Friday, July 6, 2018

Farm to Fork by Lynn Cahoon

JENN McKINLAY: I spent my childhood amidst the apple orchards and dairy farms of Litchfield County, CT. When I saw Lynn Cahoon bust out a fabulous farm to fork mystery series, I was all in! Here's Lynn to tell us more about it. 

Lynn Cahoon

LYNN CAHOON: I grew up in a household that thought eating out was getting four-for-a-dollar tacos on Taco Tuesday. The fact my mom had three kids still in the house when she married my step-father, made eating at home a much cheaper option. Especially since our new home was a 40-acre farm where my stepfather raised cows and had a knack for bartering our other meat. Some years we raised chickens, other times, we bought them at the store when they were twenty-five cents a pound. Mom had a huge chest freezer that always had some kind of meat, but boy, I got tired of steak.
Sunday dinner, which was served in the afternoon, was glorious. Chicken dusted in seasoned flour in a paper sack then fried in a cast iron pan filled with melted lard. Mashed potatoes with country gravy. A green salad, with iceberg lettuce and home-made ranch dressing. Corn we’d bagged and frozen the summer before. And always a dessert. Chocolate cake was my favorite.

Fast forward a few years and now Farm-to-Table restaurants are popping up all over. So I thought this was a perfect time to write about my home and open, fictionally, a farm to fork restaurant in the little town of River Vista, Idaho. 

The best thing about writing this series was I got to go home in my mind and make it kinder and softer. And I did a lot of research in the form of eating at as many farm to table restaurants as I could. I must have ordered fried green tomatoes in every southern state I visited over the last two years. And last year, when I was writing the third book, I went searching the streets of Ontario for poutine. 
You’ve probably guessed by now, I’m all about the food. 
If you’re from the southwestern Idaho area, you probably never heard of River Vista. Yet a lot of the landmarks I’ve used in the series are real. Like Celebration Park on the Snake River. Or Initial Point where years ago, they first laid out the boundaries for the new state.  
Even River Vista is modeled after my old home town. Although I had to change a few things. The drive-in where I used to eat fried fish and fries for lunch when I was in high school is still there. But I’ve played around with the other shops and sites in the town. But always, the real town is underneath the fictional town as I’m writing. 
What I hope I’ve caught with WHO MOVED MY GOAT CHEESE and the just released, KILLER GREEN TOMATOES, is the feel of the area. The feel of a warm summer night sitting outside on the porch. The taste of farm fresh food on your plate. And the warmth of the people in a small town. Especially for newcomers. 
And if River Vista has tripled its homicide rate since Angie and her friend Felicia have moved back, it’s really just a coincidence. 

So, Reds and readers, what’s your favorite comfort food? 


KILLER GREEN TOMATOES, book 2 of the Farm-to-Fork mystery series released July 3rd.  
The time seems ripe for success as Angie Turner opens her farm-to-table restaurant in her Idaho hometown—until her new tomato supplier is accused of murder and Angie has to pick the real killer . . .

To Angie, nothing tastes more like summer than her Nona's fried green tomatoes. Eager to add the recipe to the menu at the County Seat, she's found the perfect produce supplier—her sous chef Estebe’s cousin, Javier. Just one problem: ladies’ man Javier’s current hot tomato Heather has turned up dead, and he’s the prime suspect. Somehow, between managing her restaurant and navigating a romantic triangle between Estebe and Ian, the owner/manager of the farmer's market, Angie needs to produce evidence to clear Javier—before this green tomato farmer gets fried . . .

Lynn Cahoon is the author of the NYT and USA Today best-selling Tourist Trap cozy mystery series. GUIDEBOOK TO MURDER, book 1 of the series, won the Reader's Crown for Mystery Fiction. She also pens the Cat Latimer series available in mass market paperback. SLAY IN CHARACTER releases 11/27/18. In 2018, she’s releasing the first two books of the new Farm to Fork series – WHO MOVED MY GOAT CHEESE and KILLER GREEN TOMATOES. She lives in a small town like the ones she loves to write about with her husband and two fur babies. Sign up for her newsletter at www.lynncahoon.com
  

72 comments:

  1. Oh, yum, Lynn . . . your stories sound absolutely delicious! Congratulations on your newest book . . . .

    My favorite comfort food? It’s tough to pick just one dish, but I’d have to say macaroni and cheese. Easy to make, yummy to eat. What more could you possibly ask for?

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    1. I finally found an amazing mac and cheese recipe that's quick enough for weekdays. Love it.

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  2. Waving hi to fellow farm writer Lynn! Readers on Facebook might want to join our Down on the Farm Mystery Writers fan group. Lynn and I and two other farm writers have fun discussions and contests going on over there!

    You mentioned poutine - I love it for comfort food. Or polenta. Or gnocci. Cheesy grits. Anything nice and starchy!

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    1. Hi Edith! I spent about a year eating Cheesy Grits once I found them. (Not a standard Idaho food- lol) My husband was out of town a lot that year and it was an amazing comfort food.

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  3. Cheeseburgers...the answer is always cheeseburgers.

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    1. "Cheeseburger, cheeseburger, Pepsi, Pepsi..." Now I'm showing my age.

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    2. Lynn, I swear to you, as soon as I read Jay's comment I heard John Belushi's voice calling out "Cheeseburger, cheeseburger..."

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  4. Best comfort food - scalloped potatoes the way my mother made them with bits of ham!

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    1. I haven't found a scalloped potato recipe that I love yet... Maybe the ham would make a difference.

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  5. Oh! So many choices! Mashed potatoes , certainly. Lasagna. Oh, baked potatoes! With sour cream and cheese and bacon. Bacon with… Bacon. Guacamole! Bagels with cream cheese and lettuce and tomato and smoked salmon and capers Roast turkey and stuffing Oh my goodness Lynn, what a great way to start the morning! But now I’ll be thinking about this all day… congratulations on the series! What a terrific idea!

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    1. Hank, how you eat this and stay thin amazes us all. xox

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    2. Thanks Hank! I fangirled you at the bar in Bouchercon in St Louis one year. :) Potatoes are my weakness. Baked, fried, mashed, you can tell I'm an Idaho girl.

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  6. Happy Book Day Lynn. You got me with fried chicken and country gravy!

    My favorite comfort food varies with the season. In the winter it's a pot of beef vegetable soup with barley and a loaf of crusty bread. Spring brings on asparagus. I don't believe I've ever eaten all I want, slathered with butter and a little salt, food of the gods. Summer is a contest between tomatoes and strawberries with corn on the cob coming in a close third. And crispy fall days bring on anything I can cook in the oven to warm up the house before we turn the furnace on.

    But my favorite most comfort food of all time? That would be a tomato soup sandwich. Yes, you heard correctly. It's a slice of toasted sourdough topped with cottage cheese and Campbell's tomato soup made with water, not milk. This is what I want all year long when I'm sick or just need to feel cozy. Don't knock it 'til you've tried it.

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  7. Lynn, congratulations on the new book! I love your description of Sunday supper... fried chicken is one of my favorite comfort foods. My comfort food: potato chips and onion soup mix dip. Dangerous.

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    1. Hallie, except for salsa, I'm not much of a dip girl, but give me a bag of fresh, salty plain potato chips and I'm in heaven.

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  8. The books sound delicious Lynn! Fried chicken and mashed potatoes or those cheesy grits:).Do you include recipes in your book? Hint hint on the fried green tomatoes....

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    1. Lucy, I included my mom's fried zucchini recipe in the back.

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  9. I make a killer mac and cheese with sour cream and Tony's Creole seasoning.

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    1. Interesting...I'm going to have to try using the Creole seasoning. My husband isn't a sour cream fan, but I could substitute greek yogurt.

