Jeanne: The Year of Cooking Dangerously

Yesterday I started drafting The Demon Goes Hungry, which will be the third book in my Touched by a Demon series. (The Demon Wore Stilettos has been pushed out to the final book in the series. It made sense as Book 3 when I was planning a trilogy, but now that I’m planning an ennealogy it needs to be Book 9.)

The premise of the story is that heroine Katie Rose Landry owns a food truck called “Devilish Delights,” from which she sells Cajun-spiced food, including deviled eggs that Satan adores.

In fact, Satan loves them so much he orders Belphegor, the Demon of Gluttony and Master of Hell’s Kitchen, to recruit Katie to become his private chef.

Much silliness and danger ensues. I hope.

The heroine in Book One, The Demon Always Wins, was a nurse.  I’ve never been a nurse, but I did work in a free clinic for a year and a half as a bookkeeper, and I know nurses I could ask questions, so I felt okay about that.

The heroine in Book 2, The Demon’s in the Details, was a painter. I know zilch about painting, but I have a couple of friends who are painters who answered questions and suggested books and moves about artists, which I read and watched.

The heroine in my (as yet unpublished) small-town Contemporary was a dancer-turned-real-estate-developer. I’ve never taken so much as the first dance lesson but again I have a couple of friends who are dancers who agreed to be subject-matter experts.

(I lead a charmed life and am lucky enough to be surrounded by kind and generous people.)

And now the heroine of The Demon Goes Hungry is a trained chef . Even though she’s cramped inside a 7′ x 14′ space, she’s a wizard with all things edible.

The good news is, I have actually done some cooking in my life.

The bad news is, I’m not good at it. My daughter co-owns a restaurant/event space about 70 miles east of where I live. The deliciousness of her food has brought home to me just how not good at it I am.

I’m more nervous about getting this wrong than I was the other two. Possibly because there are a lot more people out there with the knowledge to identify my mistakes than the other two.

Anyway, just as I read books on painting (and even tried my hand at water color, acrylics, and even a group mural project), I’ve decided I’m going to actually attempt some cooking.

Specifically, Cajun deviled eggs.

I whipped up my first batch this morning for my husband’s family reunion. I took 24. We came home with 8.

Do you know how bad deviled eggs have to be to stop people from eating them?

I’m not sure what I did, but they came out as salty as the Dead Sea.

But I am undaunted. There’s a neighborhood cookout coming up for the 4th of July and I’m going to try again.

And if anyone complains, I’ll tell them the devil made me do it.




18 thoughts on “Jeanne: The Year of Cooking Dangerously

  1. Keep trying! I’m sure they’ll turn out better next time!
    I just found a fabulous tip for peel-able eggs. Bring an inch (2 cm) of water to boil in a large pot with lid. Add a steamer basket (or metal colander?). Put the eggs in (only one-layer). Steam for 11 minutes if you like a tiny bit of translucence, 13 for a fully-boiled/steamed egg. Immerse in cold water as soon as the timer goes off. I have had such good luck with this method the last two times I tried it!

    (-: I am in such an egg mood. Getting back to writing, I think there are so many different ways to cook and get good food that you’ll be fine. Also, because so many people know how to cook, you don’t have to go into a great deal of detail; you can evoke memories, rather than describe a specific process.

    And in fact, the vague method could be better. I just read a recipe for spinach in puff pastry that called for dill. I could not imagine spinach and dill combining well, but it wasn’t that bad (I need to add more dill next time, though). So, you see, my point is that you can describe a delicious, flaky spinach puff pastry, and your reader will be drooling. But if you describe a puff pastry with egg, spinach and dill, baked at exactly 200 C for 10 minutes . . . well, you bore the reader if you don’t turn her off.

    If you were writing a cookbook, it’d be a different matter. But writing about a cook? You just need to have eaten good cooking, I think, and the expertise your daughter provides will give you lots of other good, juicy details about aching feet and backs, dropping a kettle at the wrong time, etc.

    (P.S., when you’ve got the Cajun eggs perfected, share the recipe! It sounds so tasty!)

  2. I will definitely share the Cajun deviled egg recipe after I perfect it. In fact, it’s part of my marketing plan for this book to create and share recipes. (Because, once again, I have access to brilliant cooks.)

    I also found a tip for peelable eggs: Place eggs in cold water. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Cover and let sit for 12 minutes. Immerse in an ice water bath for three minutes. I wound up using eggs fresh from the grocery on Sunday and they peeled pretty well, though not perfectly.

    I may try your tip next time.

    Or I may use an even better option I ran across: buy the eggs pre-boiled and peeled. and skp all the work.

    My two characters are going to spend a LOT of time cooking, so I don’t think I can leave their actions vague. I’m going to need to use the cooking actions for action beats (not scene beats, like Jenny taught us, or Save the Cat beats, The other kind of beats.

