Cooking the Books: Seeds of Deception by Sheila Connolly

We start the book the very day after Meg Corey (now Chapin) and Seth Chapin's wedding as our newlyweds discuss what to do about their honeymoon. A leisurely road trip south from their Massachusetts home to see the buildings and fruit orchards of Monticello—with several detours for historic buildings and horticultural sites along the way—sounds like the perfect vacation for our couple. Their interests in apple-growing and architecture aren't purely business related, after all; they both very much enjoy what they do for their livings, running an apple orchard and restoring houses, respectively.

Their outset is somewhat marred, however, when it looks as if someone has deliberately rammed Meg's father's car. Meg's parents, Phillip and Elizabeth, have come up for the wedding but refuse to allow the accident to delay the newlyweds’ honeymoon. They do get the younger couple to promise to come visit them in their New Jersey home on the return trip, which Meg and Seth happily do.

Happily, that is, till the body of the Coreys’ handyman is discovered when her parents finally return home themselves. When Phillip's business partner is also attacked shortly thereafter, Meg insists on spending the rest of her honeymoon staying with her parents to help investigate. She's convinced that someone is targeting her father. Seth willingly obliges, but the course of the investigation will soon have Meg questioning everything she knows of and thinks she wants from marriage.

It was actually very interesting to contrast her young marriage with the more established union of her parents and explore the different generational expectations. I was also charmed by Meg's dialog with Seth, as they have quite a lovely repartee going. It was nice to be their virtual traveling companion, even if I'll never understand their distrust of GPS. Physical maps are terrific, but they can't provide you with up-to-date traffic conditions.

Seeds of Deception included three cozy wintertime recipes in the back, and since I wasn't in the mood for soup or marzipan, I decided to try out this fish dish instead:

Steamed Chili-Garlic Cod


2 8-oz cod (or other white fish) fillets

4 tbsp Asian sweet chili sauce (also known as Thai chili sauce)

2 tsp rice vinegar

4 tsp soy sauce

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

Lime slices (optional)


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

For the glaze, in a small bowl mix the chili sauce, rice vinegar and soy sauce.

Cut two sheets of parchment paper, large enough to wrap your fillets. (Note: it's hard to get two fillets that are exactly the same size. Don't worry about it.) Dab a bit of the sauce on each piece of parchment paper, then place one fillet on each sheet and brush with the glaze. Top with the garlic slices (and the lime if you're using it).

Fold the parchment paper over the fillets, crimping the edges to seal the packets. Place them in a baking pan.

Bake 12-15 minutes in the preheated oven (depending on the thickness of your fillets). Remove the pan from the oven, place the packets on a plate and open them carefully (watch out for the steam!).

Drizzle any of the juices from the packets over the fillets and serve with rice.

I served this with Malaysian rice and stir-fry vegetables, making for a very colorful dish! I was also pleased by how easy it was to tweak the recipe for additional fillets, as I was serving my aunt, my husband, and myself that evening (my lovely assistant Karin being on extended sick leave. Get well soon, Karin!).

The sauce was very delicious, but while my family enjoyed the dish well enough, the taste just seemed too bitter for me. I'm not sure if I loaded the fish with too much garlic or whether it was too much lime. I rarely feel as if I put too much garlic on anything, but given that the fish is baked for only about fifteen minutes, perhaps the garlic slivers I'd placed on top hadn't had enough time to mellow, flavor-wise. Or perhaps the liberal application of lime gave it too much acid. Perhaps it was even the combination of both!

It's actually quite maddening that I can't figure out the culprit. Your thoughts on the subject are always welcome, dear reader.

Next week, we travel cross-country to the City by the Bay with another pair of youngish lovers and try out a lemon dessert! Do join me!

See also: Cooking the Books: Behind Chocolate Bars by Kathy Aarons


To learn more or order a copy, visit:

Buy at iTunes

Buy at Barnes and NobleBuy at Amazon



Doreen Sheridan is a freelance writer living in Washington, D.C. She microblogs on Twitter @dvaleris.

Read all posts by Doreen Sheridan for Criminal Element.

The owner of this website has made a commitment to accessibility and inclusion, please report any problems that you encounter using the contact form on this website. This site uses the WP ADA Compliance Check plugin to enhance accessibility.