Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Things to Give Away

UPDATE: All the ARCs have found homes, but I still have lots of bookmarks. Thank you all!
FRUIT OF ALL EVIL publishes March 1. As of today, I have both bookmarks and ARCs (advanced review copies).

If I have your address, you'll be receiving bookmarks. If you'd like a few and I don't have your address, just email me and I'd be happy to send them along. This is a transparent ploy to continue to build my mailing list, but I promise to only send fun stuff. And, I would never share your address.

The ARCs - I have ten, but I might end up with a few more. They're copies of the book but they don't have the final round of corrections - there will be some missing punctuation and I probably changed a few words here and there or added or deleted some sentences, but the story is well in place. Also, ARCs don't have the real cover. I'd love to send these out too, but I need to send them to people who are willing to review the book and then post the review on Amazon or BN or a blog, or all three (even better)! Of course, I'm hoping for good or amazing-fantastic-superdee-duper reviews but I don't want you to lie. So, if you didn't like FARM FRESH MURDER, chances are pretty good that you won't like FRUIT. You probably won't want an ARC. If you liked FFM, you might like FRUIT.

Let me know. Here's my email:

Thanks in advance!

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 24, 2010

My Spiritual Book Bag

I feel very fortunate this year - my son is healthy (and, Yay!, since he's sixteen, he's still at home); my husband and I are healthy (as far as we know); and both our parents are healthy (as far as we know). These are the things I cherish the most.

Last year, on December 17, my sister-in-law got hit by car as she was riding her bicycle. She broke her hips into pieces and was down for a few months. Miracle of miracles, she's fine now - walking and back to riding her bike. That terrible event made me appreciate everything so much more.

So, it is my wish that you are blessed with good health and loving family this holiday season. Also, good memories of those who have passed on.

I only knew one set of grandparents. My dad's parents died when he was a kid. My maternal grandmother died when I was nine and my maternal grandfather died when I was sixteen. They were young by today's standards -- only in their sixties -- and losing them was horrible. When my grandfather died, I started a tradition for myself, though, and it has continued to this day. Of course, reading has always been a huge part of my life. I always loved books and then talking about what I'd read with anyone who would listen. Fortunately, my grandparents were good listeners. Well, my grandfather couldn't hear very well, but he always acted like he was listening. Anyway, after my grandfather died and I became very lonely for them during the holiday season, I decided to create something I could share with them, if only in my imagination. I created a spiritual book bag - books that I have a special love for and would love to tell them about. Over the years, it's turned a symbol - symbolizing books that changed my life; changed the way I think about the world or think about writing. I still imagine talking to them and I still imagine their responses - this process has given me many smiles - but what I really enjoy is taking out that list each year and hopefully adding to it. I love lots of books, but it takes something pretty special to get a spot in my spiritual book bag. The good news is that I did add to the list this year.

Here's the list as it stands today:
Charlotte's Web
Are You There God, It's Me Margaret (Judy Blume)
All Nancy Drew
All "Littles" books
All "Borrowers" books
Little Women (Although I read this one again a few years ago and found that I didn't enjoy either the writing or the story, go figure. But it stays on the list because when I was eleven, it rocked my world)
Jo's Boys
All Laura Ingalls Wilder (took a Laura trip a few years back - best vacation ever)
Every single book that Phyllis A. Whitney wrote.
Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean Auel)
Flowers In the Attic (V.C. Andrews - I think an Amazon review describes this as the 'best trashy novel ever written.' I smile when I think about my grandmother's reaction over my love for this book)
Song of Solomen (Toni Morrison)
The Ghosts (Antonia Barber)
Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen - honestly, I'm not a huge Austen fan except for this book. I love everything about it, everything)
A is for Alibi (Sue Grafton - fan of the whole series, but this one was very special to me)
The Boyfriend Club (Sarah Bird)
Jurassic Park (Michael Crichton)
Outlander (Diana Gabaldon - a copy of this book sits on my desk. I'll frequently open it and just read a paragraph or two)
Dead Until Dark (Charlaine Harris - I love the whole series, but this was the first one and it truly changed the way I thought about fiction)
Kill and Tell (Linda Howard)
The Electric Church (Jeff Somers)
All Harry Potter books - yep, every single one.
The Hunger Games

And this year's addition:
The Help (Kathryn Stockett). The imaginary conversation I had with my grandmother about this book was amazing.

This isn't a list of books I think are good or great -- that list would go on forever. Every book in my spiritual book bag is there for a different specific reason, but each one caused some major shift for me, a shift in my own spirit. I love it when a book does that. Some are classics, some have sold millions of copies, but some are truly trashy and you might not have even heard of a few. I'm not even sure I can "recommend" them because their meanings are so personal to me.

So, along with good health and loving family, I must wish for you books that you can put in your own spiritual book bag; books that change you, maybe fill up something in you that was empty before, maybe something that inspires you.

There's just nothing like a book that touches your heart or your soul.

Merry Christmas, friends. Happiest holiday wishes.

Much love,

Friday, December 17, 2010

No More Bookmas - Sad Face

Well, I'm sorry that Bookmas is over. I thought it was great fun!

May you have a happy holiday and a wonderful new year!


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Bookmas Day Twelve - Clue

On the twelfth day of Bookmas, my agent gave to me:

Twelve Morgans moving.

Go here to enter: Bookends

Hint - this clue is about one of the answers only. Not telling which one, though.
Good luck!

And -- Happy Holidays to you and yours! This has been fun!


Bookman Day Twelve!

Clue will be here around noon EST.

See you then!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Bookmas Day Eleven - Clue

On the eleventh day of Bookmas, my agent gave to me:

Eleven "How to you expect me to get that into that(s)?"

Go here to enter: Bookends

Good luck!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Bookmas Day Ten - Extra Clue

Hmm. Looks like we still need some winners.

Okay, how about these?

One of these authors was "in" something heavenly, and one of the book titles contains something heavenly.

Go here to enter: Bookends

Bookmas Day Ten - Clue

On the tenth day of Bookmas, my agent gave to me:

Ten (okay, only four technically) traditional first names.

Go here to enter: Bookends

Good luck!

PS - Okay, this one's tough and you won't be able to figure it out with my clue only. However, hopefully some of the other clues will give direction and mine will help nail it down. By the way, my clue is talking about the authors specifically.

Bookmas Day Ten

Clue will be here around noon EST.

This one's tricky!

See you later.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Bookmas Day Nine - Clue

On the ninth day of Bookmas, my agent gave to me:

Nine Rays 'a Flaying

Go here to enter: Bookends

Good luck!


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Happy Weekend!

Bookmas clues will return Monday. Until then, have a wonderful weekend!


Friday, December 10, 2010

Bookmas Day Eight - Clue

On the eighth day of Bookmas, my agent gave to me:

8 Kiss Me, Cathy(s).

Go here to enter: Bookends

Good luck!


Bookmas Day Eight

Clue will be here around noon (EST). I can't figure out if this one is too difficult or too easy, but I enjoyed coming up with it.

See you later!


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Bookmas Day Seven - Clue

On the seventh day of Bookmas, my agent gave to me:

Seven Ziggy(s) Jumping.

Go here to enter: Bookends

Good luck!

Bookmas Day Seven

See you around noon (EST).

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Bookmas Day Six - Clue

On the sixth day of Bookmas, my agent gave to me:

Six Golden Fortunes

Go here to enter: Bookends

Good Luck!!!

