Posted on August 31, 2014 - by Lucy
By Lorenzo the Tarot card reader from Lucy Burdette’s Key West Food Critic mysteries
I can’t tell you how often I get this question: Do you tell good fortunes or bad?
I hardly know how to answer, except to say: You draw the cards, and then you allow me to see what’s there. I simply tell you what I see. There’s no such thing as a bad card really, that’s what I try to explain.
Well, one exception maybe. The Tower. People hate to draw the Tower–it scares them, with flames licking and lightening bolts and people flinging themselves out of the building. Some kind of change is coming, that’s what it means.
And my poor friend Hayley Snow, she’s drawn that card more times than I can count. And it freaks her out every time. I’m not talking out of turn when I say that girl finds more trouble than anyone on this island.
But this is always my advice when I see something in her cards that she doesn’t like: There are two worlds, a world of fear and a world of love. And you get to choose which one you’ll live in.
And second, if you don’t work through your pain, you don’t grow.
Have you had that happen in your life, where something awful leads to something good?
Posted on August 24, 2014 - by Lucy
|Lucy Burdette (1985) with Jack the cat, model for Evinrude|
A post written by Evinrude the cat, from Lucy Burdette‘s Key West food critic mysteries
You’ve probably heard it said that cats aren’t flexible; that we don’t travel well. I, Evinrude, handsome gray tiger, am here to say it all depends on how our people handle things. Take my person, Hayley Snow. First she pops off and moves us from New Jersey to Key West to live with some guy she hardly knows, who can’t stand cats because of our litter boxes. Believe me, there were plenty of other places I was thinking of going by the time we left his inhospitable home–like in his polished oxfords or his basket of clean laundry.
Anyway, I digress. Anyone with four feet and a tail could have told you that relationship wasn’t going to work out. So then she moved us to her friend Connie’s houseboat. After I got over the shock of me, Evinrude, a cat from Jersey, living on the water, I’ve gotten to enjoy the lifestyle. There was a murder of course (AN APPETITE FOR MURDER), and as one fan so kindly pointed out, it would have been nice if Hayley had looked a little harder when I went missing.
But now all is forgiven and we’re living on Miss Gloria’s houseboat (DEATH IN FOUR COURSES) with her pesky little cat Sparky. Don’t tell Hayley, but it’s kind of fun to have someone to pal around with. The only thing I don’t like about the whole Key West situation is how Hayley comes back from the sunset celebration all worked up about Dominque and his flying house cats. If she thinks I’m going to jump through flaming hoops for a little taste of sushi, let’s just say she’s meowing up the wrong tree.
How about you cats? Have your people put you through more than you should be expected to handle?
Posted on August 21, 2014 - by Lucy
Book talk and signing: 1375 Boston Post Road, Milford CT
Posted on August 18, 2014 - by Lucy
by Hayley Snow from Lucy Burdette’s Key West mystery series…
Hi all! Hayley Snow here. I am sure you are all busy with planning your Labor Day barbecues with red white and blue desserts and fireworks, but if you have a minute, I thought you might be interested in how we celebrate special summer weekends in Key West.
First of all, key limes are in season so of course there’s a Key Lime festival where Miss Key Lime is crowned and where my pal David Sloan makes the biggest Key Lime pie in the world. That guy is crazy, but you can join in the fun for a two dollar donation to defray the cost of the ingredients.
Miss Gloria and I are throwing a big dinner party tonight because everyone likes to watch the fireworks from Houseboat Row. Here’s the menu we came up with. Do you think we went a little crazy with the Key Lime theme?
We’ll start with the “Lucy Burdette” daiquiri, recipe courtesy of Susan Elia MacNeal…
And then comes the Key Lime chicken because we don’t have room for a real grill on the boat. This recipe is soooo easy…
Posted on August 11, 2014 - by Lucy
LUCY BURDETTE: As many of you already know, I have a particular fondness for Key lime pie, as it became the murder weapon in the first food critic mystery, AN APPETITE FOR MURDER. Naturally Hayley Snow is suspected when the victim turns out to be her ex-boyfriend’s new squeeze.
