Guest Maggie Toussaint: Maggie’s Kitchen and a Giveaway!

It’s Maggie!

Formerly an aquatic toxicologist contracted to the U.S. Army and currently a freelance reporter, Southern author Maggie Toussaint loves writing mysteries. She’s published four romantic suspenses and four mysteries, with Death, Island Style and Murder in the Buff her most recent releases. Makes sense that she  loves to solve puzzles.   Sometimes that translates into writing a who-dun-it cozy mystery, but other times it translates into trying to find something to bring to a pot luck.  Read more about Maggie at or

Wasssssssssssssup, Maggie?

Ever noticed that whether it’s a party or mealtime, people gather in kitchens? Today’s kitchen represents the proverbial hearth of days gone by, calling friends and family to meet for food, drink, comfort, and care.

Each kitchen reflects the personality of the nester of the household. Which is really nice is you enjoy cooking. If you’re like me, the whole chore of cooking is something I’ve come to dread.

At my empty nest home, the food’s mostly carryout or DIY. Light years ago, I operated under the assumption that the world would end without balanced meals all around. Fast forward a few years to the kids being involved in everything extracurricular, and mealtime became a rolling experience, literally.

We’d eat in the car running from this thing to that. Even so, I was keeping up and managing to get in all the food groups.

Then one daughter announced with a dramatic swoon that she’d never ever eat meat again. My other daughter would only eat one kind of vegetable. And my hubster went on another low carb diet.

I changed out my mobile meal hat for a poofier short-order cook hat.

Then I discovered nuances to the food group categories. Fruit, bread, and ice cream became staples. Cheetos, too – they’re in that vague, orange-ish, therefore it must be a vegetable category.

It didn’t take long before I flamed out in the mulitverse of meal plans, and we began having sandwich night, soup night, carry out night, breakfast night, and pizza delivery night.

I even tried handing off Sunday evenings to the kids, ostensibly to teach them how to cook, but after two straight months of jar spaghetti and fat, gummy noodles, I realized they missed my wacky noncooking.

We mangled our way through menus in the teen years, but my reduced cooking interest became a problem at Pot Lucks when I tried to bring iced tea, plates, rolls, or potato chips. One lady finally pulled me aside and said I wasn’t to do that anymore. Those categories were for the single men. Hmmph.

So I cast about for a new solution and came up with the bag salad; that worked pretty well until we moved and one of the pot luck ladies made a bigger, better, and fresher salad than mine.

Nowadays I bring cut up fruit to pot lucks. It’s healthy and goes with most desserts so I’m no longer getting those scathing, catty glances from the women who know how many corners I’m cutting.

By the experience of unease with cooking took my muse to a new place. I used that trouble and inadequacy and don’t-care-anymore attitude about meals and plugged it into one of my recurring series characters.

In For A Penny

Cleopatra Jones’ mother is quite a character, and she expresses her creativity in the kitchen, creating dishes such as spickle fish lasagna. In the first book of the series, Mama’s lasagna is served to guests instead of the normal lasagna Cleo expected her to make. A teenaged boy has the first bite, pronounces it wonderful, then he laughs and laughs as everyone else gags on it. Cleo throws the dish out and orders pizza.

Which brings me full circle to my DIY kitchen. How did our mothers survive without carryout and home delivery? Thank goodness I wasn’t born in those pioneer days…

And now you, dear readers.  What is mealtime like in your house?  Has it progressed like Maggie’s, first with balanced meals and then with craziness?  Comment in the next few days to win A Taste of Murder – Diabolically Delicious Recipes from Contemporary Mystery Writers.



26 thoughts on “Guest Maggie Toussaint: Maggie’s Kitchen and a Giveaway!

  1. Maggie, I love the part about the non-cooking items being reserved for the single men! *laugh* That fits my husband (okay, not single, but before he married me) perfectly!

    Thanks for sharing your kitchen ups and downs!

  2. Hey Abigail,

    I can’t tell you how often I wished I’d gotten the cooking bug. Two of my sisters can cook the most delicious meal out of shoe leather and nothing, and I got stuck with mediocre meals and a carry out bill.

    And its funny. People come into my house and notice how clean my stove is. I just smile and let them think I’m so meticulous and tidy, but its hard for your stove to get dirty when you just use it to boil water…

    Thanks for having me here today. And now my cooking deficiency is offically outed! I’ll probably be banned from pot lucks for life. I should be so lucky.

  3. LOL, Maggie. Sure sounds like you better sick to writing. I thoroughly enjoyed Murder in the Buff. Now I’m not sure if I should dare read In for a Penny. The culinary suspense might be too much for me. 😉

    My own cooking has much improved since I gave up my job and became a full-time writer. Now I’m happy to get away from the computer screen and listen to an audiobook while messing up the kitchen stove.

