STEAMED OPEN, the seventh book in the Maine Clambake Mysteries by Barbara Ross, captured my attention from the very beginning and held it until the very last word was read! I’ve been a long-time fan of this series and picking up this newest release was like sitting down and having a reunion with special friends that I haven’t seen in a year. Ms. Ross is tops in her league at creating memorable characters that readers feel can become close friends. And as happens (hopefully) in real life, these characters grow, change, and become better people from the events that shape them. Even though STEAMED OPEN is easily read as a stand-alone, I whole-heartedly recommend reading in order (if possible) to fully appreciate the skill Ms. Ross exhibits in creating her characters.
Protagonist Julia Snowden and her family own and operate a clambake on their family’s private island. It’s mid-August in Maine and the tourists are out in force. Ms. Ross paints a beckoning description of the town and the island during summer season, enticing the reader to take a virtual vacation. I would dearly love to visit this area in real life after reading this series! But, it’s not all fun in the sun for Julia and her family when a murder hits the town. The story is tightly plotted with twists and turns to keep the reader guessing. The subplots are riveting and adds an extra layer of intrigue to the book. I’ve been long curious (as has Julia) about her boyfriend’s past and his reluctance to open up. We’re finally given a glimpse into his secrets which makes him all that more meaningful to the story. I also appreciated the bits and pieces of information the author adds about clams, lighthouses, and the plight of seasonal fishermen and workers, and how difficult it is for them to make a living in the area. The author wove in the facts without ever detracting or slowing down the exciting story.
Julia, her family and friends, all enjoy lots of delectable food both on the island during clambake and in town. The descriptions will leave the reader hungry but fortunately Ms. Ross includes several recipes at the back of the book to satiate any appetite. I was drawn to the recipe for Ma’s Sour Cream Coffee Cake because it’s a recipe handed down from the author’s grandmother. What a wonderful keepsake! The fact that my taste testers told me this recipe is a “keeper” says it all! I loved that it bakes in a tube or bundt pan, which makes an elegant presentation for serving. Cinnamon and walnuts give a nice textural crunch, while the sour cream adds tang and moistness. Honestly this is a yummy breakfast or brunch treat but with a drizzle of an easy powdered sugar glaze, it’s perfect for dessert too!
It’s summertime in Busman’s Harbor, Maine, and the clamming is easy—or it was until a mysterious new neighbor blocks access to the beach, cutting off the Snowden Family Clambake’s supply. Julia Snowden is just one of many townspeople angered by Bartholomew Frick’s decision. But which one of them was angry enough to kill?
Beachcombers, lighthouse buffs, and clammers are outraged after Frick puts up a gate in front of his newly inherited mansion. When Julia urges him to reconsider, she’s the last to see him alive—except the person who stabs him in the neck with a clam rake. As she pores through a long list of suspects, Julia meets disgruntled employees, rival heirs, and a pair of tourists determined to visit every lighthouse in America. They all have secrets, and Julia will have to work fast to expose the guilty party—or see this season’s clam harvest dry up for good.
A special thanks to Barbara Ross for providing a winner with a print copy of STEAMED OPEN. Contest ends Sunday, December 23, 2018 at 11:59 pm PST and is limited to U.S. residents. Please use the Rafflecopter box located below to enter. The winner will be announced on this page and on Cinnamon & Sugar’s Facebook page, as well as notified by email (so check your spam folder!)
Author's Note: This recipe is from a book of handwritten cards given to me by my grandmother the Christmas before she died. It is delicious and smells wonderful as it bakes.
- 2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 stick salted butter, softened (1 quarter pound)
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 pint (8 ounces) sour cream
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
Preheat oven to 375 degrees (F).
Using a mixer, mix the ingredients for the cake until smooth and integrated.
Using your fingers, mix the "topping ingredients.
Pour one half of the cake mixture into a greased tube pan. Sprinkle one half of the "topping" over it.
Pour in the rest of the cake mixture. Sprinkle the rest of the "topping" over the top.
Bake for 35 minutes.
After baking, cool in pan for 10 minutes then invert onto a serving platter. Allow to cool at least another 15 minutes before slicing to serve. If desired, you can dust the top of the coffee cake with confectioners' sugar right before serving or drizzle with confectioners' sugar mixed with a little milk.
