Tuesday, May 31, 2011

When Serpents Die - Gerri Ferris, Author


Recipe for Brewster’s Brunswick Stew
  A Gerri Ferris Specialty

Currently, there is a debate as to whether Brunswick stew was originally made near the town of Brunswick, Ga or in Brunswick County, Va. In Georgia, a plaque on a pot in Brunswick states that the first Brunswick stew was cooked in it on July 2, 1898, on nearby St. Simons Island. However, a Virginia legislator writes that a camp cook invented the recipe in 1828 on a hunting expedition. Whatever. It’s clear that early versions of the stew are hunting concoctions which can be made from game meats like rabbit, squirrel, deer, wild hogs or even rattlesnake, if one is really adventurous in killing the creature and making a meal of it. The stew cooks for several hours in an iron pot to insure that such meats become tender. Today’s versions usually contain chicken, pork and beef. On plantations in south Georgia, venison is often used, hence the recipe from Live Oaks’ chief cook and plantation manager, Brewster. Heroine Laura Kate can also stir up a mean stew when she’s not riding horses or solving crime.



Ingredients

2 lbs venison (or beef) cubed or chopped
Bacon drippings
Homemade chicken broth
5-7 fresh garlic cloves
1 tbsp red pepper sauce
1 t. fresh basil
1 cup Vidalia onions
2 red potatoes cubed
3 carrots sliced
Small rutabaga diced (sub one turnip if desired)
1 green pepper chopped
1 cup fresh lima beans
1 cup wild mushrooms
3 tbsp flour
¼ cup cold water


Putting it together:

Brown venison in hot bacon drippings in a heavy iron pot. Add broth, covering meat and add an inch. Add garlic, pepper sauce, basil and onions. Cover and simmer two hours. Add vegetables and cook 20 minutes until tender. Adjust the seasonings and liquid, making sure all ingredients are below liquid surface. Mix flour in water and stir into stew and bring to bubbly.


When Serpents Die – Laura Kate Plantation Series Book One – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat

“Why call me?  Did he have some last instructions about the estate?”  “I’m sorry Mr. Royce is gone, but we’ll do fine.”  “Oh, I’m not worried about that.  I’m concerned why a man goes back and forth between two women for years, until one day he ups and shoots himself.”  He rubbed his chin.  “I think Mr. Royce’s charm and wit hid a deeply distressed person.”  “And we can guess what the distress was about.  Last I heard he was back with Sammie, and Hannah was loose on the town again.”  “Mrs. Tower was bad for Mr. Royce,”  Brewster said, his jowls heavy with pessimism.  “Poor Miss Sammie had to put up with her all those years.  Now this.”  “Yes, now this.”  Her thoughts lingered on Royce’s wife, Sammie – Samantha – a Southern Bell bordering on parody, and the toast of Roston when little Laura Kate was riding ponies.  “Well, Mr. Brewster, I aim to find out why he called, and what made him go crazy.”  He crossed his arms, accepting something he couldn’t forbid.  “Watch yourself, Miss Laura Kate.  I don’t need to tell you there’s mean spirits out there.”  “Is Hannah a mean spirit?”  “She has a powerful hold on Royce Lee that nobody could figure.”  “Who knows with men and women?  Royce changed in the years I was overseas and I wonder, can a woman change a man that much?”  “Some can.  With the evil eye.”  She laughed at his rare departure from common sense.  “And what do you know about the evil eye, Mr. Brewster?”  “There are those who are born able to put spells on people, even strong people like you are, Miss Laura Kate.”  She studied his wary brown face and cocked an eyebrow.  I’m going to interview your mean spirit, Mr. Brewster.  And, believe me, I know what to do when I encounter the evil eye.”

Attorney Royce Lee has been found dead in his office.  Cause of death…apparently suicide with a shotgun.  Laura Kate doesn’t believe her long time friend and attorney of her aunt’s estate would take his own life.  She knows in her gut that it wasn’t suicide…it was murder.  The questions she now has to find answers to: Why would anyone kill Royce?  Possible answer - he had been married for years to Sammie but still continued to publicly see his long time lover Hannah.  Who would kill Royce?  Possible answer – just about anyone that knew him but especially Hannah herself or Hannah’s husband Bobby.  Could also be his partner Jack but there is no apparent reason other than the fact that he didn’t like Royce.  There is also Guy who has some dark hidden secrets that Royce has uncovered.  But are they so bad that he would kill to keep them quiet?

When Bobby ask Laura Kate to visit Hannah and help her get through the death of her lover, she starts having doubts that Hannah could have killed Royce Lee.  She did love him and hate him at the same time but when she told her story leading up to her finding the body, Laura Kate believed her.  Then Sammie’s sister Johnnie and her husband Clay step in insisting that the death was a suicide and if the sheriff wanted to win another election he might better agree with them.  When this news reaches Laura Kate she realizes that the whole incident is in the process of being covered up and again comes her question – Why?

When Serpents Die takes the reader to the real “southern” south.  It brings to light the small town politics and small town upbringing.  The town of Roston is the perfect southern town where everyone knows everyone and the town’s hobby is to know everything there is to know about everyone.  Coming from the south myself, I can actually see and relate to a lot of the events, dialect and feelings of these characters.  And believe me, When Serpents Die will keep you turning the pages trying to determine who killed who. 

171 pages
2009
Desert Breeze Publishing
ISBN# 978-1-936000-13-5

 
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