Bookmas Day Six

Clue will be posted at noon (EST).


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Bookmas Day Five - clue

On the fifth day of Bookmas, my agent gave to me:

Five In-grid Bergmans!

Go here to enter Bookmas: Bookends

Leave a comment here and you could win a copy of FARM FRESH MURDER.

Question of the day: What's your favorite Holiday movie?


Clue will be here around noon EST.

See you then.

Don't forget to leave a comment here if you'd like to enter to win a copy of FARM FRESH MURDER.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Bookmas Day Four - Clue

On the fourth day of Bookmas, my agent gave to me:

Four scary lovebirds.

Go here to enter: Bookends Blog

Leave a comment here for a chance to win FARM FRESH MURDER.



Bookmas clue will be here around noon New York City (eastern standard) time.

Until then, enter to win a copy of FARM FRESH MURDER by leaving a comment here. Do you have all your holiday shopping done?


Saturday, December 4, 2010

Bookmas Update

Bookmas clues will return Monday.

Update --


Jennifer (mailed)
Donna (mailed)

jarpammy is yesterday's winner, but I don't have a contact. Please email me jarpammy


Friday, December 3, 2010

Bookmas Day Three - Clue

On the third day of Bookmas, my agent gave to me:

Three teens from far, far away.

Go here to enter Bookmas:

Leave a comment here for a chance to win a copy of FARM FRESH MURDER.

Thanks, and good luck!


Bookmas Day Three

My clue will be here at noon New York City time.

For now, leave a comment here if you'd like a chance to win a copy of FARM FRESH MURDER.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Clue Two

On the second Day of Bookmas my agent gave to me:

Two (M)erry Brick Operatives.

Go here to enter:

Good luck!

And the first winner of a copy of FARM FRESH MURDER is Offandwriting. Thanks for leaving a comment, Offandwriting!


Bookmas Day One

Here's my clue:

On the first day of Bookmas, my agent gave to me
an unruly grain in a palm tree.

Here's where you enter your solution:

Good luck!

And, here are the details on my own contest. It's easy to enter:
Paige's Bookmas

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My Own Little Bookmas Contest

I'm so excited about being a part of Bookends' Bookmas contest that I've decided to add a little something of my own to the mix.

I'll be posting Bookends Bookmas clues on this blog weekdays through December 16.

However, I thought I'd give away some of my own books, too. It'll be easy to enter to win. I'll give away one FARM FRESH MURDER every day of the contest. Anyone who leaves a comment on my blog will be entered to win. I'll draw every night about 10:00 pm my time, which is Mountain Standard time. Every day will be a new chance to enter to win. Make sure I can find you; either leave your email in your comment or make sure it's easy for me to find you through your blog identity.

Fun! Merry Bookmas, everyone!

Fun Contest


Twelve Days of Bookmas contest begins tomorrow.
Check out Bookends blog for details:

Looks like fun!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Back to School?

One of my sisters-in-law is going back to school. She's fifty-three and has two bachelors degrees, but she's ready to take on a new challenge.

I envy her energy! I have no desire to go back to school. The mere thought of sitting in a classroom and taking notes or having to pay rapt attention to a professor literally gives me a stomach ache.

All I've ever really wanted to be was a writer. Even as I made my way though college and a career in advertising, all I ever wanted to do was write. Hope it works out.

However, even though I have no desire for another career, there are things I'd like to learn - or maybe there are just plenty of things I'd like to already know.

Here's my list:

Court stenographer (I've always thought they were cool)
Paralegal (I like research)
Archivist (I like research and old stuff)
Web site designer (Shouldn't everyone know how to do this?)
Physician Assistant (No med school - med school sounds horrible)
Computer Animation Designer (I doubt I'd have the patience, though)

How about you? Do you have a contingency list, wish list, or maybe something you'd like to seriously pursue?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Down Set Hike

I was talking to my dad about how happy I was that my son made it through football season with only a cut that required five stitches. Last year was a broken arm. Years before he's had painful sprains, tendon tears, etc. It's a brutal sport but my son loves playing it -- he loves all sports.

My dad is a football coach and played the sport himself. As I was telling him about how happy I was about the stitches under son's chin, he started talking about how he played before there were face masks. They started adding them to helmets when Dad was a freshman at Michigan State. The first day he wore one, another player hit him just right, ripped off the face mask and broke his nose -- a nose that had been broken a number of times before, because of playing without a face mask. As Dad sat in the hospital with blood from end to end, the coach stopped by and asked how he was doing. Dad said he was fine. The coach said, "Okay, then we'll see you tomorrow at practice."

You can imagine, but by the end of the conversation I was even happier about the stitches as well as the addition of face masks.

Friday, November 5, 2010


My husband and I don't have brand new cars. His is a newer model than mine, but both vehicles have seen their share of miles and accidental dings. We're both pretty happy with what we've got, though.

My son is almost sixteen (yeah, it's killing me) and we've been on the hunt for something he can drive. Something safe, reliable and, of course, extra affordable (read: cheap). We told him we'd match whatever amount he was able to save over the last few years, but the total budget still isn't huge. So the cars we've been looking at are old and packed with lots of miles. But that's fine if they have a good history and the safety ratings aren't bad.

This afternoon we drove something from 2001 that was in great shape. Remembering the things that were important to me when I was a teenager, I watched my son closely.
Stereo (check)
Double-check the stereo (check)
See if car will go fast (check -- well, I was right there with him, so he couldn't push it too much)

But the thing that got his attention (and held it) was the one item I didn't even think he'd notice. The one thing he'd never seen before. The cigarette lighter. It was the kind you push in and the inner circles of metal get red hot -- it was the kind my grandfather used, the kind that used to come standard in every car ever made. I have no idea when they quit putting lighters in cars.

My son was fascinated by the whole concept and though his generation doesn't seem to be interested in smoking cigarettes (yay!), the lighter brought him much joy. He had fun pulling it out after it was hot and then joking (yes, joking) about how he could use it as a weapon if someone was an unruly passenger. He didn't even say anything when I turned off the stereo.

I don't know if that's the car for my son or not, but he certainly thinks it is - I just hope he isn't being unduly influenced by the old-fashioned feature. Either way, I've got my fingers crossed that he finds he doesn't really enjoy driving, or the independence that comes with having wheels, or going fast, or listening to the stereo when he's driving, or looking at the silly red coils on the lighter.


Friday, October 29, 2010

We Have a New Winner!

Since I didn't hear from *Rachel* regarding the Farmers' Market Cookbook, I had my husband pull another name out of the bag. The new winner is Mary Gurney! Mary is a FB friend, so I bet I'll be able to make contact pretty quickly.

Thanks again, everyone!

Happy weekend!


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Contest Winner - One More Time

So, I still haven't heard from *Rachel* - the official Farmers' Market Cookbook winner. I figure this will be my last post in search of her. If you are *Rachel* please email me.

If I don't hear from her by Friday, I'll do another drawing.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Microwave Peanut Butter Fudge

When I was little, my dad would sometimes wax nostalgic about his Aunt Bonnie's peanut butter fudge. Aunt Bonnie was gone by the time his enthusiasm started to soak in with me, and my mom isn't into baking or candy making, or much cooking, really -- but what she does cook is pretty darn good. Hi, Mom!

Anyway, in 1987 I found a cookbook ("1987" is actually in the title of the cookbook -that's how I know the year) that included a microwave peanut butter fudge recipe. At that time I hadn't found my inner cook or baker yet, so I thought the microwave method might be the best way for me to give it a go. My dad raved about it, saying it was the best peanut butter fudge since Aunt Bonnie's. I've been making it for him ever since.

There's a little more to the story. About ten years ago, my dad was visiting old friends and family in his hometown, Rolla, Missouri. Someone gave him an envelope that was full of memories: some Valentine cards that his mother gave away when she was little, complete with hand-drawn hearts and her little girl signature; a picture of his great-grandmother; his great-grandmother's funeral notice; and most surprisingly, Aunt Bonnie's peanut butter fudge recipe, hand-written on a card, with notes about telling everyone to get out of the kitchen while you're making it or everyone will want a taste before it's ready. We think it was written in 1940-something. How in ended up in that envelope for my dad is a mystery to everyone. Sometimes things just work out the way they're supposed to, I guess.

I'll be including Aunt Bonnie's recipe in my first Gram's Cooking School Mystery, IF FRIED CHICKEN COULD FLY, to be published some time next year, but for now, here's the microwave version.

3 cups sugar
3/4 cup margarine
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 12-ounce jar chunky peanut butter
1 7-ounce jar marshmallow cream

Combine sugar, margarine and evaporated milk in a 3-quart glass dish. Microwave, uncovered, on High for 5 1/2 to 6 minutes, stirring once or twice. Cook for 3 minutes longer, stirring only if necessary to prevent boiling over. Stir in remaining ingredients until everything melts together and is combined. Pour into a buttered 9 X 13 dish. Chill for two hours. Cut into squares.

That was the recipe as written. Here are a couple additional notes:
Be very careful taking the dish out of the microwave -- hot, hot, hot!
Even after I cut the squares, I keep the fudge in the refrigerator -- just tastes better to me, though Dad doesn't notice a difference.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


As a rule, I try (sometimes I don't succeed) not to write or speak critical book reviews. I've never been comfortable criticizing art, but after I became published, criticizing or giving bad reviews verged on (to me) arrogance (who do I think I am anyway?). However, I love spreading the word about things I like or love; even so, I try not to say much more than "I liked it" or "I loved it as much as I love popcorn with lots of butter and salt." I would hate for anything to be misinterpreted by a fellow writer -- I know how hard writers work. So, I'm kind of breaking a rule, but I think it's for a good cause. I'm going to expand some (not a lot, but some) on why I so enjoyed THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett.

Why am I doing this? Well, I get lots of questions in person and via email and Facebook about getting published. I don't mind answering these questions. I've found, though, that my journey was so long and full of rejection that sometimes I tend to horrify more than inspire. Sometimes I wonder if people walk away from these conversations or messages thinking they'd be wise to ask someone who got there more quickly.

Anyway, one thing I try to share about getting published is that writers should always be true to themselves, true to their stories - you'll hear it sometimes said as writing the stories that are "in your heart" or "in your soul." In simple form, what that means to me is that if the stories that are in your soul, the ones that reach out to you as easily as you reach out to them, don't have vampires in them, quit trying to insert the creatures into your story just because Stephenie Meyer was so successful.

It occurred to me as I was reading THE HELP that the author, Kathryn Stockett, not only wrote something unique, something with three dimensional characters, something full of life and story, but she wrote something that was "true" to her heart and soul. You can feel it -- I felt it more than I think I ever have. There was such connection between the author and the story. Ms. Stockett bled these words, happily. On some level, I notice the same thing when I read J.K. Rowling, or Diana Gabaldon (particularly her first book), or any number of amazing books, including, yes, some cozy mysteries. Hang on, though -- am I saying you'll be hugely successful if you write the story that makes your soul sing? I wish! I'm just saying that you'll stand a better chance of getting published, of being successful, if you are true to . . . yourself.

I know you've felt it -- your book list is probably different than mine. But the big question is: When you're writing, do you "feel" it with your own stories? If so, you're probably on the right track; if not, you might want to get rid of those vampires.

Best of luck.


Sunday, October 17, 2010


The winner of the Farmers' Market Cookbook is . . . *Rachel*

I'm afraid I don't have any other information. I tried the "send a message" button, but it wouldn't go through. So, Rachel, if you're out there, please email me and I'll get the cookbook to you.

If I don't hear from *Rachel* in a week, I'll draw again.

Thanks to everyone for following the blog!

I'll be giving away at least a couple FRUIT OF ALL EVILs when we get closer to the publish date.

Thanks again,

Friday, October 8, 2010

Happy October!

CONTEST UPDATE -- Looks like the last day of the Salt Lake Farmers' Market is October 16. I haven't been able to try as many recipes as I'd hoped, but I'm still planning on giving a cookbook away. I'll do a drawing on October 17. Thanks to everyone who reads and/or follows my infrequent blog.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Cookies and Chicken

Interrupting the irregularly scheduled flow of farmers' market cookbook recipes to talk about some other recipes.

Whenever we have a family get-together, I like to try to serve something new: a recipe I've never tried before or something unusual. Last night we had a barbecue to celebrate my sister-in-law's birthday and I really wanted to create some new fabulous salad creation, but time was really short so I opted for something simpler. Along with the burgers, we added chicken - yeah, not too taxing and certainly not unexpected. I found a simple "recipe" online for chicken thighs wrapped in bacon -- and that was about all there was to it. I got some skinless, thigh fillets, wrapped them in bacon, sprinkled them with pepper and threw them on the barbecue. They turned out to be pretty darn good. At least wrapping the chicken in bacon added something a little unexpected. Thumbs-up all around.

So, the reason time was short was because I'd devoted the rest of the day to finalizing a cookie recipe I'm including in FRUIT OF ALL EVIL, the second farmers' market mystery. The original recipe I put together was good, but not quite good enough. Lavender is a part of the recipe and I've never cooked/baked with it before. It isn't as easy as grabbing some plants from the nursery, picking off the flowers and throwing them into the mix. It's important that you use culinary lavender when you are cooking or baking -- culinary lavender has been grown without pesticides or other nasty stuff you don't want in your food. Some health food stores do carry culinary lavender, but there's still more to know before you use it.

Chris Mason at Fat Spike Lavender Company has been a wonderful resource. She explained the importance of herbicide/pesticide-free plants as well as the difference in types of lavender. Some lavender works better for savory cooking (Provence), some is better for sweet recipes (Royal Velvet). I ordered some Royal Velvet from her and it arrived last week. And, with the Royal Velvet and a little tweaking I did to the other ingredients, I think I came up with pretty darn good cookie recipe.

I'm very excited to include it in the book.

Of course, writing the stories is the best part of writing novels, but I do have fun with the recipes and I want to make them as good and appealing as possible. I couldn't do this without help -- thanks to Chris and everyone who sent me helpful lavender information!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Lemon and Garlic - Really?

Page 198 - Fusilli with Lemon Zest & Ricotta

I chose this recipe because I was intrigued by the ingredient combination: lemon, garlic, heavy cream and ricotta cheese. Mostly, I was interested in how the lemon and garlic would work together. They worked fine; in fact the lemon overpowered all of the other flavors in the dish, but not in a bad way.

This was another "this needs more salt" recipe, but it was easy to add. This time I did question whether or not the recipe was lacking salt or if we have become used to consuming too much. I decided it's probably a little of both. That was kind of eye-opening and made me realize I should pay better attention to how much we truly add to things.

