Lemon Scones

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So in the Miss Marple mystery we have quite a few tea parties. And what do we need at a tea party?

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Tea and Scones!

As I have a tree that produces a lot of lemons, I am always trying to find lemon recipes to use them. This Lemon Scone recipe comes from Eat Up and Slim Down: Tried and True Recipes and Tips from Real Weight-Loss Winners by Jane Kirby and David Joachim.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups of Unbleached or All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 Tablespoon of Baking Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon of Ground Cardamom or Coriander
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 3 Tablespoons of Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon of Safflower Oil
  • 3 Egg Whites
  • 1/2 Cup of Low-Fat Plain or Lemon Yogurt
  • 1 Tablespoon of Grated Lemon Peel

Directions:

  1. Preheat the Oven to 400 degrees F and coat a baking sheet with nonstick spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine cardamom or coriander, salt, and 2 tablespoons of sugar.
  3. Drizzle with oil and mix with a fork, until evenly distributed.
  4. Reserve one tablespoon of egg whites.
  5. Stir in yogurt, lemon peel, and remaining egg whites into flour mixture.
  6. Stir gently until mixture holds together.
  7. Put mixture on lightly floured surface and knead about 8 strokes to mix dough.
  8. Pt out dough to form an 8″ circle and cur evenly into 8 wedges.
  9. Arrange wedges about 1″ apart on the baking sheet.
  10. Brush with reserved egg whites and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of sugar.
  11. Bake 15 mins or until golden brown. Makes 8 scones.

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Thoughts After Baking:

I thought it was pretty good, although not really lemon tasting at all.

What?

Next time I’ll do lemon yogurt instead of plain. But otherwise they were tasty and I’ll be making them again.

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For more scone recipes, go to Harlem Tea Room Baking Powder Scones

For more lemon recipes, go to Mini Lemon Pancake Cookies

For more Low-Calorie dishes, go to Pumpkin Spice Cake

For more recipes, go to Caesar Salad

Pumpkin Spice Cake

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Thoughts Before Cooking:

This recipe comes from the Weight Watchers cookbook, Simply Delicious: 245 No-Fuss Recipes-All 8 Points or Less.

My mother was going to a party and since a lot of the women attending were trying to lose weight, she thought it would be the perfect thing to make. She wasn’t going to be able to bake it, but asked me to do it instead, supplying all the ingredients.

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Ingredients:

  • 3 Cups of Flour
  • 2 Cups of Granulated (White) Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon of Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 1 Tablespoon of Baking Powder
  • 1/4 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 4 Large Eggs
  • 1/2 Cup of Sunflower oil
  • 1/2 Cup of Fat-Free Milk
  • 1-15 oz. Can of Pumpkin Purée
  • 2 Teaspoons of Vanilla Extract
  • 3/4 Cup of Confectioner (Powdered) Sugar
  • 1.5 Tablespoons of Fresh Lemon Juice.

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Spray a 10-inch bunt pan or two loaf pans with nonstick spray, then lightly dust with flour.
  3. Combine the flour, granulated sugar, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
  4. Combine the oil, eggs, milk, pumpkin purée, and vanilla in another bowl.
  5. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture; stirring until blended.
  6. Pour the batter into the pan or pans. Bake for 55-60 mins, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  7. Cool in pan for 15 mins, then remove and cool for 30 mins.
  8. Combine the confectioners/powdered sugar and lemon juice in a bowl. Drizzle over the warm cake and serve at once. Or cool cake completely and drizzle with glaze just before serving.

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So I ran into a slight problem making this.

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It turns out I accidentally did too much pumpkin purée. When my mom said she was going to supply the ingredients, I thought she meant exact, and I didn’t even look at the ounces on the can. It came out horrible and mushy gross. It was also really flat.

 

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First Time

But as that was my fault, I made it again and this is how it came out the second time:

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Much Better!!!

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Thoughts After Baking:

So yes, the second time was much better than the first. When this cake was made the right way it was phenomenal. I just loved it!

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For more cake recipes, go to Orange Chocolate Cake

For more pumpkin recipes, go to Pumpkin Rice Krispie Treats

For more low-calorie recipes, go to Pasta with Prosciutto, Cherry Tomatoes, and Asiago

For more desserts, go to 1-2-3-4 Peanut Butter Cookies

For more recipe reviews, go to Caesar Salad

Cream Puff Murder

cream puff murder

Cream Puff Murder (Hannah Swensen Mysteries #11)

So Hannah’s mother, Delores, is planing a huge party to celebrate the release of her newest Regency themed book. She has ordered special gowns for her daughters to wear to the event. The only problem? Hannah’s dress is much, much too small.

