Posted on November 20, 2014 - by Lucy
CAT HAIKU by Lucy Burdette, in honor of Yoda on Cat Week!
White whiskers on gray
Purr box sputtering to life
What else but Cat Week
Cats are smart and secretive and mysterious and quiet stalkers–and yet so adorable that we forgive them anything. And so they go together with cozies like butter with hot biscuits, or chocolate cake with cold milk, or fresh tomatoes with basil and olive oil… You get the picture!
I’ve had a cat in my life ever since the year I turned 13. I was desperate for a date with Mickey Dolenz for my birthday, but my mother was smart enough to give me a kitten instead. (Yoda, seen above doing his best trick, is our current feline denizen.) All my fictional characters have had cats too–Cassie had Cashbox, and Dr. Rebecca Butterman had Spencer, and Hayley has Evinrude, of course!
|Evinrude posing for DEATH WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS|
We each put our own special spin on Cat Week, but to my mind this theme cried out for a fishy recipe. Yoda the cat loves tuna fish, so I thought he would love crab meat too. And that would give me the chance to snap a photo of him eating daintily from a treasured crystal goblet that belonged to my mother. Right?
He’s a cat after all, so this is the closest he came to posing.
Now on to the recipe…
Yoda’s Crab Cakes
One pound crab meat, picked over to remove bits of shell
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
Two scallions, finely minced
One half small hot pepper, minced
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon red and black cracked pepper
About 4 tablespoons mayonnaise
One egg, well beaten
Lucy Burdette is the author of the Key West food critic mysteries. Murder with Ganache is in stores now.
Death with All the Trimmings will be on bookshelves December 2. Pre-order it here.
Yoda the cat says: “Buy the darn books so she can get off my case and keep me in catnip.”
Posted on November 17, 2014 - by Lucy
LUCY BURDETTE: After I describe what I’ve been up to, you might wonder that I’ve written anything in the last two months.
As you know by now, DEATH WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS will be published on December 2. (Pre-order link right here!) The modern way to publicize a new book, especially a cozy mystery, seems to be the blog tour. So I’ve been writing blogs—lots of them—about Christmas in Key West, writing a foodie character, why I love cozy mysteries, and a day in the life of Hayley Snow, just to name a few.
|Lucy Burdette and John Talbot|
Three of us Reds also had a fantastic long weekend at the New England Crimebake, a conference founded to celebrate crime fiction, especially from New England. I had the honor of co-teaching a class with agent John Talbot on writing and selling the mystery series, doing manuscript critiques for aspiring writers, and attending many wonderful panels.
|Angelos Pompano, Lucy, Craig Johnson, Chris Falcone|
We all enjoyed the folksy humor and good nature of our guest of honor, Craig Johnson.
viagra pfizerAnd then we wrung out our tension by learning line dances in our best Western garb! That’s me in the cow skirt, with Hank and her hub, the hanging judge. He’s such a good sport…
|Lucy with Lorenzo, aka Ron|
But woven around all these activities, I’ve been working on the sixth food critic mystery, called FATAL RESERVATIONS. I tried to take a little of my own writing advice, LOL, and think deep and long about Hayley’s stake in a sixth mystery. Why would it be her business to get involved in solving yet one more crime? Why does she care? And who would listen to a food critic’s suggestions about clues and suspects anyway? The answer came from finding one of her Key West friends in trouble—Lorenzo, who reads tarot cards at the sunset celebration every night on Mallory Square. Here’s a little snippet:
A noisy rustling burst out in the audience and the man with the palm frond hat staggered up toward the podium, shouting. “You people have been looking for any excuse to take over. Damn it, this is none of your business! The trouble with the Artistic Damn Preservation Society is right here in this room.” He spun around to point a shaky finger at a tall man several rows behind me: my friend, the tarot card reader. Lorenzo.
“You need to sit down or you’ll be removed from the premises,” said Commissioner Greenleigh. But the palm hat man darted down the center aisle, heading for Lorenzo. He flung himself across two startled women and circled his hands around my friend’s neck. Lieutenant Torrence and a uniformed cop yanked him off Lorenzo, whipped his hands behind his back, and cuffed them. He fought and cursed as they ushered him out of the room and down the stairs.
“Are you all right, sir?” the mayor asked Lorenzo.
“I think so.” Pulling a white handkerchief from his pants pocket, he patted his face and neck, now mottled red, and smoothed his hair.
“If you’re able to speak, sir, it’s your turn at the microphone,” said the mayor.
Lorenzo nodded, adjusted his collar, and came forward. By dress alone, he stood out from most everyone in attendance: long-sleeved white shirt, high-waisted black pants, black tie. All very proper and distinguished. But his face shone in the spotlight and large damp circles spread from his underarms to the body of his shirt. He looked very hot. And rattled.
And that’s only the beginning of his troubles…
Before I get back to working on the story, I can’t help sharing this advance review of DEATH WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS, from Booklist:
Burdette infuses the mystery with Key West spirit and holiday fun along with delicious food references and recipes. This strong series continues a unique blend of island mayhem and sparkling characters surrounding a layered mystery. Fans of Julie Hyzy and Laura Childs may also enjoy.
Readers, picture me dancing…
Posted on November 13, 2014 - by Lucy
|Chicken and Dumplings in Tomatillo Sauce|
When I’m looking over recipes, I seem to vacillate between garden vegetables to decadent cakes, with comfort food in between.
Now that I’m headed toward the launch of DEATH WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS, I’m in the comfort food phase. If you happen to have some frozen green tomatillo sauce, this recipe is so easy. Also easy to whip that sauce up, so if you see tomatillos in the supermarket, grab them! I’ll link to the recipe for the sauce below. This is chicken and dumplings with a Tex-Mex twist–oh my mouth is watering…
Half a cooked chicken deboned and broken into pieces (could also use leftover turkey, about 2 cups)
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
2 1/2 cups salsa Verde, also called tomatillo sauce *See Cook’s note
1/2 cup milk
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter
One and a half cups all-purpose flour unbleached
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
One bunch scallions, cleaned and sliced
One handful (about 1/4 cup) fresh cilantro, chopped
To make the chicken, melt the butter in a large saucepan, and stir in the flour to make a paste. Cook for a minute or two longer, being careful not to burn the butter or flour.
Mix in the half cup milk and stir until slightly thickened. Then add the salsa Verde and cook a little longer, until the mixture is bubbling and thick. Add the chicken pieces. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 400.
To make the dumplings :
In a medium pan over low heat, heat the milk and butter until steaming. Then stir in the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, scallions, and cilantro.
Pour the hot salsa Verde and chicken mixture into a well buttered Pyrex bowl. Drop hunks of dough into the chicken. Cover the casserole and bake until the dumplings are cooked through. This may take 20 to 25 minutes. Keep checking.
*Cook’s note: I’ve made a similar recipe using jarred green salsa and it was salty to the point of being inedible. So, worth it to make the salsa yourself if you can find the tomatillos. Recipe here.
DEATH WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS will be out on December 2, just in time for Christmas stockings!
Posted on November 8, 2014 - by Lucy
Blog by Dr. Rebecca Butterman from Roberta Isleib’s (aka Lucy Burdette’s) advice column mysteries
My name is Dr. Rebecca Butterman. I’m a psychologist and I also write an advice column for the brokenhearted readers of Bloom! magazine. Family dysfunction? I know about this both professionally and personally LOL.
And don’t you find that the holiday season sometimes makes problems feel worse? Hollywood movies and Norman Rockwell paintings twist us up by having us believe that everything should be perfect for Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year’s and Hanukkah. The holidaze, I like to call them. You pull together full-grown members of a family and put them in close contact for days—they are going to fall back into ugly, old patterns. I promise you that!
Even my friends at our picture-perfect church on the town green aren’t exempt from problems. I found that out recently when our minister called me at midnight to talk about the death and possible murder of another church member. Whoa! And naturally, he wants me to help figure things out.
Some people wonder how I—being a professional—handle my stress. One of my favorite distractions is cooking. It doesn’t have to be fancy, as long as it’s good old-fashioned comfort food.
Here’s my easy recipe for baked apples, which will make your house smell like you’ve scored the best of Christmas. And make your stomach happy and turn your heart in that direction, too.
This recipe serves two, but it’s easy to double or triple it up.
