Ghost Writer - Lorna Collins, Author

11:50 AM Posted by Martha A Cheves



HELEN’S MULLIGATAWNY SOUP

1 medium onion, chopped
¼ cup butter or margarine
1 medium carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 bell pepper (green, red, or yellow), seeded and diced
1 medium apple (I like Granny Smith or Fuji), pared, cored, and diced
1 cup diced or shredded chicken or turkey (I love using left-over Thanksgiving turkey, just like Helen)
1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/8 teaspoon mace
2 whole cloves
1 sprig parsley, minced
2 cups stock (chicken or turkey)
1 cup cooked tomatoes (I use canned diced ones)
salt and pepper to taste


Sauté the onion in the ¼ cup butter or margarine. Add the carrot celery, bell pepper, apple, and chicken or turkey. Gradually stir in the flour, curry powder, mace, cloves, parsley, chicken or turkey stock, tomatoes, salt and pepper.  Simmer for half an hour or longer. Serve hot.

Ghost Writer - Review by Martha A Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

 "I don't believe in ghosts," I used to tell anyone who'd ask.  I'm a 'techie,' a computer programmer.  I deal with data and facts, not fiction and fantasy.  So how did I get mixed up with a temperamental, egotistical, rude, smart, funny, aggravating, self-centered, loveable... uh... spirit?  Okay, if you insist, ghost. 

Nanette (or Nan as most called her) Burton found herself caught up in the downfall of the mortgage industry only five years after graduating from college.  But that was just the beginning of her problems.  The building she lived in went into foreclosure, so she was also out of a place to live. Then her live-in boyfriend decided to bail out when she received an eviction notice.  Well, his leaving was actually a blessing because he didn't work, wasn't looking for work, and simply lived off Nan. So when her paycheck left, he found himself another victim to mooch from.  Final step, move back home with Mom and Dad until she could find a job and buy a car.  Oh yeah, her car died, too.

Living with Mom and Dad wouldn't have been so bad except they had turned her bedroom into Dad's study so she had to sleep on the sofa.  The Victorian sofa with all its wood and firm springs.

Then Nan's great-great-aunt Nanette Burton, whom she had been named after, passed away at the age of 104.  When Nan and her dad were called to the lawyer's office for the reading of the will, there seemed to be a light at the end of the tunnel.  Nan would soon be living at her rich great-great-aunt's beach cottage.  Finally a place to live and a bed to sleep on.  But her living at the cottage came with a few things Nan didn't expect.  One being her aunt's dog, Mitzi, and the other being her aunt's famous author friend Maximilian Alexander Murdoch.  Max actually wrote women's fiction under the name of Maxine du Bois and had done extremely well.  But when Nan moved into the beach cottage, Max didn't take it too well.  This was his house and had been for years... before and after his death.  Yes, Max is a ghost, who ends up allowing Nan to live in 'his' house if she will help him finish his last book.
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I can never get enough of this writer's light reading.  She always grabs me right in the beginning and continues until the very last page.  She makes me laugh and she makes me feel sad now and then but she always delivers with a great book.  You can't help but love this book.


Loran's Bio:

Lorna Collins and her husband, Larry, helped build theUniversal Studios Japan theme park. Their memoir, 31 Months in Japan: The Building of a Theme Park, was published in 2005. They have also written two mysteries: Murder… They Wrote and Murder in Paradise, and are currently working on more. They just completed The Memory Keeper, set in San Juan Capistrano.
Lorna co-wrote Snowflake Secrets, Seasons of Love, An Aspen Grove Christmas, The Art of Love, and Directions of Love, 2011 EPIC eBook Award winner. Her fantasy/mystery/romance, Ghost Writer, was published in 2012.

In addition, Lorna is a professional editor.

The Demeter Code - Russell Brooks, Author

7:54 AM Posted by Martha A Cheves



Sugar Cakes
(A specialty from the Author)

1/2 lb. grated coconut
1/4 pt. water
3/4 lb. sugar

Place the sugar in a saucepan and add water.  simmer until the sugar melts.  Then add the coconut.  Let boil slowly, stirring constantly to avoid burning.  Allow to cook until it thickens and takes on a greasy look.  Drop mixture by tablespoonfuls onto a shallow plate or cookie sheet that has been moistened with water.  Leave to set.


