Juliette’s Book Club: Magpie Murders, Spooky Pie, and The Best Pie You Will Every Bake or Eat.

It is time for another meeting of Juliette’s Book Club. Today our theme is PIE.

2020 has sucked in so many ways, starting with fires in Australia, and now fires in California with a pandemic, stupid nasty politics, and an assortment of other bullshit we’ve had to deal with. That includes crappy books. I can’t even count the number of books my husband and I have started in 2020 and not finished because they were THAT BAD. These included books by so called best selling authors.

On my way down to visit my daughter earlier this month I unfortunately left my book at the airport in the security area. Ugh. It was a good one too. Double Ugh.

Fortunately my child has the good fortune of living near a bookstore. There I picked up Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz.

I can’t put this book down. We have a WINNER. It is a book within a book, done inthe most brilliant and clever way. Magpie Murders is so much fun. I haven’t finished it yet so if you have don’t give away the ending. As you can see in the photo my bookmark is still in it.

Here is the official description:

When editor Susan Ryeland is given the manuscript of Alan Conway’s latest novel, she has no reason to think it will be much different from any of his others. After working with the bestselling crime writer for years, she’s intimately familiar with his detective, Atticus Pünd, who solves mysteries disturbing sleepy English villages. An homage to queens of classic British crime such as Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers, Alan’s traditional formula has proved hugely successful. So successful that Susan must continue to put up with his troubling behavior if she wants to keep her job.

Conway’s latest tale has Atticus Pünd investigating a murder at Pye Hall, a local manor house. Yes, there are dead bodies and a host of intriguing suspects, but the more Susan reads, the more she’s convinced that there is another story hidden in the pages of the manuscript: one of real-life jealousy, greed, ruthless ambition, and murder.

Masterful, clever, and relentlessly suspenseful, Magpie Murders is a deviously dark take on vintage English crime fiction in which the reader becomes the detective.

Thank you Anthony Horowitz for writing a book I don’t have to throw in the recycle bin.

Halloween is almost here so once again I have to mention my favorite Halloween book Halloween Pie by Michael O. Tunnell and Kevin O’Malley.

When the kids were small we checked this out from the library all year long. Then one day we checked it out only to discover some little puke had ripped half of the pages (some completely gone) and used a purple crayon on the rest of the pages. Of course the adult who’d been in charge of the spawn didn’t tell the librarian about the destruction and offer to replace the book. At that point I got my own copy of the book.

This is a wonderful tale of a witch who baked a pie and all of the graveyard ghouls who said “GIVE ME SOME PIE.” There is even a recipe in the back so you can make your own Halloween Pie.

Everyone loves pie, or at least they should. Even Vampires who can’t tolerate sweets well love pie.

So with that introduction I’ll introduce you to the BEST cookbook ever:

BAKED, New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, with photographs by Tina Rupp.

I heard (don’t correct me if I’m wrong) that these were the guys who invented salted caramel.

Everything in this beautiful book is amazing. If you follow the instructions you will think you’re a Food TV Star. You’ll be doing the happy dance. Everyone around you will be doing the happy dance.

If you have just one book for baking BAKED is the one book to have. Trust me on this one.

Now I feel like I’ve gained 20 pounds just writing this post.

I’ll see you soon for another meeting of Juliette’s Book Club.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Tangled Tales: Permission to Mourn

Druce the Warlock was missing his friend Morcant the Selkie.

Druce was missing a lot of old friends as he stayed at home like everyone else. He’d stopped listening to the daily updates from Governor Newsom. The only thing he’d look at was the map of where the virus had hit the hardest, and the grim numbers. In other centuries it might not have been so unusual but it would have still been bad. People would still be mourning the loss of those they loved, staying at home, and waiting for the unknown darkness to end.

He’d driven a hard bargain so that he wouldn’t suffer an early death. That was almost two thousand years ago. Back in the 5th Century he couldn’t have imagined in his wildest Warlock dreams what the future would hold, especially not the the 21st Century.

Morcant, with his quick smile, and unending charm, had succumbed to old age years ago. Even a Selkie who was both from the land and the sea, and lived longer than most Earth creatures couldn’t live forever.