“Are the cops looking at any other suspects?” I asked.
“Not that they’ve mentioned. You are in the unfortunate position of having a decent motive and no alibi. And you’re a cook with more than a passing knowledge of key lime pie.”
So what do we do now?” I asked. “I swear I never touched the girl. Or fed her any poison. I’ve never even made a key lime pie. To be honest, I’m totally freaked out by the idea of meringue.”
So you can understand that when the Key West Citizen publicized a booksigning last winter for THE ULTIMATE KEY LIME PIE COOKBOOK, we had to go meet David Sloan and buy a couple of signed books. I told him about how I love food and recipes and he was happy to share a pie from the cookbook. He offers hundreds of options for combinations of crusts, fillings, sauces, and toppings, but I’ve chosen a traditional crust with a classic filling.
TRADITIONAL GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST
1 and 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup white sugar
6 tablespoons butter, melted
Combine the crumbs and sugar in a medium bowl. Stir in the butter until crumbs are coated. Press evenly into a nine-inch pie pan. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before filling.
CLASSIC KEY LIME FILLING
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup Key lime juice
Preheat the oven to 350. combine eggs and milk and mix well. Slowly mix in the Key lime juice. Pour mixture into the prepared crust. Bake at 350 for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool, then chill until firm.
Serve topped with whipped cream or meringue and enjoy your little taste of Key West!
Posted on August 4, 2014 - by Lucy
LUCY BURDETTE: What do you think of the Christmas in July trend? To be honest, I’ve always considered it a hokey idea. Shouldn’t a normal person get on with enjoying summer and not try to trump up interest in a holiday that’s still six months away?
But, for two reasons, Christmas really has arrived in July this year. Last week I had the gift of rereading DEATH WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS, the fifth Key West food critic mystery coming December 2. And the gift of copy edits. Wanna hear good news or bad first? Bad, of course…
For those of you who don’t know, copy edits are–I should put this politely, because it’s a public blog and who knows who might be reading–necessary but maddening. These are not the editing notes from my editor, who is smart and laser-eyed and chock full of good ideas for making a story better. This stage consists of nit-picking.
Don’t get me wrong–I’m happy when they find things like misspellings, and missed capitalization, and incorrect geography–mistakes that I would much rather hear about before the book is published. For example, someone noticed that I’d written AZURIASTAN as the name of a country whose flag is flown on the grounds of the Truman Little White House in Key West. There is no such country! The flag in question is from AZERBAIJAN. Where did I even find that made up name? Whew, embarrassment averted. Better still, I managed to turn that error into a blooper made by Hayley’s ex–pure fun.
And I learn things during the copyediting stage, too, like “brunet” is the correct spelling for a man with brown hair, “brunette” for a woman. And Bloody Mary has both words capitalized.
But there are also hundreds of changes in things like dashes, and commas, and hyphens. Which sometimes seem utterly random. And the enemy of individual writing style.
And also queries such as: AU: Repetition OK? (Of course it’s not okay, unless I intended it, as in some kind of artistic writing rhythm, which doesn’t happen all that often.)
Even the recipes at the back of the book are not immune from the copy editor’s eagle eye… AU: Shouldn’t it read fold rather than stir since it’s easy to over-beat whipped cream?
And that brings me to the second gift–that of rereading DEATH WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS after resting from it for several months.
This stage is so much more pleasant than the one Hallie described on Tuesday–that awkward beginning, when you have no words on the page and can’t imagine where you’ll find them.
So Bloody Marys all around–Merry Christmas dear Readers!
Chapter One: DEATH WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS
My cell phone bleated from the deck outside, where I’d left it to avoid procrastinating via text messages, Facebook updates, or simply lounging in the glorious December sunshine with our resident cats, watching the world go by. The biggest interview of my career as a food critic was scheduled for this afternoon and I wanted—no, needed—to be ready.
Miss Gloria, my senior citizen houseboat mate, hollered from her rocking chair overlooking the water. “It’s your mother. Shall I answer?”
