Golden Girl - Mary Kennedy, Author

1:57 PM Posted by Martha A Cheves

Oatmeal bars(Mary Kennedy's own special recipe)

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

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.


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.

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.