Thursday, December 14, 2017

#186 The Case of an Actor Reads "Dear Reader"

I am thrilled to introduce Dr. Joe Piazza, BPE, DC, of SYNERGY Chiropractic Naturopathic, and his dramatic interpretation of mystery short story "Dear Reader" by Cynthia St-Pierre (author of the novels and short stories in which I appear). "Dear Reader" was first published in Flash Bang Mysteries.

Here's Joe's entertaining post and chilling audio podcast: "Dear Reader"!

♥ Becki

Saturday, December 2, 2017

#185 The Case of Gingerbread House

Gingerbread
 
It's a pity but this gingerbread is not for eating. It looks enticing, smells seasonal, and is strong and light for cave-in-proof house construction.
 
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
3 teaspoons ginger
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3+ cups flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup+ water
  
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
 
Cream the butter and sugar.
 
Beat in the corn syrup, ginger, cinnamon and salt.
 
Add the flour, vanilla and water gradually, alternating between them.
 
Knead the dough, adding more flour or water as needed. The dough should be stiff enough to roll out.
 
Roll to 1/8" thick on a floured surface.
 
I lay the top of my pieces (less floury) into the bottom of my gingerbread house moulds, press them in with my fingers, then lay my moulds on a baking sheet. If you don't have a gingerbread house mould, you can lay your shapes directly on a parchment-lined or lightly greased baking sheet.
 
Bake for 10 min. or until there are no soft spots.
 
Cool thoroughly before removing from moulds.
 
Use a pastry brush or clean microfiber cloth to remove excess flour from the presentation sides of your pieces.
 
Royal Icing for Piping
 
A spatula stuck upright into this construction and decorating icing should remain standing.
 
1/2 cup egg whites
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
8 cups icing sugar (may use less)
 
Beat the egg whites until frothy.
 
Add the cream of tartar.
 
With the mixer on slow speed, gradually add the icing sugar.
 
Beat on medium for 2-4 min., scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally, until the icing is bright white, light and fluffy.
 
Fill a piping bag and cover with a damp cloth. Before working, I cut off the tip of the piping bag to about 1/4".
 
Royal Icing for Flooding
 
For the flooding decorating technique, icing should be the consistency of syrup.
 
Pipe a little of your Royal Icing for Piping into a small bowl.
 
Stir in some water, drop by drop. You will know you have achieved the desired consistency when icing lifted up from the bowl then dripped back in will disappear into the surrounding icing in about 10 seconds.
 
Candies and Decorations
 
I don't pick my favourite candies to eat (chocolate, chocolate, chocolate). Instead I pick ones that will lend a fairy-tale quality to my Gingerbread House.
 
2 sizes of multi-coloured jujubes
mixed hard candies
licorice sticks
I even add a plastic Happy Holidays sign
 
I find both the licorice sticks and the plastic sign need to be abraded before application in order to stick properly. I use a box grater on the licorice and sandpaper on the sign.
 
 
Decorate Your House Walls
 
It's easier to decorate the walls and door when they are lying flat.
 
Drop small amounts of Flood Icing into the centre of window panes and spread the icing out to the edges with a toothpick.
 
Outline the windows with lines of swirled, piped icing then arrange candies around the windows.
 
Pipe a tiny swirl of icing onto the door where the knob should be and attach a candy.
 
Let all the icing on your walls and door harden completely, perhaps 30 min., before assembling.
 
 
Construct Your House
 
Yes, this is the tricky part...
 
Pipe a line of icing along the bottom edge of your front wall. Centre the wall firmly onto one side of your base and support it gently on the inside with a can of beans (ha!).
 
Pipe a line of icing down the front side edge of a side wall and along the bottom edge too. Press down onto the base and sideways into the front wall, forming a right angle. Support with another can of beans if necessary.
 
Repeat with the other side wall.
 
After running a line of icing along the back of the side edges and along the bottom edge of the far wall, press the far wall firmly onto the base and against the sides.
 
Finesse these four walls into a solid rectangle.
 
