Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Dead Man Hand - T. M. Simmons, Author


Granny's Gumbo

A lot of Cajun dishes start with a good roux. True Southern women make their own roux, from cooking equal parts shortening and flour in a large, deep cast-iron skillet for half-an-hour, stirring constantly, until it's a nice dark brown. Men do this, also, since my husband always makes his own roux. However, there is roux mix for sale in lots of stores; some powdered, some in pint jars already cooked (which I like the best). So take your pick, but you'll need about a pint of roux.

Ingredients:

Roux:
½ cup shortening
½ cup water
Stir together and cook in large cast-iron skillet for half-an-hour, stirring constantly

Other Ingredients: 
1 whole chicken
1 lb. smoked sausage
1 lb. crawfish tails (found in the frozen seafood section, if you don't have your own leftovers from a crawfish boil, as we do)
1 lb. medium shrimp (if desired; if no crawfish available, use at least 2 lbs. of shrimp)
1 stick butter or margarine
2 bunches green onions (chopped)
2 large green bell peppers (seeds removed; chopped)
Salt and pepper to taste
Zatarain's Creole Seasoning (to taste, but taste often, can be salty if overused)
Louisiana Hot Sauce (to taste)
Gumbo filè
White rice

Cover the chicken with water and boil, adding more water as needed. Cool. Skin and de-bone, keeping the broth for the gumbo. Tear the chicken into bite-sized pieces.
Melt the butter/margarine in a large skillet. Sauté the onions and bell peppers for about five minutes.
Cut the smoked sausage links on an angle into 1/8 inch thick slices.
Bring the chicken water back to a boil.
Add onions, bell peppers (along with the butter/margarine from the skillet).
Add the de-boned chicken, smoked sausage, crawfish tails, and/or shrimp.
Add the roux mix according to directions. If you use the powdered mix, mix it with the chicken broth, not water. Add more water if necessary. The mixture should be medium thick and a nice, dark brown.
Add salt, pepper, spices, hot sauce (to taste and taste after each add).
Simmer low for at least an hour.
Cook enough rice for six people.
Serve gumbo over rice, along with filè for more seasoning

This makes a scrumptious meal with cornbread



Dead Man Hand – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

“I left it open,” he said in a frantic voice. “Who shut it? We have to get back in there!” I glanced overhead. The transom was closed. The thud of Danny’s shoulder drew my attention, and the door shattered off its hinges. He dragged me after him – straight over under the poor woman’s hanging body – and ordered, “Wrap your arms around her and try to hold her up some.” Stifling my distaste, I did as Danny said. He climbed onto a chair he’d already pulled over beside the woman. Thank the Universe I still had on my coat, so it absorbed any still wet blood… except where my hands touched her bare legs. I also tried to ignore something else I’d only read about in research, never experienced. The poor woman’s bowels had evacuated. Somehow Danny managed to get the rope loose from her neck. Her weight staggered me, but Danny quickly took the burden off me when he climbed off the chair. For an instant, he stared down at the body lolling in his arms, then appeared to control himself and carried her over to the bed, where he laid her down.

Alice is a writer. She is also the proud owner of a home full of paranormal residents. She and her Aunt Twila and friend ‘Granny’ have become quite well known for their ability to talk to ghosts and make them understand that if they won’t go through the light then they will behave or be banned to places where they can’t bother humans. For her own residents she has come up with what she calls ‘The Howard and Alice Ghost Agreement.’ Howard, being her Head Ghost has been put in charge of the other paranormal cohorts within her domain.

Alice received a call from Twila telling her they were to travel to Red Dollar, New Mexico, stay at the Red Dollar Hotel and bring the ghosts there under control so the hotel could sell. It appears the ghostly residents have been causing trouble whenever the real estate agent brings potential buyers by. Furniture has been thrown around, doors slammed, the signs destroyed, all scaring anyone off from wanting to buy. Their job is to create an agreement for the hotel ghosts. So off take Alice, her dog Trucker, her cat Miss Molly and Granny to spend a few days in the beautiful Red Dollar Hotel.

For the travelers, trouble starts in the beginning. There is a storm that has set in delaying Twila’s flight. They get to the hotel only to find a woman hanging in one of the rooms leading Alice to the conclusion she had been murdered since her hands had been removed. A ghost that had appealed to Alice before leaving home suddenly appears again at the hotel. She encounters a ghost that is not only smelly and dirty but also has a mean streak, especially when it comes to cats. Alice’s police ex-husband shows up for what she feels is no reason. And then there is True who was shot in the back of the head after winning the hotel in a poker game over 100 years before. True refuses to pass over and ends up reliving his shooting every night. All of this plus the discovery of a possible black conven working the area have the little group a real fix.

Dead Man Hand is a book I couldn’t put down. The more I read and the closer I got to the end, the more I wanted it to just keep going. I didn’t want it to end. I’ve enjoyed it so much that I must go back and read Dead Man Talking and Dead Man Haunt, the first and second books within this set. Author T. M. Simmons keeps you going with her style of writing.

 
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