Blue Schwartz and Nefertiti's Necklace
A mystery with recipes    

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Format: Paperback 
Publisher: Brown Barn Books

by Betty Jacobson Hechtman

Thirteen-year-old Blue Schwartz and her best friend Yvonne know she’s innocent.

There’s just no way she would’ve taken a necklace from the man whose kids she babysits for—let alone Nefertiti’s necklace!

To make things even worse, her teacher is giving her a hard time about her project about soybeans (even though Blue usually loves to cook), when all she can concentrate on is finding out who stole the necklace.

Time is running out…her school project is due and the man is about to call the police!

A suspenseful, entertaining mystery for middle readers from 10 up.

"This fast-paced mystery, set in the heart of Chicago, has well-developed characters. Blue is a typical teen until she is accused of stealing a necklace from the house where she babysits. The priceless antique belonged to Nefertiti, and Blue is desperate to find the thief before her accuser calls the police. At the same time, she’s trying to combine her love of cooking with a difficult school project for a mean-spirited teacher. In the end, this smart, creative girl is able to expose the real criminal and get the best of her teacher as well. Hechtman builds teenage frustration and helplessness into a story that readers will relate to from the start. Blue’s favorite recipes are included."SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL

Perfect for the 12-15 year old crowd
   "Betty Hechtman does a masterful job of producing Blue's voice for the reader. What goes on in a thirteen year old's head is a mystery to much of the population, including their own parents! Hechtman combines Blue's first tentative steps into adulthood with compassion, wit, and laughter. Blue and her friend Yvonne are delightful characters, as are the friends she makes as Blue struggles with some very adult problems.
Hechtman's plot is fast-paced and scaled down to a teenager's world. She uses cooking as glue to hold together an already intriguing plot that involves visits to the Oriental Institute, where Yvonne's mother works. Hechtman produces a book that is perfect for the 12-15 year old crowd. She manages to teach, entertain, and make the reader smile."
Midwest Book Review


About the Author

Betty Hechtman grew up in Chicago and babysat her way through school. Along with cooking for the kids she was babysitting, she made up stories for them, too. She still spends a lot of time in Chicago, but her permanent home is in California. The family cat is named Einstein, and the terrier mix is named yoga, and she recently started crocheting and knitting. She also loves hiking in the nearby mountains. And of course, reading and baking.

     If you'd like to write to her, her email address is:


                         Author's Web

     Blue Schwartz recipe testers with a batch of, hot from the oven, Blue's Oatmeal Cookies For People Who Don't Like Raisins.

     To make your own batch of Blue's Oatmeal cookies, the recipe can be found on page 133, along with other Blue Schwartz recipes.


A Blue Schwartz Recipe


12 cups of popped popcorn - I hope you know the right kind of cup to use by now
½ cup of sugar (If you measure the sugar first, you won't have to wash out the measuring cup before you measure the molasses)
1 cup of mild-flavored molasses (After you pour the molasses, be sure to wipe off the rim of the bottle with a damp paper towel. Otherwise, the top will stick, and you’ll have a VERY hard time getting it off again)
4 tablespoons of REAL butter - a tablespoon equals three measuring teaspoons
1 teaspoon REAL vanilla - remember it’s the measuring kind of spoon
1 cup Spanish peanuts - they’re the little round ones with the brown skin

What cooking tools you’ll need - a saucepan, a candy thermometer (I got mine at a rummage sale) or a cup of really cold water, a wooden spoon, a big bowl to put the pop corn in. And if you want to wrap your pop corn balls, you’ll need wax paper or plastic wrap.

What to do:

1. First, measure the popped popcorn into the big bowl and set aside. Put the sugar and molasses and butter into the sauce pan. Stir it all together. The sugar and molasses will mix; the butter will melt when you cook it. Clip the candy thermometer on the inside of the pan so it doesn’t touch the bottom. Turn on the stove burner to medium. Cook the mixture until the candy thermometer says 270 degrees.* It is a good idea to stir it every now and then. Don’t worry if it looks like something a witch might be cooking, it really tastes good.

*If you don’t have a candy thermometer, there’s another way to get the molasses mixture to the right temperature. After you stir the pan, let most of the syrup on the spoon drip back, but also drip a little into the cup of cold water. When the molasses reaches 270, the drop in the water will form a ball that keeps its shape when you take it out of the water. It will feel a little bit like a firm marshmallow. If the drop doesn’t keep its shape, cook the mixture a little longer and try again.

2. As soon as the mixture reaches 270 degrees, take the pan off the stove.  Add the vanilla and nuts to the molasses mixture and stir it around. Then pour it all over the pop corn. Since it's very sticky, you might need to use a scraper to get it all out. Use the wooden spoon to stir the pop corn so it all gets coated.
3. Now, let it cool. When it is just warm, wet your hands (that’s so the coated corn won’t stick to them) and make the balls. I like to do the wrapping when they’re all done.

These are so good even my brother-the-brain likes them.

It’s hard to say how many balls you’ll get because it all depends on how big you make them. If you make balls about the size of a tennis ball, you’ll get around 32. If you want to, you can just leave it in the bowl and it turns into one giant popcorn ball that you can break pieces off of.