Guest Debra Sennefelder and a Giveaway!

Jessie, enjoying the cool evenings and soup and sweater weather!

I am delighted to welcome Debra Sennefelder to the Wickeds once again. Her books are fun and clever and the covers are charming! Not only that, she provided a scone recipe!Take it away, Debra!

I’m so thrilled to be here today. I love hanging out with the Wickeds and you! I just had a release, THE CORPSE IN THE GAZEBO, a Food Blogger mystery, on September 28th. Turns out it was also National Neighbor’s Day. Who knew? Well, perhaps if I’d consulted a social media planning content calendar, I would have known and planned accordingly. But that didn’t happen.  No fear, I found it early in the day and used it in my social media posts. Luckily, that was a week before the Great Facebook Outage of 2021.

I thought it was awesome that the release of THE CORPSE IN THE GAZEBO fell on National Neighbor Day because the murder plot in the book revolves around Hope Early’s neighbor. Now Birdie Donovan isn’t your average neighbor (well, at least I hope not), and neither is Hope Early. It seems there are two extremes of neighbors living on Fieldstone Road in Jefferson, CT. Hope is a food blogger and sharer of all things whipped up in her kitchen. At the same time, Birdie is a curmudgeon of a woman circulating a petition to force Hope to move. It seems Birdie has had enough of the chaos Hope’s sleuthing creates. Yes, there has been police activity and crime scenes on the usually quiet road but Hope really shouldn’t be held responsible for that. Clearly, these two women find it challenging to get along because one of them ends up dead.

I am grateful that I don’t have a neighbor like Birdie, and in my hood, I’m more like Hope. It’s not unusual to spot me heading out of my house with a plate of cookies or a container of muffins in hand to deliver to a neighbor. My husband and I have lived on our street for close to thirty years. Over the years there’s been little turnover among the other homeowners. This means we’ve all known each other for a long time, and there are a few neighbors who feel like family. We’ve been there for each other during extended power outages, deaths in families, illnesses, and life celebrations. In fact, last month we celebrated our neighbor’s marriage, and yes, there was a group of us from our road. It was wonderful to have shared that special day with people who have become a big part of my life.

It’s these types of relationships that have made their way into the Food Blogger Mystery series. Hope has good relationships with most of her neighbors. There’s Gilbert and Mitzi Madison and their Golden Retriever Buddy. Buddy is the bestie of Hope’s pup, Bigelow. There’s Leila Manchester and Dorie Baxter, retirees who power walk the neighborhood and occasionally share gossip. When Hope starts asking questions, like looking for alibis, she ruffles some feathers in THE CORPSE IN THE GAZEBO. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have a choice because she’s a suspect in Birdie’s murder, and it jeopardizes not only her freedom but her career. I loved writing this story, and I hope you’ll find it an enjoyable, satisfying read.

As I wrote this post, I realized that I hadn’t shared any recipes in my previous posts. Why not? I have no good answer, but I have a yummy recipe to share with you today. From THE CORPSE IN THE GAZEBO is Hope’s Chocolate Chip Scone recipe. Slightly sweet and crunchy on the edges, soft and moist in the center. . Like Hope, I love a good scone, and I have a hard time not eating all the scones when they come out of the oven. That’s why I usually share a few with my neighbors.

Hope’s Chocolate Chip Scones

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 ½ teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup unsalted butter, cold and cubed

½ cup heavy cream (plus 2 tablespoons for brushing and a little extra if dough is dry)

½ cup light brown sugar

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

1 large egg

1 ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 ¼ cups mini chocolate chips

Turbinado sugar for sprinkling on scones before baking

Confectioners’ sugar for sifting on scones after baking and they are cooled

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt together. Set aside.Cut in butter, with pastry cutter, two forks or your fingers, until the mixture resembles coarse meal but there are pieces of butter throughout. Set bowl in refrigerator while you combining the wet ingredients.

In a small bowl, whisk together ½ heavy cream, brown sugar, egg and vanilla extract. Remove flour mixture from refrigerator. Drizzle wet mixture over flour mixture and add in the chocolate chips. Mix until everything appears moistened, but don’t over mix.

Transfer dough onto a floured surface and work into a ball. Dough will be sticky. Add a little more flour to work more easily or add up to 2 tablespoons of heavy cream if the dough is too dry. Gently pat and shape dough into an 8-inch disc. With a sharp knife or bench scraper, cut into 8 wedges.

