A Mersey Maiden (Book 3) - Brian L. Porter, Author

12:41 PM Posted by Martha A Cheves



Lancashire hot pot
(One of Brian's favorite dishes)

2 tbsp olive oil
1kg/2lb 2oz neck of lamb, chopped into bite-sized pieces
4 lambs' kidneys, cleaned, trimmed, cut into quarters
2 onions, peeled, sliced
½ tsp salt 
1 tbsp plain flour 
250ml/9fl oz lamb stock 
1 sprig fresh thyme 
2 fresh bay leaves
1 tbsp Worchestershire sauce 
50g/2oz butter, cut into cubes, plus extra for greasing
2 x 250g/7oz black pudding rings, outer casing removed, thickly sliced
1kg/2lb 2oz potatoes, peeled and sliced
salt and freshly ground black pepper 

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
Heat the olive oil in a pan and fry the lamb pieces and kidneys for 1-2 minutes on both sides, or until golden-brown all over. Remove from the pan and set aside.
In the same pan, cook the onions and salt for 2-3 minutes, or until the onions have softened. Stir in the flour until the onions are well coated with the flour.
Add the stock to the pan along with the thyme, bay leaves and Worcestershire sauce. Stir and simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until thickened slightly.
Butter a lidded flame-proof casserole dish and place a layer of potatoes (about a third) over the bottom of the dish and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Spoon in half of the browned lamb and lambs' kidneys, then lay over half of the black pudding slices and pour over half of the thickened stock mixture. Repeat the layering process until all of the potatoes, lamb pieces and kidneys, black pudding and stock have been used, finishing with a layer of potatoes on top. Dot the potatoes with the butter, then cover with a lid.
Place the casserole into the oven to cook for 20 minutes, then remove the lid and cook for a further 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are golden-brown on top.
To serve, spoon into serving bowls.



A Mersey Maiden (Book 3) - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; and A Book and A Dish

"The thing we need to do is go back to the beginning.  First of all, where did the killer obtain the Ketamine?... Next, how did the killer get into the house and bedroom without the two other housemates hearing anything?... It appears the front door was locked but the back door wasn't so there's a possibility the killer entered there and crept up the stairs... Third, we really need to find the motive for the crime.  So far you have some links to this American Company, Aegis, who suddenly came along and offered some kind of sponsorship to the girlfriend, with a job at the end... We know the murdered victim felt there was something 'off' about the company... You then have the frogman's body, Who is it?.. Then we have to take into consideration the fact that the victim's father is a senior officer in the C.I.A."

With all of the information rehashed during a meeting of Andy Ross, Izzie Drake and D.C.I. Oscar Agostini, it seems they are still no closer to determining the reason for the death of a young man who was a star on the Cricket team at the University he attended.  What started as a normal homicide quickly turned into a trip that would take them back in history all the way to World War II.  They will encounter finding a lost ship as well as a lost U-Boat that was not only on a secret mission but also contains secrets that are worth millions.

It comes as no surprise to me to find that Brian L. Porter has done it again.  I became deeply involved in the history of the German U-Boat and its cargo.  I also became involved in the murder mystery of the young Cricket player.  But what really kept me turning the pages was the Author making such a connection between a war that had happened so many years earlier and the murder.

As with every book written by this author, that I've had the pleasure of reading, I found myself not wanting to put it down.  Every page would have me wanting to go to the next with a promise to myself that I would go no further after just one more page.  Porter can write a book that is 100% fiction and still have you saying to yourself 'that could be possible.'

