Moving into her second decade working in education, Jodi Rath has decided to begin a life of crime in The Cast Iron Skillet Mystery Series. She splits her time between working as an adjunct for Ohio teachers and creating mischief in her fictional writing. Learn more about Jodi and her books at her website.
Fiction or Reality?
Being someone who has wanted to be a writer for the last forty years, now that I can pursue my dream, I do it with a vengeance. I spent twenty years in education as a high school English teacher. Before that, I worked as a Vice President of a credit union. Before that I worked in communications and advertising. All of these jobs were more than an eight-hour workday. Teaching was by far the most challenging and time-consuming as it took a toll on me mentally and drained my energy, but that’s a good thing. A teacher needs to care about her students, and I cared a lot. I was not able to entirely leave education when I dived into writing.
Here I am at age 46 with a whole new career path as a business owner. My business is split into the education side, where I teach up to ten online courses working with Ohio teachers. Also, I write on deadline monthly for multiple educational blogs and affiliations. The other side of my business is writing my culinary cozy mystery series, The Cast Iron Skillet Mystery Series. I also work as a marketing consultant for authors in my spare time.
So far, I have had success with book one, Pineapple Upside Down Murder, which came out in November of 2018. Book two, Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread Murder, comes out June 21st. Currently, I’m working on Turkey Basted to Death, a Thanksgiving book, which is really fun but weird writing about Thanksgiving in June. That book will come out on November 18th.
While I thought education won with the most multi-tasking and hours put into a job, I was completely wrong. My current business, while enjoyable—and often feeling like play—has me working sixteen to eighteen-hour days, seven days a week. I used to be someone who went to bed and woke up at the same times every day. Now, I sleep and work at various times within any twenty-four-hour period.
As a kid, teen, and throughout my twenties, I would fantasize about the day I could be a full-time writer—and here I am—AND, it’s working. I’ve found that a lot of me comes through in my protagonist, Jolie Tucker. Also, I tend to write a lot about my family and friends in my series. It is fictional—mostly. All of the cats on the covers of my books are based on one of the sixteen cats that my hubby and I have had over our seventeen years together.
My latest book, Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread Murder, has a spicy twist to the plot. I loved testing out tasty cornbread recipes, then playing with the recipes to find one that matched my love of cheese and spicy food.
I’ve come a long way from crunching numbers as a VP of a credit union or creating ads for campaigns or spending days creating lessons and delivering them. But the truth is every single thing I’ve done over the last twenty-six years has contributed to helping me make this business successful. I’m still an educator; I market my work and work with other authors in marketing; I keep my financial profits and expenditures monthly and do quarterly reviews of my business; I write for education; I write a fictional mystery series. So my reality has become the fiction I write; yet, the fiction I write is partially my reality also. What a wonderful world!
Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread
2 jalapeño peppers, seeds* removed and diced
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup fine cornmeal
1 tbsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt (1 tsp. if using fine salt)
4 large eggs
1 cup cooked corn kernels plus enough cream, milk, or buttermilk** to equal 1 1/2 cups
1 cup grated cheddar cheese*** plus bit more for top before baking
3/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
Place diced jalapeños in a 10-inch top diameter cast iron skillet in cold oven on middle rack. Preheat oven to 400°F. Check periodically to make sure jalapeños aren’t burning and to give them a quick stir. Remove from skillet when lightly browned and allow to cool. Return skillet immediately to oven.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, lightly beat eggs. Whisk in corn/cream mixture and cheddar cheese. Set aside.
In a large bowl, mix butter and sugar with a wooden spoon**** until butter absorbs the sugar. Add the egg mixture and mix until just combined. Stir in the cooled jalapeños. Mix in the dry ingredients until barely incorporated.
Remove skillet from oven and lightly coat with nonstick spray. Spoon batter into hot pan and quickly top with a bit more grated cheddar cheese. Bake cornbread until top is golden brown and springs back when gently pressed, 25-28 minutes when baked in a 10-inch skillet (may be longer if your skillet is smaller). Let cool 10 minutes before serving.
*If you like your food extra spicy, leave the seeds in the jalapeños.
**This means you add the corn kernels to a measuring cup first, then pour in the milk until the milk rises to the 1-1/2 cup level. (I was not able to find buttermilk at my local store. If you have the same problem, then you can add one tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar for every one cup of milk.)
***I’m a cheese lover—I added an extra half-cup of cheese!
****I tried the recipe mixing with a wooden spoon and again using my Kitchenette mixer. Call me crazy, but I truly believe it tasted better when using the wooden spoon to stir ingredients.
Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread Murder
A Cast Iron Skillet Mystery, Book 2
Welcome to Leavensport, Ohio where DEATH takes a delicious turn!
Financial fraud of elderly villagers in Leavensport, an urban sprawl threat to the community, disastrous dates, cross-sell marketing gone wrong, and another murder?
Jolie Tucker is ready to try dating again. Well, she has no choice—since her family auctioned her off to the highest bidder. Her best friend, Ava, has agreed to a double date, but both friends find out hidden secrets about their partners as well as deception by one of the village’s own, who will soon be found dead. This plot is sure to be spicy!