Thursday, July 29, 2021

What We're #Writing @LucyBurdette

 LUCY BURDETTE: I think the better question might be what I am not writing... Which would be practically nothing because everything is coming together at once! Two weeks ago I finished major edits on the thriller UNSAFE HAVEN, which is coming September in the UK and December in the US. It needed a lot of work and fortunately I had a terrific editor. Then the edits on the edits came back and had to be returned within the week. So that all got emailed to England on Friday the 16th. And I've gotten a few more queries this week. (You can pre-order it through your independent bookstore, or Barnes and Noble, or Amazon.)



Meanwhile, A Scone of Contention is coming out August 10 and that means blog tours! So I’ve been busy with those and hope you will enjoy visiting the various hosts with me--I'll keep you posted about when and where. Regular readers of Jungle Red should mark your calendars for August 18, when you can hear Jenn McKinlay and me talking about our new books with the wonderful reviewer Oline Cogdill, all sponsored by Murder on the Beach. You know that's going to be fun!



But this past week I've been working like a demon on food critic number 12, now known as A DISH TO DIE FOR thanks to my friend Ruth McCarty. Lots going on in this book--Nathan's dog Ziggy has found a body on the beach, Hayley's discovered an old Woman's Club cookbook in the bin of library donations with mysterious historical connections, and Nathan's father is visiting on the island. (Uninvited, as all of Nathan's relatives seem to do, LOL.) I thought you might enjoy a little snippet about the cookbook, since it's been so interesting to read and work into the plot: 


Back home on our boat, I spent the next hour studying the recipes and notes in the Key West Woman’s Club cookbook, searching for the angle I’d use in my article. Rather than being typeset, everything in the book had been written out in longhand and illustrated with drawings that ranged from stick figures to folk art. Then the pages had been copied and spiral bound. I noticed that a good half of the women who had contributed recipes identified themselves only by their husbands’ names: Mrs. Carl Johnson, Mrs. William R. Warren, Mrs. Cyril Marshall, Mrs. Frank E Bowser. 


I could imagine the women, each at her kitchen table, laboriously copying the ingredients for her best recipe and then instructions for preparing it. They’d have their hair pinned up in knots and be wearing dresses with cinched waists covered by frilly aprons. Had there been infighting about which recipes would be chosen, and who the artists might be? The recipes were a funny mixture of old and new, not shy about using canned goods or frozen vegetables, and yet not squeamish about pounding conch until the cartilage released, or cleaning feathers from a duck, or removing the bloodline from a piece of fresh tuna fish. 


One more thing, John came downstairs this morning and said "I just had the worst dream. I was trying to defend you, as lots of people were saying you didn't do anything. I had to scream at them, 'Sure and while she was doing nothing, she wrote 19 books!'"


Isn't he the sweetest guy in the world?? 


Do you own old cookbooks that tell as much about the history of the times as they do about food?


52 comments:

  1. Two books to look forward to reading . . . what a delight! Could you tell us a bit about “Unsafe Haven?”

    Lucy, I love the idea of a handwritten cookbook . . . I wonder what Hayley thinks about it?

    The oldest cookbook I have happens to have been handwritten by my mom when she was in school [presumably, in a home economics class]. There’s not much on the history of the times, other than seeing what was considered important in the home economic class, but I treasure it.
    The oldest cookbook in my kitchen is my falling apart “Joy of Cooking” [the old one from before they decided to make all the recipes healthy]. It’s probably the one I refer to most often . . . .

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    1. I had my mother's Joy of Cooking for years Joan, until a previous dog ate the cover to shreds. I probably should have kept it anyway! More to come on Unsafe...

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    2. My copy of Joy of Cooking was my mother's and I made a new cover for it when the original cover fell apart. I love that I can flip through it and easily find the recipes that have been followed many times over -- the stained pages.

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    3. I don’t have my mom‘s, but I have mine… I love the pages with globs of gravy or wine or tomato sauce. And it opens right to beef Bourguignon.

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    4. Joy of Cooking has the BEST beef Bourguignon recipe! My copy is from sometime between 1987 and 1990 - my mom gave it to me as a present when I was a young bride. Unfortunately, she got the spiral bound version, which was handy for flopping open on the counter, but which means I've lost all the index and about 40 pages of the beginning.

