Thursday, November 15, 2018

Cake Fit For A Wedding

by Karen Rose Smith

CUT TO THE CHAISE, my latest Caprice De Luca Home Staging mystery will be released on November 27.  In addition to Caprice playing the role of sleuth, she will also be playing the role of BRIDE!  Caprice's Italian family loves food which is central to many of the events leading up to the big day, from the bridal shower to the rehearsal dinner.  Caprice's sister Nikki liked a tasty cake that Caprice whipped up for a luncheon for her sisters and best friend so much that she declared she would make it for Caprice's and Grant's rehearsal dinner.  The recipe for this confection is included in the recipes at the end of the book.

So this week, I'd like to give my readers a sneak preview of the recipe for Caprice's (and Nikki's) White Cake with Mascarpone and Strawberry Topping.

White Cake

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
5 egg whites
1 whole egg
1/2 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup 2% milk
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease and flour a 9 x 13" pan.

Mix oil and sugar.  Add eggs, then vanilla and sour cream.  Add milk, salt, baking powder, baking soda and flour.  Beat well and pour into pan.

Bake 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clear.

When cool, top the cake with Mascarpone and whipped cream topping.

Mascarpone and Whipped Cream Topping

8 oz. heavy whipping cream
8 oz. Mascarpone   
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond flavoring
1 cup sliced strawberries

In a chilled bowl, whip heavy whipping cream until thick.  Add Mascarpone and whip with the cream until smooth.  Add almond flavoring, then add powdered sugar a tablespoon at a time.  Spread this mixture over the cake.  Spread sliced strawberries on top.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Books of a different kind

With the recent passing of the amazing the oh-so-talented Stan Lee it make us think of comic books and his...yes, his...terrific characters. There’s Batman, Spiderman, Wolverine, Captain America, Thor, the Hulk, Catwoman, Kate Bishop with  all who started out in comic books then graduated onto the big screen and wove themselves into the very fabric of American life.
     Who hasn’t wanted to be one of these characters at one time or another or had our kids dress up as one of these characters for Halloween? And I imagine all of us have seen a move or picked up a comic book with one of these characters in it.
     I have to say that so many of the movies, especially the latest ones, with these characters are really done well. The writing is really good, the graphics are mind-blowing, the story lines have plots that work and there are dark moments where the good guys don’t always win.
     I think this is important to young people to see that you have to fight hard for what you want in life and there are setbacks. And that friendships, helping those in need, and loyalty matter. 

     So my question to you today is, Did you ever read comic books? Have a fave superhero? Have a fave movie with these characters? 

Tuesday, November 13, 2018


by Maggie Sefton

I have to admit----I'm really fond of the title of the latest Kelly Flynn mystery which came out in July of this year.   DYEING UP LOOSE ENDS.  I had absolutely nothing to do with choosing the title.  The editorial staff for the publisher, Berkley Prime Crime of Penguin Publishing Group chose this  title.  So, kudos to the clever staff.  

When the Kelly Flynn Mysteries first came out in June 2005 and for several years after that, I  "came up"  with the titles for each Kelly Flynn release after consulting readers and all the many wonderfully helpful knitters around the Lambspun of Colorado knitting table.    Thank you, thank you, Everyone!  

For those of you who haven't had a chance to look in on Kelly and all her friends, take a look and see what they are up to.  It's never boring, I can promise you that.  


Monday, November 12, 2018


by Mary Kennedy                                             

I was so inspired by Karen Rose Smith's blog on how she helps ferals, that I decided to tackle the subject myself. Karen provided this terrific photo, I'd never thought of using bales of straw to make this arrangement, but it's very practical and I know outdoor cats would appreciate it.  

Here's what my experience has been. (Be sure to click on the link above to Karen's blog, because she's been more successful than I've been and she has some really practical tips.)

I bought two igloos and for some reason, no one used them!! The occasional raccoon wandered in, took one sniff and walked away. No idea what the problem was. They were pricey and I won't make that mistake again. I'm going to donate them to a local shelter and perhaps they can give them to someone who manages a feral colony. 

The next thing I tried was a homemade outdoor home out of a big storage tub, lined with insulation and blankets. I realized later that the blankets weren't a great idea, they got wet, and straw would have been a better choice. Also, I don't think the circular hole we made for an entrance was big enough. Maybe the cats are claustrophobic, but no one used it! My local shelter, Faithful Friends, devotes a whole day to making these and loads of volunteers show up. Here's a photo below that gives you an idea how to proceed. All you do is cut a circular hole and line the tub with squares of styrofoam and then put the lid back on. It costs about $20.00 for the supplies. You add straw to the bottom.


One of my friends swears by a "self-warming heated pad" that she uses for some outdoor ferals and for a couple of her indoor cats who have arthritis. I have to confess, I'd never heard of these, but they're inexpensive (some are under ten dollars) and it's an interesting idea. If anyone has experience with these I hope you'll share them with me. I'm always looking for new ways to help the kitties.


If you don't want to struggle with plastic storage tubs and styro oam insulation, you can buy a nice house for about $60.00. They come in heated and unheated versions.


I've had such awful luck with the igloos that I wonder if any outdoor critters would use the cute little house pictured above. Actually, I don't have any feral cats anymore, They've been taken in, neutered, vetted and become "Kennedy cats." But I do worry about the raccoons, rabbits, possums, etc who wander over from the state park, so I'll probably try to do something this winter.

Hope you stay warm and cozy this winter! And let's all do what we can for our outdoor friends.

Mary Kennedy

Sunday, November 11, 2018

COZY CHICKS SPOTLIGHT: The holidays are closer than you think

by Lorraine Bartlett / Lorna Barrett / L.L. Bartlett

When my co-writer, Gayle Leeson, and I were deciding what we'd write about for Victoria Square #5, we made a conscious decision to set the book during the holidays.

I've written several short stories that take place during Christmastime, but never a whole novel. (You can check out all my holiday stories on my website. Just click this link.)

When I signed the contract, my publisher decided they didn't want to buy the rights to certain countries, which means that I could publish it in those countries on my own. (So I own the rights to the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.) That's why there are two different covers. (P.S. I like my cover better. How about you?)

Gayle and I make a great team and we're already in the home-stretch of writing Victoria Square #6 (Murder Ink).

Yule Be Dead will be available on November 27th. Here's the description:

It's the holiday season, but not everyone is jolly--especially not Vonne Barnett. Her dead body has been found near Victoria Square. Katie Bonner, the manager of Artisan’s Alley, happens to be at the tea shop Vonne's mother, Francine, owns when the news is delivered.

Vonne left a trail of men behind her so the suspects are many--but the clues are few. A broken teacup* leads Katie to one of the suspects, but before she can investigate, she’s attacked. Katie may be closing in on a killer, but time is ticking because the killer is definitely closing in on her.

 Pre-Order now!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books A Million | Chapters/Indigo | Book Depository

Kindle US | Kindle UK | Kindle AU  | Kindle Worldwide | Nook | Kobo | Apple Books

* The Broken Teacup is a short story in my companion series, Life on Victoria Square.

Friday, November 9, 2018

I'm making a list

by Lorraine Bartlett / Lorna Barrett / L.L. Bartlett

I admit it, I like the holidays. And this year I'm actually planning my decorations.  Not crazy time some of those YouTubers, but using what I've got and adding a few new things. (Mostly floral.)

But I'm also making lists.

In the "old days" when I used to be part of a big family, I would be making lists of what to buy people. Nowadays? Hardly at all. I buy for my husband and my brother. That's it. My husband loves everything I get him. My brother ... hit and miss.

But what do my lists consist of?

Well, I make lists of the graphics I want to make for the holidays. Like this one (which I lifted from a Christmas catalog).

Okay, it's not totally cold out yet (40s) but it's going to be 30s next week.

I'm making long lists of foods I want to make, but probably won't. (Calories. Bah! Humbug.)

And then there's my list of possible decorations I can scatter around the house. I think I'm going to lean vintage. I mean, I have over 200 Made In Japan Christmas figurines and more than 100 vintage Shiny Bright ornaments, which look incredibly cute in bowls.

What kinds of lists do you make for the holidays?

