Mixed Messages (A Malone Mystery Book 1) -

10:52 AM Posted by Martha A Cheves


"Dottie's Barbecue"

1 lb. ground beef
1 lg. onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 tblsp. sugar
1 tblsp. dried mustard
1 tblsp. vinegar
1 tsp. salt
8 oz. ketchup
Brown meat, add onion and pepper. Combine all remaining ingredients. Add to meat. Cover and simmer for 1 hour

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

She went directly to her grandmother's grave and stooped down to clear away the debris that covered the inscription on the tombstone.  She heard a noise behind her that sounded like light footsteps making their way through the dried leaves and twigs... But there was no one there.  It's probably your imagination, she said out loud but, when the sun went behind a cloud, she shivered.  Then, she heard the noise again... All of a sudden, a black cat sprang from the woods... As she turned back toward her grandmother's grave, she noticed a mound of freshly dug earth a few feet away.  Curious, she went over and looked down.  Her eyes opened wide and her hands flew to her mouth to stifle a scream.  There, printed in bold black paint on a large rock were the words, "FUTURE HOME OF ANN KERN."

Ann is a wife and mother of two beautiful children.  Most of her married life has been spent being a stay at home mother but now her husband David has decided that she should get a job.  He said he was tired of trying to support the family by himself.  The stress was getting to him and he was staying out late and drinking heavily.  His mother Louise takes her only living son's side and blames everything that he is going through, including the drinking, on Ann.  She agrees that Ann needs to earn her part of the income and even puts in a good word with Father Andrew from their church who is looking for a part-time assistant.

Father Andrew finds Ann very suitable for the position but also finds out who she really is.  He actually has a past with her family.  A bad past and this just might be his chance to get the revenge from years past.

You can't help but feel the love yet anger, sorrow, and pain that goes through Ann as she tries to be a good wife and mother.  But it seems that the harder she tries she can't help but watch everything slip away from her.  This story is so well written and so real that I found myself comparing it to people I knew in my own life.  I'm now looking forward to reading the next book in this series titled Unfinished Business.

The Madonna Ghost - Linda Maria Frank, Author

2:25 PM Posted by Martha A Cheves



FAMOUS APPLE BREAD
 

3/4 cup of oil
2 eggs
1 cup of sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. NACL
1 cup chopped apples
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare a loaf pan.  Combine dry ingredients.  Beat together eggs, sugar and oil.  Stir in dry ingredients.  Stir in apples and nuts.  Bake 1 1/2 hrs.
 

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

"The story goes that the women lashed their small child to themselves with their shawls before they jumped overboard to swim ashore.  This action proved to be fatal for some of the children.  They couldn't struggle to the surface to breathe, and most of the mothers were not swimmers anyway.  They were at the mercy of the waves."... "Some could be revived, and this drove one woman in particular to wander up and down the beach, trying to find someone who could revive her baby.  When they saw that her child was dead, the good people from Bay Shore tried to comfort her.... She wandered the beach, her baby clutched to her, until she collapsed and died herself.  Her grave is in the old cemetery in Bay Shore... Even today, the Madonna Ghost, as she is called, is sighted by people on occasion."

Annie and her Aunt Jill are vacationing on a small island out from New York called Fire Island.  The island is small and Annie is really hoping that there will be at least a couple of people her own age.  She was in luck.  They were staying at the summer home of a friend of Jill's who just happened to have his nephew Ty staying with him.  Now the vacation was looking up and even more so when she learned there was a ghost on the island.  Maybe she would be able to see the Madonna Ghost for herself, making it a first for her.  And of course with Ty by her side, it would be fun.

What Annie and Ty soon learn is that there is more than a ghost on the island.  The men staying in the cottage next door seem a little strange.  And when Jill comes up missing, they are both sure the neighbors have something to do with it.