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    5. Mother’s Joy of Cooking, circa 1940, stained, falling apart, even though not spiral bound half the index is missing. While I don’t make much from it, the connection to Mother and to her mother who gave it as a wedding gift is wonderful.

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  2. I'm sorry, but John has his work cut out for him. Clearly, you are doing nothing. ;)

    Seriously, sounds like we've got more great reading in front of us. I enjoyed Scone, which I finished over the weekend.

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  3. What a great dream defender you have! That's hilarious.

    I also want to know more about Unsafe Haven - specifically, how did you switch from the lighter tone of cozies to writing a darker (one assumes) thriller? But maybe we'll hear more about that closer to the pub date(s).

    I have Miss Parloa's New Cookbook from 1890 and love it, but some of the quantities are massive, and others begin with, "Kill two chickens." Like Joan, I also have my mom's falling-apart Joy of Cooking. How fun to include a handwritten cookbook in A Dish to Die For!

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    1. Kill Two Chickens--that' a classic opening:)

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    2. My favorite soup recipe starts with: take a bucket of cold water.

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  4. Like Joan, I would like to know more about your thriller. What was it like writing about characters you will only use in one book? How was that different? Hayley is a great protagonist and we learned a lot about her in your first Key West book, but look at how she has changed and grown and grown up since that first story! Reveal more!!

    My oldest cookbook was my mother's Better Homes and Gardens, 1940's vintage. We still make those cornmeal pancakes. Best ever!

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    1. I know, this was very different from the food critic series, and you are correct about how much I learned about the characters over a long series. I will tell you a lot more in a couple of weeks!

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  5. So interested in Unsafe Haven! Did I miss the memo that you were writing a thriller? This is exciting news. I love Halley Snow and company, but I've always suspected you have a dark side.

    I love old cookbooks and used to have quite a collection - it was lost in a move. One of my favorites was a commercially produced book from 1906 that introduced a new treat called spaghetti noodles to US cooks. It recommended boiling the noodles until they were no longer hard and serving them with butter and cream. Ok, I'm game - early Alfredo? One of my vices is picking up local cookbooks when I travel. Usually those produced as fund raisers.

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    1. I guess I do have a dark side:). I'm so sorry about your collection going missing!

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  6. You sure do sound busy, Lucy. I can't wait for the new books.

    I don't have any cookbooks that old, but my division at work put together a book and I have a book of Amish recipes, too. I think when you have collections like that it does say something about the contributors.

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    1. Thanks Liz! and I didn't even mention my husband's family reunion in town...head thunk!

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  7. Lucy, when we picked up our mail there was a package from you. Thank you!

    Yes, I do have old cookbooks, and ancient recipe cards, and I find them very difficult to let go. My favorite is the oilcloth-bound purple mimeographed book that my mom and aunt contributed to at our elementary school when I was in about fourth or fifth grade. For decades I made the same Hungarian (sour milk) coffee cake that was served in the school cafeteria once a week, always for Christmas morning. It has the recipe for Carrot Cake I helped my mother make, grating a massive bowl of carrots for it. Another cookbook is from the local Civic Garden Center in the early 80's, all centered around using herbs. My very favorite soup recipe is from that one.

    One of the many bags of donated books to our LFL included two of these fundraiser cookbooks, although of more recent vintage. One came from the church my LFL partner attends, and it contains recipes from her kitchen and family. Her grandmother was a lifelong friend of the Maslowski family. The other one is older, and includes the names of some of the most influential women in Cincinnati from the 1970's. They're so fun to read, but I doubt I'll ever cook anything from them.

    I want to know the same thing about this book: what compelled you to go dark? And also: rag curls? Or pincurls? That's an intriguing detail!

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    1. Yes welcome back Karen--your pictures were amazing!

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    2. Karen, loving the photos! You really saw some fantastic wildlife! I bet your husband's photos are incredible.

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    3. Thank you all.

      Judy, he took the fewest photos he's ever done this trip, as he was helping our grandson and our daughter learn how to take good photos. Our daughter, in particular, took some stunning pictures, including one of the full moon that was spectacular, and a perfectly framed portrait of a yawning lion cub. She's going to submit that one to a contest.

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  8. Congratulations on your upcoming releases!

