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.

A Mersey Killing - Brian L. Porter, Author

1:49 PM Posted by Martha A Cheves

Lancashire Hot Pot
(A Brian Special)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
325g chopped onion
675g cubed leg of lamb meat
1kg potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
30g butter
475ml chicken or lamb stock

Prep: 20 min., Cook Time: 2 hrs. 
Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat. Saute onion until soft and deep golden in colour. Remove from pan and set aside. Add lamb to pan and fry (in batches if necessary) until a rich chestnut brown in colour, 12 to 15 minutes. Drain fat and reserve.
Preheat oven to 190 C / Gas mark 5.

Spread 1/2 of the potatoes in the bottom of a 22x33cm (9x13 in) baking dish. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Place browned lamb and onions on top, then sprinkle with thyme and season to taste. Cover with remaining potatoes, season to taste and dot with butter. Pour stock over all.
Bake in the preheated oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Cook's note:

If hot pot is drying out while cooking, add more stock as needed. If it is browning too quickly, cover with aluminium foil.

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

When an old wharf and dockside warehouse renovation uncovers the skeletal remains of a murder victim, Detective Inspector Andy Ross and his team are given just over a week to determine who the remains belonged to or drop the mystery as a cold case.  After all, it had been a cold case for over 30 years now so how could they possibly determine who the victim was much less who the killer was.

Judging by their research the body had to have been there from around the 1960s.  Dental records from that far back were slim in help without a name to go with the teeth.  The victim did have a break in the leg but again, there were probably hundreds of kids who broke their leg in the same area of this break.  This was becoming a helpless mystery that may never be solved, that is until two brothers walked in to see if the remains might be those of their sister who disappeared in 1966.

Apparently she and her boyfriend had made plans to go to America in hopes of him pursuing a career in music.  He and the two brothers, along with another young man had formed a band that simply wasn't going anywhere.  They were called Brendan Kane and the Planets and Brendan was the boyfriend.  When the group broke up Brendan decided to go solo but knew he, just like the Beatles, he would only make it big if he went to America.  Then one day he and the sister, Marie, disappeared.  Hopefully they were in America living a comfortable life but the brothers had a bad feeling that Marie never made it to America and was instead dead.

So, is the body that of Marie?  Or could it be the body of Brendan?  As the team put their clues and facts together they find themselves faced not only with the bones from the past but also with a murder that takes place just within a few days of finding the remains and yes the two are very well connected.

I've read everything written by Brian L. Porter and he has never left me disappointed but always wanting more and this book was no exception.  I must admit that I had a clue after a certain character appeared within the book but still would have never guessed the final ending.  This book kept me turning the pages as the action moved smoothly between the 1960s and the 1990s in such a way you were led from one era to the other without noticing the changes in time, making the whole story a seamless roller coaster of memories of times past.   So keep writing Mr. Porter. You have a fan for life in me.

Devil's Pawn - Marilyn Levinson, Author

12:56 PM Posted by Martha A Cheves

Marilyn’s Gazpacho

According to Wikipedia: “Gazpacho is a soup made of raw vegetables and served cold, usually with a tomato base, originating in the southern Spanish region of Andalusia.” That said, soups and stews lend themselves to personal interpretation. Here is my version of gazpacho, with careful attention to taste and prep time.

24 ounces of tomato or V-8 juice
4 tomatoes
2 cucumbers or 3 kirbys, seeded and peeled
1 red pepper, cored and seeded
½ - 1 Vidalia Onion (to taste)
2 -3 garlic cloves (to taste)
2 tablespoons of olive oil (optional)
A few sprigs of fresh parsley
A few sprigs of fresh cilantro
Salt & pepper to taste

Cut up tomatoes, cucumbers, red pepper, onion, and garlic into small pieces and put into food processor, one ingredient at a time. Add oil, parsley, cilantro,  salt and pepper. When mixture is coarsely chopped or smooth according to your taste, pour mixture into large bowl. Stir in juice. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours. When serving, offer cut-up pieces of scallion and croutons for topping.

