Monthly Archives: September 2014

Breakfast Conversation with Aunty Lee by Ovidia Yu

Deadly SpecialCan you describe a typical day in your life for us, Mrs Lee?
Typically nobody calls me Mrs Lee. My friends call me Rosie and at my shop, Aunty Lee’s Delights [], people call me Aunty Lee. You know, like on the bottles of Aunty Lee’s Amazing Achar and Aunty Lee’s Shiok Sambal. My picture is on the bottles, you know!

So Aunty Lee, let’s start with breakfast?
At home or eating out? If you know my Singapore ( you know how easy it is to eat out. Nina tries to make me eat oatmeal with fruits. But if there are newly ripe mangoes or papayas or bananas it is not so bad. Nowadays we don’t get so many fruits. My late husband, ML, always got so many fruits from our garden. I used to laugh at him for talking to the trees, ‘if you don’t give fruit I will chop you down’. But sure enough the trees always had so much fruit. And now I’m the one people laugh at, for talking to his pictures. But then I always get my answers, like my dear ML always got his mangoes, so who knows?

So are mangoes your favourite fruits?
Oh, I love mangoes. But my favourite fruits, very hard to find nowadays are the wild pulasans. These are like rambutans, only sweeter and juicier and the flesh does not stick to the seeds. And then there is durian, that people love and hate. One of my friends told me, if you have children who want to marry foreigners, ask them as a test to eat durian for you. If they eat, that shows either they have been in Singapore long enough to know what they are doing or they really love your child very much.

I see…so, about your typical breakfast?
Typically I like to go to the kopitiam or local coffee shop for the Kaya Toast Set. I don’t like it so much but it is unofficially Singapore’s national breakfast set meal. Kaya toast is toasted bread with butter and kaya, a jam made from eggs, sugar, coconut milk and pandan.

Why don’t you like it? Why do you eat it if you dislike it?
Because my homemade kaya is much better! The kopitiam ones are too sweet or not enough pandan—but I have to keep eating theirs to make sure mine is still better. And the set comes with half-boiled eggs that I eat with soy sauce and pepper and hot tea, coffee or Milo.

The best kaya toast is brown and crunchy with lines on it from the charcoal grill, I still remember them from the old-school coffee shops in Katong where I grew up. A few of them are still there, the kind with ceiling fans, marble-top tables and wooden chairs like they were back in the 1950s. Nowadays you can also get it in modern shops. Like now everywhere you can find soy pudding. It is not the same as the old fashioned tau huay but it is better than nothing I suppose.

Tau Huay or soy pudding is also a breakfast dish?
Oh yes, one of the best! But I’m talking about traditional Soya Bean Curd, dou hua in Mandarin and tau huay in Hokkien,which is not easy to make—even for me. Tau huay should be very silky with a warm heavy slipperiness. Most people eat it with added sugar syrup but I prefer it topped with a little soy milk. People say that eating tau huay daily will give you a smooth, white complexion. I must say that even today people compliment me on my complexion so maybe there is something in that! Oh and the best way to eat it is by dunking a you tiao (crispy deep fried dough fritter) in it. The light salty crispiness provides the perfect contrast.

Some of my favourite memories are of eating you tiao with my late husband. ML would order hot Oolong tea and we would dip our dough sticks in bowls of piping hot peppery Bak Kut Teh or ‘meat bone tea’. He liked his hot peppery soup with a bit of sweetness to it and preferred Bak Kut Teh made with easy to eat prime ribs. I like a really spicy broth made with braised pig knuckles, the meat tender and springy with a slightly translucent, gelatinous texture. It is best eaten with white rice and thin sliced red chilli peppers in soy sauce on a lazy Sunday morning. But it is not a dish to be eaten alone. It is a good thing that Commissioner Raja also likes Bak Kut Teh!

You can read more about Aunty Lee in Aunty Lee’s Deadly Specials, the second book in the “Singaporean” mystery series, published by HarperCollins. The first book in the series is Aunty Lee’s Delights.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on October 3 for the chance to win a copy of AUNTY LEE’S DEADLY SPECIALS. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

About the author
Since dropping out of medical school, Ovidia Yu has been a copywriter and one of Singapore’s most popular playwrights (thirty plays and slightly fewer awards) with short stories, novellas and a children’s fiction published in Singapore, Malaysia and India. Aunty Lee’s Delights, her first mystery featuring busybody widow Rosie ‘Aunty’ Lee, was published to good reviews in America last year and the next book, Aunty Lee’s Deadly Specials will be available from 30th September 2014.

Visit Ovidia on Facebook or on Twitter

A Day in the Life of Jake Martelli by Ali Brandon

Literally MurderNice to meet you, too, Lance. The name’s Jake Martelli. Don’t even think about calling me Jacqueline, or even Jackie. Only my mother is allowed to do that. Luckily, Ma lives in Fort Lauderdale, and since it’s a good three-hour flight from where I live in Brooklyn, I don’t have to put up with hearing that too often.

Right, scotch and soda…and some of those little pretzels, if you have them.

Yeah, I actually have a pretty nice place there. I’ve got the garden apartment in a three-story brownstone, with dirt-cheap rent and pretty much a lifetime lease. There’s a bookstore on the first two floors, which is pretty nice. My best friend, Darla Pettistone, owns the shop…the whole building, as a matter of fact. Or maybe I should say, her and her crazy black cat named Hamlet. But that’s another story.

So, what’s a good-lookin’ broad like me doing alone in an Atlantic City dive bar on a Tuesday night? Not very original, are you, kid? Oh, and don’t even think about trying to put the moves on me. You’re, what, thirty? Well, I’m old enough to be your mother. But pour me another scotch and soda, and I’ll tell you why I’m here.

You remember that couple at the end of the bar awhile back? The fat bald guy in the pink shirt two sizes too small for him, and the skinny blonde with too much makeup? Well, Baldy’s married, but not to Blondie. She’s his “administrative assistant” down at the machine shop where he’s a manager. Turns out Blondie’s been administering to him, all right…and Baldy’s missus got suspicious, so she hired me to get the lowdown.

Yeah, you got it in one. I’m a private detective, just like the character in that paperback novel I see you’ve got stashed behind the cash register. Don’t worry, kid, I’ve got your number. Keep the scotch and sodas coming, and I promise I won’t tell anyone you’re a mystery fan.

Nah, tracking down these two geniuses was kid’s play. Blondie has a big mouth. All it took was going out to lunch the same place she and her pals go, and I found out all about her out-of-town “date” tonight and the “sick day” she plans to take tomorrow. So I show up here and, voila. I watched the two of them get all cozy here in the bar for awhile, and then I followed them back to their room at the motel next door.

Word to the wise, Lance…always close your curtains all the way. Oh, and skip doing a Chippendales striptease act if your belly hangs over your belt. I could go for a quart of brain bleach right about now, if you know what I mean. Anyhow, see this innocent looking smartphone? All the incriminating evidence that will help wifey get a nice little alimony settlement when she divorces the rat is right in here.

So, you think my life is more exciting than tending bar? Eh, sometimes it is. Maybe someday I’ll tell you about my little trip down to Florida last month with my friend, Darla, and her cat. Glamorous? Huh, not much. You try sitting in a parked car for hours at a time waiting for some cheating wife to show up at her boyfriend’s place, and telling yourself you don’t have to pee, and see how glamorous you feel.

Well, Lance, it’s been nice chatting with you, but time to go. I’m going to catch a few winks in that fleabag motel next door and then head out bright and early in the morning for home. But, don’t worry, there are plenty of cheated-on spouses out there just itching to hire a private investigator. I’m sure I’ll be back here again sometime soon tracking down another Baldy and Blondie.

Oh, and maybe next time we have a drink together, we’ll forget that whole “old enough to be your mother” thing and see what happens.

You can read more about Jake in Literally Murder, the 4th book in the “Black Cat Bookshop” mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime. The first book in the series is Double Booked for Death.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on October 2 for the chance to win a copy of LITERALLY MURDER. The giveaway is open to U.S. and Canadian residents only.

About the author
Ali Brandon is the New York Times bestselling author of the Black Cat Bookshop Mystery series from Berkley Prime AliBCrime. Writing under her real name, Diane A.S. Stuckart, she penned the popular Leonardo da Vinci historical mystery series, which has received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Library Journal, as well as a Florida Book Award. Additionally, she is the author of five critically-reviewed historical romances which will soon be re-released as ebooks. A native Texan with a degree in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma, Diane a/k/a Ali now lives in South Florida. She’s a member of Mystery Writers of America and the Cat Writers Association.

Visit her at or on Facebook


Weekly Roundup* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Had a wonderful weekend socializing with the Beta Babes. A group of women met for the first time in and we laughed and had fun the whole weekend sightseeing and doing crafts. The first night we met some of the local authors, one of which I’ve read her books and “met” on another author’s blog and it was good to see/meet her. Again, the rest of the weekend was pure fun with wild laughs and a trip to Jack in the Box. A good time was had by all and I hope we get to do it again.

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This week on dru’s book musings

September 29: Jake Martelli from Literally Murder by Ali Brandon
September 30: Aunt Lee from Aunty Lee’s Deadly Specials by Ovidia Yu
October 1: Zoe Donovan from Haunted Hamlet by Kathi Daley
October 2: Vera Hart from Stirring the Plot by Daryl Wood Gerber
October 3: Helen Binney from A Denial of Death by Gin Jones
October 4: Lauren Atwill from No Broken Hearts by Sheila York

Last week on dru’s book musings

Recent contest winners

  • The Counterfeit Lady by Kate Parker – Renee W.
  • The Skeleton Takes a Bow by Leigh Perry – Mare F.
  • Hard Return by J. Carson Black – Linda H.
  • Lost Legacy by Annette Dashofy – Amy G.
  • Wouldn’t It Be Deadly by D.E. Ireland – Carol B.
  • Wouldn’t It Be Deadly by D.E. Ireland – Judy T.

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