Let the walls harden into place for 30 min.
 
Pipe a line of icing along the slanted top edges of the front and far wall panels. Press one roof panel into place and hold it steady for 30 seconds. Attach the second roof panel and hold both in place for another 30 seconds. Pipe a line along the ridge of the roof to cement the two panels together. Let the whole house dry for 30 min.
 
 
Final Decorations
 
This is what you've been waiting for!
 
Pipe a line of icing along licorice sticks that you've cut to the right sizes and cover up house seams (except the roof ridge).
 
Pipe a line of icing along the bottom and the hinge side of the door and set it into place.
 
Pipe swirls of icing along the footing of the house and add candies.
 
Pipe a swirl of icing snow along the top of the door.
 
Pipe swirls along the ridge of the roof and along the eaves. Decorate with candies.
 
Pipe a frame onto the side of the roof and insert your sign to wish Happy Holidays to your family and friends (just as I wish for you!)
 
Becki

Saturday, November 4, 2017

#184 The Case of a Special Outreach by Virgil Anderson of Mesothelioma.net

I was so pleased when Virgil Anderson, Outreach Specialist, wrote "I respect and admire your work at vegetariandetective.blogspot.com" and asked if he could place a related article on my blog. It's an excellent piece and it follows below. But first, here's a link to Virgil's own touching story: https://mesothelioma.net/virgil/

Vegetarian and Vegan Diets for Cancer Patients

People usually choose vegetarian or vegan diets for one or both of two reasons: to support animal rights and for better health. This latter reason is gaining ground as researchers find more and more ways in which a diet free of meat or any animal products is better for health.

One of the most compelling findings from modern research is that a diet without or with minimal animal products can prevent cancer and may even promote healing in cancer patients. If you are living with mesothelioma, a vegetarian or vegan diet may be able to improve your quality of living.
 
 

Vegan and Vegetarian Diets Defined

 
Both of these diets make minimal use of animal products, but a vegan diet is the strictest form and is also considered a lifestyle. Someone who is vegan does not eat meat or fish and does not eat any products that come from animals, including dairy, eggs, and honey. A vegan also does not use any animal products in other areas of life, such as leather in clothing and shoes. A vegetarian diet is one in which you eat no meat, but you still eat some animal products. There are a few different types of vegetarian diets:
  • Lacto-ovo-vegetarian. The most common vegetarian diet is lacto-ovo, which means eating no meat, fish, or poultry, but including dairy and eggs.
  • Ovo-vegetarian. An ovo-vegetarian eats eggs, but no dairy products.
  • Lacto-vegetarian. A lacto-vegetarian eats dairy products, but not eggs.
  • Pescatarian. Some people do not consider this a vegetarian diet; the classification depends on how you define fish and shellfish. A pescatarian does not eat meat or poultry but does eat fish and shellfish.
It is important to note that to get the health benefits of a vegan or vegetarian diet it is important to limit processed foods, and to eat a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and beans. Simply living on meat-free junk foods will not provide the same health benefits as a consciously healthful vegetarian or vegan diet.
 

Vegan and Vegetarian Diets and Cancer Prevention

 
A review of multiple studies that looked at the health outcomes of vegetarians and people who eat meat reported a very important finding: vegetarians have significantly lower rates of cancer. This includes cancers of all types. A smaller, single study found that vegans fare even better. Even after controlling for other factors, like family history of cancer and smoking, the study found that women following a vegan diet had 34 percent lower rates of cancer than women who ate a healthful diet that included meat.

There are many ways in which a vegan or vegetarian diet can be healthier than a diet that includes meat, but reducing the risk of cancer is a big one. One reason that these diets may support cancer prevention is the high amount of fiber. Plant-based diets generally include more fiber and fiber is proven to play a protective role against cancer. Fiber has been shown in multiple studies to protect against several types of cancer.

Another reason that avoiding meat may protect against cancer is related to fat. Animal products tend to have a lot of fat, specifically saturated fat. Eating fat has been shown in research to increase cancer risk. Vegan and vegetarian diets may contain fat, but it is more often unsaturated fat. Saturated, animal fat is the type of fat that is specifically associated with cancer risk.

