Dark Money - Larry D. Thompson, Author

12:29 PM Posted by Martha A Cheves


Jackson Bryant’s Huevos Rancheros
By Vicki Thompson (Larry's Wife)

This is an old-fashioned “seat of your pants” style recipe.  It is actually more of a cooking method than a recipe but it is a crowd pleaser.  Have fun with the flavors you add to match your family’s tastes.
Prep time 10 minutes
Cooking time 20 to 40 minutes

Ingredients
1 to 2 large eggs per serving needed: 4 to 6 eggs for 2 cans each of tomato products – add more cans for more eggs.

2 or 3  8 ounce cans of plain tomato sauce
2 or 3  8 ounce cans of plain diced tomatoes
1 or 2 TBS Salsa – homemade or your favorite prepared – this becomes spicier as it simmers
1 – 2 tsp ground cumin
1 – 2 tsp ground red pepper to taste red pepper taste increases as it cooks so start cautiously and add during the simmer to taste as mild or hot as wanted

Extra salsa for serving on the side
Corn chips of choice
1 ½ cups of shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese
Mexican crema as desired
Diced onions as desired

Method


In a deep sided skillet add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, salsa and seasonings.  The sauce needs to be slightly deeper than an egg.  Bring the sauce to a full boil and turn down to simmer about 20 mins.  The longer the sauce is simmered the deeper the flavor becomes.  Crack eggs one at a time and drop into sauce in separate sections of the sauce to poach the eggs in the red sauce.  For a two egg serving place two eggs close to each other.  Simmer covered for 12 to 15 minutes until the top of the eggs begin to look white; with a large spoon move the eggs slightly in the sauce to see if the egg is too liquid or is beginning to firm up.  The eggs are best when they hot all the way through, the yolks are still liquid and the whites are firm but not hard. The cooking time differs based on the type of pan, how hard the simmer is and how deep the sauce is.  When learning how I liked to cook mine I would scoop one egg into a bowl to see how cooked it was slipping it back into the pan if necessary.   Line bowls with chips and spoon the eggs and sauce on to the chips.  Add cheese, hot sauce, salsa, onions and crema to taste.   I save left over sauce for more eggs another day or for soft tacos the next morning.

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

"Walt, he's losing a lot of blood.  Pressure is 45 over 20.  Heart is racing at 120 and respirations are rapid and shallow."  Walt called the emergency department at Harris Methodist Hospital to advise that the governor had a chest wound and relay the vital signs.  As they hurried away, they got a report that Edward Hale was dead and Kevin O'Connell was wounded.  Tears came to Walt's eyes as he heard the news.  He was overwhelmed with the thought that he and his team had failed.

Walt Frazier had known Jack Bryant since Desert Storm when he pulled a beam off Jack's leg after an attack by the enemy.  Eventually Walt left the army, joined the Texas DPS and was currently the lead in security for Governor Rob Lardner.  Jack became a powerful lawyer, made his billions and turned his career into a pro-bono which allowed him to help those in most need of a good lawyer.  But when the governor was shot while attending a political Halloween party Jack was assigned to the position of special prosecutor and finds himself participating in the identification of and search for the shooter.

At the very end of this book the Author quotes number 10 of Elmore Leonard's Ten Rules of Writing.   'Leave out the parts that the readers tend to skip.' - believe me, he succeeded!  Yes I'm one of those that has a tendency to 'scan' read.  Not with this book.  I read EVERY word and EVERY word held my attention.  It's filled with murder and suspense as well as politics.  It's not only an enjoyable work of fiction, it's also an eye opener as you learn just how deceitful our political representatives really are.  This book will entertain as well as educate.  I find it a book I would highly recommend to anyone.


Dead Medium - Peter John, Author

12:10 PM Posted by Martha A Cheves


Margaret's Bakewells
(Her favorite!)

Pastry
300g plain flour
125g unsalted butter
30g sugar
1 egg

Filling
225g butter
225g sugar
225g ground almonds
3 eggs
The grated zest of 1 lemon
50g plain flour
jar cherry jam

Topping
200g Icing Sugar

Method
As my mother always told me, there's no need to flounce around the kitchen when it comes to making shortcrust pastry. Throw the flour, butter, sugar and egg into bowl and mix well. I use the big Kenwood mixer Alf brought me for my birthday last year but a bit of elbow grease will do the job just fine. If the mixture feels a little loose just add a smidgen of flour. If it's too tight, a dribble of water or milk will help. Once you're happy with your short crust, dust your counter with flour and tip the pastry on to it. Find a rolling pin, mine is usually in the top drawer next to the sink, and roll out the pastry to fit whatever tin you have to hand. I use a round tart tin. It's just a bit smaller that those old vinyl albums they used to sell down the high street years ago. I've still got a few. Everything's on those compact thin gummies now. People say they sound better but I prefer my Pat Boone with a little crackle. Anyhow, once your pastry is in the tin perforate the base with a fork as many times as you can fit and stick it in the oven, 20 minutes should do it. I usually preheat mine at 200c (Gas mark 6).