The suspense and mystery in this book had me rapidly turning the pages.  I read a lot of books and usually have them pegged at least halfway through.  Not this one.  It kept me guessing all the way to the end.  So much so that I've ordered the next two books by this author... Secrets in the Fairy Chimneys and Girl with Pencil , Drawings

First Priority - B. J. Robinson

1:48 PM Posted by Martha A Cheves





BJ's Strawberry Shortcake
(First direction:  Be sure you don't let
 some man knock it 
out of your
 hands while your delivering it)

1/2 cup light butter or margarine
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 1/4 cups self-rising flour
1 cup milk
2-3 eggs
1-2 pints strawberries for mixture
strawberries for toppping
Whipped cream of your choice (I use light Cool Whip)



Stir margarine to soften and gradually add sugar. Cream together and add the vanilla. Beat eggs. Add ingredients and mix. Fold strawberries (washed, drained, sliced or mashed) into batter. Grease two round cake pans or use spray. Bake at 375 degrees until done. When it’s lightly brown and you can pull out a toothpick clean, it’s done. Let cool and remove from pans. 

Note: Some people may opt to leave the berries out of the batter and just use them as topping, but I like them in the cake for true homemade shortcake. Also, some may like a white icing, but I only use the whipped cream topping.

Eat and enjoy.

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

The house stood battered and forlorn, surrounded by five live oaks that formed a horseshoe turnaround.  To the right, lay Myrtle's small strawberry patch.  The berry bushes hung with the red-ripened fruit ready for tomorrow's picking.  Berries were rotting on the bushes from all the rain.  To the left, lay her bell pepper patch.  Strawberries and bell peppers were the only living Myrtle knew.

June was Myrtle's only child.  In Myrtle's opinion, she should have been born a boy, then she would have someone to help her out around the farm.  But no, the same God that took her husband had only seen fit to give her a daughter.

June is determined to prove to her mother that she can do everything that a son could have done.  This has become her obsession with the hopes that her mother will finally accept her.

This short story brings warmth to the heart.  I felt for Myrtle as well as June, understanding them both.

Wolf - Brian L. Porter, Author

3:13 PM Posted by Martha A Cheves



Lamb Tagine
(A Porter Special)


1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
5 garlic cloves, minced
Two 2 1/2-inch strips of lemon zest
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Pinch of saffron threads, crumbled
One 3-inch cinnamon stick
Kosher salt
3 1/2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 cups water
6 large carrots, thinly sliced
1 onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 cups pitted green Picholine olives, rinsed
1 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

In a large bowl, mix the olive oil, garlic, lemon zest, ginger, paprika, coriander, cumin, black pepper, cayenne, cloves, saffron, cinnamon stick and 1 tablespoon of kosher salt. Add the lamb and toss to coat. Refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours.

Scrape the lamb and spices into a tagine or a medium enameled cast-iron casserole; discard the lemon zest. Add the water, carrots and onion and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over low heat until the lamb is very tender, about 2 hours.

Spoon off any fat from the broth. Stir in the olives, season with salt and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley, cilantro and lemon juice. Ladle into bowls and serve

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

"Hell, Warren!  You've got to do something." shouted Emma at her husband.  "That's six chickens gone in a week, it's got to be a wolf, just look at those tracks."

"Yeah, I've been looking, Em," Warren replied, "and there's something strange about them, I just can't quite put my finger on it."

"They're wolf tracks alright Warren, just you mark my words.  They are, and you'd better be doing something about that killer, and fast."

Warren and his wife Emma had given up their careers in an attempt to 'get back to nature' and in the process they acquired a few chickens, horses and Billy the goat.  Now something was running off with the chickens.  Warren's concern is that 'if' this is a wolf, why didn't it go after one of the horses or the goat.  Well, nothing else to do but track this killer and put an end to the thefts.

I've read many of this author's books.  Most of them, such as A Study in Red and Glastonbury, have scared the heck out of me by bringing to light that there really are some crazy, dangerous people living in our world.  I've also seen the softer side of this author with his books like Tilly's Tale which is the story of an abused dog that was lucky enough to be rescued.  But I've never read a story like Wolf.  I have to tell the truth and say that I actually cried while reading this beautiful story.  And the ending, you won't believe.

