From Edith, north of Boston, where winter isn’t quite sure what it’s doing despite being January.
I’m so pleased to have Gigi Pandian as our guest today. We’ve been Guppies and Sisters in
Crime together for some years, and have watched each of our careers take off in wonderful ways. We also share Midnight Ink as a publisher for one of our series. Gigi has a new Accidental Alchemist Mystery book out – which is one of my favorite series. I’m halfway through The Elusive Elixir – and loving it.
Gigi writes the Accidental Alchemist Mysteries as well as the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mysteries. This month, she’s celebrating the release of her new Accidental Alchemist mystery, The Elusive Elixir. The paranormal cozy series features a unique vegan chef (he’s a Parisian gargoyle) so Gigi is sharing a recipe today—and also giving away a set of 7 book-themed recipe cards to one commenter!
How a Cozy Kitchen Plus a Cancer Diagnosis Led to an Accidental Mystery Series
For my whole life up until five years ago, I considered myself an adventurous eater. I prided myself on trying any delicacy, wherever in the world I was. But cook? Aside from the occasional dinner party, I’d leave that to others.
Then five years ago, right after my 36th birthday, a cancer diagnosis left me with a range of food restrictions. I wasn’t about to give up eating great food. What was I to do?
My husband and I had recently bought a tiny house with a wonderful little kitchen. We hadn’t yet used the kitchen, but after my diagnosis, all that changed. Once I was done with chemotherapy and radiation, I took cooking classes to learn how to cook foods from scratch that were both healthy and delicious. I threw myself into living life to the fullest, which included prioritizing my writing and enjoying delectable healing foods.
That’s how the characters in my Accidental Alchemist mysteries emerged. The series is about Zoe Faust, a centuries-old alchemist who’s also a vegan and herbalist, and Dorian Robert-Houdin, a French gargoyle chef who was once stone before being accidentally brought to life through alchemy. Zoe only discovered the Elixir of Life by accident when trying to save the life of her brother, and Dorian never meant to abandon bacon and cheese. The theme of the series is transformation, since I was going through the biggest transformation of my life when I began writing the series.
Much like how I was learning to cook a plant-based diet free of processed foods because of my new knowledge of my body’s quirks, Dorian is forced to learn how to cook his favorite French delicacies with only vegan ingredients because Zoe had been eating that way for centuries to take care of herself. Dorian was as surprised as I was that this new way of eating could be amazing!
Recipes are included in the back of each book (available as a PDF download for Audible listeners). I’m having such fun experimenting in the kitchen and adapting recipes so I can eat them. I’m now feeling the healthiest I’ve ever been—nearly five years cancer-free!—while eating the tastiest foods to snack on while I write.
The recipe I’m sharing below is one such recipe, that I think of as “accidental” oatmeal pumpkin muffins. Why “accidental”? I had a recipe for a pumpkin loaf, but not enough flour and not the right size loaf pan. So I stepped into my cozy kitchen and took a risk… and it’s now the treat my husband requests most frequently.
Oatmeal Pumpkin Muffins
- 1 cup oat flour
- 1 cup oats (regular or thick, but not instant)
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ginger
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- 1 15oz. can unsweetened pumpkin puree
- 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
- 2 eggs or 2 “flax eggs” (What’s a flax egg? To make this vegan egg-replacer from scratch, mix 1 tablespoon of ground flax seed with 3 tablespoons of water, let set in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.)
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/3 cup maple syrup or brown sugar (or up to ½ cup if you’d like sweeter muffins)
Preheat the oven to 375. Whisk the wet ingredients together in a small bowl, and mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Stir the wet ingredients into dry bowl. Scoop into a muffin tray with 12 muffin cups. Bake for approx. 20 minutes.
Readers: Do you have a favorite recipe you discovered by accident? Or a favorite story about an unexpected twist in your own life that turned out differently than you imagined?
One commenter will win a set of 7 book-themed recipe cards related to each of my 7 novels!
Gigi Pandian is the USA Today bestselling author of the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt mysteries, the Accidental Alchemist mysteries, and locked-room mystery short stories. A cancer diagnosis in her 30s taught her two important life lessons: healing foods can taste amazing, and life’s too short to waste a single moment. Gigi spent her childhood being dragged around the world by her cultural anthropologist parents, and now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and a gargoyle who watches over the backyard garden. Gigi’s fiction has been awarded the Malice Domestic Grant and Lefty Awards, been nominated for Macavity and Agatha Awards, and her most recent novel, Michelangelo’s Ghost, was recently named a “Best of 2016” cozy mystery by Suspense Magazine.
