I'll be honest here: two of my favorite activities are reading and eating. What a treat then to find delicious recipes sprinkled throughout a delightful literary romp. Most of the books in this list are fun, quick reads; the calories included may be fun to consume but won't be so quick to burn off!
Meet Goldy Bear: a bright, opinionated, wildly inventive caterer whose personal life has become a recipe for disaster. She's got an abusive ex-husband who's into making tasteless threats, a rash of mounting bills that are taking a huge bite out of her budget, and two enticing men knocking on her door.
Now determined to take control of her life, Goldy moves her business and her son to ritzy Aspen Meadow Country Club, where she accepts a job as a live-in cook. But just as she's beginning to think she's got it made--catering decadent dinners and posh society picnics, murder strikes.
"Cakes have gotten a bad rap. People equate virtue with turning down dessert. There is always one person at the table who holds up her hand when I serve the cake. No, really, I couldn't, she says, and then gives her flat stomach a conspiratorial little pat. Everyone who is pressing a fork into that first tender layer looks at the person who declined the plate, and they all think, That person is better than I am. That person has discipline. But that isn't a person with discipline, that is a person who has completely lost touch with joy. A slice of cake never made anybody fat. You don't eat the whole cake. You don't eat a cake every day of your life. You take the cake when it is offered because the cake is delicious. You have a slice of cake and what it reminds you of is someplace that's safe, uncomplicated, without stress. A cake is a party, a birthday, a wedding. A cake is what's served on the happiest days of your life.
"This is a story of how my life was saved by cake, so, of course, if sides are to be taken, I will always take the side of cake."
First in a series featuring Charleston tea shop owner Theodosia Browning. When Theodosia caters a tea for 200 at the annual historic homes garden party, she much track down the killer of an esteemed guest.
Carolyn Blue's trip to San Francisco includes a visit to her mother-in-law, a few earthquake tremors-and a stint in prison as a murder suspect. A column on prison food might make for an interesting change of pace...
China Bayles attends a chili cook-off where a womanizing judge dies of an allergic reaction to peanuts. And since everyone knows peanuts don't belong in a bowl of Texas chili, China knows something suspicious is afoot.
Heaven Lee, Kansas City chef and reluctant heroine, is one tough cookie. Not only can she slice, dice, and julienne the finest food in town, she's got nerves of steel to match her culinary skills. This time, Heaven Lee takes on the fine art of making bread. But when one of her associates mysteriously winds up dead in the dough, perfecting her breadmaking skills is suddenly the last of Heaven's worries, as someone with a taste for murder is on the loose.
"Nancy Bell returns with another delicious installment in her series of rural Texas mysteries featuring local doyen Biggie Weatherford as amateur detective. Once again, young J.R. faithfully narrates the humorous exploits of Biggie, his grandmother. Filled with plenty of quirky characters and down-home Texas flair, Bell's stories continue to delight.
"An old friend of Biggie comes back to Job's Crossing. Rex Barnwell and his young wife have returned to convert his father's ranch into a retreat for overweight teenage girls, and Biggie is forced to reveal a secret that she has always kept from J.R. Not long after this startling revelation, Rex is murdered. Knowing full well that he won't be able to keep Biggie away, the Texas Ranger in charge of the case enlists her help."
By Gayden Metcalfe and Charlotte Hays
"In this deliciously entertaining slice of Southern life (and death), inveterate hostess Gayden Metcalfe explains everything you need to know to host an authentic Southern funeral, such as: Can you be properly buried without tomato aspic? Who prepares tastier funeral fare, the Episcopal ladies or the Methodist ladies? And what does one do when a family gets three sheets to the wind and eats the entire feast the night before a funeral?"
"Folksy and fresh, endearing and affecting, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe is the now-classic novel of two women in the 1980s; of gray-headed Mrs. Threadgoode telling her life story to Evelyn, who is in the sad slump of middle age. The tale she tells is also of two women - of the irrepressibly daredevilish tomboy Idgie and her friend Ruth - who back in the '30s ran a little place in Whistle Stop, Alabama, a Southern kind of Cafe Wobegon offering good barbecue and good coffee and all kinds of love and laughter, even an occasional murder. And as the past unfolds, the present - for Evelyn and for us - will never be quite the same again...."
Three generations of women pen Christmas letters: gossip, love, marriage, babies, death, divorce and recipes.