Author Brian L. Porter is one of the most versatile authors I've ever had the pleasure of reading.  He can go from the worse events in the world to the best and most loving.

Wolf also contains a superb educational section full of facts about the wolf as an endangered species, highlighting the surprising number of wolf species that are already extinct in our world. Perhaps books like this will help today's youth to take steps to help redress the balance in favor of this magnificent creature.

Dead Man Ohio - T. M. Simmons, Author

2:28 PM Posted by Martha A Cheves

Granny's Bread Pudding with
Jack Daniel's Whiskey Sauce

Ingredients for Bread Pudding:

2-1/2 cups stale French bread, cut in cubes
1-1/2 cups whole milk
4 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
4 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup raisins
1 cup coconut
1 cup pecan pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8X12 glass baking dish with olive oil cooking spray and set aside.

Place bread cubes and milk in a bowl. Squeeze the milk into the bread very well and let set for at least 10 minutes.

Using an electric mixer on high, beat eggs with sugar in another bowl until thick. Stir in vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, butter, raisins, coconut and pecan pieces. Add to the soaked bread crumbs and stir.

Pour the mixture into the baking dish. Bake 45 to 50 minutes, or until firm. Check with a knife inserted in the middle. If it comes out clean, the pudding is done. Let cool in the dish.

Jack Daniel's Whiskey Sauce:

½ cup brown sugar
½ cup Half and Half
1 stick butter (real butter, not margarine)
½ cup Jack Daniel's Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey
Combine the ingredients in a medium saucepan. Stir constantly over low heat until mixture reaches a low rolling boil. Pour a generous amount over the individual servings of bread pudding. Serve hot.



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

The thing in front of us drew himself up and glared at me.  I could tell it was male - or at least projected a male appearance.  Bare skin gleamed in the overhead light as though he'd smeared himself with bear grease, and there were no breasts other than the small brown nipples on his muscular chest.  The rest of his body rivaled pictures I'd seen of men with toned but not over-blown bodies.  He exuded maleness, even beneath his outlandish facade.  Still, no amount of projected masculinity could overcome my senses.  Mr. Muscles had been dead for a long while.

Yet, the image was a ghost, spirit or whatever you want to call him.  And as it turned out, he wasn't the only one lingering around Alice's Aunt Twila's home and that of her neighbors.  Turns out that this spirit was called Free Eagle and he had been dead for centuries.

Alice had been called by her ex-husband to 'please' come to Ohio to see if she could help out her Aunt Twila.  Apparently there was a spirit that had been causing her trouble and she didn't seem to be able to gain control over it.  That was all it took for Alice and her neighbor and friend Granny to jump into the car and make the trip from Texas to Ohio.  And it didn't take long for Alice to discover that there was more than one ghost to be dealt with.

Then there are the Ohio Grassmen.  Story goes that they live in the area, are covered with grass and stand 8 - 10 feet tall.  They are big!  Just like the 'thing' that was seen depositing a body on Twila's property the night Alice and Granny showed up.  Turns out that he had been murdered and he refused to leave until he found the person who killed him.

Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you that Alice and Aunt Twila are 'ghost hunters.'

I think I've read everything paranormal this author has written and I can't get enough.  Be it her series with Alice and Twila or her true Ghost Hunting Diaries, I have a hard time putting them down.  This author is addictive and I hope I'll have another fix coming my way from her soon.

