by | Apr 25, 2021 | Karna Small Bodman, On writing | 5 comments

by Karna Small Bodman

It’s Spring, a time for new beginnings, new novels, and how about new recipes?  We Rogues and many of our readers love to learn about new concoctions. When we stage our premier monthly events, Rogue Reads, where we invite bestselling authors to “zoom in” and discuss their new novels, we often include the ingredients in their favorite cocktails. Check our website to register for the next one, May 17.

It turns out that several authors regularly include recipes in their novels. The first time I started to notice this was when I read Jason Matthews’ incredible thriller, Red Sparrow, and saw a recipe for a Russian dish at the end of each chapter.  I remember meeting Jason at our annual thriller writers conference, “Thrillerfest,” several years ago when he was awarded the prize for Best First Novel about spies in Russia. Chatting with him, I learned that he had the perfect background to write this story, having served 33 years as a CIA field operative over there. The Huffington Post says, “Red Sparrow isn’t just a fast-paced thriller – it’s a first-rate novel as noteworthy for its superior style as for its gripping depiction of a secretive world.” That book, the first in a trilogy, was turned into a major motion picture starring Jennifer Lawrence and Joel Edgerton.

In checking out some newer releases with recipes, I discovered that they have been included in novels of all genres. Award-winning author, Celia Rees, is a YA novelist who is one of Great Britain’s foremost writers for teenagers. Her bestselling novel, Miss Graham’s Cold War Cookbook, features a young woman sent to uncover a network of spies and war criminals in post-war Germany. To send information back to her Secret Service handlers in London, she crafts the perfect alter ego: assuming the role of a cookbook author who writes a popular magazine cookery column. This novel is described as, “A perfect summer read; gripping, well-drawn and compassionate.”

A novel by Karma Brown (yes, a similar name. I had to be sure I spelled hers correctly), Recipe for a Perfect Wife published two months ago is called by the Associated Press: “A captivating read, full of twists and turns. Brown weaves a thrilling story that parallels the lives of two characters who struggle with being strong, independent women in a patriarchal world.” And the Toronto Star writes: “This is a time-hopping, dark domestic mystery, sprinkled with a dash of female empowerment and a few vintage baking tips.”

A book released just a few weeks ago, Sweetshop of Dreams – A novel with Recipes is a story written in yet another genre. A New York Times bestselling author dubs it: “Sheer indulgence from start to finish.” Others say it’s “A delicious rom-com about finding yourself and breaking out of routines. It is full of tempting desserts, family secrets and second chances.”  When it comes to stories of romance, several new Hallmark books include recipes as well.

And here’s an idea: you might consider one of these novels (with recipes) as a nice Mother’s Day gift.

Finally, I thought I would include one of my own (not yet in one of my novels, but maybe sometime soon).  This is an easy marinade for beef kabobs that is one of the favorites in our household:

In a medium bowl, mix together:                   Add to the marinade:

1/3 cup red wine                                            ¾ lb. high-grade beef cut in cubes

1/3 cup olive oil                                             ¼ onion cut in large pieces         

1 tablespoon ketchup                                     Several fresh mushrooms

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar                       (Include pieces of pepper

1 teaspoon brown sugar                                 and tomato if you wish)

Dash of garlic salt                                          Chill in refrigerator 2 hours

Bit of ground black pepper

Place on skewers and broil 3 minutes on each side        

Save marinade to small pan and bring to a boil

Serve kabobs with rice, pour on heated marinade

Do you have a book with recipes you’d like to share in a comment below?  Or perhaps you have a recipe you’d like to recommend to all of us? We’d love to know. Thanks for joining us here on Rogue Women Writers.

Don’t Miss a Thing!



  1. Lisa Black

    I’m nearly as bad a cook as I am a gardener…but if there’s one thing I can make, it’s roasted turkey. After many years of having to put on Thanksgiving dinner for 20+ people, I had it down to a science. Basically my recipe is this: Ignore everything everyone has told you, seal up the roasting pan with foil, as airtight as you can make it, and cook the bird at 350 degrees, one-half hour per pound. Can’t go wrong.

    • Rogue Women Writers

      Love your turkey idea, Lisa. It reminds me of a funny story. I went to Thanksgiving dinner at a bachelor’s home once — in the kitchen I saw a bowl of strange looking stuffing and asked what it was. He admitted he had never cooked a turkey before – and looking in his cupboards for things to add to packaged stuffing, he found some popcorn. So he mixed in the kernels – “thinking” that when it got hot (inside the turkey) – it would pop and make the dressing interesting. Needless to say, it was a mess. The turkey itself did survive. Thanks for your comment….Karna Small Bodman

  2. Gayle Lynds

    Okay, I love your recipe for the perfect turkey, Lisa. Brilliant!!!! And gosh, Karna, I’m so sorry the popcorn didn’t pop. I would’ve loved trying that stuffing. Your list of novels that are great for recipes makes me smile, because I know that I get really hungry if I read a book that has no meals … or even any food at all, like hotdogs from a stand on Lexington St in NYC. Years ago, my mentor was Bob Kirsch, the literary critic at the LA Times. One day I watched him throw a book across his office – he was disgusted. NO FOOD, he said. And he didn’t review the book. Love your marinade recipe. Now that the temperature is warming in Maine, it’ll be time to start grilling, and your kebobs sound mouth-watering!

  3. Carla Neggers

    Fun blog! I’ve included recipes in a number of my Swift River Valley novels.

  4. Jenny Milchman

    Have read and loved at least one of your picks–and appreciate the new recs (and recipes) too! We do a lot of marinated beef. Will try yours soon. Here’s to new beginnings!