We are always looking for new and exciting small businesses in our community, and today, we are pleased to have Jolie Tucker here with us to tell us about her restaurant, Cast Iron Creations, and her town of Leavensport.
Tell me about growing up in Leavensport.
I’ve enjoyed living in a small village. I will admit to feeling a bit claustrophobic at times having my entire family so close. They can be a real handful!
You and your best friend, Ava, own Cast Iron Creations. Would you mind telling my readers how this came about?
Of course! My grandmother and her dear friend Ellie Siler (rest her soul) created many recipes together. They had a dream of co-owning a cast iron restaurant using their “secret” cast iron recipes. That never happened. Grandma Opal became a stay at home mom and Ellie never married and opened a chocolate shop called Chocolate Capers in the village. Ava and I took that dream and ran with it. We began planning our restaurant as young kids and practicing in Ellie and Grandma’s kitchen cooking the recipes as teens—and look at us now!
Besides Pineapple Upside Down cake, what are some of your favorite recipes to make?
I love to cook anything and everything in cast iron! Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread is my latest creation! It’s the perfect blend and spice and tangy cheddar cheese!
I’ve never cooked with a cast iron skillet before. How hard is it? What is something that a beginner like me should know?
When I first began cooking with cast iron skillets, I wasn’t used to the fact that the handle gets hot too. I continued to burn my hand the first few times—keep that in mind. I found that I could buy plastic handle holders to remedy that—but a thick dish towel will also do the trick. Another thing to keep in mind is that the skillet holds its heat really well—so you will want to set your heat on the stove lower than you normally would when you first begin cooking with cast iron—you will get a feel for it and be able to adjust as you continue using the cast iron skillet. It’s all worth it though! The food tastes completely different—there’s a real southern down-home feel to each dish you create and make in cast iron!
How did you end up with so many cats, and do they really hate Ava?
Growing up my family had dogs. I love dogs. I love all animals. I found my D.J. all beaten up and ran her to Dr. Libby’s vet’s office where we fixed her right up and I took her in. I was hooked. Next, Lenny Lee was found in a dumpster and the person who found him thought he was a dog, so they called the dog pound who took him. He now is a large cat that has dog tendencies—he is my Aunt Fern’s favorite cat—she’s a dog lover! And NO, my cats do not hate Ava! She is ridiculous! She turns everything into one big drama! I prefer to say they all have a love-hate relationship with her.
Your grandmother, Opal, is a bit of a pistol, from what I hear. How would you describe her?
Melissa McCarthy on steroids! The woman drives me and my mom batty. To be fair, we drive her crazy too. The women in my family are strong-willed, independent, and strong-minded. We are a nice enough group, but if anyone backs us into a corner, we will come out swinging. So, as much as Grandma Opal drives me crazy, I am honored to come from such a strong woman.
How is your family handling the loss of Ellie Siler? Does Betsy still plan to keep Chocolate Capers open?
We will never forget Ellie. She and my grandma were as close as Ava and I. They grew up together. Her spirit will always be in Leavensport. Betsy left nursing to take over Chocolate Capers and she and I are working on cross-selling our products with other merchants in town. You can learn more in Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread Murder which comes out 6/21/19!
I understand you had a date with the new detective in town. How did that go?
It actually never truly happened. I was auctioned off by my wacky family to him at a pet adoption fund-raiser. In the short story, “Sweet Retreat,” it had been five months and the date never happened. He tried to take me away to a spa get-away for Valentine’s Day weekend (separate rooms BTW). Well, we found a severed hand in the parking lot—and that was that. Although…there will be a date in Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread Murder!
All good restaurants try out new recipes. There’s a rumor floating around that you’re putting a spin on an old one, jalapeno cheddar cheese cornbread. Tell us about it.
That’s one of my favorite things to do. I love to try other peoples’ recipes then adapt them into something that is my own. One of my friends in town is a teacher and she is always learning from other teachers and then using what she finds from them and adapting so it fits her classroom needs. I do the same with cooking. Why reinvent the wheel when there are so many great people doing wonderful things out there? Then, I can give them credit too! So, for this recipe, I experimented with different heat indexes of peppers and different kinds of cheeses for more tang and more of a peppery, piquant flavor.
I also have it from a reliable source that there may be a scam going on in town involving the older people in the community. Do you know anything about it and are you planning to get involved in solving that mystery?
The thing about Leavensport is we are a tight-knit community, yet we pride ourselves on being open-minded and tolerant. That pride will come back to bite some of us in the tush sooner than later.
Financial fraud of elderly villagers in Leavensport, an urban sprawl threat to the community, disastrous dates, cross-sell marketing gone wrong, and another murder? Jolie Tucker is ready to try dating again. Well, she has no choice—since her family auctioned her off to the highest bidder. Her best friend, Ava, has agreed to a double date, but both friends find out hidden secrets about their partners as well as deception by one of the village’s own, who will soon be found dead. This plot is sure to be spicy!
Moving into her second decade working in education, Jodi Rath has decided to begin a life of crime in her The Cast Iron Skillet Mystery Series. Her passion for both mysteries and education led her to combine the two to create her business MYS ED, where she splits her time between working as an adjunct for Ohio teachers and creating mischief in her fictional writing. She currently resides in a small, cozy village in Ohio with her husband and her seven cats.
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