Devil's Pawn - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

He pointed to a chair, but I remained standing near the doorway.  His office gave off negative vibes that kept me on my guard.  I didn't much like this relative who had shown up out of the blue at the high school I'd been attending back in Pennsylvania.  He’d had the right credentials and looked enough like my dad to convince me he was my father's older brother.  Since I'd just lost my immediate family, I had no choice but to come live with Raymond Davenport and his wife in upstate New York.

Simon Porte has lost his mother, father and younger sister.  He has no family until his Uncle Raymond shows up to take him into his home and make him the son he and Aunt Mary had never had.  At least that's what he thinks is the case. But after living with them for a short period of time he finds Uncle Raymond a bit strange. Even a little frightening.  But what can a 15 year old do? Run away? Where to? There’s no one to take him in.  And to make matters worse, he discovers he has a great-aunt named Lucinda who looks like the witch in some of the story books he and his sister Lucy used to read.

A young girl Simon taught to swim in the day camp where he works is murdered. Could someone in his 'strange' family have something to do with this girl's death?

Author Marilyn Levinson has entertained me in the past with her creative writing, but this book has to be the best yet.  I sat up late at night just turning page after page.  Hopefully she'll writes a sequel to this character which I can't wait to read.  This is truly a 'Give me More' book.

Read more books by Marilyn Levinson by going to her Amazon site.

The Run-Away Couple - Maggie Tideswell, Author

1:48 PM Posted by Martha A Cheves

Beef Bourguignon(A Marcus Special)

5 cloves garlic, smashed
3 fresh bay leaves
2 carrots, peeled and halved
2 ribs celery, halved
1 large onion, peeled and quartered
One 750-ml bottle red wine, such as Burgundy
4 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1-inch chunks
Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
8 ounces slab bacon, cut into lardons
1 pound cremini or white button mushrooms, quartered
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 ribs celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 large onion, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/4 cup tomato paste
3 to 4 cups beef stock
3 fresh bay leaves
1 bundle fresh thyme
1 pound red bliss potatoes, quartered
1/2 bunch fresh chives, finely chopped, for garnish
Crusty bread, for serving


For the marinade: Combine the garlic, bay leaves, carrots, celery, onions and wine in a large bowl or container. Add the beef; cover and let sit in the refrigerator at least 4 hours or overnight. (This is a really important step: it makes a huge flavor difference.)

For the stew: Remove the beef from the marinade. Strain the veggies and bay leaves from the marinade and discard. Reserve 2 cups of the marinade.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Coat a large, wide pan or Dutch oven with olive oil and bring to medium-high heat. Sprinkle the beef with salt and toss with the flour; do not flour the beef until you're ready to brown it. Add the flour-coated beef to the hot pan, but be sure to not crowd the pan; you will need to work in four batches. Brown the meat well on all sides, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the pan to a baking sheet.

After the first two batches, deglaze the pot with 1/2 cup of the reserved marinade, scraping up any browned bits. Drain the liquid into a small bowl. Add more olive oil to the pan to coat and cook the remaining two batches of meat. Add the meat to the baking sheet. Deglaze the pan with 1/2 cup marinade, scraping up any browned bits.

Add the bacon and cook until it gets brown and crispy, about 5 minutes. Toss in the mushrooms, carrots, celery, garlic and onions, and season with salt. Cook until the mixture starts to soften and becomes very aromatic, about 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the remaining 1 cup marinade and deglaze the pan, stirring up any browned bits, 1 minute. Add the beef. Stir to combine and cook until the wine has reduced by half, 1 to 2 minutes. Add enough of the beef stock to just cover the surface of the beef. Toss in the bay leaves and thyme bundle. Cover the pan, bring the liquid to a boil and put in the oven.