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I was provided an advance copy with the hopes I would review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
No one above me (family wise) could cook to save our lives. I learned out of the dire necessity of not wanting to starve. When my mother remarried when I was twelve my new step dad decided to learn how to use a BBQ. DISASTER! Can you say hockey pucks? From that point on I watched every tv chef on the air and learned from the bottom up. These days I’m cutting back on the fancy multi course dinners since it’s only my partner and myself. I taught all four kids (including the boys) how to prepare amazing dishes and enjoy themselves doing it.
That is quite impressive to teach yourself to cook! And equally impressive is passing on your skills to your kids — I wish all parents did that 🙂 I’m sure your kids will be passing down your recipes and skills to their own children and grandchildren one of these days.
I do, and this sour cream coffee cake is one of them! My mother used to make it.
My grandmother’s chocolate cookie recipe was passed down from her mother.
No i wish I had some family recipes!
Love them – recipe looks yummy.
No but I wish I did have some family recipes. My mom didn’t learn to cook until after she got married and since my dad was in the army we never lived near family.
Christmas is always the time of year we talk about that. We have been trying to perfect my dad’s fudge recipe ever since he passed away, far too young. We have kind of decided that it didn’t occur to him to write it down yet…
I have saved some recipes and our favorite is my aunt’s applesauce cake.
I just have my mom’s fruit cake recipe. It is the only one I will eat.
I have lots of recipes that have been handed down. After the death of our daughter and needing something to keep my mind busy, I concentrated on getting all the old recipes that both my Granny and my Mom had made for years wrote down. It meant a lot of time standing by my Mom and as she poured spices in her hand taking them and measuring them before they went in the dish or pot. That year for Christmas I made a large 3 ring binder cookbook using only family tired and true recipes. I even added a hint section, a substituting section and information about spices section. I dedicated it to Jenet with a poem about celebrating Christmas in heaven at the front of the book. I then made three copies – one for my Mom, one for hubby’s Mom (no in-laws in this family) and one for myself. I constantly use it. When my Mom went to her heavenly home, I gave that copy to a very dear friend – my sister by choice – and she loves it as well.
Can’t wait for the opportunity to both try the recipe for Ma’s Sour Cream Coffee Cake as well as to read “STEAMED OPEN”. Thaks for the recipe and the chance! <3
That’s lovely Kay ~ There’s something very special about sharing recipes, and such wonderful memories are made while you cook with someone you love.
What a wonderful way to share your love through recipes! I am sure everyone who received the copy treasures it for the keepsake it is.
I have many recipes handed down from my grandmother, aunts and mom and mom-in-law! Of course, I have my own recipes that I have and am handing down to my son.
My husband’s grandma made a cookbook and we was all giving one. Thank you for the chance to win a print copy of Steamed Open.
My mother always made balish and kolashky. She had the talent to roll the dough so thin so that you would get the
taste of the filling with a hint of the cream cheese dough. Thanks for the opportunity to enter the giveaway for Barbara
Ross’s book, Steamed Open.
Most of my favorite recipes that were handed down in the form of watching and not measuring. Nothing is written which I don’t love. Maybe some day I’ll take the time to figure out measurements and will write it all down so it doesn’t get lost over the years.
I have my Dad’s recipe for Orange Balls that we make every Christmas.
We have always enjoyed a banana wafer dessert that we thought was my grandmother’s recipe until as adults we realized the recipe was on the box of wafers. We still call it “grandma’s banana dessert” though.
My Grandmother made the best fruit cake ever…and that is a family recipe. She also made fantastic ambrosia and I have not found one since that was as good.
Not yet, but I think I may be the one passing down the recipes!
Chocolate chip cookie recipe was passed down from my grandma. I won a blue ribbon at the county fair for 4H delicious cookies.
I have tons of recipes from my mom, but I really have no idea if she got them from her mom or came up with them on her own.
My sister & I have several boxes of family recipes from our Grandmother & Mother.
Yes, I have quite a few from my mom. She was an excellent cook and baker.
My grandmother made the best blonde brownies. One of us makes them every year during the holidays using her recipe.
My parents were both cooks. They gave me a copy of Julia Child’s French cookbook as a gift.
