Sunday, March 18, 2018

Cartoon of the Day: The Cake

Bay Area Book Festival: Mystery Programs

The Bay Area Book Festival has moved its date but kept its exceptional programming. Over the weekend of April 28th and 29th, 2018, the fourth annual Bay Area Book Festival will fill downtown Berkeley (CA) with a literary extravaganza that offers pleasure to anyone who has ever loved a book.
Whether you’re a fan of science fiction, mystery, or history, of fiction or memoir, of poetry or food writing, of children’s literature or science, come experience one of the best book festivals on the planet! Tickets for the Festival and/or individual panels and talks are now available. Get tickets here.
In addition to panels and talks, there will be booths. Mystery Writers of America, NorCal chapter will have a booth with author signings. Be sure and check the booth when you arrive for times and signings.

Here are some panels of interest to mystery readers. Several of the panels are sponsored by Mystery Writers of America, Northern California Chapter.

Murder She Writes: 
Catherine Coulter Talks with Laurie R. King
Catherine Coulter interviewed by Laurie R. King
Saturday, April 28
10:00 AM - 11:15 AM

Catherine Coulter, No.1 New York Times best-selling suspense writer and author of 82 novels (almost all of them New York Times bestsellers!), is interviewed by Mystery Writers of America NorCal president Laurie R. King, herself a bestselling author of 25 novels. These two remarkable writers will talk about Coulter’s journey from Regency romances to FBI thrillers, the research she does for her widely varied stories, and her craft, art, and life of writing.
Hotel Shattuck Plaza - Crystal Ballroom

Insider, Outsider: Do PIs or Cops Do It Better?
Cara Black,Candice Fox, Matt Goldman, Rachel Howzell Hall, moderated by Bill Petrocelli
Saturday, April 28
11:45 AM - 1:00 PM

At the center of every good crime novel is a hero sniffing out the truth, whether a veteran police officer hardened and informed by years on the force, or a plucky private eye who takes on the case with little to no resources. Four accomplished crime writers battle it out to determine once and for all who does it better, cops or PIs? Vouching for private investigators, Cara Black (Aimée Leduc, PI) and Matt Goldman (Private detective Nils Shapiro) will go head to head with Candice Fox (Detective Harriet Blue) and Rachel Howzell Hall (Detective Elouise Norton). Mystery author Bill Petrocelli moderates.
Hotel Shattuck Plaza - Crystal Ballroom

Viet Thanh Nguyen on Art and Politics
Viet Thanh Nguyen interviewed by Karen Tei Yamashita
Saturday, April 28
1:30 PM - 2:45 PM

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 2016 for his novel “The Sympathizer,” Viet Thanh Nguyen—fiction writer, essayist, activist, and UC Berkeley doctoral alum—has become an outspoken voice for refugee rights and justice for immigrants. In 2017 he received a MacArthur Genius Grant, and while he was commended for “challenging popular depictions of the Vietnam War and exploring the myriad ways that war lives on for those it has displaced,” his latest efforts move outward to the plight of refugees across the world. His lauded story collection “The Refugees” explores immigration, identity, love, and family. His latest project, “The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives,” brings together a host of prominent writers. He joins us to today to talk with Karen Tei Yamashita, novelist and essayist on the immigrant experience, about the role of the writer in society, the importance of art to politics, and the power of the written word.
Freight & Salvage

Women Plot the Crime
Sara Blaedel, Anne Holt, and Yrsa Sigurdardóttir, moderated by Cara Black
Saturday, April 28
1:30 PM - 2:45 PM

The plot for the perfect crime may very well reside in the minds of these three cunning women. This panel of authors will discuss what it takes—and what it takes out of you—to write a complex, compelling, and believable (but un-guessable) crime story. Come plumb the minds of Sara Blaedel (Denmark’s “queen of crime”), Anne Holt (Norway’s best-selling female crime writer), and Icelandic best-selling author Yrsa Sigurdardóttir, as they talk with fellow crime writer Cara Black.
Hotel Shattuck Plaza - Crystal Ballroom

Utter Fascination: The Art of the Exceptionally Complex Character
Åsa Avdic, Therese Bohman, Carl Frode Tiller, Laleh Khadivi
Saturday, April 28
1:30 PM - 2:45 PM

How do writers create complex characters? These three authors discuss how they dream up, and then capture on the page, entirely new people who are exceptionally complicated. What narrative strategies do they use to create them? How did the characters develop in the authors’ minds? Don’t miss the complex characters on this panel: Asa Avdic, a journalist and breakout novelist whose debut, “The Dying Game,” is a chilling version of an Agatha Christie ensemble (characters trapped and slowly disappearing) in a futuristic Sweden; Therese Bohman, whose scintillating novel “Eventide” about a middle-aged woman’s life “explores complex inner worlds with great sensitivity and insight” (Kirkus); and Carl Frode Tiller with the “Encircling” trilogy, which endeavors to reconstruct a man’s mind piece by piece after he loses his memory.
The Brower Center - Tamalpais Room

