Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Body in the Gazebo - Katherine Hall Page, Author

Baked Chicken With Red Wine, Sage  Root Vegetables
  (One of Faith & Katherine's Favorites)
2 1/2 pounds chicken
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2  pound parsnips
1/2  pound carrots
1 large yellow onion
2 tablespoons fresh sage
1/2  teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup red wine (not sweet)
Faith’s family likes dark meat, so she uses four whole chicken legs.
Preheat the oven to 350°. Rinse and pat the chicken dry with a paper towel. Drizzle the oil in a casserole large enough to hold the chicken and vegetables. Faith prefers the oval ones from France, but Pyrex is just fine too. Place the chicken pieces in the casserole. Peel the parsnips, scrub (or peel) the carrots and cut both into chunks, about an inch long. Peel the onion and cut it into eighths. Arrange the assorted vegetables around the chicken. Strip the leaves off the sage stems. Roll them into a small cigar shape and slice into thin strips (a chiffonade). Sprinkle on top of the chicken and vegetables along with the salt and pepper. Pour the wine evenly over the casserole. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour. Uncover, baste with a bulb baster or a spoon and bake for another 45 minutes, basting occasionally. The chicken should be nicely browned. Let the dish rest for 5 minutes. Serves 4 amply. Be sure to spoon some of the liquid on top of the chicken and vegetables when serving.
What is nice about this dish is that it omits browning the chicken, which you would do in a more traditional coq au vin. It takes less time to prepare and Faith created it as a heart-wise version for her husband. She uses a salt substitute and takes the skin off the chicken unless she’s making it for company. You can vary the vegetables—turnips are good also. 

The Body in the Gazebo – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat
‘Where could she hid it?  It wouldn’t do to have her daughter come across it.  Not that Pix was nosy, but she sometimes put Ursula’s wash away, so the Sheraton chest of drawers was out.  And the blanket chest at the foot of the bed that had been her grandmother’s was out, too.  Pix regularly aired the contents.  There wasn’t much furniture in the room.  Some years after Arnold died, Ursula had removed his marble-topped nightstand – the repository of books, eyeglasses, reading lamp, alarm clock, and eventually pill bottles – replacing it with a chaise and small candlestick table, angled into the room  It felt wrong to go into bed during the day, but she wanted a place to stretch out to read and, increasingly, to nap.  Somehow the chase made her feel a bit more like a grande dame than an old one.  There was a nightstand on her side of the bed, but her granddaughter, Samantha, often left little notes in the drawer and might notice the envelope.  Ursula always saved the notes – bits of poetry Samantha liked or just a few words, “Have sweet dreams, Granny.”  Generally Ursula did.  Her days had been good ones and she felt blessed.  Arnold, the two children, although Arnold junior lived in Santa Fe and she only saw him and his wife during the summer in Maine and on her annual visit out there.  Three grandchildren, all healthy and finding their ways without too much difficulty so far.  But you never know what life will hand you.  She stood up, chiding herself.  The six words – “Are you sure you were right?” – had entered her system like a poison, seeping into the very marrow of her bones and replacing her normal optimism with dark thoughts.’
Ursula Rowe has a problem.  Someone is sending her notes pertaining to something that happened years before when her brother Theo was still alive.  The notes threaten to tell her family about Theo whom her family doesn’t even know existed.  When she was young, her parents never talked about him and Ursula never found the right time to tell her own family that she had a brother.  This is something she can’t handle alone so she decides to solicit the help of her daughter Pix’s best friend Faith Fairchild. 
Faith finds Ursula’s story quite intriguing and will do whatever needs to be done to help but she too is faced with her own family problems.  Her husband, the Reverend Tom Fairchild has been “accused” in so many words, of dipping his hand into one of the church funds.  It appears that there is $10,000.00 missing and only he has access to the account.  As for Pix, she has gone to Charleston to meet her son’s new in-laws and help plan for the wedding.  But she adds to Faith’s building plate of problems by admitting that she recognized the bride’s father.  He turns out to be someone she met while in college and that the over a weekend party, the 2 got to know each other “very” well.  Problem is, she recognized him but he apparently didn’t recognize her.
So in The Body in the Gazebo, I found Faith with her plate full in trying to solve everyone’s problems as well as comfort those who needed comforting.  But, being the true friend and the creative person she is, she can handle just about anything.  See, she isn’t like her husband, seeing only the good in people.  And that’s just part of what made The Body in the Gazebo such a fun read.   Oh, did I forget to tell you, Faith is also a caterer?  Throughout the book you will find her preparing different dishes for different events with the treat of the recipes for her dishes being given at the end of the book!  Being a cook myself, this made a good read even better. 
259 pages
ISBN# 978-0-06-147426-2

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