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Only one thing left for her to do: Diet.

Diet

While she hates working out, she decides to join her sister, Andrea, in her new exercise regime at the newest gym, Heavenly Bodies. Now why is Andrea working out? Well even though she looks great, with Ronni Ward, three time bikini queen and always after men married or single, Andrea has been feeling insecure.

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And she isn’t the only one Ronni is upsetting. Almost every female in Lake Eden is upset with Ronni’s return and her putting the moves on their men.

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But Hannah has other things to focus on: such as creating the perfect dessert for her mother’s party, and getting in shape to fit the dress.

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As everyone involved has agreed that Hannah’s cream puffs are the perfect choice for the party; Hannah does a few trial runs on flavors. Mike sees them and buys them for Ronni’s party as he thinks they will be just perfect.

Really Mike?

Really Mike? Really? Buy something from one girlfriend for another?

The next day Andrea and Hannah head to the gym, using their member key to get in really early. After they have worked hard, they decide to head to the jacuzzi for a reward.

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Andrea continues her workout a bit longer as Hannah goes first. There she finds a huge mess from Ronni’s party. Food and drink stuff, both of which are not supposed to be in the pool/jacuzzi area.

Come on, guys. You didn't even clean up?

Come on, guys. You didn’t even clean up?

But then as Hannah looks further, she finds a dead body. Ronni.

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She’s been Murdered.

Murder

Almost the entire sheriff’s department is suspended as they either had a relationship with her, like Mike, or was a friend, like Bill. With only two newbies left and having to bring in outside assistance; Hannah decides it is up to her group to solve the crime. She, Norman, Andrea, Michelle, Delores, and even Carrie set out on the case.

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Thoughts After Reading:

This is one of the few Hannah Swensen Mysteries I actually enjoy.

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I know, a real shocker. I liked this because the end wasn’t predictable. Fluke leads down a path that causes you to think is the end is totally obvious. It has to be this person, it just has to. They are the only one who makes sense.

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Fake information is  even given by another character to steer you away from who you think it is, but it makes you think even more that the person you are thinking of is the killer.

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But then at the end when you have the reveal, you are completely amazed as you discover you were looking in the wrong direction the whole time.

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And it isn’t one of those weird, completely out of left field endings either. This one made total sense.

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So that was the good. Now let’s look at the bad.

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Hannah and Mike’s Relationship

Really Mike?

Really Mike?

So there is this love triangle between Mike, Hannah, and Norman. And I really don’t know why it is there. Norman loves Hannah and Mike loves having a good time. Mike is a horrible boyfriend as he doesn’t want to commit himself, but have fun with other ladies as well. Norman on the other hand is perfect. Why can’t Hannah see that already. I mean, argh, it just makes me so upset to have to read about how she can’t decide when the answer is clearly in front of her face.

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So let’s begin out Mike is a loser countdown:

A) Hannah: “[Mike’s] not mine. I’m not even sure he is partially mine, not when Ronni’s living in the apartment across the hall from him.” (pg. 6-7)

If he “isn’t” yours, and so eager to bounce to the new babe in town; why are you even with him? Just dump the chump already. He’ll move on quickly.

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B) Mike: “Sometimes I wish you’d taken me up on my marriage proposal. Then I could eat like this every night.” pg. 66

  1. First of all, Mike only proposed after he heard Norman was going to. Norman built Hannah her dream house. Mike ran out and bought a ring just because he didn’t want Norman to “win”.
  2. Second, Mike hardly ever takes Hannah out; instead making her always cook for him, and usually late even though he knows she gets up early in the morning to bake.
  3. Third, he states the only reason he is sad that Hannah turned him down is because she can’t cook for him every night. Really? Why is there a contest again?

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C) Norman: “I love you too. And I know telling you what to do is a lost cause. You never listen anyway. I’ll see you in about forty-five minutes with steak and salad and two types of cookies.” pg. 76

When Mike hears that Hannah is going on a diet, he tells her that will be good she needs to lose weight. Norman asks why she needs to change when she is already beautiful. Mike tells Hannah read this book, investigate like that, blah, blah, blah; Norman shares his advice and then lets Hannah choose whatever she wants. When Mike calls to take Hannah “out” she always ends up cooking for him, with Norman he takes her to the restaurant or brings the restaurant to her.

He's perfect.

He’s perfect.

