One Sunday afternoon I was looking at my iPad to see what books I had on my Kindle that might be something I could enjoy for the next few hours. I had bought Anna Burke’s book, A Dead Husband, several months ago and am I glad I did. I absolutely loved it! I live in Southern California and know the Palm Springs area and its people well. Anna does a fabulous job of creating characters and settings that are spot on and make for a wonderful read. I’m a fan, pure and simple. One read and if cozy mysteries or food are your thing, this is a series you DO NOT WANT TO MISS!
I was so enchanted by the book I contacted her and asked if she would write a guest blog. She even threw in a recipe. Enjoy! I sure am!
Have your cake and eat it too…
Food—lots of it, exotic eats, haute cuisine, and comfort food is everywhere in the cozy mystery genre. Especially the culinary cozy, like Dianne Harman’s wonderful new series, but it’s true in lots of other subgenres of the cozy mystery too. I’ve tried to explain it, to myself, and to my blog readers in other posts, but it defies explanation. So, I’ve come to accept that it’s just there. A tough job, but somebody’s got to do it—not just write, but read about all that mouthwatering cuisine!
I did not set out to write a cozy mystery, laced with references to food. Nevertheless, food is everywhere in A DEAD HUSBAND and A DEAD SISTER, the first two books in the Jessica Huntington Desert Cities Mystery series. Maybe it’s because of the setting. The series is set in and around Palm Springs where foodies flock while chasing sunshine.
Or maybe it has to do with my background as a chef. Ancient history for me now, but it meant the world to me at the time. Disney World that is, where my husband and I both ended up, trained by and working for ‘the mouse’ in the culinary arts. It was physically hard work, long hours, but when my husband’s rock band broke up, we had to do something. Even as a culinary assistant, in the kitchen, you know where your next meal is coming from! Life eventually took another turn and our careers went in a totally different direction, but an appreciation for good food never left me.
Jessica Huntington, my shopaholic sleuth, prone to panic attacks, and a lover of extravaganzas, is no slouch in the kitchen. But her friend and confidant, Bernadette, is a woman who loves to cook and cooks to express her love. Comfort food, like her to-die-for French toast, but also spicy things too, like Nachos, Tequila-laced salsa made with roasted peppers, Mexican chocolate cake, spiked with chile peppers and covered in fudge frosting, or biscochitos. In A DEAD DAUGHTER, the third book that will be out soon, Jessica Huntington’s romantic interest, Frank Fontana, cooks too—Italian, yum [I’m talking about the food folks].
Okay, surprised or not that food is such a big deal it’s a fact at this point. When I write about murder and mayhem the sleuthing is accompanied by a big helping of something scrumptious. A bountiful buffet offered in counterpoint to nefarious acts and the suspense that ensues while discovering whodunit, how, and why.
The only problem with all the references to food is that, reading or writing a cozy mystery, you are going to get hungry! I’ve learned to plan a treat for my husband who reads my books as I write them. By the time he’s finished with a chapter there’s a bowl or plate of something tasty waiting. I love the guy so I don’t want to kill him with kindness—his cholesterol and triglyceride levels are sensitive and he has a weakness for peanut butter and chocolate. I’m always looking for a way to have my cake and eat it too.
Here’s my latest attempt at a recipe for a delicious treat that honors my own sensitivity to gluten and my propensity to pack on pounds, as well as my husband’s cholesterol and triglyceride levels. We had this Gluten free, low sugar, low fat, pumpkin cheesecake for Thanksgiving. It will be back on the menu at Christmas time since it was a big hit. If you don’t like sugar substitutes try coconut palm sugar. It’s low glycemic, all natural, looks and tastes a lot like brown sugar, but healthier than traditional sugar. If you’re interested I’m happy to provide you with a recipe for the brandy-vanilla version of this cheesecake.
Bon appetit and good reading! Thank you Dianne Harman for the guest spot on your lovely blog!
Find me, Anna Celeste Burke, and that French toast recipe, at http://www.desertcitiesmystery.com
A DEAD HUSBAND http://smarturl.it/adeadhus
A DEAD SISTER http://smarturl.it/adeadsis