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Thursday, September 3, 2020


Moving toward her third decade working in education, Jodi Rath has decided to begin a life of crime in her Cast Iron Skillet Mystery Series. Learn more about her and her books at her website. 

Nonfiction in Fiction
“Each of us is a book waiting to be written, and that book, if written, results in a person explained.” ― Thomas M. Cirignano,

Writing a culinary cozy series has been a ton of fun. While I love using humor within the series, I also enjoy adding realistic themes into the overall arc of the series just as much.

The Cast Iron Skillet Mystery Series is a combination of many factual pieces of my life, starting with the title of the series. My grandma (who has contributed many of Grandma Opal’s wacky qualities) will be ninety years old this October. A few years ago, she gave me her seventy-year-old cast-iron skillet which she got as a wedding gift. She only ever made my grandfather’s favorite dessert, pineapple upside-down cake, in it all those years. The skillet and its sweet story inspired the title for the series, as well as book one, Pineapple Upside Down Murder, in honor of her and my deceased grandfather.

Beyond that, I spent over two decades teaching high school English. While I obviously love reading and writing, I also enjoyed teaching my students more about everyday struggles and helping them learn to deal with traumatic experiences. As a child and a young adult, I dealt with my share of trauma—so, being able to work with teens going through similar situations felt like a calling. In that way, Jolie, the protagonist in my series, resembles me and some of my previous students.

One of the causes near and dear to my heart are people that struggle with MS. My best friend has suffered with MS for close to a decade. Jolie’s love interest in the series has MS. I donate a percentage of my profits from the series to help battle MS.

Working with so many teens who felt that no one understood or accepted them spurred me to get involved with interventions, and I’ve had the privilege of working with TrueColors United, also donating a percentage of my profits to the Cyndi Lauper organization, which helps LGBTQ+ and homeless teens. 

All of these issues, as well as gentrification and urban sprawl, pop up in the ongoing story of the series. At first, these tensions pit small town villagers against urbanites, but gradually, all involved realize that a dark, sinister force is working against all of them and using them. They will have to work to find common ground and band together to fight these criminals and some politicians to save their city and their village.

As you can see, real-life issues are part of the series. I hope all readers are connecting with some universal themes as well as learning more about diversity and different cultures, and finding that in the end, we are all more alike than not.

Deep Dish Pizza Disaster is the fifth book in The Cast Iron Skillet Mystery Series. Buckle up– there is a new life coming to the village of Leavensport this Labor Day weekend!

Cast Iron Skillet Deep Dish Pizza
Taken and adjusted slightly from https://minimalistbaker.com/simple-deep-dish-pizza/

1/2 batch pizza dough recipe (or store-bought)
1/2 cup pizza sauce
1 cup mixed veggies of choice (cherry tomatoes, eggplant, onion, green pepper, mushroom)
Olive oil
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese 
Italian seasonings (optional)
Grated parmesan cheese (optional)
Fresh basil (optional)

Prepare pizza dough and sauce if using homemade.

If roasting veggies, preheat oven to broil, toss veggies in olive oil on a baking sheet, and broil for 4-6 minutes on the top rack (low/medium broil), tossing once for even cooking. (If using a parchment-lined baking sheet, roast veggies at 450 degrees F as the broiling function is unsafe with parchment paper.) Remove veggies from oven and set aside.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F

Coat a cast-iron skillet or round baking dish with olive oil and run a garlic clove around for seasoning. Plop your dough down into the pan and push it up around the sides about 1 to 1-1/2” inches (see photo). Let dough rest for a few minutes while preparing the rest of your toppings.

Sprinkle in 1/2 of mozzarella cheese. Add veggies, then sauce. Top with remaining mozzarella cheese, Italian seasonings and grated parmesan cheese.

Bake 25-30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the cheese and sauce are bubbly. Let rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Deep Dish Pizza Disaster
Cast Iron Skillet Mystery, Book 5

Welcome to Leavensport, OH, where death takes a delicious turn!

“NO! He’s not the father. You're all wrong! The father is . . .”

Everyone at the festival stood with their mouths hanging open as Lydia, who went into labor on Labor Day, revealed the identity of the baby’s father.

Autumn is beautiful in Leavensport, Ohio, with the colorful leaves and that crisp bit of coolness that dissipates the humid air that blankets the village each summer—but there is a dark cloud when a merchant from Tri-City is killed at the Leavensport Fall Festival.

Suburbanites clash with villagers, an MS flare-up puts Detective Meiser in a wheelchair, two couples announce their engagement, and someone is poisoned! This Labor Day weekend will do more than honor the laborers of Leavensport and Tri-City—it will pit them against one another to find a killer.


Jodi Rath said...

Thanks so much for having me back! It's always a blast to be here! Have a wonderful Labor Day weekend!


Always a pleasure to have you stop by for a visit, Jodi!

Kara Marks said...

Thank you for contributing to the fight against MS! Can’t wait to try your recipes in the book.

Jodi Rath said...

Hi Kara, I feel so honored to be able to do this. My BFF, Rachel is a warrior. I have so much respect for her. The people I work with at the MS Society are so incredibly dedicated. I truly believe progress is made!

Thanks for popping in❤️❤️❤️