Monday, May 5, 2014

Welcome Guest Blogger Nancy J. Parra!

People ask me all the time if I’m really gluten-free. The answer is yes. A little more than six years ago, I was sick all the time and after many tests and much discussion it was suggested that I try to eat a gluten-free diet. Now I love to bake. I’ve been baking since I was a small child. In fact I was five when I made my first cake from scratch. It was a lazy day cake which is a simple two egg yellow cake. The idea of never being able to bake again was horrifying. Still when you are sick all the time there comes a point where you try everything-even giving up gluten. Within a week, I was much better.

It was a natural progression then to create a character who owned a gluten-free bakery. Toni Holmes is a lot like me. She grew up in a small town in Kansas and has a very large and eccentric family. Large families are a blessing and a curse. Large families filled with brilliant and creative people can sometimes be embarrassing – especially when you set them in the middle of a conservative oil town in the Bible belt, the heart land, the breadbasket of America. People in Kansas have relatives who are upstanding, responsible farmers, ranchers, oilmen, bankers and truckers not writers, artists and carefree hippy types. Thus conflict is everywhere for poor Toni who is trying to run her gluten free bakery in the heart of wheat country.

In Murder Gone A-Rye, Toni’s beloved Grandma Ruth is brought in for questioning when incriminating scooter marks are found near the murder scene of Grandma’s arch rival, Lois Striker. It’s not enough to get Grandma Ruth out of jail; Toni must keep her out of trouble as Ruth decides to investigate Lois’s death.

The book is set around Thanksgiving and full of crazy relatives and yummy recipes for gluten-free pies, cakes and cookies. If you know someone who is gluten-free then you know there is a full spectrum from so highly sensitive that they can’t walk down a flour aisle at a grocery store to those who think a piece of real chocolate cake is worth the price of getting sick for two days.

Below is my recipe for Gluten-Free pumpkin custard.

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 large eggs
1 can (15 oz.pure pumpkin
1 can (12 fl. oz.) evaporated milk – can be fat free  
MIX sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger and cloves in small bowl. Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk.

POUR into casserole dish – place dish in a baking pan filled with approximately ½ inch  of water – keep an eye on the water to ensure it does not evaporate completely during baking.

BAKE in preheated  350° F; bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Top with whipped cream before serving. 

Nancy J. Parra discovered she had a severe gluten allergy and had to give up her second favorite pastime, baking. Six months into her forced new diet, she was back in the kitchen figuring out how to make her own gluten-free baked goods and soon posted delicious pictures on the web. When a good friend suggested she mix her two loves-baking and writing, she wrote her first cozy mystery, Gluten for Punishment.
Visit her website for more information, a list of her books and full reviews. 

Berkley Prime Crime has generously offered a copy of Murder Gone A-Rye to one of my readers. Please comment below before midnight on May 11, 2014. Entries from the US only, please.
Please don't forget to include an email address where I can contact you if you win.


  1. This really sounds like a nice read, thanks for all the information!

  2. Gluten free--different kind of cooking cozy sounds like a great idea. Ronnalord(at) msn ( dot) com

  3. I love pumpkin and this sounds like a custard I would really enjoy! I'd love to read his book! Thank you for the giveaway!
    mittens0831 at aol dot com

    1. You're welcome, Carol. Thanks for reading Stuff and Nonsense!

  4. And the winner of the book is Lynn! I'll be contacting you for your shipping address!
    Thank you everyone for reading Stuff and Nonsense!