Sunday, September 28, 2014

Stirring up an Interview, Recipe, Review, & Giveaway!

I'm delighted to have Daryl Wood Gerber with us today. Daryl, who also writes the Cheese Chop Mystery series under the name Avery Aames, pens the Cookbook Nook Mystery series. Stirring the Plot, the third, will be released September 30! In addition to our interview, Daryl shares a wonderful recipe. There's also a chance to win a copy of one of the Cookbook Nook books and a huge rafflecoptor prize!

Kathy: I love holiday themed books and am thrilled that Stirring the Plot is set around Halloween. Are you a big fan of All Hallow's Eve? Do you celebrate?
DWG: I love Halloween. When I lived in a flat neighborhood where lots of kids paraded in their costumes, I celebrated a lot. Tons of candy. Some scary sounds when the door opened. Lots of decorations. But we moved to a hilly area, and alas, I don’t do much any more. Maybe that’s why I decided to write about a Halloween theme in this book. So I could celebrate the entire time I was writing. I spent hours online (on Pinterest and elsewhere) looking at Halloween pictures for party and decorating ideas, food ideas, and recipes. It was delicious fun. 
Kathy: The Cookbook Nook has stocked up on Halloween-themed cookbooks and gadgets. Do you have a variety of Halloween cookbooks yourself?
DWG: I have a few. The Betty Crocker Halloween Cookbook is a great one for kid parties. As for gadgets, I also have pumpkin/ghost/witch cookie cutters. So much fun. For Mystery Lovers Kitchen, the blog on which I participate with other authors who love to cook up crime, we do Halloween Week each year. I’ve had a ball creating new recipes for that. Ghost cheese cupcakes. (The icing is made with goat cheese) Scary punch (with a frozen hand). So many more. In Stirring the Plot, I’ve included tasty recipes like caramel-marshmallow popcorn balls, some spicy homemade chocolate, and a witchy woman brew. 
Kathy: I love your covers, but this one for Stirring the Plot is extra special; warm, inviting, and mysterious all at once. Can you tell us about your covers and cover art? Did you give any suggestions as to what the covers should be like? Did you have any say in the matter at all? Do you know your cover artist?
DWG: I love my artist, Teresa Fasolino. She’s so wonderful!! She and I met in New York one year. She’s delightful and so talented. As for input, luckily for me, I get to give suggestions for my books’ artwork. I pluck pictures off the Internet to suggest the vibe that I want on the cover. I suggested that Tigger sports a witch hat. He wears one in the Black Cat parade in the book. Isn’t he adorable?
Kathy: I love that you include all sorts of recipes in your books. Which kind do you find easier to develop-sweet or savory?
DWG: I love both, so I don’t find it easier to do one or the other. I eat sweets when I’m writing. Usually about mid-morning, I have a need…with a cup of decaf coffee. Therefore, weekly I cook sweets. But savory is perfect for my husband, so I’m always trying to come up with something scrumptious for him. For the book, I focused on Halloween recipes. The only one in the book that isn’t specifically for Halloween is the French Silk Fudge cake. Um…divine!
Kathy: The Winsome Witches is the fundraising group working their magic in Stirring the Plot. Was this group based on a real one? How did you decide upon the name?
DWG: I read an article about a group of women in Los Gatos, California, who come together each year at Halloween to fundraise. They’re called the Witchy Women. They all wear witch hats. That’s about as much as I know about them, but the picture in the paper of the women gave me the idea to develop an entire story around a fundraising group. Of course, my group fundraises for literacy. So important! And just so no reader worries, these are not real witches. This is not a paranormal mystery. The Winsome Witches are simply women in Crystal Cove with a lot of verve and energy to do good deeds. Jenna’s Aunt Vera is a member.
Kathy: What fun events are going on at The Cookbook Nook or in Crystal Cove in Stirring the Plot?
DWG: In Crystal Cove, there will be a Black Cat parade, a pumpkin-carving contest, and the best window display award. The Winsome Witches are having a faire to kick off the week, and they end the week with their fundraising luncheon. At the shop, Jenna has hired a magician to entertain kids, and a local gardener will put on a display teaching customers how to make fun potions. So much to do and see for locals as well as tourists.
Kathy: Are you able to share any future plans for Jenna?
DWG: Jenna will be back in another story, Fudging the Books, which will come out in the fall of 2015. It occurs during the first week in February. Chocolate is always a great focus for the month of love, so expect plenty of yummy goodies. Yes, Rhett is still in Jenna’s life. You’ll learn more and more about their blossoming relationship as the series unfolds. In addition, it’s Pirate Week in Crystal Cove. [The town has a colorful pirate history.]  Aar, mateys, best be on your toes, for indeed, another murder will occur.
Kathy: Will you share any other upcoming books?
DWG: I write as Avery Aames, too. The next Cheese Shop Mystery, As Gouda as Dead, comes out in February 2015. What’s that story? When a beloved bar owner is discovered murdered on her fiancè’s farm, Charlotte Bessette is more determined than ever to contain the killer. For those who don’t know, Charlotte owns Fromagerie Bessette, or as the locals call it The Cheese Shop. She has been amateur sleuthing for five books. As Gouda as Dead is the sixth in the Agatha Award-winning series.

From Daryl Wood Gerber:

Often, fans write me about either my Cookbook Nook mysteries or Cheese Shop mysteries. (For those who don’t know, I also write under the pseudonym Avery Aames). Sometimes the fans offer praise. Not always. LOL!! I listen and I respond (usually). 

But whenever a fan sends me a recipe—they know I put recipes in my culinary mysteries—I sit up and take notice. I sit even taller when an item is naturally gluten-free. That means it doesn’t have wheat flour (or white flour as many know it) in the mix. I am a celiac, not just gluten-intolerant, so it’s very important I stay away from gluten. I can bake with rice flour, sweet rice flour, even coconut flour and so much more, just not regular old flour. By the way, I love when my fans take care of me!

Anyway, Nancy Foust me this recipe in a Good Housekeeping Magazine, the April 2014 issue, and I had to try it. The name alone made me want to taste it. Boy, are these good! So crisp and yet chewy. And pretty, too. They’re perfect for a book club or family…or just you. Enjoy.



1# powdered sugar (3 cups)
3/4 c. unsweetened cocoa (used Penzey’s)
1/2 tsp. salt
4 large egg whites, slightly whipped
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 -1/2 c. dark chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In large bowl, whisk powdered sugar, cocoa and salt.  Whip the egg whites and vanilla to a gentle froth. Add egg whites mixture to the sugar-cocoa mixture. Whip with a spoon. Then fold in chocolate chips.  

Drop “dough” by rounded tablespoonfuls about a 1-2”  apart onto prepared cookie sheet.  They will “merge” into each other a bit, so beware. J

Bake 13-14 minutes. They’ll look set and crackly.  Don’t overbake. Let cool on cookie sheets 3 minutes; then, with spatula, transfer to cool completely.  Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Below is a tidbit about STIRRING THE PLOT, the next in my Cookbook Nook mysteries. It comes out September 30!  FYI, though I write a series, each book is a stand-alone and can be read first, even if you haven’t read the others in the series.

(3rd in Cookbook Nook Mysteries)

Halloween in Crystal Cove, California, is a big deal, involving a spooky soiree where the Winsome Witches, a fund-raising group, gather to open up their purse strings and trade superstitions. But party magicians, fortune-tellers, and herbalists are only the beginning of this recipe for disaster. Jenna Hart has packed The Cookbook Nook chock-full of everything from ghostly texts to witchy potions in anticipation of the annual fund-raiser luncheon. But there’s one unexpected addition to the menu: murder. When the Head Priestess of the Winsome Witches is found dead, there’s plenty of blame to go around, and Jenna will have to use more than just sleight of hand to conjure up the truth…

[This is NOT a paranormal story. It is a traditional cozy mystery.]



