a mystery. Food scenes allow the sleuth to:
• Review suspects with a friend
• Question persons of interest
• Discuss personal issues that deepen characterization
• Vary the pacing by giving the reader a break from tension

Culinary mysteries are a highly popular subgenre.
Food is the antithesis to murder, so what better pairing is there for these stories? In A Bad Hair Day Cookbook, I’ve included excerpts from my books after each food category. These scenes all relate to food, showing how important they are to the mystery genre. Whether or not the central theme in your series centers on food, you’ll be including scenes at restaurants, coffee shops, bars, or inside your sleuth’s kitchen at home. These scenes are integral to the mystery genre, or really, to any work of fiction.

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Cooking Class – Steakhouses

I enjoy attending Aprons Cooking School classes at Publix not only for what I might learn, but also for the pageantry, the recipes, the food tastings and the wine pairings. Tonight’s class, Steakhouses Around the World, began with a welcome drink. I liked the Lunetta Prosecco enough to put it on my buy list.

cooking class

Our first course was a Mushroom and Gruyere Tart paired with a Barone Fini Pinot Grigio. This wine was good but not exceptional enough to replace another favorite of ours. The tart, while very tasty, was cheesier than I’d expected. Again, I liked it, but I like my own vegetable quiches and zucchini pies better.

Mushroom Gruyere tart

Next came a Wilted Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette and Candied Walnuts. This salad was delicious but probably too labor-intensive for me to make at home. The wine pairing, 19 Crimes Chardonnay, is one of my favorites. Each cork in this series denotes a different crime. They’re fun to collect. It’s also fun to use the Living Wine Labels app and see the faces on the bottle labels come alive and talk to you.

Spinach Salad

The meats were served on a plate together as our entrée. I’m not a big steak person, so I wouldn’t make the New York Strip Steak with Smoky Bacon Port Sauce at home. I preferred the tender Slow Roasted Prime Rib with Horseradish Chantilly Cream. These were served with a glass of Stag’s Leap The Investor. I like this Napa Valley Red Wine and would get it again. As for the meats, I’ll stick with making brisket at home and eating prime ribs or beef filet when I go out.

Steaks

Almond Tuile Cups with Key Lime Sorbet was our dessert offered along with a fruity Mohua Sauvignon Blanc, which is not my favorite variety. The sorbet was refreshing but I liked the edible tuile cups better. I’m more of an ice cream fan than a follower of sorbet, sherbet, or gelato.

Key Lime Sorbet

Overall, it was a fun evening whether or not I make any of the recipes. The classes are still a good buy. You get entertainment in the form of a cooking demonstration, a meal with several courses, accompanying wines, and recipes to take home. You also may meet some nice people to chat with between chef demos.

Aprons Cooking School

Disclaimer: Any errors are due to my misinterpretation.

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Blog Tour for A Bad Hair Day Cookbook

Please join me on a virtual book tour to celebrate the release of A Bad Hair Day Cookbook! Enter the contests as you visit each site and leave a comment to support my hosts. Looking forward to seeing you there! Scroll down for more giveaways.

Sept. 18 – Readers’ Favorite – REVIEW

Oct. 2 – Dying for Chocolate – “Chocolate Indulgence” GUEST POST

Oct. 15 – James D.A. Terry Author – “A Conversation with Award-Winning Author Nancy J. Cohen”

Nov. 7 – Lisa K’s Book Reviews – REVIEW

Nov. 17 – Dru’s Book Musings – “Marla’s Kitchen Capers” GUEST POST

Nov. 19 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW

Nov. 19 – Thoughts in Progress – REVIEW

Nov. 19 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

Nov. 20 – Christa Reads and Writes – SPOTLIGHT

Nov. 22 – Open Book Society – REVIEW

Nov. 23 – King’s River Life MagazineARTICLE & RECIPES
“Anyone Can Cook!” Cozy Cookbooks to Love by Kathleen Costa

Nov. 25 – Buried Under Books – REVIEW

Nov. 20 – 30 – Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour

Great Escapes Book Tour

November 20 – Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews
“Cooking Can Be Dangerous Guest Post, Recipe & Giveaway

