Author Beth Harbison said she would not be offended at all if a reader wants to change her Sweet Heat Sauce recipe.
“My tip would be go ahead — and I’m saying this with complete sincerity — go ahead and add it if you think it would be good,” she said.
Harbison, whose most recent book is “The Cookbook Club,” is doing an online program for the Wood County District Public Library on Monday.
She is sharing a sauce recipe that is years in the making.
“I had a perfect batch once and like an idiot I thought I’d remember it,” Harbison said by phone from her Palm Springs, California, home last week.
She picked this sauce recipe because she wanted to finally write it down, and because it shows how a person’s tastes can dramatically change.
“I wasn’t a spicy food person … and I don’t like that heat that is just sensation but I do love spicy heat. I love flavor,” she said. “If it’s just a jalapeno pepper, I’m not getting a lot out of that.”
Her taste awakening came at a New Orleans restaurant a few years ago. The dish had some real heat, Harbison said, but it wasn’t bothering her. In fact, she was enjoying it.
“Time went on and I realized I like some hot sauces.”
The sauce that she made can be put on scrambled eggs, mac cheese, frozen burritos and burgers.
Harbison also suggested scoring a hot dog, pan frying it in butter and the sauce.
She’s also sharing a crab soup recipe, with the idea that some people might not want to make hot sauce but if anyone is ambitious enough to make both, they’re great together.
Harbison is a New York Times bestselling author of cookbooks, women’s fiction and romance novels. Her latest book is “The Cookbook Club.”
Harbison said it’s about three very different women who have a cookbook club.
“That’s what draws them together,” she said. “The age-old tradition that we have of breaking bread together.”
Harbison has another creative outlet.
“I have done some celebrity ghostwriting,” she said, adding that one involved a “real housewife.”
She said that she used to write romance novels, but they were not in her comfort zone.
“What I really enjoy writing about now is women’s issues,” Harbison said.
Harbison recently moved from Washington, D.C., to Palm Springs.
She, her fiance and two children, ages 31 and 21, traveled across the country in an RV, taking off in May 2020 during the pandemic.
She’d always been D.C.-based, but realized: “I’m a writer, I don’t have to live here, I could be anywhere.”
According to her online bio, Harbison was born in the shadow of Washington, D.C., and grew up in the suburbs. She began writing in fourth grade at St. Bartholomew’s school, where she re-wrote the ending of “Black Beauty,” bringing all of the horses back to life in 64 handwritten pages.
After failing out of seventh grade, she was sent “to a school for rotten kids” in Potomac, Maryland, where she met some of her best friends and had experiences she has drawn on again and again in her work.
Her publishing career began with cookbooks, then moved to Silhouette romance novels, before Jennifer Enderlin, of St. Martin’s Press, plucked her out of obscurity and tapped her to write “Shoe Addicts Anonymous,” which put her on the New York Times bestseller list for the first time. It has been optioned as a feature film starring Halle Berry.