It was good, not great in my opinion but good. We had it with steak and I think it would have been better with chicken or fish.

I give it a "3" but it might have gotten a better rating if we'd had it with something other than red meat.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Wild . . . Rice

On page 168 of the cookbook: Wild Rice & Mushroom Pilaf

This was another easy recipe. Leeks, mushrooms, parsley and wild rice. And, it was another tasty recipe. My husband isn't a big eater -- he definitely eats to live, not lives to eat -- but he loved this so much that he pulled out the leftover portion and ate it later that night.

I love fresh mushrooms, almost any that are edible (of course), and I really dislike the canned version. This recipe calls for fresh mushrooms (I would have used them anyway if it didn't), but I think I will add even more than the recipe calls for the next time I make it. The wild rice takes over the dish, and though it's yummy, I'd like to see what more mushrooms and perhaps more leeks do to the flavor.

Just for the fact that my hubby liked it so much = 5

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Garlic Mashed . . . Heaven

page 139:

Roasted Garlic - Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes

There were a couple reasons this recipe appealed to me. I have never roasted garlic before and I wanted to give it a try. Also, we love mashed potatoes, my son especially.

So, first - roasting the garlic. The recipe calls for eight cloves of garlic to roast in a bath of olive oil and rosemary. After about half an hour in the oven, you squeeze the garlic out of the peels and set aside. I thought this might be difficult, but it was very easy, and I have to admit, kind of fun.

After boiling the potatoes, I mashed them with a masher, added a butter/milk mixture and then the garlic and a little more olive oil.

I was worried I'd read the recipe incorrectly because the consistency was more whipped than mashed, but I double-checked, and I had done it correctly. Despite that small concern, this dish was delicious. We're on a roll with these recipes because even though this wasn't super easy, the taste trumped everything. Another solid 5!

I will make this again and again. I suspect I'll use a little less of the butter/milk mixture next time just to see if the consistency is more appealing.

Yuuuu . . . uuuum.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Grilled Onions

We eat lots of onions. Sometimes we eat them raw, but typically we saute them in olive oil with mushrooms and serve with burgers, steak or pasta. Until a couple years ago, I don't think I ate one onion in the span of a full year. Now, we probably have four to five a week. I heard how good they were for you and I decided I'd try to get them in our diet. Raw's okay, but when I started sauteing them (which probably isn't as healthy as raw, but still) we couldn't get enough. We all love them.

On page 136: Grilled Marinated Red Onions

We got the huge red onions from our farmers' market. So, so fresh!

This was amazingly easy. The marinade was oil, vinegar and thyme! Thyme -- who knew what that spice would do to oil and vinegar? The onions grilled up perfectly and mixed very well with the marinade. They were delicious on their own, but I suspect they'd be perfect on burgers or steaks or . . . gosh, I think the list would be endless.

Most definitely a 5! I bet we'll not only make this again soon, I bet we'll make it within the next couple days.

Don't forget about the contest. Here are the details:

Thursday, August 19, 2010


I think it's unladylike of me to admit how much I like bacon. Bacon's supposed to be a "man's food," isn't it? Well, I love breaking stereotypes so here I am! I love bacon!

On page 163 of the cookbook: Avocado, Bacon & Tomato Tartines. YUM!

Along with the above-mentioned ingredients, the recipe calls for the garlicy Aioli spread that is used in a number of the recipes. The combined tastes and textures of this "tartine," along with how easy it was to put together make this my favorite recipe, so far.

A solid 5!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Zucchini is a Mystery

I have no idea what to do with the stuff. Other than zucchini bread, I've never tasted a zucchini I liked, so I thought I should see if adding tomatoes, onions, basil and marjoram would help.

Oh page 110: Baked Zucchini and Tomato Tian

The thing I've noticed most about the recipes in the book is that almost all of them could use more salt than I've used. They do say to season with salt and pepper, which I do but it never seems like quite enough. The missing salt was more apparent with this dish than with the others, so we added more when it was done.

It was pretty good. I still can't say I liked the zucchini, but the spices and additional salt made it bearable.

We used our first garden ripe tomato but also added others that we purchased. I bet we're going to be overflowing with tomatoes in a few days, but for now most of them are still green. The tomatoes and onions were both delicious and there's a chance I'd make it without the zucchini.

Rating: 2 - 3. Without the zucchini, a solid 3, probably.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


I love to cook. I love spending time in the kitchen. I love trying new recipes. Sadly, the kitchen can't always be a high priority. Hope to get back in there this weekend. The farmers' market recipe book is sitting on the counter. I've marked the recipes I want to try. Between some writing deadlines and my son's schedule of football and more football, we've been grabbing food on the run or preparing some yummy macaroni and cheese -- the blue box variety.

I keep thinking my tastes should change away from that fake-cheese powder, but I still love the stuff. To me, it tastes good and it's very easy. My husband and son both like it, too. We sometimes throw in some veggies, but not always. My husband puts ketchup on his. Yuck.

Recipe critiques will be back. The contest is still going. There are some yummy things ahead.

Hope your summer is full of good books, great farmers' markets and fun family time.


Monday, August 9, 2010

Last Plum Recipe

I had no idea what Greek yogurt was, so I just used plain for the Warm Plums with Honey & Greek Yogurt recipe on page 233.

You start by broiling the plums (covered in a honey/brown sugar mixture) briefly. This part was delicious as it was, but then you mix in the yogurt and top with some crushed pistachios and it was a smooth, sweet (but not too sweet), slightly tart dessert.

I've never done much with plums other than just eat them. These recipes have given me a whole new appreciation for the fruit. They are sweet and tart and I will no longer under appreciate them!

Rating - 4

Friday, August 6, 2010

More Plums

Page 233.

I decided to try a recipe that sounded awful: Roasted Plums with Blue Cheese.
I had the plums and sometimes you just have to test yourself. It probably wasn't too much of a risk because I like both plums and blue cheese; I just thought the combination of the two sounded terrible.

It's an easy recipe: plums, cheese, olive oil in the oven for a short time and then served on bread.

I was surprised. It didn't taste terrible. In fact, I kind of liked it. I'm not sure it'll be something I'll make again soon. I was the only one to try it. Both husband and son dislike blue cheese, so while they agreed to try everything, they drew the line at blue cheese. So, it was good enough to enjoy and be pleasantly surprise, but not good enough to crave, really.

This one gets a 3.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Garlic Potatoes

Took my laptop in yesterday morning and got it back this afternoon. I'm so happy and so relieved they were able to bring it back to life, and fix the DVD/CD drive while they were at it. Fist-bump to T.J. at Valcom; thank you. It's amazing how attached we get to these little machines.

Okay, back to the recipes. On page 83 of the recipe book: Roasted Potatoes with Rosemary and Bay.

Here's the picture:

Yeah, pretty boring picture. But this recipe gets my first solid "5" rating. Of course, the potatoes were delicious, but the preparation was very easy, too. And, there's so darn much garlic included that we'll probably smell of it for days. Our neighbors might not like that, but we don't mind it a bit.

It's one of those foil recipes. Potatoes, rosemary, bay leaf, garlic and olive oil. Easy, and I'm sure we'll make this again very soon.

Do you have a favorite "foil" recipe?

Cookbook contest details here: Contest

Monday, August 2, 2010

Plum Pie

I'm cheating today.

