Food for Thought - Lorilyn Roberts, Author

12:08 PM Posted by Martha A Cheves


LASAGNA
(Great Recipe!)  

 1 lb. lean ground beef
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/ 4 cup chopped onion
 ½ bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. can crushed tomatoes
2 6-ounce cans tomato paste
2 cups water
1 tablespoon chopped oregano
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
 4 ounces lasagna noodles (buy the kind that requires no pre-cooking to save time)
1 lb. ricotta cheese
8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
1cup grated Parmesan cheese  

 In large saucepan, brown beef, onion, and bell pepper in oil. Add tomatoes, paste, water, parsley, salt, sugar, garlic, pepper, and oregano. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.   In 13x9x2-inch baking pan, spread about 1 cup sauce. Then alternate layers of lasagna, sauce, ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes until lightly brown and bubbling. Allow to stand 15 minutes. Cut in squares to serve.  Serves 8

 

Quick & Easy Recipes for Homeschool Families - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

Now and then I have the opportunity to do a review for another cookbook author.  This is especially fun because I get to see what others are cooking and try out some of their recipes.  Author Lorilyn Roberts has written a cookbook that she says is especially for home school moms but I have to disagree.  This book is great for everyone, not just those who home school their children. 

I had the pleasure of trying her Lasagna and couldn't believe how much better it was from a lot of the other Lasagna recipes I've tried over the years.  The blend of herbs and cheeses give it the perfect balance in taste.  Now I'm getting excited to try her Marshmallow and Apple Pie Salad which has Granny Smith apples, grapes, mandarin oranges, marshmallows and yogurt.  Then I want to make her Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup and her Spaghetti Casserole and....  my list goes on through the whole book!

So, if you're a home schooler or just a person who loves good food, this book is one you really need to consider having in your own kitchen! 

 

La Bella Mafia - Morgan St. James & Dennis N. Griffin, Authors

12:44 PM Posted by Martha A Cheves

Honey Bun Cake
(A Bella Favorite)

1 pkg. Super Moist butter recipe yellow cake mix
2 sticks of butter (1 cup) softened
4 eggs
1 container (8 oz.) sour cream
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup chopped pecans
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Generously grease bottom only of 13 x 9 pan, or spray with non-stick spray.  Remove 1/2 cup of dry cake mix and set aside.  Beat remaining dry cake mix, butter, eggs and sour cream in large bowl on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally.  Spread half batter in pan.  Stir together reserved dry cake mix, brown sugar, pecans and cinnamon.  Sprinkle over batter in pan.  Carefully spread remaining batter over pecan mixture (to make spreading easier, drop batter by dollops over pecan mixture then spread).  Bake 30-33 minutes or until deep golden brown and cake springs back when touched lightly in center.  Stir powdered sugar, milk and vanilla until thin enough to drizzle (stirring in additional milk, 1 tsp. at a time if necessary).  Poke top of warm cake several times with fork and spread glaze over top of cake.  Cool completely and store covered.
 
La Bella Mafia – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish



I was old enough to want to try to figure out how I became the person I was.  I felt a need to locate people who had known me when I was little.  I was able to find one of the social workers who worked with my whole family when I was small.  I stayed with that woman for a week, went places wither family, ate dinner with them and learned a lot about those early years.  She was wonderfully frank about answering every question I asked her. 

I wanted to know how she saw me as a child.  Imagine my shock when she said, “I saw you as a little girl who could poison her parents’ coffee and walk away like nothing happened.

Bella was four when the abuse really took hold of her life.  Her mother was an addict, her father had ‘connection’ and got his enjoyment by getting drunk and beating her mother and older brother.  Her brother got his kicks by beating her and later abusing her sexually.  And after he mother went into rehab her father decided she would become his punching bag.  But Bella didn’t give up nor give in to any of her life of hell.  It was the only way of life she had ever known so it became ‘normal’ to her.  So when she started cutting school, drinking and doing drugs she was doing what was normal.  But when the beatings got worse she had no choice but to turn herself in to social services for protection, several times.  That venue out was sometimes good and sometimes bad.  She was tossed from foster homes that didn’t care, to one that really did to a group home that she found to be more of a cult than a real home for her and the others living there.

With all of the beatings as a child as well as an adult, it’s a miracle that Bella survived.  Her determination, with the help of God, kept her from committing suicide many times. It gave her the courage to live next door to the park that was practically owned by a gang known as the Crips.   It gave her the strength to stand up to her husband, take her four daughters and leave everything she knew and loved and start over while burying herself in hiding.  But most importantly, it gave her the knowledge and desire to help others who have been through her trials in life and are on the verge of giving up. 