Two of your favorite apples (I like Mcintosh or Macoun)
2 tablespoons butter
2 to 3 tablespoons rolled oats
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Half a teaspoon cinnamon
Core the apples, making sure not to cut all the way through to the bottom. In a small bowl, mix the butter, oats, sugar, and cinnamon well. Divide the mixture into two parts and stuff into the apples. Bake for about 45 minutes in a 350 oven, until the filling is crispy and bubbling, and the apples soft. You can add ice cream or whipped cream if you wish, but I find these apples are perfect by themselves.
The first advice column mystery, DEADLY ADVICE, is also available as an ebook. And Lucy Burdette’s fifth Key West mystery, DEATH WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS will be in bookstores December 2. You can preorder it now!
More breaking news! If you *forgot* to buy your ebook copy of AN APPETITE FOR MURDER, it’s on sale for $1.99 through the weekend!
Posted on October 30, 2014 - by Lucy
People have funny ideas about the life of a writer–imagining clamoring throngs of readers, enormous checks, and movie deals. But like many writers, I call myself “midlist.” That means I’m delighted to have a contract for sure, but still toil away in the trenches, hoping to spread the word about my books. So honestly every fan is a big deal. And a fan who works at a bookstore? Fabulous! Thought you might enjoy this story by email about a fan/clerk at the Barnes and Noble bookstore in Milford, CT.
Dear Ms. Burdette: I have some interesting news for you concerning the Key West Food Critic series. At my store, the employees each chose a book that they think they can sell 100 copies of. It’s called the 100 club. I chose “An Appetite for Murder” and so far, I’ve sold 37 copies. Who says you can’t profit from murder? CP
Dear Ms. Burdette: Just wanted to keep you updated on the staff recommends 100 club at Barnes and Noble in Milford,CT. I am very guilty of sales with Hayley’s first book “An Appetite for Murder,” which is up to 81 copies sold. CP
August 12, from Community Relations Manager Karen Dydzuhn:
Charles Pigaty, one of my co-workers, is a huge fan of yours! I’m sure you know he hand-sold more than 100 copies of one of your books! At his urging, I am writing to ask if we could schedule a time for you to do a book talk and signing at our store.
September 18, at the bookstore:
LUCY: The photo at left is from the September 18 celebration and signing, where the BN district manager presented a certificate of congrats to Charles for selling over 130 copies of An Appetite for Murder. (From left to right, Patrick Thornton, Charles Pignaty, Lucy Burdette)
Who says fans aren’t important? You guys are the ones who give meaning to what we write. Thank you Charles and Karen and Patrick and every one of you for every bit of support! xo Lucy
Posted on October 25, 2014 - by Lucy
by Lieutenant Steve Torrence from Lucy Burdette‘s Key West food critic mysteries
People seem to have this idea that cops in paradise (the island of Key West in this case) have an easy life. Shovel in a couple of doughnuts, walk along the beach, drink a cup of Cuban coffee, ride our (fill in the blank) cruiser/bike/horse up and down Duval Street–plum assignment right?
What they probably don’t know is that our little island gets a couple million visitors a year. That’s right, a couple million. Spring breakers, New Year’s Eve revelers, FantasyFest attendees–we’ve got a party for every occasion and all the trouble that goes along with that.
We attract a lot of homeless “tourists” too. And believe me, our residents and visitors don’t care to see those folks on the streets. They don’t want to see them panhandling or drinking or sleeping or worse…it’s a delicate balancing act, keeping the peace.
|The real Steve Torrence|
I have a little extra on my plate too, in the form of a new island resident named Hayley Snow. She’s a nice kid, with a nice family–and I’m glad I was able to help out with her brother this spring. But she scares me–she’s gotten the idea that she notices things the way a cop might. And she takes that further than she should.
How many ways can I think of to say “stay of out of it” in a nice way? Got any ideas about how to get the message across so she stays safe?
MURDER WITH GANACHE, the fourth Key West mystery, is in stores now!