Around the World in 80 Meals - Diana Rubino, Author

2:28 PM Posted by Martha A Cheves



Potatoes Croquettes

2 1/2 lb. russet potatoes
1/2 lb. mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 Tbsp. onion salt
1/2 Tsp. pepper
3 large eggs
1 cup breadcrumbs
2 1/2 cups olive oil
salt

Peel and quarter potatoes.  Simmer 15 minutes in a large pot of salted water.  Drain potatoes when tender.  Let cool 45 minutes.  Chop mozzarella into small pieces.  Mash potatoes well.  Stir in cheeses, onion salt, parsley, pepper, and salt to taste.  Stir in 1 egg.  Shape 1/4 cup of mixture into a croquette.  Repeat until all the mixture is made into croquettes.  Lightly beat last 2 eggs in a shallow bowl.  Sprinkle breadcrumbs in a second bowl.  One at a time, dip croquettes into beaten eggs and roll in breadcrumbs until coated.  Heat oil in skillet on medium-high heat until oil shimmers.  Fry croquettes 5 minutes, turning occasionally.  When golden brown, place on paper towel to drain.  Serve hot.  Makes 6.

Around the World in 80 Meals - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

Your 'virtual fantasy cruise' begins on the world famous Queen Mary 2.  You leave London's Waterloo station and enjoy a scenic train ride through the lush English countryside.  Transferring at Southampton you can only gap in astonishment at your first glimpse of this magnificent vessel.  You haven't felt this awestruck since your first breathtaking view of Egypt's pyramids.  Formalities over, you settle into your sumptuous stateroom, catch your breath and then eagerly explore form prow to stern.  As you reach the top deck you feel the faintest thrumming of high-powered engines beneath your feet and the ship begins to move.  You peer down at the distance passersby as they wave and cheer you off.  

After leaving its home port of Southampton Queen Mary 2 steams majestically through the Solent, past the Isle of Wight, and into the English Channel heading for the Atlantic Ocean.  That evening finds you sitting in the Britannia restaurant.  A white gloved waiter hands you a glorious full color menu that you'll treasure as a collector's item for years to come.

Welcome to the Britannia Restaurant:
Canyon Ranch Spa Club Selection:

Spinach and Pear Salad with Rosemary Vinaigrette
Stuffed Eggplant with Olive Vinaigrette, Roasted Artichokes, Cherry Tomoatoes & Pine Nuts
Berries with Lemon Curd


Appetizers and Soups:

Serving Caviar with Classical Garnish
Chilled Cantaloupe Melon Tartar, Citrus & Mint Marmalade, Basil Jelly
Steamed Black Mussels, Saffron Veloute
Shrimp Bisque with Corn Custard, Baby Shrimp
Chicken Consumme & Matzo Balls


And those are just 2 of the 5 courses you are able to chose from for your 1st day's meal.  You will feel like royalty before your trip is over.

I had the pleasure of taking a 4 night cruise once and I can tell you the menu was wonderful.  At each meal you have the pleasure of choosing from a list of items available for each course.  There were so many new dishes that I tried for the 1st time and would have given just about anything to have been able to get their recipes, but that wouldn't have been practical because they cook for so many and I doubt I could have scaled the recipes down to serving just 2.  But... Around the World in 80 Meals gives you some of those delicious recipes with smaller servings.  The one above - Potatoes Croquettes, is one of my favorite.  They are simple to make and so delicious.  They are a must try.

You'll also find recipes like North Atlantic Crab Soup, Prime Rib of Beef au Jus and Creamed Horseradish to serve with it, Chocolate Mousse, and one I can't wait to try - Fruit with a Rum and Coconut Sauce.

So take your own virtual cruise and enjoy some of those delicious dishes in your own kitchen.  Live like a Queen or King without leaving your house.  This is a very 'delicious' book to have.

Murder in Mount Dora - De Miller, Author

1:49 PM Posted by Martha A Cheves


Recipe for Gooseberry Pie

Make your own crust –
·         2 cups all-purpose flour
·         3/4 teaspoon salt
·         1/2 egg, beaten
·         1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar
·         3/4 cup Crisco
·         1/2 tablespoon vinegar
·         1/4 cup water
Blend flour, sugar and salt.
Cut in Crisco to pea sized pieces.
Mix together egg, water and vinegar.
Add to flour.
Mix until moistened and a soft dough forms.
Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before rolling.