  4. Maggie, terrific post. I admire people who are artists in the kitchen. Clearly we don’t fall into that mode as the Chicklets in the Kitchen do. 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

  5. Our nest isn’t empty yet, but we have a lot in common kitchen-wise. I had a daughter go vegetarian on me, and my husband does the Atkins thing whenever he reaches max density as wants to step back from the brink. It presents some challenges. I usually do bag salad and cut up an avocado to serve as a side dish. Sliced tomato and mozzarella drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper, takes only a few seconds and looks gourmet if you garnish it with a sprig of rosemary or oregano from the garden. We do a lot of Mexican. Vegetarian lasagna or cheese pizza fills in the gap. My mother served meat and potatoes for just about every meal while I was growing up. Even after all these years, it seems strange not to have pork chops or a hamburger-related dish on the table.

  6. Oh my goodness, Maggie! I just got an interesting twist of my own when I invited my father over for dinner. He wanted to know, “Who’s cooking?” You see, if DH was cooking, he’d be right over. Not so much if it was me!

  7. Too funny, Maggie. But you made me feel good about myself. So I’m not the only one who hates potluck because, you know, the don’t bring this and don’t bring that, leaves only nuts and pretzel to bring.

  8. Fun post! When I don’t feel like cooking, I declare it’s a fend-for-yourself night. That probably happens about once a week. We go the carry-out route once or twice a month and the rest of the time I cook.

  9. What fun! I’m thrilled to know cooking friends, believe me! And I’ll be right over for dinner, hint, hint.

    Nice to meet you, Lisa.

    Edith, I’m pumped you loved Murder in the Buff. Lots more where that came from.

    Kate, you’re doing fine, but when you flame out from fixing everything remember that Its OKAY.

    Selena, glad to know I’m not the only cooking challenged person in FCRW.

    Mona, I never tried to get away with nuts or pretzels. I may need them if someone edges in on my fruit niche.

    Vonnie, glad I brought you a smile today.

    Hey Susanne, My daughter is a Suzanne with a “z”, so I love your name. You sound like such a balanced person, kitchenwise. Way to go.

  10. My hubby likes my cooking, which is truly spartan and a mish-mash of whatever is handy in the pantry, but the trade-off is that he has to wash the dishes. If there is anything in this world that he HATES, it’s washing dishes. So, we order out as often as we eat in. Unfortunately, that is the reason I can’t fit into my clothes now.

  11. Hi Kristal,

    I feel your pain about the expanding belly line from eating out. I had to work hard to get past the “treat” mentality when we ate out. A salad is part of any meal I eat out and I try to have one other real vegetable too.

    Although, I’m newly partial to sweet potato fries. Omigosh, those are the best things I’ve ever put in my mouth.

    And Donnell, sorry I omitted saying hello to you earlier. I’m so glad you had a chance to stop by for a visit!

  12. I’ve got two daughters-in-law that don’t eat meat either. I still cook most days even though we’re empty nesters as well. Good post, Maggie!

  13. Hoo boy! I was little Suzie Homemaker in the early days, Maggie. Wholesome meals and dessert at least once a week, cookies and treats for my daughters’ school functions- the works. When my kids got into high school I made it a point to have family dinner, don’t ask me how I succeeded in that! But as they grew older and branched out to make families of their own Mitch and I still make meals. These days he cooks as much as I do and we have DIY nights more frequently than in the early days- like tonight. 🙂 Do I love cooking? No. I do, however, love recipes and thinking up new things to try. We just rarely try them. lol

  14. I’m loving all these comments!

    Jacquie, You’re sweet to be so accomodating of your daughter-in-laws. And I am envious of your ability to keep on cooking.

    Calisha, You sound like you got bit with the same overachiever bug I had early on, but what really makes me smile is how you and your husband now cook together. That’s wonderful. We all wish for that.

    God bless everyone! I’m heading offline for the night. Thanks to my kind hosts here at Chicklets in the Kitchen for a wonderful day.

  15. Love your blog, but this is dangerous to read when I am going to start a diet– Really I am. Monday first thing. All diets start on Monday. That will cancel out the late night snack I’ll have while watching Maserpiece Theatre.

  16. I’m new here (as a new Guppie) to enjoying this blog & now deciding to post

    You brin back a lot of memories Maggie, when our kitchen was serving our kid & pals.

    My hubby grows basil & rosemary & hot tiny peppers plus more when he has time.
    They beg to be put in dishes.
    Yesterday (Sunday) we had his non-cook, lawyer pal over, for my vegetarian lasagna (with non-cholesterol & also cholesterol sausages on the side.)
    I made an extra pan, to divide between us & him this week.

    My kitchen works best with me making 1-2 big meals like that a week. We graze on good things in between that are fresh, on leftovers, or I make something simple in between such as black beans (from a Progresso can) & brown rice with chopped up grape tomatoes & garlic.

    Food posts are the best – thank you for this fun one. And super to know about Cleopatra Jones. (I’m commenting anyway, tho the contest is past – hope that’s ok.)

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