The banshee Milen has a sore throat. She’d been watching. Watching and waiting. She was also weary.

She go out with her red hair, gray cloak, pale skin, white dress, in the tradition of Irish Banshees. When she was especially animated or in the throes of passion he could still hear the Irish in her voice.

Tonight her red hair was loose down her back, her skin was pale, but she wore sweat pants and leggings. For the rest of the night she’d be in a physical form.

He’d met them all. Assorted reapers, vampires, spirits, demons, witches, wizards, and every assorted freak and keeper of magic and wonder and wickedness. He thought more of wonder, as in good things, about those who inhabited the places most people could not see or feel.

Milen took a sip of wine from a crystal goblet and gave Druce a sad look. “Is there anything you can do, or conjure up from the spirit world to make this virus go away?”

“Darling, I can’t do anything about a virus. I can make someone fall in love, or make a night sky light up with sparks, but I can’t stop a virus.”

“Odd that something so small can cause so much harm.”

“Our bodies, well, not our bodies, but living beings are made up of tiny particles and then attacked by tiny particles. Those particles don’t care who you are or how much power you hold. They don’t follow a god, or any rules of conduct, or care who lives or dies. They just are. You just have to stay home and wash your hands a lot.”

Druce tended to be a positive person for a Warlock. He always looked on the bright side of life.

“How are you holding up Milen?”

“Alright I suppose. It could be worse. I could be in New York, or elsewhere on the East Coast. I have friends who were in Italy and China.”

She rolled her shoulders then leaned back on the couch. “I give people permission to mourn. I give them warning. I settle their grief.”

Taking her hand Druce sat next to her. “You are not to be feared.”

“I warn them and let them know that bonds are about to be broken, not by screams but by sinking feelings in their stomachs and the sense that they are about to have their souls emptied out. I used to just scream, but that doesn’t work anymore, it just makes something think a violent crime is being committed. So it is just a silent scream now, not just for those who have a virus but for all of those who are sick, in accidents, fall by the hands of others, or take their own lives.”

Putting her head on Druce’s shoulder she sighed and closed her eyes. He stroked her hair, then she turned her head and kissed him.

In the morning she was gone. The sweatshirt and leggings were neatly folded and placed on the top of his dresser. Bruce went online and ordered pastries, crepes, and coffee from the local bakery. He’d put on his face mask and go pick them up. He missed the mornings when he could meet friends outside and talk for hours over coffee and the best croissants outside of France. Maybe they were better than anything in France.

He thought of so long ago, the day he and his friend Morcant met Merlin the Wizard for the first time. As always Druce had baked his famous seed bread. It was Morcant’s favorite. It had been centuries since he’d baked his seed bread in an outside wood stove. Maybe later he’d bake some in his modern kitchen, that is if he could find the ingredients. It had been two weeks since he’d gone to the store. Maybe today he’d take his changes and go out. He wouldn’t get sick enough to die, but he had to make sure he couldn’t accidentally get anyone else sick.

He could give you sweet dreams or nightmares, or bring good fortune or sadness, but he refused to bring illness to those who were innocent.

It was a beautiful day with the sun shining and the trees full of tiny song birds. He got out a face mask, put his reusable bags in the trunk of his car, and headed to the store.

Things were bad, but in some ways, in most ways, things had never been better.

 

Druce’s Seed Muffins

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

2 cups whole wheat flour (you may use 1/2 white flour if you prefer)

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

Zest from 1 lemon or orange (optional)

1 egg beaten

1/2 cup canola oil or melted butter (if you use butter a half oil half butter mix works best)

1/3 cup honey or molasses

1 1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds,

1/4 cup toasted walnuts

Combine dry ingredients. Fold in wed ingredients with as few strokes as pollible, bust until the flour is moistened, leaving a few lumps. Spoon into greased muffin tins, or use paper muffin cup liners.

Bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick stuck into the muffin comes out clean.

As an option sprinkle the tops of muffins with white sugar before baking.

You may also exchange the seeds in this recipe for any of your favorite seeds or nuts.

