Friday, October 21, 2016

Irish Cream & Bury The Living

Direct from Canada author Jodi McIsaac is here to match her new book, Bury the Living, with the perfect Irish drink. If you're a fan of Diana Gabledon's Outlander, you might want to give this book a try. 

A book set in Ireland wouldn’t be complete without a scene in a pub ... or several scenes in a pub. But while my characters’ poisons of choice are whiskey, Guinness, or Ireland’s famously potent homebrew, poitín, I’ve chosen a more modern drink to represent Bury the Living: Irish cream. 

Bury the Living is a blend of two distinct but related eras in Irish history: the Troubles of Northern Ireland (1968-98) and the Irish Civil War (1921-23). We start in 1990, when Nora O’Reilly is a teenager living in Belfast during the Troubles—and suffers the tragic consequences. Flash forward to Nora as an adult just after the peace agreement was signed, trying to work off her guilt in the refugee camps of Sudan. From there, she follows clues from a man she has never met who appears to her in her dreams—clues that lead her back to Ireland and back in time to 1923, at the height of Ireland’s brutal Civil War. One of the main reasons for this war was the partition of Northern Ireland from the rest of the country, which brought about the Troubles that had such a devastating impact on Nora’s life. Trapped in one of the most fascinating and tragic eras of Irish history, Nora has the chance to alter the fortunes of Ireland ...maybe even save those she lost. Her newfound mission is complicated, however, when she finds the stranger from her dreams, whose secrets are rooted in the even more distant past.

So why Irish cream? Like Nora’s story, it’s a blend of the new and the old. The drink itself has only been around since the 1970s, when Gilbeys of Ireland was searching about for something new to appeal to the international market. The result was a blending of two of Ireland’s most ancient—and treasured—traditions: whiskey and dairy farming. (The word “whiskey” actually comes from the Gaelic term uisce beatha, meaning “water of life.” Coincidence? I think not.) 

This particular recipe was given to me as a university student on Canada’s East Coast, where nearly a quarter of the population claims Irish ancestry. But in true Canadian fashion, it has the added (and decidedly non-Irish) touch of maple syrup. I make a batch or three of this every Christmas and hand it out as gifts—while saving a bottle for myself, of course. 



3 eggs
¾ cup sweetened condensed milk
500 ml. half and half or blend cream
1 tbsp. maple syrup
1 tsp. chocolate syrup
1 tsp. instant coffee
1 cup Irish whiskey 

Blend all ingredients at low speed for three minutes. Bottle and refrigerate. 

Already an accomplished writer, Jodi McIsaac is the author of several novels, including A Cure for Madness and the Thin Veil Series. She grew up in New Brunswick, and after abandoning her Olympic speed skating dream, she wrote speeches for a politician, earned a graduate degree in global studies, spent a few years as a fundraising and marketing executive with non-profit organizations in Toronto and Vancouver, which then morphed into her own copywriting business. You can visit her website at

Rebellion has always been in the O’Reilly family’s blood. So when faced with the tragic death of her brother during Northern Ireland’s infamous Troubles, a teenage Nora joined the IRA to fight for her country’s freedom. Now, over a decade later, Nora is haunted by both her past and intense dreams of a man she has never met.

When she is given a relic belonging to Brigid of Kildare, patron saint of Ireland, the mystical artifact transports her back to 1923—to the height of Ireland’s brutal civil war in. There she meets the fascinating stranger from her dreams, who has his own secrets—and an agenda. Ripped from her own time, Nora now has the chance to save the ones she loves… and to alter the entire future of Ireland.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Creepy Finger Cookies

It’s almost Halloween and we’ve got the perfect baked dish for you to bring to a costume party: Creepy Finger Cookies. Kerry Hammond is here to tell us how to make these delicious treats.

Our Denver-based Crime & Beyond Book Club is made up of avid mystery fans who take book club seriously. Each member who volunteers to bring the monthly snack takes great care to match the snack to the book we’re discussing. 

One of our most creative book club members, Lorraine Masonheimer, brought the snack when we read Alex Marwood’s The Killer Next Door. I won’t explain any further, since explaining the snack might be a spoiler. You will just have to read the book to find out why these Creepy Finger Cookies were such a great choice.


1 cup butter, softened
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 egg, whole
1 egg white
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Blue food coloring & small paint brush
1/2 cup sliced almonds

Step One: Create the Dough 

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl cream butter and sugar. Beat on medium speed until well combined. Beat in one whole egg and extracts until combined. On low speed, gradually add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture just until incorporated. Divide dough into fourths. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes or until firm yet easy to handle. 

Step Two: Paint the Fingernails 

Place a small dab of blue food coloring onto a small piece of parchment paper or wax paper along with a small clean paintbrush that has not been used for any purpose other than painting with food safe products. To paint the fingernails/slivered almonds slightly blue, dip the paintbrush into a dab of blue food coloring.  Brush a little coloring off onto the parchment paper to create a more realistic dead finger color.  Lightly brush the larger end of the almond slivers with the blue food coloring fading to very little color at the narrow end.  Set aside.

Step Three: Create the Glaze 

Separate one egg.  In a small bowl, whisk the egg white and set aside.  This will be brushed onto the cookies prior to baking to ensure the cookies have a light golden color.