Cook the beef for 2 hours. During the last hour of cooking time, add the potatoes. Cover the pan with the lid and put the stew back in the oven to cook for an additional hour.

Remove the pot from the oven and skim off any excess grease from the surface of the stew. Garnish with the chives and serve with crusty bread to sop up all the sauce.

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

Lightning flashed through the tiny leaded windows, followed a few moments later by rumbling thunder.  That musty, earthy smell of old buildings hung in the air.  That must be what the inside of a grave smelled like.  Goosebumps covered Piper's arms.  There was no railing, leaving a pit around which the stairs curved.  Piper leaned against the stone wall until the wave of nausea eased.  It was eerily quiet.  Piper heard slow footsteps on the stairs below her.  Somebody real was in the stairwell with her.  Piper ran up the last few steps to her floor.  About to rush for her door, she staggered half a step back when it creaked open and a woman came out of her room.  The woman had a basket in one hand like a chambermaid but cleaning rooms at this time of night?  The woman wore a long black cloak, the hoody of which had been pulled up over her hair and face.  Who was she?  "Hello, can I help you?" Piper said.  The woman partially turned her head and peered at Piper past the hoody with a very clear blue eye.  When she heard something behind her, Piper spun around and screamed.

Piper's sister Eloise was getting married.  Piper was to serve as her maid-of-honor and until she reached the chapel of this ancient lodge she had no idea that the best man would be Marcus.  Both sisters had known him since childhood.  He spent as much time at their house as he did at his own.  He and Eloise were best friends but Piper had been his pawn.  He loved to play pranks on Piper making sure he got the best of her and many times even making her cry.  And now she had to put up with him at her own sisters wedding.  Without a doubt he had a prank to prank all pranks in mind to really make a fool out of Piper.  But this time she would be prepared.  There was no way he would ever get the best of her again.

After the wedding Piper started wondering about her sister's choice for the wedding.  What had she been thinking to have her wedding in a lodge that was so creepy.  She was ready to go to her room, gather her belongings and head for home.  She didn't want to spend another hour in this place nor with the best man Marcus.  Seems those plans just weren't going to happen any time soon.

This book takes you to a 'haunted' lodge where Piper's sister and soon to be husband will say their vows.  You'll learn the story of the 'haunts' and why they occur.  But... you'll never begin to guess the ending of this beautiful, erotic love story.  It sure ended with a surprise for me.  Now I'm looking forward to reading the next book in this series to see what surprises Author Maggie Tideswell has in store for her readers.

Terror in a Teapot - Morgan St. James & Phyllice Bradner, Authors

1:50 PM Posted by Martha A Cheves

Flossie's Fabulous Noodle Kugel

8 oz. pkg. of Wide Egg Noodles
1/4 lb. Butter (melted) (margarine substitute optional)
1 cup Golden Raisins
3 Eggs (beaten) (4 eggs optional)
4 heaping Tbsp. Sour Cream
4 oz. Cream Cheese (softened and rolled into tiny balls)
1/2 cup Sugar (to taste) mix with a small amount of cinnamon for taste and color
1 cup Milk (a little more if you like it more moist)
Package Cornflake Crumbs (optional)

Mix all ingredients with cooked noodles that have been rinsed in cool water.  Put in 8 x 10 (or similar size) Pyrex pan that has been greased with a little butter or margarine.  Top with packaged cornflake crumbs (optional) and bake in preheated 350 degree oven for about an hour.  Cool and cut into squares for serving.  (You can double the recipe and freeze some, too.)
(Based on a recipe from the authors' mother, Rosetta.)

Terror in a Teapot - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

Goldie Silver
- Owns an antique shop in Juneau, Alaska
Godiva Olivia DuBois - Author of the famous relationship column Ask G.O.D.
Caesar - Famous TV chef - or is he?
Flossie Silver - Female magician.
Sterling Silver - Male magician.
Two Ladies from the Russian Orthodox Church - church ladies.
Father Innocent - Retiring Priest.
Rimsky - Father Innocent's helper.
Father Augustine - Priest that will take over for Father Innocent.
Two very ugly ladies - Very possibly not 'ladies.'
Boris & Igor Dumkovsky - two very mean Russians.