Make the filling –
·         1 cup sugar
·         3 tablespoons corn starch
·         1/8 teaspoon salt
·         2 cans Oregon Fruit Gooseberries (unless you grow your own)
·         1 tablespoon butter
Mix sugar cornstarch and salt. Add the syrup from the gooseberries and cook over medium heat until thickened in a small sauce pan. Add the gooseberries and butter away from heat, then pour into crust. Seal with crust on top.

First bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then lower to 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes.






Murder in Mount Dora - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

Trent Cooper, 20-year newspaper vet for the Kansas City Star has retired.  He and his photographer Horatio Cook are moving to Mount Dora, Florida.  Trent has great dreams of finally having time to write his first novel.  He finds the perfect house and discovers the perfect spot for writing in a little cafe called Stairway to Heavenly Goodies.  And that is where he's busy writing his novel when Horatio interrupts him with news that there was a body found by fishermen, in the lake.

About 75 years earlier Meyer Lansky opened up a casino in the little town of Eustis, Florida.  His right arm man Bobby Skinny Boy Aieli is the one he goes to when someone gets out of hand and things need to be 'handled'.  But with the problem that Lansky finds himself faced with in connection with one of his employees, he decided this was one he would take care of this himself. And the best place for him to handle this is out in the middle of the lake.

Then comes Meredith Archibald.  She saw the news of the bones being found and believes it to be her grandfather.  Meredith was adopted when both her parents were killed when she was only 3 months old.  She has searched for her real family for some time and after meeting with an aunt in New York she knows this has to be him.  So, after scraping up all the money she has in the world she takes a trip to Mount Dora and meets with Trent in hopes of hiring him to help her prove the identity of the man in the lake.

This book has to be one of the most attention holding books I've read.  It flips from the early 1900's to 2007. I've never enjoyed reading books during the 1900's but this book I couldn't put down.  It's full of mob history along with a story that kept me involved.  The more I read, the more I wondered if this author might have known a lot of this history 'first hand' or knew someone who did.  I recommend this one to anyone who loves a really great story, and a little history along the way.

He's Married - Maggie Tideswell, Author

4:54 PM Posted by Martha A Cheves



Beef Bourguignon 

Prep:
15 min
Cook:
3 hr 45 min

Ingredients

Marinade:
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
Stew:
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

Directions

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.



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

Her stomach knotted painfully and her fingers automatically found the black stone around her neck. Black, to match her shoes.  Dane saw the movement and touched the stone with his index finger. “Is this a superstition?” He grinned and winked at her. “It won’t save you, you know, once I get you alone.”  Between his chuckle and the cold stone against her sternum, her situation couldn’t be worse.
She hadn’t thought much beyond the wedding ceremony and reception, and then only in terms
of the honeymoon Dane had been so secretive about. Her going-away dress had topped the list,
and then she’d worried about what to pack if she didn’t even know where they were going.
The wedding night and sex for the first time hadn’t come into it.  She had better think about it now, because this was it, it was about to become a reality.  They had never been alone together, not really. In the frenzy of wedding arrangements, there had always been people around with the potential of interruption. This was the first time they were truly alone.

Eloise and Dane are married.  They love each other, at least Eloise thinks they do.  But how.  They have only known each other a few weeks.  It was almost a meet, date a few times and tie the knot.  And now it's their wedding night.  They are headed to the Honeymoon Suite and Eloise knows what that means.  But that simply can't happen!  See, Eloise has a secret that only she and her doctor know about.  There is no way Dane will still love and want her after he finds out!  

Then Eloise returns to the place of her wedding in the Hottentots Holland Mountains.  It looked the same but not quite as Gothic as the rainy night of the wedding a week earlier.  That is until she runs into Hugh Fleming and when he suggested that he knew she would be back she felt a bit of uncomfortable fear which will only increase as the horrors of the lodge begin to take place.

