10 April, 2011

It's Murder in CT

Just back from Murder 203 - Connecticut's homegrown mystery festival.  Held for the third year, it's a fun mix of writers and fans organized by the hard working staff of the Easton library.

This year's guest honour was the delightful Carolyn Hart, ably interviewed by Leslie Meier.  What a treat to hear the secrets behind this award-winning, cozy writer's success. Carolyn traveled all the way from Oklahoma to share her wit and wisdom with us.
 Others on hand included Rosemary Harris, Jane Haddam,  Amy Patirica Meade, Meredith Cole, Stefanie Pintoff and Larry Beinhart.  In all more than a dozen authors, many from the tri-State area, participated in sessions ranging from "Leading Ladies" to Mistakes I Wish I'd Never Made."

The highlight of the weekend (at least for me) is always the cocktail party held Saturday evening at the lovely Easton Library.  Mingling with authors and attendees over scrumptious hors d'oeuvres and a glass (or two) of wine is a real treat.

One of the things I like best about this conference - aside from the fact that it's less than 30 minutes from where I live - is the diversity of attendees.  I ate lunch (and as a foodie, I have to say the food is fantastic - no rubber chicken in sight) with four women who were just completing their MFA's in writing at Simmons College.  All were concentrating on either YA or children's mystery series. Wish there had been more of those around when I was growing up! I have to admit, it's a market I never considered.

Looking forward to next year's event!

08 April, 2011

Friday Food Frenzy

It’s the end of the week and time to clean out the refrigerator. Sometime, in a past life maybe, I must have been hungry because I tend to keep my refrigerator chock-a-block full.  My mother was the original frugal gourmet and passed on the gene. I refuse to throw anything out.  I may end up feeding it to the dog, but I won’t throw out perfectly good food.  

It wasn’t until I attended Johnson & Wales one summer that I realized my idiosyncrasy could be a good thing.  During my course, every Friday was dedicated to making restaurant quality (and priced) meals out of leftovers.  Nirvana! A string of chefs unveiled the mysteries of $35 leftovers.  I learned the secrets of crepes, manicotti and quiches, not to mention soups, roulades, pates and terrines – all good ways to use up leftovers.
Over the years, I’ve discussed this philosophy with friends and come up with one basic, undeniable truth: you need to cook good meals to have good leftovers. Not necessarily gourmet meals, but not  -- please excuse my language – crap. Crap, IMHO, includes boxed macaroni and cheese, TV dinners, and bologna sandwiches with canned tomato soup.

Just for kicks I opened a friend’s refrigerator yesterday to check out the situation.  She had half a platter of rollups from Costco, a huge bag of wilting lettuce, megajugs of diet ice tea, 2 eggs, and some dubious Chinese takeout.  I won’t horrify you by listing the freezer contents.  Suffice it to say, it was not the stuff of which gourmet meals are made.  Susan (not her name, but I don’t want to embarrass her) is not much of a cook, but then again, her husband isn’t a fussy eater.

My refrigerator, when inventoried this morning, had goat cheese, the end of a marinated pork tenderloin, half a roasted chicken, artichoke hearts, fresh spinach, roasted pepper puree, and light cream.  Home-made chicken broth, pasta sheets, crepes, and (store bought) puff pastry are freezer staples for me. And yes, my family are picky eaters; they’ve been spoiled and like it that way.  

So what’s on my menu for this weekend: goat cheese and red pepper ravioli in chicken broth with wilted spinach, chicken enchiladas, and pork nasi goreng (Indonesian fried rice).   And I’ll still have the chicken rack to make more broth! 

Now if I could just find a way to "recycle" left over pizza I'd have it made!

How about you?  What’s in your refrigerator and what are you going to do with it?