A CRIME WRITER COOKS! by Chris Longmuir

This month I thought I would tempt you with something from the Authors Electric recipe book Cooking the Books. as you can see it's a mix of the ridiculous and the helpful. You may find a recipe to suit you within the pages, or you may prefer just to have a laugh with us as we tackle this alien enterprise. After all, we are writers, not celebrity cooks.!

Excerpt from Cooking the Books

Cooking – definition – an unpleasant occupation but something you have to do to ensure continued life. It requires a well stocked cupboard, fridge and freezer. An aptitude to combine any ingredients found into something palatable. And a burning desire to take part in Ready, Steady, Cook!

Are you sitting comfortably? We shall begin.

Contents of Detective Sergeant Bill Murphy’s fridge – a prehistoric egg, bacon with white wriggly things on it, cheese that is green and furry, and something indistinguishable (Bill can’t remember what it was!).

Contents of Chris’s fridge – don’t know, haven’t looked in there for yonks!

Cooking tools – Chris doesn’t know what most of them are for, but she has a great library of beautiful cookery books. She bought them to drool over the pretty pictures.

Check freeze, choose from a selection of ready meals, remove cardboard sleeve, pierce film top with a knife (remember to remove it from the body and clean the blood off), and nuke for the required amount of minutes in the microwave.

Job done.

Once a year Chris is sentenced to cook. She dines well with family providing great festive meals over Christmas and the New Year, but then comes payback time. Yes, you’ve guessed it. It’s time to invite the family to the annual post New Year dinner. Well, one has to show willing!

Switch off computer. Lock study door. Hide iPad. Close eyes, relax, and go ‘Um’ over and over again in an attempt at self hypnosis. Give up and get started.

Remove turkey crown from freezer in garage. Imperative to take this out at least 2 to 3 days beforehand to thaw out.

Check freezer – no turkey crown – forgot to buy.

Go to supermarket – no turkey crowns left. Scream!

Visit friendly butcher, get talked into buying a haunch of venison. Take it home. Look at it. Scream!

Check cookery books. Some lovely pictures but no venison.

Unlock study door. Switch on computer. Google ‘How to cook venison’. Read several and groan. Too complicated.

Choose the simplest one, and check for ingredients:
Haunch of venison – got that.
Marinade – what the heck’s a marinade? Oh, well I suppose it’s not really necessary.
3/4 lb fat bacon strips ( I thought we’d gone metric, but I know what pounds and ounces are).
1/4 pint of burgundy (Another run to the supermarket to buy it).
Seasoning – that’s salt and pepper isn’t it? At least I know that.
1/2 lb butter (I definitely have that, margarine or spreads never darken my door).
Olive Oil (Yup! Got that as well).
1 tablespoon of flour (I don’t suppose it will matter how old it is!).
Juice of half a lemon or orange ( it will have to be an orange, I don’t like lemons).

Marinate the haunch for 24 hours – How the heck do you do that? Go off and check the internet.
OK now I’ve found out what a marinade is so let’s get started.
First of all find a tin or dish big enough to hold the venison and add the ingredients of the marinade to it;
4-6 tablespoons of olive oil;
1/2 bottle of red wine (another run to the supermarket);
1 onion sliced (wipe tears from eyes);
3 sprigs parsley;
1 bay leaf;
1/4 teaspoon thyme.

Mix them all together and put the venison into the dish, making sure the marinade coats it completely.
Leave the venison in the marinade for 24 hours.
Take it out the next day, rub it with oil, dab it all over with the butter, and wrap the bacon strips round it.
Now wrap it loosely in foil and place in the oven at 190C/375F/gas mark 5 (Don’t know what the first two are so I set my gas oven at 5).
Cook for 20 mins per pound, and baste every 10 minutes (How the heck do I do that when it’s wrapped in foil?).

Relax with remainder of wine and enjoy the aroma of roasting venison.

15 minutes before the end of the cooking time, unwrap the venison, remove the bacon strips and sprinkle flour over the top of the meat. Baste well and return to a hot oven for 10-15 minutes.
Place venison on serving dish and pour away all the fat in the roasting tin except for 1 tablespoon. Add flour and cook until brown.
Gradually add the burgundy, and lemon or orange juice. Bring to boil, stirring all the time, and simmer for a few minutes. Add the seasoning.

Serve the venison with redcurrent jelly.

I’m sure you’ll all be pleased to know that it looked okay, and nobody complained. Quite surprising considering Chris cooked it!

A festive meal is not complete without a selection of sweets, or puddings, if you prefer.

Black forest gateaux
Select biggest one from supermarket freezer;
Remove cardboard box;
Allow 2-3 hours to thaw;

Fruit salad
Buy a selection of tins of fruit from supermarket;
Open tins with electric tinopener;
Plonk contents in a bowl;

My Special Sweet and Sour Pud
Biggest size double cream;
Biggest size natural yogurt;
Enough tinned fruit (or fresh if you like) to cover bottom of a fairly large shallow dish; It’s best to have something tart like raspberries, blueberries, cranberries etc. My favourite is tinned fruits of the forest;
Brown sugar.

Whip cream until thick, add yogurt and mix together;
Layer fruit on bottom of dish;
Top with the cream and yogurt mixture;
Sprinkle brown sugar on top;
Place in fridge for several hours until the brown sugar looks melted.

And that’s it, folks. that’s how a crime writer prepares a festive dinner. Thank goodness there are 364 days between each banquet!

If you want to buy a copy of Cooking the Books to see what other writers get up to when faced with a hot stove, then you'll find it here Amazon UK and Amazon US 

Chris Longmuir.
Author of the Dundee Crime Series


Bill Kirton said…
Glad to hear it's such a restful time of the year for you, Chris. Happy Xmas.
Jan Needle said…
Eggsellent (as they say). thanks for the laugh, and happy christmas
I might have to come over and put my apron on. Ha ha! Have a lovely Christmas!
Chris Longmuir said…
Please do Pauline. Will I send you the date of this festive event?
Lydia Bennet said…
you could put the fruit and brown sugar under a hot grill to get a nice creme caramel type topping as well. or maybe that's a step too far! I'm sure your dinners are legendary with the family and in a good way too!
glitter noir said…
Well done and rare at the same time. Happy holidays.
Chris Longmuir said…
Actually Lydia, the brown sugar melts into the top of the pud and makes a kind of caramelly topping. All done in the fridge. You should try it.
Sandra Horn said…
I particularly like the gateau recipe - not too taxing if you can manage to get it out of the box without dropping it on the floor.
I'm definitely going to try that pudding. You could add a layer of something like blueberries or brambles to it as well. I once cooked an enormous venison joint for a party and then couldn't face eating it having lived with the scent of it for so many hours. People kept telling me what lovely beef it was!
Ooops just saw you suggested blueberries as well! Had brambles in my mind because just found some in my freezer!

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