© 2016 by Lynda McDaniel, author & book coach


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The Real Mildred Bradshaw

"That pie ain't never seen no oven." My real-life neighbor, the one I based Abit's mother on in A Life for a Life: A Mystery Novel, said that as we sat across from each other at a restaurant. Her mouth was full of strawberry pie and whipped cream. Not a pretty sight, and a moment that stung.

My husband and I were driving her and her husband to Asheville so he could receive an award for his fine wood carving. They'd been awfully good to us, and she'd had us over for bountiful midday dinners more times than I could remember. Like Abit's mama, she could make a mean pie, but for some reason, she thought strawberry pies had to be baked. To me, the fruit tasted exhausted after suffering from 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Two other fine cooks, who I'll introduce in the sequel, made that apple nut cake that Abit requested every birthday. They were kind enough to share their recipe with me, something mountain cooks weren't inclined to do. They had a strong sense of pride in their cooking and tended to keep their recipes close to home. So thank you, Blanche and Geneva. I loved you and your cooking!

And to thank you for reading my books and blogs, and just for fun, I want to share that recipe with you, too. (But I won’t be sharing their recipe for macaroni and cheese with cheese-biscuit pinwheels on top that Cleva served to Della. While it tasted great all those years ago, today we know that its carb count could send you into a coma!) Once you try this cake, you'll know why it's Abit's favorite. And mine.


3 cups all-purpose flour 1 tsp. soda 1 tsp. salt 1 to 1-1/2 cups sugar

I Tbsp. baking powder

1-1/2 cup oil

1/3 cup milk

3 eggs

2 tsp. vanilla

3 cups finely diced apples (approx. 3 apples)

1/2 cup walnuts

Combine dry ingredients. Beat eggs into oil, milk, and vanilla. Combine with dry ingredients. Don't over mix. Gently fold in apples and walnuts.

Butter a 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan or a springform/bundt pan. Pour batter into pan and even the top. Bake for 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours at 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Test—when knife comes out clean, remove from oven.


1 stick of butter

1 cup evaporated milk

1 cup brown sugar

Boil for 2-1/2 minutes. While cake is still warm (but cooled somewhat), poke holes with a chopstick or similar tool. Pour hot glaze over. Let soak for several hours. Store in a cool place or the refrigerator.

Would you like a free copy of the short story that started my fiction-writing career: “A Nose for Murder”? Just sign up below, and I’ll send you your own copy to enjoy. And from time to time, I’ll keep you posted with musings about writing and updates on my sequels to A Life for a Life and other books.

#mysterynovel #storytelling #creativewriting




"The most satisfying mystery I've read in ages." 
— Joan Nienhuis, book blogger