    • Speaking of Jenny . . . her descriptions of Chicken Marsala are fantastic. I can’t remember the details, but there were enough that it sounded like Cal knew what he was doing. Using cooking as a action beat thing (it reminds me of that exercise we did in class that was alternative structuring) sounds brilliant!

      You know how some writers use the weather as “pathetic fallacy”? A sort of sympathy with the story? I can see that with cooking — tempers boiling over with the pasta; things coming together like a good butter/sugar creaming mixture, then falling apart again as the eggs are added, etc. That sounds like it would be so fun to write!

  3. Oh, my gosh, I love this food truck idea, and your kitchen shenanigans. Good luck, and have fun. If you want her making a 12- to 30-hour stock at home for a soup she serves on the food truck, I’m your food expert, from how I save the scraps of my veggies in a dated plastic bag and make the stock from all these leftovers. It SO enriches the flavor of soup 🙂 I’m thinking of my shredded chicken soup recipe, which started from either a slow cooker book or food network, and I’ve modified as I’ve gone along by using “whatever” I have at hand in the southwestern theme.

    Happy writing to you. And I’m excited to hear you’re making this longer than a trilogy. Yippee!

    • Oops, posted too fast. I should have said “shredded chicken TORTILLA soup.” Although I only fried up the toritillla’s once. Too much work given I serve myself one or two servings and freeze the rest.

      • I’ll definitely consult with you about the soup stock! She operates on a shoestring, so she definitely uses every scrap.

        And thanks for the vote of confidence on the enneaology, When I looked up the word for a series of nine books, someone had replied, “The word used by writers who are planning too far into the future.”

        • Sure, tap me any time! If photos also inspire you, I can send you some I’ve taken of the process. My soup stocks start with the bits I cut off most veggies EXCEPT for the potato peels. That made the stock too “rooty” for my tastes. The only other parts that don’t go in are anything with mold. So, for example, if she cooks with onions, she’d save the onion skins she doesn’t use, ANY part of the onion she cuts off; the peelings from the carrots (if she peels); the tops of jalapenos saved in their OWN baggie so you can the heat level you want for each stock; the tops and innards of bell peppers,–except, try to keep the seeds out. Less work when the final step comes. You’re probably getting the picture. Throw into that freezer baggie one by one. When I’ve filled a gallon baggie, it’s 12-30-hour soup stock time, such a slow simmer it’s hard to see the boil. Strain out. If I’m making the southestern chicken, in goes every chicken piece I didn’t use in other dishes (skin, bones, tiny bits of meat–but NOT the good meat). Simmer the same slow way. Strain out. Hard, rolling boil for 30 min. to kill off any bacteria that took a foothold during the super slow simmer. NOW you’re ready for your main ingredients….. SORRY, probably TMI. But It is the BEST soup you will ever make. I haven’t yet tried it with instapot, to see if you can get the flavor without all the electricity used for that long barely simmer step.

        • Ha! I love “enneaology”, especially the alternate meaning you found for it :-). It made me look up the term for my seven-book series, which is heptalogy. The more you know…!

  4. Here’s my recipe for peelable hard boiled eggs: buy them already boiled and peeled from Costco. That really works. Always perfect. Never a green line around the yolk.

    I think this is a great idea, Jeanne, and including recipes in your marketing plan sounds fun. But I agree with others about not getting too wrapped up in the cooking details. The story is really about the relationship, right?

    • LOL! I’ve never seen chicken eggs sold this way here . . . oh, wait. Chicken eggs in broth for a sort of cook-in-broth, pull-out-the-solid-bits thing called Oden; preseasoned. QUAIL eggs come this way, and believe me, quail eggs are a bitch and a half to peel — if they peel badly, you wind up wasting about half the eggs. A quail egg is generally about an inch in length, so any waste is a pity. So much easier to buy them pre-cooked and peeled.

      AND, they last at room temperature for about half a year this way, so they are great fun to put in an earthquake kit. Can you imagine, day one after the earthquake? Life sucks, but you get to eat tiny quail eggs on crackers with a little bit of mayo in those special packets. A tiny ray of sunshine in a very sucky situation . . . maybe enough to give you the courage to tackle the clean-up.

      (Although to be honest, our earthquakes have not been very destructive in my area — not so much stuff falling down and buildings falling apart. It’s the damage to the electrical grid that makes life tough. Quail eggs by dawn’s early light, followed by a day of light clean-up, then reading and other non-electrical activities. Knock wood, that’s the worst we get.)

  5. How exciting! I took a cooking class while I was in Spain…learned how to make gazpacho and paella. I love mixing flavors and coming up with new recipes, and now that my kitchen reno is nearly complete, I’m looking forward to making food that doesn’t come in a microwave package or via UberEats.

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