You probably wouldn’t expect a cookbook author and weight-loss book author to team up to write a novel together, but that’s exactly what happened when Caleb Warnock and Betsy Schow teamed up to produce “Trouble’s on the Menu: A Tippy Canoe Romp.”
Warnock, author of titles like “Backyard Winter Gardening” and “The Forgotten Skills of Self-Sufficiency Used by the Mormon Pioneers,” and Schow, author of “Finished Being Fat,” have collaborated on a novel that includes some of Warnock’s recipes.
“TROUBLE’S ON THE MENU” EXCERPT:
From somewhere in the back of the basement, Hallie heard a soft whiffling sound. Maybe a cranky, old radiator or boiler for heat.
Between stacks of cardboard boxes, Hallie could see the floor was covered with an ancient, floral-patterned wool carpet, like straight out of somebody’s granny’s house. But the wood accents were fantastic. The room was trimmed in mahogany, and built-inbookcases with leaded-glass panes jutted from the walls.
Beyond the bookcases, the middle of the large basement was defined by a long, shallow, farm-kitchen sink. A wood table shoved up against the wall was strewn with soda cans, pizza boxes, and empty bags of chips. The whole place could use a good cleaning.
She could still hear the gentle noise at the back of the room, almost a low whistle. The pattern of the sound was erratic.
The third section of the basement””beneath Tumpi’s Pizzeria?””had once been partitioned off by a curtain of thick cloth strung along a wire pulley. Drawn open and rotting in place, the curtains clearly hadn’t been touched in years. Except by moths.
In the corner was a door, ajar. Probably a bathroom. It was from this room that the low noise was coming. She was going to have to investigate.
As Hallie scanned the room, she made out two lengths of fabric laid out across the floor. She wondered if the damp air would damage it. Perhaps she should pick it up, whatever it was, and put it somewhere safer.
Stepping closer, she realized it wasn’t fabric lengths at all, but two thin sleeping bags laid on low cots.
And the wiffling wasn’t a boiler.
Someone was snoring
One of the bags moved. And then the other.
Hallie had a moment’s thought that this was like a reverse fairy tale””with the bears waking up in Goldilocks’s house.
Two men bolted upright, their hair wild, their faces unshaven.
Even as Hallie backed away, they bounded clumsily out of the sleeping bags””getting tangled up in their red long underwear””clearly startled to find they were no longer alone.
“Every mutt does strut with a big donut!” stammered one of the men in a loud and panicked voice. His eyes moved around the room wildly.
“Price cut, boil gut, spending glut, scuttlebutt,” blurted the second man, his voice alarmed. His movements were disjointed and frantic.
Hallie shrieked, hitting a pitch that would have made any opera singer proud. Then she took off.