“Mind telling her I’ll call back in an hour?”
Miss Gloria would relish the opportunity to chat with her anyway, and maybe her intercession would slash my time on the phone with Mom in half when I returned the call. I am crazy about my mother, honest. But it had still been a shock when she announced she’d rented a place in Key West for the winter season. Wouldn’t it be so much fun to spend Christmas in paradise together? And New Year’s . . . and Martin Luther King Day . . . and Valentine’s Day? You get the picture. Mom had followed Diana Nyad’s attempts to swim from Cuba to Key West with rapt attention. When Diana overcame sharks, jellyfish, rough water, and advancing age to complete her 110-mile swim on her fifth try, at age sixty-four, Mom took it personally.
“Diana says we should never give up,” she announced on the phone a couple of months ago. “Why not ‘be bold, be fiercely bold and go out and chase your dreams’?”
My mother had been a little down since the summer because her fledgling catering company had not taken off the way she’d hoped. Although she’s an amazing and inventive cook, the business part of owning a business eluded her. For her first five catering events, cooking with only the highest-quality ingredients, she’d lost money rather than making it. A lot of money. Even her newish boyfriend, Sam, who was supportive beyond any reasonable expectation and categorically opposed to meddling, had suggested she take a few steps back and reconsider her plan.
“Why not? You should go for your dream, too,” I remember saying. “That’s exactly what you told me when I lost my bearings: Keep putting yourself out in the universe, and eventually the wind will fill your sails.” I stopped myself from trotting out more metaphysical tropes. I hadn’t wanted to hear too much advice when I was feeling down; Mom probably didn’t want mine, either. “What do you have in mind?”
“I’m thinking of coming to Key West for the winter!”
Whoa. If that was her dream, who was I to stop her? But my big solo adventure on this island was about to turn into How I Met Your Mother.
(Blog post first published on Jungle Red Writers)
Posted on March 23, 2014 - by Lucy
When in doubt and undercaffeinated, head to the Cuban Coffee Queen.
Their cafe con leche goes wonderfully well with a donut from Glazed Donut on Eaton Street. Here’s what Hayley had to say about those delicacies:
The maple-glazed doughnut studded with candied bacon was definitely tastebud overkill, though it looked amazing. Irresistible, really: All the breakfast food groups in one sugary, fat-laden package. MURDER WITH GANACHE
Old Town Bakery on Eaton Street is another favorite. Here’s Hayley holding forth on the best sticky bun around:
“Does this sound accurate?” I asked my mother and then read aloud: “Light as air sticky buns striated with currents of cinnamon and walnut, and crusted over with a caramel coating for which you might well be willing to trade your mother.” MURDER WITH GANACHE
THERE’S only one bookstore left in town, but Key West Island bookstore on Fleming Street carries a great selection of local books, including the Key West mysteries!
Posted on March 23, 2014 - by Lucy
801 Caroline Street
Hayley Snow says: for visitors yearning for a taste of quintessential Key West. Go on a warm day and don’t look too closely at the dirt floors and rough wooden tables and you’ll find yourself picnicking in comfort food heaven. B.O.’s calls its burger Mother’s Finest, and I have to agree. Order it grilled medium with the works—and prepare for a four-napkin feast. AN APPETITE FOR MURDER
Bad Boy Burrito
1220 ½ Simonton Street
Fish tacos, fresh-squeezed limeade, beef, chicken, or vegetarian burritos with your choice of toppings plus rice, beans all tucked inside. NO SEATING except for one bench on the sidewalk—take your loot to the beach!
