Happy Thursday, Scribe peeps, it’s Susannah.
When is a fiction book not just a fiction book? How about when it contains recipes, or knitting patterns, or the directions for some other craft project mentioned somewhere within the story?
There are lots of fiction books out there that do this. It’s very prevalent in cozy mysteries, many of which feature a sleuth who has some special skill or occupation that assists her in solving the crime. There are mysteries based on/in catering, knitting, embroidery, gardening, a coffee house, a cookie store, an apple orchard, and even a cheese shop.
And it isn’t just mysteries. Debbie Macomber, who is an avid knitter, sometimes includes patterns at the end of her romances.
Bonus material like this can be a lot of fun, and might help an author sell more books. But these things must be done . . . delicately . . . as the Wicked Witch might say. I’m reading a mystery right now where there are numerous references to a particular dish. It’s clearly a clue, but that recipe is inexplicably not included with other recipes at the end of the book. (I admit it. I peeked.) There’s another series where it seems the author really wants to write a cookbook — the references are that obvious and the stories are that flimsy.
Lots of authors do manage to make the process seamless. Personally, I’m waiting for some bonus material to appear in a police procedural (“How to Tap a Phone Line”), or paranormal (“Summoning Entities for Fun and Profit”) or steamy romance (Instructions for . . . use your imagination!).
What about you? Do you love or hate the extras? Do you ever actually make the food or craft? Here’s a little takeaway for you — the recipe for Tomato Cocktail, via my mother-in-law’s recipe box:
King Family Tomato Cocktail – makes about 1 quart
1 heaping quart of ripe, juicy tomatoes, roughly chopped (support your local farmstand, please!)
2 stalks of celery, roughly chopped
1 small onion (or half a large onion), roughly chopped
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 whole cloves
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Place everything into a pot and simmer 40 minutes. Let cool, then run it through a food mill to extract the skins, seeds and cloves. If you don’t have a food mill (mine is straight out of the 1950s, inherited from my mom-in-law), you can strain the whole mixture into a bowl through a colander, pushing the juice through with the back of a spoon, or just fish out the cloves and run everything through a blender or food processor (you’ll get more texture this way). Chill, stir, and enjoy. You might enjoy it more if you add some vodka, Worcestershire, and hot sauce! I like to make a double or triple batch in the summer and freeze in zippie bags for the winter. This also makes a delicious hot tomato soup to go with your grilled cheese.