November 20 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT

November 21 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT

November 21 – View from the Birdhouse – SPOTLIGHT

November 22 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW

November 22 – Hearts & Scribbles – SPOTLIGHT

November 22 – The Book Diva’s Reads – SPOTLIGHT

November 23 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT

November 23 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

November 23 – Cassidy’s Bookshelves – SPOTLIGHT

November 24 – I Read What You Write 
“Mysteries and Cookbooks” GUEST POST

November 24 – Nadaness In Motion – SPOTLIGHT

November 25 – Laura’s Interests – SPOTLIGHT

November 25 – This Is My Truth Now – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

November 26 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

November 26 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW

November 26 – A Chick Who Reads – REVIEW

November 27 – Literary Gold – CHARACTER GUEST POST

November 27 – eBook Addicts – REVIEW

November 27 – Diary of a Book Fiend – REVIEW

November 29 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW & RECIPE

November 29 – Celticlady’s Reviews – REVIEW

November 30 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

November 30 – Fundinmental – SPOTLIGHT

December 2 – The Big Thrill – “Get Cooking with Mystery Author Nancy J. Cohen” by Dawn Ius

December 10 – Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers, “Fun and Fumbles in the Kitchen” Guest Post & Giveaway
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Spirited Cake

The original recipe I used called for Crème de Menthe, but you really could use any type of liqueur you have sitting in your liquor cabinet. This cake is great for a party. You can make it ahead of time and keep it in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Ingredients

15.25 oz. box white cake mix
3 eggs
½ cup canola oil
1 cup water
3 Tbsp. flavored liqueur
16 oz. can Ghirardelli chocolate syrup
8 oz. frozen whipped topping, thawed
2 Tbsp. flavored liqueur

Directions

Prepare cake mix according to package directions, but substitute 3 Tbsp. liqueur for the same amount of water. Pour batter into a greased and floured 13 x 9 inch baking pan. Bake according to package directions. When cake is done, remove from oven and place pan on wire rack. While cake is still hot, pierce in several places with a fork. Pour chocolate syrup over cake. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Fold 2 Tbsp. liqueur gently into whipped topping to blend. Spread whipped topping over cake, slice and serve. Serves 12.

Zucchini Dill Soup

If you can’t find pre-sliced zucchini or yellow squash in the grocery store, slice it yourself. Feel free to be creative and toss in your own ingredients to suit your tastes. This soup can be reheated the next day. 

Ingredients

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1-1/2 to 2 lbs. sliced zucchini and yellow squash
1 large onion, chopped
2 tsp. chopped garlic
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
5 cups low sodium chicken broth
½ cup heavy cream (optional)

Directions

Melt butter in large pot over medium-high heat. Add zucchini, onion, garlic, dill and parsley. Sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Add broth and bring soup to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. When done, remove pot from heat. Let cool slightly and then blend with immersion blender. If you like a creamy soup, gently stir in the heavy cream at this stage. Ladle into individual bowls and serve. Serves 6 to 8.

 