Avenue of the Dead - Brian L. Porter, Author

2:51 PM Posted by Martha A Cheves



White Chicken Chili
(A Brian Special)


3 15 ounce cans Great Northern, pinto, or cannellini (white kidney) beans, rinsed and drained
2 1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 1/2  cups chopped red, green, and/or yellow sweet peppers (2 medium)
1 cup chopped onion (1 large)
2 fresh jalapeno chile peppers, seeded and chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
3 1/2 cups chicken broth 
Shredded Monterey Jack cheese (optional)
Broken tortilla chips (optional)



1.  In a 3-1/2- or 4-quart slow cooker combine drained beans, chicken, sweet peppers, onion, jalapeno peppers, cumin, garlic, salt, and oregano. Pour broth over mixture in cooker.
2.  Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 8 to 10 hours or on high-heat setting for 4 to 5 hours.
3.  If desired, top each serving with cheese and/or tortilla chips.

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

The remaining hours of that first day of the investigation proved as frustrating as they did fruitless for the two detectives.  Little progress was made by any of those involved in the investigation.  A painstaking search of the area surrounding the site of the discovery of the body had revealed no physical or trace evidence whatsoever.  They were nowhere nearer to identifying the unfortunate victim, and Doctor Hernandez had telephoned Tamayo to inform him that the autopsy results wouldn't be available until the following day.

Mexican Police Captain Juan Morales decided to take a vacation after the death of his brother Father Rodrigo who had spent his last years in the sanctuary of the seminary.  Rodrigo had been a Priest who fell from the bell tower and never recovered mentally nor physically.  Juan's vacation came to a halt when his old time buddy Tamayo received a call informing him that a body had been found at the ancient ruins of the city of Teotihuacan.  With Juan tagging along, Tamayo finds himself standing on the Avenue of the Dead looking at the horrific sight of a corpse whose chest cavity shows evidence that the man's heart is missing.  Now the search is on to find the identity of the man as well as his killer before he kills again.  As Morales finds himself being drawn ever closer to the beautiful archaeologist Sophia, developments in the case lead the two of them into grave danger as the killer senses an opportunity for another outlet for his (or her) escalating bloodlust."

As I read the story about the Priest Rodrigo whose mind kept seeing the devil I couldn't but feel that even after his death, there had to be a connection to the body with the missing heart.  Then another body turned up making me truly believe there was a connection.  Could this be the Priest coming back?  Could it be that the devil has decided to visit yet another human?  Or is this the doings of a truly sick person on their own?  I will tell you this, I stayed on the edge of my bed the whole time I read this book.  It really grabs at your heart!

Christmas in the Smokies - B. J. Robinson, Author

11:32 AM Posted by Martha A Cheves



Alli's Famous Louisiana Cornbread Dressing
(the author's mother-in-law's recipe)


5 leg quarters of chicken
1 can chicken broth
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 yellow onion
1 bunch of green onions
2 bell peppers
1 stick of celery
Cornbread mix or homemade cornbread (not the sweet kind)
Garlic powder, poultry seasoning, salt, pepper, sage (all to taste)

Boil the chicken, debone.  Cook down seasonings together until tender.  You can smother or boil.  Mix seasonings with soups.  Bake cornbread in oven until done.  Crumble cornbread.  Mix all ingredients together.  Bake 30 minutes uncovered in a 400 degree oven.


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


Christmas music softly played as Sierra Faith Lawson peered out the window of the Smokey Mountain, Tennessee cabin.  Tears cascaded down her cheeks like a waterfall.  The sad Christmas songs pierced her heart and broke it anew with each thought of her lost love and the trail of tears that'd caused her to flee to the mountains seeking the very serenity that now make her heart ache because she knew she'd spend this holiday season single with no love in sight. 


After her fiance postponed their June wedding, Sierra returned his ring and left New Orleans where she had been raised after the death of her parents.  All of her dreams had been crushed with no happiness in view. 


After moving into her family cabin deep in the Smokie Mountains, Sierra had taken a job as a waitress.  Her quiet, lonely life was interrupted with the meeting of a park ranger named Landon Jordan.  Could God be giving her a second chance at happiness?  It appears so until her old fiance Gillman finds his way back into her life.



This is such a beautiful story of love lost and love found with a beautiful Christmas story woven in.  It's a novella that comes with the warmth and beauty of love that this author is known for putting on paper.