~end

 

Tangled Tales

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

God Rest Ye Merry Werewolves, and Ghosts and Vampires too. With muffins. We can’t forget the muffins.

Today I stopped by my friend (dare I say friend) Austin’s house to drop off muffins for his Grammy. She loves muffins, especially the ones I make. Austin and Grammy are Vampire Hunters, but they only go after the bad ones. I’m not a bad one. In fact I’ve had them help me out a time or two but that is a different post.

I know you might think it odd that I’m making muffins, being a Vampire and all, but I DO make the best muffins. I don’t eat them but I love the smell and I love the joy they bring. Just like my husband Teddy becomes the cookie baking king this time of year.

When Teddy was a child, a long long long time ago, he would make cookies with his mother and their cook. Now that he is a Vampire (since 1875) he still bakes cookies this time of year. Hey, we’re spreading the joy.

Next I stopped by my friend Adam’s house to drop off muffins for his 88 year old mother. She loves a good muffin. Aside from being a scary talented photographer, Adam is also a Werewolf. Sure were friends. Why not. You know all the peace on earth goodwill to all thing. Why shouldn’t we be friends.

While I was baking my kitchen filled with Ghosts who just wanted to smell the muffins as they came out of the oven. I put a few on the plate so they could sit next to it and bask in the goodness, imagining what it would be like to eat one. Always let Ghosts smell your cooking, and your coffee. That keeps them from throwing stuff around and haunting you in the middle of the night. Good cook are never bothered by Ghosts.

God rest ye merry Werewolves
Let no howling in the fray
Remember I made muffins
For now and Christmas Day
To save us all from growling
And that you won’t be a stray
Oh tidings of Vampires and joy
Vampires and joy
Oh tidings of Vampires and joy.

Blueberry Lemon Muffins
Best Muffins You Have Ever Had

Juliette’s Recipe
Makes 10 muffins

Ingredients

Muffin

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup white granulated sugar (this is just regular white sugar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil (don’t be tempted to be overly healthy and use olive oil – do not use olive oil – use some sort of vegetable, canola, or corn oil)
  • 1 egg (chicken egg – do not be tempted to use an emu egg or a dragon egg, or fish eggs) If you want to go vegan or whatever substitute a 1/3 cup of smashed banana or apple sauce for the egg.
  • 1/3 cup milk. I’ve used almond milk and it works just fine.
  • 2 teaspoons lemon extract
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries

Topping (Optional)

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cold butter, cubed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (add nutmeg too if you feel so inclined)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease muffin cups or line with muffin liners. In fact, seriously folks, don’t even bother with greasing the muffin tin, just use muffin/cupcake papers.
  2. Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt and baking powder. Place vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup; add the egg and enough milk to fill the cup. Mix this with flour mixture. Don’t over mix – just make sure it is all mixed in nicely then STOP.
  3. Gently fold in blueberries.
  4.  Fill muffin cups a little bit over the top (nobody likes flat muffins), and sprinkle with crumb topping mixture.
  5. Crumb Topping: Mix together 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, 1/4 cup COLD butter (chopped up in squares), and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon. Mix with fork (or your hands), and sprinkle over muffins before baking. You should end up with small peas sized bits of butter covered in flour/sugar mixture.
  6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until done.

I usually fill 10 muffin cups.

Variations: If you don’t have blueberries, or don’t feel like blueberries chop up an apple (no peel) or pear (no peel), or add fresh cranberries. You can also add chocolate chips, peanut butter chips and nuts if you feel like it. I’ve even made these with well drained finely chopped fresh nectarines and strawberries. Add anything you want (I don’t recommend meat or beans.) You can also use frozen berries but make sure they are room temperature and well drained. You may also exchange the lemon zest for orange zest.

Wishing you all comfort and joy,
And muffins!

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Red Muffin Tin

Pi 8675309

Happy Pie Pi Day.

The number Pi is: 3.14159265359

Of course the idea of numbers gave me an unrelated ear worm because they are numbers and that is how my brain works, when my brain works.

Sing it Tommy!

