Claudia Lefeve was born and raised so far down the Texas Gulf Coast she has to pull out a map to show people it's nowhere near Houston. Now living in Northern Virginia, she is taking a hiatus from a civilian career in law enforcement to write full-time. Learn more about Claudia and her books at her website.
There’s been a lot of bad press about the South lately, and say what you will, but you can’t dismiss the undeniable appeal of a region where food is fried, deviled, or stuffed. And just like books with its varied genres, our offerings differ depending on the region: Gulf Coast seafood, Cajun, Creole, soul food, BBQ, Tex-Mex, and a group I like to call the “anythings”: anything hunted that morning, anything chicken fried, and anything slathered with gravy.
Southern cuisine equates to passion in our neck of the woods, and it’s a part of our history we’re mighty proud of. Suppertime in the South evokes feelings of togetherness, as well as tradition—family recipes are ingrained in our blood, passed down from generation to generation, and meals are almost always a family affair.
Since most of my books take place in Texas, it’s only fitting that food almost always weasels its way in as a character and my personal chef (aka: the hubby) always lends his expertise to bring my characters to life. Whether it’s gumbo or scallop ceviche, his culinary creations have definitely garnered more fans than my books.
Another tradition that is slowly going out of fashion, but still maintains a strong foothold in the South, is cocktail hour! In my recent mystery, Destined for Trouble, Aunt Lula can be found toting around ready-made Bloody Marys in a cooler (or her shotgun.) You can’t have a fun, family evening without a little fire in your belly, she’d be happy to tell you, I’m sure.
If you’re unfamiliar with Southern cuisine, it’s always best to start out small and not bite off more than you can chew (ha!) There’s a certain finesse that’s required in cooking Southern fare, and most Southern home chefs can whip up a meal from memory (it’s in our blood, remember?) So if you’re a beginner, grab your closest friends and family members, gather ‘round your front porch or back deck, and have a drink on Aunt Lula.
Aunt Lula’s Infamous Bloody Mary Recipe
finely chopped bacon
1.5 oz. vodka (more or less)
6 oz. tomato juice
5 drops Tabasco
3 drops Worcestershire
1 pinch horseradish
1 pinch celery salt
1 pinch ground pepper
1 pinch Cajun seasoning
1 dash lemon juice
slice of lime
In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine all other ingredients except for the olives, bacon, and lime. Shake vigorously. Strain the mix into the glass.
Garnish with olives, bacon, and lime slice.
Destined for Trouble (Book #1 Jules Cannon Mystery Series)
After getting dumped by her boyfriend, FBI crime analyst Jules Cannon flees to her hometown of Trouble Island, Texas, to nurse her wounds. All she wants to do is unwind, forget about her failed relationship, and work on her tan.
But when the owner of the local crab shack is murdered at Jules’s welcome-home party, she is forced to scrap her rest-and-relaxation plans. Now her best friend, Abby Lee, is the prime suspect, and her high school sweetheart, Deputy Chief Justin Harper, is working the case. Even though Jules knows she shouldn’t, she just can’t keep herself from getting involved in the investigation—and entangled with handsome Assistant District Attorney Hartley Crawford. While an old flame threatens to rekindle and a new one sparks, Jules must find a killer and prove her friend’s innocence. But will she put two and two together before trouble catches up with her?