Thursday, November 8, 2018


by Karen Rose Smith

The other evening, my husband and I were searching for a good movie to watch on the UP tv family network.  Surprisingly, we found on the cable guide that the movie that was made into a 2017 movie based on one of my books was again on the network's schedule of holiday movies for the Christmas season.  Needless to say, I was super excited.  Having my Harlequin romance HIS COUNTRY CINDERELLA made into a movie by Brain Power was a dream come true. The dream continues this year as we were able to watch my story on screen once again. The DVD is also still on sale on Amazon and at WalMart.

When a book is made into a movie, it doesn't necessarily follow the story exactly as it was written.  My hero and heroine have the same qualities that they did in the book--compassion, integrity and the ability to fall in love. 

Jeannette, who is a single mom, has a little girl instead of a little boy.  (I think girls play better on TV!)  Zane is still a country singer.  Several scenes are similar to those in the book.  However, this wasn't a holiday book and now it is.  I love that because Christmas stories have that extra sparkle. 

Of course, I googled the actors and actresses and found they had many credits.  Greyson Holt is a Canadian actor, known for his role as Ray Prager Jr. in the TV series Durham County, as Emerson Hauser in the Fox series Alcatraz, and as Clayton Danvers in Space series Bitten.

Bea Santos is Jeannette, a single mom who acted in Murdoch Mysteries (2008) and Coconut Hero (2015) as well as Stockholm (2018).

Greg Vaughan who plays Billy, Zane's brother, was born in Texas.  He has acted in Malibu Shores and Beverly Hills 90210.  He has played Dan Gordon as Charmed, as well as Diego on The Young and the Restless, the role of Lucky Spencer on General Hospital and guest roles on Will and Grace.

Michelle Morgan, who plays Zane's agent in the movie, is a favorite actress of mine best known from the Heartland series.

Deanna Carter is a country singer.  She plays Jolene, a good friend to Zane and Jeannette.  Her voice brings Christmas magic to the movie.

The movie was shot in beautiful Alberta Canada where the weather even cooperated and snowed at the proper time!

Below is a 2018 schedule of when A VERY COUNTRY CHRISTMAS will appear once again on the network as well as the trailer for the movie.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Indy or traditional...does it matter?

Hi, Duffy Brown here with my first indy published book through Amazon. And I have to say I just love being an indy author! I think I’m a total control freak so this indy stuff really works well for me.
I can set the price, raise and lower it to run specials. Do giveaways, promotions, have my own cover and do my own reader letters. I can sell my ereads for 2.99!!! I just love that and it’s a fair price. I often feel the traditional publishers who charge 7.99, 9.99 etc for a download book are gouging the readers. It sure doesn’t cost that much to put a book online for that!
Back in the day when I wrote romance I had some really rotten covers and the publisher didn’t really give a flying fig that I liked them or not. Now I don’t have to put up with that! I get to pick and choose my cover.
And I now feel like I have more of a personal contact with the readers. Since all the promo is up to me I can interact with the readers more. That is just perfect as for me the best part of writing is the readers! And cozy mystery readers are the very best! I’ve met some of the best people though my books. They have shared their stories and get to listen to mine and there is a definite bond.
So my question to you is, does it matter to you if a book is indy or NY published?  

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Don't Forget to Vote!

by Maggie Sefton

Make sure you cast your ballots for local, state, and national candidates and issues
today.  We are so very fortunate to live in a country where we have this right.  If you've already voted, Good Job!  Celebrate our Democracy, Everyone!

Monday, November 5, 2018


By Mary Kennedy                                             

If you're like me, you enjoy the parade of "critters" that pass through your backyard during the warm months. (And the Kennedy cats like nothing better than watching their outdoor friends from the sun porch. It provides hours of enjoyment for them.)

But what happens to our furry outdoor friends in the winter? It's getting chilly here in the northeast and evening temperatures are dropping into the thirties.

Here are some quick things you can do to make life easier for the raccoons, possums, feral cats, chipmunks, squirrels and birds who call your backyard "home." 

First, keep putting out seeds, raisins, nuts, dried corn and whatever goodies you've been providing during the summer months. The natural food sources (berries, fruits) will be more difficult for the animals to find, so I always add more food to the trays. Don't put the food too close to the house. Bob Giddings reminded me that it's not a good idea! So I set up the feeding stations in the woods behind the house.  This visitor came a little too close to the deck and was staring in the glass doors at my cats.   Later in the day, she came back with her fawns.