 

As a rule Vampires don’t eat a lot of pie or do a lot of math. OK some do a lot of math, I guess, you know some might. Anyway, I’m sharing a wonderful Lemon Pie recipe from the 1930’s that has been in my recipe box for about that long. I’d like to eat more pie but alas I am a Vampire. So you eat the pie. Please. It will make you happy. I promise.

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I need to get back to sleep. Or have coffee. Coffee and pie. Do the math.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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Mattie’s Lemon Pie. Yes, this is the actual pie. I made it all by myself.

Pie, Pi, and Hi Mom (Uncle Rico’s Cheese Pie, and Mattie’s Lemon Pie) and Vampires

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Happy Pi Day!

Garret, who is in his third year of college and almost twenty-one asked me about pie today, because it is the best way to celebrate Pi Day.

Baking and math, is like all art and science – one can’t exist without the other. Baking is an art but it is also chemistry.

Now you might be thinking, “Vampires eat pie?”

Yes, sometimes when we choose to eat solid food we will eat pie. Unfortunately super sweet pies don’t go down well at all for us. But we can limit our intake, just like anyone who has food issues.

Uncle Rico’s Cheese Pie has no crust and is a nice savory pie. Mattie’s Lemon pie goes back to the 1930’s. I fix it for guests. I don’t know if you can fix it without sugar (with Spenda or other non sugar stuff.) Give it a try and let me know if it turns out.

How many people will each pie serve? 3.14159265359 x 2, give or take a few.

Uncle Rico’s Cheese Pie

This works great if you wish to reduce the recipe in half. I use silicone baking pans for this so I don’t need the cooking spray.

  • Cooking spray
  • 10 eggs, beaten
  • 2 (16 ounce) containers cottage cheese
  • 1 pound shredded Monterey Jack
  • 1 (4 ounce) can diced mild green chiles
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted (optional)
  • 
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cooked crumbled bacon (optional)
  • 
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 -2 teaspoons dried thyme

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Prepare a 10×13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

Mix eggs, cottage cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, green chiles, butter, flour, bacon, and baking powder together in a large bowl; pour into prepared baking dish.

Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F and continue baking for 30 minutes (until a toothpick inserted into the center of the casserole comes out clean.

 

Mattie’s Lemon Pie

This is the bomb. This is the lemon pies of all lemon pies. Remember Vampires, just a tiny taste. Don’t over do it or you’ll be sicker than a Werewolf after a cat food binge.

This recipe is from the 1930’s, maybe even a little older. First you make the crust. Then make the filling. Put the lemon filling in the crust. Then make the meringue and put it on top. THEN cook it. No the meringue isn’t on the recipe. You’re already supposed to know how to make it. Whip a bunch of egg whites with a little bit of sugar until they are still. Make sure your bowl is absolutely clean. Do not use a plastic bowl. See me if you have any questions. Below are photos of what it should look like. Make peaks, not smooth meringue. Enjoy. It also is a swell pie with lime juice.

Happy Pi Day.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Mmmmmmmm that is some good pie! Now let’s do some numbers.

 

 

 

Ask Juliette: Irish Snakes, Soda Bread, and a Wee Unfortunate Bit of Troll History

Welcome to the St. Patrick’s Day edition of Ask Juliette – Ask a Vampire – Advice for Everyone. This is a regular Thursday feature here on Vampire Maman. If you have a question about ANYTHING send it to juliettevampiremom @ gmail dot com.

This morning my ancient Grandmama (great great great great) Lola is here helping me out. Lola  brings a unique perspective on most situations. I also have Tellias who is much more ancient than Lola, and he doesn’t lie as much as she does.

 

IrishGreenFairy

 

Dear Juliette,

Did Saint Patrick really drive the snakes out of Ireland?

~ Wondering

 

Dear Wondering,

Ireland is one of only a handful of places worldwide—including New Zealand, Iceland, Greenland, and Antarctica that don’t have snakes.

There is no evidence of snakes ever existing in Ireland.

Ireland is an island. While England had land bridges going to Europe at one time, Ireland never did. Snakes, being poorly trained for rowing boats, couldn’t make it to Ireland. They could have made it during the ice age but it was too cold for snakes at that time (there again, snakes don’t wear coats or have fur.)