No written family recipes. I learned to cook while helping my Mom. The only thing I remember measuring was the amount of rice needed for the meal.
My Dad always made a St. James Coffee Cake which was always a big hit with his family and friends. We still make it every once in awhile.
I make some of the same things the way my Mom did, like mashed potatoes and apple pie.
“Do you have any special family recipes that have been handed down?” Yes, and you mustn’t breathe a word about this!…
Lol! I love how some families keep their recipes “secret” or won’t share a secret ingredient 🙂
Reminds me of a coffew cake I have made. Strawberry Delight is a family favorite.
My whole family loves to cook. My maternal great grandmother was one of the first women to go to pastry school and she taught my grandmother and my mother the fine art of baking and cooking too.. My two sisters and I have always cooked a big meal daily and always have a homemade baked dessert or other from scratch dessert. With food allergies it surely is a relief to eat your dinner without fear of a reaction like when you eat out! At one time I canned, froze and pickled every fruit and vegetables I could. Love being in the kitchen but have had to cut back due to illness but I’m always thinking of recipes no matter what!
I’d love to win this book. Thank you for the chance to do so. .
Prepare my moms cornbread stuffing and it is delicious. Also learned to smoke a turkey from my dad and it is the bomb dot com.
I have all of my mom’s cookbooks with her notes written in the margins—-but there are still many of my favorites that I’ve been unable to find the recipes for.
We have a recipe called geneva cream that was handed down. I remember my great grandma coming to our house to show my mom how to make it. It involves a lot of hand beating with a spoon. My dad would help my mom beat it because she would get tired. I’ve never tried making it, but I should because it is wonderful!
My mother-in-law has a variety of Christmas cookie recipes from her great grandmother’s time. She has passed them to me and all of her grandchildren. We have great every year with the holiday baking.
I have cookie recipes from my Mom. Yummy.
Yes. My grandmother ‘s Walnut Cookies!!!! Yum!!!!
Love my Mom’s cooking and her cookie recipes.
No family recipe
My mother’s chocolate meringue pie has been handed down to me, then to my daughter, & now I taught my granddaughter how to make it this past Thanksgiving.
This may be the cake my mom made especially for me because I love cinnamon and nuts so much! I have thought about it often since she passed away, but couldn’t find a recipe that seemed right – until now! Thanks!
Love pound cake. Just had a coffee pound cake with coffee ice cream and a milk and coffee mixture to pour over it
I didn’t get in the kitchen until I moved out and went to college. I now bake all the desserts for the family holidays. I don’t have a particular favorite I pretty much do it all.
unfortunately no i have had to create my own
I have all of my mother’s old cookbooks with handwritten notes in the margins. I love to find my favorites in them.
I do have a few recipes from my grandfather and his mother, but mostly I have recipes from my Mom of foods she made when we were kids, from her Czech and German background. Mom is 87 years old and we still talk about food a LOT!!!
We have so many wonderful recipes handed down to us from my Swedish grandmother. I love that I got to spend so much time baking with her as a child. She always made me feel amazingly special while we were together. Now I get to share those recipes and bake with my daughter. Sweet memories! We’ve already printed out the coffee cake recipe to make for my book club.
Yes I have several recipes that have been handed down to me.
My grandmother biscuits recipe
My mom had some great recipes. Pecan pie and lasagna!
I have this one it’s very good.
Cranberry Christmas Cake
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour *
12 oz fresh cranberries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. With a mixer, beat the eggs with the sugar until slightly thickened and light in color, about 5-7 minutes. The mixture should almost double in size. The eggs work as your leavening agent in this recipe, so do not skip this step. This mixture should form a ribbon when you lift the beaters out of the bowl. Add the butter and vanilla; mix two more minutes. Stir in the flour until just combined. Add the cranberries and stir to mix throughout.
Spread in a buttered 9×13 pan. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until very lightly browned and a toothpick inserted near the center of the cake comes out clean. (I baked mine for 43 minutes.) Let cool completely before cutting into small slices. I cut mine into fairly small pieces, about 1″x2″, so that they could be easily eaten at a party. Enjoy!
You can also use blueberries instead
Thanks for sharing, Penny! I’m printing your recipe out and trying it soon — it sounds so festive with the cranberries. Merry Christmas!