My laptop is either dead or very sick, so I'm using an old laptop that we were smart enough to keep. Putting pictures onto this old laptop isn't as easy as it is on my newer, faster (though still a couple years old) one, so I'm not including pictures. I'm just going to direct you to a recipe I found that is mouth-watering yummy. Plum Pie!

I keep trying to add the link, but it keeps redirecting after it's clicked on once. So copy and paste this to your browser.

- You'll see there's a picture included with the recipe. I don't think it's the correct picture.

- I used a ready-made, refrigerated pie crust and a round pie pan. I had no idea what they meant by pastry shell.

- I used five cups of sliced plums, not four.

- Cutting in butter is a pain in the . . . neck, but I did it mostly by using my fingers and pinching, not by kneading like my grandmother used to do.

Okay, other than the above issues, this was absolutely and positively one of the best pies I have ever tasted. It is sweet, but it is more tart than sweet. I typically don't like tart, but this pie was good enough to convert my taste buds!

4-5 stars.



Saturday, July 31, 2010

Green Pasta

On the cover of the cookbook is some green pasta. To me it looked delicious; fresh and veggie-like. My son wasn't impressed, but he promised to take at least one bite of every dish so I let him know he'd be tasting some Spaghetti with Arugula-Mint Pesto. He thinks pasta should never be green but a deal's a deal.

The "sauce" was made by blending up the the arugula and mint and by adding other ingredients such as olive oil, cheese, lemon zest, garlic and pepper.

Honestly, again my picture doesn't live up to the pictures in and on the cookbook.

The best news: my son ended up loving it. He ate two big platefuls and asked to save the leftovers for lunch the next day. This is rare -- he doesn't like reheated food.

The good news: I loved it, too. Really tasty, very fresh and veggie flavorful. To me it tasted like I expected it to taste.

Husband was out of town so he missed out, but I have no doubt that he would have dug right in.

I think I'll start rating the recipes. Anything three stars or above should be considered good.

One star - ick.
Two stars - ick, but might be okay with a change or two.
Three stars - good, but probably won't make again because it was either too complicated or time-consuming.
Four stars - Delicious and will make again soon.
Five stars - Delicious and will make again within the next week.

This recipe: 4 to 5 stars.

Want your own copy of the cookbook? Here's how to win:

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Cucumber Sandwiches

Stepping away from the cookbook contest today --

We planted cucumbers this year and it looks like we're going to end up with some. Yay! For some reason we've had difficulty with these veggies in years past. We love them, so we're excited to see that we might have done something right this year.

At a recent wedding shower I enjoyed some open-faced cucumber sandwiches. They were delicious. I didn't get the recipe but I found one on the Internet that is pretty close and just as good.

Here it is:

2 cucumbers
1 tub whipped cream cheese
Dill weed
1-2 packets of dry Italian dressing mix
1 pkg cocktail bread -- I've also used thinly sliced sourdough bread. Cocktail bread is just small dense bread.

- Wash cucumbers and scrape "stripes" down the length. Slice very thinly -- 1/4 inch or smaller.
- In small bowl, stir together cream cheese and dressing mix.
- Thinly spread (important that you keep it thin) mixture over a piece of the bread. You don't have to cut off the crust, but I do -- after I spread the mixture.
- Lay one slice (or more to cover the "face" of the bread)of cucumber on cream cheese mixture.
- Shake a small bit of dill weed over the cucumber.

Enjoy this open-faced sandwich appetizer. They're easy, pretty and tasty.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


On page 205 of the cookbook, there's a beautiful picture of scallops with sauteed oranges -- really gorgeous. Despite not being a huge scallop fan, the picture was pretty enough to make me what to try the recipe.

Issue 1 - the recipe called for one navel orange and one blood orange. I couldn't find any blood oranges, either at the farmers' market or at my grocery store, so I used two navel.

Issue 2 - When sauteing them, I wasn't as gentle with the orange slices as I probably should have been. My picture isn't nearly as attractive as the one in the cookbook. I know that happens frequently, but there was a huge difference. There's nothing about this picture that would make someone want to try this:

Trust me, the picture in the book is much better. And, I'm sure I could have done a better job with the oranges.

As for the taste -- it wasn't bad. Scallops are (to me) very rich and I can only eat so much. My husband doesn't have an issue with rich foods and he loved everything about the recipe. It calls for adding cumin which I thought would be horrible, but it wasn't.

I'm not sure I'll attempt this one again, but that's not because it isn't good, it's just not my favorite.

A pasta dish is next on the list. It sounds amazing.

Monday, July 26, 2010


I love green beans -- I even eat them raw, but I like cooked better. On page 28 of the cookbook is a recipe for tempura string beans that caught my eye. The batter is very simple and I've been wanting to try my hand at frying food. I'm currently collecting ideas and recipes for fried chicken to include in my first Gram's Cooking School mystery (IF FRIED CHICKEN COULD FLY) that will publish some time next year, but I have never fried anything. Considering the title of the book, that could be a problem.

It turned out to be pretty simple except that I need to learn how to better keep the oil at a consistent temperature.

The tempura beans were tasty, and I found that the thicker the batter, the better. I did wish, however, that I'd prepped and tried some other vegetables. Hey, the oil was ready; why not?

Another part of the recipe was a dipping sauce called Aioli. Never heard of it, but it's a mayo/mustard/garlic dip that is really yummy. The tempura beans and this dip would make perfect appetizers.

Aioli is part of a number of recipes in the book. I'll probably try in a few of those in the next week or so.

Want your own copy of the cookbook? Here's how to win:

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Brussel Sprouts???

Day one of "Recipes From the Farmers' Market Cookbook."

When I was little, my mom only made one attempt to get me to eat brussel sprouts. I have no idea what she did to them but not only did they taste terrible, they smelled worse than anything . . . ever. Funny how you remember those traumatizing moments.

I can't think if anything I like less than brussel sprouts, so that's where I began in the cookbook -- the biggest challenge of all: make me like that small bitter vegetable and I'll forever be impressed.

Recipe: Brussel Sprout Leaves with Bacon, page 48. I figured that even if the vegetable portion was awful, at least there'd be bacon.

Along with the bacon and sprouts, the recipes includes a garlic vinaigrette dressing that immediately smelled delicious -- I was off to a good start. The recipe didn't call for using the entire sprout, but only the leaves; without the core. I followed the directions, but I'm not sure I "peeled" the leaves off correctly. That part was pretty labor-intensive, but not terrible.

Here's the thing -- it was so worth it! I couldn't believe it, but I LOVED this dish. I don't know if it was the combination of all the ingredients, or if using just the leaves changed the bitter taste, but it was so good that I plan on serving it at the next holiday dinner I cook. Yeah, really!

And just when I thought I couldn't be more impressed. . . I commented about my dislike for brussel sprouts on my Facebook page and a few people chimed in. Ginny told me I should steam them and then saute them in butter. Nancy and Laine seemed to agree, so I had to give it a try. And, believe it or not, they were really good! I steamed them until they were pretty tender and this seemed to take longer than I thought it would, but still not too long. Used lots of butter and voila - delicious.

I really can't believe I found two ways to enjoy something I disliked to the point of . . . well, it was bad. Thanks Ginny, Nancy, and Laine for the idea and encouragement.

Want your own copy of the cookbook? Here's how to win:

Friday, July 23, 2010

Market Spotlight!