The St. Patrick story comes from the symbolism of the man driving sin/evil (the snake) out of Ireland.

~ Juliette

From Tellias: I recall he was known as Patricius when I met him. It was a brief passing. One night we both took shelter from a storm. I was in Ireland looking for a missing Warlock. Patricius was kind and gentle offering me food and a fire to share. We talked through the night. He told me of the time he was captured by pirates and taken to Ireland the first time. he wasn’t but a teen, a young man. There was something about him, a charm, a fierce passion for right, and a desire to have connection with the people that impressed me. Unlike most people at the time he could read and write. There was no magic in him. People use magic to convince the ignorant and supersisious populations of what is important, like faith, and hope and the desire to be better. To be sure, he was a nice enough guy.

Lola: I always thought Patrick was sizzling hot. That is why he had so many female followers.

Tellias: You weren’t even born yet.

 

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Dear Juliette,

Do you have a good recipe for Irish Soda Bread?

~ Feeling Irish Today

 

Dear Feeling Irish,

You do know I’m a Vampire don’t you? I admit, I bake. I also admit that I don’t eat what I bake.

As a Vampire I do a lot of things that shouldn’t make sense but it makes me fit in. Baking is one of those things. It also makes my house smell nice.

Anyway… here you go.

Irish Soda Bread (From a Vampire)

  • 4 cups flour
  • 4 table spoons sugar (white)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup margarine (softened) or butter flavored Crisco or real lard if you’re feeling it.
  • 1 cup buttermilk (this is what makes it good)
  • 1 egg (chicken)
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk (in addition to the other stuff)

 

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Grease a large baking sheet. If you have an insulated baking sheet use that.
  3. In a large bowl mix together dry ingredients and margarine.
  4. Stir in 1 cup of buttermilk and the egg.
  5. Trun dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead slightly (20 times)
  6. Form the dough into a nice round and place it on the baking sheet.
  7. In a small gown combine the melted butter and 1/4 cup buttermilk.
  8. Brush the load with this.
  9. With a sharp knife cut an X into the top of the loaf.
  10. Bake for about 45-50 minutes.
  11. Insert a toothpick into it at about 40 minutes and then at 45 minutes. If it comes out clean then take it out. If it comes back with stuff on it let it cook a bit more. Check every three minutes.

Serve with butter and some nice jam or honey. Or if you’re a Vampire just dip it in Poet’s Blood. Yum. If you want a more savory bread you could add some caraway seeds or toss in some Italian seasoning (it isn’t Irish but hey, everyone is Irish today, even the Italians.)

Enjoy and if you make it let me know how it turns out.

~ Juliette

 

Dear Juliette,

How does it feel like being an evil being from the depths of Hell, and damned forever to drink the blood of living humans?

~ Curious

 

Dear Curious Asshole Troll,

How does it feel like to be a Troll? Seriously, tell me.

Yes, haters are going to hate.

Actually it feels GREAT being a Vampire. But unfortunately for you, if you ever find yourself in a dark corner with a Vampire he will do one of the following:

  1. Suck out your soul and send it to Satan (that is a lot of work but sometimes worth it, like in your case.)
  2. Make fun of you and laugh in your face.
  3. Rip your throat out.
  4. Don’t worry, nobody will EVER turn YOU into a Vampire. Thank goodness.

Haters are going to hate. Assholes rarely get cured. Trolls are sad pathetic beings who have no real friends.

It seems so long ago, but it really wasn’t, that the Irish in America were considered as unwanted as Vampires. I have an old joke book from the late 19th century that is full of racist jokes about the Irish. The hate for the Irish has unfortunately been replaced by hate for others.

 

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This is so sick. I don’t even have words to describe it in full.

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So don’t be a Troll and NO you can’t celebrate St. Patrick’s Day until you can learn to be nice and stop being a jerk. So crawl back into your slime covered hole before you piss someone off again.

~ Juliette

 

William Keith - Dusk Near Monterey

William Keith – Dusk Near Monterey

Have a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day everyone, even if you aren’t Irish or a Vampire.

xoxox

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman