Thursday, November 5, 2009

Guest Post - Lorna Barrett

A big thank you to Lorna for stopping by my blog today to chat. I am a HUGE fan of the Booktown Mysteries and am honored to have her here.

Old Cookbooks

By Lorna Barrett

There was a time that I wouldn’t buy a cookbook that didn’t have gorgeous photography on virtually every page. “I like to see what my food is supposed to look like,” I told my family and friends. But then I started writing the Booktown Mysteries. My editor said, “Could you include a recipe with the book?”

“Oh, sure,” I said, even though I had planned that my protagonist to be domestically challenged.

No sooner had I made that promise when my protagonist’s sister proclaimed an affinity for cooking. Angelica—the older sister you love to hate—wasn’t supposed to be more than a one-book character, but she started taking over, and as I wrote that first book (Murder is Binding), she asserted herself deeper and deeper into her sister Tricia’s life and I knew she’d become a fixture.

Angelica lives for and loves to cook. I can bake with adequate to good results, but cooking isn’t my forte. If I was going to write about Angelica, I was going to have to expand my cooking horizons. And that’s when I started to actively look for and buy old cookbooks. You see, Angelica owns Stoneham’s cookbook store, the Cookery, where she sells new, used, and vintage cookbooks, as well as cooking gadgets.

In addition to my hundred or so filled-with-lovely-photography cookbooks, I now eight or ten old cookbooks that range in age from fifty to seventy years old. It’s fun to flip through the pages and find recipes like Pineapple and Grated Swiss Cheese Salad, Glazed Lamb Hearts, Breaded Sweetbreads with Mushroom Sauce, Deviled Tongue Mold, Parboiled Fish Roe – and lots of other things you’re not likely to find these days in a Rachael Ray or Emeril cookbook.

What I also like about these old books is that they give you lots of cooking tips. Like the chapter on Food Stretchers and Alternates included in The Good Housekeeping Cook Book (my edition is dated 1946). What do you do to save butter? Why, use margarine. Or make your butter pats smaller. Caution your family to use smaller portions (like that will work in this age of supersizing everything), or make a butter spread (by letting it soften and adding unflavored gelatin, water, a little salt, and some evaporated milk).

In my latest Booktown Mystery, Bookplate Special, Angelica has sold her first cookbook. (And coincidentally, sold it to my publisher’s parent company!) She does become a bit overbearing, telling anyone who’ll listen (and even those who won’t), the title, publisher and date of publication. It’s been fun coming up with recipes for her to cook—even if they are just Easy-Does-It recipes. (BTW, that’s the title of her first cookbook—Easy Does It Cooking.) Of course, Angelica aspires to one day be as well-known as Paula Deen or (dare she even hope) Julia Child.

That’s part of the fun of writing the Booktown Mysteries, and you can bet they will always revolve around not only books and Booktown, but also about food and cooking.

Angelica wouldn’t have it any other way.

New York Times bestselling author Lorna Barrett writes the Booktown Mysteries. BOOKPLATE SPECIAL, her third in the series, is now available. She has a personal blog (Dazed and Confused) and blogs on Tuesday with Writers Plot and on Saturdays with the Cozy Chicks. For more information on Lorna and her books, please visit her web site:

Bookplate Special << ----- click here to buy your copy today!


Diane said...

I read the first in this series and loved it but I never got to read any more. This was a great post;thanks

Lorna Barrett said...

Hi, Diane, thanks for Reading Murder Is Binding. I hope you'll catch up with Bookmarked for Death and now Bookplate Special!

Sheila Deeth said...

Oh, these sound fun! Thanks for the introduction.

Dru said...

I'm traveling this weekend and Bookplate Special is in my suitcase and I can't wait to dive into it.

Easy Does It is a book this non-cook would buy.

Again, congrats on your book release.