Last November, Molly MacRae stopped by NOT EVEN JOKING to share a bite of KNOT THE USUAL SUSPECTS, the 5th book in her Haunted Yarn Shop Mystery Series. I am thrilled to have Molly back to share about a new book and a brand new mystery series! PLAID AND PLAGIARISM (Pegusus Crime, December 2016), book one in THE HIGHLAND BOOKSHOP MYSTERY SERIES, is set in Scotland. Oh…I would so love to go to Scotland. I have been planning to visit for some time now. Alas, it wasn’t in the cards to travel there this year. So I’ll just have to read PLAID AND PLAGIARISM…because reading is travel!
Who is the main character in PLAID AND PLAGIARISM? What is she like?
Janet Marsh is a retired librarian. Although she’s a planner who enjoys research and examining possibilities, she’s perfectly happy believing in pipedreams, too. Her favorite questions are “what if . . .?” and “why not?”
What would Janet Marsh choose for her last meal?
Janet grew up in central Illinois where the land is tabletop flat and the sweet corn grows as tall as mountains. For her last meal she would ask for freshly picked ears of corn – steamed or grilled – and so good it doesn’t need butter or anything else to taste heavenly.
Last time you joined me here, you said your last meal would be “fresh, absolutely ripe strawberries topped with thick, whipped cream studded with toasted almonds and crystallized ginger – the way they only make it at Henderson’s Salad Table Restaurant in Edinburgh, Scotland.” Is this still the case, or have you changed your mind?
It is still the case. It’s a fantastic dessert and in order to have it, and not just some sad facsimile of it, I’d have to go back to Edinburgh. Win-win.
Why should someone bite into PLAID AND PLAGIARISM?
PLAID AND PLAGIARISM is the first book in the new Highland Bookshop Mysteries, about four women who decide it would be a great idea and the chance of a lifetime to pool their money and buy a bookshop, reinventing themselves in the process. The only catch is the location of the shop – it’s in a small coastal town in the western Scottish Highlands. But it’s an established bookstore with space for a tearoom, in a building that looks as though it sprang straight out of an illustrated classic, in a town that three of them know and love, in an area with a thriving tourist trade. So the catch is actually a plus – It’s Scotland! The Highlands! – and really, what could possibly go wrong with a plan like this?
Do you have a recipe you’d like to share?
This is the shortbread Janet and her crew plan to bake and sell when they open the tearoom in the bookshop. The basic recipe is one a friend jotted down for me when I lived in Edinburgh in the mid-1970s. She got it from her mother who had gotten it from her mother. (I don’t know what they would have thought of all the variations I’ve tried over the years, but maybe they had variations of their own!)
8 oz. unbleached white flour
6 oz. butter at room temperature (if using unsalted butter, add a rounded ⅛ teaspoon of salt)
2 oz. sugar
(Sometime I mix chocolate chips into the dough. MMmmm. You might try adding orange or lemon zest.)
- Mix sugar and butter (and salt, if using unsalted butter). Stir in flour to form dough.
- Flatten dough evenly, about a ½-inch thick, on a baking sheet or into the bottom of a pie plate. The dough is versatile. You can shape it into a circle or a rectangle and press a design around the edge with the tines of a fork. Or you can divide it into several dozen small balls for individual shortbread “bites.”
- Bake for 30-45 mins at 300º. I’ve also baked it at 350º for a shorter time. The shortbread should just start to brown around the edge.
- Remove from oven. Cut into pieces while still warm. A round shortbread cut into wedges makes classic shortbread “petticoats.”
When the shortbread is cool, you can dip it in melted chocolate and sprinkle the chocolate with chopped nuts or crystalized ginger. Chopped dried cherries might be good, too!
Well, that sounds delicious. I am looking forward to the release of PLAID AND PLAGIARISM. And one of these days, I will get myself to Scotland. My short play Clown Therapy is actually running there this month as part of the Bite-Sized Breakfast Show at the Edinburgh Fringe. Thank you so much for joining me here today!