Thursday, August 6, 2015

Killer Buns

Hi all!  Please welcome author Judy Alter to Killer Hobbies today!  So...did you think the  buns in the title would be attached to a male model?  These buns are of a hotter variety. Sticky buns!  Judy, please tell us about your creative cooking!

Tracy Weber
I’ve never been creative in the craft sense. When my grandson brought home “projects” from school, I threw up my hands in despair and told him to ask his father. When my grandchildren were born, I got it into my head that I had to knit something for each one—disaster loomed. For the fourth, a girl, I knit a hooded sweater that was far beyond my capabilities. Her other grandmother grew up in Norway, where knitting was taught in elementary school. The contrast between our gifts was appalling in my mind, though everyone assured me it was the love that mattered. I’ve tried oils a few times but no visible reminders hang in my house, whereas I do display a painting done by one of my sons in kindergarten when he had his own one-man art show at Texas Christian University. I’ve done pottery and actually often serve from dishes I’ve thrown but I never pursued it. Even did macramé back in the day, and a bit of weaving.

You can’t say I haven’t given arts and crafts a chance—they’re just not me. If I have a hobby, it’s cooking. All things about food interest me, and though I’ve written some food-related things, I sometimes wish I were a professional food writer, like Ruth Reichl. The culinary cozy market is overwhelmed with entries, so I don’t try to jump in. I have several favorites, but to me Diane Mott Davidson leads the field. Besides I don’t think of myself as a creative cook—I’m excellent, as long as I stick to the recipe.

I love upscale foods—coquille St. Jacques, almost any form of lamb, veal scallopini, even a bit of foie gras. Those however are best eaten from someone else’s kitchen. For guests in my home, I often experiment with a dish I’ve never served before—spaghetti with capers and anchovies, a cold salad of smoked salmon with potato salad, eggs baked in a tomato sauce. Everything usually turns out fine.

But for writing, I keep my recipes simple. The closest I’ve come to writing culinary mystery is The Blue Plate Café Mysteries, set in a café in a small East Texas town. They serve chicken-fried steak or chicken, fried catfish, meatloaf, chicken and dumplings, and, of course humongous breakfasts. Recently I spent a morning assembling recipes for the third book in the series (Murder at Peacock Mansion, October 2015). I’m not quite brave enough to tell someone how to fix chicken-fried steak, but I chose a lasagna-like casserole, a hearty vegetable soup, shepherd’s pie, and a chicken enchilada casserole along with the café’s classic sticky buns (my mom’s recipe). Here’s my version of sticky buns:
Basic coffee cake dough

2 pkg. granular yeast
½ c. warm water
Pinch of sugar
1 12-oz. can evaporated milk, plus enough water to make 4 cups
1 scant c. vegetable oil
1 c. sugar

Dissolve yeast in water (add just a pinch of sugar to help the yeast work) and let it rise about five minutes. Mix milk and water, oil, and sugar. Add dissolved yeast. Stir in enough flour to make a thin batter, the consistency of cake batter. Let this rise in a warm place until bubbles appear on the surface (probably 1 hour—check it at 30 minutes).

Separately, mix
1 c. flour
1 tsp. salt (or less)
1 heaping tsp. baking powder
1 level tsp. baking soda

Sift seasoned flour into first mixture. Keep adding flour until it is too stiff to stir with a spoon. Knead well. Don't let the dough get stiff with too much flour, or your coffee cakes will be heavy. This dough will keep a week or so in the refrigerator.
To make sticky buns for breakfast, roll the dough out to a flat rectangle. Sprinkle with cinnamon and brown sugar and dab with butter. Roll up into a tube and slice into pieces of about 2 inches. Grease the bottom of an 8x8 pan thoroughly and then cover it with Karo white syrup and pecan halves. Place rounds of dough, cut side down, on the Karo/pecan mixture. Bake these at 350o until brown and center rolls appear cooked. Be sure to turn out of the pan immediately, while still warm. Cold cooked syrup turns to concrete. Rinse the pan immediately with very hot water.

About Judy
An award-winning novelist, Judy Alter is the author of six books in the Kelly O’Connell Mysteries series.She also writes the Blue Plate Café Mysteries. Finally, with the 2014 The Perfect Coed, she introduced the Oak Grove Mysteries.
Judy is retired as director of TCU Press and the mother of four grown children and the grandmother of seven. She and her dog, Sophie, live in Fort Worth, Texas.

About Murder at Peacock Mansion
Arson, a bad beating, and a recluse who claims someone is trying to kill her all collide in this third Blue Plate Café Mystery with Kate Chambers. Torn between trying to save David Clinkscales, her old boss and new lover, and curiosity about Edith Aldridge’s story of an attempt on her life, Kate has to remind herself she has a café to run. She nurses a morose David, who spirit has been hurt as badly as his body, and tries to placate Mrs. Aldridge, who was once accused of murdering her husband but acquitted. One by one, Mrs. Aldridge’s stepchildren enter the picture. Is it coincidence that David is Edith Aldridge’s lawyer? Or that she seems to rely heavily on the private investigator David hires? First the peacocks die…and then the people. Everyone is in danger, and no one knows who to suspect.

Find Judy’s books at


Jude Walsh Whelley said...

Judy I always like the recipes from DMD's book too. These buns sound delicious and look pretty easy. Looking forward to Peacock!

Musings From a Patchwork Quilt Life said...

Nice post, Judy! Must admit I use several DMD recipes and also share your love of cooking. Also looking forward to Peacock.

Judy Alter said...

Thanks, Jude. The buns are easy; cleanup can be a chore if you don't get it right away! Watch for a cover reveal of Peacock next Wednesday. So glad to have you in our midst again.