Now, just what can all of these people have in common?  Well, Goldie and Godiva are twin sisters.  Caesar is Godiva's boyfriend, Flossie is the mother of the twins and Sterling is their father's brother, known to them by the affectionate name of 'Unk.'  

But where is the connection between the 'family' members and the other characters?  It all has to do with The Seven Deadly Samovars, or Tea Pots if you live in America.  It seems the Tea Pots were shipped from Russia to Goldie's shop but were lost in transit.  The Church Ladies had ordered one through Goldie as a retirement gift for Father Innocent.  When they are finally discovered they seem to live up to their name 'Deadly.'  People start dying, Tea Pots start missing and the mystery starts spinning as the twins do a little detective work to track down the missing pots and find the killer or should I say killers.

This book, as all Morgan St. James and Phyllice Bradner books, gives you suspense, humor and a special surprising twist at the end.  I can't get enough of their writings and hope they come out with yet another Silver Sisters Mystery very soon.

The Belle and the Officer - B. J. Robinson, Author

3:23 PM Posted by Martha A Cheves

Recipe for a Southern Barbeque
(B.J. Robinson's Special Recipe)

I’m from the South and my husband is from the North, so I was used to Southern barbeques. What he called barbeque was simply plain grilled to me, so we had to mess our differences. He grills his with no sauce, and I use Kraft honey barbeque sauce on mine. He enjoys steaks and burgers. I enjoy those, but I also enjoy hot dogs and chicken legs as well as boneless lemon-pepper chicken breasts, which he doesn’t like. I like to make homemade potato salad, but he doesn’t eat it. He opts for a baked potato. That’s okay. I have leftover potato salad, and the flavor goes through it, and it’s even better the next day.

In the South, we use barbeque sauce. I thought since this book was a book about the North and South, and the characters enjoyed barbecues and fish, I provide a southern barbeque. The northern one is easy. Just put it on the grill plain, at least my husband’s version.

Step 1: Grill the meat until lightly browned and sauce. Some put sauce on it while it is raw. I do. He waits. It works either way. I like mine not burnt, but dark and a little black won’t hurt me.

You can also barbeque fish or shrimp. Love them both.

Step 2: The Potato Salad:

Peel, wash, and clean about three pounds of potatoes or use a five-pound bag if you have someone else to help you eat the salad. Boil potatoes and three eggs. Peel eggs and chop. Dice pickles, olives, green onions, and use about one teaspoon mustard, if you like it. Leave out the onions if you don’t care for them. Some people do not use the mustard in the potato salad and use only mayo. I like both. If you like, you can use spicy mustard. I usually use the yellow.

Mix and include the mayo to taste. Season with salt, pepper, or seasonings you enjoy. Tip: If you refrigerate the potato salad and let it get cold, and you have used the green onions, you will find the flavor goes through it more. You will need to refrigerate it regardless to keep it from spoiling, but some people like to eat it while it’s fresh and hot. I enjoy mine cold.

To me, a barbeque is not one without potato salad. I have discovered I also enjoy the Amish potato salad and if I don’t have time to make my own, I will buy a container of it from Publix, but I still like my homemade the best.

The neat thing is you can make the potato salad to suit your tastes by putting in or leaving out what you please. If you’ve never tried a southern barbeque, you might find you like it. However, my husband still doesn’t eat potato salad and will put no sauce on his meat. He wants it just plain grilled. We used to enjoy this potato-salad recipe for family gatherings of any type. It goes well with many dishes besides barbecue. Fried chicken and potato salad is a given. It goes well with beef stew. For the Fourth of July, we always had barbeque and potato salad. Enjoy. 

