Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Pear and Ginger Scones - To Die For?

by Summer Jacobs
from the Highland Bookshop Mysteries

Summer Jacobs, here, in a hurry because business is going well in our bookshop and the tearoom. The weather here, on the west coast of Scotland, is perfect, and tourists are pouring into town. Janet meant to tell you about the Glen Sgail restoration project, this month. With all the fuss over the visiting author she's behind, though, and she asked if I'd contribute a recipe to the blog, instead. So here's my recipe for pear and ginger scones. Read this and tell me you aren't drooling. 😃

Pear and Ginger Scones

Makes 6 or 8 scones, depending on how big you want them. 

2 or 3 firmish pears (about 1 pound), peeled, cored, and cut into 1 inch chunks
1½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup granulated sugar 
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ cup chopped crystallized ginger

¼ cup heavy cream
1 large egg 

Heat oven to 375°F.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange pear chunks on parchment and roast (no need to stir) until they feel dry to the touch and look a little browned on the bottom, about 20 minutes.

Slide parchment with pear chunks onto a cooling rack and cool to lukewarm. Leave oven on. Line baking sheet with another piece of parchment.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, ground ginger, and salt together in a large bowl. Add butter cubes and cut in with a pastry blender until the cubes are about the size of baby green peas.

Stir in cooled pear chunks. Give the mixture three or four quick mashes with the pastry blender (to break a few of the pear chunks, but leaving most intact). Stir in crystallized ginger.

In a small bowl, beat cream and egg. Stir into flour mixture with a fork, just until you can bring the dough together in a ball. Don’t overmix.

On a well-floured board, pat dough into a 6-inch circle.

Cut either into 6 or 8 wedges. Arrange wedges, two inches apart, on parchment-lined baking sheet.

Bake scones until firm and golden, about 30 minutes if you’re making 6, about 22 minutes if you’re making 8. Transfer to a cooling rack.

Serve warm. 

Unbaked scones freeze beautifully and you can put them straight into the oven from the freezer. They’ll only take a few minutes longer to bake.

MMMmmmmmmmmmmmm. They're smashing! We serve them daily at Cakes and Tales. Stop in, if you find yourself in Inversgail.

Molly MacRae writes the Highland Bookshop Mystery series and the award-winning, national bestselling Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries. She lives in Champaign, Illinois, where she’s been connecting children with books at the public library for the past fifteen years. Visit Molly on Facebook and Pinterest, or connect with her on Twitter @mysteryMacRae.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Gardens in the Dowager Duchess of Chellingworth

Hello there - my name is Althea Twyst, and I'm the Dowager Duchess of Chellingworth. I'm so pleased to have the chance to talk to you again, and I'm going to use the opportunity to speak about a subject close to my heart - gardens. 

May is a wonderful month to visit a beautiful garden, and here in Wales we're blessed with more than a few worth visiting. 

Aberglasney Garden
 Aberglasney is a delightful example. It's in Carmarthen, in South West Wales, which is where a good friend of mine was raised; Carol Hill is one of the four women who run the WISE Enquiries Agency in a converted barn on the Chellingworth Estate, and she - along with her three private investigator colleagues - have solved some puzzling cases hereabouts. 

Of course, Carol was raised on a local farm, not in a mansion like Aberglasney, and now she's settled in a rather pleasant Georgian house in overlooking the village green in nearby Anwen-by-Wye.  Her infant son, Albert, is quite a cuddly little chap. 
The Mansion House, at Aberglasney

 There are some lovely places in South East Wales too, and I think my favorite there is Dyffryn Gardens.
The formal garden, at Dyffryn Gardens
The whole thing belongs to the National Trust nowadays, so I'm sure a lot of people visit.
The Pompeian garden at Dyffryn Gardens
Powis Castle is in mid-Wales; they have some lovely vistas, and it's a wonderful place to plan for a good walk.

