Cooking the Books: Thread and Buried by Lea Wait
One of my favorite culinary cozies of 2018 was Cornelia Kidd’s Death and a Pot of Chowder. I eagerly awaited the next installment in the series and was surprised not to hear any news of the author in 2019. When I finally got around to looking up why, I discovered that it was because Cornelia Kidd was a pseudonym for USA Today-bestselling author Lea Wait, who sadly passed away this past August.
However, Ms. Wait did leave behind the manuscript for the latest in her Mainely Needlepoint Mystery series for fans old and new to enjoy. An engrossing novel with the sort of believable characters and situations you expect from this author, it examines a suspicious death while also uncovering uncomfortable truths about the past of Haven Harbor, Maine.
Our heroine is former-private-investigator-turned-needlepoint-shop-owner Angie Curtis. Her boyfriend is Patrick West, artist son of movie star Skye West, who has persuaded some of her Hollywood friends to film a movie in the town Patrick calls home. Harbor Heartbreak is based loosely on a novel written by Angie’s friend, the elderly Ruth Hopkins, who based her own novel on a real-life occurrence back in the 1960s. In the novel, a young woman named Amy loved a lobsterman named Caleb, but his tragic disappearance at sea would break her heart in addition to creating other long-lasting repercussions.
The film’s production team wants to massage the main story, to Ruth’s dismay, and it’s causing friction on set. Everything is thrown into further chaos when a freak accident results in the death of director Marv Mason. Could his death have anything to do with secrets long thought buried? Or could it have more to do with the unwanted attention he’s been showering on the young actress he cast for the lead? It’s a twisty ride as Angie once again steps in to help her friends, police officers included, and discover the truth behind Marv’s death.
Thread and Buried addresses the topical #MeToo movement, leading to a wholly satisfying—and honestly somewhat unusual for the genre given its ambiguity—conclusion. The resolution of the 1960s tragedy was also bittersweet. My only regret is that I started this series with the ninth book; I’ll hopefully be able to remedy that with a run-through of the rest of the novels at some point in the future!
In the meantime, I got to try out this delightful recipe of the two provided here:
Ron Winfield’s Blueberry Cake with Lemon Sauce
Blueberry Cake Ingredients
1 ¾ cups flour
1 ¼ cups wild Maine blueberries (cleaned, if fresh; drained, if frozen)
⅓ cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten, room temperature
½ cup milk
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons baking powder
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter rectangular sheet cake pan.
Mix ¾ cup flour with blueberries and put aside.
Cream butter and sugar together until light. Stir in beaten eggs.
Add dry ingredients and wet ingredients, alternately. Beat well. Then add blueberries and mix gently.
Pour into pan and bake 20-30 minutes, until flour mixture does not stick to cake tester.
Lemon Sauce Ingredients
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
⅔ cup water
2 eggs, beaten
Juice of 2 lemons (6 Tablespoons)
Grated rind of 2 lemons
Mix together all ingredients in saucepan, cook over medium heat, stirring until mixture comes to boil. Makes 3 cups of sauce.
Serve warm lemon sauce on top of blueberry cake.
Cake may be warm or room temperature.
Serves about 8.
Alas, I did not have Maine blueberries to hand, and while I’m sure they would have made this cake something truly spectacular, it’s already a pretty terrific cake even with fruit of a different origin. The cake itself is light and delicious, but the real standout is the lemon curd sauce that brings a tart contrast to the sweetness of the berry dessert. I would definitely say that this feeds more than 8, though, as that is an entire sheet-cake pan.
Next week, we head south a few states to investigate a case of kidnapping and amnesia while stirring up one of the most delicious stews I’ve ever tasted. Do join me!