You have found the site of private investigator Sally Jo Pitts whose sleuthing and other experiences in working with all kinds of people has led to writing sweet romance and private investigator mysteries. You will find my books listed under the books tab, Romance Books and Mystery Books.

I delve into a variety of topics on the website. Currently, I am investigating food used in novels found under the Investigator’s Blog. Each post is accompanied by a recipe found under Investigatin’ Recipes.

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Recent Posts

African Pizza, A Novel Use of Food
9/15/2021 12:04:00 AM BY Sally Jo

Investigating Food Used in Novels

Welcome to Shirley Gould who shares a food scene and recipe from her debut novel, The Sahar of Zanzibar.


Food scene from The Sahar of Zanzibar by Shirley Gould

“Okay, Mr. Tour Guide, tell me about this market.” Olivia was glad to be with Eli again.

“It’s called Forodhani Gardens. It is in Stone Town, along the sea walk. That quiet stretch of beach comes alive when the sun goes down. It’s a unique street food experience. Chefs bring out their best. It’s where the locals go for dinner to keep from cooking at home. You’ll love it.”

“Well, I’m game. It sounds like running through a drive-through in the States. But you choose our food. I don’t want to eat something I shouldn’t.”

“It’s a deal. You’ve got to try the sugarcane juice and Zanzibar pizza as an appetizer. Then we will shop for a while and find another vendor for our dinner meal.”

After they parked the SUV at a church in Stone Town, Eli took Olivia’s hand and led her to the sea walk. He stopped at a kiosk and got them some sugarcane juice.

“Here, try this.”

She took a drink. “That’s good. It’s not as sweet as I thought it would be. But I like it.”

They sat and enjoyed their juice, enjoying the hubbub. Zanzibaris were diving off some cliffs at the end of the beach, putting on quite a show as the sun went down. Dhows passed along the horizon in the distance. Locals were grilling skewers of meat, calamari, and lobster. The smell of pita bread wafted toward them. Olivia  loved the setting. “You were right. This is amazing. Thanks, Eli.”

“Now, for that appetizer.” He went to a friend and bought a plate of pizza and one Coke. He held it up. “I hope you don’t mind sharing. It’s the only thing cold, but I got two straws.”

“I don’t mind.” She would memorize these moments. They perched on a ledge away from the chaos and ate.

“It’s not like any pizza I’ve ever eaten, but it’s good. Is this a fried egg in the middle of the pizza?”

Eli smiled. “Yes, between the crepe-like crust is beef, mayo, vegetables, and egg.” He wiped his mouth. “Just like Pizza Hut. Right?”

“I don’t think so.” She took another bite.

                                African Pizza

For the recipe, go to Investigatin’ Recipes under Investigator’s Blog

About The Sahar of Zanzibar:

In a scary case of mistaken identity, Olivia Stone is threatened by Aga Kahn, a powerful Indian ruler, because she could pass as the twin of the missionary’s deceased wife. Kahn calls her the Sahar of Zanzibar who has returned from the grave to torment him and demands that she leave the island or face his wrath. She’s come to exotic Zanzibar in search of adventure, but she experiences much more.

A handsome widower, Missionary Eli Deckland, steps between Olivia and the angry Indian, rescuing her. There’s an instant connection between Olivia and Eli that escalates when he comes to her rescue again and again. Amid the chaos, Eli tries to prove Kahn murdered his late wife. After several attempts on Olivia’s life, she’s kidnapped. Eli joins the police to find her before it’s too late.

As every moment passes, Olivia’s life is in more danger… Will she be saved in time? If she is rescued, would it work between her and Eli? With an ocean keeping them apart, will their feelings fade? The answer is in the African skies…


About the author:

I’m an inspirational speaker for churches and women’s conferences, an African missionary, and an author writing contemporary romantic suspense novels.

I’m the Founder of Kenya’s Kids Home for Street Children, an orphanage in Kenya, East Africa that rescues orphaned children from the streets of the country.

As President of Finish the Task Ministries, a 501c3 my late husband created, I help the people of Kenya through building churches, drilling wells, helping orphans, preaching at churches and conferences in the country.