Powis Castle and Gardens

 So, have I inspired you? Why not find out more about the wonderful gardens of Wales...maybe you'll even consider visiting Chellingworth Hall one day.

To find out more about these gardens, here are some links: 

Aberglasney Gardens:
Dyffryn Gardens:
Powis Castle and Gardens: 

Cathy Ace writes the Cait Morgan Mysteries and the WISE Enquiries Agency Mysteries. THE CASE OF THE UNSUITABLE SUITOR, the fourth in the WISE Enquiries Agency series is shortlisted for the 2018 Bony Blithe Award for Best Light Mystery by a Canadian!

  Find out more about Cathy and her work here:

Monday, May 21, 2018

Tea with the Queen? Yes, Please!

By: Jaymie Leighton
Title: Leave It to Cleaver & No Grater Danger
Series: Vintage Kitchen Mysteries
Author: Victoria Hamilton
Website: Victoria Hamilton Mysteries

Hi! Welcome to Queensville, Michigan's annual Tea with the Queen event, held every year on the weekend of the Canadian Victoria Day weekend. Look at all your wonderful hats... are you wearing them in honor of the royal wedding? Aha, I thought so! How many in your party? Five? I've got a table for you right over here near the lilacs on the lawn of our beautiful Stowe House... the last time we'll be holding it here! Next year the event will be moving to the lawn of Queensville Heritage Manor. What's that you say? Oh, yes, wasn't the royal wedding wonderful? Meghan Markle... I mean, Her Grace, the Duchess of Sussex... was so lovely; her dress was really simple, but it made her the star, and I liked that. Harry was so happy and handsome! I did wonder if he'd keep the beard, and he did! Loved the gospel choir, and the American touches. But still so British!

Right... tea! We serve tea in individual pots with a variety of real bone china cups that you can buy after tea, if you like, and you have the option of a full on tea for the whole table, with macrons, cookies, finger sandwiches, lovely Tansy Tarts butter tarts - you Canadians know all about butter tarts! - and my own cranberry lemon scones with... pardon me? Oh, yes, well... we don't have clotted cream, exactly, but a lovely creme fraiche. No, I agree, not the same thing, but we have to make do. No one was willing to make the clotted cream; too much trouble. You can also just have the tea and scones, if you like.

Yes, that's Mrs. Trelawney Bellwood playing the part of Queen Victoria today; yesterday was Imogene Frump's turn. They've started trading off now. The little tiny girl with her, dressed in the frothy white dress, who is playing one of Queen Victoria's granddaughters, is my daughter Jocie! Isn't she the most adorable little girl? Yes, I'm very lucky. Let me leave you to read over the menu and decide.

Wow... we're so busy! I have a moment to speak with you, but just briefly... we've got more people coming by buses, and the ferry from Canada is due any minute! More thirsty Canadians... those folks sure drink a lot of tea!

This royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, now the Duchess of Sussex, has created quite the fervor for our Tea with the Queen event, and we've had national coverage from the media, even! Don't get Mrs. Bellwood... I mean, Queen Victoria, started on the wedding, or she'll talk all day. It's actually one of our two biggest fundraising events of the year for the Queensville Historic Society.

We also have Dickens Days in December, when Victorian garbed carolers stroll the village; we have a cider booth, and treats for everyone! Every town has history, and it's all important, the good and the bad. Did you know that the founding father of Queensville, Jonas Perry, was a spice magnate? He imported nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper, coriander... all kinds of spices.

I'd better get back to my customers... Hello again! Okay... complete tea for the whole table, wonderful. It'll be coming in just a few minutes. By the way... after you enjoy your tea, head on out to the Queensville Heritage Manor for a tour; I designed the kitchen, and sourced all the vintage kitchen implements. Directions are on your complimentary menu, and entry is included in the price of your tea!

You're done? Thank you so much for coming to Tea with the Queen, and we hope we'll see you back in December for Dickens Days in downtown Queensville!

