Wishing you a happy and healthy 2017!
We’re starting the week off a little colder and a little snowy. That’s right, it’s beginning to feel like winter here in Connecticut and by the middle of the week the temperatures will nose dive and there will be no turning back, winter has settled in to stay. And with the weather finally turning it’s a great time to curl up with a good book. I’m sure we all have a pretty tall stack of TBR (to be read) that we can choose our next read from and doesn’t that stack keep growing no matter how many books we pull out to read? 🙂 My stack is a combination of mysteries and romances and women’s fiction. I enjoy reading across genres and sub-genres but presently I’m not writing across genres (that’s a different post). When people find out that I am a writer the next question always is “what kind of book is it” and my answer is “mystery”. I’ve been asked a few times why I write mysteries and today that’s what this post is about. I have a full cup of coffee so lets get chatting.
For today’s post I want to focus in on the type of book I’ve written – a cozy culinary mystery and what draws me to this genre.
Cozy mysteries foster a sense of familiarity for the reader. Even though the story is usually set around a murder, there is a comfort in diving into the book. You’re visiting old friends and the town in which they call home. A skilled writer can keep the characters fresh by allowing them to grow with each book but yet keep them true to the character that they are. Relationships between the characters are often tested and strengthened during the course of the investigation because the sleuth is investigating on her own. This brings me to another reason why I’m drawn to cozy mysteries. The sleuth is usually an average woman who finds herself in extraordinary situations forcing her to step outside her comfort zone in order to find the real killer. I love that she has to become fearless, take on people who make it very clear that she’s sticking her nose in someone else’s business, that she’ll have to fight for her life at some point. As I flip each page of the book the sleuth becomes stronger and more determined.
Murder is a horrible crime, the most serious because a life is taken and at the end of the book the murderer has been revealed and justice will prevail. Sometimes in a cozy mystery a bad person is murder but he deserves justice also. The wrapping up of the murder reminds us that good can triumph over bad and that every life is precious. At the end of a cozy mystery typically the sense of normalcy that was present at the beginning of the book returns and it’s a reminder that life must go on, albeit different but life continues and we need to be a part of it.
I enjoy cooking and baking so I naturally gravitated towards cozies that feature food. I recall that the two first culinary mysteries I read were Joanne Pence’s Angie Amalfi series and Katherine Hall Page’s Faith Fairchild series. I’ve read every book in those series and loved them. Food is such an intregal part of our lives, we share food with loved ones and friends during the everydays in our lives to the most joyous or the saddest days in our lives. Food celebrates, nourishes, comforts so to weave it through a mystery where there is so much uncertainty it feels right to me.
I’m going to finish my coffee now and I’d love to know what genre of books you like to read and what draws you to them. If you don’t have a question, don’t be shy – say “hi” in the comments section!
Another week is coming to an end and the weekend is coming up fast. It’s just not any weekend because Christmas is right around corner. Today is the 9th! The 9th! Where has this month gone? I don’t mean to brag, but I got most of my shopping done. I shopped local and online and managed to avoid the mall. I think I have two more gifts to get and then it’s onto wrapping. I am a little stumped about one of the gifts I still need to purchase, I’m not sure what to get one of my friends. I’m hoping that inspiration will spark over the weekend. While I won’t be gift shopping, I’ll be running errands.
For my Friday Fave today I’m all about casual comfort while out and about. I love this outfit for running errands, meeting up with friends for a casual lunch or attending one of the many holiday events around town.
What’s your go-to casual weekend look?
There are days that are just meant to be soup days. You know the kind of days I’m talking about. Rainy, dreary, chilly or snowy and bone-chilling cold. The Sunday that I made my first big pot of this soup for the season wasn’t snowy or bone-chilling, just rainy and dreary with a gray sky. A perfect soup day. And what was the soup of the day you ask? Roasted Butternut Squash soup.
This soup says to me “Autumn” like no other soup but on a cold, wintry day it’s just as comforting. I love curling up, yep, this is that kind of meal, with a big bowl on the sofa while the changing leaves whirl around outside as the day slips into cool darkness. But before I can do that I need to make the soup. Some people opt not to make this soup because lets face it, a butternut squash can be a beast to work with. It’s awkward shape an thickness can lead to mishaps with a knife and since we don’t want that to happen it’s easier just to buy a can a soup at the store or pick-up a to-go container at a local restaurant. Since I love a challenge I’ve taken the butternut squash head on for several years, peeling and chopping and roasting until a light bulb went off over my head (seriously, I swear that happened) and the word “duh” escaped my lips. I don’t peel or chop or risk digits to make my beloved soup. I now simply cut the squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Now, when I cut the squash in half it still is a little difficult to hold straight, it tends to want to roll a little so I simply slice off a small sliver of the squash on one side of the bottom (where it’s wider) so that the squash lays flat against the surface of my carving board and then I work my knife through it to slice in half. Once I have two halves I then sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle olive oil over both halves.
All right, enough with talking, lets get onto the recipe.
Oh, one more thing before we get to the recipe. I’ve used an immersion blender in the past to puree this soup and it’s worked fine. But this time around I used my Vitamix blender and I was left with the creamiest, silkiest soup I’ve ever made. In the recipe I refer to the immersion blender but if you have a blender that will handle a big batch of hot soup then go for it.
Okay, now the recipe.
- 1 butternut squash, halved
- 1 onion, peeled and chopped
- 1 baking potato, peeled and chopped
- 1 McIntosh apple, peeled and chopped
- 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
- 3 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 quart chicken broth
- ½ – 1 cup milk
- salt and pepper to season
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Rub both halves of the butternut squash with olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper over both halves. Roast for one hour or until tender.
- In a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, toss the onion, potato and garlic with olive oil to coat; season with salt and pepper. Bake for 30 minutes, add the apples and continue to bake until tender. Transfer vegetables and apples and any juices to a large soup pot, add the chicken broth and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and using an immersion blender, puree until smooth. Add milk to get desired thickness, season with salt and pepper.
Here we are starting a new week.
And that leads me into the question of the day – what are you working on at the moment? I have a full cup of coffee so lets start chatting.
I am currently working on the second book in my cozy mystery series. Since it’s a work-in-progress I can’t say too much about it. I can tell you that I’m about 30,000 words in. I did get stuck a few times because I had to stop writing book 2 in order to edit book 1 so I could get it back to my agent. Once I turned book 1 back in to my agent I dove back into book 2 only to be pulled out of it because book 1 came back for a final proofread before sending it out to editors. When I was able to settle back into book 2 I was a little disconnected from it and it took me several days to get back into the groove. I found my groove when I wrote a scene that wasn’t in my outline (yes, I outlined this book and it’s broken down by chapters and scenes). I fell in love with the scene, I fell in love with my amateur sleuth again and I was excited to continue writing the book.
I’m also brainstorming another series. Since I’m committed to writing book 2 in my series I can’t take much time away from it because I want to finish the first draft in a few weeks and I don’t want to have to go through the whole settling back into the book that I’ve struggled with over the past few months. So I’m just jotting down notes for the other series as they come to me.
I’m also working on a hat. On the heels of the success of my nephew’s baby blanket I’ve decided to knit a hat for myself. To be honest, the blanket was much easier than this stupid hat but I’m determined to finish it and wear the hat one day very soon.
I’m going to finish my coffee now and I’d love to know what you’re working on at the moment. If you don’t have a question, don’t be shy – say “hi” in the comments section!