I live in the Nashville, Tennessee area, enjoying my three daughters, three sons-in-law, and seven amazing grandchildren, Madi, Jake, Finley, Charlotte, Judah, Blakely, and Lyda.

Shirley Gould / Author / Speaker / Missionary

Website https://www.shirleygould.org

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ShirleyGould

Instagram https:/www.ShirleyGould.org

Finalist ACFW First Impressions

Semi-finalist ACFW Genesis Contest

BRMCWC First Place, First Place, Third Place, & Honorable Mention





"Taste & See" Davalynn Spencer's food scene and recipe from Always a Wedding Planner
8/13/2021 1:31:00 PM BY Sally Jo

Investigating Food Used in Novels

What fun it has been to share food scenes used by the authors in their Always a Wedding Planner romance collection.

Let’s hear from Davalynn Spencer, author of  Taste and See in the collection and enjoy her food scene and recipe!

Welcome to the fourth and final installment in the series of food scenes from our upcoming release, “Always a Wedding Planner”. This novella collection features four besties who own a wedding planning company in Loveland, Colorado. Release date was June 1st, but we’re still actively appearing all around the ‘net with parties and giveaways and blog posts, so be sure to keep an eye out for us.

It was tough choosing just one food scene for this post, but here’s the one I thought you’d enjoy the most:


He followed his nose to a pan of frosted cinnamon rolls, but instead of offering him one, Ronnie slid miniature toasted basketball skins onto a fancy plate.

He folded his arms and tried not to growl. “Give me a sec here, and I’ll plate a roll for you.”

Plate a roll?

She held out a napkin filled with toasted leaves “Wanna try one?” No.

She looked at him. Tipped her head. Her hair fell away from her ear and a white pearl earring winked at him.

“Sure.” The leaf crunched in his mouth like a real salted chip.

No bad. He took another one. “What are these?”

“Brussels sprout chips.”

He would have eaten more vegetables if his mother had thought of this. He took the napkin and finished off the scoop shaped leaves, hoping to free Ronnie’s hands for dishing up a roll.

She obliged, set the plate and fork on the counter in front of a stool, and poured him a cup of coffee.

She was the first client who’d ever fed him on the job, and he decided right on the spot that he could find plenty to do around her place to keep him busy until snow fell. With time off for his last hay cutting.

She poured her own cup and took the stool at the end of the counter, watching him eat. Last time he’d been watched like that, his mother was doing surveillance on his table manners.

“Aren’t you gonna have one of these? They’re great.” He made sure to wipe his mouth on the napkin tucked next to his plate.

She glanced at the pan of icing-covered heaven like she hadn’t thought of it as food. “Sure.


Turnaround was fair play, so he watched her closely as she used a spatula to lift a cinnamon circle from the pan and set it on another plate.

“Would you mind if I had another one?”

She flicked him a look and smiled, then served him a center roll. He used to fight with his brother over who got the center rolls their mother baked rather than those around the edge of the pan. He hadn’t thought of his family this much all summer, but something about Ronnie Fare made him feel at home. And home was about family.

“What do you really think?” She slid a forked-off bite in her mouth.

“I think they’re great.”

She waved her fork in a circle while she chewed, then asked. “I mean specifically. How would you describe the taste, the smell?

Too much cinnamon? Too much cream cheese in the frosting?” Was she kidding?

“They taste like home. Like what my mom used to make when I was a kid and I’d sneak a taste of frosting from the bowl if she wasn’t looking.”


And now the featured food:

              Brussels Sprout Chips

Recipe under Investigator’s Blog/Investigatin’ Recipes listed above or Click here.


About Taste and See

Food had always been more than mere sustenance to chef Saffron “Ronnie” Fare. Her grandmother and mother had taught her that presentation and preparation were equally important. All the senses should be pleasantly affected by a meal, appetizer, dessert, or beverage.

Well, all except maybe hearing, unless one included the oohs and aahs of wedding guests enjoying skillfully prepared delectables.