This is an erotic book but also a horror mystery.  It keeps you on edge until you discover where the events from the past are coming from and when you determine if they are actually repeating themselves or if its all in Eloise's head.  A really interesting book.

Soldier With A Backpack: Living and Dying Simultaneously - Linda Diane Wattley, Author

2:17 PM Posted by Martha A Cheves



Roasted Tofu

(If you’ve never had roasted tofu before, here’s a great way to start.  Toss tofu and asparagus in a tangy orange and basil scented sauce, made rich and savory with miso.  Serve with brown rice or couscous and an orange and fennel salad.)


1 ¼ oz. package extra-firm water-packed tofu, rinsed
2 Tbsp. red miso, divided
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar, divided
4 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1” pieces
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
1 tsp. freshly grated orange zest
¼ cup orange juice
¼ tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.  Pat tofu dry and cut into ½” cubes.  Whisk 1 Tbsp. miso, 1 Tbsp. vinegar and 2 tsp. oil in a large bowl until smooth.  Add the tofu; gently toss to coat.  Spread the tofu in an even layer on the prepared baking sheet.  Roast for 15 minutes.  Gently toss asparagus with the tofu.  Return to the oven and roast until the tofu is golden brown and the asparagus is tender, 8 – 10 minutes more.  Meanwhile, whisk the remaining 1 Tbsp. miso, 1 Tbsp. vinegar, 2 tsp. oi, basil, orange zest and juice, and salt in a large bowl until smooth.  Toss the roasted tofu and asparagus with the sauce and serve.

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

I always welcomed sleep because it was a form of escape from the grown up world.  When I would go to sleep, there was always an angelic presence waiting for me.  At the time, I didn't know it was this presence drawing me there, I just knew I couldn't wait to get there.  It was so normal to me that I never wanted to awaken.  In fact, it angered me that I had to wake up at all.  When I heard about the soldiers diagnosed with PTSD, and their struggle to have a decent night's sleep, I was confounded because it is like I am the total opposite of them.  My nightmares are more in the awakening state than the sleep state.  The world is a war zone to me.  My sensitivity to my environment is often times nerve-wracking.  The first thing I wanted to do in an uncomfortable moment is go to sleep.

Author Linda Diane Wattley writes about her life, from childhood to adult.  She writes of the horrors of being molested by someone close, watching the fights between her parents, the desertion of her mother and older brother, leaving she and her younger brothers in the presents of her father who later brings another family into their lives.  She shares all of her feelings as these events take place as well as the other horrors live deals her as an adult.

As I read Soldier With A Backpack I couldn't help but relate to many of the events that took place in her life and how some of those events affected my life as an adult.  I know very few people who haven't commented on how 'hard their childhood was' myself included, but after reading what this author went through I can only thank God for the life I had as a child and my life as it was and is now as an adult.  I know several veterans who suffer with PTSD but never quite understood it until now.  I guess I also never realized that you don't have to be a veteran to suffer this mind fogging disorder.  There is one piece that the author included in the book that I must share.  It's actually by a Jim Kwik and fits all of us, with or without PTSD.

Here it is "If an egg is broken by outside force, Life ends.  If broken by inside force, Life begins.  Great things always begin from inside."  If we could all remember and live by these two short sentences then there is nothing that we can't handle and deal with throughout our lives.  This is a book that I recommend to everyone!  Including young adults.

Alien Embrace - Donna Steele

8:45 AM Posted by Martha A Cheves



Italian Cream Cake
(One of Lori's favorites)

2 cups cake flour
1 stick margarine
1/2 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
5 eggs (separated - whites beaten stiffly)
1 tsp soda
1 cup buttermilk or 1/2 cup buttermilk and 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts (I use pecans)
1 cup coconut

Cream margarine and sortening. Add sugar and beat until smooth. Add yolks and beat well.  Shift flour and soda and add to mixture with buttermilk alternately (start and end with dry). Stir in vanilla, coconut and nuts.  Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites.