While that's baking you had best get on with the filling. Grab a bowl and beat the butter and sugar together until it's all fluffy. Throw in the ground almonds, then the eggs. I find it's best to do them one at a time, beating as I go. If the mixture begins to split, Don't panic, just add a smidgen of flour. This next bit is important, I got this wrong once and it was an awful mess. Stop with the beating and gently fold in the flour and lemon zest.

You should have taken your pastry out of the oven by now, let it cool before spreading cherry jam across the base. leave 2 cm gap around the edge. Grab your filling and spread it over the jam. Bung the tin back in the oven for another 20 minutes or until set and golden-brown, I turn mine down to 180 c for this bit. Once baked make sure it's completely cooled before doing the next bit.
For the icing tip the icing sugar into a bowl. Add a little water and keep stirring until you get a think fondant, adding water as needed. Pour the fondant over the cake and wait for it to set. If I'm feeling adventurous I pipe melted chocolate across the fondant while it's still loose and then drag a knife across it to form a marble pattern which looks rather effective but is not essential; it tastes just fine without it.



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

George's hand on her shoulder silently comforted her.  She would have usually pulled away from him and given him the sharp end of her tongue but at that moment she didn't.  It wasn't fear that held her temper.  Even though she hated to admit it, his presence reassured her.  His touch anchored her, preventing her form drifting into the darkness above.  Had she been alone she might have reacted to the bewildering feeling that was overwhelming her.  The fear made her shy away from the darkness but also drew her toward it.  The temptation to let go felt familiar, it almost felt like a sense of belonging.  It was as if the darkness marked a path she was meant to travel, a passage home.  

May Elizabeth Trump spent her young years in a orphanage, her adult life being a recluse that saved every penny earned, and now she can speak to those who have passed as well as those who are still living.

Penny Saunders lives in the same town as May but has passed leaving her only child Chloe in a bad financial position.  Chloe must now pay for her college education as well as the upkeep on the family home that Penny has spent her life trying to hold on to.

Then comes the idea that will involve Margaret, May's only 'friend', and her Thursday Night Club, which is a group of 4 ladies who dabble in the 'psychic business.'  With May as the medium they can line up clients of ghosts who want to talk with those left behind and charge the living, allowing Chloe an income so she can continue with her education as well as keep the house.

One important piece of information that I haven't told you.  May is dead therefore being the Dead Medium.

This book is full of humor, ghosts, and some uncertain beings that are called the Soul Stalkers who May has been warned about by a ghost named George.  But... even though she never cared for a living soul when alive, for some reason May is drawn to Chloe and feels the need to help her in any way possible.  This story kept my finger busy as it turned page after page.  I couldn't wait to see what the next page and even sentence had to add.  And the ending - that was a total surprise.  It also left a very large opening for another chapter in the Dead Medium which I hope Author Peter John brings forth very soon.

Silent Prey - T. M. Simmons, Author

7:44 AM Posted by Martha A Cheves



English Toffee
(My sister-in-law, Pat, gave me this recipe and it's great for easy Christmas gifts. It's also perfect for the holidays, since it's full of calories! - T.M. Simmons)
 
Ingredients:
 
1 lb. butter
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans, split in half
1 lb. Hershey's Chocolate Bar (plain)
(Pat said that she used two 5 oz. chocolate bars and it was plenty of chocolate.)
 
Melt butter, sugar and vanilla on medium high heat.
Add ½ of the pecans and cook until 320 degrees on the candy thermometer. The mixture will be a light caramel color and have a slight burnt smell. Do not overcook.
Pour onto a flat piece of aluminum foil.
 
Melt chocolate bar and spread over the toffee with a flat knife.
Top with remaining pecans.
 
After cooled, you can break into pieces and put into cute little boxes for gifts. Yum!
 

