Monday, May 2, 2011

Guest Blogger - Avery Aames - And Congrats for winning the Agatha for best first novel!


"Writing Culinary Mysteries and also your books and how they came to be."



When I started out to write the great American mystery, I had no idea what a culinary mystery was.  I grew up on Nancy Drew books and Agatha Christie stories. I broadened my reading to include Dickens and Graham Greene and other astonishing writers, but I always returned to mysteries. I remember reading a mystery with Nero Wolfe and though his sandwiches would be fabulous if only we knew each of the ingredients. I even remember reading another author [Lawrence Block, maybe?] who wrote about a PI that built sandwiches, piece by piece, while working through his theories. How I wanted to have a list of ingredients for those.  When I read books by Joanna Carl and Joanne Fluke and others, getting hungry in the process, and realizing they had recipes at the end, I was hooked.



So when the opportunity to write A Cheese Shop Mystery series came along, I thought super! I love food. I can weave food into my mysteries.  I had no idea how much time I would spend researching cheese, concocting recipes, and tasting food so I could become more expert. Not an expert, mind you, just more expert.



I’m not professionally trained. I haven’t taken cooking classes. But I’ve been cooking since I was a little girl, and experimenting—I always loved chemistry.  [Mysteries are like chemistry; put in all the ingredients, and come up with an answer.] I’ve become a pretty good cook, so my husband tells me.  I promise you he wouldn’t have liked my first layer cake where I decided granulated sugar would make just as good icing as powdered sugar.  And even better it was baby blue!  Ugh.  However, the chocolate cream pies in graham cracker crust that I sold to my neighbors was a smash hit.



But I digress. How did my books come to be?  I have to admit that I wasn’t the brainstorm behind writing about a cheese shop. My publisher was.  Berkley Prime Crime had a niche in their culinary mysteries that they wanted to fill.  My agent knew about the premise and asked if I wanted to audition for the job. I did. I’d written a number of books that my agent liked but didn’t think she could sell in the (then) current market. So I wrote three sample chapters for Berkley. My agent loved them. She sent them to the publisher, and the publisher loved them, and the rest is history. I was offered a contract, I wrote the first book, THE LONG QUICHE GOODBYE, which became a national bestseller, and subsequently, I’ve fallen in love with Fromagerie Bessette and the quaint town of Providence, Ohio and all of its inhabitants.



Like Charlotte Bessette, my protagonist, I adore cheese. I can’t believe how many I’ve tasted in the past year. I always knew about Cheddar and Swiss, Blue and Gouda.  But I’d never heard about Tuscan Tartuffo or Abbaye de Belloc or San Simon cheese.  Manchego? One of my favorites. Doux de Montagne is smooth and delicate. Fromager de Affinois, delectable!



My life is a journey, and from this point on, whether I’m writing about cheese or not, I will always be tasting a new cheese, trying a new recipe, seeking out new flavors.  I feel adventuresome when I do, and isn’t that what reading is about? Delving into a new world and learning something that you never thought you would learn? And hopefully, in the process, solving a crime!



What a joy.  Say cheese!







***



Avery Aames is the author of A Cheese Shop Mystery series.  The first, The Long Quiche Goodbye, is a national bestseller. Avery is an Agatha Award nominee for “Best First Novel.” Avery blogs at Mystery Lovers Kitchen, http://www.mysteryloverskitchen - a blog for foodies who love mysteries. And some of her characters show up on the Killer Characters blog, http://killercharacters.com  You can order LOST AND FONDUE here: http://www.averyaames.com/book_sellers.html

 And here is a bonus recipe from Avery:

HAM AND PINEAPPLE QUICHE

Ingredients:

1 pie shell (home baked or frozen)
Dash of white pepper
2 slices pineapple, fresh, diced.
4 slices thin ham [I use Applegate Farms Black Forest Ham], diced.
2 oz. sour cream
2 oz. light cream or whipping cream
2 oz. milk
2 eggs
1 Tbs. brown sugar
2 oz. shredded Edam or Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
Dash of cinnamon

Directions:

Sprinkle white pepper on pie shell.
Arrange meat in pie shell.  Arrange pineapple on top.  Sprinkle with sugar.
Mix milk, creams, and eggs.
Pour into pie crust.
Sprinkle with cheese.  Dash with cinnamon.

Bake 35 minutes at 375 until quiche is firm and lightly brown on top.




5 comments:

  1. Thanks to reading about Charlotte and her family, I took a 3-session class on cheese and really enjoyed it. I'm looking forward to reading more about Charlotte, her family and new discoveries about cheese.

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  2. Aren't cheese classes tasty, Dru. Love them.
    ~Avery

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  3. I learned to cook in self defense. My mother could burn water. I've reached the stage where I actually have friends who want to pay me to cook for small dinner parties in their homes.

    Your recipes are great and with the advent of high end KOSHER cheeses that match anything YOU can buy, it's easy to duplicate your offerings at home. Oh, and you're one hell of a great story teller also. LOL Keep em coming and I'll keep reading them.

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  4. Aw, thanks, Nora. Interesting how everyone come to cooking. My mom didn't start until she was 21, but she became a great cook.
    ~Avery

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  5. Yum! That quiche looks delish. Big congrats on the Agatha!!

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Guest Blogger - Alice Duncan

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