Josie’s Mom’s Cookbook: A Legacy of Love by Guest Author Jane Cleland

jane-kWe’re excited to welcome Jane Cleland, author of the IMBA best selling and multi-award nominated Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery series, which has been called an Antiques Roadshow for mystery fans. Jane chairs the Wolfe Pack’s literary awards and is on the board of the Mystery Writers of America/NY Chapter. Her latest book is called Killer Keepsakes.

My protagonist, antiques appraiser Josie Prescott, loves to cook. Often she uses the cookbook her mother made for her in the days before she died. Josie was only 13 then, but she’s come to understand that the cookbook was an important part of her mother’s legacy.

In the days before she died, Josie’s mom wrote out her favorite recipes, complete with little illustrations and cooking tips like serving something sweet with something savory.

Isn’t hand-writing a cookbook a lovely idea? What a thoughtful and enduring legacy. Now, decades later, the mere act of touching the leather-bound cookbook sooths Josie’s soul, enabling her to feel connected to her long-deceased, much loved, and much missed mother.

killer-keepsakes-coverNot all mothers are like that. My mother, for instance, took a different approach to sharing recipes. My mother kept her recipes on index cards filled with lies. She didn’t want anyone to be able to cook her specialties so she changed ingredients, quantities, and/or instructions.

Isn’t that amazing? She lied even to me, her only daughter! My mother was a crackerjack cook, but darn, I wish she hadn’t had that odd kick in her gallop when it came to sharing recipes. I can laugh about it, but I also think it’s sort of sad.

Some of my favorite dishes are gone forever because my mother didn’t write them down. My mother died without passing on her secrets, so I no longer have her luscious cinnamon roll-ups or her red wine pot roast or her quirky Hawaiian chicken.

I include many mentions of food in my Josie Prescott Antiques Mysteries, and I’ve posted many of the recipes on my website, Here are two that are among my favorite dishes, Josie’s Mom’s Scrambled Eggs and Orange Chicken. Preparing and sharing delicious food is one of the ways we humans show our love for one another. I hope you try them, and I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

And if anyone has a good recipe for cinnamon roll-ups, I’d love it if you’d e-mail it to me at

Josie’s Mom’s Scrambled Eggs [from Consigned to Death]
In advance, prepare the egg mixture:
Figure on 2 eggs per person.
1. Crack the eggs one at a time in a small bowl to ensure no shell pieces fall in.
2. Transfer the eggs to a bowl large enough so when you whisk the eggs briskly, there will be no spillage.
3. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
4. Add 1/8 tsp. vanilla per 2 eggs.
5. Add a pinch of freshly ground nutmeg.
6. Whisk the egg mixture briskly. Set aside.
In advance, prepare the vegetables:
One medium-sized tomato per 2 eggs, chopped coarsely. Salt the tomato generously, and stir gently.
½ medium-sized white or yellow onion, chopped finely. Add salt and pepper to the onion to taste.

To prepare the eggs:
1. In a frying pan (choose the size of the pan based on the quantity of eggs you’re cooking), melt
butter over low heat. Plan on using 1 tab of butter per 2 eggs.
2. Add onions and sauté gently until golden brown.
3. Add tomatoes and sauté gently for a minute or two, until the tomatoes are soft, but not mushy.
4. While the tomatoes are cooking, whisk the egg mixture again until it’s frothy.
5. As soon as the tomatoes are ready, add the egg mixture.
6 .Stir occasionally, not allowing any area to be still for more than several seconds.
7. When almost cooked, remove pan from heat and immediately scrape eggs onto plates.
Josie’s mom recommends serving the eggs with a fruit salad, toast (buttered and sprinkled with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar), bacon, and broiled tomatoes.

Orange Chicken
[from Deadly Appraisal]
To prepare the marinade, mix together:
1 c. fresh-squeezed orange juice, with pulp
3 oz. soy sauce
1 tsp. ground ginger
3 garlic cloves, finely minced

1. Remove skin from 2 chicken breasts, split.
2. Marinate, breast down, in orange juice mixture for at least four hours.
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
4. Place chicken pieces breast up in a small baking pan. Make sure the marinade almost covers the chicken.
5. Spread peach jam liberally over the exposed parts of the chicken.
6. Bake for fourty minutes to an hour, basting as needed, until the jam is golden, and the chicken is cooked through, but not dry.
Serve with Wild Rice

8 Replies to “Josie’s Mom’s Cookbook: A Legacy of Love by Guest Author Jane Cleland”

  1. Thanks for being our guest today, Jane! I know you’re at Malice today (I’ll be joining you later today), as part of your busy book tour.

    Your story about your mother lying to you about her ingredients is so interesting. And you’re right, it’s funny but sad, too. I’m sure it would be so great for you to be able to cook the dishes you remember loving as a kid.

  2. Thank you for the recipes! Also, I’m an Antiques Roadshow geek so I need to start reading all about Josie!

    How interesting about your mom’s recipes. My mother-in-law is trying hard to write down recipes that are solely in her head, but whenever she tries to write it down and someone else follows those instructions, it somehow never turns out the same…

  3. Thanks for being our guest. When Nan (a woman who was like our grandmother) passed away, the family took her recipe files and made them into a cookbook for all her friends and family. Whenever I go through it, I think of all the summers we spent on the lake. And as for your mother keeping her ingredients secret, I can kind of sympathize. I always give out the whole recipe when I’m asked, but I’m also always tempted to leave out a key ingredient! It’s awful, I know, but totally human, I think.

  4. Interesting post, Josie, and so sad that your mom didn’t pass those recipes along. Kind of reminds me of people who won’t share babysitters and household help with newcomers to their neighborhood.

    I just finished Jodi Picoult’s latest, HANDLE WITH CARE, and the main character is a pastry chef. Some of the recipes in the book sound indescribably delicious, especially to someone who’s on a low-carb diet. Can’t remember if there was one for cinammon rollups, but it might be worth a look.

  5. Sharing food and sharing knowledge about how to make good food is a wonderful way to share yourself with the people you love. And it’s a way to live on even after you’re no longer around to cook your special recipes. Jane, it makes me sad that your mom didn’t know that. Tiffany – don’t make the same mistake!

  6. Those recipes sound wonderful!

    I think it’s so interesting that your mother held back her key ingredients. We all have little quirks like that, I think. It reminds me of people who won’t let themselves be photographed, even at family events.

  7. Wow, that is so sad…about your mom not sharing…her gifts of good food…ummm…I am so proud that my kids like to cook and share food, it is like love…yummy when given gladly. Too bad I never write stuff down…it is just a little bit of this and a little bit of that and a lot of garlic and imagination. Used to be a lot of salt, but I am trying to cut down.

  8. Jane,
    Sunny Frazier suggested I contact you. She tells me you have a great book about “cooking” that I might enjoy since I write cookbooks. Please send me info regarding the book and where I can find a copy. I do write reviews for all books I read. My reviews go on Amazon, B&N plus about 25 other sites I’m affiliated with. I also post my reviews to my site A Book and A Dish. The only catch to my review is that it will cost you a recipe…. A Book (your book and review) and A Dish (your favorite recipe). This site brings cooks and readers together. You can view for yourself at
    Thank you
    Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat… Finding Joy While Playing in the Kitchen

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