Welcome to my Friday bonus feature called Karen’s Killer Fixin’s **Author Special**!! Today, in lieu of one of my own recipes, I’m going to introduce you to a new author who will share one of her favorite recipes. Not only will you and I occasionally learn how to make something new and delicious, but we’ll get a chance to check out some wonderful authors. Introducing author, DEBRA BOKUR, and her favorite recipe for COCONUT MACADAMIA NUT PANCAKES!
THE FIRE THIEF
A Dark Paradise Mystery Book 1
BY DEBRA BOKUR
The scenery may be beautiful, but dangerous secrets are buried beneath paradise in this first thriller featuring Maui detective Kali Mahoe.
Under a promising morning sky, police captain Walter Aakai makes a tragic discovery: the body of a teenage surfer bobbing among the lava rocks of Maui’s southeastern shore. It appears to be an ill-fated accident, but closer inspection reveals something far more sinister than the results of a savage wave gone wrong. Now that Aakai is looking at a homicide, he solicits the help of his niece, Detective Kali Mahoe.
The granddaughter of one of Hawaii’s most respected spiritual leaders, and on the transcendent path to becoming a Kahuherself, Kali sees evidence of a strange ritual murder. The suspicion is reinforced by a rash of sightings of a noppera-bō—a faceless and malicious spirit many believe to be more than superstition. When a grisly sacrifice is left on the doorstep of a local, and another body washes ashore, Kali fears that the deadly secret ceremonies on Maui are just beginning.
To find the killer, and ferret out a motive, Kali leans on her skills at logic and detection. But she must also draw on her own personal history with the uncanny legends of the islands. Now, as the skies above Maui grow darker, and as she balances reason and superstition, Kali can only wonder: who’ll be the next to die? And who—or what—is she even on the trail of?
Debra Bokur is an author, journalist, editor, screenwriter, and illustrator. Her work has appeared in in a variety of domestic and international media outlets, including National Geographic Traveler, Islands, Spa Magazine, Experience Life Magazine, Natural Home, Yoga Journal, and Women’s Adventure Travel Magazine. She is the recipient of the 2015 Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Award. Her poetry and short stories have appeared in a wide variety of literary journals. Debra is a monthly columnist at Global Traveler Magazine and the Global Researcher and Writer at the Association for Safe International Road Travel. Learn more at DebraBokur.com.
Location, Location, Location
In the early morning when I rise and make my way to the electric kettle on the kitchen counter to prepare the first cup of tea of the day, the deck rail is already laden with birds waiting for me to top off the feeders. My two cat companions are settling into a patch of sunlight on their cushion, pressed against the worn wooden floor beneath a set of tall windows that overlook a slope of forest thick with towering conifers and graceful aspens. Wind chimes are tinkling in the branches.
Most days, the fox who dens close by in a hollow beneath a tumbled, stony outcropping is likely sleeping in my garden, watching with a gratifying level of familiarity as I carry out the mix of sunflower seeds and meal worms that will keep my randy band of woodpeckers, grosbeaks and chickadees at bay. As with so many other aspects of daily life, it’s a thin gray line between gratitude and organized revolt.
I need this space, not only to write, but also to maintain some semblance of balance and a working level of lucidity. Every element of my environment, from the winds sweeping across the mountains and the visits from wildlife, to the proximity of the lofty trees that define the surrounding wilderness, is essential to both my productivity as a writer and to my happiness as a living being.
It’s this same strong sense of place, of literary terroir, that I strive to create in my Dark Paradise Mysteries series, set in the Hawaiian Islands. I want my readers to be thrust into the story’s setting, to feel as though they’ve slipped through a portal bordered by the covers of my books, and to lose themselves in both the tale and the place in which it takes place. I want them to fall into and be lulled by the slower pace of life in the islands, and to be gripped by the contrast between the golden, seductive surface and the darkness that lies just beneath.
My series begins with The Fire Thief, following detective Kali Mahoe as she calls upon her vast knowledge of the lore, legends and spiritual traditions of Hawaii to track down killers and bring villains to justice. The choice of Hawai’i is more than a little ironic, given that I have a strong personal aversion to tropical climates. True facts: I own—by choice and preference—12 pairs of snow boots and one pair of sandals; when I leave my home at 8,600 feet in the Colorado Rocky Mountains to go on vacation, the ticket I’ve booked is likely to deliver me to Iceland or Norway or Finland.
You get the picture. Hot weather is not my thing. That’s why everyone who knows me was more than a little surprised to find that I’d chosen Hawai’i as the backdrop to my mysteries—especially so when they remember how I only traveled to Hawai’i for the first time under great duress. If you hear the story from my very patient husband, you might even hear him use the words the words “kicking and screaming.”
Perhaps you’ve begun to think that I should spend less time writing and more time with a therapist, so I’ll try to explain. For decades, I’ve worked as an editor and journalist specializing in features that delve into the culture and wellness traditions of distant places. My assignments take me to plenty of far-flung destinations, from Southeast Asia and Fiji to the Middle East, Central America and all throughout Europe. I grew up in New England, and prior to stepping into the world of monthly magazines I worked as a newspaper editor at a daily newspaper in Florida. By the time I made the move to Colorado in the early 1990s to take on the position of managing editor at a health and wellness magazine, and as the poetry editor at Many Mountains Moving literary journal, I was adamant that I never wanted to see another palm tree again. Blistering sandy beaches filled with litter and crowds of people? No thank you. Give me a remote, rocky stretch of coastline with howling winds in the dead of winter, or a mountain path covered in deep snow—but I’ll pass on the poolside drinks and sweaty afternoons of sightseeing.