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

She raced through the blowing snow, savoring the feel of the cold and wind.  Glorying in feeling... being once again.  Enjoying the fact that traveling was so easy, so quick.  Her feet flew over the snow, and merely thinking of a remembered place brought her to it.  No need for heavy clothing to impede movement or slow her down.  Even the tangled underbrush didn't present obstacles.  She had no recall of how long the non-existence of her grave had lasted.  Only slowly were the memories returning.  Most of them, at first, were the painful ones.  Children's beautiful chubby faces losing their plumpness and fading into skeletal skulls with only a layer of skin stretched over them.  Their cries fading near the end as their mother tried unsuccessfully to share her scant remaining body heat.  Finally, the thankfulness that they suffered no longer and her longing to join them.

In Silent Prey Simmons brings us Nenegean, who for some reason has left her grave and is wreaking havoc on the Northwood.  For some strange reason she steals children.  Then there is Dr. Channing Drury who has come to the Northwood from Texas to possibly join Dr. Silver in his practice.  Keoman Thunderwood is from the Ojibway tribe and is a Mide, or for most of us a medicine man.  As the electricity starts to fly between Channing and Keoman, she finds herself defending Nenegean where Keoman sees her only as a demon that must be done away with.  Channing reasons that Nenegean doesn't harm the children she takes but there are other children being taken that are being harmed so Nenegean believes she is protecting them from the real demon.  Keoman sees her as a being that has no feelings so she can't possibly 'think' anything through but only takes them because of the loss of her own when she lived many years ago.  No matter which is right and which is wrong, there are children that are being harmed and something must be done to keep them safe.

I've read everything this author has written and after reading each book I tell myself this is the best, it can't get any better... wrong.  Every book is always better than the last.  As I read Silent Prey I tried to understand the motive of Nenegean and when I finally did understand I tried to decide who the real demon was.  Well, as always, she kept me guessing until the end!  This is one heck of an author and I will always follow her books and impatiently wait for the next.


Golden Girl - Mary Kennedy, Author

1:57 PM Posted by Martha A Cheves



Oatmeal bars(Mary Kennedy's own special recipe)

Ingredients:
1 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 and 1/2 cups oats, either quick cook or regular
1 cup brown sugar (I use light brown)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
8 oz of jam (I usually use 14 oz)
1 and 3/4 sticks butter

Directions:
Mix dry ingredients. Cut in chilled butter. Place half the mixture in a 9 x 13 inch pan. Press down with fingertips. Spread jam on top. Spread the remaining oatmeal mixture on top. Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes. Cool and cut into squares or bars.


Golden Girl - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat, Think With Your Taste Buds: A Book and A Dish

Amber Fielding may be young but that doesn't stop her from enjoying a life of luxury to its fullest.  Her father, who owns one of the best hotels in South Beach, has made sure she wants for nothing but also that a price comes with everything which includes her working for what she has.

Her beauty won her a feature in Teen Vogue and she has now become an item of publicity but the publicity manager her father found for her isn't quite what she had dreamed of.  Then she meets Nick Crawford who is doing a documentary on the architect of South Beach.  Not only is Nick 'hot' he also seems to have an attraction to Amber and has promised to include shots of she and her best friends in his documentary.  But... there is something not quite right.  He seems to be attracted to her friend Shay too.  And when he sends a beautiful arrangement of flowers to her friend Zia, that really struck a note with Amber.  He was becoming her boyfriend, wasn't he?

Being the owner of a hotel like the Fielding often has its perks.  One of the perks turned out to be Johnny Wilde and his band The Changelings booking the whole 11th floor of the hotel.  So when Amber is invited to the after party she can't wait.  This was going to be fun, or was it?

Author Mary Kennedy has written a book that follows Amber Fielding and her best friends through good times as well as bad.  She has given Amber character with morals as she takes her through trust and believing in people, but also shows how that trust can sometimes be deceiving.  This book is one that I feel most young ladies would enjoy reading and even learn a little from.


Sprig of Broom - Susan Whitfield, Author

2:18 PM Posted by Martha A Cheves



Coq au Vin

Coq au Vin is basically a chicken stew. The “Coq” in its name
means “rooster.” Today we use chicken pieces.
It tastes even better the day after it’s made.

Ingredients:

Step 1: Marinade Chicken Thighs
1 cup red wine (Tin Cup Merlot or a Beaujolais works well)
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 bay leaves
3 whole cloves
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup onion, chopped fine
3 lbs chicken thighs (2 packages (about 10 pieces), frozen, skinned)

Mix first seven ingredients in a large bowl. Add skinned thighs.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 18 hours. Longer is better. Strain
off the red wine marinade, and save it. Discard bay leaves and
onion bits.

