NOT YOUR USUAL SUSPECTS

A group blog featuring an international array of killer mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense writers. With premises and story lines different from your run-of-the-mill whodunits, we tend to write outside the box. We blog several times a week on all topics relating to romantic suspense and mystery, our writing, and our readers. We welcome all comments and often have guest bloggers. All our authors can be contacted separately, too, using their own social media links.

We find our genre delightfully, dangerously, and deliciously exciting - join us here, if you do too!


Julie Moffet . Clare London . Cathy Perkins . Jean Harrington . Daryl Anderson . Nico Rosso . Maureen A. Miller . Sandy Parks . Lisa Q Mathews . Sharon Calvin . Lynne Connolly . Janis Patterson

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Brits Rule!

Well, they may not rule exactly but two Brits are taking over this blog for the day. I’m Shirley Wells and my partner in crime, for today at least, is Clare London.
My mysteries feature reluctant private investigator Dylan Scott. He’s a city boy who had to be dragged, kicking and cursing all the way, from Clare’s neck of the woods up to Lancashire. Dylan, you see, is a bit of a chauvinist. Okay, he’s a lot of a chauvinist. He drives his long-suffering wife and his dope-smoking mother mad. So although his heart’s basically in the right place, and he’s a damn good private investigator, he needs to learn a few of life’s lessons. So I brought him north to the lovely east Lancashire Pennines where I’m lucky enough to live.
He’s skulked off home now so he’ll miss the traditional Christmas serving of Black Pudding or Lancashire Pudding as it’s sometimes called. The soft southerners, if they eat black pudding at all, will eat slices that have been fried or grilled as part of a full traditional breakfast. The more hardy northerners will eat it boiled, and served with malt vinegar out of paper wrapping. Soft southerners will sit down to a Christmas lunch of turkey whereas, in the north, we could easily tuck in to chicken stuffed with Black Pudding and Lancashire cheese.

What exactly is Black Pudding, I hear you cry. It’s a sausage made by boiling blood (sorry, that’s not a typing error), usually pig or cattle blood, with a filler such as meat, fat, suet or sweet potato until it’s thick enough to congeal when cooled. Sounds delicious, right?
Dylan will escape this year. Next year, however, I’m determined to drag him north for Christmas and force feed him Black Pudding.
Me? Ah, well. As it's the season of goodwill, I may just be generous and give my helping to my dogs. I'll probably have to settle for an extra helping of cake instead or maybe more chocolate.

What about you? Do you have a favourite Christmas food? We’d love to know.
As it’s Christmas, we’re giving away copies of our latest books to one lucky commenter. My gift will be Dylan’s first outing, Presumed Dead. 
I’ll hand you over to Clare now and she’ll tell you about her gift.

*********

Hello all, from the *south* of England, I'm Clare London, pen-named from where I live, love and write. I'm looking out of the window, awaiting our next heavy fall of snow and wondering if it'll be a white Christmas in London. It's a rare occurrence down here in the "soft" south :).

I've been writing for many years about romance and mystery, but a lot of my work has been Americanised for its main audience. It's fun, but I feel the time has come to find my roots - in fiction of course, because I've been a London girl since I was very young, and proud of it.

My Carina mystery murder Blinded by Our Eyes is based in London around fashionable Kensington and the lively, cosmopolitan area of Earls Court. My hero Charles Garrett is a young gay man facing the pressure and excitement of starting up his own art gallery - until one shocking night when he finds the dead body of Paolo, a young sculptor he's been mentoring, dead in the gallery in a gruesome murder scene.

Charles considers himself calm, discreet and practical, not prone to the melodrama and violent passion of the artists he sponsors. A very British man, you may say. But his search for the truth draws him into investigating Paolo's murder. He discovers his friends and lovers all have secrets to keep, and his cool view of the world is about to be rocked to the core. And when he meets Antony Walker, an aggressive, rudely handsome sculptor and a previous close friend of Paolo, Charles is in danger of a very different kind. Is he losing his heart to a new lover - or a killer?

Charles may be fictional but he's drawn from a very traditional background and is London born and bred. So what are the favourite Christmas foods we'll be looking forward to in London this year? Shirley may well have her black pudding - which, actually, I like! - but I'll be serving the traditional turkey with the trimmings: roast potatoes,  vegetables like carrots, broccoli and the infamous Brussel sprouts, lots of gravy and then the side sauces, cranberry and bread.

I remember sending a food parcel to a friend in the US a couple of years ago because she wanted to make a Brtitish Christmas dinner and couldn't easily get the ingedients. All was fine until I tried to send her suet to make a Christmas pudding. It was confiscated by Homeland Security because it had a beef base!

Then we'll have Christmas pudding with custard and cream, followed by watching the Queen's message on TV at 3pm, then it's a race to see who falls asleep first :).

This year, I discovered a warming recipe for London Pie from the 1950s. I've included it below in case anyone's tempted to make one over the Christmas period? Though heaven knows, we shouldn't need any more food ... LOL.

