Posted on September 15, 2014 - by Lucy
by Janet Snow, from Lucy Burdette’s Key West food critic mystery series
Did you happen to see the swimmer Diana Nyad splash ashore on Smathers Beach in Key West? She is one amazing lady–64 years old and this was the fifth time she tried to swim the 100-plus miles from Cuba to Key West. The first four times she had to turn back because of bad weather, poisonous jellyfish, and sharks. Two years ago her face was so swollen from jellyfish stings I bet her own mother wouldn’t recognize her. But she went back to try again and this time she made it. And here’s what she said when she staggered out of the water:
“I have three messages for you:
1. We should #NeverEverGiveUp
2. You’re #NeverTooOld to chase your dreams
3. It’s #NeverASolitarySport … it’s a team ”
If that didn’t get your juices revving, I’m not sure what would! I’m not as old as Diana, but I will be, and I don’t want to look back and think about all the things I didn’t try when I was younger.
My daughter Hayley is another role model for me–she’s pursuing her dream about working as a food critic in Key West. She’s finding her way and I’m so proud.But, here’s the problem. I met the top caterer on the island when we were down for Hayley’s dear friend Connie’s wedding (MURDER WITH GANACHE, published 2/2014.)
What can I say other than we really hit it off? So I’ve been offered a dream job too. But do you think Hayley will kill me if I take the job? Just for the winter mind you…
Posted on September 10, 2014 - by Lucy
by Hayley Snow from Lucy Burdette’s Key West food critic mysteries
As many of you know, MURDER WITH GANACHE was published last February. Hooray! I was very proud of my part in this book. We made it through spring break, a family reunion, and a wedding, and hardly anyone died. I don’t mean to joke about that because murder is a very serious thing and not one bit funny at all.
It’s just that we characters get a little slap-happy sometimes, you know? My writer and I threw a big launch party and visited some book clubs and went all over the world online. And we got some very good publicity too!
Isn’t this the coolest thing ever? It was featured in Woman’s World, the March 10 issue. Of course they didn’t mention me or Evinrude or Miss Gloria, but if the ladies who buy the magazine read the book, they’ll find out soon enough who’s who.
So you might think that I could rest on my laurels for a while–eat some good meals and write up a few easy reviews. But no, that’s not how this mystery business works. We’re on to the fifth Key West adventure–in fact it’s due out in December.
And I found some notes on my writer’s desk that made me very, very nervous. Things like: What would make Hayley’s life more difficult? What would test her physically, emotionally, morally? What might expose her deeper side to the world?
Good gravy, can a character not get a rest? What do you think, how worried should I be?
You can find Lucy Burdette’s Hayley Snow Key West mysteries wherever books are sold. Find out more about the books on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter.
Posted on September 7, 2014 - by Lucy
LUCY BURDETTE: I have often wondered whether the mystery series I wrote before the food critic mysteries might have gotten more traction if it had been published in the era of ebooks and social media. No way to tell, of course, but the happy news is that the first book in the series, DEADLY ADVICE (written as Roberta Isleib), is now available for Kindle.
The book stars Dr. Rebecca Butterman, a clinical psychologist and advice columnist living in Connecticut. She works out of an office in New Haven (in the same building where I had my private practice,) and she explores many of the places on the Connecticut shoreline that I’ve grown to know and love.
Although this series is a little edgier than the food critic mysteries, the books are close to my heart because they draw so much from my previous career as a psychologist. In a poignant coincidence, given the terrible news two weeks ago about Robin Williams, DEADLY ADVICE opens with the mysterious suicide of Dr. Butterman’s neighbor. She feels doubly troubled about this death, thinking she should have noticed something was wrong–both as a professional and as a neighbor.
In addition to my sleuth’s background, that opening scene is also rooted in my graduate school days. During my final year, newly separated, I lived in an anonymous apartment complex with only a nodding acquaintance of the other residents. Each morning, my taciturn next-door neighbor left for work at 7:30, returning by six. Some nights she’d cook one hamburger on the grill outside her door. Medium well, I’d think, considering the time it sat on the coals. How sad, I’d think. Is that me? I’d wonder next.
One evening, I came home from the library and noticed a small U-Haul parked in front of her apartment. An older couple was loading the contents of her place into the van. Over coffee the next morning, I skimmed the newspaper as usual, and noticed a small article near the bottom of an interior page. Based on this paragraph, I realized that my neighbor had shot herself several days earlier. Her body had lain in the apartment next to mine for over forty-eight hours before someone found her.
I felt shocked and sad. Isn’t this every single woman’s worst nightmare—dead two days and no one even notices you’re gone? As you can imagine, this incident has always haunted me.
Years later, that’s where DEADLY ADVICE began. When Dr. Rebecca Butterman returns home to find her neighbor an apparent suicide, she’s wracked with guilt. As a psychologist and advice columnist, she’s an expert! She should have been able to help the young woman. But the neighbor’s mother suspects foul play, and soon persuades Rebecca to investigate the possibility of murder.
When Rebecca Butterman is troubled, she cooks. Like Hayley Snow in the Key West mysteries, she loves to cook, to eat, and to share meals with her best women friends. But she doesn’t think so much about the meaning of food the way food critic Hayley does. She’s too busy puzzling over what makes people tick…
In honor of the launch of DEADLY ADVICE as e-book, I’m happy to share one of Dr. Butterman’s favorite recipes, beef carbonnade. She would tell you to start the dish the day before you plan to eat it so it can sit in the refrigerator overnight, allowing the flavors to blend. She would also tell you that serving this meal to sad people might make their world a tiny bit brighter.
We hope you enjoy the book and the stew!
Posted on September 4, 2014 - by Lucy
LUCY BURDETTE: Even Kenny Chesney said it when he performed at a free concert at the Hogs Breath Saloon two years ago: It’s hard to choose healthy foods in Key West! (Actually, I don’t think it’s only Key West–it’s eating out everywhere.)
Anyway, there’s a new restaurant in town that used to be the Paradise Cafe, where we bought our Cafe Con Leche in the morning and our Cuban mix sandwiches at lunch. It’s now called Paseo.
Hayley Snow reviews this restaurant in MURDER WITH GANACHE (2/2014). Of course she has to order a little of everything, including the fat and juicy Caribbean roll and the roast pork dinner. But I always enjoy the Caribbean salad so I decided to try making the dish myself. It’s not only colorful and healthy and easy–it’s delicious!
Caribbean Salad a la Paseo
2-3 skinned chicken filets
1 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp sesame oil
4 Tbsp soy sauce
Red cabbage, shredded
Cooked beets, slivered
Cilantro, cleaned and chopped
Mix together the sugar, sesame oil, and soy sauce, and marinate the chicken filets in a glass bowl–an hour at least or even overnight. Grill the chicken until just done and set aside.
Wash and dry the lettuce, tear into pieces, and put a nice amount on each plate as the bottom layer. (I included some arugula and red leaf lettuce, but Paseo uses romaine.) Cut about a quarter of the red cabbage into slivers and layer than in next. Cut cooked beets into matchsticks and put them on top. Tomatoes and avocado are not part of the Paseo dish, but I added some around the edges. Cut the chicken into strips and place them on top of the salad.
Vinaigrette: 1 teaspoon French mustard (don’t use the yellow stuff!), 3 tablespoons vinegar (red wine or balsamic), 6 tablespoons good quality olive oil, splash of water. Whisk it all together until emulsified, taste to see if it needs salt.
I bet even Kenny Chesney would love this!
TOPPED CHEF is on bookshelves on now, followed by MURDER WITH GANACHE. DEATH WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS is coming December 2 with more Key West adventures and food..
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)