The Demeter Code - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

The grounds surrounding the cottage had every kind of electronic surveillance and anti-trespassing device imaginable, including a German shepherd named Roosevelt.  If anyone were to be able to get within thirty years of the house without being detected, there was a chance that the CIA would recruit them.  Even if anyone managed to beat the surveillance and thought of shooting through the windows with a sniper rifle, the one-and-a quarter-inch polycarbonate bullet-resistant windows would present a challenge.  And if the sniper were to think of attacking at night, they'd also have to content with the blinds being closed.  In addition, the house had live-in operatives who anyone would've assumed were just the average elderly couple spending their retirement years living in the country.  Although they may not appear to present a danger to anyone, the so-called retired couple that a few people knew as Dennis and Glenda, were well versed in handling any kind of firearms.  They both came form the previous generation of spies who first cut their teeth in the business when they worked at the Moscow Station during the 1980s.... Now that is a safehouse!  And that is just the place Ridley Fox feels safe depositing his "asset" to keep her safe until all is clear for her to come back out into the public.


Ridley Fox, a former Joint Task Force 2 Warrant Officer, has joined back up with Dr. Nita Parris on a mission far more bizarre than in Pandora's Succession. As I read The Demeter Code, I came up with many guesses as to what the Code was, what it represented and who was behind it.  Turns out that I was wrong in all of my guesses.  This book scared me, it gave me cause to stop and take a good look at the world today, realizing that this could actually happen and it made me thankful that we do have security in line to prevent these events from happening, I hope.  This book may be filled with action, murder, suspense, espionage, and all those things that most men seem to  love in a book but it's so well written that I recommend it to all readers.  As with the book before this, Pandora's Secret, I couldn't put this book down.  This is one writer that I plan on following through his books.



Stranded In Time - Kelli Sue Landon, Author

9:49 AM Posted by Martha A Cheves


Banana Pudding
(Served at Thanksgiving in the 70's)


1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
1 pkg. (5 oz.) instant vanilla pudding mix
3 cups cold milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 container (8 oz.) frozen whipped topping, thawed
4 bananas, sliced
1/2 of a 12 oz. box of vanilla wafers

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy.  Beat in condensed milk, pudding mix, cold milk and vanilla until smooth.  Fold in 1/2 of the whipped topping.  Line the bottom of a 9 x 13 x 2 dish with vanilla wafers.  Arrange sliced bananas evenly over wafers.  Spread with pudding mixture.  Top with remaining whipped topping.  Chill.


Stranded In Time - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds, A Book and A Dish

"You know how it started?  There was a crack in that wall.  I didn't discover it until I worked there for about six months.  I subbed for the teacher, and I just had to use the bathroom.  Normally I used the one we had in the teachers' lounge, but we had a fire drill that day.  We had to stand outside longer than I thought, after getting all those kids out of the building.  On our way back in, I excused myself form the class to use the bathroom.  I had one of the more responsible girls watch the others, which made it fun for her.  She loved playing teacher, you know.  I knew it wouldn't take me long to pop in and out.  And there it was.  I could hear cheers..  I could eve hear a coach training them.  I tried to look through the crack, but all I saw was light coming form the gymnasium floor... I kept going back to that room.  I'd sneak in after school was out.  Sometimes I heard nothing.  Other times, there were kids shooting hoops before a practice and setting up for school plays.  I was becoming obsessed.  I would watch through the crack, and the only time I saw any kids was when someone was on the stage.... I made sure the place was empty before I started knocking down the wall with my hammer."

Samantha (Sam) has a paper to write for school.  Her professor told the class it could be anything as long as it wasn't something that had been covered in the news.  Sam decided to write her paper on her mother's family, which she actually knew very little about.  She knew her mother had gone to Lotus School for just a few years and then she and her mother had moved away.  Her mother had never been married to her father who had been just a one night stand.  After her mother's death due to a wreck, Sam had met and gone to live with her father.  She now wanted to know more about her mother and the relatives she never knew.

Sam's adventure starts when she goes to Lotus School, which is no longer in use, just to be closer to where her mother grew up.  It was at the school that she discovered a little girl playing on the stage behind the wall that had a hole in it.  As she stepped through the hole, she found herself in another time.  Sam had just stepped back into the 1970's.  Her great-grandmother was still alive, as was her grandmother and her own mother was just a child.  Then she meets Suzanne.

Sam came into this past world with knowledge of what the future holds.  She, along with Suzanne, can make changes and correct some of the events to happen... but will they?... should they?  There is a child that will die, unless Sam and Suzanne can prevent it from happening but if they do what will it change in the future?  What will any events that take place in the 1970's change in the future if they try to make changes?