Cook in 3 greased and floured 9" pans at 325 for 45 minutes (or until toothpick ready)

Cream cheese frosting -
8 oz cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla
1 box powered sugar
1/2 stick margarine.

Beat margarine and cream cheese until smooth, then add vanilla and sugar.

Hope you enjoy!!  It's a family recipe from my Aunt Charlotte who lived in Hickory.



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

Everyone he had known must have cried out at once.  There had been nowhere to run.  He had no idea what had exploded or what could have caused the destruction.  That didn't matter now.  The flames had raced through the narrow corridors, killing everyone inits path by smoke if not flames.  How could everything have gone so wrong?  They'd had such high technology.  He knew the answers, the out-of-control population.  He had only known shortages until he came here.  There was still guilt at every meal he ate.  Now his home was a burnt-out shell.  The structure remained, damaged, probably collapsed in places, but uninhabitable.  And all done to themselves.

As Lori comes out of a coma she finds that she has no memory of her life.  The purse that had been found with her contained only a comb, wallet and cell phone.  Her address meant nothing to her and she couldn't visualize her home at all.  Then she met Dr. Marcus Greene, the doctor called in to consult due to her amnesia.  She knew she had never met hem but there was something familiar about this handsome man standing before her.  Mark was in a long relationship with Cynthia but after meeting Lori he couldn't get her out of his mind.  This is a woman that has stolen his complete being - mind, soul, and body.  But getting to know her, where she really came from and why she is here may change those feelings completely, or could it bring them closer?  You see, Lori isn't from here and Mark will have to accept that fact or walk away from her.  What will he do and is she the only one like her out there?  Maybe not.  Does he even believe in Aliens?  Maybe he better start believing.

I fell in love with this book from page one.  Author Donna Steele writes in a way that allows you to 'feel' each character.  You feel their pain, their joy, their love and you can't get enough of them.  I'm really hoping this is the beginning of many more books in what would make a great series.  When I read this book I couldn't help but remember the series of books written by John Jakes.  This book has so many stem offs as well as connections that would make it a great set of books to read and who knows, maybe into a TV series.

If you like a bit of the known and a lot of love, you can't help but love this book.  On a scale of 1-5 stars I would give this one 7 stars!



Hidden Truths & Lies - Fran Lewis & Jake Swerdloff, Authors

11:02 AM Posted by Martha A Cheves



Coffin Sandwich

2 slices whole wheat bread
3 slices OSCAR MAYER Smoked Ham
1 KRAFT Singles
1 Tbsp. MIRACLE WHIP Dressing
1 lettuce leaf

Tap or click steps to mark as complete
Cover 1 of the bread slices with ham and Singles. Spread with dressing; top with lettuce. Secure with plastic toothpick, if desired.  Cut sandwich into coffin shape using coffin template and sharp knife. For a more durable template, trace the template onto a piece of cardboard and cut out.



Hidden Truths & Lies - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir Laugh Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

My name is Dr. Goldman, and I guess my story began over twelve years ago with a simple comprehensive examination of my patient.  Cursory exam of the teeth, gums and mouth done, I instructed the nurse to take a full set of x-rays.  Leaving Lisa to take the films, I went into my office and returned some phone calls... the films were developed and showed nothing more than two small cavities that I felt could wait to be filled.  But, on the lower left side there was something dark and not very big that looked like she was losing some bone.  So, not thinking anything of it and not wanting to alarm the patient, I never told her about it.

This was a mistake that Dr. Goldman would take through life.  It turns out that he would rather draw out the patient's visits and pocket the money than to point out something that might be a real problem to her health.  It was also a mistake that Dr. Goldman will take to his grave.  See, this patient will get her revenge on this greedy doctor.,

Hidden Truths & Lies is full of short stories of those speaking from the grave.  Those under the head stones and their stories as to how they got there.  The mistakes they made and the events that lead to them never being able to mend those mistakes.  Makes you wonder how many other stories are laying beneath the ground under all those headstones.