by Michael Lee West
An Edible Book Review inspired by Jain at Food for Thought, a delicious blog for readers with an appetite for the written word.
Take one out-of-work pastry chef . . .
“Teeny Templeton believes that her life is finally on track. She’s getting married, she’s baking her own wedding cake, and she’s leaving her troubled past behind. And then? She finds her fiancé playing naked badminton with a couple of gorgeous, skanky chicks.
Add a whole lot of trouble . . .
Needless to say, the wedding is off. Adding insult to injury, her fiancé slaps a restraining order on her. When he’s found dead a few days later, all fingers point to Teeny.
And stir like crazy!
Her only hope is through an old boyfriend-turned-lawyer, the guy who broke her heart a decade ago. But dredging up the past brings more than skeletons out of the closet, and Teeny doesn’t know who she can trust. With evidence mounting and the heat turning up, Teeny must also figure out where to live, how to support herself, how to clear her name, and how to protect her heart.”
We were fortunate to have been invited to visit Charleston this past weekend, which is a favorite destination for us. Beside the charm, architecture & history of the city, we visit for the FOOD!
A Foodie’s paradise, we graze our way across the peninsula, hoping that the fact we’ve parked the car for the weekend, means we’re expending a few of the calories we’re consuming. I thought I’d include some Charleston photos, some new & some I’ve posted before, sprinkling in some of my favorite quotes from the book, as part this edible review since we just returned from the scene of the crime(s). . .
Following Teeny in Charleston and her culinary escapades, was the fictitious “I’m a Suspect Icing” on the “I Didn’t Kill My Boyfriend Cake” for me :-)
I even ran into Teeny’s bulldog, Sir, on a previous trip, right across from a white mansion on South Battery~
You know you’re in for a treat from the first two sentences:
“All I ever wanted in life was true love, a set of copper cookware, and the perfect recipe for red velvet cake. The last thing I wanted was to end up on Charleston’s six o’clock news, accused of murder and a slew of other crimes.”
So the fun begins. . .
Michael Lee West serves up Teeny’s troubles and tribulations like a Baptist Church covered-dish supper~ there are things you anticipate, but with lots more variety and MORE than a few surprises :-)
There was as much tempt my palate in this book, as when we visit Charleston: Coconut Shrimp, BBQ ribs, Bacon-Deviled Eggs, Seven-Layer Salad, Chicken Fried Steak, Tomato Basil Tart, not to mention every type of pie imaginable, along with recipes included in the book for Lavender Shortbread, Teeny’s Vanilla Peach Pecan Coffee Cake, Espresso Steak Rub & Fried Green Tomato Salad with Cornbread Croutons.
The MOST fun for me was reading excerpts from Teeny’s ‘Templeton Family Receipts & Whatnot’:
“Whenever one of the sisters got peeved, she wrote a recipe—not a normal one, mind you, but one that helped her relax. Some people have punching bags, time-out rooms, or Prozac. The Templetons had a cookbook. Our recipes were fanciful, listing umpteen lethal ingredients. Not that we’d ever tried them on anyone. It was just a way of venting.”
I took my cue from Teeny’s shopping cart to make a trifle:
“Food defines people just as clearly as their taste in clothing and their interior design. Miss Dora and I had discussed this a lot. Our cart overflowed with carby things: garlic French bread, potatoes, fresh corn, and a bakery sour cream cake that I planned to turn into a trifle. To our credit, we had a box of strawberries for the aforementioned trifle.”
A Bonaventure Georgia Peach Trifle, with a few strawberries from Teeny’s cart~ layers of pound cake, vanilla pudding & topped with whipped cream.
If you’d like a recipe you can find one for Georgia Peach Trifle, courtesy of Southern Living, here.
“That gave me an idea. I grabbed a peach. In a month, it would be ripe, but now it was hard and heavy.”
“I fired down two more peaches. One whizzed over Bing’s head but the other slammed into his nether region.”
Since it’s not peach season, it came as no great surprise that my peaches were as hard & heavy as the ones Teeny fires as ammunition, so I used frozen peaches for my trifle instead :-)
“In my mind, peach trees meant love, shelter, and comfort. I’d grown up on a peach farm in Bonaventure, Georgia. Bing knew how I felt. The engagement was broken, but the tree should stay in one piece.”
“ ‘The whole process just tickles me,” I said. ‘I like matching food to people and filling up their empty spaces.’ ”
“As I drove toward the Battery, I felt the pull of the Spencer-Jackson.”
“The house was creeping up on me, seducing me with iron curlicues. . . ”
“. . .secret alleys. . .”
“. . .rose petals on cobbled walkways. . .”
“. . .and the tolling bells of St. Michael’s.”
“I loved the play of light on the stucco and how it changed from ice pink to peach to Pepto-Bismol.”
“This was Charleston, by god. The people might have lost the war but not their manners.”
“On this side of East Bay, the houses were fitted together like marzipan confections—cotton candy pink, blueberry, lime, saffron, watermelon ice.”
“When I got nervous, I had my own ways of calming down; I made up unusual recipes that weren’t necessarily edible but suited my mood.”
“I needed that book because it was full of make-believe evilness, penned by a whole slew of Templeton women trying to improve their moods with pounded peach seeds and foxglove.”
“I pulled the sheet over my head and tried to think of a soothing imaginary recipe. What I really needed was Smother Your Love gravy, poured over Forget Him pork chops, with a heaping side dish of He’s Better Off With Her pie.”
I decided to make Teeny’s signature cocktail. . .if you’ve read the book, you’re probably expecting a Peach-Teeny/Tini~
There were plenty of laugh-out-loud moments for me, especially in this chapter of the book~
Teeny’s Splendid Mimosas~
Teeny’s cocktail of choice to serve for those with a Sucralose allergy
Rim a LARGE glass with pink sugar~ to distract with the lovely color & camouflage the sweet SPLENDA® flavor
Mix Blood Orange juice :-) with as many SPLENDA® packets as you dare~
Hope & Pray Sucralose with take effect sooner rather than later. . .
Add plenty of Champagne~ don’t be skimpy~
Conceal evidence of empty little yellow packets,
Serve and Hope for the Best!
“Teeny Templeton is small-statured and big-hearted, a heroine worthy of this novel, which is by turn acerbic and sweet, poignant and funny, with great sex, bad boyfriends, and Do Not Try This at Home recipes. However you slice it, Gone with a Handsomer Man is as addictive as red velvet cake. I hope it sells as many copies as that other novel set in the South that starts with ‘Gone with.’” –Harley Jane Kozak, Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity Award-winning author of Dating Dead Men and A Date You Can’t Refuse
Enjoy a second helping of Teeny
and a Teeny Tasting, here.