Transfer wedges onto prepared baking sheet lined. Set them 2-3 inches apart. Brush scones with the 2 tablespoons of heavy cream and then sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Place scones in refrigerator for up to fifteen minutes before baking. If space is tight, you can place the scone wedges on plates and then transfer to parchment lined baking sheet or baking stone (my preferred method) just before putting them into the oven.

Bake for 22-25 minutes or until golden brown around the edges and lightly browned on top. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and then serve. These are best eaten the same day but will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Thank you for spending some time with me today. I love hanging out with you guys! I hope you have a wonderful day!

Readers, what is the most neighborly thing you’ve done for a neighbor? One randomly selected commenter will win a print copy of The Corpse in the Gazebo.

Debra Sennefelder is the acclaimed author of the Food Blogger Mysteries and the Resale Boutique Mystery Series. An avid reader who reads across a range of genres, mystery fiction is her obsession. Her interest in people and relationships is channeled into her novels against a backdrop of crime and mystery.

Her first novel, THE UNINVITED CORPSE (A Food Blogger mystery) was published in 2018.When she’s not reading, she enjoys cooking and baking and as a former food blogger, she is constantly taking photographs of her food. Yeah, she’s that person.

Born and raised in New York City, where she majored in her hobby of fashion buying, she now lives and writes in Connecticut with her family. She’s worked in retail and publishing before becoming a full-time author. Her writing companion is her adorable and slightly spoiled Shih-Tzu, Connie.

82 Thoughts

  1. The trailer I am in now does not permit baking (NO counter space), but my neighbor has problems with his aging water lines (laid around 1970), so at least once a year he borrows my hose to connect my water line to his trailer via my outdoor spigot.

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  2. A neighbor claimed a stray cat I was feeding was digging under his fence and scratching up his screens. So I took in the little Fella and we have been friendlier ever since. It’s just him and his dog and he was very upset. It helped me more than him as Fella is such a little love bug. Thank you for this chance at your giveaway!! pgenest57 at aol dot com

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  3. Congratulations on the new book, Debra! And those scones sound delicious.

    When my neighbors are away, if I see they had a package delivered and it’s about to rain, I’ll bring it indoors until they get back. They do the same for us!

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  4. Excellent cover, Debra. We live on Main Street in a 1906 building. My wife refers to our writer’s residence as “loft living in the country.” While on my morning stroll with our dog Rango, I discovered four huge show roosters running loose. The neighborly thing was to call the cops. From our front plate-glass window, we watched the fun as the town’s Barney Fife look-alike tried to round up the rowdy roosters. Only in a small town can you have so much fun!

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  5. While I’ve picked up mail, fed pets while away and picked up a few groceries for them while I’m out and about, probably the thing I do most is share the bounty of my kitchen. Love to cook/bake and nothing makes me happier than being in the kitchen and seeing people’s faces when I take them something. Once knowing a neighbor was having family come in and they both worked, I offered and was readily taken up on fixing them some supper and dessert for the first night. I was taught to do for others as you would love to be done for.

    Thank you for the wonderful recipe! In my later years, I’ve really developed a great taste for scones and always happy to try another recipe.

    Love your books and can’t wait for the opportunity to read “THE CORPSE IN THE GAZEBO”.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

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  6. Congrats on the new book, Debra. I love scones, but have never tried making them myself. Maybe I should.

    My neighbors and I usually (at least before the pandemic) got together to celebrate the beginning and ending of summer with a potluck.

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  7. We have lived on our short street for twenty years and when we were first here we were the youngest ones and now we are the oldest neighbors. Over the years we have been blessed by our dear friends here and we hope we have blessed them in return. Good neighbors make good friends! (And, now we have a whole new crop of little ones who come for their Halloween books we give out; however, we do miss our neighbors who are no longer here.)

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  8. We’re watchdogs for our neighbors when they leave for vacations. I’ve also dogsat for neighbors. Your scones sound delicious! Love your book cover!!

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  9. Congratulations, on the new book. The scone recipe looks fantastic! Living on Air Force bases provided many opportunities for helping each other out as does our current neighborhood. We’ve been very fortunate in the neighbors department.

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  10. When I was younger our neighbor spent the winter months in Florida. We had a family member who was frequently in the hospital at that time. She let us put our car in her garage. It was good for both, it helped keep her property safe as someone was around and the car was free of snow so we could leave quickly if we needed to.