Stirring the Plot by Daryl Wood Gerber
The Third Cookbook Nook Mystery

It's almost Halloween in Crystal Cove, California and the Winsome Witches are spearheading several fundraising events. From the Winsome Witches Faire to the haunted tour and Black Cat Parade, this book is filled with Halloween fun. However, the fun stops for the head priestess when she's found murdered. Was it her nasty daughter, a sister witch, an unhappy client, or someone else? Now Aunt Vera believes she's lost her powers, the sister witches (who don't actually practice witchcraft) are sniping at each other, and there's a feeling of dread around town. Has someone cast a spell on them? Between running her bookstore, learning to cook, and developing her relationship with Rhett, Jenna Hart is determined to help her aunt and if that means helping to solve yet another murder, so be it.
Daryl Wood Gerber creates a cozy autumnal read in this, her third Cookbook Nook mystery. Stirring the Plot gets readers in the Halloween spirit with vivid descriptions of Crystal Cove and its citizens as they prepare for the holiday. Cozy is an apt description of this book. Not only is the genre cozy, the entire book emits a cozy feeling. The warmth of the characters (even the prickly ones), the burgeoning romance, the adorable kitten, Tigger. Even though there is a murder, and suspense, the vibe is one of warmth and safety. You may be reading a murder mystery, but it's as if you're safe reading it snug in your own home with a blanket and a warn mug of cider.
While the release of Stirring the Plot helps to usher in Autumn, this book would be a pleasure to read at any time of year. Daryl Wood Gerber gives us a well crafted mystery filled with interesting characters I want to read even more about.

Recipes are included.


Would you like to own your own copy of a Cookbook Nook mystery? In addition to the rafflecoptor contest, you also have a chance to win a print copy of one of the books simply by leaving a comment on this post answering the following question: Do you have any special Halloween cookbooks? Let us know in a comment no later than 11:59 pm Tuesday, September 30th (release day). Please also leave your e-mail address and which book you would like, should you win (Final Sentence, Inherit the Word, or Stirring the Plot). Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. My go-to cookbook is Betty Crocker, a copy my dog chewed on years ago. Guess he was working on his own recipe... :) I don't have any special Halloween cookbooks.

    patucker54 at aol dot com

  2. Sadly, I do not have a Halloween cookbook. I do enjoy browsing Halloween cookbooks in the library or online recipes. One of my favorite recipe blogs is Chocolate Covered Kate ( ) for "healthier" dessert recipes.

    Please enter me in the contest. myrifraf @

    Thank you.

  3. Thanks, Kathy, for such a lovely review! I'm thrilled that you enjoyed the book so much. And thanks for the fun interview! Great questions!

    Savor the mystery
    ~Daryl aka Avery

    1. Thanks for being here! I'm so pleased you liked my questions!

  4. I have cookbooks which incorporate interesting ideas for different holidays. Not one specially for Halloween. Your cookies look delectable. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  5. I love Gooseberry Patch cookbooks and they're Our Favorite Halloween Recipes is one for the holiday. Daryl Wood Gerber's books are a favorite too and would love to have her Stirring The Plot.

  6. No special Halloween cookbooks for me---I tend to rely on the internet for specialty recipes.

  7. I would love to win and thanks for this awesome give away!

  8. Do not have any Halloween cookbooks.

  9. I do not have a Halloween cook book :(

  10. I do not have any Halloween cookbooks. I hate entering this way as when I put in my name they erase everything I have written so have to start over. I will not use dark chocolate as it gives me instant migraines. I am out of chocolate chips and money so going to try it with raisins. I bet my husband would love these and he is diabetic. jrs362 at Hotmail dot com

  11. I don't have a Halloween cookbook and I'd love to win!

  12. I don't have a Halloween cookbook, but do clip recipes from sources such as magazines and newspapers as well as find many fun recipes for Halloween cooking and baking online. I would love to win Inherit the Word. Thanks for the chance! sxygrndma48(at)yahoo(dot)com

  13. I don't have a Halloween cookbook, however from Martha Stewart's special Halloween edition magazines, I have one recipe I must try, cookies shaped like Witch's Fingers!