So share the guilt and delight with us this Christmas and let us know what *you're* looking forward to cooking or eating, whether it's turkey, taters or taramasalata :).

And don't forget, as Shirley says, if you comment on this post you'll be entered in the draw for not just one free book but TWO. My gift will be a copy of Blinded by Our Eyes, and you can follow Charles on his scary but determined journey to discover the truth behind murder.

Thanks for visiting and a very Happy Holiday period to you all.


LONDON PIE:
Ingredients: 1lb of extra lean minced beef
1 large onion, peeled and grated
1 coarsely chopped cooking apple
1 tablespoon sultanas
1/8 pint of stock
2b potatoes, cooked and mashed
1 dessertspoon curry powder
Fresh tomatoes, cut in half
Method: Mix the meat with the curry powder, onion, apple, sultanas and stock. Put into a square ovenproof dish. Spoon or pipe the potato on top in squares like a chessboard. In the spaces between the squares, put a half tomato cut side upwards. Cook for 1 hour at 375 degrees F.

25 comments:

Debs said...

I'm definitely a soft southerner and haven't even tried Black Pudding. My husband eats it, but only as part of a fry up.

Our Christmas lunch will be turkey and all the trimmings and not a black pudding in sight. (Such a wuss).

Shirley Wells said...

Hi Debs! Good to see you here.

You could try a tiny, tiny piece of Black Pudding. Really, it probably wouldn't do long-term damage. :)

Kate Hardy said...

I'm a soft southerner and I like mine grilled, as part of a fry-up. (Boiled??? Noooo!)

As I live in Norfolk, home to Bernard Matthews, I couldn't possibly have anything but turkey on my table on Christmas Day ;o)

But nobody in my family really likes Christmas pud, so we tend to have fresh pineapple and strawberries afterwards. Though I've been messing about with a recipe for strawberry tiramisu - using framboise and orange juice and a layer of strawberries instead of the coffee and Tia Maria - so that's a possibility this year...

stevie-carroll said...

I always associate black pudding with Edinburgh because that's where I really came to love it. Black pudding in a bread roll for lunch, or a black pudding slice as part of a proper Edinburgh mixed grill.

Of course black pudding can go in so many recipes: cubed black pudding as well as diced bacon in your pasta or green vegetable based dish?

Shirley Wells said...

Kate, I am SO coming to your house for lunch. That strawberry tiramisu sounds gorgeous. Yum! :)

Thanks for stopping by and, um, making me hungry. :)

Shirley Wells said...

Stevie, hi!

Many, many years ago, I prodded at a piece of 'something' on my plate while on holiday in Edinburgh and demanded to know what it was. I couldn't believe the reply I received.

Black pudding in a bread roll. Hm. Sorry, but I think I'm sticking with Kate's tiramisu. ;)

Tom Foolery said...

I've be told that black pudding is not unlike the taste of a chocolate Mars Bar wrapped in batter and deep fried or Ham Fritters! Yum! Yum! Yuk :( TFx

Shirley Wells said...

TF, hello and welcome!

Oh, the dreaded deep-friend Mars bar. And ham fritters. Hm. Nope, I'm definitely going to wait for Kate's tiramisu. ;)

Tam said...

We'll be having turkey because .... Butterball turkeys were on sale last week. LOL Voila, decision made. I want to make a French apple pie for dessert, it's got a custard in the bottom and is really very good.

And if anyone serves me black pudding expect to have a little bit of vomit to clean up after. Ugh. No thank you.

Oh and you can buy suet in Canada so I'm sure you can get it in the US. Just have to dig a bit likely.

Have a great Christmas and stay safe in the storm today.

Clare London said...

LOL I'm loving the food chat! I'm snowed in for the day - so who said we southerners are SOFT?! :) - and now I have plenty of time to plan my Xmas menu.

Debs, I'm with you on the traditional. Though hubby is slyly suggesting we try goose...

Kate: yes, I like my black pud in a fry-up too! And like Shirley, I'm *really* interested in that alternative tiramisu recipe when you get it mastered :).

Steve, lovely to see you! I can't cope with the thought of BP in a bread roll, but I rather like that idea of cubing it with bacon. I'm getting really hungry now :).

TF: are these deep fried Mars Bars an urban myth or real, like our London jellied eels?! LOL

Hi Tam! Thanks for the good wishes. I'm just sitting tight in my fleece jacket and surrounded by plenty of tinned goods, waiting for it all to blow over :).

Wynter Daniels said...

Yikes - the black pudding sounds like an acquired taste (wasn't that PC of me?) that I think I will skip.
Our Christmas meals here in Florida often depend on the weather (at least at my house). If it's over 80 degrees as it occasionally is on Christmas, we don't cook a turkey, but rather a turkey breast that doesn't have the oven on for endless hours!

Elise Warner said...

Your mysteries are on my list to be read but I think I'll skip the Black Pudding. I miss English tea and scones. Can't get enough of them when I travel to England. This year, my husband and I will celebrate our Christmas anniversary at a French restaurant. Cog Au Vin for me.

Shirley Wells said...