D) At Midnight Mike Calls and Wakes Hannah Up Having Her Meet Him in The Freezing Parking Garage and Having Her Bring Him Coffee.

Mike doesn’t want a girlfriend he wants a maid and assistant. And he knows she wakes up at like four in the morning and works all day. He’s suspended, he can wake up at four talk to her then and then go back to bed. He’s a jerk. Let her get her beauty sleep!

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E) Mike: “I just wanted you to know that there was nothing between Ronni and me. I know it looks bad, but there wasn’t…She needed a friend, a shoulder to cry on. I guess she was using me, but I didn’t mind being helpful…She was always calling me to come over for something and I went because…well…we had a lot in common since we both worked for the Sheriff’s department…I know it is going to come out that I slept at her place a few nights. We’d be watching a movie or something, I’d fall asleep on her couch. She never woke me. She’d go to bed and let me wake up on my own the next morning.” pg. 169-170

Really Mike? Really. So Ronni was your “friend”, the same way Shawna was your “friend”. In fact if Shawna hadn’t also been murdered; he would be messing around with her too.

And all these “she invited me over” crap? In every book 90% of the time Mike invites himself over or shows up on Hannah’s doorstep, like he’d be any different with Ronni.

He’s a jerk so cut him loose!

duh

F) Norman Makes Her a Low-Calorie Breakfast After Spoiling Her with the Incredible House, A Roaring Fire, Soft Bed, Plush Towels, and Two Cats.

Hannah stays the night at the master suite while Norman takes the guest room. It is an incredible and ritzy place. Then to top it off, he makes her an absolutely scrumptious breakfast, carefully measuring everything out so that he doesn’t ruin her diet.

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G) Mike: “Hannah…Where have you been? I’ve been calling you every hour since midnight!

Hannah: He’d called her at midnight. Again. Mike wasn’t concerned that she hadn’t had a full night’s sleep since Ronni was murdered. He’d probably wanted her to meet him in the garage again with a thermos of coffee and cookies so that he could give her more instructions on investigative procedure.” pg. 282

Hannah you said it. That is all he wants.

How rude

H) Mike: “I should have known someone would tell you, but I didn’t think you’s run to Norman on the rebound…It didn’t mean anything, Hannah. It was just…convenient, you know? She was right across the hall from me and…these things happen. You’re an adult. You know that.” pg. 283

ohnoyoudidn't

So first you lie, lie  about your relationship with Ronni? And then you try to excuse that behavior by saying it “just happened” and “that’s what adults do”?

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NO! NO! And NO! Good-bye.

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I) Nancy: “Keep your eyes open Hannah. If you find a man who doesn’t think he is the hero, grab him and give him a hug because he’s the only realist in the room.”

Hannah: “[To Norman] Do you think she modeled the Duke of Oakwood after you?

Norman: “After me?…What are you talking about, Hannah?…The Duke of Oakwood is about as far from my character as you can get.” pg. 333

Norman is fantastic. Pick him. Then the two could be the Tommy and Tuppence of the midwest. Besides that, he really loves her.

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For more Hannah Swensen Mysteries, go to Carrot Cake Murder

For more mystery reviews, go to The Harlot’s Tale

Vegetable Soup

thecatwhocookbook

So you have heard of my sister blog: janeaustenrunsmylife.wordpress.com, but I have another sister blog. This one is thecatwhowroteablog.wordpress.com. This blog covers all the books in The Cat Who… mystery series, making recipes mentioned in the book from The Cat Who Cookbook. This recipe is from there.

Now you may wonder, why didn’t I just repost the blog post, like I did for Pride & Prescience (Or a Truth Universally Acknowledged) ? Well thecatwhowroteablog does things a little differently than I do. They post every recipe they make from the particular book in one post, while I like to draw it out doing one at a time.

Thoughts Before Cooking:

I was looking for recipes to use that were low sodium and such for my nana who was visiting. This  recipe was perfect for the cool day and her dietary restrictions.

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Ingredients:

  • 2  14.5 Ounce Cans of Vegetable Broth
  • 1/2 Cup of Chopped Onion
  • 1/2 Cup of  Chopped Celery
  • 1 Clove Garlic, Minced
  • 1 Cup of Sliced Carrots
  • 1 Cup of Diced Potatoes
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1/4 Cup of Barley
  • Salt & Pepper to Taste

Directions:

  1. Place all the ingredients in a pot and simmer, covered, until vegetables are tender and are cooked.
  2. Remove the bay leaf before serving.
  3. Serves 4-6 people.