Gigi’s website: gigipandian.com. Connect on Facebook: facebook.com/GigiPandian. Stay up to date with her email newsletter: http://gigipandian.com/newsletter/. More about The Elusive Elixir: http://gigipandian.com/books/the-accidental-alchemist-mysteries/
Looks delicious, Gigi. Congratulations on your new book! It is going on my list!
And of course auto-correct failed me (I’m on my phone traveling). Thank you CAROLYN 🙂
Sounds like a great book!
Thanks, Dawn. I hope you have fun with it!
Those look so good, Gigi!!!!
They’re my new favorite treat!
Seize the day! And you’ve done it well. The recipe sounds lovely–these accidental discoveries are often treasures.
They certainly are. Thanks, Sheila!
Gigi, have loved this series since I read the first one on my Kindle flying across the country. Got my mother reading the Jada series as well, when I was fortunate enough to receive an advance copy as a giveaway. The Elusive Elixer is a wonderful read. I love that winter days made me feel no guilt about devoting my whole day to reading it.
Thanks so much, Vida. One of my favorite things about this extra cold and rainy winter was that I’ve been spending more cozy days inside reading. So many good books… my problem is I get immersed and my tea goes cold before I finish it 😉
Thanks for visiting the Wickeds, Gigi! I usually view recipes as jumping off points so things often turn out differently than they would if I followed the directions. My most memeorable detour was a cheesemaking adventure. I had produced a lovely ball of fesh mozzarela and decided to cover it with some of the whey I had extracted during the process in order to keep it from drying out. This was after I had added the salt to the cheese which, I think created the alchemy that resulted. The next day when I went to serve the cheese I found it had absorbed the whey once more and had become a really delicious spreadable concoction. It wasn’t what I had intended but it was wonderful, nonetheless!
You found culinary alchemy! Love it. I didn’t used to be good enough to experiment, but now I have the confidence to be lazy and cook with the ingredients I’ve got on hand.
Gigi, I am anxious to read your latest book and to try this recipe. Thank you for sharing your story, it has given me encouragement on this bleak morning. Good luck to you!
It’s definitely a day for comfort food baking!
Kimberly — You’re the winner of the set of recipe cards!
Please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or send me a Facebook message (https://www.facebook.com/GigiPandian/) with your address.
Kimberly — You’re the winner of the set of recipe cards!
Please send me an email (email@example.com) or a private Facebook message (https://www.facebook.com/GigiPandian/) with your address.
Gigi, I love reading about Zoe and Dorian. Glad that the accidental muffins turned out so well, and I am looking forward to reading the Elusive Elixir.
Welcome to the Wickeds, Gigi. Cooking alchemy is one thing, but baking alchemy is really brave. These look amazing.
I’ve failed with baking before, when I didn’t have enough moisture. As long as the mix isn’t too dry, my experimenting has chance to work.
Fascinating story, Gigi! I’m going to try the muffin recipe! Thanks for joining us today!
Thanks for having me!
Hi, Gigi. I’ve loved your other books in the series and look forward to your latest. Keep on writing.
Thank you for the recipe!! It’s cold and rainy here today so I’m baking them for my family! We just gave The Elusive Elixir as a gift to a friend under going chemo in your honor! You’re an inspiring, brilliant woman!
Oh, that’s so lovely. Thanks so much, Patrice. Best wishes to your friend!
That really is a way to make lemonade out of what life threw at you. And since lemonade is vegan, that was pretty easy, right?
I haven’t started this series yet, but I really need to do so. Congrats on the third coming out!
Thanks for visiting the Wickeds! I have not started the Accidental Alchemist series yet, but I am eager to do so and to meet Dorian. Congratulations on your 5 years being cancer-free — I just passed the 7 year mark – Yay for us! Safe travels!
Congratulations on that 7 year mark!! I’ve got until summer before I’m 5 years cancer-free after finishing treatments. I should plan a celebration 🙂
So pleased you could join us – and share a recipe! I wish I didn’t have my own book to finish writing today so I could sit and finish reading your book instead.
Good luck with your deadline, Edith!
Thank you for visiting the blog today Gigi! I can’t wait to read your latest! And I am totally trying the recipe. I am not a brave baker, though I am a very brave cook. Must experiment!
I never imagined I’d be such an enthusiastic baker!
Gigi, this recipe looks awesome! I’m going to try it with gluten-free flour 🙂 Thanks for being here today!
It works great with gluten-free oatmeal and oat flour 🙂
Thanks to everyone who stopped by! The giveaway for the set of book-themed recipe cards is closed. Kimberly Kurth Gray is the winner.
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