I spent my hen night in prison.

Cabot Cove Prison to be precise.

Cast your mind back to a time before Covid-19. When you could invite 15 of your best friends round to ALL BE IN THE SAME ROOM AT THE SAME TIME without the police being called and you getting fined £10,000 for hosting an illegal rave. Yes, this time did exist and I have the photos to prove it.

That photo was taken on March 12th 2020 my friends. Before all the madness really began.

It will not surprise regular readers to hear that my hen night had a Murder, She Wrote theme. Angela Lansbury masks were sported.

1980s denim prison-wear was also sported.

and there was a Cabot Cove Pot Luck Banquet incorporating many of the favourite recipes of the stars of Murder, She Wrote – look at this amazing spread!

I still can’t quite believe that this happened, but the amazing Tim Benzie gave a Solve-along-a-murder-she-wrote show JUST FOR US.

Gotta love Tim’s SUSPICIOMETER!

I did some acting – haha!

I laughed myself silly at the madness of it all.

I chose Jessica Behind Bars for our Solve-Along because, well, it has an all-woman cast, and is set in a prison. It seemed appropriate for a hen night.

None of us had any idea that we would be prisoners in our own homes a couple of weeks later. No matter. We had a riot. A prison riot!

The lovely Cathy AKA Battenburg Belle hosted, and made me laugh so much with her prison officer outfit and megaphone antics.

Caroline Frick came all the way from Texas just for the weekend and brought with her my favourite American salty snacks…

I felt so spoiled and so full of love for all my lovely friends. After Tim’s show, I just kept looking around and marvelling at the way chums from different parts of my life who’d never met before or hadn’t seen each other for years were chatting away like crazy…

laughing together and mucking about.

It was a truly life-affirming day and the second-best day of my entire life (wedding being the first of course). It is hard to do an experience like this justice in writing, and I am just so thankful that we managed to squeeze this celebratory, hilarious, love-filled day in under the wire just two weeks before lockdown. Here’s a rundown of what we piled up on our post-show boozed-up dinner-plates.

Because Yvonne de Carlo played the prison cook in this episode, I made her Salome Salad.

The dressing ingredients made such a huge jarful the leftovers saw me right the way through three months of lockdown. No kidding.

I also couldn’t resist making Jane Withers’ Cheese Ball For a Special Occasion, because it WAS a very special occasion.

I was not aware that there were two types of FUNYUNS, I was THRILLED that the Frickster smuggled these over from Austin, TX in her suitcase! Plus, I decided that these would be Jessica Fletcher’s favourite salty snacks just as they are mine.

Lady Jane made Jackie Cooper’s Gingerbread Men, and not being too confident in the kitchen, brought some McVitie’s Ginger Nuts just in case the little men and ladies didn’t taste as good as they looked…

and she had fashioned one to look like the bride, one the groom and one Tia, my beloved loo storming doggie. Aww, so sweet!

Cathy made a batch of Julia Campbell’s Spicy Black Beans, yum, yum.

being the hostess and baking mad, she also made a glorious non-movie star related Mimosa Cake which was divine.

Lolly made Hayley Mills’ Lentil Loaf Roast and I can testify that this is EXCELLENT hangover fodder as I managed to score quite a lump of it to take home. And boy, did I have a hangover?!

My soon-to-be-sister-in-law Julia made Leann Hunley’s Chilled Asparagus and Vinaigrette and I had to use the “family hold back” rule, otherwise I could have eaten the lot because I loved it so much.

My book buddy Becky made some lovely Ratatouille Nicoise to an Audrey Meadows’ recipe. I love ratatouille but have to block from my mind that it – may – contain – aubergine…

My cold water swim buddy Katy made an Angela Lansbury Kitchen Sink Salad. Seeing this makes me wonder WHEN I will get to swim again, indoors or outdoors with Katy.

My fine dining chum Anna made something that I could have taken a bath in I loved it so much, Linda Purl’s Liver Paté. When nobody was looking I put a HUGE bit of this in my Tupperware to take home.

My super stylish chum RINGO made one of my fave types of salad, a Greek Salad to a recipe by Wings Hauser. No rocket in this salad eh Ringo?!

One of my the Ladies of #43 in Walthamstow, COTTER made the crack cocaine of Cabot Cove, Ron Masak’s Kay’s Kabot Kove Kookies. Addictive, plus the phrase “Cotter made the crack cocaine of Cabot Cove, Kay’s Kabot Kove Kookies” is a good tongue twister.

my other Lady of #43, the fab Miss Gabs, made Sally Kirkland’s Yoghurt Dip with Vegetables. Mmmm – I do love a dip!

Heather, well known for making vast vats of soup made an enormous helping of Craig Stevens’ Guacamole Dip. It was excellent, I love guacamole and could easily have eaten all of this by my ownself.

My Cedar Court neighbour Corinna made Diana Canova’s Amazing Meatloaf and it WAS amazing. Amazingly delicious. Mmmmmmmmeatloaf!

I was too busy stuffing my face with Chloé’s big bowl of Tippi Hedren’s Golden Potato Salad to get a good photo of it, but you can see it at the bottom of this pic. Chloé is the person who set me up on a blind date with my now-husband, what a superstar matchmaker she is.

If I had to pick one dish that was the hit of the day, it would have to be Sanja’s version of Barbara Babcock’s Cheese Pit. We have no idea why Barbara suggests serving this cheese feast with fruit salad but Sanja went the whole hog and both were lovely. When this crazy pandemic is over and I get invited to a pot luck party, I am SO going to make this.

And last but not least, Dee’s Keith Michell Aduki Rice and Sweet Corn Croquettes were a FAIL but she made me laugh so much by sending me this video of them under construction on the day…

This is the only dish from our amazing spread that WON’T be in the forthcoming Murder, She Cooked book. I will have to put my thinking cap on about Keith Michell. Naughty man. He wrote a whole cookbook and both recipes attempted from this have been mega fails. He’s in NINE episodes of Murder, She Wrote so I am going to have to study his book very soon. Recipe writing is NOT EASY Keith!

If you don’t get it right, here’s what happens…

I loved ALL the dishes my chums rustled up, and that is one of the best reasons for organising your own hen night ! I only suggested recipes I knew I would like – hahahah. You will notice there is no evidence of mushrooms in this recipe selection.

On the day after these fabulous festivities, I was at home all day to guests in my pyjamas. I spent hours and hours doing a Murder, She Wrote jigsaw, drinking large goblets of wine and eating copious amounts of amazing leftovers from the day before. WHAT A FANTASTIC WEEKEND!

It has taken me six months to get this post together. It is bittersweet at the current time because I miss all of these dearhearts very much indeed. But I hope they will all enjoy seeing this blog post and remembering how brilliant this day was. Thank you my beloved hens,

thanks beloved Tim,

thanks beloved Belle for hosting

I LOVE YOU ALL!!!

There are still Murder, She Cooked recipes available for testing – if you fancy helping out with this, just skip over to this page to see what recipes are up for grabs. If you have never been to one of Tim’s shows, you should definitely sign up to his mailing list, he performs all over the world. Book him for a socially distanced house party!

To sing you out of this post, here we are doing a singalong to the special lyrics Tim has set to the legendary Murder, She Wrote theme song.

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