I’ve recently discovered I have a penchant for simple, fluffy mysteries. If there’s a bit of paranormal or supernatural thrown in, so much the better. These are my quick and easy reading staples. I read pretty fast, so, if I can read it in less than a day and there’s a quirky hero(ine) who makes me feel like I have my life together I’m probably willing to give it a try.
A series that I have found fits the bill perfectly is Susan M. Boyer’s Liz Talbot series (which you can buy at this link and a few cents from your purchase will help pay for more ingredients.) Liz is a private detective who sometimes gets a little help from her high school friend that died years before. Her love life can sometimes be a mess and her family is super wacky (see, my life is totally together!) The stories are fun and the mysteries are wrapped up pretty quickly and neatly. Food plays a big part in Liz’s life and she’s often investigating over a meal at a local restaurant or dealing with her family over her mom’s home cooking. This series takes place on an island off the Carolina coast and the lowcountry flavor is prominent. I mean, every title starts with the word “Lowcountry,” so there you go…
Along with a love of margaritas and Kate Spade bags, Liz adores her mother’s homemade pimento cheese. For those of you who are unfamiliar, pimento cheese is a southern staple. Many recipes claim to be passed down from generations back and dressed up versions began appearing in cookbooks 20-25 years ago. The most traditional version combines pimentos, shredded cheddar, mayo, and a sprinkle of paprika. More adventurous traditionalists add a bit of onion and possibly some Worcestershire sauce. Newer versions add in all kinds of things for extra spice and flavor, but those first three ingredients are a must. Some recipes throw it a food processor; others leave the shredded cheese whole. Some recipes include cream cheese or jalapenos. Basically, there is a whole world of pimento cheese out there, so don’t be afraid to experiment a little.
In Boyer’s books, Liz says that she has “particular fondness” for her mom’s homemade pimento cheese and that, “My mamma makes the best pimento cheese in the world.” In my mind that means there’s a twist. What does mamma Talbot put in there to make it so good? Since they live on an island off the east coast, I immediately thought of my favorite crab boil stable, Old Bay® Seasoning.
My take on the Talbot family pimento cheese follows. I can eat gobs of this in one sitting, which is not the healthiest way to go. It is delicious, though, so I recommend you whip up a batch, grab some crackers (or make a grilled cheese sandwich out of it,) and settle in with Liz for an afternoon of reading and eating that cannot be beat!
East Coast Pimento Cheese
My take on a southern staple.
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 2 cups shredded cheddar (I used Sargento’s 4 State Cheddar blend)
- 4 ounces diced pimentos, drained
- 1 to 1 1/2 tsp Old Bay® Seasoning
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients. Mix well.
- Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- Serve on crackers or use for any number of delicious applications (grilled cheese, ham pinwheels, stuffed chicken…)
*Disclaimer-I claim no ownership to media mentioned in this post. Liz Talbot Mysteries and all related items belong to Susan M. Boyer and appropriate publishers. Commentary is my own.*