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  10. All my tomato plants are loaded with green tomatoes right now. Hmm. I see some fried for supper tonight. We are so anxious for that fresh tomato taste, especially right before they ripen.

    In that vein, BLTs do a great job of comforting in summer, along with fresh corn on the cob, and my wild blackberry pie. I just started picking the berries this week. Having them in the freezer all year, or made into jam, let's my husband have access to his favorite comfort food.

    Lynn, I've only been to the part of Eastern Idaho a little way west of Yellowstone, but what magnificent country we saw. My brother-in-law is from the Salmon area, and he told us about the local habit, when he was a child, of scavenging for unharvested potatoes around the field edges. And how they found a potato so big that his grandmother roasted it right alongside the turkey, which was almost the same size. I'm not sure about his memory on this one, but what a story!

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    1. Karen, the potato memory made me smile this morning. Thank you

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  11. Congratulations Lynn on your new series. Food always gets my attention. Comfort food is anything that has melted cheese as one of the ingredients. In lieu of cheese, chocolate will do the trick. Finally, with a tip of the hat towards Hank, anything with bacon and avocado. Excuse me. I'm just going to step into the kitchen now.

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  12. Congratulations on the new series -- it sounds good!

    If I'm making it for myself, then my favorite comfort food is probably homemade chicken noodle soup (nothing from a can.) If I'm eating out, I have a real soft spot for a good chicken pot pie.

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  13. So many foods to choose from..I guess it depends on my mood. We always made tomato soup with water when I was a kid...now I don't use soup from a can. Soups, pasta, peanut butter. I could go on.

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    1. I have to say, peanut butter and apples are my favorite at work snack.

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  14. I’d have to say green beans and taters!! Cooked low and slow with bacon (or ham)
    I’m so excited for your new book, it came in the mail yesterday.

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    1. Jayme, you are the first person besides me who cooks them this way. Our fave summer veg

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    2. Hi Jayme! My mom always put bacon in the green beans. But I haven't had taters with them. We fried taters and onions. Yum.

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  15. When I was a kid, my go-to comfort food was the bland, utterly normal tuna noodle casserole my mother used to make--particularly when I could eat the cold leftovers the next day. I still make it for myself from time to time, and any experiments to make it "healthier" just ruin it, so it is what it is. More often now, though, if I want something quick and comforting, I'll just slather a bowl of pasta with butter and parmesan cheese. Not for everyday consumption, for sure, but on some days it's really important.

    Lest you think all my comfort food is carb heavy, I'll confess that last night I drove to the next town down the road to get a darn near perfect dinner of meat loaf, steamed carrots, green beans, and mac 'n' cheese. Pure bliss on a night when I was too hot and too tired to cook.

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  16. I have to say nothing beats a good batch of macaroni and cheese when I'm seeking comfort. But that fried chicken sounds awfully close!

    Mary/Liz

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    1. When we were kids we always got to pick what to have for dinner on our birthdays. I always choose fried chicken, peas, and mashed potatoes. Still a favorite meal.

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    2. I love making mac and cheese.

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  17. Lynn, the new books sounds like so much fun. Just what i need today. Must go get. And Gigi, we must be sisters under the skin. Love tuna casserole and still make the fast version - creamed tuna on toast.(Looks awful, tastes great) Pasta with butter and Parm? perfect. Cheese ravioli is my first choice and I add a touch of anchovy. Actually any carb- grits, anyone? - with any cheese, spells little kid comfort for me.

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    1. My mom and I used to make creamed tuna on toast. Nobody else in the family liked it. Very comforting!

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    2. Oh my, creamed tuna bi think it’s an eastern seaboard thing. Julie requests it often and I’ve learned to like it. We have it on mashed potatoes.

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    3. Never heard of it on toast, but I'm game! No peas, though. And no crushed potato chips on top when you can have parmesan. We may be related, Triss.