I can’t help but be amazed by this woman whom I see as being terribly strong but I also see her as one that can never let her mental guard down for fear of slipping.  There are few women, or men, in this world that I truly admire.  Most people never acquire the strength to fight back and keep going while living through what Bella has endured her whole life.  Most give up and give in, eventually destroying what is left both inside and out.  But not Bella.  This book is one that everyone, male and female, should not only read but listen to what you’re reading.  While reading I ran across what I believe to be the perfect closing for my review.  This is Bella’s purpose in life and I can’t help but feel proud to say that I’ve read her story and felt her pain, as much as possible, without going through this with her.   This is priceless.

“When your reality is a living Hell, you actually do believe you did something wrong and that’s why you’re there.  The first time I sat in a  therapist’s chair I didn’t feel like I deserved to be there.  Of course, I have come leaps and bounds from that time and now I pour out my soul every day in the hope my message will reach even one girl who feels the way I did.  If that happens, it will spare her some of the torment of finding her way.  That’s how LaBella Mafia began.  Most of the Bellas are women I touched who had experienced what I did and worse.  We’ve bonded to help each other.  It is never really over, but it can get better.” -  Bella

Ghost Gone Wild - Carolyn Hart, Author

9:10 AM Posted by Martha A Cheves


BAILEY RUTH'S OLD-FASHIONED OKLAHOMA CORN BREAD

1 c. yellow corn meal
2 t. baking powder
3/4 t. salt
3/4 c. milk
1 egg
1 Tbsp oil

 Butter round baking pan. Cook at 425 degrees for 30 min.

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

Excerpt from GHOST GONE WILD:  I was afraid I was beginning to understand.  The telegram from Wiggins had been counterfeit.  Nick's aunt Dee had nosed about the department and found my name.  Any thriller writer would consider it child's play to purloin information from Wiggins's old-fashioned paper files,  which were kept in accommodatingly unlocked wooden filing cabinets.  It was possible she sometimes served as an emissary.  However, Wiggins was always insistent that emissaries not contact family members who knew them... In any event, if she'd wanted to send help to Nick, obviously she would have hunted about in the files for someone connected to Adelaide, and so she had sent the spurious telegram and waylaid me as I was en route.

Bailey Ruth arrives in Adelaide, OK, to help out Nick, who became the target of a bullet within minutes after her arrival at his house.  Luckily Bailey Ruth was able to push him out of the way before the bullet struck him.  Bailey Ruth tries to convince him to call the police but his cell phone is missing.  And then people started appearing due to a text that was supposedly sent to them by Nick.  Jan, Nick's girl friend, showed up but wasn't thrilled to see that another woman was there.   After some fast thinking, Bailey Ruth was able to calm her down.  That is until Lisa showed up due to her text from Nick which invited her to come over.  And then the third person showed up... Lisa's husband demanding to know where she was.  All arrived 'after' the shot was taken at Nick.  Did the shooter want to implicate these three in the killing of Nick?  Well, thanks to Bailey Ruth saving him, the shooter's idea was spoiled and Bailey Ruth now had some possible suspects.

Author Carolyn Hart has done her usual in writing another fun-filled story of suspense, murder, humor and spirits.  Oh, did I forget to tell you that Bailey Ruth is a ghost?  From time to time she is allowed to descend upon earth to help a person in danger.  This is normally done through Wiggins but in this case the person, or should I say ghost, that  sent Bailey Ruth to earth is Dee, Nick's aunt who decides she has to keep an eye out and make sure Bailey Ruth does everything correctly to save her nephew.  Problem is, with Dee being the one to send Bailey to earth, she has no control over her abilities to appear and disappear, so once Bailey Ruth appeared, she was unable to disappear and with Wiggins not knowing of her descent, she became OF the earth and not ON the earth. 

This series is one that I keep an eye out for the next Bailey Ruth story to hit the shelves.  The characters are always so real, including Bailey Ruth, to the point that you actually feel that you know them as neighbors.  Now I "patiently" wait for the next volume to see what Bailey gets herself into next.

When Love Never Ends J. Alec Keaton, Author

1:03 PM Posted by Martha A Cheves


 
 
AVOCADO BREAD
(A J. Alec Keaton Favorite)

3 eggs
1 cup Imperial margarine (microwave to soften)
½ cup of nuts (optional)
1 cup diced avocado
2 cups flour
1 ½ cups of sugar
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ cup allspice

 

Soften margarine and mix with sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, beat well. Add dry ingredients, nuts and avocado. Spray 3 loaf pans with PAM and pour mixture evenly.  Bake at 350 in oven for 45 minutes. (the time may vary slightly depending on the exact temperature of your oven)

Double recipe to make 5 loaves.

