featuring guest authors; crafting tips and projects; recipes from food editor and sleuthing sidekick Cloris McWerther; and decorating, travel, fashion, health, beauty, and finance tips from the rest of the American Woman editors.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


We’re always happy to welcome back F. M. Meredith/Marilyn Meredith to Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers. F.M. is the author of over 35 published books including the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series and the Rocky Bluff P.D. series. She enjoys writing about police officers and their families and how what happens on the job affects the family and vice versa. Having several members of her own family involved in law enforcement, as well as many friends, she’s witnessed some of this first-hand. Learn more about F.M. at her website and blog.

Trying New Recipes
One of my granddaughters said to me, “I wonder how many dinners you’ve cooked.” I have no idea, but probably in the thousands. When we were first married, we didn’t have much money so I fixed every meal we ate. The money situation didn’t improve much as our family increased with five kids.  Not only did I feed my family, but often the kids’ friends, and it seemed that our adult friends dropped in at dinnertime, too. Sometimes I’d have to get imaginative to get the meal to stretch.

Often I would make up recipes or try new ones I found in magazines. I never really worried about whether the kids would like what I fixed or not, I just didn’t want to fix the same meals all the time.

On Mother’s Day, my eldest daughter posted something on Facebook that brought back a lot of memories. I’m going to share part of it here.

“I read a story in Readers’ Digest about how different dishes brought back memories of holidays, birthdays or a certain person - like the writer’s mother who was nostalgic about corn bread and beans.

Of course, that got me to thinking about my mom and food. There really wasn’t just one dish that made me think of her and I know why, my mom was known as a great experimental cook.

The good part about that, you never got bored with what Mom put on your plate. The bad part was, what might end up on your plate didn’t always look so good - not that it didn’t all start out being edible, it just didn’t always end up that way, at least looking at it from a kid’s point of view.

Before you get to feeling too sorry for me, let me tell you, there were times we would end up with something yummy on the plate but, for my mom, repetitive cooking was not very exciting so you might never see that dish again. Mom’s favorite meal time invitation was, “something new for dinner...”

I used to hate when I’d come home from school and see a new women’s magazine on the coffee table because that meant – new recipes. Mom had lots of cookbooks which had many recipes, most cut from magazines, sticking out from between the pages, willy-nilly, like a wild hairdo. I always wondered if she had a filing system in there but I think she saved them all, whether we liked them or not.

My mom is still pretty experimental around the kitchen but either her experiments have improved or my taste buds have changed because now when I get to eat something she’s cooked, it tastes pretty good. Maybe it’s because I appreciate her so much more now than I did when I was a kid. Thanks, Mom, for always loving me, even when I was a picky eater!”

After the kids were grown, hubby and I became the owner/operators of a licensed six-bed care home for developmentally disabled women. Guess what? I still cooking big meals, not only for hubby and me and the gals, but we often had family and friends visiting, too. And I was still trying new recipes.

Though we’ve retired, my son and his wife live next door and their daughter and granddaughter close by, so I’m still cooking for everyone—and trying new recipes.

The other night I made my version of Chinese Chicken Salad. And this is how I did it.

First, I cooked frozen chicken tenders in the oven according to the package directions, after coating them with soy sauce. Once they were cooled, I cut them into bite-sized pieces.

I used one of those big packages of pre-washed and cut salad greens as the base of the salad and these are the ingredients I added:

2 cans of mandarin oranges, drained
1 can water chestnuts cut in half, drained
1 bunch green onions, sliced, including the ends
1 cup of nuts (I used almonds, but cashews would be good)
1 large red pepper, sliced
The cooked chicken pieces

I mixed everything together and topped with La Choy chow mien noodles.

My preference for dressing is seasoned rice vinegar. Other members of my family preferred non-Oriental dressings.

This is one of those recipes that you can easily make substitutions, except I wouldn’t leave out the mandarin oranges.

No matter how much cooking I had to do, I always had a writing project going, too, even when I had my care home. In fact, I think I got more writing done during those years than any others, because I worked on a schedule in order to accomplish everything I had to do and wanted to do.

Murder in the Worst Degree
#10 in the Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery series by F. M. Meredith.

The body that washes up on the beach leads Detectives Milligan and Zachary on a murder investigation that includes the victim’s family members, his housekeeper, three long-time friends, and a mystery woman.

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Susan Oleksiw said...

Sounds like a very tasty salad. I'll give it a try. I do recall favorite meals and special tastes--wonderful memories.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

I have cooked all my life--and I tend to get bored so like to try something new. Yes, I like to cook, but not every day. Fortunately, I now have a daughter-in-law who is a great cook and fills in for me sometimes.

I am thrilled to be a guest here today.

sue mcginty said...

This is similar to the chicken salad I make Marilyn, except amazingly I never thought of Chinese noodles. Love them, will try that next time. Also, I agree, have to have the mandarin oranges. I can get a big can in the $ store for a buck.

Lorna Collins - said...

Sounds good--and easy! I used to enjoy cooking, but after doing it since I was a little kid... Not so much anymore!

Janet Greger said...

The recipe looks good. I also enjoyed your memories of dinners past.
JL Greger

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

People always turned up at our house to eat and we were so poor back in the day--I was great at stretching meals. Sue, I have made this salad other ways too. Lorna, you're a great cook. Thanks for stopping by Janet and Susan.

Karen McCullough said...

Your salad sounds delicious! I was such a bad cook that once the picky eaters (all three kids) moved out, he insisted on taking over cooking duties. He likes doing it a lot more than I do.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Hi Karen, not everything I cook turns out wonderfully, but the failures are few and far between.

Angela Adams said...

Thanks for the recipe!

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Angela, it's an easy one, and you can add other stuff if you like.