It’s my pleasure to welcome author Cricket McRae back to Thoughts in Progress as she launches her mini-blog tour for the latest installment in her Home Crafting Mystery series, WINED AND DIED.
I’ve asked Cricket to share a bit about her current release and about mead making. Cricket will be stopping by periodically today to respond to your comments and answer any questions you might have.
Thanks for hosting me on the first stop in my blog mini-tour, Mason! I’m delighted to guest on Thoughts in Progress.
The fifth Home Crafting Mystery, WINED AND DIED, officially releases today. I’ve included soap making, food preservation, spinning and cheese making in previous books in the series. This time the colonial home craft that serves as the backdrop to murder and mayhem is mead making.
“Something is brewing in Cadyville, and it's not only dandelion wine. Sophie Mae is intrigued by a recently discovered cassette recording in which a therapist fearfully contemplates her client's murderous threats. When the same therapist ends up dead, Sophie Mae is lured into another intoxicating investigation, one that explores the age-old art of mead and wine making.”
In this book, Meghan is visiting her long-distance beau in New Jersey, and Barr and Sophie Mae are caring for Erin. As a result, the precocious almost twelve-year-old takes on a larger role in the investigation than usual. Add in a little soap making, a big business contract, a new employee for Sophie Mae, a bit of drug dealing and a family of oddballs who own the local meadery and let the games begin!
Mead is honey wine, the most simple of which is a fermented combination of honey and water. Some say it was the first recorded alcoholic beverage, though others argue beer came first. However, honey could ferment without the help of any human interaction.
Hives in the hollows of trees, especially certain species in Africa, would flood during torrential rains and then the sweetened water would ferment due to the natural yeasts in the air. Indeed, I found a recipe for mead that consists of basically mixing honey and water and leaving it on the kitchen counter to ferment. It’s much the same recipe that I give in the back of WINED AND DIED for making homemade ginger beer using sugar, water, and ginger.
Though Paleolithic peoples may have accidentally discovered the mood-altering gift of the gods, the Egyptians, Romans and Greeks developed hive systems and harvested honey specifically for mead production – the nectar of the gods and high-born alike.
There are many sub-varieties of mead, and the primary one in WINED AND DIED is a methaglin. A methaglin is a mead brewed with spices and herbs. The term is a combination of the Latin word for medicine with the Old Irish word for liquor. The alcohol extracts herbal constituents better than plain water or oil, and in the past the sweet taste of mead would have masked unpleasant tastes from medicinal herbs. Nowadays, however, the herbs and spices are added more to enhance the flavor of honey wine.
The idea for incorporating mead into this book came from my friends Bob and Amy who, one evening after dinner, brought two small bottles up from the basement, popped them open, and reverently poured the contents into four champagne flutes. Elixir of the gods, indeed. They brewed it using champagne yeast, and brut dry, sparkling and light, it tasted like no other mead I’d ever tried. I had to find out more, and then, of course, I had to write about it.
Kirkus says of WINED AND DIED, “…a tutorial on mead and a dash of soapmaking, all wrapped around a credible mystery.”
Thanks again for hosting me, Mason!
Cricket, thank you for guest blogging. It’s always fun to find out what Sophie Mae is up to while learning new recipes and tips I can use. Mead making sounds like fun, I may have to give it a try.
Now for a bit of background on Cricket. Her books are available in trade paperback and as downloads for Kindle and Nook. In honor of the recent release of WINED AND DIED, you can enter to win a free Author Website ($900 value!) from the creative folks at Bizango Websites for Writers until July 29, 2011. For more details and information on how to enter, please visit her blog at www.hearthcricket.com . For more information about Cricket or her books, check out www.cricketmcrae.com .
Have you ever tried your hand at wine or beer making? If so, what was the outcome? Remember if you have any questions, Cricket will be dropping by off and on today. I appreciate each and everyone of y’all. Thanks so much for stopping by. Be sure to check out the 5th installment in Cricket’s Home Crafting Mystery series.