Thursday, February 18, 2010

Guest Author: Jennifer Estep

Jennifer Estep, author of Spider's Bite, has been kind enough to stop by Reading with Tequila to tell us about southern barbecue. She even included two recipes for delicious sounding cakes!

Greetings and salutations! First of all, I want to say thanks to Jennifer for having me on the blog today. Thanks so much, Jennifer!

So I have a new book out – Spider’s Bite. It’s the first book in my new Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series. The book is dark, fun, sexy, urban fantasy, and it focuses on Gin Blanco, an assassin codenamed the Spider who runs a barbecue restaurant in her spare time.

Yep, that’s right—a barbecue restaurant. And before you ask, no, it’s not like the movie Fried Green Tomatoes. Gin does not serve up the people that she kills at the restaurant. Even assassins have rules, and Gin thinks that cannibalism is a big, disgusting no-no. ;-)

My fictional restaurant is called the Pork Pit, and it’s an old-fashioned, hole-in-the-wall kind of joint, with blue and pink vinyl booths and matching, fading pig tracks on the floor that lead to the men’s and women’s restrooms, respectively. There’s also a long counter in the restaurant where folks can sit, chat, and watch their food being dished up.

Now, a barbecue restaurant probably isn’t the first place that you’d expect to find an assassin working incognito. But Spider’s Bite is set in Ashland, my fictional Southern metropolis. Back when I started writing the book, I knew that I wanted to give the story a heavy Southern vibe, and what’s more Southern than great barbecue? Not much. Besides, working as a cook at the Pork Pit gives my assassin heroine Gin an excuse to have plenty of knives lying around—something that’s a necessity in her line of work. ;-)

I’m a Southern girl through and through, so I’ve been eating barbecue my whole life. In fact, I live near a really great barbecue restaurant, and I’m always getting takeout from there. The barbecue that I love is pit-smoked, and there’s nothing better than sinking your teeth into a thick, juicy sandwich and following that up with a side dish of baked beans. Yummy!

I also like to cook in real life, just like Gin does in the Elemental Assassin books. So today, I thought that I would share some of my tried-and-true recipes that I mention in Spider’s Bite and the other books in the series. Note: I didn’t come up with these recipes myself. They are ones that I’ve collected from family, friends, magazines, cookbooks, and more over the years.

This is the best chocolate cake recipe that I’ve ever discovered—it’s rich, super-moist, and super-easy to make.

Chocolate Chip Pound Cake
1 (18.25 ounce) package chocolate cake mix
1 small package instant chocolate pudding mix
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 (8 ounce) container sour cream
1 (12 ounce) package mini chocolate morsels

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 10-cup Bundt pan. In a large bowl, combine cake mix, pudding, and sugar. Add water, oil, and eggs. Beat with an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth. Stir in sour cream and mini chocolate morsels. Pour batter into prepared pan, and bake for 1 hour (check at 50 minutes) or until a wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool completely on wire rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.

This Mountain Dew cake is for those who want a serious sugar rush.

Mountain Dew Cake
1 box yellow cake mix
3 large eggs
1 small box instant vanilla pudding
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup Mountain Dew

Mix all ingredients together and bake in a Bundt tube pan at 325 degrees for 50-60 minutes, checking at 45 minutes.

For the glaze:
1 stick butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup Mountain Dew

Melt over medium heat, boil for 1 minute. Cool 2-3 minutes and pour over cake while hot. Let set 30 minutes. Then, turn cake out of pan.

Happy eating and happy reading! ;-)

About the Author

By day, Jennifer is an award-winning features page designer for a daily newspaper with a wide range of media and journalism experience. She’s also a certifiable fangirl and an authority on fantasy literature and culture. Jennifer is a member of Romance Writers of America, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and other writing groups.

By night, Jennifer Estep is an author, prowling the streets of her imagination in search of her next fantasy idea.

About the Book

My name is Gin, and I kill people.

They call me the Spider. I’m the most feared assassin in the South—when I’m not busy at the Pork Pit cooking up the best barbecue in Ashland. As a Stone elemental, I can hear everything from the whispers of the gravel beneath my feet to the vibrations of the soaring Appalachian Mountains above me. My Ice magic also comes in handy for making the occasional knife. But I don’t use my powers on the job unless I absolutely have to. Call it professional pride.

Now that a ruthless Air elemental has double-crossed me and killed my handler, I’m out for revenge. And I’ll exterminate anyone who gets in my way—good or bad. I may look hot, but I’m still one of the bad guys. Which is why I’m in trouble, since irresistibly rugged Detective Donovan Caine has agreed to help me. The last thing this coldhearted killer needs when I’m battling a magic more powerful than my own is a sexy distraction . . . especially when Donovan wants me dead just as much as the enemy.

Jennifer Estep's website
Spider's Bite on Amazon

Reading with Tequila's review of Spider's Bite


  1. I loved Spiders Bite & can't wait for the next book! I can't wait to try that Mountain Dew cake!

  2. Juju -- It's really good and really easy to make.

    Buckeye Girl -- Thanks! I appreciate that.

  3. I cannot wait for Web of Lies, Spider's Bite kept me in suspense through the whole book, thats a rare treat. I loved how you created a world that was not of the norm for paranormal readers, great job and keepem coming.

  4. I have read and reviewed Spider's Bite and I must say it frickin' ROCKED. It was a perfect (I don't use that word loosely) urban fantasy. I look forward to Web of Lies.

  5. I FREAKING LOVE Mountain Dew. That is a to die for recipe

  6. E and Lori -- Excellent! I'm glad you both enjoyed Spider's Bite and hope you like Web of Lies as well. ;-)

    Inked -- You should love the cake then. It is sugary sweet.