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Thoughts After Cooking:

While thecatwhowroteablog used lentils instead of barely, I went the way the recipe is actually written.

So my soup wasn’t as good as thecatwhowroteablog claimed this recipe was. I think that mostly had to do with the fact that my grandmother with health issues was joining us, and I had to use the low sodium bland vegetable broth.

It wasn’t horrible, but with regular broth it would have tasted a whole lot better.

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For more soup recipes, go to Zucchini-Tomato Soup

For more low calorie recipes, go to Dark Choco Almond Butter Cookies

For more recipes, go to Cheesy Pesto Pull Apart Bread

Lemon Meringue Pie Murder

Lemon Meringue Pie Murder

Lemon Meringue Murder (Hannah Swenson #4) by Joanne Fluke

So before I even start reviewing this piece, I thought I would point out something I noticed on the back cover:

In her third top-of-the line culinary cozy…” –Publishers Weekly

Third? Third? I guess Publishers Weekly doesn’t know how to count. This is the fourth book. It goes 1)Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder

1.5) Candy for Christmas

2) Strawberry Shortcake Murder

3) Blueberry Muffin Murder

4) Lemon Meringue Murder

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So now to the review!

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So the winter blues have been kissed good-bye, as we now enter the summer months with the upcoming 4th of July.

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Hannah is getting ready to wear her summer slacks, when she finds out that she cannot fit in them.

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That means only one thing, a DIET

Diet

In happier news, Norman calls to let Hannah know that he bought a house! Or rather he bought the perfect land from Rhonda Scharf to build their dream house.

Wedding

While Norman is building the house they designed together, he doesn’t ask her to marry him. This tiny nugget becomes a huge part of the plot as Hannah wonders why Norman hasn’t asked her, but yet at the same time doesn’t want to be asked as she doesn’t want to get married. You know what I have to say on that?

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Come on Hannah, Norman knows you better than you know yourself and can tell you would say no. Hearing you go on and on about it is completely boring.

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In fact I find the whole Norman-Hannah-Mike love triangle completely dumb and am over it. Please end it. I mean it is clear that Hannah and Mike are only physical and won’t work long term; just choose Norman and put us readers out of their misery.

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Later Jed and Freddy stop by Hannah’s shop. Freddy is a developmentally disabled adult and Jed is his cousin. Freddy’s parents died and Jed has been helping take care of him ever since. The two form a handyman service, one of their regular customers being The Cookie Jar. Along with being paid, Hannah always gives them some treats.

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Hannah notices that Jed seems to be spending quite a bit lately. Wonder where he is getting all the dough?

HMMM

The next day Mike returns from a trip and is mad that Norman is building a house for Hannah and that Norman proposed. All I can say Mike, if you weren’t such a rover maybe you would have the sense to ask Hannah yourself.

But the problem is, you just can’t give up other girls. But Hannah still likes this dude, and assures him she is engagement free. Mike is pleased and tells her “I don’t want to change anything. Everything’s great just the way it is.” Great for who? You. And with that attitude you can’t blame Norman for being a man and trying to move the relationship forward. But enough on that stupid drama.

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Oh yeah, so in this mystery Hannah says that her pies are something she changes up every week. Pie? Funny that was never mentioned in the previous books. And it won’t be mentioned again, until Key Lime Murder.

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So Norman, Delores Swenson (Hannah’s mom), and Hannah head out to the Rhonda’s house so Delores can pick over any pieces she wants for her antique shop before the wrecking balls destroy it.

When they get into the house they discover one of Hannah’s pies covered in ants. She also notices two takeout containers with osso buco. And inside the house are two wineglasses and a Chianti bottle. Sounds like someone had a party.

While Hannah and Norman are clearing things upstairs, Delores heads down to the basement and discovers a dead body, Rhonda’s.

AAAAHHHHH

So Hannah reassures everyone that she will not be investigating.

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Whatever Hannah, you know you can’t help but put your nose into everything.

So while Hannah is “determined” to stay out of it, Delores wants to investigate, and urges Hannah to join her team.

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Hannah tracks down who purchased her pies, three going to Claire who owns the boutique next to The Cookie Jar. There she discovers that Claire gave Rhonda one of her pies, and that Claire is dating the Reverend.

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Later, after catering and other duties, Hannah returns to The Cookie Jar where she runs into Jed and Freddy, looking to get paid for their hard work. Through some very clunky, (and bad), exposition, we find out that Jed used to be in prison. He was supposedly only an outside contractor, and received a huge check which allows him to buy all these things he has been purchasing lately.