Finally, the high intake of vegetables in the vegan and vegetarian diets is important for preventing cancer. Eating more vegetables provides more fiber and less saturated fat, but it also includes more nutrients, including those that fight cancer. Several substances in vegetables, like beta-carotene, flavones, and anti-oxidants, have been proven to have anti-cancer properties.
 

A Healthier Diet for Mesothelioma and Cancer Patients

 
For all the reasons that vegan and vegetarian diets can reduce cancer risks, these diets are also good for cancer patients. A healthier diet with more plant-based foods, less meat, and fewer animal products promotes overall good health and can help cancer patients feel better, be better able to fight cancer, and be better able to tolerate cancer treatments. There are also some specific reasons these diets are useful for cancer patients, as evidenced in studies.

For example, in addition to showing that eating animal fats can increase cancer risk, studies have shown that animal fat in the diet can negatively impact cancer survival rates. If you already have cancer, cutting back on animal fats could boost your survival time and life expectancy.

Studies have found that vegetarians have stronger immune systems than meat eaters. One study found nearly doubled immune cell activity in vegetarians as compared to people who ate meat. A stronger immune system can help cancer patients better fight off cancer cells and tumors. Another study used the blood of cancer patients, some who ate a standard diet and the rest who were vegan, to see which could better suppress the growth of cancer cells in the laboratory. The blood from vegan patients was eight times better at suppressing cancer cell growth.
 

Risks of a Vegetarian or Vegan Diet

 
While there are many great health reasons to follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, there is also a risk that you may lack certain nutrients. It is important to understand the nutrients you need and which foods or supplements will provide them. You may choose to work with a nutritionist to get started if you are concerned about any nutritional deficiencies. Vegetarians and vegans may be at risk for not getting enough:
  • Protein. There are many plant sources of protein, but more thought has to be given to getting adequate amounts as a vegetarian or vegan. Vegetarians can get protein from dairy and eggs, and in both diets, protein can come from beans, legumes, nuts, whole grains, and soy products.
  • Vitamin B12. This vitamin is particularly difficult for vegans to get because it is only found naturally in meat, dairy, and eggs. Supplements or nutritional yeast supplemented with B12 can provide this vitamin.
  • Iron. For many people, meat is the main source of iron. For those who do not eat meat, iron can come from green, leafy vegetables, raisins, seeds, fortified cereals, and supplements.
  • Calcium. Calcium is found in high amounts in dairy, but you can also get this mineral from green vegetables and fortified tofu and soy milk.
If you are fighting mesothelioma or another type of cancer, making healthier lifestyle choices can help you in your battle. A diet rich in vegetables, high in fiber, and low in animal and saturated fats is proven to have many health benefits over a more traditional diet. Not least of these benefits is a greater ability to fight cancer. This kind of dietary change could be just one more weapon in your arsenal for beating back mesothelioma.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

#183 The Case of Camomile Tea

Do you wish you could drink in the peace and gentleness of this photo?

This is soothing camomile and you can!

My romance novelist friend Kathleen grows these tiny, cheerful, daisy-like flowers in her garden.

Here's how to make tea from fresh flower heads:

Heat water to boiling in a kettle.

Pour hot tap water into a 2-cup teapot and top with the lid to heat the pot.

When the outside of the teapot feels warm to the touch, empty the water then drop a tablespoon of camomile flower heads into the pot and fill the pot with boiling water.

Steep for 3 min.

Pour into teacups through a tea strainer.

Serves 2.

Plus it's easy to dry camomile flower heads for use over the non-growing season.

Spread them on a cookie sheet and let them air dry out of the light for several days.

They're ready to store in a mason jar when they are very crumbly between your fingers.

Here's how to make tea from dried camomile:

Heat water to boiling in a kettle.

Pour hot tap water into a 2-cup teapot and top with the lid to heat the pot.