DEATH WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS will be out on December 2, but you can pre-order wherever books are sold…
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Posted on October 20, 2014 - by Lucy
by Edel Waugh from Lucy Burdette‘s Key West food critic mystery, Death with All the Trimmings
You’ll hear the whole story in December, but let me say that starting a new restaurant is a killer proposition. So far, Key West feels even harder than New York City, if you can believe that. Here’s my theory: Established eateries don’t welcome newcomers who can cook circles around them. People don’t like it when someone else is in the limelight. A chef who can cook both new dishes and old standbys better than anyone else on the island is considered a threat. And when people feel threatened, they lash out.
|Photo by Jay DeFehr|
You know what’s been the hardest? Finding good help. Maybe you’ve heard what they say about this southernmost island: Turn the state of Florida on its end and and shake it hard. All the loose nuts fall down to Key West.
I did manage to bring down some of my people from New York City, because I know I can rely on them. Even so, bad things are happening in my kitchen. And no, I can’t take it to the police. I can’t afford one sentence of lousy publicity. That old saw “any publicity is good publicity”doesn’t work for a restaurant. One hint of cockroaches or spoiled fish or food poisoning, and the amateur food critics will be all over the Internet dissing the Bistro on the Bight.
The best I can do is try to cultivate my employees’ loyalty, and make them see that if I succeed, they succeed. And the only way I know to do that is by example–cooking like I’m on fire. Tonight I’m trying to win them over by serving my grandmother’s recipe for Bolognese sauce at the family meal. Do you think that will help?
If that doesn’t work, I may call that food critic, Hayley Snow…people say she’s good at nosing out a mystery…
Posted on October 15, 2014 - by Lucy
In the early days of my marriage to John (when most things were still mysterious,) one of the biggest mysteries about my husband was this: What in the world he could possibly be discussing with his buddies over a 4 to 5 hour golf round several times a week?
So I asked him. What do you talk about?
Even a new wife couldn’t argue with that!
And that’s what I’m writing about now in the sixth Key West food critic mystery, which will be called FATAL RESERVATIONS, and will come out next July. Hooray! Did I forget to mention that I signed a contract for two more books in the series?
Anyway, back in the third book, TOPPED CHEF, I thought I had figured out the relationships in Hayley Snow’s life. But it turned out, I wasn’t feeling the zing between her new detective boyfriend and her. So I looked around to see who else might come into the picture. And I’ve been heading in that direction ever since.
Until I got a fan email from Sue P. last week that made me question, well, everything…
I recently found this series and love it. I do have a complaint though. I was just getting interested to see how the romance would work out between Hayley and her detective. And you bring back his ex and she gets dumped! I was not a happy camper at this development. I still would like to see where this would go, more so than with her boss, which is where you seem to be leading. I think she needs a challenge and this is not her boss. Bring him back!! Just my opinion. Thanks.
So like I said, I’m puzzling over relationships…here’s a snippet from FATAL RESERVATIONS:
Fifteen minutes later, I climbed the very steep steps to the Old City Hall building, an imposing red brick structure with ornate black railings and a bell tower. For a hundred years, the city commission had been meeting here on Greene Street, a half block from Sloppy Joe’s bar and the chaos of Duval Street. I doubted that visitors had any idea how much city business was conducted while they swilled beer and shouted choruses of Buffet’s Margaritaville and Kenny Chesney’s Key West theme song No shirt, no shoes, no problems.
The hall was cavernous, handsome, and clearly set out to differentiate the commissioners and city staff from any interested onlookers. A text from Wally buzzed in, reminding me to turn off the ringer on my cell phone.
Let me know outcome tomorrow? Mom’s chemo was brutal today. I’m going to watch a marathon of Breaking Bad and then crash. See you a.m.at staff meeting.
As my relationship with Wally took a turn for the better over the last couple of months, his mother’s health had taken a turn for the worse. In that sense, our new half-owner Palamina Wells had been a godsend. She was smart enough to step right in and run the day to day nitty-gritty details of Key Zest while Wally took care of his mom. She was also smart enough to recognize the attraction between me and Wally, and to remove me from reporting directly to him, so we could see where this love train might take us.
All I can say is, stay tuned to see where this is going. And thanks Sue!
Posted on October 10, 2014 - by Lucy
|Capital Reef National Park|
LUCY BURDETTE: Earlier this summer, my husband and I attended a family wedding outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. We decided we should take a few extra days to cruise through Utah and see a couple of the wonderful national parks in that state. I, of course, was in charge of where to eat.