This book took me just a few pages to become involved in the story but when I did, I didn't want to stop reading.  As each event is to take place, I find myself wondering how this is going to affect Sam's life if she ever makes it back to her own time.  And if she doesn't, what will happen when her mother grows up and gives birth to her?  Will there be 2 Sams in the world or will she not be born at all?  This book was a very entertaining read that I really enjoyed.

St. Louis Hustle - Claire Applewhite, Author

12:18 PM Posted by Martha A Cheves


Sour Cream and 7-Up Biscuits

Servings--18

4 cups biscuit mix
1 cup sour cream
6 ounces Sprite (or 7-up)

Directions:

1. Mix the sour cream into the biscuit mix, using a pastry blender or two table knives, until mixture is crumbly. Add 7-Up all at once, stir quickly with a large fork.
2. Turn out onto lightly floured board and quickly knead 6-8 times. Don't overmix or biscuits will be tough. Pat into a square and cut into about 18 equal pieces using a knife dipped in flour. Can also use a 2 to 3-inch biscuit cutter.
3. Preheat oven to 400° and cook biscuits for about 7 minutes or until golden.

St. Louis Hustle - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

From the day that Angel moved into her apartment, the bills in the mail rack spilled out of the holder like garbage.  Now, in a neat pile, they looked like a deck of playing cards.  Nice, but not her style.  Suspiciously, she opened the pantry.  Rows of bottles and cans, arranged by size and shape, filled the space.  She crept into the bedroom... The top drawer of the dresser, usually a wild mess of lingerie, was not neatly organized by color and design.  But, the intruder made one mistake.  A pair of black panties had been jammed between the drawer and the dresser.  Angel wouldn't have done that.  Who did, and why?... Angel works for Marvel Candy Company, along with Nick Davies.  They have been having a closet affair for some time and it's become apparent that Angel wants more, but who would have gone through her apartment while she was meeting with Nick?

Elvin Suggs, Dimon "Di" Redding, Elvin's Vietnam friend Cobra Glynes and Elvin's Airedale Savannah or just "Vanna" decided to open a detective agency after they were instrumental in solving a case at the Jewel Arms Apartments where Di had lived before it burned down.  Their agency The Grapevine Detective Agency has just taken on it's first client, a lady named Emily Davies.  Apparently Mrs. Davies suspects her husband of having an affair with one of the women he works with.  Elvin and Cobra both see this as a simple case.  Follow the husband, see where he goes at night while the wife works and see who he meets.  Di, on the other hand, doesn't see it quite that clearly.  She has a gut feeling that Mrs. Davies isn't telling everything.  So while Elvin and Cobra follow the husband Nick, Di follows the wife.  Turns out, they both end up in the same place, the Coral Court Motel which is known for its by the hour rate.

This book has more turns than a mountain road!  Most of the characters turn out to be totally the opposite of what they are shown to be in the beginning.  And someone is killing them off, one by one.  But who and why?  If you want a book full of twists, you can't beat this book.  The ending was nowhere near what I expected it to be.

Chick and the Homestead Chickens of Grymme Creek Hollow - David Boyette, Author

12:58 PM Posted by Martha A Cheves


Tater Jack
(A Chick Special)

Tater Jack is similar to Latkes a Yiddish potato patty but with a slight difference.  In Tater Jack you don't use any flour or corn starch

1.  Take 2 medium sized unpeeled potatoes and boil them in a pan of water until done.  You can nuke them in the microwave or bake them in the oven but boiling is better.
2.  Mash the potatoes in a bowl, skins and all.
3.  Add just enough buttermilk and mix until everything is the consistency of paste.
4.  Preheat a skillet with oil for about 10 minutes on medium heat.  Bacon drippings also work really well.
5.  When the pan is hot, spoon out the desired size patty in the skillet and let them cook for about 10-12 minutes, flip them over and cook another 10-12 minutes.  If you add cheese or onion, allow 3 minutes more for cooking.  When done the Tater Jacks should have a golden brown crust.  Serve up with the toppings or condiments of your choice - sour cream works great.


Chick and the Homestead Chickens of Grymme Creek Hollow - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

Many years ago a young man from the city decided to be a pioneer so he loaded up his belongings and started a homestead in Grymme Creek Hollow which, by the way, was in the Ouachita Mountains.  It didin't take long for the young man to decide this wasn't for him so he packed up his personal belongings and moved back to the city.  Legend has it that the chickens he left behind decided to make their own homestead out of what was left behind.  These chickens became the Homestead Chickens of Grymme Creek Hollow.

