Monday, April 30, 2012

Win a copy of Gold Mountain

My newest book, Gold Mountain: A Klondike Mystery, as just been released by Dundurn Press.  This is the third in the Klondike Gold Rush series, following Gold Digger and Gold Fever. 

Here's a brief overview of the story: 

Gold Mountain, where the hills of solid gold keep the Yukon valley as warm as California. Fiona MacGillivray has no interest in Paul Sheridan’s mad scheme to find the valley, but when the one-time henchman of Soapy Smith and her erstwhile suitor arrives in Dawson, she might not have a choice

On the way to the supposed Gold Mountain, Fiona and escort and followers encounter many strange things. Among them is food served in a trapper's cabin.  I'd like to have a draw to win a copy of Gold Mountain. If you can identify the fruit being served below, send me an e-mail, please, to vicki at vickidelany dot com to enter.

Josie cleaned away the bowls and then, to my considerable surprise, brought out a large fruit to serve as dessert. I hadn’t seen anything like it before. It was about the size and shape of two cricket balls lying together and had a thick lumpy green skin.

Rather than take a knife down from the shelf by the stove, she picked up a good-sized hunting knife from Edmund’s place at the table, pulled it from its sheath, and sliced into the fruit, revealing bright green flesh surrounding a single large brown pit. She dug out the pit, scooped out the flesh, and placed a generous slice onto a plate which she passed to me.

“Try,” she said. “Very good.”

I expected it to be crisp and clean, like an apple, instead it was as soft and creamy as butter. Absolutely delicious.

Gold Mountain, and the rest of the series are available in paperback and all electronic formats. Click here to order from Amazon or to read more. The first chapter is available at 

Friday, April 27, 2012

If You Like Deviled Eggs....

I do like deviled eggs. I'm just not sure I like them as much as the person who compiled the list I just stumbled across. I can tell you I don't like the ones with nutmeg, and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't like the egg to the right because I don't know what (other than caviar, maybe?) is atop that egg.

However, you can go to this page at and find links to over fifty deviled egg recipes. There are Cajun Deviled Eggs that feature cayenne pepper. And I'd try the Bacon Cheddar Deviled Eggs. There is even a recipe for No Yolk Deviled Eggs. Yep, you read that right. I clicked on the link to see what the devil was if not egg yolk. It's mashed potato.

If you're a deviled egg lover, check out the list and see what appeals to you. If you try any of the recipes, please be sure and share your experience with us! I'm still thinking about those Bacon Cheddar Deviled Eggs. Might just have to give those a whirl.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Cool, Rainy Morning+Over-ripe Bananas=Banana Muffins

Mushy bananas are the perfect excuse to make banana muffins. Another great idea for bananas past their prime is to peel them, pop them in a freezer bag, and freeze to use in fruit smoothies. The frozen bananas add a creamy sweetness and are much easier on blender blades than ice cubes.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

U is for Upside-Down Cake

Bet you thought the only kind of Upside-Down Cake was Pineapple, dincha?

Well, in the 1800s, settlers in the USA made a variety of upside-down cakes, called skillet cakes because they were baked in skillets on top of the stove or over an open fire. I happen to have a cast-iron skillet just sitting around eating its head off and not doing a lick of work: Maybe I'll roust it out one of these fine days and make me a skillet cake.

ANYWAY, back in the 1800s, pineapple was being grown and exported, fresh and canned, mostly to luxury markets. By the early-to-mid 1920s, pineapple growers were soliciting and publishing recipes using canned pineapple. They received thousands of recipes for pineapple upside-down cake, so it's a fair assumption that some of their product was finding its way to creative cooks in a variety of culinary circumstances. 

Pineapple upside-down cake begins with pineapple rings braised in caramelized sugar syrup. These are arranged in the bottom of a well-greased baking pan and the syrup poured over them. After this cools, plain white or yellow cake batter is spooned over it and baked. Or, I suppose, skilleted.

You cool it, turn it out, cuss, scrape the fruit off the pan where it's stuck, put the fruit pieces on top of the cake and cover it with whipped cream. Garnish with maraschino cherries, if you like.

Is good.

Marian Allen

Friday, April 20, 2012

Birthday Cakes for Twins

My boy/girl twins have a birthday tomorrow. Although we usually just have a small cake now, or they have cake with their meal if we dine out, I used to make or buy each of them a themed cake each year. That made for a lot of cake around the house after parties!

Don't you love the Mickey and Minnie cake to the right? That would be an adorable option for boy/girl twins' first birthday party.

Here are some other twin cake ideas:

Max and Ruby

Thing 1 and Thing 2 for Dr. Seuss fans

Happy birthday, Lianna and Nicholas!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Nasty Memories of Ipecac and Poultry

Marian's post last week about Ipecac brought back a vivid memory. The memory is probably much more vivid for my brother, Johnie, than it is for me.
My brother and I were teenagers, eating lunch at a restaurant with our mom. Johnie was munching on a fried chicken sandwich, when Mom noticed that under the breading was some less than opaque poultry. The breading had been cooked, but the meat was still raw.

Seeing that Johnie had eaten a few bites, Mom began to worry about food poisoning. She called the doctor, who instructed her to administer Ipecac. The Ipecac caused the chicken, and anything else my brother had eaten that day to violenty eject from his system.

Not long after that, my whole family was eating at a fast food restaurant. Johnie got some fried chicken tenders. Yes, he was still brave enough to order chicken.

As he dug in, Johnie got a huge surprise. Feathers, were fried in under the breading! This was so shocking that most of the restaurant's employees came over to see the breaded, fried, feathered chicken! The feather incident was gross, but at least did not requre Ipecac.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

O is for Ovens

I don't know why I'm so fascinated by old-fashioned ovens, but I am. Must be that past-life experience I had with a couple of kids named Hansel and Gretel. 

The earliest oven was probably the tannur, a sort of clay chimney. The earliest that have been unearthed date back to 5000 BCE. There were small ones inside homes and large public ones in village squares. A fire was built in the bottom and rounds of flatbread dough were pressed against the sides and removed as they dried and fell away. The flatbreads, not the sides of the ovens. Sounds kind of attention-intensive to me. In other words, I wouldn't have been asked to stand for oven duty.

Meat could also be skewered and inserted into these clay ovens. The Tandoori Chicken and nann bread I love so well are traditionally cooked this way. 

About 10,000 years ago, wheat-growers developed an oven often made of stone or brick. The fire was raked out onto a hearth and the leavened bread put into the hot oven. Sometimes these had broad flat tops (the ovens, not the bread) and doubled as beds. I believe even my icy feet would warm up if I slept on a hot oven. 

Where fuel was scarce, only the wealthy had ovens of their own. The poor took their dinner to the bakeshop and hoped for the best.

Early bake ovens in the American colonies were of the exterior clay-and-wattle beehive design. Because these didn't hold up to New England weather, some builders made them of stone. When brick-making became an industry, brick fireplaces, chimneys and bake ovens became the norm and moved indoors. Bake ovens were built into the fireplace, usually into the back wall, though some were separate. 

Dutch ovens were deep pots made of cast iron. They were placed over hot coals on short trivets, food put inside, a tight-fitting lid put on top, and hot coals heaped on the lid. 

Reflecting ovens can be used with small fires and campfires. They're more-or-less tin boxes, open on one side. The open side is turned toward the fire, naturally. They can be used to roast meat or vegetables, and even to bake bread. 

Maybe even gingerbread.

Marian Allen

Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday the 13th Cake

Happy Friday the 13th! If it's your birthday or if you want something yummy and fun to eat while watching marathons of the movies on TV, here's an idea from Your Happy Baker. This link will give you step-by-step instructions on how to make this Jason cake.

Of course, you aren't limited to Jason on Friday the 13th. You could go all out, and make a cake like this one:

On the other hand, you might rather watch Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid instead of Friday the 13th. After all, Butch Cassidy was born on Friday, April 13. I don't know about you, but I'd rather watch young Paul Newman and Robert Redford than Jason any day. :)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Leapin' Lizards, I'm Going to Winking Lizard!

My kids and I are getting ready to travel up to Cleveland, Ohio to visit my brother's family. As always, I am anticipating the meals I will be eating on this trip. On top of my list, this cute little place that is within walking distance of my brother's house. Cannot wait to try it!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Ipecac sounds like a name in one of the "primitive societies" books I devoured as a child.

"Young Ipecac followed his father and the other men on this, his first hunt. He was proud of the handsome stone ax his grandfather had helped him make, and of the fine throwing stick his mother, Ipecacuana, had fashioned from the rib bone of an aurochs."

But that isn't what ipecac is. Us older folks know that all parents used to be advised to keep a bottle of ipecac on hand to induce vomiting, in case one (or, I suppose, more) of our children ingested poison.

But that was back in the day. Parents are no longer advised by physicians to automatically induce vomiting in case of poison. We are instead advised to call the Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 and consult with them.

It turns out that ipecac, while it did, indeed, induce vomiting, had no effect on the results of the poisoning and often causes problems of its own. You can read the details at the Poison Center Website.

But now let's suppose we have a character with a weak heart. We slip poison into his food or drink and promise to give him ipecac (he doesn't know it's being discouraged) if he'll confess in writing to something or other. He does it, we hand over the bottle, having carefully wiped it first, of course. He drinks it, vomits violently and repeatedly, has a heart attack, and dies.

Messy, but effective. The cops believe he tried to kill himself, then had second thoughts, but died of the results of ipecac.

Naturally, we're caught, because the cop or amateur sleuth is just too darned clever for us. Curses! Foiled!