But back to Hawai’i. A member of our editorial team had been invited to attend a ten-day food and wine festival in Hawai’i, and our food editor had been chosen to go. Her husband had also been invited, and the Hawai’i tourism board had gone out of their way to set up flights and accommodations. The story had already been announced in our editorial line-up for an upcoming issue, and advertising had been sold. At the last minute, the food editor was unable to attend—and I was the only staff member free to go. To the astonishment of everyone, I protested, albeit unsuccessfully.
My husband was to come with me, and was beside himself with excitement, cheerfully ignoring my soundtrack of grumbling all the way to the airport and across the Pacific. We landed at a tiny airport in Kona on the coast of Hawai’i Island (formerly called the Big Island). I had the window seat, and I remember looking down at the rocky lava coast and seeing the lush, green cones of long-dormant volcanoes rising from the interior; and the startling blues and greens and purples evident in the water. It was mesmerizing, and nothing like I had expected.
As I climbed down the stairs of the plane onto the tarmac, a cool breeze thick with the scent of unknown flowers swept across my skin and through my hair. All during the long drive up the Kona Coast to our hotel, we kept the windows down, and Hawai’i wrapped around me. I was smitten. Enthralled. Beguiled. I’ve always fallen in love too easily, and over the following days, I tumbled headfirst into an unintentional affair with Hawai’i that continues until this day.
Setting my series there is a way for me to revisit Hawai’i from the shelter of my writing room. And it’s an excuse to go back every now and then on research missions. Over the years, I’ve gone back for numerous magazine assignments, and my husband and even I spent time living in the guest house of a traditional Hawaiian healer—a kahu—while filming a documentary about the healing and spiritual traditions of the islands. Each expedition has allowed me to explore in greater depth while strengthening my relationships with the generous local people who have shared their time and culture with me.
It’s true that I still prefer snow and wild forests and dramatic coasts and isolation, but Hawai’i has taught me to not be so hasty or rigid in my judgments of landscapes, and to open my heart up to other experiences, even if they happen to involve palm trees. I know that just like every other corner of the world, Hawai’i has its dark side, but that’s just one more reason why it resonates so strongly with me—and why it’s proven to be the ideal location for my mystery books. I hope that sense of place is something my readers find as fascinating to read as I do to write.
I’m a both dreamer and realist. I know that in the misty corners of my beloved forest just beyond the window of my writing room, wars are raging—hummingbird battles at the cheery red glass feeder, squirrel disputes over sunflower seeds, tree roots strangling out the competition for water and nutrients, my beloved fox friend bringing terror to the lives of voles and chipmunks. As mystery writers and readers, we accept that a good tale contains elements of both darkness and light. In my role as author, I’ll continue to try to bring you across the threshold into another world, then deliver you safely home again. I invite you to join me—and I’d love to know what setting makes you feel safe and whole, and how it feeds your dreams and fuels your own creativity.
Debra Bokur has traveled the world as a writer, filmmaker and journalist for various national media outlets. She’s won multiple awards, including a 2015 Lowell Thomas Award for Travel Journalism. For more than a decade, she served as the poetry editor at a national literary journal, and her poetry and short fiction have been widely published. She continues to travel in her capacity as the Global Researcher and Writer for the Association for Safe International Road Travel, and as a monthly columnist for Global Traveler Magazine.
Links to Debra’s Website, blog, books, etc.:
I hope you enjoy the recipe Debra is sharing today on Karen’s Killer Fixin’s. Happy Eating!
P.S. We’re at 494 recipes and counting with this posting. Hope you find some recipes you like. If this is your first visit, please check out past blogs for more Killer Fixin’s. In the right-hand column menu, you can even look up past recipes by type. i.e. Desserts, Breads, Beef, Chicken, Soups, Author Specials, etc.
COCONUT MACADAMIA NUT PANCAKES
1/3 cup Macadamia nuts, chopped
3 tablespoons butter
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 cup coconut milk
3 tablespoons oil
Water for thinning
2/3 cup shredded coconut (sweetened), separated
Sliced bananas or mango wedges for garnish
Butter and syrup for serving
1. Roughly chop Macadamia nuts, or run briefly on chop setting in a food processor. Set aside.
2. Heat a griddle or skillet to medium high and add enough butter to coat bottom. Keep the remainder of the butter handy to add to pan’s surface before each batch of pancakes.
3. Place flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a generously sized bowl. Mix to incorporate all ingredients.
4. Pour milk, coconut milk, oil and egg into a small bowl and whisk till well blended. Add liquid blend to dry mixture and stir until combined. If you prefer your batter thinner, add a little bit of water to reach desired consistency.
5. Add the Macadamia nuts and 1/3 cup shredded coconut, folding until fully incorporated.
6. Pour about a quarter cup of batter onto cooking surface. Cook until top of pancake is bubbly along edges. Lift edge slightly to check for brownness, then flip and cook other side for about a minute or until desired shade of brown.
Melty, unsalted butter and pure maple syrup (warmed, of course) are great toppings, but if you want to be particularly decadent, opt for warmed-up pure coconut syrup instead (it’s pretty sweet, so a little goes a long way). Sprinkle pancakes with reserved 1/3 cup shredded coconut, and add sliced bananas or mango wedges on top for another tropical layer.
Thanks, Debra, for sharing your book with us!
Don’t miss the chance to read this book!