    I have the perfect cookbook published in the seventies from the Cape Cod Montessori School, filled with photocopied handwritten recipes and children's artwork. Terrific fish recipes and the best cranberry muffin recipe.

    Not forgetting Ramblin' Chefs from Georgia Tech's recipe for Grandma's microwave fudge, which my kids mastered in their teens.

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  9. When we moved into our house in Bucks County, PA, I discovered a treasure trove of the previous owner's recipes, each laboriously copied into special index cards with a little picture of a birthday cake or roast chicken or asparagus stalks on the corner and kept in a wooden box with a hinged lid. As you point out so beautifully in your excerpt, it was domestic history come alive.

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    1. I would not want to let that box go Amy. I keep hoping I'll find one of those at a tag sale...

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    2. I have my mom's recipe box - and my own! I made boxes for both my sons one Christmas and solicited recipes - on cards - from family and close friends.

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  10. Kudos to you, to getting all that done with panache, Lucy.

    Those old collective cookbooks are a hoot, aren't they? When I took over the PR job at the local hospital, eons ago, one of my tasks was to unload the thousand or so hospital cookbooks somebody had talked my predecessor into publishing. I talked some of the local gift shops into carrying them, and don't think we ever made a dime from the "fundraising" project, but I scored one for myself. It was fun to match the recipes to all the nurses, physical therapists, pulmonologists and x-ray techs as I learned my way around the hospital. I'm not sure I ever actually cooked anything from the cookbook.

    Not long ago my very first best friend, whom I had reconnected with on Facebook, contacted me about a batch of recipes she'd found in cleaning out old stuff. The 'cookbook' was about a dozen pages--typed, mimeographed, and stapled at the corner--that our kindergarten teacher had put together from recipes she collected from our moms. Lola scanned it and sent it to me. My mom's recipe was for lemon bars. I have absolutely no memory of her ever making lemon bars, but she did make dang good mincemeat cookies. I wish I had the recipe for those.

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    1. Gigi - My mom used to make mini, I mean really mini, mincemeat tartlets. She used pre-made pie dough and store bought mincemeat. Cut the douugh, put in cups of mini muffin pan, add a teaspoon of the mincemeat, bake. No tops on those tartlets so it's really easy.

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    2. That sounds yummy, Deana! I've had muffin-sized mincemeat tarts but those always seemed to have too much crust in relation to the mincemeat. I'll have to try them without the top crust.

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    3. I love the stories about old cookbooks. Though not a fan of mincemeat--we always had that pie at the holidays because my dad loved it.

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  11. Oh my mouses I love, love, LOVE the cover of A Scone of Contention. That kitty looks a lot like my late brother, Nerissa (Don't ask, but suffice it to say, Peepers isn't very good with the boy/girl names). I can't wait to read the book. Bet it's EVEN BETTER than the cover and cover is super duper good. PURRS

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  12. Can't wait to read this!... as in ALL the THISes!! Your cup truly runneth over, Lucy. I've got Scone of Contention ordered and I'm looking forward to when it arrives - and I get to read it - and it takes pride of place along (nearly?) all of your 19 books.

    I do have old cookbooks - several that sound just like the one in your book, put together by women's groups. The recipes are fun, but sometimes they have ingredients that just aren't readily available in my world. Like chicken fat.

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    1. How about pounding conch until it's tender? LOL. I won't be making that recipe. and thanks for your support Hallie xo

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  13. This is simply the very best story idea in the world. The best. Cannot cannot cannot wait to read it! and yes, how many of those recipes call for Jell-O, or tomato soup, or little fried onion strings?

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    1. thanks Hank, lots of canned soup. I'm not sure the fried onions were a thing yet

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  14. The cookbooks on my shelf tell the dips and doodles of my approach to food over time -- hippie dippy granola ones for my early 20s, The Joy of Cooking (from my mum) for my first foray into living away from home, and then a bunch of Deborah Madison California-style cooking from later on. These days, I just go online...

    I am wondering what Hayley is going to uncover in that cookbook. Intriguing, Lucy! Keep writing...

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    1. thanks Amanda, and you are so right about our own cookbooks showing our progression as people and cooks. Maybe I can borrow that, since the book is not done:)

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  15. Roberta, I can't wait to see you and Jenn together! What fun! And to read Scone of Contention!