One of the surprise perks of writing mysteries about farmers' markets is meeting market vendors (in person or via email) and learning about their products.

One vendor I've been fortunate to get to know is Rachel Stewart, who makes beautiful jewelry as well as hand-knitted products and sells them at the Sagamore Farmers' Market in Layfayette, Indiana. Here are pictures of her and some of her work:

Pretty stuff, huh?

Here's the Sagamore market Facebook page:!/pages/West-Lafayette-IN/Sagamore-West-Farmers-Market/121968051151869?ref=ts&__a=10&ajaxpipe=1

Some market particulars:
Located in Cumberland Park in West Layfayette, IN. In a parking lot, near the high school athletic fields.
Open: Wednesday afternoons, from 3 to 6:30.
There are 30-40 vendors, depending on the weather

Some vendors:
1 lemonade stand
3 bakeries
1 pork burgers
1 restaurant
4 jewelry (Rachel, 2 handmade glass beads, 1 strung/woven beads)
2 knitting (Rachel and one other)
1 tie-dye
1 handmade purses and flip-flops
1 knitted bears and bread dough flowers
1 honey
4 herbs/plants for gardens
1 popcorn
1 bison
6+ fresh veggies/fruit
1 winery
plus a few roving churches/causes/sign ups (these usually do a 3-week deal, not the whole summer)

The best part -- Rachel is offering a discount to anyone who says they saw this post: $2 off sets, $1 off earrings.

Some writers travel the country to visit bookstores. Hopefully, I'll be able to do the same some day, but I'll be adding farmers' markets to my stops. If you do meet Rachel, please tell her hello for me.


update: links weren't working, copy and paste to see the good stuff.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Want to win a Farmers' Market cookbook? This one to be exact:

How to enter: Just follow my blog (click on the 'follow this blog' icon and make sure you show up in the list of followers). You'll get one entry per week that you participate. I'll tally every Sunday. The ten lovely and patient people who've been following it already will start off with five entries.

Why it might be entertaining: Starting July 25, I'll be cooking from my copy of the above mentioned cookbook. I'll comment on the recipes -- how they taste and how easy or difficult they are. The recipes look delicious. Plus, I adore shopping at my farmers' market and I need more ideas of things to do with all the yummy and fresh food. I probably won't post every day, but plan on at least four posts per week.

The Salt Lake City market is open until October 16, so I'll do a random drawing some time later that week; date to be determined.

I'll probably throw in a copy of FARM FRESH MURDER, too, but really this is about the cookbook. I'm excited to begin.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010


We stopped by the Wild Bird Store the other day to pick up some seed for a new feeder we put in the backyard. The clerk at the store pointed across the street and said:

Look, there's a tree full of Tanagers. It's rare -- they must be migrating through.

We were excited enough about the beautiful birds to run home for our camera. Here are a couple pictures:

Aren't they fabulous? We thought so.

Our feeder seems to be the hit of the neighborhood, by the way. We're seeing Grosbeaks, House Finches, Quail and lots we don't know. We even saw one of the Tanagers stop by.


Monday, May 17, 2010


Believe it or not, I think Alfred's back:

Got a visual this morning, but he's not hanging around the feeder long enough to get a picture yet.

I'm so excited -- how strange is that?


Monday, May 10, 2010

Some New Old Books

When my son started high school we cleaned out his room -- literally took everything out, scrubbed every inch of the room, and then put some things back in it. We threw away some stuff, gave away some stuff, and packed up all his books. He's a big reader so there were lots of books to pack. Now, they're all in boxes in the basement and his book shelves are filling up again, but this time with his new favorite genre: science fiction. My husband wanted us to give the books away because it was unlikely that our son would want to venture back into the worlds of elementary and middle grade fiction. I took issue with this because one: I suspect I'll be re-reading Harry Potter books for a long time. Two: I still haven't recovered from my mother giving away the books of my childhood.

All my Nancy Drews, my Laura Ingalls Wilders, the Little Women with the cover that I gazed at for hours, wishing I could put myself in that room with those girls and their Marmee. They're all gone.

As heartbreaking as losing those well known books was, the most frustrating part was not being able to remember the titles of a couple books that made a huge impression on me; they had both, in their own ways, fueled my imagination and shown me how fiction could be about anything at all.

When I finished college and set up my own apartment, I began to search for the two books whose titles had eluded me. The Internet was just a glimmer in some one's eye at that point, so I just had to ask around. I wasn't overly serious about the search, but I asked booksellers and librarians whenever I thought about it. Literally, a couple decades passed and I still hadn't found them. Here were my descriptions:

1. A woman who is captured by bald aliens. The woman falls in love with the bald alien leader.

2. Ghost story about two kids, two ghosts and an old mansion. I think the cover had the kids (live and ghostly) in a garden with a fountain.

In my head, the alien story had a "V" in the title and the ghost story was called something as simple as GHOST or GHOST STORY. But, "V" wasn't enough, and there were no such 'ghost' titles that matched.

I continued the search on the Internet. Search engines, Yahoo answers, whatever, I tried everything, but still to no avail. Then about a year ago I happened upon a web site that was called something like, "What was the Title of that Book?" I typed in my short descriptions. Within five minutes I had the titles and then the books ordered.

The ghost story is called, THE GHOSTS, and here's the cover that was on my original book:

So, no fountain, but not far off otherwise. The version I got this time around has this cover:

which is horrible, but it's a pretty old book.

The alien book is YARGO. Here's the cover:

Same cover that I had, though the "V" I was remembering was a "Y."

I immediately dug into YARGO, hoping to find that magic that it created the first time around. When I read it in high school, I hadn't read many (if any) real romances, so I guess I'd have to call this my first. When I was younger, it made me want to be captured by aliens and taken away. I couldn't put it down - then. Uh, not so much now. I never like to mention books I don't like, but after a few decades, the story in this one didn't quite hold up for me anymore. The writing is dated and females were portrayed much differently when this book was written. So, my long search ended, but the biggest surprise was the author -- Jacqueline Susann, who also wrote a pretty famous book: VALLEY OF THE DOLLS. I admit I haven't read any of Ms. Susann's other books, including VALLEY OF THE DOLLS, but I appreciate her contributions to fiction. YARGO was apparently published after the author's death; an old manuscript someone found in her desk.

Needless to say, I didn't hold out much hope for THE GHOSTS. I am happy to report that I was pleasantly surprised. This book has held up well over time. The writing is really spectacular. Though the pace is a little slower than most middle grade novels of today, it wasn't bothersome to read. In fact, I fell in love with this book all over again. From the little research I did about the author, Antonia Barber, I think she's still alive and living in England. She's written a number of books that I haven't read, but I am so grateful for THE GHOSTS and the magic it created in my youth.

I think that if someone put a better cover on it and marketed it to older elementary school children, it could still find an audience. Middle grade readers seem to be reading much more grown-up stuff than when I was that age, but I bet sixth graders and some fifth graders would enjoy THE GHOSTS. I can't quite stress enough, though, that a new cover is necessary.

And, finally, ending my trip down memory lane -- thanks to whomever created the site that helped me find the books. I wish I could still find you!

Happy reading, everyone!


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Where to Put The Tattoo?

When I first started writing seriously a number of years ago (here's that story if you're interested:, my big goal was, of course, to get published. It can be an all-consuming and heartbreaking goal, but the work was well worth it.

