The China Bayles Herbal Mysteries

Chile Death (#7)

China is playing with fire, and it's fun!

Pecan Springs is hit hard by the news that chili-cookoff judge Jerry Jeff Cody has died—by eating peanuts in a chili sample. Who dunnit? The investigation takes China into a couple of very hot spots, and nearly costs her life. But the good news is that Mike McQuaid is on the mend. Are those wedding bells we hear, or the crackle of chiles roasting over an open flame?

Discussion questions for Chile Death
Warning! Contains spoilers (plot hints).

Here's what reviewers have to say about the China Bayles mysteries!

  • "An appealing abundance of hot chile lore...a satisfying plot, not too spicy, just right." —Publisher's Weekly
  • "A surprising climax, beautiful Texas Hill Country atmosphere, solid police procedural details, and lots of information on herbs and chile (including recipes)." —Booklist
  • "As warm and satisfying as a good bowl of red." —Gardening on the Gulf Coast

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Chile peppers are not only super in your salsa, but good for what ails you. Chiles have been proven effective as hot healers for people who suffer from poor blood circulation, headaches, stomach distress, and ulcers—and it just might be an alternative to Viagra. While the chile heat of capsaicin can burn, it can also take the pain out of shingles, rheumatism, and arthritis, Chiles have been used to repel muggers in the city and mean moose in the mountains. The Mayans threw chiles at their enemies to blind them, and the Pueble burned them to fumigate their dwellings. Boat owners add chile powder to boat paint to ward off barnacles, and Texans dust it around electrical boxes to keep fire ants away. And if you're a nail-biter, try dabbing a bit on your nails. That will teach you to keep your hands in your pockets.

Texas Chuckwagon Chili
Here it is—genuine Texas chili, the way the cowboys made it. (Well, almost. You probably can't buy longhorn chuck steak at your corner grocery.)
  • 12 dried Anaheim chile peppers, split, stemmed, and seeded
  • 2 cups water
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 4 onions, finely chopped
  • 4 pounds beef chuck steak, cut in ½" cubes
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons oregano
  • 3 bay leaves
  • salt, pepper to taste

Put chiles and water into a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Remove chiles from pan, set pan aside. Finely chop chiles. Heat oil in a large pot. Add garlic and onions and saute 2-3 minutes. Add meat and brown until cooked through (7-10 minutes). Add chopped chiles, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper, bay leaves, and half of the chile cooking liquid you've saved. Reduce heat, cover and simmer, adding a little chile cooking liquid to keep the meat moist. Cook about 1½ hours. Discard bay leaves. Makes 8-12 servings.

Sixth book in the series: Love Lies Bleeding

Eighth book in the series: Lavender Lies