The Food Conundrum

Finished Product (1)

The recipe I came up with for Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen–shrubs!

When you write cozies, there is always the food issue. That is, do you include recipes or not?

Now, for some folks, that answer is an easy one. They’re centered around food, so of course! There’s even a great blog called Mystery Lovers Kitchen that is about mysteries and food. It features a huge array of cozy authors. They let me do a guest post in August. I made shrubs, which are discussed in Chime and Punishment. Part of the challenge is taking pictures of the process that look somewhat appetizing.

I like mysteries with food. In fact, Joanne Fluke’s Hannah Swenson series is a go to for cookie recipes for me. There’s even a cookbook, which I own and have given as gifts.  Her Highlander Cookie Bar recipe is one of my go-tos when I need to impress. (Shortbread on the bottom, brownies on top. Oh. My.)

Several of the Wickeds have series that include recipes. In my Clock Shop series, there was a natural fit if I featured recipes from the Sleeping Latte. But, then I learned some of the “rules”. The recipe needs to be original. And, since I know I try them on occasion, they need to taste good. I bake, and cook, but I couldn’t take the pressure.

For my Theater Cop series, a food tie in doesn’t really work as well. Though, I did mention cinnamon and sugar french fries with a cream cheese frosting dip that I thought sounded pretty interesting in book 2, which will be out next September. I totally made them up, so the recipe isn’t in the book.

I am writing a new series (stay tuned), and I’m not sure if I’m going to have recipes. But I do find myself mentioning food a lot, just in case. I plan to have the nieces help me develop a couple to see if I can pull it off. We’ll see how it goes.

Today, my question for you dear readers, do you like cozies with recipes? Do you try them? Trust them? Should I try and pull this off? Let me know in the comments!

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About J.A. Hennrikus/Julianne Holmes

J.A. (Julie) Hennrikus writes the Clock Shop Mystery Series under the name Julianne Holmes. JUST KILLING TIME, the first in the series, was published in Oct 2015 and was nominated for a BEST FIRST NOVEL Agatha award. CLOCK AND DAGGER was released in August 2016. CHIME AND PUNISHMENT will be released in August 2017. Julie's Theater Cop series will debut in the fall of 2017. A CHRISTMAS PERIL is the first in this series about an ex-cop who runs a theater company. wears two hats. Her short stories have been published by Level Best Books: “Tag, You’re Dead” in THIN ICE, “Her Wish” in DEAD CALM, and “The Pendulum Swings, Until It Doesn’t” in BLOOD MOON. Julie is an arts administrator and arts advocate. She tweets her writing life as @JHAuthors, and her other life as @JulieHennrikus. She is an avid theater goer and a member of Red Sox nation. Her website is jahennrikus.com, and she blogs with WickedCozyAuthors.com and KillerCharacters.com.

45 thoughts on “The Food Conundrum

  1. If the book is a food related story and you mention various dishes then yes at least one recipe should be included. If the book just mentions food and not centered around it, then recipes are not needed.

  2. I have always liked cozies with recipes, which is why my contemporary series offer them. But I was interested to note that in a cozy book club discussion of FLIPPED FOR MURDER recently, when I asked who had made any of the recipes in the book, only one person out of quite a few dozen said she had!

  3. I like recipes in my food-related cozies. I always enjoy reading the recipes, but I am not a great cook so I don’t always try them. The lack of recipes does not keep me from reading a book.

  4. Cinnamon and Sugar french fries! Wow. I’ve had cinnamon and sugar sweet potato fries at a restaurant — yummy, heaven. The restaurant serves them as “bar food” . My recommendation is to get them to go the night before and gently reheat for breakfast. Thanks for reminding me of this treat.

      • We’ve had them around Chestertown, MD for at least the past three years. Sweet potatoes are MUCH better for this than white potatoes.

      • On the trying recipe question: I live alone and I have NO prep space in my trailer, so unless it is a mix in the pot one serving thing (fudge cake microwaved in a cup), I read them but don’t try them.

  5. Hmm. I like the chosen “careers ” of the protagonists but I don’t really care about the recipes. Diane Mott Davidson has included a lot of recipes in her books but I haven’t ever been tempted to try them. Cumbersome to have them in the books and then copy them out so I could use them. I usually have other cookbooks with a similar recipe in them and I don’t read the books for recipes. I guess I am a bit rigid in that! Oh well…..

  6. I would imagine that it’s easier to incorporate recipes if your book has a food-related hook. That said, I’ve made two recipes from a book (both from Joyce Tremel’s BREWING TROUBLE series) and they were quite good.

  7. I LOVE cozies with recipes!! And yes, I do try some of the recipes. Not all the recipes, but some. And I guess they have been tried several times by several different people before putting them in the book, so I have never had a recipe fail on me. I have tried several of Diane Mott Davidson’s recipes, for example, and all have been fantastic.

  8. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw recipes included in some of the mysteries I read, but didn’t actually try any from the books until I saw Barb Ross’ lobster mac & cheese. WOW!!! Her Maine Clambake Mysteries include quite a few recipes for dishes mentioned in the series. But, I buy the books for the mysteries, not the recipes. If the book is food related, then recipes are a natural fit and a fun addition to the experience.

  9. I love recipes in mysteries (and other genres). I don’t always trust them, unfortunately, but I’m willing to give them a try. I think they can add value to a book, so I say go for it (if it’s fun for you)! Best wishes with the new series!

  10. My Maine Clambake Mysteries have recipes. My husband and I always test them more than once. Nonetheless, I hold my breath whenever people make them. One of my favorite blogs is Cinnamon, Sugar and a Little Bit of Murder. Kim McMahon Davis reads the books, makes at least one of the recipes and takes the most gorgeous photos. This year, Doreen Sheridan at Criminal Element made recipes from each of my books. It was terrifying, but very satisfying.

    The recipes are in the back of the book. I don’t like it when they disturb the flow of a story. But that can be hard on the people who do ebooks, or particularly audiobooks, so I also include links to the ones that have been out in public on blogs and such on my website.

  11. I include recipes in my Witch City Mysteries. One of the characters (Aunt Ibby) is writing a cookbook, so it seemed like a good idea to include a couple of her recipes. The most popular one with readers so far is an old Marblehead molasses cookie recipe for “Joe Froggers.” I like to see recipes in cozies even if I don’t make them. I like reading cookbooks too!

  12. When I was writing the first book in my series, I was making myself hungry describing all the Cajun dishes. I thought, well, if I’m hungry, my readers will be, so I decided to include recipes. Julie, it’s HARD! I’ve always liked baking, but I’m not a cook at all by nature. There are a lot of traditional recipes for Cajun food that people expect, so I find a way to make each my own. It’s a lot of trial and error, to the point where my family was like, for the love of God, no more jambalaya! I’d say unless you really feel your series is crying out for recipes, skip it.

    Oh, and this is from someone who collects old cookbooks. And STILL isn’t a big cook!

  13. You have a theater cop series??

    I rather like seeing recipes in cozy Mysteries, but honestly, I rarely use them. I get more excited when a particular meal or dessert is explained in the book. The description makes my mouth water. And then if the recipe happens to be included in the back of the book, I just might give it a try if it’s convenient for me to do so at the time.

  14. I enjoy reading the recipes. I don’t think there needs to be an abundance of recipes, three seems about right, but I sometimes try them and they are good! I love old cookbooks and one of my favorites is Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings “Cross Creek Cookery”.

  15. I love food-based mysteries, but don’t care one way or another if there are recipes. I’m just not a follow the recipe person. I cook by “feel”.

  16. I do like them. Some I try and some I don’t. I think there should be a limit though. One I read had so many it got in the way of the story and I didn’t read more of the series. I do own both the Fluke and Cornwall cookbooks and use them.

  17. I enjoy recipes although I don’t make that many. I look for them in the back right away. I have Joanne Fluke’s cookbook and have made several things from that.

  18. I read a lot if culinary cozies. At one time I was trying the recipes from Joanne Fluke’s books, and I enjoyed them. But it’s probably been a decade since I tried any of them from any book.

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