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Friday, April 6, 2012

Happy Good Friday!

Do we ever get too old for the excitement of an Easter basket? NO!

Or, maybe, it's that I don't get too old for the excitement of filling and giving Easter baskets. I love it. Just the other day, I bought cute Easter bags shaped like baskets to fill with my children's goodies. Granted, my children are teenagers now, but they still love their baskets. And my husband is usually happy with his little basket too.

Every Easter, my grandmother used to give my brother a solid milk chocolate bunny. I can't remember what she got me, but he loved his chocolate bunnies so much that the gift never varied. If I'm not mistaken, she'd get him one even after he was married. Each year when I stroll the supermarket aisles and see the solid milk chocolate bunnies, I think of Grandmother and Daryl. I think I'll surprise him with a milk chocolate bunny this year, just for old time's sake. Grandmother would be pleased.

Who can you surprise with an Easter basket?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Peeps...please accept my apology!

One of my posts from the past describes my loathing of Peeps. I love marshmallows, but the spongy Peeps with a semi-crunchy sugary coating have always seemed a bit gross to me.

So, I found myself in a dilemma this past Friday evening. Our church had a glow-in-the-dark Easter egg hunt. One of the activities was making s'mores around a bonfire. As a s'more lover, I quickly got in line to grab my graham cracker, chocolate bar, and .....Peep, uh-0h!

To carry out the Easter theme, the s'mores station offered Peeps in place of traditional marshmallows. A friend who was aware of how I feel about Peeps assured me that melted Peeps are not the same as regular ones.

So, I speared my bunny-shaped Peep, stuck it in the fire, and squished it between graham crackers and chocolate. It was one of the best s'mores I have ever eaten!

Peeps, I apologize for all of the derogatory comments I have made about you over the years. I eat my words!

If any Fatal Foodies are looking for a fun Easter activity, make some Peep s'mores. To do glow-in-the-dark eggs, use reflective duct tape. Or, insert a glow-in-the-dark bracelets inside plastic eggs. These two activities are perfect night-time Easter fun!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Sorry to Interrupt!

I'm so sorry to interrupt your regularly scheduled programming, but I have an announcement. The winner of the copy of THE LONG STITCH GOODNIGHT from Friday's blog post is JENNS76. Jenns76, please email with your mailing address! Thank you!

I now return you to Marian Allen and WHY POLAR BEARS ARE GREEN. (Cooper gets a little green after Tim mows the lawn, so I'm off to read about the "other" polar bears!)

Cyanobacteria OR Why Polar Bears Are Green

Have you ever watched a nature show about polar bears and thought, "What's wrong with the color? Why can I see that polar bear against the snow and ice? Way to be camouflaged, Mr. Freezee!"

Well, I'm here to tell you that it's cyanobacteria. The bacteria are called "cyano" because that means blue-green, and that's the color of it. Cyanobacteria grows in polar bear hair, where it's beneficial. (That's not what makes sloth hair green; that's algae, that is.)

Mr. Cyanobacteria is generally a friendly fella, producing oxygen for us to breathe. Get too many in one place, though, and, like sports fans after a big game, you can have trouble.

Sometimes cyanobacteria gets out of hand, reproduces waytoofast and forms a toxic bloom that can kill fish, animals and humans. This bloom might be visible, looking like foam, scum, a mat or a discoloration of the water, red (if a lot of them are dead), or might be invisible. There could be a bad smell, if a lot of them are dead. Cyanotoxicity can cause respiratory failure.

And you know what? When Mom and #4 daughter and I went to the Bahamas and visited the beach that the hotel provided, far from the hotel, actually, the beach was deserted, though the water was beautiful. It smelled bad. My eyes swelled shut and we had to leave.

And I have since had bouts of anaphylaxis, especially the respiratory and swollen tissue bits. Now I'm wondering if my reaction on that beach was an early warning sign brought on by cyanotoxins and we just didn't know it.

And oh, what a sneaky way to debilitate or eliminate a character: gather some bloom and introduce it into his or her favorite swimming spot, then make sure to expose him or her to a toxic amount. Investigators would find the same toxin that killed him or her in the swimming spot and declare natural causes.

Won't you be my neighbor?

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Sunday, April 1, 2012


I did something for my health today. It was tough, I know, but I want to be my very best.

I had a piece of chocolate. Who knew! Chocolate reduces fat. Specifically a small amount of chocolate - the darker the better - leads to leaner people. Wow!

According to the researchers, frequent chocolate eaters actually weigh less – not more – than people who seldom eat it.

Unfortunately, according to the report, you can't scarf down a whole bar at one sitting. One to two ounces several times a week seems to be it.

I can do that.


The draw for an ARC of A Winter Kill continues until Sunday night (April 1). If you'd like to be entered, please leave a comment here, or e-mail me at vicki at vickidelany dot com.

And after you've done that, be sure and enter Gayle's contest too.