I hope you're all enjoying June and all it has to offer. And, gentle readers, I have something to offer, as well - a fun giveaway for a great beach book. But let me give you a little bit of a story, first.
Last month, on my birthday, one of my technicians gifted me with a couple of "cozy mysteries". Not one to mince words, she informed me that I think too much and my brain needed a break. Now, cozy mysteries were new to me. But they're sort of the literary equivalent of caramel corn - light, sweet, and addictive. I started trolling the aisles at Barnes and Noble for other "cozies". There are cozies that deal with needlework, knitting, fashion, dogs, cats, cooking, baking... and then I spotted this:
Vintage kitchen mystery? Score!! This one came home with me. It was my day off, so I cuddled up on the couch with a glass of lemonade and my new delight. Which quickly became a mild case of the heebie-jeebies. The main character begins the tale by visiting an estate sale, purchasing a Hoosier cabinet, some vintage cookbooks, pyrex bowls, and a box of sewing bibs and bobs.
Ummm..... Yeah. Take a moment and peak into my kitchen:
OK, it's not a true Hoosier, but it's a similar style. It was Grandma Mildred's - the original shipping label is still stapled to the back. It does have the flour bin, though the original tin bread box drawer was replaced with a plain wooden one. And the original tambour replaced with an oak one. On it, you see part of my pyrex collection. (I don't have the primary colors set of bowls, though I've thought about it - I'm still holding out for a set in pink or aqua.) In the bowls are part of my vintage cookbook collection. So, slightly odd.
I'm not even going to show you my collection of vintage sewing stuff. Let's just say that it includes Francesca, the Damascus treadle sewing machine. And I lust after an Atlas pink sewing machine, too.
Did I mention "A Deadly Grind" is set in Michigan? In a small town on the St. Clair River, with an island that lies in the center.
Yeah.... I live in Michigan. On the other side of the state, admittedly. In a harbor town. With an island in the middle of the river.
Oh, and some of the action centers around a historical event where the locals host a Victorian Tea.
Whilst, this weekend, Grand Haven celebrated the Feast of the Strawberry Moon - an event that celebrates the area's fur trading origins with re-enactors. We went. There were Native American encampments....
A colonial cooking demo:
And entertainment of various stripes:
My husband was beginning to suspect the house was bugged. Either that, or the cats (in spite of their obvious lack of opposable thumbs) had figured out how to turn on the computer and were E-mailing Ms. Hamilton.
Anyway, I devoured the book in something less than 24 hours. And then found Ms. Hamilton's website
. First, I discovered that the next book in the series is slated for release in February of 2013. (Arrrrggghhhhhh!!!!!!) Second, I sent a brief e-mail in praise of the book - and giggling about the reflection of my own life in it - to the author. Gracious lady that she is, she's going to give one lucky reader a signed copy of her book. :-) We'll get to how to enter at the end of the post.
First, in honor of both the book, and June, I give you a shortcake recipe from one of my vintage books.
I used the recipe for Shortcake Biscuits, and added a bit of white cornmeal for texture.
1-1/2 qts. strawberries
1/2 c. white cornmeal
1-3/4 c. Fancy Flour Blend
, other GF AP flour, OR
1/4 c. millet flour
1/4 c. sweet rice flour
3/4 c. white rice flour
1/4 c. + 2 Tbsp tapioca starch
2 Tbsp potato starch
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
3 tsp baking powder
2 Tbsp sugar
1/3 c. shortening
3/4 c. milk
1 tsp vanilla
whipped cream or ice cream, if desired
Slice the strawberries and stir together with sugar to taste, a bit of lemon juice, and some sliced mint leaves, if desired. Allow to macerate in the refrigerator for 6-8 hours.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
In a bowl, combine dry ingredients and toss with a fork.
Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse meal. You can use butter, if you like, though the texture will be a little different. I used Spectrum shortening. It's both non-hydrogenated AND a little firmer than other brands. Which was a plus when it was pushing 90 degrees out.
Stir the vanilla into the milk
Add the milk to the dry ingredients and stir with a fork until mixture just comes together.
Drop onto the baking sheet. You should get 8-10 biscuits. (Memo, me: Get a 1.5 oz disher)
Bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned.
Let cool a little, and serve with berries and whipped cream or ice cream.
So, go make yourself some shortcake, then sit down with a spoon and enter the giveaway.
Up for grabs is one copy of Victoria Hamilton's A Deadly Grind
(Small caveat - I'm going to limit this to readers in North America. Posting something outside the continent these days just gets SO cost-prohibitive. Sorry!)
Comment here and tell me what vintage recipes are favorites at your house - 1 entry
Come over and follow Gluten Free Goes Vintage
on Facebook, then leave me a comment here to tell me that you did so (or that you already follow) - 1 entry
Go to Victoria Hamilton's blog
, and leave her a nice comment - then leave a comment here to tell me that you did so - 1 entry
Follow me on Twitter @PrincesPolkadot
, and leave a comment here telling me that you've done so - 1 entry.
The giveaway will close on Monday, June 18, at 12 AM EST. I'll choose a winner on Tuesday, June 19th!
Even if you don't win, if you like well-plotted books with excellent character development, seasoned with a smattering of vintage baking - go get yourself a copy, anyway!
(I'm going to go keep a closer eye on the cats. And speculate on what other bits of my collection might end up in the next book.... ;-)