Monday, October 20, 2014

Halloween Beer Pairings

Pennies, Pints, Pittsburgh posted an article on what craft beers to pair with the Halloween candy you liberate from your kids' bags. Some are good, and some are a little crazy, like a sour beer with Sour Patch Kids, but then I think just eating Sour Patch Kids is a little nutso. Ick.

But I do like the stout and chocolate suggestions. A darker beer and chocolate go really well together. Have you ever had a stout with chocolate cake? It's to die for!

Anyway, here's the link to the article.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Got a kick out of this

Yesterday, Mystery Lovers' Kitchen hosted me for a guest blog. It was loads of fun, and I hope everyone who tries the recipes enjoys them.

And today, I really got a kick out of seeing this:

For some reason, this makes the upcoming book seem REAL. Silly, I know, because I've signed a contract and all that goes with it (including delivering the book)!

Monday, May 05, 2014

To Brew or...Play Hockey?

So, there's a little thing going on in Pittsburgh right now known as Playoff Hockey. I like the game, but I don't generally follow it all that closely. The games are rarely on TV, so most of the time I forget about it. I usually only start to pay attention when the Penguins are in the playoffs. And the fact that the Pens are playing the New York Rangers in this round brought about this post.

Hockey plays a bit part in TO BREW OR NOT TO BREW. Max's new assistant and chef is a former hockey player. Jake Lambert is Pittsburgh born and bred, but most recently played for the New York Rangers. He had to retire a couple of years early (for reasons I won't disclose here--you'll have to read the book!). The Rangers aren't exactly one of the Pittsburgh fans' favorite teams. (I'd put them pretty much near the bottom of the list ever since Adam Graves slashed Mario Lemieux and broke his hand back in 1992.)

In one scene, Jake touches on what it was like for him to play for the "enemy". He tells Max he'd get called a traitor--and worse, but now that he's back in Pittsburgh, he's like the Prodigal Son--the hometown kid who did good. It's a cute scene, if I do say so myself. I especially like Max's reaction when the waiter assumes they're a couple and Jake doesn't correct him. You see, Max has had a crush on Jake since she was a kid, but since Jake is her brother's best friend, she knows the feeling isn't mutual. Or is it?

I guess you'll just have to wait to find out.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

National Beer Day...

...or Tag Des Deutschen Bieres as it's called in Germany, is today--April 23rd.

Way back in 1516, Frederik I of Bavaria declared you can only use four ingredients to brew beer: water, malt, hops, and yeast. It's known as the Bavarian (or German) Purity Law, or Reinheitsgebot. Although in 1993, the law was modified a bit so if you decide you want to use wheat or a couple other ingredients in your beer, they won't haul you off and execute you or anything.

So the next time you lift that stein and belt out "Ein Prosit", send up a thanks to old Freddy of Bavaria. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Grandma O'Hara's Shepherd's Pie

My character, Max O'Hara is Irish, so St. Patrick's Day was a big deal in her household while she was growing up. One of the things Max missed most during her years in Germany was her grandma's Shepherd's Pie. Grandma is now keeping company with St. Patrick, and Max thinks her Shepherd's Pie is just a memory since Grandma never used a recipe.

Max's chef (the gorgeous hunk of ex-hockey player, Jake Lambert) has tried his best to recreate the dish. Hopefully it will pass muster with Max. Here's his recipe:

Shepherd's Pie

2 lbs ground beef
1/4 stick butter
2 cups chopped sweet onion
2 cups sliced or baby carrots
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/4 tsp dried thyme
2 tbsp flour
1/2 cup red wine
1 cup beef or vegetable broth
1 cup peas
Mashed potatoes
Shredded Dubliner Irish cheese

Brown the ground beef in a large skillet. Drain and set it aside. In the same skillet, saute the onions and carrots in the butter until soft. Add garlic and saute until it gets lightly browned.

Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables. Cook until lightly brown, stirring constantly. Add the beef broth and wine and cook until it begins to boil, stirring occasionally. Add the ground beef and peas and mix thoroughly. Pour into an oven proof dish.

Spread the mashed potatoes over the mixture. Sprinkle with shredded Dubliner or other Irish cheddar. Bake at 375 degrees until hot and bubbly and cheese is melted, approximately 30 minutes.

Serve with scones or soda bread. And a craft brewed stout or ale, of course. Or, remember that bottle of red wine you had to open to add 1/2 cup to this dish? Someone's got to drink it, right?

Here are some photos of the finished product, fresh out of the oven:

Try out the recipe and be sure to let me know what you think!

Tuesday, March 04, 2014


We had some friends over the other night and look what they brought for dessert!

I almost hated to cut it, it was so cute. Notice I said almost. When I found out the brown frosting in the mug was really Nutella, well... Needless to say, the cake is history.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

What Kind of Music?

As I'm sitting here on Sunday morning listening to a Casey Kasem American Top 40 show from 1972 on the oldies station, I couldn't help wondering what kind of music my protagonist Max would listen to.

My tastes vary quite a bit. At any given moment I could be listening to Oldies (preferably from the 70s), Contemporary Christian, Country, Classical, or Big Band from the 30s and 40s. I could possibly tolerate Heavy Metal, but I wouldn't choose to listen to it. But never ever Rap--HATE it.

When I was writing In Spite of Murder with my West Virginia police secretary character, I listened to a lot of country music, because that's what Irma Jean liked. A previous character, ex-cop Summer Evans, liked classic rock. When I work on my WWII story (which will remain unfinished for awhile, I'm afraid), I listen to Big Band.

Even though I know a lot about Max already, I realized I have no idea what kind of music she'd like. I seriously doubt she'd listen to the same things I do. I can't see her listening to oldies. Her parents--yes. Her brother, Sean, the Catholic priest, might listen to CCM. Her other brothers--who knows?

If I tell you a little about Max, could you help me out? Max (Maxine) O'Hara is Irish Catholic. A Pittsburgher. She's the youngest in her family, with five older brothers. Her mother is a homemaker, her father is a homicide detective. Max is 5'2" tall, with black hair in a pixie cut and blue eyes. She's around 30 years old. She has a Master's degree in Chemistry and spent the last few years in Germany studying brewing under a German brewmaster.

What do you think? What kind of music would Max like? What should I be listening to? Your suggestions would be appreciated. Just don't say rap. After all, I invented Max. One thing I know: she doesn't like rap either.  

Monday, February 10, 2014

Big, Big News!

Drumroll, please...

I'm pleased (well, ecstatic is more like it) to announce that my fabulous agent, Myrsini Stephanides, negotiated a three book deal with Berkley Prime Crime for my new cozy series, Brewing Trouble!!!

The first book in the series will be TO BREW OR NOT TO BREW, and will likely be published in late 2015 (we don't have the schedule yet, so that could change). To read a blurb of the book, just click on the Brewing Trouble tab at the top of this page.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Patience is a Virtue

I know I haven't posted in quite awhile, but I promise I will get back to it eventually! In the meantime, what do you think of the new template?