by Doward Wilson
& Gin Jones
In honor of the 4th of July we have a review of yet another 4th of July related mystery, A Death in the Flower Garden by “Elizabeth Ashby” & Gin Jones. Elizabeth is actually a fictional mystery author-you can learn more about all of that and this fun series of mysteries on the Danger Cove page of Gemma Halliday Publishing. We also have a food related 4th of July guest post by Gin. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win an EBOOK copy of A Death in the Flower Garden. We also have a link to order it from Amazon.
A Death in the Flower Garden: Danger Cove Farmers’ Market Mystery by Elizabeth Ashby & Gin Jones
Review by Doward Wilson
Welcome to Danger Cove, a small town in the Pacific Northwest. Meet Maria Dolores, a descendant of the town’s first lighthouse keeper, the original Maria Dolores. Maria has just started her new job as the manager of the Lighthouse Farmers’ Market after closing her financial planning business and leaving big city life behind.
The Independence Day weekend market should be the one of the summer’s busiest times, but it isn’t getting off to a good start. Quarreling vendors, stalls out of line, vendors with poor public relations skills, a sound stage with a microphone feedback problem, and a strong earthquake make for a bad day, but it only gets worse, as Maria searches for a missing vendor, only to discover her lifeless body behind the band stage. Luckily the police don’t have to shut down the market but that isn’t helping Maria’s pending migraine.
The second day of the holiday weekend brings hordes of visitors, several suspects and the discovery of a second body. Maria is really questioning her career change but is determined to solve the two murders and get the market back on track and ready to be added to the area’s “best of” list.
I really enjoyed this book and meeting these new characters in this delightful town. This is Book 14 in the Danger Cove Mysteries series which has different settings, lead characters, and co-authors for each book. There was a good background to the book, so I wasn’t lost in following the characters or setting. The murders were well plotted with lots of twists and turns that made the murderer a complete surprise. The characters were well drawn and interesting but with lots of room for future developing. According to the “official bio”, Elizabeth Ashby lives in the real Danger Cove and bases the books on the places and people she knows well or has recently met! This is a series that I intend to read more of and recommend it for its unique premise and charm.
July Fourth at the Farmer’s Market
By Gin Jones
Everyone expects to eat burgers, hot dogs, or barbeque on Independence Day, but serving the same old thing, year after year, can get a bit monotonous. How can you satisfy the traditionalists while still bringing something fresh and unexpected to the menu?
If you want to stick to the tried and true—slices of beefsteak tomatoes and Vidalia onions for the hamburgers, serve corn on the cob and potato salad—simply getting the produce (and the meat and poultry, if available) straight from the farmer, when it’s as fresh and flavorful as possible, can take your usual menu to new heights.
If you’re feeling adventurous, check out some of the more unusual offerings from farmers’ markets. In honor of the holiday, try making your potato salad with blue potatoes instead of standard white ones, and not only will it look impressive, but the source of the color may also add some extra nutrients.
Or add something new to the menu, for instance, garlic scapes. These are the stems of the garlic plant that are often cut off to divert energy into creating the garlic head instead of flowering. They’re a treat that can only be found in farmers’ markets. You can find hints for how to cook them at www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/ingredients/article/garlic-scapes.
You can also try some different varieties of tomatoes that you’re not likely to find in the grocery store, like the heirloom Black Krim (really more of a dark maroon), or a yellow pear tomato, which are lower in acid for those who can’t eat higher-acid tomatoes.
And don’t forget to experiment with unusual greens. Swiss chard is a great alternative to lettuce, spinach, or kale, and it can be eaten either raw in small quantities, like on a burger, or lightly steamed with just a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. You could even place a dozen stalks of the Bright Lights variety, with its mix of intense red, orange and lime veining, in a vase to serve double duty as both a centerpiece and a vegetable.
Another part of the menu that doesn’t get enough attention, but that can perk up an otherwise predictable meal, is pickles and relishes. There’s a lot more to choose from than just the basic trio of pickles: dill, sweet, or hot. At the farmers’ market, you can find pickles made out of more than just cucumbers or peppers. Some of the more common ones are cauliflower, green beans, onions, or a combination of several vegetables. With enough advance planning (it’s too late for this weekend, but there’s always Labor Day), you can even make your own. See, for example: www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/dill-pickled-vegetables-13417.
For condiments, look for home-made, old-fashioned piccalilli, green tomato relish, or corn relish. You could even buy (or make) tomato chutney, which is really just home-made ketchup, often with less sugar and salt and more tomato flavor than the commercial versions. You can get a ready-to-spread artisan variety of mustard, or consider making your own with seeds purchased at the farmers’ market.
The farmers’ market has plenty of options to perk up dessert, too. For simple and healthy, you can make a fresh, red-white-and-blue fruit salad with watermelon or strawberries, white peaches, and blueberries! Many markets also offer cakes and pastries. Or look for some interesting jams to smear on slices of angel food cake, or to layer with yogurt or ice cream, as shown in the accompanying picture.
Jams at farmers’ markets often have a truer fruit flavor than the commercial varieties, and they come in combinations you might not find elsewhere, like my particular favorite, blueberry-rhubarb, seen in the pictured jars. Or make your own. Jam is easy. Basically, it’s just boiling fruit and sugar until it’s thick. Using fresh, organic fruits from the market will result in a product that’s nothing like the bland versions in the grocery store. Once you’ve tried a market- or home-made jam, you’ll never go back to the mass-produced ones. My go-to resource for making jam is Gourmet Preserves Chez Madeleine, which is out of print, but you can generally find used copies here: www.amazon.com/dp/0809254824.
So visit the farmers’ market, try something new, or simply to get the very best quality of the usual fruits and vegetables. Your holiday meal will be as memorable as the evening’s fireworks.
To enter to win an EBOOK copy of A Death in the Flower Garden, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “garden,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen July 8, 2017. US residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
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