    I don't have any of my mom's old cookbooks. I don't remember her using much of anything but her Adele Davis books, and I don't know what happened to those. I do have her recipe box, however. Most the cards are typed, but some are handwritten. So nice to see her handwriting. And I have the cookbook my sister-in-law made when she and my brother were first married, putting together all my mom and grandmother's favorite recipes. Now that is a treasure.

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    1. Those are treasures Debs! I too love seeing the handwriting of people who are not with us in our lives. I have a few recipes from John's family too and can instantly tell which are his dad's and which his mother's

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  16. Lucy, I love old cookbooks like the one Haley is using in A DISH TO DIE FOR. I have two; one is a slim spiral bound meant as a fundraiser for the Junior Hunter-Jumper Club in Stamford, CT back in the 60s. My late father-in-law taught many of the students, which is how a copy wound up in my hands. It's illustrated with charming amateur sketches of foxes cooking, baking, drinking cocktails, etc, and like the Key West book, many of the women were credited as Mrs. Husband Hisname. LOTS of appetizers and heavy on the brand new whiz-bang convenience foods of the late sixties. Reddi-Whip features in almost every dessert.

    The other is from the very early 60s, and was a fundraiser for the Montgomery, AL Junior League (my mom was a member.) No recipe from her, sadly. This was obviously put together by women under the age of 40, but you'd never know it from the recipes. SO MANY CONGEALED SALADS. Half of the dishes presented have enough fat to give you a heart attack, and the other half have enough sugar to give you diabetes. Southern cooking before anyone knew it was so unhealthy was a beautiful thing.

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    1. I did not remember that your mom was Southern Julia, you should write a blog about that and how it influenced your life!

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  17. Lucy,

    While thrillers are outside my usual genres, once in a while I will read a thriller.

    Look forward to the finished copy of SCONE OF CONTENTION, which I loved when I read the advanced reading digital copy.

    Yes, I own a old cookbook, which was privately published as a fundraiser for my preschool a long time ago when I was a student there. I think I posted a photo of it on my Instagram feed. It is a collection of recipes from many parents, teachers and staff, including my Mom's recipe.

    Diana

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    1. Diana, the funny thing is I don't read many thrillers either--too scary. But in this one I knew what was going to happen:). and of course I read Hank's...

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  18. Nathan's family is soooo strange! I have Mom's recipe box with typed and handwritten index cards. She had two basic cookbooks she used and I don't know what happened to them. One was Joy of Cooking, the other was Women's Home Companion or something like that. I do have both of her River Road cookbooks; her cooking changed a lot when we moved to Louisiana! I have my m-i-l's ancient Fanny Farmer cookbook. And various church cookbooks from Ohio and Minnesota (hot dish!). I culled my collection drastically ten years ago.

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    1. They are strange Pat:). Sounds like everyone's mom had the Joy of Cooking!

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  19. Ah, he is a keeper indeed! I do trust you and Hank with thrillers done with care. <3
    Some of my own cookbooks were new in the '70s, and I'm sure my nieces would consider them "vintage." I also have some of my mom's recipes. The latest that my sister passed on to me are in a Zorro lunchbox that must have been my brother's in the '50s, so double history. A friend made a little book of family recipes, stories, and photos and gave me a copy. It's a lovely way to preserve memories, and I'm sure her whole family appreciated it.
    I loved SCONE and eagerly await the others. Thanks for the gift of stories (and recipes). <3

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  20. I'm looking forward to your thriller, Lucy. I imagine I'll be ordering it from Book Depository to get it near the UK publication date. I've read the description of it, and it does indeed sound thrilling. And, I've been saving A Scone of Contention for this weekend. I am over the moon excited about it.

    The old cookbooks are fascinating, with their connection to the times in which they were compiled. Hayley's notice of the women using their husband's name, as in Mrs. James Wilson, reminded me of going through old newspapers my mother kept and noticing how the women never had their own first names mentioned. Thank goodness we're past that.

    When my mother-in-law died last year, I ended up with an older cookbook of hers, and she had drawn on it, sketching. I could imagine her sitting at her kitchen table making those sketches and just enjoying herself.

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  21. This is wonderful, Lucy! Another cozy and a thriller! Very exciting. I'm looking forward to our event and can't wait to visit Scotland through your series!

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