Step 2: Prepare Vegetables and Broth
2 slices low-sodium bacon
1 parsnip, cut into small chunks
¾ cup carrots, cut into chunks
1/3 cup flour
2 ½ cups low-sodium chicken stock
1 small can tomato juice (6 oz.)
2 sprigs of fresh thyme (or ¼ teaspoon dried thyme leaves)
2 onions, sliced the long way (or 25 pearl onions)

If using pearl onions, cut an X into them at the top before peeling,
and drop them (with peels on) into boiling water for two
minutes. Remove, discard water, and let onions cool. When cool,
the peels will slip off. Set aside. If using regular onions, use half
in next step and save remainder for last step.

Cook bacon in a deep skillet until crisp and crumbly. Remove
bacon and set aside. Place carrots, parsnip, and first portion of
sliced onion into skillet and sauté until onion is golden. Add 2
Tbsp. of flour (save the rest) and stir to coat vegetables. Cook
floured mixture 5 minutes, stirring often. Slowly add stock and
then tomato juice to pan. Add fresh thyme. Simmer 30 minutes.
Cool and strain to remove vegetables and thyme sprigs. Set aside.

Step 3: Brown chicken and mushrooms
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
Reserved flour
1 package button mushrooms (8 oz.)
Dry the marinated chicken thighs with paper towels. Dredge
chicken pieces in flour until coated lightly.
Heat oil in a clean skillet. Place chicken pieces in hot oil and
cook until golden, not deeply browned. Do this in small batches
to keep the oil evenly hot. Remove chicken pieces. Save oil and
bits of chicken and flour in pan. Brush or wash mushrooms to remove
grit. Peel mushrooms, saving stems. Cut tops and stems into
rough quarters. Add to hot oil and cook until browned. Remove.

Step 4: Combine and bake
Chicken pieces
Reserved vegetable broth
Reserved red wine marinade
Reserved onion, bacon, and mushrooms
Preheat oven to 350° F.

Place browned chicken in an ovenproof pan. Strain the vegetables
out of the broth. Pour the broth over the chicken. Add the
reserved red wine marinade. Scrape bits from pan with mushrooms,
and add to chicken. Place reserved sliced onion (or peeled
pearl onions), crumbled bacon, and mushrooms around chicken
pieces. Bake for 1½ hours or until chicken is tender.
Traditionally served over egg noodles, with salad and crusty
bread. Serves 4 to 6.


from Killer Recipes submitted by Cash Anthony, author of “Yes, She Bites”, “A Bona Fide Quirk in theLaw”, and “The Stand-Inand numerous short films and screenplays


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

Many years ago I discovered the author John Jakes and fell in love with his Kent Family Chronicles.  This series started way back with this family following them from England to America.  They went through the Revolutionary War, Civil War, and taming the west.  I eagerly read every book until I reached those that took place around WWI.  That is when I stopped reading.  I love reading history, but only periods and the time from WWI until now has never interested me that much.

Now.... I've read the Bible from beginning to end and enjoyed it very much but I don't like history that takes place much after that, especially the history of Kings and Queens.  So when I saw that one of my favorite authors had written a book that dates in the year 1127 I thought, no way!  I've read everything written by this author but she has always written murder mysteries.  How can a suspense writer possibly write about this time period and keep the reader interested, especially me?

Well.... I read her book.  I was so infatuated with the story that I didn't want to put the book down.  Her story is basically about Geoffrey Plantagenet who married Dowager Empress Matilda who was the daughter of King Henry I.  Matilda had been married before but after losing her husband King Henry and Geoffrey's father made a deal for the marriage.  Geoffrey was very young when this marriage took place.  He was only 15 years old!  The story continues on through the trials that Geoffrey is put through by Matilda.  The death of King Henry and Matilda's journey to take his place.  The birth of their children.  Geoffrey's mistress and child.  And then Geoffrey's is ask to join the Knights Templar and vow to their code of honor.

Author Susan Whitfield has truly amazed me by writing a book so full of history, from a time that has always bored me, and made it so interesting that I want to learn more.  She is a great historian!

Secrets in the Fairy Chimneys - Linda Maria Frank, Author

12:46 PM Posted by Martha A Cheves


A Wonderful Seasonal Treat - 
Poached Pears and Ice Cream

Peel, core, and halve your pears, Bartlett, Bosc or Anjou.
Place them flat side down in a large heavy skillet, and cover half way with apple juice.
Sprinkle liberally with brown sugar
Add whole cloves, allspice and a cinnamon stick.
Bring to a boil and simmer, uncovered until the liquid becomes syrupy. Keep an eye on it.
Cool and add your favorite ice cream or whipped cream.
Sprinkle with nutmeg and serve with thin crisp cookies.
Hint: French Vanilla coffee or Lemon Ginger tea go very well with this dessert.