The homestead chickens were divided up into family groups known as broods.  In each brook there was a Mother Hen who was in charge.  The roosters in the brood were not in charge.... Among some of the more influential broods of the homestead were Midhens which were a combination of killer security guards and nannies.  The leader was the Superior Mother Hen - Hypatia Rosecomb.  She is advised by a group of Mother Hens which make up the Council of Aunties.  There were also different classes of chickens which determined their pecking order.  Like most, there were the upper class chickens and there were the lowerclass which were called coopies or coop chickens.

The Pinfeathers family was the smallest and poorest chickens of the coop.  They were June Pinefeather, the Mother Hen; Walter Pinfeather, her rooster; and of course their chick which they named Chick.  Chick was a born explorer.  Nothing amused him more than running around investigating everything that made up the homestead, even if it took him to the outskirts of the upperclass.  But his real trouble came when he spotted a chick younger than him being bullied by another chick.  His defense of this chick, named Peq, brought the anger of the bully's mother who just happened to be Aunty Hysidia, the 2nd most powerful Aunty in the Council.  Second only to the Superior Mother Hen.  Her anger has her pressing charges against Chick's father Walter for what boils down to theft and treason.

I read a lot of books but this book is one that I can't say enough about.  We spend our lives hearing about bullying, discrimination, politics, and everyday life in general, but after a while it just becomes words that we hear but don't listen to.  As I read Chick and the Homestead Chickens I would be reminded of things happening around me.  As Peq is bullied I pictured the kids on the news that attempted to kill their friend.  As I read about the order of the broods, I pictured the different housing districts we have within every city.  As I read about the Aunty Council, I pictured the court systems we have in effect.  And as I read about the Superior Mother Hen, I pictured our presidents and their cabinets.  This book, which made me laugh also made me pay attention to my own surroundings.  This is a book that can be read by those of all ages and they will all learn something from it.  OH YEAH!  You do realize I learned this from a Chicken!  Great Book!

The Deputy - C. M. Albrecht, Author

12:45 PM Posted by Martha A Cheves


Chef Merle Blanc's Secret Potato Salad Recipe

2 med. potatoes
1 hard-boiled egg, cut into cubes
1/3 cup onion, chopped
1/3 cup celery, chopped
1/3 cup sweet relish
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp. mustard
pepper
Seasoning salt to taste

Boil potatoes until tender.  Cool, peel and cut into 1" cubes.  Makes about 2 cups.  Blanch onion and celery in boiling salted water for one minute.  Drain.  Fold all ingredients together and refrigerate in a covered bowl.  Serves 4

You should keep these salads refrigerated and preferably consumed the same day.  If the Macaroni Salad becomes dry and/or sticky, a few drops of milk blended in may help.
For boiling your egg, place egg in salted gently boiling water for 14 minutes.  Cool quickly in cold water and roll around to gently crack the shell all over and peel.  Cooking too long results in dark green edges around the yolk.

But wait!  There's more!  This recipe works equally well to make a Macaroni Salad.  Just substitute two cups of cooked salad macaroni.  (One cup of uncooked macaroni should give you 2 cups cooked.)  If you prefer your salad a bit more tart, substitute Dill Relish or minced Dill Pickles for the Sweet Relish.
To add that special gourmet touch to either of the above, you may add your choice of chopped Parsley, Olives, Capers or chopped and blanched Red and/or Green pepper.  Some like minced cooked bacon.

The Potato Salad recipe is just one of the famous Chef Merle Blanc's dishes.  It's your creation now.  Make it the way you like!  You can read more about Chef Merle Blanc in "Deadly Reception" by C. M. Albrecht.  Bon appétit!

The Deputy - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

Just half a block from the sub-station, crossing the railroad track, Wayne's eyes caught sight of a wiry bandy-legged little guy walking along by the track.  The man limped slightly, and from the look of his oversize coat and unshaven face, he was obviously down and out.  As he neared the man, he stopped and leaned out of his side window, said, "Howdy."  The little man stopped abruptly, looked over at Wayne sitting in his cruiser and hesitated.  he looked as if he was debating whether to stay or run.  "Hi," the stranger said.  "You're new around here," Wayne said swerving his vehicle to a stop in front of the man.  "Just passing through," he said.  "I been looking for work."  "What kind of work do you do?" inquired Wayne.  "Oh...most anything.  "My name's Deputy Terwilliger, but most folks call me Wayne.   "I'm Ray Stark from Montana," the man said.  "Well, what I was thinking, Ray, is that I'm tied up here in town so much of the time.  You know, a sheriff's always on duty, and my wife, Janie, she's alone out there at the farm all day with all those chores to take care of.  I was just thinking, I can't offer much in the way of money, but we do have a spare room.  I've been using it for storage, but we could clear it out and make up a little room for you there and my Janie's a good cook." Wayne said to him.  "As to wages, I just need maybe enough to keep me in a few things."  replied Ray.  The two men shook hands as Wayne said, "Come on.  We'll get in the cruiser and I'll take you out there.  It isn't far." 