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    4. I think sometimes the best food doesn't look all that good. I'm in for some hamburger gravy on mashed potatoes.

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  18. Lynn, welcome to Jungle Reds! I love farm to fork restaurants. I will look for your books in the library.

    What is my favorite comfort food? Perhaps chocolate?

    Diana

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    1. Thanks Diana! Good chocolate is a slice of heaven.

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  19. Hi Lynn! Congrats on the new book. I love farm to fork and anything about restaurants so will be checking this out.

    Favorite comfort food? Cheese toast, made with whole wheat bread and really good sharp cheddar. If I'm in Brit mode, I'll add a little Branston Pickle. (Sort of like chutney--but very sharp and vinegar-y.) And, oh, I love cheese grits, too!

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  20. Farm to fork - I love it! There's a beautiful wedding barn in my town that hosts several farm-to-table meals each year. Everyone sits at long tables and enjoys brilliantly prepared meals accompanied by selected wines. Unbelievably good (although you may want to arrange for someone else to drive home!)

    My favorite comfort food? In cold weather, homemade potato or squash soup. In hot weather - ice cream!

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    1. Potato soup is one of my favorite comfort foods.

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  21. I'm with Julia on the ice cream, but I would start the meal with some mac and cheese! And chocolate is always comforting!

    Lynn, are there any comfort foods specific to SW Idaho? Any particular desserts?

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    1. Whenever we are in Seattle a stop at Beechers for Mac and cheese is a must for us....a fun tradition.

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    2. Desserts? Apple pie, homemade ice cream (vanilla was my favorite). My mom always had some sort of dessert at the house, usually chocolate cake.

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  22. Lynn I adore pouting even though I know it's not good for me and my standard go to is grilled cheese all bubbly on top

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    1. Sorry the auto correct on my phone changed poutine to pouting. I rarely pout

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    2. I heart grilled cheese sandwiches too.

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    3. I was surprised at how much I liked it Rhys. We have a place here that does a version, more upclass, but just as yummy.

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  23. Grilled cheese and tomato soup is most definitely my comfort food! Congrats on your release, Lynn. I can’t wait to read Killer Green Tomatoes!

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    1. Thanks Jenn. We're a grilled cheese and tomato soup family too. Especially on long winter evenings.

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    2. perfect for winter evenings

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  24. Chips and dip. Mac and cheese. Cheese and crackers. Cheezits. Chile con queso and tortilla chips. I see a pattern here.

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    1. Pat, I used to make a cheese/salsa dip for my corn chips. So, so good. It was a holiday dish for us.

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  25. Lynn, I have your Who Moved My Goat Cheese on my TBR list. First, I'm a big fan of goats, so the "goat" in the title attracted me, and then reading about the book sealed the deal that this is a series I want to get to soon. Congratulations on the new book!

    My comfort food. There are so many from which to choose. In the cooler and cold months, meat loaf, mashed potatoes, and green beans (although I'd eat it anytime of the year, and Gigi has made me hungry for it) OR salmon patties and mashed potatoes and asparagus. My mother's vegetable soup recipe makes me pretty happy on a cold day, too. In the summer months, a BLT is wonderful with tomatoes from a local grower. Grilled cheese seems to be a popular choice, and it comforts me, too, just about anytime. I'm big on carbs, too, with spaghetti and mac & cheese and baked potatoes being favorites.

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    1. BLT! World's most perfect food, and always reliable on the road.

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    2. Thanks Kathy! Who Moved my Goat Cheese was really fun to write, mostly because I got to re-write my hometown.

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  26. It's easier to tell you what I don't like which is raw fish and meat and fried green tomatoes. I'm ready to have an open faced sandwich with Velveeta cheese and bacon with my first ripe tomato. I enjoyed your first farm book and your other series.

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    1. Thanks Sally! Your sandwich sounds yummy.

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