However, Ronnie’s favorite thing to make was cinnamon rolls – something rarely if ever requested by a bride or groom. But she had no problem coming up with variations for her newly acquired cowboy handyman, Ty Ellicott, who fairly drooled over anything she offered him. She kept a close eye on him as her unofficial taste-tester because her eyes and hearing were about all that worked like they were supposed to.

Ty, a long-time bachelor by choice knew more about cattle and nylon ropes than anything else, but he also knew a thing or three about barbecuing. His solitary way of life left him most often with a microwaved store-bought burrito for dinner, but on occasion, he’d fire up the grill and demonstrate what could be deliciously done with a choice beef steak.

About the collection:

Can four contemporary wedding planners break the jinx of singledom, or are they destined to witness the weddings of others? 

Business partners Felicity Anderson, Kiki Bell, Cassie Blackthorn, and another who has yet to be named are best of friends in Loveland, Colorado—a romantic wedding destination for many couples—and they work together to make every bride’s special day the most important of their lives.

But each of the women hides a secret from the others, one that threatens their business, their friendship, and their happiness.

Can they work out their differences, build on their strengths, and trust each other—and God—with their futures?

About the author:

DAVALYNN SPENCER is a Publisher’s Weekly and ECPA bestselling author with novellas in three Barbour collections, The 12 Brides of Christmas, The 12 Brides of Summer, and The Cowboy’s Bride. She won the Will Rogers Gold Medallion for Inspirational Western Fiction and is the author of ten additional titles, both contemporary and historical. She blogs monthly for Christian Authors Network, Heroes, Heroines & History, contributes to the American Christian Fiction blog, and writes her own weekly inspirational blog. She appears on an area radio broadcast, Write Time Radio, and teaches writing workshops when not wrangling Blue the Cowdog and mouse detectors Annie and Oakley.

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Always a Wedding Planner--Food Scenes with Authors
7/11/2021 7:00:00 PM BY Sally Jo

Investigating Food Used in Novels

Here is the third feature story and recipe from the Always a Wedding Planner romance collection—Author Leeann Betts. 

Welcome to the third installment in the series of food scenes from our new release, “Always a Wedding Planner”. This novella collection features four besties who own a wedding planning company in Loveland, Colorado. Release date was June 1st, but we’re still actively appearing all around the ‘net with parties and giveaways and blog posts, so be sure to keep an eye out for us.

Cassie, like me, doesn’t cook. At least, not unless forced to. Dining out is her go-to. She likes most food, but prefers steak, French fries, and dessert. Veggies are a nice addition, such as asparagus, brussels sprouts, and her personal fave (and mine), corn.

The good news is that Brady cooks a mean steak over the charcoal, and also prefers dessert and anything fried.

Coffee is at the core of most of Cassie and Brady’s discussions, and it is while she’s in search of a late-date pick-me-up, that she observes Brady in a most unusual circumstance. No spoilers here—you must read the story for the rest.

But since you like food scenes, here is one from my story, The Worst-Kept Secret:



Cassie’s stomach growled, reminding her she hadn’t eaten lunch. And dinner still waited on the distant horizon. She sighed. Another meal to prepare. And eat. Alone.

Fliss hummed under her breath, her back to Cassie. What had she baked now? Better make her presence known so their baker extraordinaire could invite her to the tasting.

Cassie backed up a few steps to the door opening, tapped on the wall, and breezed in as though she’d just arrived. “Hi, Felicity. Didn’t know you were still here.”

Happiness oozed from the woman’s every pore and bubbled up to her face as she turned and leaned against the counter. “Hi, Cassie. Trying out a new recipe.” She gestured to the pan. “Well, an old one, really. Found it in my grandmother’s diary. One she tried at a garden party about seventy years ago.”

Cassie sidled up next to her partner and inhaled. Yummy. Vanilla. Sugar. Cinnamon. And something else? “What’s it called?”

“She called it Delish. I’ll need a better name than that.” She pulled two side plates from the cupboard. “Want a taste?”

Cassie chuckled. “I suspect I’ll want more than just one. This calls for a heaping helping.”

Felicity deftly cut the concoction into generous portions and scooped one onto each plate. “Hold on. That’s not ready yet.” A quick trip to the fridge, and she returned with a bowl of macerated berries and a can of whipped cream. She topped each slice with the oozing strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries along with two layers of cream. “Now it’s ready.”

Cassie eyed the coffeemaker. Dare she? Decaf. “Coffee for you?”

“No, thanks. Get yours, but hurry before the fresh-out-of-the-oven effect wears off.”

Cassie slid a mug under the spout and pressed the brew button then sat. “First bite needs nothing to adulterate it.”

Fliss laughed. “Let’s give thanks first. It’s a miracle I found the recipe, and if it’s as good as my grandmother suggests by the name, could be a year-round hit for smaller events like bridal showers.”

Cassie resisted praying aloud as much as she did talking to groups. “You go ahead.”

Her partner’s prayer, short and to the point, meant that within ten seconds Cassie forked a portion of dessert into her mouth. She closed her eyes to experience the sensation without distraction. Her taste buds exploded with the myriad of flavors. Holding the food in place, she reveled in the sweetness. The tantalizing spiciness of—what? The cushiony delight of the whipped cream.

Next she squeezed the berries with her tongue to extract every morsel of their sunshine and soft rain. The top crust of the cake, just the teensiest bit crunchy but not hard, finished the sensation, providing great juxtaposition for the tender berries and fluffy cream.

Regretfully, she swallowed and opened her eyes. Fliss stared at her, eyebrows raised, waiting for her reaction, her own forkful uneaten.


“What’s in it besides the vanilla and cinnamon?”

“A touch of fresh ginger.” Felicity sniffed deeply of her portion. “Do you think it’s too much?”

“Not at all. In fact, you could use a little extra. Maybe candied ginger.”

The baker nibbled at the edge of the cake then included a berry and a generous dousing of cream. “Yes, you’re right.” She set her fork on her plate while Cassie dug into her own. “Maybe I’ll serve this at all our own bridal showers.”

While this concoction was something I made up for the story, there are plenty of recipes abounding for variations on strawberry shortcake, which I’ll share below:

                         Mixed Berry Shortcake

Recipe found under Investigatin’ Recipes.

About The Worst-Kept Secret:

Cassie Blackthorn, partner with her three best friends in a wedding planning company based in Loveland, Colorado, has a secret. Although she’s in charge of client relations, she is painfully shy. So shy, in fact, that she sometimes finds it difficult to call her clients on the phone. But her empathic nature comes to her aid because she almost always knows what those brides really want. Almost always. Until disaster strikes. In the form of Brady Millman, the sole proprietor of a local limousine rental company they regularly use for their events. Brady likes Cassie. At least, he thinks he does, even though she’s not the type of gal for him. Beautiful, yes. Cultured, yes.

Party girl, no.

But when their paths collide, they both must decide whether they will continue repeating what they’ve always done while expecting different results, or will this time be different? Will they trust God—and each other—enough to let their true selves shine through?


About the collection:

Can four contemporary wedding planners break the jinx of singledom, or are they destined to witness the weddings of others? 

Business partners Felicity Anderson, Kiki Bell, Cassie Blackthorn, and another who has yet to be named are best of friends in Loveland, Colorado—a romantic wedding destination for many couples—and they work together to make every bride’s special day the most important of their lives.

But each of the women hides a secret from the others, one that threatens their business, their friendship, and their happiness.

About the author:

Leeann Betts writes contemporary romantic suspense, while her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, pens historical romantic suspense. She has released nine titles in her cozy mystery series and together she and Donna have published more than 25 novellas and full-length novels. They ghostwrite, judge writing contests, edit, facilitate a critique group, and are members of American Christian Fiction Writers, Writers on the Rock, and Sisters in Crime. Leeann travels extensively to research her stories, and is proud to be represented by Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary LLC.

Website: www.LeeannBetts.com Stay connected so you learn about new releases, preorders, and presales, as well as check out featured authors, book reviews, and a little corner of peace. Plus: Receive a free ebook simply for signing up for our free newsletter!

Blog: www.AllBettsAreOff.wordpress.com

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