by Cynthia Chow
& Bailey Cates
This week we have a review & giveaway of a fun magical mystery, Spells and Scones, by Bailey Cates. We also have a fun food guest post by Bailey which includes a wonderful recipe. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of Spells and Scones, and a link to purchase it from Amazon, along with a link to purchase it from an indie bookstore where a portion goes to help support KRL.
Spells and Scones: A Magical Bakery Mystery by Bailey Cates
Review by Cynthia Chow
In the two years since Katie Lightfoot moved from Ohio to Savannah, Georgia, she has been running the Honeybee Bakery with her aunt, gained a boyfriend, and joined a bookclub with women of special interests. Katie also learned that she was a heredity hedgewitch, a lightwitch, and a catalyst for magical events that led to her involvement in five homicide investigations with a sixth on its way.
Katie was at first delighted to be catering the booksigning event at the neighboring Fox and Hound bookstore. The downturn began when the featured author and radio psychologist Dr. Dana Dobbs arrived an hour late, was picky about her choice of beverage, and then heckled by several unhappy advice followers. None were more vocal than Angie Kissel, who blamed Dr. Dobbs’ Radical Trust policy for ending Angie’s engagement. So shouldn’t have been surprising that when she was found standing over a dead Dr. Dobbs in the back room of the Honeybee Bakery, Angie immediately became suspected of murder by both Dr. Dobbs’ biggest fan and the police.
Despite Detective Peter Quinn’s irritation with Katie’s repeated presence in his investigations and his own blind spot towards all things magical, she can’t help but get involved to prove Angie’s innocence. Despite the overwhelming evidence incriminating the stranger in Dr. Dobbs’ murder, Katie’s own Cairn terrier familiar Mungo was advocating for Angie’s innocence. Almost as alarming as the news that Mungo was once Angie’s familiar—perhaps explaining his faith in her—was the return of Steve Dawes, a Druid, journalist, and possible rival of Declan McCarthy for Katie’s affections.
As Thanksgiving approaches in Savannah, Katie feels the warmth of her new family and friends as well as the pressure of her developing relationship with Declan. Although he accepts her witchcraft legacy and she grows more accustomed to Declan’s sporadic possession by his leprechaun uncle, Katie isn’t certain if she’s ready to give up her newfound responsibilities and independence. Her uncertainty about Mungo’s true loyalties is yet another unsettling aspect of Katie’s future.
The implications of Radical Trust—whether it is an invasion of privacy—is a fascinating topic to explore, especially when it involves the relationships among people for whom secrecy was once a matter of survival. The magical delights of Honeybee Bakery continue to be on full display, proving to be just as charming as the characters. This sixth of the Magical Bakery Mystery series remains as entertaining as the first, with a mythology that is as developed as Katie’s newfound talent and life within the Savannah magical community.
Kitchen Sorcery in the Magical Bakery Mysteries – and the Firehouse
By Bailey Cates
“That which fire operates is alchemy, whether in the kitchen or the universe.” –Paracelsus
In the first Magical Bakery Mystery, Katie Lightfoot moves to Savannah, Georgia to start the Honeybee Bakery with her Aunt Lucy and Uncle Ben. Not long after her arrival, she learns she’s a hereditary hedgewitch, whose skill in the kitchen and garden has been passed down through generations of women in her family. Hedgewitches are also called natural or green witches, and once were the healers who lived at the edge of town and literally crossed the protective village hedges to venture out into the forests and fields in search of medicinal herbs. Sometimes they had the ability to cross a psychic “hedge” as well—the veil between this plane and the next.
Lucy teaches Katie about kitchen magic, but it doesn’t take much to convince her that cooking is alchemical. As a cook, she’s always been fascinated by how heat alters food’s structure and flavor in a truly magical way. So do cold, salt, agitation, bacteria, and time. Then there’s how some foods get along (whipped egg whites and cream of tartar, for example), while other don’t (those same fluffy egg whites will turn to sticky glop if they’re mixed with any oil). Some might argue that’s really food science (which it is), and therefore can’t be connected with anything as whimsical as sorcery. However, while there are wondrous scientific processes in cooking, there is still art, and there is still something that goes beyond art ‘or’ science. It’s how food affects our psyche, our mood, our outlook, and even our happiness.
The ability to taste is triggered by the ability to smell. Smell is the most primitive of our senses, different than any other in part because the regions of our brain that process smell are also used when we experience strong emotions or when we’re memorizing an event. That’s why scents and tastes trigger memories and feelings. More science. And maybe, just maybe, a little magic. Katie bakes from early in the morning until she goes home from the Honeybee Bakery each day, all the while invoking the traditional powers of herbs and spices in her recipes. Luckily, her boyfriend, Declan McCarthy, likes to cook, too. He’s a fireman, and often brings home some of the grub he makes for his co-responders at Five House.
Katie shares a couple of her baking recipes at the end of each of the books, so for a change here’s Declan’s Firehouse Chili recipe cut down to serve 6-8 people rather than a forty eight-hour shift of hungry firefighters. You can choose how much heat you want by adjusting the number of jalapeños, and using more or less cayenne pepper or Tabasco.
Declan’s Firehouse Chili
1 lb ground chuck 1 lb ground pork 2 medium onions, diced 2-4 garlic cloves, minced 1-4 jalapeño peppers, seeds and veins removed, diced 2 Tbsp ground cumin 3 Tbsp dark chili powder (mild) 1/4 to 1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper 1-14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with juice 2-14.5 oz cans red kidney beans, rinsed 2-14.5 oz cans pinto beans, rinsed 1-14.5 oz can black beans, rinsed 1 cup salsa of choice 1/4 cup red wine 1/4 cup Jack Daniels whiskey (or your choice) Salt to taste Tabasco Chicken stock to adjust consistency if necessary.
In a large Dutch oven or soup pot, brown the beef and pork. When nearly all the pink is gone, add the onion and cook until translucent, stirring occasionally. Add the jalapeño and cook for a couple of minutes, then add the garlic and cook, stirring, until aromatic, about one to two minutes more. Stir in the cumin, chili powder, and cayenne until incorporated and fragrant. Add the tomatoes, beans, and salsa. Bring to a simmer and add the wine and whiskey. Allow to simmer for at least an hour (more is better) to allow the flavors to meld and the alcohol to cook out of the chili. A great way to do this is in a 275°F oven—handy if you have to go rescue a kitten out of a tree. At the end, add the salt and Tabasco to taste. If the consistency is too thick, add a bit of chicken stock (or water, or beef broth, or tomato juice—whatever’s around).
Serve with grated sharp cheddar cheese, sliced scallions, chopped avocado, sour cream, extra Tabasco, and, if you’re feeling healthy, chopped lettuce and tomato. And don’t forget the warm cornbread dripping with butter and honey!
To enter to win a copy of Spells and Scones, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “scones,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen August 13, 2016. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section.
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