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  11. I’ve been lucky to have great neighbors. We’ll help each other shovel out in the winter, trade recipes, chase down recycling bins on windy days… Last summer the street threw a little going away party for one family that was moving away. When one was having more health problems over the last few years, everyone made sure to check in on him, bring food, make sure he took his meds, etc. He just died last week but even at his funeral it was commented what a good neighbor he was. Even after he couldn’t drive there would be a steady stream of cars as people stopped by to chat and have a drink with him. We always said we could tell when it was officially nice spring weather by seeing him out in the garage with his lawn chair and a beer.

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    1. This is a perfect example of neighbors who have become friends. It’s a wonderful thing. Thank you for sharing.

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  12. Congratulations on the new book! I’ve done the usual like watering flower gardens for vacationers and taking brownies to people grieving.

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    1. Thank you. Those tasks are really important. And I’m sure your neighbors appreciated your help.

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  13. Congratulations on the new book. For several years we had the daughter of a woman I worked with when my husband and I got married live across the road from us. Her little Yorkie and our dog were besties. She was divorced and when she had problems at the house that needed a man’s attention, my husband would fix it for her. Other than that most of our neighbors are kind of far away because we live in a rural area where there are farms. The closest neighbors are family.

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    1. That’s awesome. I get to enjoy the bounty of my neighbor’s veg garden. Fresh tomatoes are delicious.

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  14. Welcome back to the Wickeds, Debra! For four years we’ve lived in a seven-unit townhouse condo, our first experience of condo living. When we arrived, we had a neighbor who was absolutely off the charts nuts. Fortunately, she got fed up with us when one of the other tenants wouldn’t cave to her bullying, so she and her husband moved to a single family house, which is absolutely where they belong. Four of the units have turned over since we bought ours, but the new neighbors seem absolutely sane and cooperative. Of course, we’re trying to pick out new outdoor light fixtures together, so it could go off the rails at any time.

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  15. Scone recipe looks delicious, thank you. Just last night our new next door neighbour got his truck stuck in his yard. We live on the north shore of Lake Erie and have had an enormous amount of rain and our lots(out in the country) are rather boggy. My husband had just gotten home from work when he noticed the gentleman stuck in the mud. Luckily we have a 4 wheel drive truck that got him out in no time.
    Sandra Shenton

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    1. Thank you. The scones are really good. I’m sure your neighbor appreciates your help. We had a similar situation – rainy spring, very wet spot in the back of our property and we needed help getting the pickup unstuck from the mud. What an ordeal.

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  16. My neighbors are like family. When they are out of town I take care of their cats and put their mail and packages in the house. They are always there for me and I like to think that I’m there for them also.

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  17. Congratulations on your new release! When our neighbor is out of town we will pick up their mail, and we will watch their dogs. Your book sounds like a great read. Have a great week and stay safe.

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  18. I give my neighbor produce -squash, tomatoes, okra, green beans, etc. – from my garden each summer.

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    1. That’s so nice of you. Luckily my neighbors shared their garden bounty with me. I truly appreciated it.

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  19. The most neighborly thing I’ve ever ever done shoveled the neighbors walks in the winter free of snow. I do that every winter
    Love the book cover. Would love to read and review in print format.
    Thanks for recipe looks
    Hope I Win

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  20. That’s easy, I help to catch their ponies when they broke out of their pen and came to visit our mustangs. Of course there ponies were males and our mustangs are girls. We caught them and took them home twice in one week. Mean while they let us know our dogs got loose and were in their barn, safe and sound.

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  21. We have a neighbor down the alley that we share bake goods, vegetables and cheese. We have been friends all of my life. They are like family. Thank you for sharing. God bless you.

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  22. Love the scone recipe and the the series! I love to cook and share it with others. I also enjoy leaving gift cards on windshields as a random act of giving during the holiday season. Unlike Hope, I have not had a neighbor like Birdie, thank goodness. In fact, we once had neighbors who we were such good friends with, they would take our dogs for walks if they knew we were going to be late from work, without is even asking ❤.

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    1. Thank you! You’re very lucky to never have had a neighbor like Birdie. What a great idea about the random notes on windshields. Your neighbors are very lucky.

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  23. I’ve done pet sitting for neighbors. I’ve also shared veggies from my garden and made chocolate chip cookies to give!

    Thanks for the chance! Love the book cover.

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