Food for Thought

Dorothy Cannell: A couple of months ago I wrote about going through my bookcases looking for books I’d saved years ago with the thought I might one day reread them.  Mostly these were romantic suspense or gothics.  I lined them up on a table under my bedroom window and have been winnowing the stack down ever since.  Only one or two have I given up on after the first chapter.

There was something was something particularly inviting about them during these often Screen Shot 2018-05-28 at 2.16.58 PMchill days.  They got me out and about when staying indoors and became something of a routine.  Mary Stewart took me to the sunshine Avignon and Greece; Dorothy Eden to the Victorian era, and most recently Catherine Gaskin carried me off to Ireland with Edge of Glass.

There was so much in this book that I relished.  It opens with the protagonist Moira working in her late mother’s antique shop on the King’s Road in London.  A young, handsome Irishman comes in and sets the lure that will lead to her setting off for Ireland to meet for the first time her embittered maternal grandmother living in a centuries’’ old house made chilling by the rooms being crowded out of moveable space by accumulations of furnishings acquired at auctions.  Adding to the dismal pall is the memory of a beautiful young woman whose death leaves two people under suspicion.  At the center of the story is the family glassworks.

Interwoven is Moira’s flair as a cook.  In an early chapter she whips up a supper of cheese fondue and poached eggs served with freshly ground coffee.  Later she searches for herbs in her grandmother’s neglected garden for making omelets.  This element is the reason I’m writing this blog.

I love descriptions of delectable food in books.  They not only serve as a break in the Screen Shot 2018-05-28 at 2.17.22 PMtension, for the characters and reader they add that coziness, perhaps otherwise called reality, at the heart of traditional mysteries.  By the way, there is also a cat, a Siamese, prowling amongst the multitude of sideboards and armoires in bereft search of its vanished owner.  But back to food.  Moira is befriended by an elderly German man and has afternoon tea with him at his home which is an island of warmth and sanity after the congested moldering mansion.  Amongst the selections brought in on a silver tray are, of course, scones.

The mouthwatering thought of them got me off the sofa to unearth another book.  One containing recipes I had clipped out or been given. Some tried and enjoyed, others left to languish for years.  Midway through the following is one for Irish Scones, with a notation from whoever gave it to me:

4 cups flour

1 tsp. Baking soda

2 tsp. Baking powder

½ tsp. salt

½ cup sugar (slightly rounded)

1 stick butter

1 & ½ cups raisins

1 egg

1 & ½ cups buttermilk

Preheat oven 400 degrees

Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Cut in butter as for pie crust.  Add raisins.  Set aside.  Beat egg and buttermilk together and add to dry ingredients.  Stir with a wooden spoon.  (If think needed add a little more flour).

Turn out on floured surface and knead.  Roll dough until is ¾ inch thick.  Cut rounds with a lightly floured cutter or a small juice glass.  Put on a greased baking sheet and bake 20 – 25 minutes or until scones are lightly browned.

I’ve made them since rediscovery and think them perfect.  Lesson learned from rereading Edge of Glass. It pays to do the same with recipes stored for years and left neglected.  I’m onto cheese fondue next.

Happy reading and happy eating,



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3 Responses to Food for Thought

  1. I was speaking at a library recently and someone asked about early influences. When I was twelve, I was the librarian’s assistant at the Vose Library in Union, and one of the perks was that I got to read the new Phyllis Whitney, Mary Stewart, and Victoria Holt right after the librarian. Your post reminds me that I want to go back and reread some of these again. I think Mary Stewart’s talent for description is amazing. You can feel the heat and smell the herbs. Wonderful sense of place. Now I have downloaded Edge of Glass.


  2. Gram says:

    I had to go to the statewide library site to find this one. It’s now on my t-b-r list.

  3. Vida Antolin-Jenkins says:

    There will be scones in Alexandria this evening (alas, have to postpone the baking urge while I deal with, as Dru says, my “day situation.”)

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