I'm working on the new series, and doing a lot of research to make sure I get the details right. Research can be challenging, it can be fun, and sometimes I need to ask for help. Right now it's all three.
Fortunately, my mother-in-law (a wonderful lady) was born and raised in southeastern Alabama, just north of the Florida panhandle. She was my first call when I started looking for recipes and she didn't disappoint me. I now have a list of things to try.
But before I could start cooking, there was the problem of rounding up typical Southern ingredients in a small West Coast town. Especially a small town on the beach, with limited shopping opportunities.
To the Internet for help!! I found instructions on how to make your own self-rising flour and cornmeal, and also discovered advice about using masa - readily available in a town with a large Latino population - as corn flour (when you look at the label, the words "corn flour" are right there). At this point I'm guessing that "corn flour" is probably the functional equivalent of "fine ground corn meal."
Armed with this knowledge, I made a trip to the "big city" in search of supplies. I found self-rising flour, several varieties of cornmeal, and a bag of masa.
Back home I consulted with my husband - an escaped Southerner - about what to try first. We decided on a few of his all-time favorites: fried catfish, hush puppies, and banana pudding. I've made a lot of banana pudding over the years, and I even had all the ingredients on hand, so that was no problem.
Catfish was another matter. We managed to find some frozen fillets at the market, in portions large enough to feed a half the town. Fortunately the woman on duty at the meat counter was kind enough to break up the package and sell me just a pound of fish. (Which was still quite a lot for two people!)
Now that I had ingredients - or at least instructions on how to make substitutes - I needed the proper utensils.
The first problem was getting an appropriate fryer. We considered using a pot on the stove, but I had a couple concerns, first and foremost being temperature control. I have a lovely new stove, but keeping hot oil at a consistent temperature can be a pain, and requires a good thermometer and constant monitoring. I needed an electric deep fryer.
I hit the local Goodwill looking for a deep fryer, but struck out. I went in the Bi-Mart next door, hoping to find one of those miniature fryers that wouldn't set me back too much. For once luck was on my side, and I found a nice sized one on sale for $30. I have no idea where I am going to store this thing, but it was a great price, so we dragged it home.
Back home I now had ingredients and tools, all I had to do was cook...
(To be continued!)
Critical praise for Christy!
For "Murder Hooks a Mermaid:"
"Author Christy Fifield creates the kind of characters that stay with you for a long time. Fifield’s new Haunted Souvenir Shop mystery, Murder Hooks a Mermaid has it all: a sunny, relaxed setting, captivating locals, delicious food, and—of course—murder! Delightful amateur sleuth Glory Martine is back with her wisecracking parrot and charming group of friends in this thoroughly entertaining adventure. Don’t miss it."—Julie Hyzy, National Bestselling author of the Manor House Mysteries and the White House Chef Mystery series
"A whodunit with a dose of the supernatural, "Murder Hooks a Mermaid" is a worthy successor to the series opener and showcases Fifield's talents for plotting, characterization and humor." - Richmond Times-Dispatch
"Quirky and unique, a heroine for whom you can't help but root. The story sucks you in." - The Maine Suspect
"With a lovable cast of characters, good conversations and a great setting, this well-written book is a terrific read." -- Dru's Book Musings
For "Murder Buys a T-Shirt:"
A refreshing new sleuth! - Lynne Maxwell, Mystery Scene Magazine
"A fun book that will make the dreariest of days a little brighter! Socrates' great Book Alert" - Socrates' Cozy Cafe
"An entertaining and clever Florida whodunit" - Harriet Klausner
"Hilarious! A great murder mystery with well-written characters" - Paranormal & Romantic Suspense Reviews
For the Georgiana Neverall Series:"Christy Evans will find legions of fans with this new series" - Sheldon McArthur, Lincoln City News Guard
"Funny and entertaining -- a solid mystery filled with likable characters." - RT Book Reviews"
Cute cozy mystery debute -- wry humor -- adorable dogs" -Publisher's Weekly
"Will have you giggling out loud! Four Stars." - Kathy Fisher, The Romance Readers Connection"The Book is good! Keep them coming, Ms. Evans!" - Mystery Scene
"Evans delivers a fast-paced mystery with admirable finesse!" - Sharon Galligar Chance, FreshFiction.com"Christy Evans has a hit on her hands" - Harriet Klausner, Bookreview.com
"Christy Evans is aces. I'll be very suprised if Sink Trap isn't an instant hit with cozy readers!" - CozyLibrary.com