What can I say? I love food. I love reading. I love reading with food in hand. I love cooking food while reading. I write about food in culinary mysteries. I create recipes for the blog I do with other mystery writers on Mystery Lovers Kitchen. I’m a foodie and a reader, pure and simple. I have cooked all my life. I’ve read books all my life. (Well, maybe I was resistant when I was eight years old, but when I got hold of the Nancy Drew Mysteries at the age of nine, I was hooked! In fact, that’s when I knew I wanted to write.)
Reading and food simply go together for me. I’m a big fan of cozies about food, and one of my favorite culinary series is Krista Davis’ Domestic Diva Mysteries. Her protagonist Sophie Winston can put together a quickie meal. No guest is turned away. She is always prepared.
Now, understand, whatever Sophie serves, it is always gourmet, but what Sophie does prepare isn’t hard. And—big tip—she has plenty of things on hand in the freezer. She thinks ahead. I love this about her.
Sophie loves her friends and family and counts on them to sit around her table and chat. She wants to chat, too; she is not strapped to the stove. Sophie is a party planner, but she’s not even remotely a “diva.” She doesn’t make froufrou food. Most of her recipes are easy to reproduce. And her mysteries always work out in just as tasty and satisfying a way.
You guessed it. I want to be Sophie in my next life. At ease with a party. At ease with a group full of hungry people who descend upon my home. At ease solving crime.
In one of Davis’ latest books, The Diva Wraps It Up, which is set at Christmas, there are cookies galore. I have to admit, I suffered from cookie envy after reading it. I wanted not only to eat all the cookies Sophie has on hand in her freezer, I wanted to possess all her cookie recipes, too.
So there. That’s my pairing: Cookies and Krista Davis. Delicious. By the way, I do make a mean cream cheese sugar cookie. I’ve been known to down a handful while reading. With milk or tea or coffee as an accompaniment? Perfect!
I love cookies. I eat cookies when I read. I am very good at turning pages with a cookie in my hand.
See below for two cookie recipes perfect for your reading (and eating) pleasure.
Avery Aames is the Agatha Award–winning author of the Cheese Shop Mystery series, including Days of Wine and Roquefort, To Brie or Not to Brie, Clobbered by Camembert, Lost and Fondue, and The Long Quiche Goodbye. She loves to cook and enjoys a good wine. She speaks a little French and has even played a French woman onstage. And she adores cheese. As Daryl Wood Gerber she also writes the Cookbook Nook Mysteries.
DARYL WOOD GERBER'S CREAM CHEESE COOKIES
(makes 36-40 cookies; similar to a shortbread)
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1 3-oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
- ½ tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 ¼ cups flour
- 1 egg white
- 4-6 tablespoons white sugar, for topping
In large bowl, combine sugar, butter, cheese, salt, extracts and yolk. Beat until smooth. Stir in flour.
Roll the dough into a tube about 2” in diameter. Wrap in saran. Chill the dough for 4-8 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Cut the dough in slices, lay on cookie sheet 1 inch apart. Press with spoon or wet fingers. Brush with slightly beaten egg white and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake for 7-10 minutes until golden brown.
You may use sugar in the raw for topping, or colored sugar. For Christmas, I used crushed candy canes for the topping.
KRISTA DAVIS' DARK CHOCOLATE CHIP AND CHERRY OATMEAL COOKIES
(makes about 20 2 1/2 inch cookies)
- 1 stick (eight tablespoons) unsalted butter
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 3/4 cup flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 1/2 cups oatmeal
- 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
- 1/3 cup dried cherries
Melt the butter with the sugar over medium heat. Set aside to cool.
Preheat oven to 350. Place parchment paper on a baking sheet.
Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
Beat the egg well. Add a small amount of the flour mixture and beat. Add a small amount of the butter mixture and beat. Alternate adding them until incorporated. Add the vanilla and mix well. Add the oatmeal and mix. Add chocolate chips and dried cherries and mix.
The batter will be very thick. Roll it into balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter and place on parchment paper. Using your palm or the base of a glass, flatten them to about 1/2 inch thick.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes.