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Pizza, Gangsters, and Smoothies (Yep, smoothies)
Ashes to Ashes Crust to Crust by Mindy Quigley Book Review (including a recipe!)
Last year, I introduced y’all to the Deep Dish Mystery Series, with the first book, Six Feet Deep Dish. (Read Review Here)
We learned about opening a restaurant and how it ain’t for the weak at heart; elder abuse, class differences make relationships hard, and of course, murder.
I’m happy to say that we have another Deep Dish Mystery to dive into- Ashes to Ashes Crust to Crust (cozy authors love their food puns).
We find ourselves back in Wisconsin at Delilah and Sons, the elevated deep-dish pizza restaurant. The gang from the first book is back (if you haven’t read the first book, I got you! Character list loading)
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The Gang of Deliah and Sons
Delilah- our main girl
Sonya- her bestie and the Son in Deliah and Sons
Auntie Biz- Deliah’s Aunt who is in her 80s and a firecracker
Melody- front of house maven, always happy and perky waitress from the farm
Daniel- our favorite Puerto Rican bartender and military man
Detective Capone- yes, a distant relative of that Capone (also maybe a love interest for our girl Delilah)
Sam-Deliah’s ex-finance and bankroller of her restaurant
Butterball-the loveable feline pet of Sam and Delilah
The second installment in the Deep Dish Mystery series finds our gang in deep gangster water. The town of Geneva Bay used to be run by a local gangster now behind bars but his secrets have come back to town and the gang is top of the list of being in the way of what they want.
Not to mention, the pizzeria is preparing for the local “Taste of Wisconsin” contest with a Pretzel Crust Deep-Dish Bratwurst Pizza, so they can win the cash prize needed to keep the business afloat during the slow months.
The guest judge for the “Taste of Wisconsin'' is the former employer of Sonya, a celebrity chef, who humiliated and blackballed Sonya in Chicago. Why? Because his wife had an affair with Sonya.
Not only that, Delilah’s ex, Sam, has a new girl in his life, Jordan Watts. She’s a local smoothie shop owner and contest rival.
Jordan’s smoothie bar is put in the spotlight when a customer ends up dead from a tainted smoothie. This just so happens with Delilah in the shop so she is once again thrust back into a murder mystery.
Y’all, this second installment was better than the first. It kept me engaged and invested in not only the murder mystery but the relationships. It’s one of the things that I love about cozy mysteries (or amateur sleuth mysteries), they are about the evolution of the characters' relationships. It’s the reason why they make great series. If you don’t read cozies (or amateur sleuth mysteries), you should-a new book comes out every year, if not twice a year.
What I particularly like about Mindy Quigley’s series is the real-life themes she tackles. They aren’t contrived and come across as authentic.
I’ve mentioned it before, fiction can help you see real-life situations and how they affect relationships. Self-help and memoirs aren’t the only books that can give advice and a glimpse into other people’s life.
Getting back to the Deep Dish, let’s look at the real life themes in this book.
HOUSING INSECURITY- In Geneva Bay, the town is made up of mostly summer homes on the lake for the wealthy, finding affordable housing is hard. Melody, our resident foh maven, moves in with Auntie Biz because she needs an affordable place to stay. Delilah lives over the restaurant and Sonya lives in a one bedroom guest house. It’s hard out there in Geneva Bay for the working class. As someone who lives in New Orleans, who had to move at the beginning of the year, I can attest to how close we came to being homeless due to affordability. I mean, I’ve been homeless before due to this reason and it led to some very unfortunate situations. When you see people mad out here about gentrification, this is why.
INFIDELITY- The ramifications of having an affair for not only the people married but the person who came into the marriage. The way it was handled in this book isn’t the best way but it does happen. We also get an explanation as to why the person felt the need to go outside the marriage. Do what you will with that information.
PROPERTY TAXES- The nicer the neighborhood and houses, the more the property taxes go up. Once you fall behind, it’s hard to catch back up. This is the cause of the housing crisis and house insecurity in predominantly Black and Brown neighborhoods.
FRIENDSHIPS AND MISCOMMUNICATION- Sometimes, our friends have our best interest at heart but go about it the wrong way. For instance, not telling your friends about people or situations that affect their life more than it affects yours. If you value your friends and y’all have real trust between you, y’all can get through anything. Share what you know with your friends or they just may end up resenting you for it.
EXERCISE- Whenever you are being chased by a murderer, it would be helpful to be in enough shape to run away without being caught. Also, it’s important to take care of our bodies no matter the reason. You should get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. (I’m talking to myself as well.)
Running a business and worrying about having the money to take care of your employees, business, and yourself is not for the faint of heart. Your belief in yourself is what is going to push you through. It helps if your employees believe in you too.
MONEY-Asking for money is hard. Having a significant other or ex-significant other who does have money, is hard to deal with when you have deep-seated money issues. Speaking from experience, having someone you love bankroll you is not fun, even when they want to and offer to do it. Money anxiety does not go away by suddenly having access to money.
With all that being said, read Ashes to Ashes Crust to Crust. It is a quick reprieve from everyday life even if it involves some real life themes. Plus, there are some high quality recipes included in the back of the book. Mindy Quigley does a great job of creating some tasty treats. Here is one of the recipes from the book (it is not my recipe):
Beer Cheddar Cheese Sauce
2 Tablespoons of butter
2 Tablespoons flour
¾ teaspoon Pampered Chef Salt and Vinegar Seasoning (You can order this online, even without being invited to your work friend’s cousin’s sister’s Pampered Chef party. If you can’t get your hands on it, substitute garlic salt.)
½ cup milk
½ cup of beer (We use New Glarus Fat Squirrel Nut Brown Ale)
2 teaspoons spicy brown mustard
¾ cup sharp cheddar, shredded
½ cup gruyere or swiss cheese, shredded
Optional veggies and meats
Melt the butter in a pan, and sprinkle in the flour and salt & vinegar seasoning. Cook over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Slowly stir in the beer, milk, and mustard, whisking constantly. Cook until thickened and bubbly. Reduce the heat to low, add the cheeses, and stir until you have a smooth, velvety cheese sauce. Dippers Serve the cheese sauce with the pretzel bites, bite-sized slices of cooked bratwurst, pickled onions (or other pickled veggies).
Until next time,