Noir at the Bar: A Flight of Mystery! Sampling Bay Area Writers of Murder and Mayhem, with Drinks
Lillian Bell, Cara Black, Ellison Cooper, Reece Hirsh, Beth McMullen, Eileen Rendahl, Kelli Stanley, Domenic Stansberry, emceed by Sheldon Siegel
Saturday, April 28
5:00 PM - 6:15 PM

A Festival favorite returns! There’s no better way to celebrate the Bay Area’s love of noir than to toast mystery writers who have mastered the form. Feel like a bonafide gumshoe listening in on riveting short readings by these modern masters of noir. And while you’re at it, order your cocktail (or whiskey) of choice.
The Marsh - Cabaret

Know Thyself: The Ultimate Mystery
Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi, Mark Sarvas, Carl Frove Tiller
Saturday, April 28
5:00 PM - 6:15 PM

It’s high literary tide mark on Saturday afternoon. Three of the smartest novelists working today discuss how fiction explodes the question of how we know ourselves. In “Call Me Zebra,” partly set in Spain, Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi depicts a heroine on a Quixotic quest; the Wall Street Journal said, “Hearken ye fellow misfits, migrants, outcasts, squint-eyed bibliophiles, library-haunters and book stall-stalkers: Here is a novel for you.” Mark Sarvas’ “Memento Park,” partly set in Hungary, was praised by Salman Rushdie as “a gripping mystery novel about art that is also a powerful meditation on fathers and sons.” Norwegian writer Carl Frove Tiller has written a trilogy whodunit about a man who’s lost his memory and reconstitutes himself via letters from friends telling him who he is; you can imagine how that turns out. Said Kirkus, “A wholly satisfying story about how unreliable narrators tell tales not just about events, but about our core emotions.” Who are you? Come explore how we know ourselves.
The Marsh - Theater

Nordic Noir: The Enduring Genre of Cold Climate Thrillers
Sara Blaedel, Anne Holt, Karo Hämäläinen, Steffen Jacobsen, Yrsa Sigurdardóttir, moderated by Randal Brandt
Sunday, April 29
2:00 PM - 3:15 PM

One of the most popular sessions at the Festival returns for its fourth year. Traveling all the way from Scandinavia and Iceland to join us today, these authors will illuminate why their books—which situate grisly stories of murder and chaos in frigid regions—have the enduring power to captivate audiences worldwide. From Denmark, Sara Blaedel will discuss her internationally best-selling and female-led Louise Rick and Ilka Jensen series. Norway’s best-selling female crime writer Anne Holt will consider how her years working for police departments and as a lawyer have influenced her work. Finnish crime savant Karo Hämäläinen will let us in on how he became “a wicked and controlled writer who rarely allows his readers a moment of peace” (Toronto Sun). Hear from Icelandic best-selling author Yrsa Sigurdardóttir, who The Times UK said “is ensconced at or near the summit of Nordic crime writing.” And learn how Danish physician and thrill-master Steffen Jacobsen uses his talent for the macabre to create gripping reads.
Magnes Museum


Today is National Oatmeal Cookie Day! You could make traditional Oatmeal Cookies with raisins, but where's the chocolate? A food holiday without chocolate is not a holiday to celebrate! So, here's an adapted recipe from Quaker Oats for their Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies with Chocolate Chips (or Chocolate Chunks) instead of raisins. The original recipe is found on most Quaker Oats boxes...and on the website.


1/2 Cup plus 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
3/4 Cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 Cup granulated sugar
2 Eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1-1/2 Cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp salt
3 Cup Quaker® Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
1 Cup Chocolate Chips or Chocolate Chunks
 (optional) 3/4 cup chopped walnuts 

Heat oven to 350°F.
In large bowl, beat butter and sugars on medium speed of electric mixer until creamy.
Add eggs and vanilla; beat well.
Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt; mix well.
Add oats and Chocolate Chips (or Chocolate Chunks) and chopped walnuts (optional); mix well.
Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown.
Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to wire rack. Cool completely.

Alternative: Bar Cookies
Press dough onto bottom of ungreased 13 x 9-inch baking pan.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until light golden brown.
Cool completely in pan on wire rack.
Cut into bars.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Bailey's Irish Cream S'mores: St Patrick's Day!

Happy St Patrick's Day! Here's a great and easy way to celebrate the day. As always, it includes Chocolate! Who doesn't love S'mores? And, these S'mores Indoors are filled with Bailey's Irish Cream! Erin Go Bragh!

Bailey's Irish Cream S'mores!

3 ounces Baileys® Original Irish Cream
Crushed graham crackers
Mini marshmallows
Chocolate sauce (see below or use your favorite!)
Large marshmallows

Crush and then layer graham crackers at the bottom of a mason jar.
Add a layer of mini marshmallows and chocolate sauce (proportion and layer to your taste).
Top with a few large marshmallows.
Drizzle 3 oz. of Baileys Original Irish Cream on top for a sweet finish.
Brown marshmallows with a kitchen torch.

Easy Chocolate Hot Fudge Sauce 

1/2 cup unsweentened butter
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate

In medium sized saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Once butter is melted, add sweetened condensed milk. Use whisk to combine. Add chocolate, and stir continuously with whisk until melted and smooth. Immediately remove from heat.
Store in glass jar for up to 2 weeks in refrigerator.