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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Amy Alessio and Hearts & Daggers by Margot Justes

I would like to introduce my partner in crime, or Hearts & Daggers.

Amy is an outstanding YA librarian, an author, a collector of vintage cookbooks, and Amy offers very successful cooking & cookbook programs to Libraries-successful as in room filled to capacity-successful. Did I forget to mention that Amy is also a wife and mother? I have no idea how she does it, maybe via osmosis some of her energy will rub off on me. Amy was the driving force behind Hearts & Daggers, and I'm absolutely delighted to introduce Amy to margotsmuse.

Thanks so much to Margot for letting me discuss my vintage cookbook and crafts fixation and how that resulted in the novella I wrote as part of the Hearts and Daggers Valentine’s mystery trilogy. Like Margot Justes and Mary Welk, the authors who round out the trilogy, my story is part of a series. I’ve now published four stories about Alana O’Neill, a bookkeeper at an antiques mall. In this adventure, Alana and her eighteen year old son Elliott try to figure out what happened when a booth owner is murdered. They are in the midst of a Valentine’s weekend festival at the mall. One speaker at the festival is Rebecca Standish from Margot’s story, talking about the art of valentines. Mary’s Caroline Rhodes character also makes an appearance in the story and Alana has a cameo in each of the other novellas.

Alana, much like her author, collects vintage cookbooks. Also like her author, she’s not a great cook. A new cafĂ© is opened in the antiques mall and one of the bakers makes fun of the foods in old cookbooks, something not easily forgiven by Alana. Alana tries to make a fancy chili chocolate candy herself to show she can be modern –with terrible results. Did I mention Blast From the Past, my novella, contains over twenty recipes and variations? One is for eight variations of classic Butter Cake.

All the Alana stories have recipes, and no chili chocolates appear, don’t worry. I’ve enclosed one of the recipes below for you to enjoy. If you like seeing recipes from old cookbooks stop by the Vintage Cookbooks and Crafts blog at my site. I love it when people write in with their own food memories.

Alana has a lot on her mind besides recipes after a booth owner is murdered. She researches how the crime is tied to a diary and a necklace that owner had recently found in boxes of stuff brought in to the mall. Elliott is a big help to her as always but is also busy denying a crush on a lovely teen vintage clothing collector.

It was a Blast for me to do this project with Margot and Mary and we are looking forward to a Halloween trilogy from our series this year as well. I suspect there will be haunted objects in the antiques mall among other odd occurrences.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Punch Bowl Cookies
½ lb. butter
5 Tblsp. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour

Form small balls – press with fork or glass. Bake for 10 minutes at 375F. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar while still warm. Makes 3 dozen.

-Amy Alessio

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