Secondly, if you're pruning back bushes, don't discard the branches. Save them and make a brush pile somewhere in the yard. It will provide instant protection from the rain and the cold for so many little creatures.                                                                 
And finally, don't forget to save your christmas tree and add it to the pile. A great way to recycle!


Oh, and one more thing. It's really important for your backyard visitors to have water. If you have an outdoor plug, you can use a heated water dish.  You can find several online for under twenty dollars.

Hope these tips help! Next week, I'll share some ideas on helping feral cats in your area. Stay warm!

Mary Kennedy


Friday, November 2, 2018

Fiction bears no resemblance to real life

by Lorraine Bartlett / Lorna Barrett / L.L. Bartlett

Halloween is behind us with all its ghoulish motifs. And here I am a mystery author who writes about murders in every book I write. But the sad reality is that murder isn’t fun. It isn’t sanitary. It leaves behind terrible wounds for the survivors.

I know this because … a friend of mine was murdered.

That’s a really chilling thing to have to admit.

My friend was a ci-worker. He was older than me, and single, and back in the day, I’m pretty sure he wanted to seduce me. But…he listened when I said no. He was a man of the world and a lot more worldly than me. But he had daughters, and I was grateful when he didn’t pressure me.

I was married for almost a decade when a mutual friend emailed me and said that our co-worker had died.

Died? My friend was dead?

He had been let go by the company we worked from years before me. (When they finally let me go, I never looked back.)

My friend had a job at a local indie theater. He'd been a gifted photographer, but was working as a projectionist. Late at night he returned to his home in a part of the city that was slowly becoming gentrified and was met in his driveway by a bunch of rowdy teens. When he asked if they would let him get into his drive, they instead pulled him out of his car and beat him near to death. In fact, he died of his injuries a couple of days later—injuries that were inflicted in front of his own home.

The perpetrators were never brought to justice.

How does that make me, as a murder mystery author feel? Pretty awful.

His death is why I strive to make sure that all the perpetrators in the stories I write are brought to justice. Sadly, that never happened for my friend and co-worker. That’s real life.

Maybe I’m a fool to believe that justice will always prevail. For the sake of my friend, I sure hope so.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Choosing Paint Samples and Developing Characters

By Karen Rose Smith

We are in the midst of removing wallpaper and preparing the bathroom walls for a coat of paint.  While removing the old wallpaper can be tedious and time-consuming, that is a breeze compared to picking the right color of paint.  That process is as challenging as developing the right character for one of my mysteries or romances.  All the aspects of a character's personality must fit together to maximize the role they play in the story.  Similarly, all the tints and tones of a color scheme must work together to present a cohesive and appealing decor.  

I thought I had chosen the right color palette which would blend perfectly with the colors in the rest of the house.  We went to the paint store with the intention of purchasing a gallon of the lightest shade and one in a darker shade of the same palette.  When we saw the price of a gallon of the low-odor brand we always use, we quickly decided to purchase sample quarts of regular paint.  Thank goodness, because the palette we chose was more blue than would work with our decor.  So we had to return to the paint store for additional sample quarts from a different color palette.  We kept adding colors to      our sample board until we had the right combination for wall and trim.  

In addition to the paint cards and quarts, we also checked out a wallpaper sample book!  "Oh, no!" says hubby...because I'm still deciding!  We set the bead board in the bathroom and the bedroom to study the sample paint lines.  I'm hoping that soon I'll walk into the room and say, "That's the one!"

In my Caprice De Luca Home Staging mysteries, Caprice uses the same process when staging one of her high-end homes for showing.  She works tediously with a color scheme, often starting with one piece of furniture or fabric, and develops her whole plan around it.  In CUT TO THE CHAISE, the chaise lounge in the winery's tasting room is the focal point of her design.  The teal/turquoise color scheme is relaxing, yet eye-catching--the perfect color for the leather chaise lounge and the drop lights over the tasting bar.  Other colors in the room are complementary to those focal points.
How do you choose your color schemes when redecorating a room?  

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

New Release

Tandem Demise is out this week for $2.99. 

Hi, everyone and welcome back to Mackinac Island and life with no cars and only horses, bikes and foot-power to get around. Fall is in full swing with the leaves changing colors, a chill in the air and gardens ablaze with mums of every hue. 

            I love this island that is part of Michigan and located where Lake Michigan meets Lake Huron. Life on Mackinac moves a bit slower with cell phone service not all that reliable and internet not all that important. Why look at a screen when you can a take bike ride to the Grand Hotel for high tea or visit Fort Mackinac for a musket drill or firing a cannon.

            The only way to get to Mackinac is by ferry. Taxis here are horse drawn affairs moving at about five miles an hour and riding bikes is a breeze with no horns honking or traffic to maneuver around. This is an island for getting away, for relaxing, for enjoying life with friends and family. It’s life the way it used to be. Once you visit Mackinac Island a piece of you will forever stay there and you will long to return.

            I visited the island with my daughter from NCY. She went from Times Square and a hectic design job to no cars or cell service within twenty-four hours. When we got off the ferry she said, “Do you think we died and went to heaven?”

            I‘ve used all the real streets, restaurants, bars, hotels, piers, and ferry lines. I’ve included names of proprietors of the bookstore, bars, inns and markets. My characters order off the actual menu in the restaurants, drink at the watering hole where the locals meet and have the same problems with tourists...called fudgies…that the islanders have. I made the Cycle Path mysteries real so when you visit the island you will feel as if you’ve already been there. That you are coming home.

            Happy reading and I hope you fall in love with Mackinac Island and that you have as much fun with Tandem Demiseas I did writing it. 


Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Also Ran. . . .

by Maggie Sefton

I thought that post title was a good match for some of my "other books" that I've written over the years since I've been writing the Kelly Flynn Knitting Mysteries.  Like the rest of the Cozy Chicks, I have written and continue to write other fiction stories and separate books that are not associated with the Kelly Flynn cast of characters.  

My Halloween-based short, short story---"Halloween Scare" ---does feature the Kelly Flynn characters in a no-dead body tale.  

My very first mystery novel DYING TO SELL has a real estate agent sleuth who walks into a client's home one evening to bring a contract offer only to find the client dead.  Stabbed in the throat.  Needless to say, there was no sale on that property.

And most of you Cozy Chicks Readers and Friends/Fans have read my posts about my Washington, DC---based suspense trilogy----DEADLY POLITICS, POISONED POLITICS, and BLOODY POLITICS.  I really should change the name of that third one because there's certainly no gruesome scenes in that book.  Simply suspense.  And NO real politicians of any party.  We get enough of that every day in the news.  

And there's my historical novel, ABILENE GAMBLER, which is available as an E-book on  It takes place in 1871 Abilene, Kansas, and has a large cast of heroes and villains, including a Confederate widow named Samantha Winchester who's taking her little rag-tag family from Savannah, Georgia (after selling her family home to earn the money for train fare) to Abilene to start a new life.  The hero is a former Union officer named Jack Barnett, so you can tell these two characters have a lot going on between the two of them.  There's also a cowardly deputy sheriff named Clyde and a handsome young Texan named Cody Barnes, as well as Samantha's younger sister, Becky.  And two older maiden aunts who like to boss people around.  And, Maysie, who bosses everyone around.  You can tell I enjoyed writing these characters.

All of us have different story "ideas" that flash unbidden across our Storyteller's mind's eye.  Some of them are mysteries, some are romance, some take place in different historical time periods, some of them have Science Fiction elements or have a Futuristic setting.  Why don't you check out the Cozy Chicks "other stories" ?    You might be surprised  by the variety.  :)  

Monday, October 29, 2018

Time Traveler for a Day

By Mary Kennedy                                               

If you could go back in time, just for a day, where would you go? I did a quick survey of some friends, and here's what I found. 

An 8 year old neighbor told me he'd like to go back in time and see the dinosaurs. I tried to convince him that humans and dinosaurs didn't exist at the same time, but he was undaunted. He also told me that most of the dinos were vegetarians, so he didn't have too much fear of being eaten. I think T Rex was a carnivore, but I that's a minor point!

A fellow mystery writer told me she'd like to go back in time and have tea with Agatha Christie. She'd like to talk about her 66 novels (my friend has read them all!) and her 14 short story collections. She wanted some tips on plots, characterizations, and she wanted to know the "inside story" of why Agatha disappeared for a few days. Hmm. Sounds like a fun discussion. 

