Writers' cook-off a hit at Northern Tier in Richland

Deborah Deasy
| Wednesday, July 17, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Mysteries can be mouth-watering, like the chocolate chip-laden oatmeal cookie recipe favored by the main character — a sleuthing caterer — in “Crunch Time” by Diane Mott Davidson.

“It was one of the things she served,” said Edie Richards, 82, of West Deer, winner of Battle of the Mystery Writers' Cook-Off held July 11 at the Northern Tier Regional Library in Richland.

Richards prepared four dozen Crunch Time Cookies to narrowly edge other entries by fellow members of Bridget's Book Club.

“I didn't expect them to win,” said Richards, who got the cookie recipe on the last page of “Crunch Time.”

“It was a bit of a challenge ... It was a lot of processing. The first batch, I burned.”

For her trouble, Richards won a trophy plus the privilege of picking Bridget's Book Club's next book for discussion — “The Secret Keeper” by Kate Morton.

Club members typically meet monthly to discuss contemporary fiction. Last week, they shifted gears to share foods featured in mysteries by multiple authors.

“There are a lot of mysteries where the amateur detective is a chef or good cook,” said Diane Illis, assistant director of the Northern Tier Regional Library. “There are doughnut shop mysteries. Tea shop mysteries. Coffee shop mysteries.”

Illis also leads Bridget's Book Club and organized the Battle of the Mystery Writers' Cook-Off for the club's July get-together.

“This is the first time that we haven't discussed a book,” Illis said.

Some members skipped lunch, dinner or both to prepare their palates for judging the battle.

Everyone received a toy gold coin to place beside their favorite selection on a table full of entries — all baked goods.

Between sips of white wine from the Sweet Bliss Winery, club members sampled each other's concoctions:

Illis of McCandless prepared Aunt Nora's Easy but Sinfully Delicious Siesta Key Lime Pie from “Footprints in the Sand” by Mary Jane Clark.

Missy Bourdius and Lynn Parker, both of Richland, both prepared Black Bottom Banana Bars from Laura Childs' “Tea Shop Mystery” and “Fiber and Brimstone.”

Kathleen Joritz of the North Side, a reference librarian at Northern Tier Regional Library, made mint brownies, featuring mint icing and sugar-glazed mint leaves, inspired by “Bake Sale” by Sara Varon.

Kristin Laureys of Middlesex prepared Cosi's Nutella Swirled Banana Muffins from “A Brew to a Kill” by Cleo Coyle.

Heide Engel of Richland prepared Miss Beacham's Raisin Bread from “Aunt Dimity and the Next of Kin” by Nancy Atherton.

After a half-hour of tasting, the women stepped outside their book club's meeting room, and then returned — individually — to place their coins beside their favorite entries.

Four entries initially tied for first place, but Richards' Crunch Time Cookies earned the most coins when everyone voted a second time.

Deborah Deasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6369 or ddeasy@tribweb.com.

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