About Barbara Ross

Barbara Ross is the author of the Maine Clambake Mysteries: Clammed Up, Boiled Over, Musseled Out, Fogged Inn and Iced Under. The sixth book, Stowed Away, will be published in December, 2017. You can visit her website at http://www.maineclambakemysteries.com.

Ode to Trash Cookies

The winner of A Passport To Murder by Mary Angela is Cozynookbks! Please send your contact information to maryangelabooks@gmail.com

by Barb, who’s finished her Christmas holiday baking

In the 1960s, my mother had a challenge. Her annual Christmas cookie baking resulted in ten unused egg whites. Unwilling to throw them away, she searched for a recipe that would use them up. The first year she made actual coconut macaroons, shaped like wreaths with red food coloring bows and green leaves. I thought they were beautiful and delicious (I still love macaroons) but in a couple of days they were hard as rocks. Since my mother did her Christmas cookie baking in a flurry in one day (as I do), then stored the cookies in tins and doled them out for gatherings and parties all month, that wasn’t going to work.

Then she found a recipe for “marangoons.” These tasty concoctions were pure 1960s cooking. (Even the Google won’t find a recipe for me now.) The egg whites are beat with confectioners sugar, and then cornflakes, shredded coconut, and chocolate chips are folded in. The resulting mess is dropped by spoon onto cookie sheets and baked.

That was the recipe that stuck. My mother called them “trash cookies.” They were meant to use up the egg whites and to maybe help fill out a plate full of cookies, but other than that her disdain for them was total. They were the very poor relations of the more refined rolled and cut cookies, the butter cookies and the hazelnut wreaths, which were tons more work, required more expensive ingredients, and most important, a more discerning palate to appreciate their subtle flavors.

My mother-in-law, on the other hand, always declared the marangoons her favorites. She seemed to believe her love of the cheapest cookies somehow made her a more virtuous person. Just as my mother’s snobbishness about the marangoons tells you something about her personality, my mother-in-law’s vocal embrace of them tells you something about her.

The cognitive dissonance was a little much for me, but I rolled my eyes at both of them and went on.

The truth is, the marangoons don’t last all that long or travel well. Nonetheless, when I became the primary cookie maker in the family, I would ship a tin full of all the different kinds of cookies to my parents. “I don’t know why you even include the marangoons,” my mother would say every year. “They’re stale when they get here.” But I continued to include a few, which tells you something about my personality.

My husband, in keeping with his personality, has tried to upscale the trash cookies. Really good chocolate chips do make a difference, but fancy coconut was terrible and the organic free-range cornflakes he bought at Whole Foods turned into a sodden mass. Better to stay with Kelloggs. I told you it was a 1960s recipe.

I lost the actual recipe a few years back, and by then what I was doing bore only a passing resemblance to the original directions.

I made half the usual amount this year, because I’m doing some of my cookie baking with my granddaughter in Virginia later in the month. Here is how I made the marangoons.


5 egg whites
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 12-ounce bag of chocolate chips
1 7-ounce bag of shredded, sweetened coconut
1/2 the contents of a 12-ounce box of cornflakes.


In a large bowl, beat the egg whites, adding the confectioners sugar gradually until it is a gooey mess. Fold in the cornflakes, then the chocolate chips, then the coconut, mix thoroughly.

Drop by the spoonful onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.

Bake at 350 degrees for fifteen to twenty minutes.

Readers: Do you have a recipe that is like a poor relation that came to stay?

Thankful for Our Readers–Week Five Giveaway Winners

That’s right, folks, it’s the end of our fifth week of giveaways for Thankful for Our Readers, the Wicked Cozies all November giveaway. We used Random.org for all our drawings.

Drum roll please.

November 27, winner of one of Edith Maxwell’s books is Betsy Alspach! Please send your mailing information to edithmaxwellauthor@gmail.com.

November 28, winner of one of Liz Mugavero’s books is Jana Leah! Please send your choice of books and mailing information to liz.mugavero@gmail.com

November 29, winner of I Know What You Bid Last Summer by Sherry Harris is Gloria Browning. Please send your mailing information to sherryharrisauthor@gmail.com

November 30, winner of Yarned and Dangerous by Sadie Hartwell is Laurie Evans! Please send your mailing address to janehaertel at aol dot com.

December 1, winner of A Cajun Christmas Killing by Ellen Byron is Sally who posted at 5:17 pm! Please send your mailing address to sherryharrisauthor@gmail.com

Congratulations to all the winners and thank you readers for a great month!



Wicked Wednesday–Thankful It’s Over

Thankful for Our Readers Giveaway:  For a chance to win an ARC of I Know What You Bid Last Summer by Sherry Harris along with a glasses case and cleaner from Kensington Publishing leave a comment below.

Dorothy Parker said, “I hate writing. I love having written.” Much as I reject the notion that the writing process itself can’t be joyful, or exhilarating, or inspired, I do have days when I understand how she feels.

That feeling applies to other projects as well. Wickeds, telling us about a project you just loved having “done.”