BTW... did you enjoy your tea and treats?



 First... an announcement! No Grater Danger, Vintage Kitchen Mysteries #7, will be out June 19th, 2018! (See below for blurb!) Also, Vintage Kitchen Mysteries #8, Breaking the Mould, will be released later this year in October/November!

Comment here to win one of three EBOOK editions of Leave It to Cleaver.

1 - Leave your first name and an email address: yourname (at) yourserver (dot) com
2 - Enter by Midnight, May 23rd - Please note... if you comment after midnight May 21st your comment won't show up immediately, but will go into moderation. I'll approve it bright and early the next day!

And that's all there is to it!

No Grater Danger - Coming June 19th!

In the brand-new Vintage Kitchen Mystery from the author of Leave It to Cleaver, someone out to spice up their life means to crush a helpless victim . . .
“Delightfully entertaining, well-written, and an interesting and exciting plot. Literally keeps you guessing right to the end.” —Goodreads on Leave It to Cleaver

Vintage cookware enthusiast Jaymie Leighton is thrilled at the prospect of meeting an elderly descendant of her town’s founding father, not least because she’s known to possess an enviably large collection of antique spice graters. But the curmudgeonly woman also has substantial real estate holdings, and at the moment she’s engaged in a fierce battle with a property developer who wants her to sell off her old buildings in the name of progress. When Jaymie goes to visit the woman and discovers that there’s been an attempt on her life, she polishes up her sleuthing skills to find out who was behind the foul deed.

Her first instinct is to suspect the developer, but as she digs deeper into the case she learns that her older new friend has purportedly been the victim of numerous criminal acts—all of which point to different suspects. Unsure if the stories are true or simply the confused ramblings of a senior citizen, Jaymie sifts through the clues hoping to expose the culprit, but she knows that if she keeps stirring up trouble, she’ll be next on the would-be killer’s list.

Includes a vintage recipe!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Spring Better Spring

By Sully Sullivan, from the Theater Cop Series by J.A. Hennrikus

Running a summer theater is hard enough.
Running a summer theater when a week before the season opens you're forced to turn the heat back on in the house is a whole other level of difficult. Once the internal temperature of my carriage house fell to 55 my cat, Max, let me know that he wasn't having it, and I had to face facts. Spring hasn't sprung in Trevortown.
It's amazing, really. 55 three months ago meant opening your coat and leaving your gloves in your bag. But that was February, and this is May. May calls for light coats, gloves finally being put away, and sandals. That is, unless you live here in New England, especially on the coast. Even with all caveats, though, this has been a chilly spring overall. Even the green is muted so far.
What does that mean for a summer theater? Well, first of all, we need to get in touch with the high school and come up with a plan B (moving into their theater) in case it gets worse. After last year's A Christmas Carol debacle none of us want to go back there too quickly, but a general manager has to plan.
Next up, we send out emails to our intrepid audience members, and suggest they dress warmly and bring layers. That always gets a great response. The first two weeks of the summer season are previews, and mostly a core group of locals come to see us all shake out the winter webs before the summer season kicks in.
As a matter of fact, a few of our longtime subscribers, and donors, hatched a plan after looking at the almanac. They've been making fleece throws. You know the type, where you get two pieces of fleece, cut the edges into fringe, and tie the fringe together in knots. They suggested making them available for rent. I laughed at the idea, but now am grateful that the cranky Yankees who help keep us running ignore me when it comes to matters of the concession stand.
Speaking of the concession stand. We've got three different cocoa recipes that can be made in large batches. It depends on who gets to the kitchen first as to which one will be served on a particular evening. For audience members in the know, the first question to ask is "who made the cocoa?" Looks like we'll need lots of that this season.
All I can say is this--I'm glad that the first show has costumes that can be layered. That year we did the Shakespeare set on a Grecian beach in July? All I can say is that teeth chattering does not good Shakespeare make.
Now, I'm off again to read the weather report. After all, this is New England. If you don't like the report, wait five minutes.

J.A. Hennrikus writes under several names. As Julia Henry, she writes the Garden Squad series for Kensington. The first in the series, Pruning the Dead, will come out in February 2019. As Julianne Holmes she writes the Agatha nominated Clock Shop Mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime. As J.A. Hennrikus she writes the Theater Cop Mystery Series for Midnight Ink, and has published three short stories with Level Best Books. She is an arts administrator and teacher in the Boston area. She a member of MWA and Sisters in Crime New England. She blogs with the Wicked Cozy Authors and Killer Characters. T:@JHAuthors I: @JHAuthors

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Aunt Ophie has a Giveaway!

By Aunt Ophie from the Read ’Em and Eat Mysteries by Terrie Farley Moran

It’s been a while since I had a chance to stop by and say “hi, y’all”. My name is Ophelia Elizabeth Brice McLennon Honeywell. Most everybody on Fort Myers Beach calls me Ophie, although I do like it when handsome young men, like those sweeties from the sheriff’s department or that sandy haired reporter, call me Miss Ophelia.

I am sure you know that my niece Bridgy Mayfield and her friend, Sassy Cabot, own the fabulous Read ’Em and Eat Café and Bookstore.  I try to push them into finding beaus and settling down but you know these modern young women. For now at least, it is all about running their business and solving the occasional murder. Yep, I did say murder. Instead of dating the handsome young deputies, Sassy and Bridgy have a less than seemly relationship with the sheriff’s office Dead body here, murderer there. What’s an auntie to do? I try to keep the girls out of trouble and believe me that is a full time job and often takes me away from my delightful shop, The Treasure Trove, which is chock full of local art and eclectic consignment items. You really should stop by when you are here at the beach.

It may only be mid-May but the lazy days have come to Fort Myers Beach. Temperatures in the 90s nearly every day. It certainly makes me appreciate the lovely breeze that comes in off the Gulf of Mexico and sweeps across the island to Estero Bay. I love to sit on my lanai in the evening and plan the next day’s events. I like to use pretty paper and a nice pen—helps me put into words the lovely thoughts rambling around in my head.

This is the kind of notepad I often use. And now you have a chance to make this summery notepad your very own by commenting below anytime up until midnight your time on Tuesday May 22nd . Please include your email in this format: your name (at) your server (dot) com--so the spambots can't pick it up. You might tell me what you would use the notepaper for, but that isn’t necessary for a chance to win.

And if you want to spend more time with me and the rest of the folks from Fort Myers Beach, you can always visit us in the Read ’Em and Eat books: Well Read, Then Dead, Caught Read-Handed and Read to Death.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Biscuit Bites Again

by Biscuit, Carrie Kennersly's dog in the Barkery & Biscuits Mysteries by Linda O. Johnston

Hello.  My name is Biscuit.  I've visited Killer Characters a couple of times before, and usually come here when my wonderful human Carrie Kennersly asks me to.  I still don't understand too much about it, but Carrie tells me she's the human whose stories are being told in the Barkery & Biscuits Mysteries.  

Those stories?  They all have something to do with murders of human beings, and Carrie gets involved with figuring out what nasty person actually did it. 

I think I mentioned last time that a book called PICK AND CHEWS would be coming out describing the fourth of Carrie's adventures.  It's out now.

I also mentioned that Carrie owns two shops, one a bakery for humans and the other a barkery where she bakes the most wonderful treat for dogs, ones she created in her other job as what she calls a vet tech.  Mostly, she explains to me that she works there part time to help save dogs' lives, and I'm all for that.  I'm also all for her baking those treats, and letting me sample them.

