Daisy Swanson is dealing with a lot of life changes—some more exciting than others. While she’s definitely looking forward to getting married to her fiancé, Jonas Groft, in the not-too-distant future, she’s far less excited about her younger daughter Jazzi leaving for college in the summer. Not that Jazzi has quite decided where she’s going yet; the levelheaded teenager is still carefully considering all her options.
Daisy’s older daughter Vi, however, has a definite destination in mind when moving out of the carriage-house apartment Daisy put together for Vi’s young family on her property. Vi, her husband, Foster, and their young son, Sammi, will only be moving ten minutes away, but Daisy is having a lot of feelings about all of this. She doesn’t want to overwhelm her family with her emotions though, so she throws herself into running the tea garden she shares with her Aunt Iris instead.
Planning a wedding anniversary celebration for her parents enables her to distract herself further. She’ll be throwing a dinner party for them at local restaurant The Farm Barn and is working closely with its owner, Lydia Aldenkamp, to make sure the festivities go off without a hitch. It helps that Daisy and Lydia have become good friends since meeting some months prior. Kind, sympathetic Daisy has come to learn a lot about the formerly Amish woman who left her faith and community over a decade ago in order to marry her non-Amish husband, Neil. Occasionally, Daisy will even bring her dog, Felix, to join Lydia on the walks the latter takes at seven o’clock each morning no matter the weather.
When Lydia doesn’t appear one day for the walk they were planning to take together, Daisy isn’t too concerned. But Felix knows that something’s wrong and leads Daisy to where Lydia lies dead on their usual hiking trail, the apparent victim of a hit and run. The cops immediately suspect Neil’s involvement in his wife’s murder. Neil begs Daisy for help in clearing his name, as she has a track record of helping the local police solve murders. While Daisy is reluctant to take Neil off the suspect list entirely, she does feel bad for his little girl, Frannie, and knows that Lydia would want her to uncover the truth as quickly as possible. But Daisy can’t help questioning her own motives. Tracking down killers has gotten her into a world of trouble before and likely will again. What does it say about her that she keeps doing it despite it being nowhere near her job to do so?
I really love not only the solution to the main murder mystery but also the way Karen Rose Smith thoughtfully explores Daisy’s compulsions and instincts. Daisy is going through a lot, but even so, she’s reluctant to take Jazzi’s sage advice when the latter suggests therapy. It proves incredibly helpful, however, in helping Daisy figure out why she always feels the need to get involved in solving murder mysteries. This cozy series often features keen psychological insight, and Murder with Earl Grey Tea might well be the sharpest installment so far!
There were four delicious recipes included, dishes mentioned in the book, and I was really intrigued by this one:
1 cup all-purpose flour
⅓ cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 large egg
½ cup milk
¼ cup melted butter
1 cup canned corn or cooked frozen corn, drained
In a bowl, stir flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt until mixed. Beat the egg with a fork. Whisk the beaten egg with the milk. Add to the dry mixture. Stir by hand. The batter will be a little lumpy. Add melted butter and mix well. The batter should look smoother. Stir in the corn until mixed well through the batter.
Pour batter into a greased and floured 8×8-inch square pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until cake is golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.
Cut into squares and serve warm or cold. Refrigerate leftovers.
Wow, this really is a more cake-like version of cornbread! I love cornbread myself but can absolutely appreciate how someone might like a slightly lighter, airier version of it. It’s a super easy, relatively quick recipe to make, and it sure is a crowd-pleaser. My family of picky eaters gobbled up the whole pan!
Next week, we travel to the West Coast to fry up a savory vegetarian dish while investigating the death of a prominent restaurateur. Do join me!
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