Monday, April 29, 2013

Jo Hiestand: Everything's Going Swimmingly & Recipe for Halibut in Honey

Today I asked a friend--mystery author Jo Hiestand--to share a recent bit of pre-marketing mayhem that shows Murphy's Law is alive and well. Learn more about her work at 

Everything's Going Swimmingly
By Jo Hiestand
I write a British mystery series called the McLaren Cases.  The book features Michael McLaren, an ex-police detective who quit his job over a great injustice.  He repairs dry stone walls for a living, and investigates cold cases for victims and their families.
Sometimes these victims’ voices call out to me.  Not for justice (I leave that to McLaren), but in music. 
Like the murdered singer in my third book, TORCH SONG.  She was so real, I could hear her singing the song for which she was famous.  I thought readers needed to hear her, so I asked a university music student (already renowned locally for her blues/torch/jazz vocals) if she’d write an original tune to the lyrics that were part of the story.  She did, and “Never Leave My Side” was created and recorded on CDs.
That collaboration was so enjoyable I continued the original-song-featured-in-a-McLaren-novel for the next book, HIT SONG.
I contacted a folk duo, also at the same university, with the song proposal.  They said it sounded like fun and we set a time and date for them to come to my house to talk about the project.
Super!  I had my folk singers, I’d written the lyrics, I knew the traditional tune I wanted them to use…everything was going swimmingly!
Well, on the day we were supposed to meet, the ole adage came true.  Around 6:45 a.m. the float arm broke off the toilet!  There was nothing to lift to make the water stop running.  Within seconds the water overflowed the tank and cascaded onto the floor.  There’s no shut off valve on the water line going into the toilet, of course.  And in the utility room, behind the hot water heater, there were six valves, some for the radiant floor heating system that no longer worked. I couldn't figure out which valve to turn and some I couldn't even get to due to the water heater being in the way.  Panic!  
By now the water covered the bathroom floor and was about a half inch deep.  I got old towels and scatter rugs and placed them on the floor to sop up the water.  I got a saucepan and scooped water out of the tank and poured it down the sink.  As soon as I removed one saucepan of water, the tank immediately filled.  I frantically scooped out more water and got it below the stack’s top.  I assumed I'd bought myself a few seconds to leave the room.  I raced into the kitchen and phoned the emergency service number of the first plumber I could find listed in the phone book.  Sure, they could help.  They'd send someone out between 8 and 10 a.m., but until then I should phone the non-emergency number of the fire department and they'd send out a guy to turn off the water.
I did that.  The fire department non-emergency office wasn't "open for business" at this early hour.
Well, when all else fails, you phone your city police.
I explained the problem.  The dispatcher said she'd send an officer and contact the fire department for me.  I hung up and dashed back into the bathroom to bail some more.  The floor was sopping, the towels and scatter rugs were sopping.  Water still poured out of the tank.   I had no more dry towels or rugs to lay down.  Do I next put down quilts and clothes?
I was saved searching for my thick, fuzzy knee socks, for a minute later the rescuing, protective police officer arrived.  He sauntered into my house, a model of Calm in a Sea of Untranquility, and hunted in the utility room for the water shut off valve.
While he was doing that, one glorious yellow fire truck and three handsome, knowledgeable firefighters arrived, resplendent in protective coats, helmets and boots.  The five of us crammed into the bathroom and stared at the commode and the tank, watching the water deepen on the floor.  They eventually headed for the utility room, the sodden scatter rugs squishing beneath their heavy rubber boots.
In the kitchen, one firefighter turned on the sink faucet and the others twiddled with knobs crowding the utility room, and finally the water flow from the faucet stopped.  Which meant the water flow from the toilet tank stopped.  Their job done, all four left.
One hour later the plumber arrived.  He looked at the toilet and the water line and mused, “They don’t make them like this anymore,” which wasn’t a yearning for the good ole days.  Simply stating all new toilet water lines now have a shut off valve -- required by law.  But of course I buy the house that was made before code compliance…  He replaced the float and arm, and installed a shut off valve in the water line running to the toilet.  All to the tune of $339.  But that was actually music to my ears.   Nothing against the police officer and firefighters, but I'd rather meet them in a more social setting.
And all this going on prior to Hannah and Nick arriving at 10:00 a.m. to discuss the song “Your Parting Glass.”  Funny, but that morning while I was playing with the saucepan, I figured Hannah’s and Nick’s recording should more aptly be “Wade in the Water.”

I don’t have a great recipe for Sponge Cake or Watercress Sandwiches, which seems to be called for here.  But in keeping with the watery theme I’ll give you this recipe just for the halibut.

Halibut in Honey
¼ cup honey
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp powdered ginger
½ tsp dry mustard
½ tsp red pepper flakes
¼ tsp black pepper
6  8-oz halibut steaks

Prepare the marinade in a gallon-sized sealable plastic bag: combine honey, soy sauce, lemon juice, oil, garlic, ginger, mustard pepper flakes and black pepper.  Add the halibut.  Squeeze the air from the bag, seal, and turn the fish several times to coat with the marinade.  Refrigerate one hour, turning the bag occasionally.  Preheat oven broiler.  Drain the marinade into a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil and simmer 10 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Broil the fish 8-10 minutes, turning once and brushing with the marinade.  Broil until the fish flakes when tested with a fork.
(Recipe from my cookbook Cider, Swords and Straw, published by L&L Dreamspell, 2012)

1 comment:

  1. I laughed out loud reading your plumbing tale of woe.