Here are a couple of pictures of the amazing scenery that we saw the first is a photo of Capital Reef National Park, while the second is Bryce Canyon.
|Hell’s Backbone Grill|
In between our two days of driving and gawking, we stopped for a night in Boulder, Utah, to eat at the legendary Hell’s Backbone Grill. I made reservations months in advance for dinner. They serve exactly the kind of food I like, delicious but not fussy. I ordered a spicy meatloaf and John had a chicken quesadilla casserole that was hot, cheesy, and addictive.
Of course we had to have breakfast there the next morning. I chose blue cornmeal pancakes, which they served with cinnamon butter and syrup. The pancakes were sprinkled with little purple flowers.
As you can see, the recipe has lingered in the back of my mind until I finally had to make it for you. Oh, and we ordered a box lunch to take with us the next day too. Three meals in less than 20 hours – that’s a great restaurant.
1 1/3 cups cornmeal
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 cups buttermilk (or milk with 1 Tbsp vinegar added)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
4 tablespoons melted butter, plus more for greasing griddle
2 cups blueberries
For the cinnamon butter, this is more than enough for 2 people, increase as needed: 2 tablespoons softened butter, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp sugar. Mix well.
Stir together cornmeal, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, and 4 tablespoons melted butter. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until mostly combined.
Heat the pan or griddle and melt some butter to cover. Add the wet batter to the pan and drop blueberries into each pancake. Cook over medium heat until bubbles pop, then flip the pancakes over and cook the other side, 1 to 2 minutes.
Keep the finished pancakes in a warm (200) oven until all the batter is cooked. Serve with a small scoop of cinnamon butter plus real maple syrup.
Cook’s note: Bob’s Red Mill blue cornmeal was the only brand of blue cornmeal I found, and it was quite coarse. If you prefer pancakes that aren’t quite as grainy, I would increase the amount of flour to 1 cup, and decrease the cornmeal to 1 cup.
PS, they freeze well if you have too many. Then pop them in the microwave or the toaster as you need them!
MURDER WITH GANACHE, the fourth Key West mystery, is in stores now. DEATH WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS will be out in December.
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Posted on October 4, 2014 - by Lucy
|Schnootie with her family|
by Schnootie the Schnauzer and Evinrude the cat from Lucy Burdette’s Key West food critic mysteries
Schnootie: “Woof, woof, woof, woof, woof, bacon, woof, woof. Woof, woof, Evinrude. Woof, woof, woof, Santa, woof woof! Damn cat!”
Evinrude: “That dumb dog can’t even speak English. And she gets riled up in the flick of a cat’s tail. I think she’s trying to tell you that she has a big part in the next book. I’ll show you–big deal.”
|Evinrude looking fierce|
From DEATH WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS, coming December 2:
Schnootie began to bark furiously and flung herself to the end of her leash. She choked and sputtered and started to bark again.
Mr. Renhart, who had been sleeping in a hammock on their boat, struggled to sit up, finally tipping out of the sling and slamming onto the deck. “Shut up, damn dog!” he yelped.
Mrs. Renhart rushed out to check on the commotion.
“What’s the problem, silver beastie?” she asked as she scooped up the dog and buried her nose in her fur. “Did Daddy scare you?”
Mr. Renhart struggled to his feet, scowling, and stomped back indoors. Schnootie tried to wiggle out of her arms, still barking. Mrs. Renhart looked over at us.
“Schnootie,” she said, “it’s only Santa’s elves. Were you a good doggie this year? Mommy’s going to take you to the drag bar later to have your picture taken with Santa and those great big pretty ladies.” She cracked a huge smile. “That’s going to be our Christmas card photo this year.”
Miss Gloria burst out laughing. I bit my lip to keep from joining her, not wanting to hurt our neighbor’s feelings. But Schnootie posing with drag queens? I started to giggle.
“Anyway, so sorry about all the ruckus,” Mrs. Renhart said. “Schnootie didn’t recognize you in those outfits. She must have thought you were men. She doesn’t even like Mr. R., especially since he’s started growing that silly beard.”
She ducked her chin at the door through which her outraged husband had retreated.
Schnootie wasn’t the only one with mixed feelings about Mr. Renhart.
Still chuckling, Miss Gloria and I both removed our hats and the dog quieted immediately. Mrs. Renhart motioned good-bye with Schnootie’s paw and returned to her houseboat’s cabin.