Saturday, January 22, 2011

I’d Kill for a Hoosier

By Jaymie Leighton, narrator of Victoria Hamilton's Vintage Kitchen Mysteries, coming soon from Berkley Prime Crime

Hi there! My name is Jaymie Leighton. I don’t know what I’m doing on a blog called ‘Killer Characters’ (I’m no killer, though I may be a bit of a character) but they invited me to talk about whatever interests me, so here goes. What interests me is old junk, specifically old junk used in yesteryear’s kitchen. Show me a rickety pie safe, an old mustard tin, or a nice set of Pyrex bowls, and I’m a happy gal. Give me a box fully of vintage cookbooks and you won’t see me for a week. I love kitcheny old stuff so much, that I’ve learned a whole lot most girls my age don’t know. For example, do you know what ‘water glass’ is? Or ‘top milk’? How about a ‘sugar devil’? No? I do!

I’d better tell you a little about myself; I’m 32, and live in Queensville, a town nestled by the St. Clair River in Michigan. My sister, Becca, and I own the Leighton home; our mom and dad, Alan and Joy Leighton, deeded it to us when they retired to Florida. Becca, my only sibling, actually moved to London, Ontario, when she married a Canadian. Divorce didn’t send her home; she stayed there and runs her thriving china matching business. So I live alone in our big, old family home!

Yes, alone. I’m very single. I had a boyfriend, Joel, but a few weeks before Christmas he got up, said he had to go out for a while, and just never came back. No explanation, nothing. He decided to move in with beautiful, blonde, blue-eyed, new-to-Queensville Heidi Lockland. I’m not bitter, really. No, honestly! I guess I’m still a little confused about my feelings. The only romance I get now is in the novels I love to read. Lately, though, I think of romance novels as fantasy literature.

Lucky for me, about the time Joel shattered my heart, I found Grandma Leighton’s old cookbooks up in the attic. With nothing much to do in the winter months, I began to leaf through them, then settled down in earnest to try out the old recipes, modifying and improving as I went. Finally I found a purpose for all the old bowls and utensils I’ve been collecting for the last few years; I use them to try out the vintage recipes!

Before I knew it, I started to write a cookbook. Only don’t tell anyone! Mom isn’t really the kind for heart-to-heart chats, and Becca… she means well, but can’t help jumping in on any idea I have, ‘improving’ it until it no longer resembles what I intended. I’m not saying a word to her until I have it all figured out.

Anyway, my goal now is to find a Hoosier cabinet. I would kill for one. Look at the lovely photo I borrowed from John Lucas. I want one like this, a home for all my vintage bowls, tools, linens and cookbooks. And maybe there’ll be room for my own cookbook someday… Recipes from the Vintage Kitchen, by Jaymie Leighton. Has a nice ring to it!

So that’s me in a nutshell, a broken-hearted, old-fashioned, small town girl with a yen for ‘good old days’ I’m too young to have experienced. Oh, and those terms I used at the beginning? Fascinating stuff! ‘Water glass’ is actually sodium silicate, a chemical that the careful housewife with too many eggs would use in the old days. The chemical powder was reconstituted with boiling water, the eggs were submerged in it, then removed and allowed to dry. This apparently kept them fresh for quite a while, but I don’t think I’d try it.

‘Top milk’ is cream; IOW, milk that has floated to the top, and a ‘sugar devil’ is a wicked looking instrument to break up clumped sugar. Back in the old days, sugar was sold in block form and needed to be broken down into powder.

And a Hoosier? Well, we already discussed that, and my desire to commit mayhem for the love of one! LOL. Actually, if I was faced with a dead body I’d probably faint ‘dead’ away. That’ll never happen in quiet little Queensville, so I don’t need to worry!

Anyway, ta-ta for now. I’ve been invited back to ‘Killer Characters’ and I’ve already accepted. Everyone acts like they know something I don’t know, that I’ll have more to talk about in future; I don’t know about that, but I’ll be back. Maybe by then I’ll have more to say about my search for the perfect Hoosier!

Hoosier Photo courtesy of: John Lucas

Tomorrow on Killer Characters: Dorothy Parker (yes, that Dorothy Parker!) from J.J. Murphy’s MURDER YOUR DARLINGS


  1. I love old kitchen things too! I also collect cookbooks. I generally don't cook too much from them, but I love to collect them!

  2. Hi Jaymie,

    It is nice to meet you. I can't wait to hear all about you and the adventures that will cross your path.

    I love the Hoosier cabinet.

  3. Hi Jaymie.

    Can't wait to read the Vintage Kitchen Mysteries. I've always wanted a Hoosier, too. I collect cookbooks of all kinds, but I especially like vintage ones and I have a few vintage items that were my grandmothers. I'm thinking your series is a must read for me.

  4. Hi all,

    Just as Jaymie loves and collects old kitchen stuff, so do I! I'm always on the lookout for old Pyrex, vintage linens, utensils and especially vintage cookbooks! It's amazing how cheap you can get stuff at thrift shops, garage sales and rummage sales.

    I plan to share some of my finds on my blog, Vintage Kitchen Mysteries.

  5. Sugar devil! Interesting. You know how brown sugar sometimes becomes as hard as a rock . . .???

  6. Let's just say, Janet, that I think a sugar devil (I've seen a picture) would make a dandy murder weapon for say... Book 3???

  7. Nice to meet you, Jaymie. Sounds like you'll have some very mysterious adventures coming up -- I'm looking forward to reading them.

    Can't relate to the "joy of cooking" but I do understand your passion for vintage.

  8. Wow - now I need to find a picture of a sugar devil! Fascinating stuff. Can't wait to read the book. :)

  9. Hi Jaymie! I can't wait to "meet" you and learn all about your vintage kitchen hobby. However, one thing I've learned is "never say never"...

  10. Fantastic post...can't wait for this series!!! I'm a huge cookbook lover too :)

  11. Wouldn't Sugar Devil be a great title for a book? I can just imagine the scenario!

    Sounds like a fun new series, Jamie. I look forward to hearing more about you.

    ~ Krista

  12. Hi Jaymie, it's very nice to meet you. =0} I enjoyed your introduction and learning about vintage kitchen items. Sounds very interesting, and I look forward to reading more about your adventures!

  13. I can't wait for the vintage kitchen mysteries! Thanks for coming by.

  14. On behalf of Jaymie, (who is busy right now arguing with her much-older sister about her love life),we've enjoyed so much being here! Actually, book 3 of the Vintage Kitchen Mystery series is tentatively entitled 'Death by Sugar Devil', which says a lot about it... hehe!

    For those curious, go to this link and you'll see a sugar devil!