Thursday, March 24, 2011

Books and Baking

The raking part of Tuesday's post, Reading and Raking, didn't work out too well, so today, we'll try Books and baking. Happily I report there was no problem with my shoulder in stirring up a batch of cookies - I didn't even burn my fingers as I usually do when taking something out of the oven.

I read both Anne Perry's ninth and tenth William Monk mysteries, A Breach of Promise and The Twisted Root this week. Promise details the importance of a young woman's beauty and reputation in Victorian times. When successful architect Killian Melville hires Sir Oliver Rathbone to defend him when he is sued for breach of promise to marry Zillah Lambert, the daughter of Melville's patron, Barton Lambert, he refuses to tell the barrister of his reason(s). He insists that he never proposed marriage to the young lady - that her mother was so anxious to have her daughter married that she misconstrued Killian's friendship with Zillah.
The trial is all but over - all that remains is the settling of damage amounts - when the talented young architect is found dead. It appears to be a case of suicide until an autopsy confirms it was murder.
As usual, it takes Monk and Rathbone working together to solve this crime. Hester Latterly helps some, but does not play as large a role as usual. I was able to guess the reason for Melville's refusal to disclose why he would not marry Zillah and figure out how he was killed. But there were other aspects of the story I did not see coming - including Monk proposing marriage to Hester at the end of the book. (I have assumed since the beginning of this series that would happen eventually.)

I liked The Twisted Root a little more than Promise though I am now seeing that all these novels follow the same pattern. Monk is hired to find a missing woman. The coachman who drove her away from her fiance's home is found murdered. She is found and charged with the murder; Rathbone is hired to defend her. There is another murder and several red herrings.
I still enjoy the writing and the Victorian settings; maybe I should just spread them out a bit more and not read two in a row.

Barbara Vine's, The Blood Doctor, was the third book I read this week. It was really hard to get into - not the psychological thriller I have come to expect from Vine/Rendell. The book deals with a Victorian doctor obsessed with the hemophilia in the royal family. It goes into more detail than I care to know about the House of Lords, of which the Doctor is a Life Peer, as well as the topic of hemophiliacs.

Today I made a batch of Mom's Poor Man's Cookies. These cookies were the ones she always kept on hand before the Dishpan Cookies became her favourites.
I was searching through the online Adams County Free Press archives last week when I ran across her recipe. It had been published in the paper back when they used to use contributed recipes.

Poor Man's Cookies:

A 2 Cups Rolled Oats
1 Cup Flour
1 Cup Brown Sugar, Packed
1/2 Cup White Sugar

B 1 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 Cup Hot Water

C 1/2 Cup Shortening, Melted and Cooled
1 tsp Vanilla

Combine A in a bowl. Combine B and stir into A then stir in C. Mix well then roll into walnut sized balls. Place on greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees about 10 minutes until golden brown. Let stand 2 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool. Makes about 3 1/2 dozen.

My cookies do not taste as good as I remember Mom's tasting. Nor are they as good as the Dishpan Cookies.

I'm thinking I should look for some different authors at the library tomorrow - maybe even bake brownies instead of cookies next time I feel like stirring something up.

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