Step Four: Roll Your Cookies & Form Your Fingers 

Preheat oven to 325 and line cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll into 1-inch balls. Shape balls into 3-in. x 1/2-inch fingers. Keep remaining dough covered with plastic wrap and chilled.  On a lightly floured surface, roll each 1-inch ball back and forth between your palms to form finger shapes, 3 to 4 inches long.  Place each finger onto the cookie sheet and pinch dough in two places to form two knuckles. For a creepier look, shape the knuckles big and uneven. Using the back of a knife, score each knuckle lightly.  Place each cookie 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet.

Using the flat tip of a table knife, make a slight indentation on one end of each finger for the fingernail/slivered almond. When all fingers are formed, brush lightly with egg white.  To set the fingernail, position the almond sliver by sliding the larger end slightly into the bottom of the indentation to “set” or attach the nail to the cookie.  Select slivered almonds that look most like fingernails.  For a creepier look, select a few slivered almonds with ragged edges.

Prior to placing cookies into the oven, make sure the dough is still cold to the touch.  If not, place the loaded cookie sheets into the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes to chill so the cookies do not overly spread while baking.

Step Five: Bake 

Bake at 325 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned. Allow cookies to cook before serving. Makes about 5 dozen fingers.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Crime & Beyond Book Club Reads Michael Connelly

Michael Connelly is one of the Denver–based Crime & Beyond Book Club’s favorite authors and one of their go-to reads. Kerry Hammond is here to tell us about the latest Connelly book.

This month we met to discuss the most recent book—until next month—in the Mickey Haller and Harry Bosch series, The Crossing. Connelly has once again combined his two series characters in one book. Half-brothers Mickey Haller, aka The Lincoln Lawyer, and Harry Bosch, former LAPD Detective, are working together in this latest story. Much to Bosch’s discomfort.

Mickey is defending a former gang member who claims to be innocent, but whose DNA was found at the scene of a grisly murder. Haller asks Bosch to help him prove his client is innocent, and very much against everything Bosch believes in, he agrees to help. But how do you go about disproving DNA evidence?

Connelly’s books are a great choice for book clubs. We found a lot about the book to discuss, most of which can’t be listed here or it would spoil the fun. Connelly’s books are highly entertaining and many of us couldn’t put it down. As we went around the room we realized that half of the club members wanted more Haller and the other half more Bosch. It started a discussion about who we would choose to be stranded with on a deserted island. We were split on that vote as well.

So I ask you, are you Team Haller or Team Bosch?

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Three New Fall Shows to Watch

We're a few weeks into the fall TV season, with the loss of so many of my favorite shows from last year, I thought it was time to find something new to love. After taking a look, here are my three favorites. You can find the first episode of all three online, and in most cases, all of them if you are getting started late. 

Pitch: Thursdays 9pm EST, FOX
The first show that I love is Pitch. It's on Thursday nights at 9:00pm EST. Now, this show is not a mystery. It's about baseball when a female pitcher makes a Major League baseball team. Kylie Bunberry plays Ginny Baker, the first woman Major League baseball player. She does an excellent job of playing a ballplayer who has to survive & outplay both not only the other team but also her teammates, while TV cameras follow her around. It's a really fresh show. Mark-Paul Gossalear plays the charismatic catcher, Mike Lawson, who can either help, or break, Ginny. Her friend from the minors, Blip Sanders (played by Mo McRae), is also on the Padres team and he stands by her as does his supportive and fun-loving wife, Evelyn Sanders (played by Megan Holder). You don't have to like baseball to like this show. 

Here's a preview:

Timeless, Mondays 10pm EST, NBC

Timeless is a bit like Dr. Who. It's set in the current day and a small group of scientists have cracked the code for time travel. But one of two of the time travel machines is stolen, it's pilot kidnapped, and this villain is now trying to change the present by changing the past. 

Our heroes are:
1) A historian named Lucy Preston (played by Abigail Spencer) 
2) A soldier named Wyatt Logan (played by Matt Latner) 
3) A pilot/techie named Rufus Carlin (played by Malcome Barnett) 

They are going back to different eras to try and stop him. I like the chemistry between the three main leads and the first episode going back to the Hindenburg was fun and engaging.

Designated Survivor, Wednesdays 10pm EST, ABC
Keiffer Sutherland plays the secretary of Housing and Urban development -- the designated survivor during the State of the Union address. While he's cooling his jets in a conference room the Capitol building is blown up - with everyone inside - cabinet members, Supreme Court justices, senators and congressmen - all killed in an instant. Sutherland must assume the presidency and calm the nation - and his family. The political intrigue is almost instantaneous. 

This show reminds me of so many other shows - The beginning is similar to Battlestar Gallactica when a major attack leaves someone very low level on the cabinet as President. It has the intrigue on many levels of Madame Secretary and the spy-like quality of Homeland. In still other ways, it's like West Wing, with the pacifist President, holding off the hawks. 

The plot is compelling and the characters are interesting. I'm hoping that they jell as a cast more because I don't feel the camaraderie yet. I do like the show and will continue to watch. 

Here's the preview and ABC has the first episode on its website. 

What do you think of these new shows? What are you watching?