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Thursday, July 28, 2011


Today’s Book Club Friday guest is mystery author Cricket McRae. A former resident of the Pacific Northwest where her novels are set, Cricket McRae has always dabbled in the kind of practical home crafts that were once necessary to everyday life. The magical chemistry of making soap, the satisfaction of canning garden produce, and the sensuous side of fiber arts like spinning and knitting are just of few of the reasons these activities have fascinated her since childhood. As a girl she was as much a fan of Nancy Drew as of Laura Ingalls Wilder, so it's no surprise that her contemporary cozy series features a soap maker with a nose for investigation. For more information about Cricket or the Home Crafting Mystery Series, check out www.cricketmcrae.com or her Hearth Cricket blog at www.hearthcricket.com.
Cricket is offering a copy of Wined and Died, her newest release, to one lucky reader who posts a comment to the blog this week. Check back on Sunday to learn who the winner is. -- AP
I’m so happy to be back at Killer Crafts and Crafty Killers!
In my fifth Home Crafting Mystery, Wined and Died, the ancient craft of mead making provides the milieu for mayhem. A dead psychotherapist’s notes indicate a murder is about to occur. It involves the family who owns the Grendel Meadery, and Sophie Mae races to solve the puzzle before the killer strikes. 
Arguably the oldest alcoholic beverage, mead is simply honey wine. It developed independently all over the world and is the national drink of Ethiopia where it is called T’ej. For centuries, mead was the only type of wine in regions where grapes and other wine-making fruits don’t grow.
Of course, at the heart of mead is honey. You can add any number of fruits, spices, herbs, and even grapes to make different varieties of mead, but they all contain honey. Like grapes, the kind of honey used creates the unique flavor of any given mead.
Honey is really pretty amazing. Raw honey, that is. Heat it and you destroy many of its beneficial qualities. Honey is a natural preservative. You can leave it on the shelf for ten years, and it doesn’t go bad, so the idea of pasteurizing it to kill bacteria is a bit nonsensical. Wine made with honey doesn’t require the addition of sulfates or other preservatives. If you avoid wine because even one glass can give you a headache, try mead instead.
Honey is chock full of antioxidants and has a comparatively low glycemic index. Diabetics tolerate honey better than sugar, and it’s been proven to actually lower cholesterol and benefit vascular health.
In two different studies I found, honey was shown to be a more effective cough suppressant for children ages 2-18 than dextromethorphan (which is found in most over-the-counter cough suppressants).
For centuries honey has been used as an antiseptic for the treatment of burns and wounds. It's a humectant, which means it absorbs moisture, so it’s great for treating poison ivy, poison oak and the like. It also contains glucose oxidase, an enzyme which produces hydrogen peroxide when combined with water. No wonder it’s antiseptic! There’s more: An antibacterial antioxidant unique to honey (called pinocembrin) has been proven to inhibit E-coli.
Eating local honey may help allergies, as well, serving as a kind of vaccination against pollen prevalent in the area where it was harvested.
It’s great to eat, but also good for your skin. Mild alphy hydroxy acids in honey make it an effective exfoliant while balancing out oily skin and stimulating the production of collagen. Pretty cool, huh?
Sophie Mae, my amateur sleuth, has a handmade toiletry business, and one of her favorite simple facial cleansers contains honey. Just mix 1 Tablespoon of honey with 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice and 2 Tablespoons finely ground nuts – almonds are good. Rub the mixture onto your face, leave for a few minutes, and rinse with warm water.
Or, simply add 1/4 cup of honey to your bath water for a luxurious soak!
One quick word of warning though: You should NOT feed honey to children under the age of one, as it may contain a specific form of botulism spore that can cause infant botulism. Honey is safe for children older than twelve months old, though.
I learned so many interesting tidbits as I researched Wined and Died. Thanks for letting me share some of them with your readers, Anastasia!

Thanks for sharing, Cricket. I’m off to mix up that honey cleanser. How about you readers? Comment for a chance to win a copy of Wined and Died. -- AP


Cindy Sample said...

Murder by mead. I love it. This sounds like a terrific series. And I've added honey to my grocery list. Good for your health and your face. If I leave it on for a week will I drop 20 years? Thanks for the informative blogpost.

Cricket McRae said...

Hi Cindy! Be sure to get raw, unprocessed honey. If it crystallizes you can set it in a pan of warm (not hot) water and it will return to liquid form. Oh, and let us know how that week-long honey mask works out!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this informative and intriguing post. Love honey and all the qualities that it has. Your book sounds appealing in everyway. best wishes. Ellie. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

Anonymous said...

Years ago I tried a mead based on a recipe of Thomas Jefferson's. It was delicious. Thanks for all the honey information and for reminding me of a delightful lunch I had in Philadelphia.

Kari Wainwright
gkw9000 at gmail.com

Carol-Lynn Rossel said...

Fascinating nuggets about honey, here. Thanks.


Anonymous said...

I know that this book would be enjoyable and special. The background about honey is extremely helpful and interesting. We always have honey and use it in tea. Many thanks. Pearl. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

Michele Drier said...

I've always loved honey...now I know why! Thanks, Cricket, great post.

Unknown said...

I just bought some honey at the farmer's market this morning! While I love it on toast or in my coffee (buckwheat honey is especially good in coffee), I've never thought of putting it in my bath. Thanks for the tip!

Tempewytch said...

Hmm I've made honey beer but not mead or Metheglin (although I have drunk and enjoyed both!)

Cricket McRae said...

Thanks for stopping by, Ellie!

Kari, the Thomas Jefferson mead recipe sounds intriguing.

Honey nuggets, Carol-Lynn -- love it!

I love honey in tea, too, Pearl.

Thanks, Michele!

Janel, farmers markets are a great place to find local honey. I don't sweeten my coffee, but buckwheat honey sounds delish.

Tempewytch, I seem to remember honey beer is sometimes called braggot, or bracket(?) I'm curious about whether you used malt in yours.

Tempewytch said...

No to malt in it - but this is the recipe link http://tempewytch.typepad.com/tempewytchrecipesdone/2010/10/honey-beer.html

Liz V. said...

Stop by Hearthcricket all the time. Not skilled at crafts myself (yet), but my nieces are. One of them makes soaps for an Amish market, grows organic food, and helps friends at shearing.

Best wishes on the success of Wined and Died.


Cricket, thanks so much for being our guest today!

Cricket McRae said...

Thanks Tempewytch! I'll take a look.

Liz, I'm so glad you stopped by! Your nieces sound amazing.

Anastasia, I had a blast. Thanks so much for hosting me.

Fricka said...

Cricket, your book, Wined and Died, sounds like just the kind of cozy mystery I like to read. I certainly was not aware that there was such a thing as a 'meadery', so I'm sure reading your book will be educational for me as well as enjoyable reading.Besides that, I'm a sucker for a pun--love the title of your book. Thanks for stopping by here this weekend.

Cathy Shouse said...

This was an interesting post about honey and I had forgotten why the pediatrician said not to give a baby honey.

I'm not crafty and love honey. favorite way to have honey is to get a plain McDonald's breakfast biscuit and ask for honey instead of jelly. Yum! Is honey high in calories?

Would love to win the book
cathy underscore shouse at yahoo dot com

Anonymous said...

I love to read mysteries and just loved reading Lye in Wait...can't wait to read more Cricket McRae. Even may try some of the recipes - sure sound like they might make great gifts for Christmas this year!

Jackie Tempe at cnjtemple@msn.com