When the outside of the teapot feels warm to the touch, empty the water then drop a half tablespoon of dried camomile into the pot and fill the pot with boiling water.

Steep for 3 min.

Pour into teacups through a tea strainer.

Serves 2.

Becki

Sunday, September 3, 2017

#182 The Case of Corn Cake Tacos

1 cup masa harina
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup hot water
1 ear fresh corn in kernels or about 1 cup
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pack Yves Original Veggie Ground Round
1 envelope taco seasoning mix (Old El Paso is nice)
3/4 cup salsa
1 cup shredded iceberg lettuce
1 cup shredded Daiya Medium Cheddar Style Block
 
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
 
Stir together the masa harina and salt.
 
Gradually add the hot water, stirring until well combined.
 
Incorporate the corn kernels.
 
Cover and set aside for 10 min.
 
In the meantime, in an ovenproof pan, make the taco seasoning mix according to directions. Mix in the Veggie Ground Round, cover and heat in the oven.
 
Prepare 16 approximately 7-1/2" X 7-1/2" squares of parchment paper.
 
When the corn cake dough is ready, divide it in 8. With your hands, roll the dough into 8 balls. Flatten each ball to a 1/4" disk between two pieces of parchment paper.
 
Heat the oil to high in a non-stick pan. Peel off the parchment paper and fry the corn cakes, covered, for about 3 min. on each side until golden.
 
Transfer the corn cakes to two plates. Top each cake with heated, seasoned Veggie Ground Round, salsa, lettuce and shredded "Cheddar".  
 
Serves 2.
 
Becki

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

#181 The Case of Minted Pea Soup

Welcome the colour and flavour of summer!

1/4 cup chopped onion
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 potato, chopped
4 cups water
2 rounded teaspoons (for 2 cups) vegetable bouillon powder
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
2 cups snow peas
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
salt
pepper
fresh chives (optional)

Sauté the onion in the olive oil for 2 min.

Add the potato, water and vegetable bouillon powder, and simmer covered for 15 min. or until the potato is tender.

Add the peas and snow peas, and bring back to a boil.

Stir in the mint leaves.

Purée.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

I serve my bowls of soup topped with chopped, fresh chives.

Serves 4.

Becki

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

#180 The Case of Celebrate #Canada150 with Imajin Books

banner to http://www.imajinbooks.com/ibic
To celebrate Canada's 150th birthday, Imajin Books will be giving away 150 ebooks to Canadian residents and 150 ebooks to international residents. To enter, you only need to subscribe to Imajin Books Inner Circle (IBIC newsletter) http://www.imajinbooks.com/ibic.

This event runs July 1-31. Winners will be selected from subscribers and will be able to choose their ebook prize. Hey, you could win one of the mysteries I'm in—A PURSE TO DIE FOR or A KILLER NECKLACE! :-)


Becki

PS Good luck!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

#179 The Case of Happy Canada 150 Plus Imajin Books Summer Sizzles eBook Sale

http://www.imajinbooks.com/smashwords-ebook-sale
Happy 150th birthday, Canada!
 
Booklover friends, click on the poster to see all the great #SummerReading books available for $2.99 or less, starting July 1st, Canada Day!
 
Becki

Thursday, June 1, 2017

#178 The Case of Do You Crave Chocolate Vegetarian, Vegan or Raw?

"Shoot, wouldn't you know it," Cynthia said, "I left out a whole paragraph! There's no way I'm doing this over!"

What my favourite author Cynthia left out of her podcast:

Moreover, it’s possible to adopt a vegetarian, vegan and/or raw diet as seldom or frequently as you wish. Have you heard of the Meatless Monday movement, which encourages people to eat meat-free just one day a week?

Links to the chocolate recipes she talks about:

Brownies
Chocolate Cupcakes
Red Wine Butterycream Frosting
Creamy Chocolate Pudding

Becki

Monday, May 1, 2017

#177 The Case of Red Wine Butterycream Frosting

1/2 cup red wine plus 3 more tablespoons, divided
1-1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon vegan baking sticks, softened
1-1/2 cups icing sugar
sprinkles

In a small saucepan over medium heat, cook the 1/2 cup red wine and sugar, stirring constantly, until the sugar is dissolved.

Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the syrup is reduced to about 1-1/2 tablespoons.

Cool.

Beat the vegan baking sticks and start beating in the icing sugar gradually. Once almost all the icing sugar is incorporated and you've got a frosting consistency, gradually beat in the red wine reduction and the 3 tablespoons wine. Then beat in the remaining icing sugar until the frosting is light and smooth and creamy.

Frost your cupcakes.

Decorate with sprinkles.

This recipe makes enough Red Wine Butterycream Frosting for 12 cupcakes.

Becki

Sunday, April 2, 2017

#176 The Case of Ch-ch-ch-chia Cereal

Chia seed is hot, hot, hot right now. Hotter, I think, than when Chia Pets were all the rage. Do you remember Chia Pets? Clay figurines that, if spread with chia seeds and kept moist, sprouted "fur". Those little beasties rocketed to popularity in 1982 to the TV commercial ditty that many of us (tragically) can still repeat: "Ch-ch-ch-chia!".

The big difference between chia seed popularity then and now is, today we eat the darn things. The seeds I mean. Not the pets.

Check out my recipe for a tasty, quick-as-a-flash, healthy oatmeal alternative on Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers, a lovely mystery-related blog where I'm so pleased to have guested last month: http://anastasiapollack.blogspot.ca/2017/03/cooking-with-clorisguest-character.html.

Becki

Thursday, March 2, 2017

#175 The Case of Chocolate Cupcakes

My vegan cupcakes puff up in the oven due to the same chemical reaction as in kids' volcano science fair projects!
 
1-1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup cacao
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup coconut oil, measured in liquid form
1 tablespoon instant decaffeinated coffee granules
1/2 cup light coconut milk
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
vegan frosting
sprinkles
 
Preheat oven to 375ºF.
 
Line a 12-cup muffin tin with baking cups.
 
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cacao, baking soda, salt and sugar.
 
In another bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, instant coffee granules, coconut milk, water and vanilla.
 
Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until combined.
 
With a spatula, quickly stir in the vinegar until incorporated.
 
Divide the batter evenly between the muffin cups (about 1/3 cup per cupcake).
 
Bake until the tops spring back when lightly touched, about 18 min.
 
Cool them for 5 min. in the pan then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
 
Pipe frosting onto the cupcakes and decorate with sprinkles.
 
Serves 12.
 
Becki
 
PS Baking soda and vinegar, baby!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

#174 The Case of Saturday Morning Scramble

1 lb medium tofu, drained and squeezed
2-1/4 teaspoons Scramble Seasoning (see below)
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup roasted red peppers, chopped
2 small handfuls fresh spinach
1/4 cup vegan mozzarella, cubed
salt
pepper

Crumble the tofu into a bowl and combine well with the Scramble Seasoning.

Heat the olive oil in a large pan and sauté the mushrooms and the tofu.

Add the roasted red peppers and continue to sauté.

When the scramble is hot enough, toss in the spinach and the vegan mozzarella.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Plate when the spinach is mostly wilted and the cheese is soft. 

Serves 2 but multiplies and divides well.

Scramble Seasoning

1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon turmeric

Measure all the ingredients into a sieve over a bowl and stir, forcing the seasoning through into the bowl beneath.

Stir again then store in an airtight container in your cupboard.

Makes enough for 8 lbs of tofu or 16 servings.

Becki

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

#173 The Case of Gina's Family Tree

https://get.google.com/albumarchive/117883044276387660805/album/AF1QipOUKLehy0mFXvOKMmv3dyc9F2_cYrYrHA7GTyM_/AF1QipMHaF6_I0xpeS5wWw04yme0NzKcgGVDLMcTEZnU
(Click on picture to enlarge.)
A cheat sheet for A PURSE TO DIE FOR and A KILLER NECKLACE, the first two books in our Fashionation with Mystery series.

Becki