Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Mystery Chick Unwrapped

by Deb Baker

I am thrilled to be here as the new Cozy Chick! I come bearing gifts - not gold or frankincense, or myrrh, but something I think you will enjoy. First, let me introduce myself.

I’m Deb Baker, a Wisconsinite, late-bloomer, wife (need I say more), mother of three (ages 33,20,18), companion to (notice I don’t bother saying ‘owner’, since they pretty much own me) a Border Collie and a barn cat turned house cat who thinks she’s a dog. Oh, and yes, I’m also a mystery author with two current cozy series.

Series one – Yooper mysteries featuring 66-year-old Gertie Johnson, mother of the local sheriff. She’s a widow, driving for the first time, and she has a nose for trouble. Yooper = anyone from the Michigan Upper Peninsula. p.s. The series is set during hunting seasons, but I never harm animals. Only humans, which is perfectly okay.

Series two – The Dolls To Die For series with Gertie’s niece, Gretchen, who lives in Phoenix and has a new age aunt and a doll restoration business with her mother. Of course, there is a hunky detective and plenty of mysterious happenings to investigate. Ding Dong Dead (#4) came out last week.

Now for my welcome gift to you. Granted, it’s a virtual gift but it comes from my heart and I’d present the real thing to you if I could. If the picture isn’t enough of a clue, here’s another hint:

Have you ever thought about those yummy balls of sweet heaven portrayed by the Sugar Plum Fairy in the Nutcracker? Or have you ever really imagined visions of sugar plums dancing in your head?

That’s right. I’ve brought a sugar plum recipe.

Most of us don’t know what a sugar plum is, or if we do, we’ve never actually tasted one. Here’s the recipe courtesy of Saveur, my favorite foodie magazine (tested by moi many times). Dazzle your guests with these marble-sized specialties. Serve them on a holiday platter for dessert with a nice after-dinner wine or port.

2 cups whole almonds

¼ cup honey

2 tsp. grated orange zest

1 ½ tsp. ground cinnamon

½ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

½ tsp. ground allspice

1 cup finely chopped dried apricots

1 cup finely chopped pitted dates

1 cup confectioner’s sugar.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange almonds on a baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes. Cool and chop.

Combine honey, orange zest, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg. Add the almonds, apricots, and dates. Mix well.

Pinch off teaspoon-sized pieces and roll into balls. Roll the balls in confectioner’s sugar and refrigerate in layers between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container. Give them another sugar dusting before serving.

They keep for up to 1 month and improve with age.

Until next week – ‘Sweet’ dreams and may visions of sugar plums dance in your heads.