Wynter - LOL, that was incredibly PC of you.
My brother-in-law spends a lot of time in Florida and takes great delight in phoning us when we're snowed - as we are now - to tell us how hot it is. Rotten devil. :)

Elise, I adore tea and scones. I would really miss them too.
I have Clare's book loaded and ready to read and I've already read and thoroughly enjoyed SCENE STEALER. Great fun, great story and great writing. Eat your heart out, Agatha Christie!

Shirley Wells said...

Tam - I love the sound of the French apple pie. Scrummy!
I won't be serving you Black Pudding then. LOL. :)

Julie Moffett said...

It's all about ham, sweet potatoes (with mandarin oranges and marshmellows) and ambrosia at our house on Christmas!! Pumpkin pie and cheesecake, too. I've never even heard of black pudding before. It sounds ...interesting!! :)

Anyway, wonderful, amusing and cheery post, ladies!! I so look forward to reading both of your novels! Here's lifting my virtual holiday glass in a toast to my lovely British cousins!!! Happy holidays and may your new year be filled with a prolific muse and lots and lots of sales!! :)

Alexa said...

Hello, ladies! Thanks for posting. Your characters sound very intriguing!

I am not a black pudding lover. When in England, the family all gives the black pudding to my stepfather who does love it.

It sounds very odd, but my favorite food is actually soft, warm rolls. I don't eat them any other time of the year (except our Thanksgiving) and Christmas AND New Year's dinners aren't complete without them!

Have a GREAT holiday, everyone!

Jason said...

The pie sounds amazing, the black pudding...not so much. :)

~smooches~
Jase
vslavetopassionv(at)aol(dot)com

Marcelle Dubé said...

Hello from across the pond, ladies! Love the post and the recipe. (You'd think I like cooking.) Your novels sound fascinating and I look forward to reading them.

In my family, it MUST be turkey for Christmas, and it's served at dinner time, not lunch time.

Stay warm, Shirley, and just remember: in the Yukon, today, temperatures range from minus 27C in Whitehorse (south) to minus 46C in Old Crow (north). Wouldn't Dylan be happy with that!

Clare London said...

Wynter... I'm still dreaming of Florida as I put another fleece on LOL.

Though I can't compete anywhere near Narcelle's MINUS 46!!! *reaches for yet another fleece from the mere thought of it*

Elise, I'll treat you to scones next time you come over to see us *g*. And enjoy your celebrations meal, what a lovely idea at Xmas time.

Julie - I love that idea of the sweet potatoes, is that a recipe you can send me?! *puppy eyes*

Alexa - the rolls sound gorgeous. I love bread products more than cake. And I personally think Christmas should be a time to eat the things that *you* like, to treat yourself.

Jason - we won't force you to eat the black pud *hehe*. But it's great to see you! :)

Clare London said...

Oops, that should have been Marcelle, not narcelle LOL. My keyboard has worn off half its letters and my touch-typing isn't good enough :).

MaureenAMiller said...

Ladies, I loved your blogs today! How wonderful to get to know you. I've visited London many times and have visited Oxford and Dover, but I never made it up north, which I would love to do. Although, I'm not certain I'll be trying out the black pudding :)

Toni Anderson said...

As a Shropshire lass I've only tried the fried black pudding (and white pudding). The thought of it boiled... gag!! LOL.
I've a softie from the midlands, obviously!!
Love the post. Totally agree with the title! And Marcelle is way colder than me today. It is only -13 here today. Positively balmy!!

Shirley Wells said...

Julie - I love the idea of mandarin oranges and marshmallows. Well, I love the idea of just about anything with marshmallows. :)
Thank you for the good wishes. Happy holidays and a successful new year to you too!

Alexa - I'm glad to hear your stepfather enjoys black pudding!
I have to say that soft, warm rolls don't appeal to me at all. However, I hope you enjoy them and happy holidays!

Jason - London Pie sounds good, doesn't it? It also sounds fairly easy, as if even I could manage that.
Hm, there aren't many takers for my black pudding. :)

Marcelle - the Yukon is THE place I long to visit. I feel as if I know Whitehorse because of a romance I wrote that was partly set there. I could cope with the low temps. I think. :)
It's currently minus 8C here which is pretty cold for England. Now then, maybe I'll send Dylan to the Yukon. LOL.

Maureen - Oxford is a wonderful city, but you must come north. The eating of Black Pudding isn't obligatory. Promise. :)

Toni - I'd forgotten white pudding. Hm. Yes, the thought of it boiled is a little, um, interesting. :)
Only minus 13 there? Gosh, the UK is almost as cold.
Stay warm and give Holly a hug from me!

Shirley Wells said...

And the winner is...

First, I must thank everyone for dropping by. Clare and I had great fun and it would have been a bit lonely without you. I can't understand why there aren't more takers for my black pudding, but hey-ho...

Anyway, the winner is stevie-carroll. Stevie, please leave your email address so we can send you your prizes.

Congratulations!

Josh Lanyon said...

The British are coming! :-D

Two terrific posts -- so much fun to learn about my fellow mystery mavens.

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