Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Guest blogger Roberta Isleib

As promised yesterday, Roberta Isleib is guest blogging today while on a tour for her third advice column mystery, ASKING FOR MURDER (Berkley.) Roberta is a clinical psychologist, the Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity nominated author of eight mysteries, and the president of Sisters in Crime. Read more at http://www.robertaisleib.com.

My first mystery protagonist, professional golfer Cassie Burdette, was one hell of an athlete. She was also plenty neurotic, with a closet full of skeletons: her father’s desertion, a melancholy, alcoholic mother, a fog of self-doubt. She had lousy taste in men and tended to defer soul-searching in favor of the anesthetic effects of Budweiser. I finally talked her into starting psychotherapy (with the help of a couple of other characters) to address her low self-esteem and self-destructive tendencies. She began to play better golf, choose kinder men, drink less, and reconnect with her dad.
But despite my gentle urging, Cassie never did learn to eat well. Or to cook. Everywhere I went, readers commented on the junk food, the fried food, the hamburgers, the beer. The only recipe she was ever quoted as cooking had canned beans and sliced hot dogs as its main ingredients. And this was in a real, published cookbook, no less. How completely embarrassing.
Rebecca Butterman, the psychologist protagonist in my advice column mysteries, is a gourmet cook—but not the fussy kind of cooking you’d find in a Julia Child cookbook. Rebecca cooks things like roast chicken, peach pie, cheddar cheese scones, split pea soup, cheese puffs, stir-fried veggies with marinated flank steak, homemade cookies. I’m making myself hungry.
Anything I have a hankering for, she ends up cooking. I’m a decent cook, but not a big fan of long, complicated recipes unless there’s a special occasion. Rebecca’s more patient than I am, even with most tedious tasks of cooking. Here’s an example: Right now we have an excess of tomatillos in our garden so naturally I want to make tomatillo/cilantro sauce for chicken enchiladas. But oh the misery of sorting and washing all those leaves and husking the slippery produce. Rebecca would find that relaxing!
When I was single, you might have caught me opening a can of tamales for dinner. Rebecca wouldn’t do that! She feels she deserves a good meal whether alone or in company. And she hardly ever eats standing over the sink. And she has a maxim against eating food from a pan—even if it’s just her at the table.
Where do I find Rebecca’s recipes? In my own recipe box, on Epicurious.com, and by closely watching my friends who are talented cooks. For example, my writing buddy, Hallie Ephron, visited last year for a plot brainstorming session. She brought the ingredients for our dinner—a lovely marinated antipasto platter and spaghetti carbonara. When the time came to write about a dinner party in ASKING FOR MURDER, the menu was set! All I had to do was add the dessert—a red velvet cake that one of my fellow Sisters in Crime had baked for a meeting.
Here’s the recipe for the marinated flank steak Rebecca uses in a stir-fry dish in Asking for Murder, from my friend Linda Mills. (This is good for pork, beef, and chicken.)

Korean Marinade
4 TBS sugar
2 TBS sesame oil
6 TBS soy sauce

Marinate the meat from 2 to 24 hours before grilling. Discard marinade and make a new batch to serve with entrée, if desired. You may also add coarse black pepper, sliced scallions, chopped fresh garlic, toasted sesame seeds.

Enjoy your dinner and Asking for Murder. Thanks for inviting me to stop in today Judy!

No comments: