We like to bake here in Carpenter Country, and we love to eat what we bake. So the fact that baking is a subplot in our cozy mystery, A Cause for Murder, is no surprise. While our septuagenarian sleuth Emma is searching for a killer, her friend Arnie has made baking his new hobby. Emma isn’t sure what converted a seventy-three-year-old one-hundred-eighty-pound six-foot accountant into a budding pastry chef. But she has learned to be wary of the results of his efforts.
Emma's wise to be cautious when sampling Arnie's homemade Hungarian sweets because he specializes in spicing them with secret ingredients.
Fortunately, you can try our 3-2-1 Pear-Up dessert without worry. The recipe contains no mysterious ingredients…unless you choose to add them.
|Photo by rakratchada torsap|
3 pears, peeled and sliced
3 tbsp. sugar
3 tbsp. oatmeal
2 tbsp. pecan pieces
2 tbsp. flour
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon, if you prefer)
1 tbsp. butter
1 spritz nonstick cooking spray
Preheat oven to 350°F
Spritz the bottom of a 9" round pie pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Toss the pear slices in the lemon juice and add them to the pie pan.
Measure the sugar, oatmeal, pecan pieces, flour, and spice into a plastic baggie. Shake to mix. Add the butter and knead the bag with your fingers until the mixture resembles soft crumbs.
Empty the bag of topping mixture into the pie pan on top of the pears.
Bake for 20 minutes or until the pears are soft.
Tips and tricks
Add a tablespoon of butter on top of the pears if you like a syrupy juice.
Experiment with different types of nuts for different flavors.
Raisins or dates add a sweet touch.
Top each serving with sweetened whipped cream for extra yum.
To stop you from eating this delicious dessert in one sitting, we invite you to enjoy an excerpt from our cozy mystery, A Cause for Murder.
Septuagenarian sleuth Emma Twiggs thinks her neighbor’s death was an accident – until her friend Arnie says he suspects murder.
Arnie is convinced he knows the killer’s identity. He wants Emma to prove it.
Is Arnie right? And is he right in his belief that Emma’s best friend is the killer’s next target?
As Emma navigates madcap mayhem, multiple mysteries, and murderous motives, she discovers more than one person is hiding deadly secrets.
The question is, who has a cause for murder?
It wasn’t the food. Happy Haven Retirement Community’s chef prepared delicious, artistically plated roast beef and mashed potatoes every Sunday evening.
Emma Twiggs set down her fork. No, the food wasn’t the problem.
It wasn’t the chatter or the whispers in the dining room, or the sidelong glances of other Happy Haven residents. Happy Haven was a hotbed of gossip and rumors. Being the topic du jour was familiar territory.
It certainly wasn’t her dinner companion. Arnie Bracken was always charming, kind, and intelligent, no matter what her best friend Olli thought.
No, food, chatter, and Arnie, combined or singular, were not the cause of her uneasiness.
The problem –
"I know what you’re thinking, Em," Arnie said.
"Do you?" She picked up a glass of lemon-spritzed water and tried to swallow past the tightness in her throat. She could only hope he had no idea of what she was thinking.
"Sure." He leaned forward and lowered his voice. "You’re wondering how someone as fit as Jo accidentally drowned in the swimming pool."
Emma froze. Her fingers tightened on the glass. The chatter in the room faded into muted background noise. She had deliberately not been thinking about Jo. She would not think about Jo. How did Arnie know she'd been thinking about Jo?
"I’ll tell you how," he said. "Jo was murdered, and Cahan murdered her."
"I am not thinking about – Murdered?" The lump in her throat expanded to the size of the Brussels sprouts on her plate. "By Todd?"
"Murdered. By Cahan. And we need to prove he did the deed."
"Arnie." Emma set the glass on the table and uncurled her fingers from it. She coughed to clear the non-existent Brussels sprout from her throat. "The paramedics told us Jo’s death was accidental. An accidental drowning."
"Yeah, I know all the euphemisms they used."
Emma did too. The headline in Harmony Notes, the local daily, had read TRAGIC ACCIDENT AT HAPPY HAVEN. Unfortunate was the word murmured most frequently at the funeral service, followed closely by regrettable.
She said, "Harmony’s police department and the district medical examiner agreed with the paramedics."
A trickle of condensation wept down the side of the glass and puddled into a teardrop on the table. All the words used to describe Jo’s death were wrong. Wrong and inadequate. Words were inadequate now too.
Because this was the problem she had been avoiding.
Her role in Jo’s death.
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