Monday, February 27, 2017

Cooking for Granddaddy

Cooking for Granddaddy

by Cayenne Cooper, from the Spice Shop Mysteries by Leslie Budewitz

Ohmygosh, I love my job! I was born for this. I love love love to cook – my grandmother started teaching me when I was a little girl, when my sister and walked to her house after school, while out parents were still at work. She’d chop and I’d stand on a stool and stir the chili or the jambalaya. Not many Seattle kids took jambalaya or etouffe in their school lunches, but my grandparents moved up here from Louisiana after the war, when my mother and her sister were small, so my granddaddy could work at Boeing. He worked in the metal shop, on the propellers, and later in engine assembly. Pretty important stuff, if you ask me. But he wanted his girls to get an education, and they both did. They became teachers and school administrators and he is so proud of them.

He wasn’t quite sure about me going to culinary school, until I started bringing home my projects for him to try. That convinced him!

But restaurant work is hard. Really hard. Long hours and lots of pressure, not to mention hot stoves, sharp knives, and frankly, bosses who aren’t always at their best. Or whose best isn’t very nice, even if they cook up a dream.

So when my sister saw the Help Wanted ad (you can read about that here!) in the window at Seattle Spice Shop in the Market, she called me right then and said you have to apply. And I did.

And I love it. Everyday, people ask me to help them choose the best spices for a dish, or to recommend something new. They wonder about the differences between Mexican and Madagascar vanilla, allspice and mace, or black and pink peppercorns. And they actually want to know my opinion! We sell cookbooks, too, so sometimes we browse together and I help them pick out a dish for a dinner party or their book club meeting, and then they buy the book AND the spices.

Plus I get to try all the spices myself. Tonight, I’m taking my grandfather a bowl of Herbed Pasta and Black Bean Salad with fresh herbs and the fabulous Italian Herb blend my boss Pepper created. He’ll get a big old grin on his face, and tell me he can still picture me standing on that stool cooking with my grandmother, though she’s been gone for ages.

I can see the pride on his face, and the love. And that's what cooking is really about, isn't it?

What new dish have you tried lately? For someone special? 

From the cover of KILLING THYME, Spice Shop Mystery #3 (out October 2016; large print edition coming in March!): 

At Seattle Spice in the Pike Place Market, owner Pepper Reece is savoring her business success, but soon finds her plans disrupted by a killer…

Pepper Reece’s to-do list is longer than the shopping list for a five-course dinner, as she conjures up spice blends bursting with seasonal flavor, soothes nervous brides fretting over the gift registry, and crosses her fingers for a rave review from a sharp-tongued food critic. Add to the mix a welcome visit from her mother, Lena, and she’s got the perfect recipe for a busy summer garnished with a dash of fun. 

While browsing in the artists’ stalls, Pepper and Lena drool over stunning pottery made by a Market newcomer. But when Lena recognizes the potter, Bonnie Clay, as an old friend who disappeared years ago, the afternoon turns sour. To Pepper’s surprise, Bonnie seems intimately connected to her family’s past. After Bonnie is murdered only days later, Pepper is determined to uncover the truth. 

But as Pepper roots out long-buried secrets, will she be digging her own grave?

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. The president of Sisters in Crime, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat Ruff, a cover model and avid bird-watcher.

Swing by my website and join the mailing list for her seasonal newsletter. And join her on Facebook where she shares lots of giveaways from my cozy writer friends.


  1. I tried a very simple recipe for a pork loin cooked in a slow cooker. It came out well, but on the other hand it was so simple even I could not mess it up.

  2. I tried making ground turkey taco zucchini boats Friday and loved them! Zero guilt and I was stuffed! I can't wait to read the last in this series and am looking forward to more too!

    1. Those sound great, and I'm all for guilt-free food! Cayenne, OTH, probably never feels guilty about what food!

  3. I'm baking a lot of new desserts lately. I'm in a baking class and we are having so much fun!