Secrets in the Fairy Chimneys - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

We were in a valley of shapes I couldn't believe were not made by humans, humans with a fabulous imagination.  Conical formations called fairy chimneys in various sizes spread away from us in every direction.  The color of bleached bones, they sat majestically among the gray-green brush and white clay like soil.  The air shimmered from the heat.  I could smell the odor of clay mixed with a faint herbal scent that must have come from the brush.  Some of the fairy chimneys had windows and doors.  Could people actually live inside?  It was dry here, and hot.

Anne Tillery has joined her boyfriend Ty at an archaeological dig in Turkey.  He and his best friend Cedric are at the dig representing Vermont University.  They will be working alongside a Dr. Atsut who is in charge of the project.  Ty, Cedric and Dr. Atsut are trying to prove that human remains at one of the earliest known archaeological sites in Turkey contained DNA that would link them to the first humans that evolved in Africa.  But, accidents and missing artifacts seem to be plaguing the site and there is even fear that it may be shut down.

As I've found out in other books of this series, Annie is quite a detective.  Hopefully she, with the help of Dr. Atsut's twin children, will be able to make the connections that will end the accidents and theft before the Turkish government steps in to put a halt to everything.  In doing so, Anne finds herself escaping two attempts of kidnapping which leaves her no choice but to call her own father for help.

This book gave me so much history of the Fairy Chimneys that I had to see for myself if they were real.  They are and they are amazingly beautiful!  Seeing what these unusual cities look like made the book even more enjoyable.  As I read I was not only enticed by the story but I could also picture where events were happening.  If you like mystery as well as archaeology, you'll not want to miss reading this book.

Fairy Chimneys

Mistaken Identity - Patricia Gligor, Author

2:54 PM Posted by Martha A Cheves



Greek Almond Cookies
(Patricia Gligor's Mother's Recipe)
(Makes 40-50 cookies)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

¾ cup sweet butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
4 eggs separated, at room temperature
3 ¼ cups flour
¾ lb. almonds, shelled and chopped
8 oz. confectioner’s sugar
8 oz. orange or raspberry preserves

Cream butter and sugar together
Add baking powder and egg yolks, one at a time, to the batter
When the yolks are blended, add the flour, one cup at a time; beat to form soft dough
Beat the egg whites in a bowl until fluffy but not stiff
Shape the dough into round, flattened balls 1 inch in diameter
Dip each cookie individually into the egg white mixture and then roll in the almonds
Make a grove in the center of each cookie and place on cookie sheet about an inch apart
Bake for 30 minutes; allow to cool on sheet; then dip in confectioner’s sugar

Place ¼ teaspoon of preserves in the center of each cookie

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

Ann couldn't stop screaming.  What she was seeing was beyond horrible.  She stood there staring at the young woman's body, wanting desperately to run away but unable to do so.  It felt like her feet were mired in quicksand, her legs too heavy to lift.  Several minutes went by but to her it was as if time had stood still.

Ann, her sister Marnie and Ann's two children Danielle and Davey, are on vacation on Fripp Island.  Ann and Marnie are there for a little R&R, Danielle is there for the history and Davey is there to find buried treasurers.  But what they really find, or should I say Ann finds, is the body of a dead woman.
Clara Brunner is an elderly lady that Marnie has known for years.  When she joins the vacation party she delivers just about everything the group wants, plus.  For Marnie and Ann, who has solved a couple of mysteries in the past, she provides the gossip that is going around about the murder and all those connected. - Jenny Harrington married Mark Hall.  Jenny's father Robert Harrington is married to a woman named Alison who is only a couple years older than Jenny.  Jenny's ex-boyfriend Tod made the statement that if he couldn't have Jenny no one could.  Jenny's mother is upset about being cut off from Robert's money now that Jenny is married.  And Jenny's bridesmaid is upset because she is in love with Mark.  Whew...  So who is the murdered woman and who killed her?  I stayed on the edge of my seat trying to figure this one out.

This book is full of mystery, but not too heavy, and lots of history.  Clara fills the vacationing group, as well as the readers, through some of the history of Fripp Island along with that of Beaufort, making me want to know more and maybe even visit the two places myself.  It is also filled with many possibilities of other stories that I hope the author will branch off with.  I will tell her this - I'll be watching for stories about the Detective, who is single; Marnie and Sam; Clara; and of course Ann.