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To the Bakers in My Family, plus #Giveaway

News Flash: Laurie Pinnell is the lucky winner of the puzzle! Laurie, congratulations, and please check your email.

Edith/Maddie here, with a full heart on the release day for Batter Off Dead. It’s my 10th Country Store Mystery, my 27th full-length novel, and this is an all-round happy day.

I want to share with you the dedication I wrote for this book.

Cookies, cakes, pie, crisps. Breads, buns, muffins. You name it. The women who raised our mother and father, the woman who raised my sisters and me, and we three, now of nearly the oldest generation – we all have baking of all kinds in common.

So, with a book that has Batter in the title, who better to dedicate it to?

Our grandmothers were (Dot) Dorothy Henderson Maxwell and Ruth Skinner Flaherty.

Allan Senior, Ruthie, Dot, Jo, Allan Junior (Edith’s father), in 1932 – two decades before Edith was born (not sure why Aunt Jo and Daddy look so stern).
Ruth Ann Skinner Flaherty, as Edith remembers her.

I remember Mama Ruth coming to visit from northern California for two or three weeks at a time. Once, when I came home from school, I was so surprised she had made cupcakes from scratch – and they were square! She said she couldn’t find the cupcake pans, so she just lined up the cupcake papers in a rectangular pan.

Mama Dot, who lived two towns away, baked cookies and her own Chex party mix. (My sisters and I can’t remember cakes or pies she made, but that’s a factor of memory. Dot was a fabulous cook.)

Our mother, Marilyn, used recipes from both these ladies for her Christmas cookies, which I still bake every year.

Marilyn Flaherty Maxwell Muller

My sisters and I grew up baking with our mom. Three kinds of pies for Thanksgiving. Cakes from mixes and from scratch. Cinnamon rolls laden with butter and brown sugar on Christmas morning. And cookies of all kinds.

David, Edith, Janet, Barbara, in about 1958

Mommy was a let-them-get-their-hands-dirty kind of mom. There was no short-order cooking in our house. We were given free range of the kitchen if we wanted to make a batch of chocolate chip cookies, pancakes for the family, or a toast and hot chocolate snack (I dipped my buttered toast in my hot chocolate). We all made our own school lunches as soon as we were tall enough to see over the kitchen counter.

My sister Barbara Bergendorf – who lives in Indiana – has contributed more than one yummy recipe to my Country Store books, including to Batter Off Dead. Janet, now a Canadian and resident of Ottawa, and I started baking whole grain bread together in college using the Tassajara Bread Book, and she still makes delicious breads and cookies.

We also have a younger brother. While David doesn’t cook a lot, he is known throughout the state of California for his chocolate chip cookies.

We nearly lost Barbie a few years ago when her heart stopped on Christmas Day, but she made a full recovery. We’re all so grateful our four-kid family remains intact.

Janet, Barbara, and me, after Barbara rather miraculously recovered from her heart stopping four years ago.
The Maxwell kids at Edith’s son’s wedding in September, 2019.

A quintessential batter-based dish, pancakes are still a big item in my household. Banana-walnut pancakes were one of the first mentions in Flipped for Murder, Country Store Mystery #1. These days I mostly make flapjacks with blueberries, always with whole wheat flour, and whenever a son or two is visiting. I’m happy to report both sons are great bakers, too!

Thanks for helping me celebrate, dear Friends of the Wickeds. We’re having a Facebook party with nine author pals tonight from 7:20-10 EST, with prizes and chat and games. Please join us here!

And as a special prize, I’d love to send one of you the Country Store tenth-birthday jigsaw puzzle!

Design credit to the talented Jennifer McKee

I started my copy. I’ve gazed at these covers for so long, I could spot a piece from each with ease – at least at the beginning!

Thank you for loving my stories and being such supportive fans. I’ll tell you a secret – the Country Store series has been renewed through book #13! Yes, I’m as excited as you are.

Readers: Please share your favorite Country Store Mysteries book, character, or recipe. And if you haven’t yet read them yet, just say hi!

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