And yes, I mentioned that Carrie's closest friend these days seems to be Dr. Reed Storme, a veterinarian at her vet clinic where she works.  I like him, and I even like his dog Hugo, who's bigger than me.  I'd also said that Reed sometimes tells Carrie to stop investigating those people murders which was fine with me, since he says it's dangerous and she could get hurt, which would be terrible.  Only, from what I understand about PICK AND CHEWS, Reed is considered a murder suspect so this time he doesn't tell her to back off, at least not completely.  So I'm still worried. 

But my Carrie is smart, so she'll come out of this one okay, too--I hope. 

Anyway, she tells me PICK AND CHEWS is now available, and so are her other stories: BITE THE BISCUIT, TO CATCH A TREAT, and BAD TO THE BONE.   I'm in all of them, of course, although they don't always show everything I've done to protect my human.  I'd do anything for her.  Carrie's in those stories, too, and so are lots of other dogs besides me, plus some of Carrie's friends, like Reed. 

As long as my Carrie stays safe and provides me with more dog treats, I'll be happy. 

PICK AND CHEWS, the fourth Barkery & Biscuits Mystery by Linda O. Johnston, is a May 2018 release from Midnight Ink. 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Missing the Mark

By Officer Roelke McKenna

Village of Eagle Police Department

From the Chloe Ellefson Mysteries

by Kathleen Ernst

Roelke McKenna here. I'm in a bad way. My best friend and former partner, Rick Almirez of the Milwaukee Police Department, was killed on duty the other night.

He was killed in Milwaukee's Old South Side neighborhood.  I used to walk a beat here too, so I know it well.  A lot of Polish-Americans live here. Rick was killed near a statue honoring a famous Polish soldier.

The area is best known for St. Josaphat's Cathedral, which is an amazing church in a working-class neighborhood.

Good people live in this area, and I enjoyed my time here.  Rick did too. But now he's dead.

I didn't think anything could make that situation worse. However, I just learned that Rick did something strange the night he was killed. Rick missed his mark.

Like all beat cops, Rick was required to use a call box to check in every hour.  His mark time was ten minutes before the hour. Cops are only given a five-minute grace period to hit their mark. Sergeants get cranky if that window passes without communication.

Unless Rick was wrestling a violent drunk to the ground or something, he never missed his mark.

"Wasn't he carrying a handy-talkie?" I asked Dobry Banik, a mutual cop-friend.

"Rick always said it slowed him down."  Dobry just hitched one shoulder up and down.  "I don't carry one either.

I used to work at the MPD too. Rick and Dobry scoffed at me for being an "early adopter." When police vests came on the market, I got one.  When personal radios were made available, I carried one.  Sure, it was annoying to add an eight-pound weight to my duty belt. But for crying out loud, it's 1983. Why not take advantage of the latest tools?

But in Milwaukee, handy-talkies are still optional.  Lots of the beat men still rely solely on the old call boxes sprinkled through the city instead.

Anyway, then Dobry tells me that when the sergeant sent him looking, he found Rick in a bar.

"Trouble on a bar check?" I asked.

"No, Roelke.  Rick was having a Policeman's Coke."

As you probably know, "Policeman's Coke" is slang for alcohol.

I don't believe Rick missed his mark because he was boozing it up in some tavern. There has to be a good explanation. And the local cops, my old buddies, don't seem to be interesting in finding that explanation.

If the truth is going to be found, it's up to me to find it. Even if it costs me my career, which matters a lot. Even if it costs me my relationship with Chloe, which matters even more.

Wish me luck.

* * *
Kathleen Ernst is the author of thirty-six books, including the Chloe Ellefson Mysteries, mysteries for young readers, historical fiction, and two nonfiction books. Before becoming a full time writer she worked as a curator at Old World Wisconsin.

To learn more about the award-winning Chloe Ellefson series---including the latest, Mining For Justice, see Kathleen's website.

Kathleen is celebrating the series with an eight-month-long retrospective, and it's Tradition of Deceit month! Stop by her blog to learn more about the book, and watch her Facebook Author Page for a Giveaway.