This was the hiring of Ray by Deputy Terwilliger to help his wife Janie with the chores around their farm.
Ray couldn't believe his luck in finding a job and by a Deputy to boot.  This was going to make his life so much easier... so he thought.  What he was unaware of was that the Deputy had other 'chores' in mind for Ray and they weren't exactly up to Ray's liking.

What the Deputy lacked in morals he made up for in his bravery.  When the bank in Franklin was robbed, he showed no fear in going after the robbers.  He had a loving wife at home, Sandy in town, a job that made him proud and the 'respect' of those around him.  So when he read about a bus load of convicts escaping after killing the driver, he came up with a plan and Ray fit in perfectly.  A plan that would give him the freedom to do and have everything he wanted, and deserved.

This book kept me on the edge.  I was able to come up with Ray's fit into the story but I had no idea as to how he would handle what had been planned for him to do for Wayne.  The ending was a bit of a surprise for me.  Loved this book as much as I've loved all books I've read by this Author.

The Dark Before Dawn - Laurie Stevens, Author

11:04 AM Posted by Martha A Cheves


Chocolaty Caramel Pecan Bars
(In honor of the book series, which is dark and
   deals with mental issues!)

Crust
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup margarine or butter, softened
1 Tbsp. whipping cream
1 cup all purpose or unbleached flour

Filling
24 vanilla caramels (unwrapped)
1/3 cup whipping cream
2 cups pecan halves (or pieces)

Topping
1 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips or semi-sweet
2 Tbsp. whipping cream

Heat oven to 325 degrees.  Line an 8 or 9 inch square pan with parchment paper.  If you don't have parchment paper, grease the pan.  In a medium bowl, combine powdered sugar, 1/2 cup butter and 1 Tbsp. whipping cream until well blended.  Add flour and mix until crumbly.  With floured hands, press evenly into pan.  Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until firm to the touch.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan combine caramels and 1/3 cup whipping cream.  Cook over low heat until caramels are melted and mixture is smooth, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat.  Add pecans and stir well to coat.  Immediately spoon over baked crust, spreading carefully to cover but not rip the crust.

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt 1 Tbsp. butter and chocolate chips, stirring constantly until melted.  Stir in 2 Tbsp. whipping cream.  Drizzle over filling.  Refrigerate 1 hr. or until the filling is firm.  Cut into bars.  (You can also toss the topping ingredients in a microwavable cup, heat and stir until it's smooth enough to drizzle.)

The Dark Before Dawn - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

Dr. B sniffed and repositioned his glasses atop his nose.  "This last case you were on - you assaulted a grandmother."...  "Grandma had a twelve-gauge shotgun lying on a table in plain view from the front door.  Her drug-pushing grandson lives with the old lady and was a known gang-banger.  Grandma was very agitated with me.  Now, what am I supposed to think?" ... Dr. B chose his words carefully.  "But did you think first, Gabe?  When you pushed her, she fell and broke her hip.  She's an eighty-year old"...  "In a separate case two weeks ago," Dr. B said, "you nearly throttled a fifteen-year-old boy."...  "Then let's talk about the young man who was shot at that Halloween party you responded to when you were in uniform."

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Detective Gabriel McRay has seen and even created his share of problems.  Enough so that he has been sent to the department's psychiatrist Dr. Berkowitz, better known as Dr. B.  Gabe's problems are showing through his temper but Dr. B feels it goes a lot deeper than that.  He feels Gabe's problems stem from a deeply suppressed past.  Gabe is not only suffering from his temper but also blackouts which leave him not knowing where he has been nor what he has done.  And to top it all off, someone has gone on a murdering spree that always ends with a message being left for Gabe with the 1st one reading "We are one."

As Gabe's memory starts to surface he finds himself wondering if he could possibly be the killer.  Is this what he does when he blacks out?  Turns out that Gabe isn't the only one with these same thoughts.  Some of his fellow officers are having the same thought.  As the murders and notes continue with each becoming more and more morbid the suspicion reaches the point that the department has decided put a watch on him.


This book isn't for the weak.  It's graphic and nothing is held back but it's also one of the best books I've read in some time.  I had a very hard time putting it down after reading the Prologue.  I could see it being a great story for Criminal Minds.  Now I'm looking forward to reading the next in the series Deep into Dusk.