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

Alice held the cold metal key in her palm.  She'd keep it on her until her beloved returned.  He didn't have to tell her to visit and remember him.  Memories fought each other in her mind.  Visions of them on picnics, at family barbecues, fishing in the great Mississippi River that ran behind their homes.  He didn't have to tell her to remember.  How could she ever forget?

Lonnie was the love of Alice's life but there was a war going on and he had decided to defend the South.  He promised her that it would be a short war and over in no time, then they could announce their engagement, be married and love forever in the home he had built for her.  'Oh please let that be true, she prayed.'

To pass the time and be of help Alice worked in the hospital that housed the southern boys who were wounded.  She became the light in the eyes of some of the patients giving them hope and encouraging them to hang on and get well so they can go home to their own families.  Then came a Union Colonel named Bert Russell with his own wounded and needing a place for them to be care for.

As Alice got to know Colonel Russell, she couldn't help but feel a slight tingle in her heart but how could that be when she loved Lonnie.  So when Lonnie shows up in the hospital in a Union uniform instead of a Rebel, Alice found her whole life about to change.

This is a beautiful love story as well as a story in history.  The feelings Lonnie had for Alice as well as the feelings Bert developed for her had me cheering both on and wanting more.  The outcome will leave you wanting more too.

The Vanishing Mind of Ruth Swerdloff - Fran Lewis, Author

1:02 PM Posted by Martha A Cheves

Baked Parmesan Chicken
(Mom's Favorite)

2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves, chopped
Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 8 ounces each)
3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
3/4 cup panko or dried coarse baguette breadcrumbs
Cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Mix the mustard, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt and the cayenne in a medium bowl. Add the chicken breasts and turn to coat completely; set aside.
In a medium shallow bowl, combine the parmesan and panko. Dredge the chicken pieces in the panko mixture, coating evenly and heavily, and pressing the coating into the meat.

Put the chicken on a rack set over a baking sheet, spray with a quick burst of cooking spray and put the sheet in the middle of the oven. Bake until the chicken is golden and cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before cutting or serving.

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

How do you say goodbye when you are still here?  How do you say goodbye before your thoughts, desires, and wishes disappear from your mind?  What happens when all that's left of you is a human shell?  Everyone invites guests to their homes for dinner, or just to talk.  But, some guests overstay their welcome and others are just plain annoying.  Uninvited guests can be escorted out and asked to leave, hopefully never to return.  One uninvited guest mad its way into my mother's mind and refused to leave.

I've known people who have family members that have literally lost their minds.  Or better yet, lost everything stored within their minds.  They forget where they are, where they are going, who they are and who the strangers that keep showing up might be.  They forget to eat or can't remember if they did eat.  They forget the names of their favorite food and even their own children.  As the days go by they lose more and more of what took years to fill their minds.  Eventually that full mind is empty and hollow.  What causes this?  You've probably already answered that question with that terrible disease called Alzheimer.

I've personally never been exposed to Alzheimer but after reading The Vanishing Mind I feel that has changed.  The way the Author combined the experience as a caregivers/family member and the journals written by her mother when her mind was still there enough to write, you can't help but feel as if you're a part of the family or at least a close friend.  The insight I found through this book has me watching my own loved ones more closely with the possible chance that they may show some of these signs.  I'm also watching myself too.

Author Fran Lewis goes one step further in helping those who are faced with this dreadful disease.  She has included tips for the caregivers stressing on how to speak in a way that may be a little easier for them to understand; how to help them with simple things like eating, dressing and bathing;  how to find activities that they may understand and enjoy;  and she even gives you a list of agencies that can be beneficial in helping you with their care, understanding their problems and most important - how to deal with your own feelings.

This is a book that I recommend to everyone - young and old.  It might just be the book that will help you better cope with those you love who just might experience this heart breaking disease called Alzheimer.