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Hannah and Mike meet up that evening for dinner. They talk about the case which then leads into a discussion on Freddy and Jed. Hannah doesn’t like Jed as he introduces “ideas Freddy can’t handle.” Like buying a new truck or getting interested in girls.

Oh no Hannah, the horror! Freddy likes a new truck and will be riding around in it. Next thing you know he will be getting involved in drugs and end up in jail.

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 And girls? Developmentally disabled people can get married and do regularly. Obviously Fluke doesn’t know anyone developmentally disabled. Although we really know why this is introduced, Fluke wants to establish Jed as the villian and killer.

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SPOILER, you say? As soon as they announced Jed used to be in jail it is clear that he is being set up as the murderer. Totally obvious.

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Hannah then goes on the trail of the osso buco, trying to find out who Rhonda’s boyfriend was. One person who ordered take out was the Reverend, Hannah goes over to talk to Claire and finds out that he brought dinner for their night out. She also is told by Claire that Claire wants to be the Reverend’s wife. The only thing stopping her? She doesn’t know how to read sheet music or play the organ.

really?

Now it is things like this that really makes me question whether Fluke is living in the present time. This book is published in 2003, not 1962. Most churches do not have an organ anymore, they have switched to pianos or keyboards. And if they do have an organist, they hire someone. It is not a requirement for a minister’s wife. And how should I know such things? From experience, I’m a minister’s daughter.

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Hannah does manage to track down Rhonda’s boyfriend, figuring out that it is the high school principal. He apparently went there to break it off, not staying very long and Rhonda very much alive when he left. So it it wasn’t the boyfriend? Then who is the murderer.

Freddy comes by The Cookie Jar the next day. He drops off a surprise for Jed, that he “lost” in the trash. Hannah agrees to hold it, once again being clunky thrown in.

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As Hannah is investigating, another mystery crops up. Old bills from a bank robbery about 30 years ago have resurfaced. Who could be behind it? Is it connected to Rhonda’s death?

Hannah returns to Rhonda’s old house and takes some photographs in the basement. When they look at them again they discover that there is something wrong with the jam jars. They are not organized as they should be, with the jam on the wrong shelves. That means someone was over there and there must be something important there.

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There is also this moment when Andrea is planning on making red, white, & blue jello; but in the end can’t as they don’t make blue jello. I distinctly remember eating it when I was a child, and when I looked it up blue jello was invented in 1992. Andrea totally should have been able to buy it.

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Hannah gets caught up in a storm and finds herself at Beatrice’s and Ted’s apartment complex, the place that Rhonda rented from. Hannah comes in to call and let her family know she is safe. Beatrice offers to give her Rhonda’s clothes. Hannah uses that time to snoop and discovers a letter to Rhonda’s great-aunt.

The letter is from a prison inmate, Speedy. He talks about a treasure hunt they would go on and her peach jam.

suspicious Hmm

The 4th of July comes and everything seems great. That is until they find a bludgeoned Freddy. Luckily they get him to the hospital in time. There Freddy is in a coma, but will be brought out. Jed is disheartened, and Hannah tries to cheer him up telling him about Freddy’s surprise.

Hannah heads to the bakery the next morning to work on some dough. As she does she starts thinking about the note, Rhonda, etc and puts it all together. Speedy hid the money in Rhonda’s house, the one that used to belong to her aunt. Rhonda found it when she was cleaning things out. From there Jed found it and is the murderer as he he is spending a ton of money.

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To me that seems like an awfully big leap.

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Jed comes to get the “surprise”, but Hannah manages to beat him to it. He then locks her in her cooler. He admits it all, just as Hannah figured it out. Hannah tries to get out, becoming some super electrician and figuring the right wire to cut that will make someone investigate. How does she know such complex things?

What?

At least when Nancy Drew did it, she always explained where she got such knowledge from, and how she has done it before. Not just a casual conversation with her father 20 years ago.

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In the end Lisa and Herb get engaged and Hannah discovers she switched pants with Andrea. She never had to diet after all.

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Thoughts After Reading:

As you can tell I didn’t really care for this mystery. There were a lot of plot pieces left out, such as how Jed figured out about the money. And some things didn’t make any sense. To be completely honest, to me it seemed like a slapped together, overly complicated mystery.

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For more Hannah Swenson mysteries, go to Blueberry Muffin Murder

For more midwestern mysteries, go to Thorns of Rosewood

For more reviews, go to The Princess Plot