 

 

When Love Never Ends - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

Sam never uttered the words "I love you" to any woman with whom he had a sexual relationship.  He had said those three words only to Sara, who was the love of his life.  Threatened and intimidated by her father, Sam had walked away from her a long time ago.  That happened in 1966 and now, thirteen years later, he was still in love with her.  Sam tried not to think of her, but in the deepest reaches of his heart, he could never forget her.  A man never forgets his first love.  Sam's ultimate desire was to correct the one mistake he'd made long ago.  His friend, Dr. Jeremiah Ebenezer Pike, always talked about the possibility of time travel.  If it was possible to travel back in time, then I'd correct the mistake I made in leaving Sara, Sam thought. 

It was only since the loss of his wife four years ago that Ebb had been obsessed with the concept of time travel.  On a Wednesday, Sam met Ebb for dinner.  "Ebb, tell me more about your project of time travel."

Sara's father was a bit of a bigot.  When he found out that Sam was part Japanese he forbid Sam to see Sara.  With there being a 5 year age difference he threatened Sam with statutory rape, along with threats regarding Sam's parents as well as Sara herself if he didn't break it off with her immediately without allowing her to know that her father had intervened.  Sam had always wanted to be an attorney and this dream would be destroyed if he went to jail.  He also worried about what would happen to his parents if his dad lost his job and how Sara would thrive with her father controlling her every move.  He had no choice but to break it off, hurting both of them more than either could imagine.

Sam saw his dream and became a graduate of Harvard University.  He met Elliot Benson who was the controlling partner in an exclusive law firm that represented some of the more wealthy clients in Seattle.  Benson took an immediate liking to Sam and offered him a position within the firm.  Sam was impressed but had committed to work for Senator Kennedy in Washington for four or five years.  After completing this he would return to Seattle and if Benson still wanted him he was his.

After returning to Seattle, Sam's life was still incomplete.  The missing element was Sara so when she walked into his office one day asking if he would represent her in her divorce against an abusive husband, Sam felt the missing pieces of his life coming back together.   Until......

This book is so beautifully filled with love and commitment.  It also holds hate and disappointments.  But then it holds the possibility of everything being corrected and happiness falling upon everyone within Sam and Sara's lives.  This was a truly enjoyable book with a surprise around every corner.

 

It's Your Fault - Wendy Coblentz, Author

12:14 PM Posted by Martha A Cheves


Tinker Cookies

1/2 lb. butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cream butter, add sugar, egg, flavoring and flour. (Measure flour before sifting)  Put dough in a press.  Make cookies and place on an unbuttered cookie sheet.  Bake 5-6 minutes or until light brown.

(These cookies are called "Tinker Cookies" because my great aunt made them every time we'd go to Reno.  Wendy Coblentz)


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

I had followed the recommendations from the exercise teacher, physical therapist, yoga instructor, and pain psychologist.  My brain surged into overload with advice.  The therapist whose expertise was human and equine neurofeedback suggested I eliminate dairy, meat, gluten, sugar, and salt form my diet, dismissing my pleas that I would starve.  A practitioner advised using the $75 water pillow for better alignment.  I spent a week of sleepless nights sloshing around on the high seas.  I began to second-guess myself with every move, ranging from how I walked to how I picked up a pencil, always wondering if I was doing anything right.  The lure of alternative medicine was leading me into the bowels of despair.  I felt batted around like a tether ball, dangling in the wind when the game was over - and my back still hurt.

When I picked up this book to read I thought "boy, someone who has the same problem I have - back pain."   Most people either know someone who has a back problem or have the problem themselves.   If you happen to be someone who doesn't have or never have had back problems, there is no way you can fully understand what we go through.   There is, of course, tremendous pain that you have no control over.  Then there is the constant moaning that eventually seems to get on everyone's nerves.  We finally learn to live with our pain but at the expense of our own sanity, which is at times controlled by meds and tears.  Then there are the doctors.  I really believe that one qualification a doctor must have is to experience back pain themselves before proclaiming to understand or treating our problem.

Fortunately for me, and others who read this book, we now have a list of just about every treatment that has been created.  Wendy Coblentz takes us through how every treatment is supposed to work and how it really works.  This book will save you so much money by giving you a choice of what might and might not work for you by following how it worked for the Author.