Another pal who writes Victorian mysteries with feisty heroines said she'd like to meet a woman from that era and get the inside scoop on how women really felt about their lives, their hopes and dreams. A tall order, but it would certainly be an interesting conversation. 
Another friend writes turn-of-the-century romance novels set in the US and would like to visit a Charleston Victorian house and talk to the folks who lived there. She'd like to sit on their front porch and chat about what they cooked, how they entertained, how they dressed, what it was like having servants, etc. 

Another friend wanted to meet Abraham Lincoln, (would she warn him not to go to the theater that night?) 

And a history buff wanted to visit Egypt in the time of the Pharoahs.

How about you? If you could go back in time, just for a day, where would you choose?

Mary Kennedy 

Friday, October 26, 2018

A little bit of light

by Lorraine Bartlett / Lorna Barrett / L.L. Bartlett

One of the first things my mother taught me was a healthy fear of fire. When she grew up in England, they didn't have central heat. They heated by coal. When you heat your house with an open fire, you live with the fear of your home burning down. Therefore, we never burned candles (unless there was a blackout--which I can only remember happening twice).

A lot of people burn candles for ambiance. I don't.

A lot of people burn candles for the scent.  I don't. (A lot of them are toxic and burning them releases carcinogenic particles.)

But I can't deny the allure of candles.  They're cute. I have a candle in my living room that I've had for about ten years. (I got it at an estate sale.) It has an interesting scent, but you don't smell it all all the time. I'll be sitting there, reading, and all of a sudden I'll get a brief scent. There's that candle again!  A lot of women use them in their decor, and I'm getting into that myself. So I did buy a vanilla scented candle, but it's just for show--I will not burn it. And I hope occasionally, when I walk by, I'll get the scent. (Because I LOVE vanilla.)

But during my last trip to The Dollar Tree, I checked out their LED candles. They are supposed to work for 120 hours. Not bad for a buck ... if they work.

With the holidays coming up, I thought it might be nice to have some flickering light for ambiance. Therefore, I stocked up on a number of different LED candles.

I lit my first 4" pillar candle on Wednesday. Aha! success. It was dark and cold and miserable out and the flickering light made the rooom feel that much cozier.

So yesterday, I showed Mr. L the other decorative LED candles I bought for the holidays in silver. (Most people decorate with gold, but I'm a silver kinda gal.) So I took them out of the packaging, flipped the switch ... and nothing happened. Okay, I got a dud. So I took the next one out and turned it on. Another dud. I'd also bought four tealight LED candles and each and every one of them were duds, too.


So I'm going back to the Dollar Tree to see if I can return them. Maybe I'll just stick with those nice 4" pillars (I know they make different heights, but they only had the 4" ones at this store).

So -- candles in your home or not?

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Soup Time!

by Karen Rose Smith

When the seasons changed in September, the weather didn't seem to agree with the timing.  But now we are beginning to see cooler days and have even had a touch of frost several nights in Pennsylvania.  My thoughts have turned from light fare and grilled foods to heartier meals and bowls of stew or steaming soup.

One of my favorite soups for a chilly autumn day is featured in my first Daisy's Tea Garden mystery--MURDER WITH LEMON TEA CAKES.  Daisy serves Potato and Leek Soup in the tea garden and I would like to share the recipe I developed with you.

 Daisy's Potato and Leek Soup

3 tablespoons high heat sunflower oil
1 cup onion
3 leeks, diced (about 2 cups)
1 cup celery chopped
1 clove of garlic
3 tablespoons flour
1 quart chicken broth (I use Swanson 100% Chicken Broth/99% fat free)
2 1/2 to 3 cups potatoes in small chunks
2 cups carrots, sliced
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup milk

Trim the top and bottom of leeks.  Cut them longwise and soak in water for ten minutes.

In a 4 1/2 quart pot, heat sunflower oil and saute onion, leeks and celery for about three minutes.  After the mixture starts to sizzle, add garlic.  Add flour and stir well.  Add chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Add potatoes, carrots, bay leaf, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil again, then simmer until potatoes are tender (about 20 minutes).  Add milk and simmer 5 more minutes.

Makes six servings.

What is your favorite soup for a chilly fall day?