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,
"Christy Evans has a hit on her hands" - Harriet Klausner,
"Christy Evans is aces. I'll be very suprised if Sink Trap isn't an instant hit with cozy readers!" -

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Cooking Up a New Series - Part Five - Black-Eyed Peas

I know, I know.  I skipped Part Four.  Actually Part Four is written, but I don't have pictures yet, so it will have to wait for another photo op.  See, I made the pudding before I realized I wanted pictures for the blog, so (boo hoo!) I'll have to make another pudding and take lots of pictures.

In the meantime, we've added a logo for the Haunted Gift Shop mystery series.  Since Bluebeard the foul-mouthed parrot is a major character in the new series we've put his picture on a shot glass, to celebrate the first title in the series: MURDER IN A SHOT GLASS

Now, on to our next cooking experiment!

Because we live in the Northwest, and don't have access to fresh peas, I bought a bag of dried peas at the local market.  To prepare beans for cooking, I rinsed the peas and picked out a couple that looked  questionable.  Then I soaked the pound of dried peas in a bowl of water overnight.

There are shortcut methods of soaking, but I always feel like overnight is better.  I also changed the water in the morning, and left them to soak for a few more hours, until it was time to start cooking.

While I didn't have access to ham hocks, I did find ham shanks at the local market.  I could have just started the beans cooking with the ham shank, but I decided browning the ham shank would give me better flavor. 

  I started with a little olive oil so the ham wouldn't stick, though it quickly gave up lovely juices and started to brown nicely.  Once I had a little golden brown on the ham, and deglazed the pan with a little water, I added the initial seasoning - finely chopped onion (in deference to Mr. Christy) and several cloves of fresh garlic.

I sauteed the onions and garlic for a few minutes in the ham juices and olive oil, until they also got to be lovely golden brown.  By this time the house was starting to smell pretty good - a combination of aromatic vegetables and browning pork.

Now I was ready to add the beans.  I drained the water in which they had been soaking, and double-checked for any flawed beans.  After all, I wouldn't want to show you beans that were less than perfect!

I added water to the pan with the the ham shank and vegetables, then poured in the soaked and drained beans.

Once the ham and beans were in the pot, I added seasoning - celery seed, dried parsley (I would have used fresh if I had it - stay tuned for a discussion about herb gardens one of these days), black pepper, and salt.

Now it was time once again for patience.  The beans needed to simmer for a couple hours, until they were tender and ready to eat.  Along the way I tasted and adjusted seasoning as I went.  The ham shank was pre-cooked, but as the broth developed, minglling the ham juices with the vegetables and seasonings, the ham got even more tender.  As you can see in the second cooking picture the ham was practically falling off the bone.

When it reached that stage I took it out of the pot - carefully, because it was HOT - and removed the meat from the bone.  Aside from the heat it was an easy process since the ham was very, very tender.

I cut the ham into small pieces and added it back to the pot. 

At this point the peas were ready to serve, but Mr. Christy thought they were not as thick as he wanted.  After some consideration I added a little flour to thicken the broth.  The other choice, which I will try the next time, will be to start with less water, so the finished dish will be more like beans and less like soup.

But either way, it was mighty tasty!

And here you have the finished product, ready to go on a plate with fried cornbread - that's the next post! - and serve to your nearest and dearest!

Black-Eyed Peas and Ham Shank

1 cooked ham shank, about 1 pound
1 T. olive oil
1 pound dried black-eyed peas
8 cups water for soaking
3/4 cup chopped onion
4 cloves garlic
8 cups water for cooking
1/2 tsp celery seed
2 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp black pepper, or to taste
2 tsp salt, or to taste

Rinse beans and pick out any broken beans or stones.  Soak in water in large bowl over night, at least 8 hours.  Drain and discard soaking water.

Brown ham shank in olive oil.  Add onion and garlic, saute until vegetables begin to brown.  Carefully add water.  Add beans to pot, along with the rest of the seasoning.  Simmer for 1 1/2 hours, taste and adjust seasoning as desired.  Take the ham shank out, remove the meant from the bone and cut into small pieces, then return to the pot.

Check beans for texture, and continue simmering, if necessary, until beans reach the desired level of doneness.

Serve with fried cornbread. (Stay tuned for our next post.)

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE black eyed peas and ham. It reminds me of the time I spent in Mississippi and went to crit groups in New Orleans with George Alec Effinger. Good times. Great mentor to me. Thanks for sharing your recipe.