Edith: Cleaning my office? I dislike doing it so much I rarely really do a deep clean or even a superficial tidy. But I love it when it’s done, everything clean and clear and put away. Of course I love when a book is done. But it’s such a long process,  I love almost all the stages of the process, and I always have another book started, so it’s not such a finite thing to be glad it’s done.

Jessie: I love having finished a knitting project. I keep track of most of them on the social media website Ravelry and am always inordinately pleased with myself when I can post that I have completed a work in progress. Why I am eager to finish working on a pastime I love bafffles me but it is true every time!

Sherry: Jessie, finishing a knitting project must be so satisfying because you immediately have something to show for it. I’ll go with getting Christmas cards finished. First, I have to confess I haven’t sent any out for two years and that I hope to this year. It’s on the list with three writing projects I’m working on so fingers crossed. The cards have been in the back of the closest waiting for me to haul them out!

Barb: It won’t shock any of the Wickeds to hear the project I’ll be most thankful to be done with is–moving! My goal has been to be finished unpacking with everything set up and arranged by December 21, and it is going to be right down to the wire. The last room left is my study and that’s going to be huge challenge. Wish me luck!

Julie: I love teaching, but I hate grading. We’re in the final stretch of the semester, and I’m behind, which I hate. But the project I assigned is huge, so it is going to take me hours. Worth it in the end, but think of me this weekend.

Readers: Tell us about a project you loved having finished–or simply say hello.

Thankful for Our Readers–Week Four Giveaway Winners

That’s right, folks, it’d the end of our fourth week of giveaways for Thankful for Our Readers, the Wicked Cozies all November giveaway. We used Random.org for all our drawings.

Drum roll please.

November 20, winner of  a set of Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mysteries by Sherry Harris is mbradeen! Please send your mailing information to SherryHarrisauthor@gmail.com

November 21, winner of the print from Kim Gray is Dianekc! Please send your mailing information to kkurthgray@gmail.com.

November 22, winner Purring Around The Christmas Tree by Liz Mugavero is Kait Carson! Please send your mailing address to liz.mugavero@gmail.com

November 23, winner of Eggnog Murder by Leslie Meier, Lee Hollis and Barbara Ross is Theresa O’Connor! Please send your mailing address to barbaraross@maineclambakemysteries.com

November 24, winner of How the Finch Stole Christmas by Donna Andrews is Deb Romano! Please send your mailing address to: Sherryharrisauthor@gmail.com

Thank you, readers, and good luck next week!



Late Fall Reading

Thankful for Our Readers Giveaway:  For a chance to win a mass market paperback copy of Eggnog Murder by Barbara Ross leave a comment below.

Happy Thanksgiving to all our readers! We hope you are spending the day exactly as you wish–with family and friends, eating a big meal and perhaps watching the games. If you are busy cooking or traveling, we hope maybe sometime over this long weekend you get a chance to curl up with a good book. Here are some suggestions.

Wickeds, what are you reading now that the days are short and the nights long?

housetreepersonEdith: I just finished our own Jessie (Jessica Ellicot)’s first Beryl and Edwina mystery, Murder in an English Village. What a fun read. Now I’m reading Catriona McPherson’s latest standalone suspense novel, House. Tree. Person. Another knock-your-socks-off story from her. Next up is a belated read of Ray Daniel’s latest Tucker mystery, Hacked. The other stories in Snowbound, this year’s Level Best Books anthology (in which I also have a story). A book on Quaker history in New England. And the list goes on.

Liz: I have so many books stacked up in my TBR pile…but I’m going to dig into Fire Up Your Writing Brain by Susan Reynolds, one of my Crime Bake finds. I need to jumpstart my creativity these days!

Barb: I have Jessica Ellicott’s Murder in an English Village tucked into my bag to enjoy during my downtime over this long weekend. I can’t wait. For the novella I’m writing, I’m reading Adventures in Yarn Farming: Four Seasons at a New England Fiber Farm. You’ll have to wait to find out why.

Julie: I am in book jail this weekend (book due December 1, yikes!), but I have taken a suggestion from Susan Reynolds’s Crime Bake presentation, and am reading a book to inspire my brain–Walter Isaacson’s  Leonardo da Vinci biography.   At the rate I am going it will take me months to finish it, but there’s a long winter ahead.

Sherry: I just started reading A Christmas Peril by Julie! I read an early version long ago and love what she has done with it! Then after that I too am going to dig into Jessie’s Murder in an English Village. My neighbor just finished it and told me it’s fantastic. After that I can’t wait to read World Enough by Clea Simon. I’m in book heaven!

Jessie: I am currently reading Louisa May by Martha Saxton and also Murder and Mayhem in North London by Geoffrey Howse. Lately I have been in the mood for non-fiction but next up is Alice Hoffman’s latest, The Rules of Magic.

Readers: Tell us what you’re doing this Thanksgiving or what you’re reading this fall–or simply say hello to be entered in the contest.

Wicked Wednesday–Thankful for Our Animal Friends

Thankful for Our Readers Giveaway:  For a chance to win a copy of Purring Around the Christmas Tree by Liz leave a comment below.