Shortly after my agent sold my first books to Berkley, I had a fleeting thought that over time somehow turned into a big thought that wouldn't go away. In a happy moment, probably in an off-handed way, I said aloud though not to a live person, "If I ever make the New York Times Best Seller list, I'm getting a tattoo with whatever number I land."

Okay, you have to understand: In my head, this was a dream for some time down the road, and when I envisioned the list, my dream shot for a low number, perhaps 1 or maybe 2. Also, I don't have any tattoos. I don't have piercings other than one hole in each ear. I've admired some body art, but never ever been courageous enough to lend my own to the cause. Translation: I'm a pretty boring middle-aged woman.

I can't even begin to share with you the thrill of landing on the New York Times list. When my editor called to tell me the good news, I laughed, I cried -- but I won't go on because that would make us all uncomfortable. Sure, it was the extended list, and hey, it was number 35 out of 35, but it falls right in there with the best moments of my life. Even a lower number, even number 1, couldn't have been more awesome.

That said, I believe in keeping my deals, keeping my promises, even if they are to that invisible universe. I'm proudly getting a "35" tattoo (my husband joked and said that Bo Derek better watch her back now -- yeah, took me a minute to get it too, but he's a good guy), but I can't decide where to put it. It won't be very big, and anything above my shoulders isn't an option, but I'd love to hear suggestions -- locations, fonts, colors . . . I don't know where to begin.

Oh yeah, if you know my parents, you might not want to tell them.

Happy reading!


Saturday, May 1, 2010

Wow, so much information on this site. I had no idea there was an Alpaca farm (ranch?) so close to where I live.

Click on the map on the homepage and you're sure to find lots of farms or markets close to home.

The site also sells seeds. I'm ordering some of these, just because I've never heard of them:

What would summer lunches and salads be without the refreshing crunch of cucumbers? The lemon cucumber offers a unique, pleasingly mild lemony tang to this old favorite vegetable!

Beautiful and fragrant, this cucumber has flown off our stand at Farmers Market.

We have also found it easy to grow, and even novice gardeners who bought starts from us this spring have reported great success. Very prolific as well!

25 seeds per packet.

65 days to maturity.

end quote

I'm probably a little late, but I'm curious enough to give them a try.

Anyone else planting something new and/or different?


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Unusual Location

Here's part of a story by Kathy Stephenson that was in the Salt Lake Tribune this morning:

The Broadway Pharmacy and Market in downtown Salt Lake City has long offered filo dough, grape leaves, feta and other imported Greek goods. But now the shop has upgraded to include fresh local produce and Utah products. The walk-in cooler that once was used for beer is now filled with fresh fruits and vegetables. The market shelves also carry 20 new Utah-made products including My Dough Girl Cookies, Clifford Farm eggs, Butcher's Bunches jams, Amano Chocolate and more. The Market, 242E. 300 South, is open every day but Sunday. Call 801-363-3939 for details. END ARTICLE

Farmers' markets are showing up everywhere! Or at least parts of them are showing up in many places. People want fresh food, they want products that come from local growers and vendors. It's a good trend.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Hawaii Market

Following is a link (well, an address to copy and paste at least) to a video about a market in Hilo, on the big island of Hawaii. I am continually reminded that it is the market vendors who make them so spectacular. You will find this fascinating.


Saturday, April 10, 2010


So, when I signed in to the blog today, a bunch of comments showed up -- comments I hadn't seen before, comments from earlier posts. Either there was a hiccup in blogger or I was doing something wrong when I signed in. I really want to blame blogger, but I know me well enough to know chances are it was operator error. Sigh.

Thanks for the comments everyone! How nice to talk to old friends and meet some new ones.

Have a great day!


Friday, April 9, 2010

"Spring" Break

Let's see, in Salt Lake City we started off this Spring Break week with a crazy blizzard that left about four inches of snow on the lawn. Fortunately, the driveway snow melted quickly. The skiers and snowboarders were very happy. Today, the snow is all melted and I have a couple windows open. I am feeling the full force of Spring Fever. It will be cold by this evening, but I'm enjoying the fresh air while I can.

Building my favorite to do list:
- Hummingbird feeders need to get hung.
- I probably should have already started some pumpkin seeds, but I'll get that done this weekend.
- Exchange short-sleeved shirts with sweats.
- Get the dirt in my small garden ready for planting.

So glad warm weather is almost here.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

New Market

For part of the day yesterday I stopped by some local Salt Lake City bookstores and asked to sign their in-store copies of FARM FRESH MURDER. It was fun -- and I really have to comment on how wonderful all the Barnes and Noble people were. They knew I'd never done that sort of thing before and they really made me feel welcome. Thanks for that.

Anyway, as I was driving down State Street, across from Fashion Place Mall, I noticed something I'd never seen before. Sunflower Farmers' Market. It's an indoor market, that is like a grocery store, but kind of not.

I only had a few minutes, but I ran in and looked around quickly. Everything seemed pretty fresh and at first glance, the prices looked pretty good too. I need to explore it further. Apparently, they are a chain -- locations only in the western United States at this point. Here's their web site:

It's a trip from my house, but I'll definitely give it a second look.

Anyone know anything about it?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


FARM FRESH MURDER hits the stores today. Yay! Really, yay!

I'm a guest blogger on my agent's web site today. "How to Do Almost Everything Wrong and Still Get Published . . . Someday."

Thanks, everybody!

Monday, April 5, 2010

One Day - Countdown

Today's Market: Bailey's Farmers' Market in Monson, South Carolina -- the market in FARM FRESH MURDER

Bailey's is the fictional market I created and placed in the fictional town of Monson, South Carolina, though South Carolina is a very real and wonderful place.

Bailey's is a long, u-shaped market full of all the things good farmers' markets have: fresh foods, creative art, beautiful flowers, and a many creative and hardworking vendors. Becca Robins, the protagonist of the farmers' market mysteries, makes and sells jams and preserves. She also grows strawberries and pumpkins, has had some trouble with relationships in the past, and when one of her good friends is accused of killing a fellow Bailey's vendor, she springs into action to help solve the crime. Though she runs into her fair share of trouble on the way, she turns out to be a pretty good investigator in her own rights.

I've loved getting to know these characters.

Thanks to everyone for their kind words of encouragement regarding FARM FRESH MURDER.I appreciate all your support.

Today's recipe: Easy Chocolate Covered Strawberries -- they're not as difficult to make as you might think.

16 ounces milk chocolate chips
2 tablespoons shortening
1 pound fresh strawberries - keep the leaves on but rinse and dry the berries.
wax paper


1. In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and shortening, stirring occasionally until smooth. Holding the strawberries by their leaves, dip the them 1/2 to 3/4 of the way into the chocolate mixture. Let some of the excess chocolate drip back into the mixture.
3.Place them on a sheet of wax paper to cool.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Countdown - Two Days

First of all -- Happy Easter, everyone!

Today's market: Anchorage Farmers' Market in Anchorage, Alaska (

The market is located at 15th Ave. at Cordova Street in Anchorage.

I'm always surprised by Alaska. When I started researching farmers' markets I didn't think I'd find much of anything in Alaska. It's cold and dark for so much of year that even if there was a market there, surely it would be an inside market. Nope, there are actually a number of markets in Alaska, lots of them out of doors like the Anchorage market. In fact, the Anchorage market runs from the beginning of May until October, just like most of the other seasonal markets in the lower 48.

