Cozy Mysteries are a Perfect Escape in Stressful Times


Cozy Mysteries are a Perfect Escape in Stressful Times

 

When times are stressful, there are many methods one can use to alleviate that stress, but perhaps the most delightful is reading. Yes, it’s true, simply reading a book can lower heart rate and soothe tension according to a University of Sussex study.  I think no other genre can accomplish this better than the cozy mystery genre.

 

Cozy mysteries are known for their lack of violence, warm characters and puzzling crimes. Cracking the pages of one of a good whodunit will transport you to a quaint English village, a magical community nestled deep in the mountains, or a charming seaside town. Most cozy mystery settings make you feel as if you are taking a vacation, and what could be more relaxing than a vacation?

 

There is the little matter of the murder. Murders aren’t typically relaxing, but somehow cozy mysteries pull this off. There is never anything gory or violent described. The murder usually happens “off-screen” and the sleuth is an amateur that gets caught up in the mystery so there is no getting bogged down in tedious police procedure or gruesome details of the crime.

 

One might think that running around interviewing suspects, one of whom is a dangerous killer, would be stressful. Not so in a cozy. Cozies are full of quirky characters and often laced with humor. Even though the characters can get themselves into sticky predicaments, somehow, we know that the amateur sleuth is never in real danger and they will be just fine in the end.

 

Many of the amateur sleuths, like the one in my book, A Twist in the Tail, have pets and we all know how good pets are for relieving stress. Nero and Marlowe in the Oyster Cove series help to solve the mysteries along with some of their cat friends, adding a sweet element of fantasy as the reader gets to read with what the cats are actually thinking.

 

Of course, the actual mystery is a big part of a cozy mystery and trying to puzzle out the clues along with the amateur sleuth provides a great distraction to your everyday worries.

 

Cozy mysteries depict simpler, less stressful times where justice is always served and good always prevails. The storylines are uncomplicated, often including humor and featuring a hobby or business that seems like it would be fun to participate in. And let’s not forget about the food.  Cozies are typically abundant in mentions of food, and a common trope is to have an amateur sleuth that runs a bakery. In my book, A Twist in the Tail, the main character owns an inn and the recipes for the food she makes to feed her guests are included in the back of the book.

 

 

Baking can help reduce stress too. It’s a method of mindfulness-based therapy that scientists believe help to ease anxiety.  Maybe that’s why recipes are often found in the backs of cozy mysteries. I’ve included a few of the recipes from A Twist in the Tail and other books in the Oyster Cove Cozy Mystery series below, just in case you need to destress.

 

Note:  These recipes come from the author’s mother’s recipe stash which dates back to the 1960s so if some of them seem old-fashioned, they are! Since Josie has attempted to cook them at the Oyster Cove Guesthouse the commentary is from the books (yes, Josie does have a habit of burning things).

 

 

 

Brunch Egg Dish Casserole—Serves 8

 

Josie remembers her mom getting this recipe from Millie when Josie was a kid. Rose always said it was perfect for coffee get-togethers because she could make it at night and just slide it in the oven the next morning, it cooking while she visited with her guests. Josie likes it because she’s a little lazy in the morning and can’t always get it together in time to cook something before the guests come down for breakfast.

 

Ingredients:

7–10 slices of white bread, cubed

8 oz cheddar cheese, shredded

8 eggs

3 cups skim milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon dry mustard

4 oz ham, cubed

 

Directions:

  1. Butter a 9 x 13-inch pan. Spread half the cubed bread on the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle half the cheese on top of the bread, then layer half the ham on top of that. Repeat these layers.
  2. Beat eggs, milk, salt, pepper and mustard together. Pour on top of layered ingredients. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  3. The next morning, bake (covered) at 350 degrees F or 177 degrees C or Gas Mark 4 for 50–55 minutes.

 

Apple-Pecan Bread

 

This thing takes forever to cook but I’d start checking early if I were you… you wouldn’t want it to burn!

 

Ingredients:

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup oil

2 cups sugar

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

3 cups apples, diced

1 cup pecans, chopped

 

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 300 degrees F or 150 degrees C or Gas Mark 2.
  2. Beat eggs, oil and vanilla.
  3. Combine sugar, flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add egg mixture and stir well. Batter will be very thick. Fold in apples and pecans.
  4. Divide batter into 2 greased 9x5x3-inch loaf pans.
  5. Bake for 90 minutes.

 

 

 

Broccoli Quiche

 

Millie likes to prepare this the night before and slide it into the oven to warm up the next morning for breakfast.

 

The recipe claims this serves 3. It’s a 9-inch pie plate though, so those are some big servings!

 

Ingredients:

3 eggs

3 oz cheddar cheese grated

10 oz package frozen broccoli (cooked)

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 1/2 cups cooked rice

3/4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons skim milk

Optional: add 3/4 cup drained cooked mushrooms. Heck, while you are at it, you could add some ham or bacon too. Maybe even some spinach or chopped peppers.

 

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F or 190 degrees C or Gas Mark 5.
  2. Beat 1 egg. Add the rice, 1/2 the grated cheese and salt. Mix well then press firmly in an even layer on the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate.
  3. Beat remaining eggs slightly. Stir in broccoli, milk, pepper, and whatever else you are adding, plus the rest of the cheese.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes.

Molasses Cookies

I admit, molasses is a little thick to work with, but there’s nothing like the smell of molasses cookies baking in the oven.

 

Ingredients:

3/4 cup butter softened

1 cup brown sugar, packed

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg

1/4 cup dark molasses

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup granulated sugar (set aside)

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 F / 165 C / Gas Mark 3.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the butter, brown sugar, vanilla and egg, then stir in the molasses.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and salt.
  4. Mix the dry ingredients in to the wet until well blended.
  5. Roll 1-inch balls of dough in the granulated sugar then drop onto a greased or parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake for 12 minutes until the tops crack. Cool on a wire rack.

 

Lemon Muffins

Ingredients (makes 12):

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons baking powder

2 tablespoons grated lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup milk

1/3 cup butter, melted

1 egg

1/4 cup powdered sugar

 

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F / 205 degrees C / Gas Mark 6.
  2. Line a muffin tray with muffin cups.
  3. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, zest and salt in a medium bowl.
  4. In a small bowl, combine butter, milk and egg. Mix well.
  5. Add the wet mixture into the dry ingredients. Stir until just mixed. Do not over mix—you want the batter to be lumpy.
  6. Fill the muffin cups 2/3 full and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
  7. Sprinkle powdered sugar over top and let cool.

 

 

Author Bio: USA Today bestselling author, Leighann Dobbs, discovered her passion for writing after a twenty-year career as a software engineer. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband Bruce, their trusty Chihuahua mix Mojo and beautiful rescue cat, Kitty. When she’s not reading, gardening, making jewelry or selling antiques, she likes to write cozy mystery and historical romance books.

 

REFERENCES:

 

https://articles.aplus.com/a/reading-6-minutes-each-day-reduce-stress-68percent?no_monetization=true

 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20350028/

 

 

 

 

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