Zucchini Soup

Valentine's Day Cooking Class

For something different than the usual dinner at a restaurant for Valentine’s Day, we signed up for a Publix Aprons Cooking School class. We’ve enjoyed these before, and the night’s menu looked appealing. It was a popular choice. The place was full with 48 people present to watch the demo-style class.
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As we waited for the show to start, one of the chefs poured us each a welcome glass of Cupcake Sparkling Rosé wine. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. I grew up on rosés before learning to appreciate drier varieties. Remember Lancer’s?
First course was a Pistachio Shortbread with Goat Cheese, Strawberries, and Mint-Honey paired with a Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc. This was almost like dessert. The shortbread was a tasty cookie. The wine went well with this selection but it was a bit too fruity for my taste. I’d like it better before dinner.
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The next course was really good and very hearty. I could have made a meal out of this alone. We got a generous portion of Seared Sea Scallop Chowder with Smoky Sourdough Croutons paired with Bread & Butter Chardonnay. This wine went on my “I Like It” list. The soup was delicious. You could vary the recipe at home and make it with shrimp or lobster instead. If you use scallops, remove the abductor muscle from the sides.
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The main dish showed me a cooking technique I’d never heard of before. It used a temperature-regulated water bath. You insert the food in a vacuum sealed plastic bag, so you’d also need the vacuum device. I’ll never make this at home with all the extra equipment required, but the meat was tasty and tender. The dark things are purple potatoes. Sous Vide Lamb Loin with Butter-Roasted Radishes, Carrots, and Baby Potatoes paired with a La Crema Pinot Noir. I liked the dry red wine. Tip for pearl onions: cut off the bottoms and blanch in boiling water for a minute, and the skin peels right off.
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The dessert, a Butterscotch-Toffee Budino (pudding) was paired with a Veuve Cliequot Brut Champagne. Apparently, the tinier the bubbles, the more expensive the brand. This one had lots of tiny bubbles. The pudding was like a dense flan, a rich dessert that melts in your mouth.
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We had a gourmet meal and wine for a decent price, plus we got to see an entertaining cooking demo and take home the recipes. Let’s check their calendar and see what’s appealing that is coming up next.
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Aprons Cooking School

Publix Cooking Class
We always enjoy the cooking classes at Publix Aprons Cooking School. You can choose between demo classes, where the chefs do all the work, or hands-on where you don the aprons. My husband and I like the demos. We sit at white clothed tables and follow along with our set of printed recipes while the chefs explain each preparation method. For our latest class, they started us off with a welcome glass of Chateau St. Michelle Pinot Gris. I liked this light golden white wine.
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The first dish was an Apple Pear salad. As one chef showed us how to prepare the ingredients and mix the dressing, two other guys dished out the food onto a series of plates for serving. The salad was delicious, a balance of sweet to the tang of blue cheese. This was paired with a Chateau St. Michelle Sauvignon Blanc. It was too fruity for my taste.
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Next we enjoyed an Alaskan Salmon Terrine with Asparagus Sauce. We always learn tricks of the trade or new info at these events, and tonight we learned about salmon. Here are the five different types/grades from the top rating down: King, Sockeye, Coho, Keta, and Pink. Keta (from the Arctic) has more oil than Sockeye so is good for grilling. (Any mistakes here are due to my misinterpretation.) Sockeye is never farmed. This dish, that looked like a paté, reminded me of gefilte fish. The asparagus sauce was a very good accompaniment as was the Chateau St. Michelle Chardonnay served with it.
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For the main entrée, we had Cedar Plank Wild-Caught Salmon, along with a Couscous side dish that contained corn and cilantro. I’m not a cilantro fan and the couscous was from a mix, so I’d probably choose another flavor. I did learn that if you want to take the kernels off a stick of corn, hold the corn on top of a bundt pan in the center hole, and then scrape downward. I’d also have preferred this fish to come with a sauce so it wasn’t so plain. The Chateau St. Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon won my approval. Yes, we had a red wine with fish, and it worked fine.
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Dessert was homemade cheesecake with raspberry sauce. What’s not to like?
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You can see cooking lesson videos for yourself at https://www.youtube.com/user/LightsCameraCook/videos or check out the Publix cooking schools here: http://www.publix.com/recipes-planning/aprons-cooking-schools.
So did I make you hungry?
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Baked Egg Rolls

Ingredients

1 pound package frozen broccoli stir-fry vegetable blend
1 cup shredded cooked chicken
41⁄2 tsp. low sodium soy sauce
2 tsp. sesame oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1⁄2 tsp. ground ginger
8 oz. all-purpose pasta or egg roll wrappers
1 egg, beaten
1 jar of duck sauce

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl, combine ½ package chopped, defrosted vegetables, chicken, soy sauce, sesame oil and spices. Place 1⁄4 cup mixture into the center of each wrapper. Fold bottom corner over filling then fold two sides toward the center. Moisten flap of remaining corner with beaten egg and seal.

Place egg rolls seam side down on a greased baking sheet. Spray tops of wrappers with nonstick cooking spray or brush with beaten egg. Bake for 15 minutes or until browned. Makes 8 servings. Recipe may be doubled. Serve warm with duck sauce.