This picture does illustrate a few differences, though:

The truck says, "Arctic Organics" and it looks like at least one person is wearing a winter coat.

I also love moose. This one is particularly cute:

I was also surprised at how much is able to grow in Alaska. Here's a list of some of the items sold at the market:
tomatoes, broccoli raab, green cabbage, radicchio, and daikon, kohlrabi, zucchini, broccoli, Market Express ("snow apple") turnips, collards, mustard greens, turnip greens, Rainbow chard, kale (green, Redbor, Red Russian, and Toscano), spinach, various leaf lettuces, butter lettuces, romaine, greens mix, dandelion greens, arugula, scallions, tat soi, radishes, and nasturtium blossoms.

Herbs include: Genovese basil, marjoram, thyme, epazote, Italian and regular parsley, summer and winter savory, lemon and anise basil, sage, lovage, cilantro, chervil and chives.

Apple trees, too!

Anyone know what daikon or kohlrabi are?

Today's recipe:

Roast Salmon Fillet -- this is not something I created. I got it directly from this site:

I've made it before, though, with salmon direct from Alaska. My in-laws live there -- they're fisher-people and every once and a while they bring us fresh fish.

4 ea - 7 oz salmon fillets
4 tbs. flour
1 teas. ground fennel seed
1 teas kosher salt
1/4 teas white pepper
olive oil for searing

Directions: Combine all ingredients to make seasoned flour. Coat salmon in flour mixture and shake off excess. Heat oil in a heavy skillet until a light haze forms. Place salmon fillet skin side up in pan and sear until well crusted. Turn over fillet and place in skillet in a 400* oven for approx. 8-10 minutes or just until done.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Three Days - Countdown

Today's Market: The Atlanta State Farmers' Market

This is considered THE big market in Georgia.

Located at 16 Forest Parkway, in Forest Park, Georgia, the market takes up a vast 150 acres. It is considered one of the largest of its kind in the world. It is open year-around. Huge truckloads of produce are delivered to the market each day.

It features a garden center (I read lots of comments from people who buy their yard plants there - the selection must be huge), wholesale and retail activities, and is a major marketing hub and distribution point for fresh produce in the Southeast and throughout the country. It also has a restaurant that serves meals prepared from market foods -- sounds like a great idea.

Also in the comments I read -- haggling is the only way to go at this market. The vendors are prepared to negotiate, and there's lots of competition.

Some businesses only operate from the market:
General Produce, Inc., the largest full line wholesale produce house in the southeast, is located on the grounds of the Georgia State Farmers Market in Forest Park, Georgia. The Georgia State Farmers Market is located just 10 miles south of Atlanta and is the largest in the United States. We offer a full line of fresh fruits and vegetables year round from the best growers and shippers in the world.

Must be a great place to shop.

Today's Easy Recipe: Tastes Just Like Fried Chicken . . . But Isn't Fried
Again, this is another one of my son's favorite recipes. I found it on a website some time ago, but I didn't keep the exact address. I serve this for dinner, or I use chicken strips and serve it as finger food for things like Super Bowl parties, etc. The strips are great with ranch or bbq dipping sauces.

4 skinless chicken breasts (about a 1 1/4 pound)
1 cup low-fat milk
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons pepper
2 teaspoons salt
vegetable spray

- Place chicken in gallon storage bag. Pour in milk and seal the bag. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
- Pour vegetable oil in baking pan, coat the bottom completely.
- Place flour, salt and pepper into another gallon storage bag. Shake until all ingredients are blended.
- Remove chicken from first bag (one at a time) and put into flour bag. Coat completely.
- Place chicken in prepared baking dish.
- Coat top of chicken with vegetable spray.
- Bake in center of oven for 20 or 25 minutes, or until chicken is browned on outside and cooked thoroughout on the inside.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Four Days - Countdown

Austin Farmers' Market - another market I've never shopped, but I look forward to doing so someday. I love Texas.

Located at 4th and Guadalupe in downtown Austin, the market is open Saturdays from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm and Wednesdays from 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm.

This is a year-around market -- considering the great weather in Austin, this makes sense. Here's their web site:

They sell a huge variety of foods and crafts, including, not surprisingly, these:

In exploring the web site, I happened upon something called artisinal charcuterie. I had no idea what it was so I did a little research (googled it). Apparently charcuterie is either a business that sells meats like sausages, or it is the stuffing of the sausage itself. The practice of artisinal charcuterie (creating the sausage) is becoming quite popular with chefs everywhere. There is an art to mixing the right kinds of meats to create yummy sausage fillings. Texas is certainly great place for all kinds of meat, so no wonder the market web site lists the charcuterie as something that "must not be missed." I will definitely give it a try.

More pictures:

Quick and easy recipe -- a mix of the hot peppers and some sausage (or artisinal charcuterie if you'd like, and you know where to get some).

Stuffed Hot Peppers (or not-too-hot, if you're like me)


4 to 5 doz. medium peppers
2 lbs. sausage
handfull of plain bread crumbs
1 egg
1/4 c. milk
1 pkg. McCormicks meat loaf mix
Salt, pepper and garlic to taste
vegetable oil

Wash and remove seeds from peppers -- slice one side open.

Mix sausage, bread crumbs, egg, milk, meat loaf mix, salt, pepper and garlic together -- I use my hands to mix and squish everything together.

Stuff peppers with sausage mixture -- make sure to "close" the pepper, and place in single layer on baking pan. Pour a little vegetable oil over peppers. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Turn pepper over, bake for another 20 minutes. Remove from oil after baking. Serve warm, cool, or freeze if you like. Thaw and reheat if frozen.

Yummy. Some people like really hot peppers. I try to use only the milder variety. Plus, once the seeds are removed the heat goes down anyway.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Five Days - Countdown

Today's Market: Pike Place Market in Seattle

I visited this market some years ago, but only briefly and without a camera. It is a main ingredient in the Seattle experience, and everyone should take the opportunity to shop it.

It opened in 1907 and is one of the oldest continually operated public farmers' markets in the United States. It overlooks Ellicott Bay and is spread over nine acres. Ten million visitors pass through the market every year. Considering its location, I imagine the fruits and vegetables are great, but I would think the fish/seafood selection would be extra-fresh.

Here are some pictures:

Here's an interesting fact -- the market is home to nearly 500 low income residents who live in eight different buildings. I'd be curious to know if they work at the market. Anyone know?

Another fact -- this market was home to the first Starbuck's.

Next time I make it to Seattle I'll plan on spending more time at Pike Place, as well as remember a camera.

In keeping with the seafood idea, today recipe: Super Simple Supper Fish

There is a theme to my recipes -- simple and easy, and easy and simple. Oh, and few ingredients.


2 lb. or so fillet of salmon or halibut. I don't really cook any other kinds of fish, but it would probably work with just about anything.


Salt and pepper



Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

Put fillet on a piece of foil, skin side down. Place some tablespoon squares of butter evenly spaced over the fillet.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Cover with another sheet of foil. Seal the edges but leave a small opening for steam to escape.

Cook in oven for 45 minutes. Let sit about outside of oven with top foil removed for about ten minutes before serving.

Some people cook this on the grill, but I like the oven better. Some people add lemon slices, but I prefer just butter.

I serve this with some baby potatoes and whole green beans I get from the farmers' market -- I steam the beans.

It isn't always easy to find super-fresh fish in Salt Lake City, but when I do, we tend to have this for a few nights in a row.