Hayley Snow says: Fast food doesn’t have to mean greasy, bland, or caloric. Some of the absolute most mouth-watering food in Key West gets carried out of Bad Boy Burrito in a paper sack. AN APPETITE FOR MURDER
300 Petronia Street
Greek salad in a buckwheat crepe, Croque Monsieur, amazing dessert crepes, sidewalk seating
Hayley Snow says: The waitress delivered our meals: Greek salads thick with feta cheese and Niçoise olives folded into buckwheat pancakes, a spinach and mushroom omelet, and the ham and cheese sandwich crowned with an egg over easy and an order of french fries on the side. “Besides, if the conference sponsors aren’t happy,” Sigrid said, plunging her knife into the sandwich so that yoke flowed like yellow lava over the ham onto the crunchy stalks of potato, “Dustin’s out of a job.” DEATH IN FOUR COURSES
700 Waddell Street
Hayley Snow says: I could hear the waves rolling in, and the grace notes above that—tinkling glasses and laughing guests. Louie’s Backyard appeared down the block, a pink-sided building with white trim and white lights wound around the small property’s palm trees. DEATH IN FOUR COURSES
Posted on February 20, 2014 - by Lucy
Thrilled to death with the reviews that have been coming in for MURDER WITH GANACHE:
Polar Vortex be damned! Reading Murder with Ganache by Lucy Burdette is like reaching into a pre-heated oven for a dish that is seasoned with all the correct ingredients – mystery, romance, family conflict and food. Readers just know that each morsel is going to taste scrumptious and they will soon be back at the buffet longing for another helping. BOLO books
Lucy Burdette gives depth to this book by dissecting the modern family in all its divorce, remarry, reshape, share kids, make nice, stay enraged, give up, try again glory and gloom. Hayley’s caring yet determined nature often provides the healing salve that lowers the anxiety level and heals torn relationships. The author’s background as a clinical psychologist clearly enriches her handling of this material.
The constant charms in the Key West Food Critic Mystery books are, as one might expect, the attention to Key West and the attention to food — as nourishment, me delight, art, business and social lubricant.
So, in conclusion, a book escape to add to your weekend rotation, among other titles, that is as good as it looks and twice as sweet. The story line will make you care what happens to our cast of characters and their furry friends help lighten the mood along the way. A perfect read for teen readers and beyond; it’s clean, it’s fun, it’s as the name implies, cozy….so cozy on up to it and enjoy a reading experience chock full of fun and spirit that can’t be ignored. Insatiable Readers
It really helped that the characters were strong. I had no trouble keeping any of the cast and their relationships straight as I progressed through the book. They all felt real, and I truly cared about the outcome.
The plot was also strong. I was enjoying things even before Rory disappeared, and once that happened, I had a hard time putting the book down. The twists were great, and the fact that I liked the characters truly made it even harder to put down. Carstairs considers
In this compelling mystery Burdette successfully balances the serious topics of homeless youth and divided families with bad tourist cuisine, excellent cooking, and a mother’s quest to find true love for her daughter. Hayley may lose her mind, her job, and possibly her life, but she will always have her family’s love. Not to mention an appreciation of excellent food. Kings River Life
But Hayley Snow is beyond easy to root for. In Murder with Ganache, Burdette once again shows that she’s as skillful at spinning a yarn as her protagonist is at baking pastries. And unmasking killers. Florida Book Review
I thoroughly enjoyed this fast-paced, fun mystery, the tropical setting, and the completely calorie-free guilty pleasure of reading about some amazing food (recipes are included in the back of the book) and, of course, the cats. If you can’t afford to go away for spring break, this book is the second-best thing. Ingrid at the Conscious Cat
Lucy Burdette skillfully brings all those elements together in a strong mystery that manages to showcase Key West and food while bemoaning the tragic loss of a young girl. Lesa’s Book Critiques
This page-turner kept me up half the night – I had to finish reading this book. Lucy Burdette does not disappoint. This has to be my favorite book in the series. The author has also provided some very yummy recipes. So, if you like your mystery with a little Key West Style, then you should be reading Murder with Ganache. Myshelf.com
Posted on January 15, 2014 - by Lucy
Everyone is invited to a book launch party/happy hour for MURDER WITH GANACHE on February 5 from 5 to 7 pm at Kelly’s Muse, 301 Caroline Street, Key West. Author copies arrived yesterday–that means the books will be in stores soon…and the cover is even prettier than I imagined!