Back in November, I was delighted when C. Hope Clark joined me here on Not Even Joking to share about her experience at Killer Nashville. I am excited to welcome her back to share about her mystery novel EDISTO JINK (Bell Bridge Books, Oct. 2015). If you know me, you know I love beach settings. Add a possible serial killer to the mix…well, that’s right up my alley!
Who is your main character? Tell me about her.
Callie Jean Morgan, a former Boston detective, is a woman accustomed to a faster pace and stringent law enforcement, but after losing her husband in a vengeful murder by one of her criminal targets, she resigns and relocates to Edisto Beach, her childhood vacation home, to regroup and recover. Though she strives to leave law enforcement behind her, she finds that her keen, trained eye catches more criminal activity that the folks of Edisto knew existed. As she fights to fit in on Edisto Beach, she likewise fights to solve cases while still healing from a painful, scarring past . . . a flawed yet skilled criminal investigator transplanted from urban to a laid-back tourist town . . . who occasionally hits the bottle.
What would Callie Jean Moran choose for her last meal?
Shrimp and grits, a South Carolina Lowcountry must . . . Callie grew up a coastal girl and has come home to the people, the water, and most definitely the seafood, and while any shrimp meal would be fine, shrimp and grits properly fixed is remarkable in cool or hot weather, even breakfast.
How about you? What would you choose for your last meal?
Fried chicken livers, homemade mashed potatoes, and something green for balance because it’s comfort food, a treat I remember as a kid, having grown up with farming grandparents and a mother who learned to cook fresh off the farm, but to be decadent and different, crème brulee for dessert!
Why should someone bite into EDISTO JINX?
A woman drops dead at a beach party, and in listening to the natives, Callie recognizes the signs of a serial killer, signs the locals brush off as accidents, laughingly a jinx. EDISTO JINX takes a flawed detective in a sleepy beach town and prods her to save not only the beach, but herself, digging deep to use the skills she once excelled at as a big city detective. The beach setting defines this story, inserting the waves, salt, wildlife, food, and laissez-faire attitude of beach combers, but it also teases the reader with a taste of ghosts and spirits, some dating back to the Civil War, pitting the believers against the non-believers, with a killer taking advantage. The Edisto books are featured in tourist guides in all the SC tourist centers and in most of the rentals on Edisto Island, SC, a very popular local read.
Do you have a recipe you’d like to share?
I’d like to share Callie’s last meal preference, Shrimp and Grits. Every dignified South Carolina eatery has shrimp and grits on the menu, each with a spin or twist of its own, some almost too rich to finish. This recipe is one I learned on Edisto Island, which I’ve adjusted a bit for my own taste so that you never fail to lick the bowl clean.
CALLIE’S SHRIMP AND GRITS
FOR SHRIMP ROUX:
1 pound raw shrimp, peeled and whole
3-4 tablespoons lemon juice
Salt (by taste)
Black pepper (by taste and optional)
Cayenne pepper (by taste)
6 tablespoons bacon drippings (or half bacon droppings / half olive oil)
½ cup diced onion
½ cup diced pepper, sweet banana or bell
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups chicken broth or chicken bouillon
2/3 cup grits (regular, not quick 5-minute grits)
2 cups water
½ cup cream (preferably the heavy stuff)
Peel the shrimp, careful with removing all shell and legs, and place in bowl. Drizzle with lemon juice. Salt, pepper and cayenne to taste. (NOTE: the saltiness in the shrimp and roux is the reason you avoid the salt normally cooked into grits.) Let set so flavors mingle.
In a skillet, cook enough bacon to make 6 tablespoons of drippings, 6-10 slices depending on the fattiness of the bacon. Remove bacon. Sauté onion and banana/bell pepper in the grease, medium heat, until translucent. No more than 10 minutes.
Gradually sprinkle flour over vegetables, stirring in one tablespoon at a time to avoid lumpiness. Stir constantly. Stir all for 2-3 minutes until browned.
Add shrimp, liquid and all, to skillet. Add 1 ½ cup broth gradually, stirring constantly, letting liquid mix well with the browned flour. You’ll see the soft brown gravy start to happen. The shrimp should turn opaque and pink after 2-3 minutes. Add remainder of broth, if needed, to thin the gravy and avoid lumping.
Either start grits halfway through this process, or complete roux and set aside to remain warm, but do not fix grits in advance of the roux. You want the grits to be fresh, hot and creamy. Bring water to a boil then add grits. Lower to medium-high and cook for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid sticking. Once completed, add the cream and stir for another 2 minutes. Remove from burner.
Put grits in a bowl. Ladle roux in the center. Sprinkle with crumbled bacon.
To die for!
This really is a recipe to die for as I have a life-threatening shrimp allergy, which is unfortunate because I used to really enjoy shrimp. But even though I won’t be able to sample this recipe, I absolutely do plan to add EDISTO JINX to my “to read” list! Now that the winter has finally arrived, it would be nice to get transported to a beach setting!