Thursday, April 4, 2019

Eating your way through a book

Patricia posted a delightful recipe yesterday as part of our idea to include recipes with some of our posts. I had already decided to do the same today. I hope you enjoy.

Are you one of those people who gets caught up in the food that characters in books are enjoying?
I always find myself craving whatever is in the book. I went on a tea and scones binge the entire time I was reading the Tea Shop cozy mystery series by Laura Childs.
This one included a recipe for lemon scones.

Or how about Christmas stories and Christmas cookies.

I could go on and on. Clearly, I'm very suggestible.

The trend also holds true when I'm writing my own books. I'm currently working on one book set in Texas and one set in Maine. Since I often spend summers in Maine, this is a great chance for me to enjoy some of my favorite dishes. All in the name of research and getting in the mood, of course.

In a scene I was writing the other day, my character was enjoying a hearty dish of fish chowder (chowdah!). I was so jealous. I wanted one too. Maybe because it reminded me of a favorite moment I shared with my husband.

Back in 2014, we celebrated my sale to LIS with dinner at our favorite lobster house in Maine.

We started off the meal with their fabulous fish chowder.

Long after we were home, I was craving this haddock chowder, so I played with some recipes and came up with one that I thought came close. (Although nothing could compare to that restaurant deck overlooking the harbor.)

This recipe is really pretty simple.

Start with @ 1 pound of haddock fillet and a pot of boiling water. I like to use my Dutch Oven for this. (You could also substitute cod or any firm white fish if you don't have haddock available.)

Boil the haddock in the water.  You'll have to skim off the foam, but after boiling it for about 10 minutes, you'll have a nice fish stock.
Note: Many recipes call for salting the water, but I find the fish salty enough. So, add salt to taste.

Remove the fish and break it into bite-sized pieces. Then add about 3 cups of chopped potatoes and a cup or so each of chopped onion and celery to the stock. Cover and simmer until tender.

When everything looks ready, add the fish back in. You can add some salt and pepper at this point, and then swirl in 1 cup of milk/cream/half and half (depending on richness you want) and a pat of butter.

Add a fresh loaf of crusty bread and you're all set for a hearty Down East meal. My character was sitting in front of a fire during a storm, but imagine sitting with this view.

As I was going through my photos, I found one of this fish chowder from a different restaurant. As you can see, they added shrimp as well as fish. Even more yum!

So, I'm curious. Please tell me I'm not the only one who gets cravings for certain foods either when you read about it them books or write them into your own. Let's here about what tempts you.


  1. Hi Cate. What a fabulous post. It appeals to the New Englander in me. What's better than fish chowder or lobster (or chowdah and lobstah as New Englanders say). What a wonderful memory and a fantastic way to celebrate a first sale. I'd love to try your recipe if I have the patience. Maine is such a beautiful place. My family had a lovely vacation there when we were kids. The freezing cold water was something else, even in summer.

    1. I hope you try it, Belle. I have very little patience for cooking these days, but even I can pull it off. Better yet, give it to your husband to cook!

  2. Cate, just looking at these photos makes me hungry and I just finished breakfast! I think adding food, especially dishes that depict the flavor of the story's location just adds to the story.

    1. I was getting hungry writing it, Mary, so I totally understand.

  3. I love to visit Maine and Lobster rolls are one of my favorite dishes when I'm at the seaside.

    1. I was *this* close to posting a photo of a lobster roll, Patricia, but I figured enough temptation in one post.

    2. A lobster roll would have done me in!!!

  4. Okay, now you're making me hungry, but thanks for posting. Great pictures.

  5. How funny. I'm reading a dozy right now called Murder is Binding and they've got a plug for lobster chowder. You've now made me hungry!

  6. Cate, I definitely get food cravings while reading a book! I especially like the tea scenes so I can savor scones and fragrant Earl Grey. Your chowder sounds yummy. Thanks for the recipe. #FoodiesReadOn!


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