Regular readers know Liz Mugavero as our lead animal lover, but many of the Wickeds do have or have had pets–or other meaningful encounters with animals. Wickeds, tell us about a current or past relationship with an animal.

BirdyTrottingEdith:  I’m firmly in the cat camp, and each of our cats gets a role in one of my series. We currently have only Cristabel and Preston because my dear Birdy died last summer, the cat on the cover of every Country Store Mystery. He was a fostered kitten whom I got when he was twelve weeks old back in 2003, and he acted like a kitten for the next fourteen years. Always curious, always dashing through an open door like it was an illicit activity. I could NOT keep him off the kitchen counters. He loved to be petted, to be hoisted up to ride on a shoulder for a while, to sleep in even the tiniest of cardboard boxes. Miss you, Birdman!


Sherry: Anyone who follows me on Facebook knows Lily. I often post pictures of our morning walks. Lily is the first dog I’ve ever had. Before we got her I said I wasn’t going to be one of those people who wouldn’t take her to a kennel when we traveled and I also said she wouldn’t be allowed on the furniture. Ha! She went to a kennel once and got sick so she’s never been back. We’ve been fortunate to have friends and neighbors we could trade pet care with! And it wasn’t long before she ended up on the furniture too. She was a great antidote when our daughter was a teenager. We might all be mad at each other but we all loved Lily. I didn’t know how much I would fall in love with her.


Liz: Wow, how do I pick just one? Everyone knows how much I love Shaggy, so I’ll spare you the repetition of that. Instead I’ll tell you about a really special kitty named FerrisFerrisFerris was a stray who ended up at the shelter I was working at years ago in New Hampshire. He’d narrowly escaped a kill shelter, and had been living on the streets eating from garbage cans. He was prickly and fresh and I fell in love with him. He had SUCH an attitude, and major trust issues. I remember one of the first nights after he’d moved in. He still wasn’t sure how he felt about me (plus, he bit sometimes). I woke up and found him sitting inches away from me, just staring. I thought – if I move the wrong way he’s going to bite my face off! But he didn’t – and I guess after that he decided I was trustworthy. We became best buds after that. Like me, he loved potato chips and was famous for climbing inside an open bag to eat them. Which I can totally respect…I lost him in 2011 to spinal cancer, but his memory definitely lives on.

Jessie: I am sorry to have to mention it but I have allergies to both dogs and cats. Also rabbits, a great number of plants and a bunch of foods. Fortunately, I am not allergic to birds and so for many years I had the pleasure of enjoying the company of Miss Kim, an African Grey parrot with a sharp eye and a curious nature. She loved to ride around on my shoulder as I moved about the house and was always good company. She passed away about ten years ago and I still find myself calling “goodbye” to her as I about to leave the house on errands or “good night” as I mount the stairs to head for bed.

Barb: Jessie, I love the image of you calling, “good-bye,” to an empty house. I’ve had cats, but I have to say we are much more dog people. I grew up with a mutt called Tiger, a collarless puppy who followed my dad home from the park. When my kids were three and six, my sister-in-law showed up with Jessie, a mostly golden lab puppy. Years later, after she had her own children, she apologized for that little maneuver. When Jessie died, my son was a junior in high school, but my daughter was still in middle school. “Oh, Dad,” she said, batting her very thick eyelashes, “the house is so empty when I get home.” I said, “No, no, no, no. The kids will be off to college and we’ll be rushing home from work to let out a dog.” Then guess what happened? And then guess what happened? Nonetheless, we all loved MacKenzie.

Fred and GingerJulie: Sherry came to visit last weekend, and met Fred and Ginger (and took this picture). I adopted them a year and a half ago. They were rescued from a house in Stamford CT, both have feline AIDS, and were tough to place in a home. Ginger (top of the picture) was feral. Nevertheless, and despite the fur all over the house, they are great company, get along well, and have settled in. As a matter of fact, Ginger is resting her head on my lap as I type this.

Readers: Tell us about an animal in your life–or simply say hello for a chance to win.

Thankful for Our Readers–Week Three Giveaway Winners

That’s right, folks, it’s the end of our third week of giveaways for Thankful for Our Readers, the Wicked Cozies all November giveaway. We used Random.org for all our drawings.

Drum roll please.

November 13, winner of  the ARC of Stowed Away by Barbara Ross is Cynthia Bain! Please send your mailing information to barbaraross@maineclambakemysteries.com

November 14, winner of Black Cat Mystery magazine from Wildside Press is Mark Baker! Please send your mailing information to sherryharrisauthor@gmail.com!

November 15, winner of Biscuits and Slashed Browns by Maddie Day (aka Edith Maxwell) is Jennifer Hansen!

November 16, winner of one of the Clock Shop mysteries by Julianne Holmes is Rose Kerr! ! Please send your mailing address to jhauthors@gmail.com

November 17, winner of an ARC of Etched in Tears by Cheryl Hollon is barbarakay1! Please send your mailing address to cheryl.hollon@gmail.com.

November 18, winner of the ARC, vintage postcard, and tote is Kay Bennett ! Please send your mailing address to sherryharrisauthor@gmail.com

Thank you, readers, and good luck next week!