 It is like a dictionary of back treatments, but it's more than a book of possible medical treatments for the back.  The humor woven throughout gave me another laugh that I could relate to.  The Author's raising of a son brought back memories of my raising a rebellious daughter of my own.   This book is not just for those who have back problems, it's actually for everyone.  I loved it!

Dead Lake - B J Robinson, Author

12:44 PM Posted by Martha A Cheves


Judy's Recipe for Fried Croaker or Other Types of Fish

Crush crackers or use blender (depending upon how much fish, you might need one packet or more)

Put one egg for small amount of fish, two for more in a bowl.

Heat oil in frying pan.

Dip fish in egg and coat with crackers instead of using cornmeal or fish fry.

This is how Judy in Dead Lakes cooks the fish they catch on Dead Lake. Easy and simple. Enjoy. You can use the crackers and egg instead of fish fry for any type of fish.

 

Dead Lake - Book 1 Dead Lake Mystery Series - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish 

'A lone cypress tree formed an eerie silhouette, but it wasn't the only creepy skeleton rising from Dead Lake.  Judy's eyes took in her surroundings and noticed many bony fingers reaching skyward.  No other boats launched.  She couldn't shake the ominous feeling that snaked through her body.

Judy Knowlton and her husband Jim both enjoyed retirement, but their opinions about fishing differed.  She loved to fish, but she didn't think she needed a boat.  He did.  The red and black Bass Tracker was his pride and joy.  Jim wanted her to go fishing with him on Dead Lake.  She was nervous enough about going in that small fishing boat, let alone on Dead Lake.  Surely nothing good could come of a fishing trip on a lake with a name like that, but she'd do just about anything to please her honey.'

Well, guess what.  Her fears were soon to become true.  Apparently a convict had escaped and was in the area.  Jim didn't seem to be too concerned.  Surely the man wasn't stupid enough to be around this swamp of a lake.  Even when their boat ran out of gas, and they became lost he felt safe.  That is until a small boat with a man who didn't appear to be enjoying himself fishing turned up.  Judy prayed that he was just a local fisherman but from the look on his face, she knew that wasn't the case.

Judy and Jim can't seem to get rid of this man who turns out to be as slippery as an eel.  He is captured and tied up by the man they met who goes by the name Swamp Rat only to find his way lose.  He defeats the police every time they come close to capturing him.  He knows the swamp like the back of his hand and why not?  He actually grew up there with his moonshine producing dad and a brother before being sent to prison.  The biggest question in Judy's mind is why is he so attracted to her property.  That too was something she was about to find out the hard way.

This book is filled with suspense, a few giggles, and a lot of page turning.  This is book one of the series, and I can't wait to read book two

 

Vanishing Trail - The Taking of Jonathan Bishop - Stephen Kosa, Author

1:12 PM Posted by Martha A Cheves


 
Kalamata-Balsamic Chicken with Feta
(A favorite dish of Author Stephen Kosa)
 

·         4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
·         1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
·         Cooking spray
·         1 cup grape tomatoes, halved 
·         16 pitted kalamata olives, halved
·         3 tablespoons light balsamic vinaigrette
·         3 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
       2 tablespoons small basil leaves 


Sprinkle chicken evenly with pepper.  Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Cook chicken 6 to 7 minutes on each side or until done. Transfer chicken to a serving platter; keep warm.  While chicken cooks, combine tomatoes, olives, and vinaigrette in a medium bowl.  Add tomato mixture to pan; cook 1 to 2 minutes or until tomatoes soften. Spoon over chicken. Top evenly with cheese and basil.


Vanishing Trail - The Taking of Jonathan Bishop - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish


His rocking slowed slightly as his mind drifted.  He could still see her, running vigorously along the sandy beach, just paces ahead of her pursuer.  Her feet churned heavily in the thick sand as she struggled to pull ahead.  she gasped for breath while her heart pounded fiercely - her freedom just strides away.  She was young and athletic, but ultimately no match for the swift moves of the former wide receiver from Wisconsin.  with a burst of power he closed the gap between them.  It was inevitable.  He reached for her and with one fluid motion cradled her in his arms as they spilled gently to the ground.  "You run pretty fast for an attorney," she said with a thick Spanish accent, giggling and gasping for breath.  "You're not so bad yourself for a stodgy old museum curator."

A contented silence ensured as they watch the sun slide into the ocean like a giant orange ball melting into a mirror.  He would never forget that day in Peru.  It was a magical day - a day of life, a day of hope, a day of promise.  It was the beginning of their life together, the life they had both dreamed about.  But like so many dreams, reality was certain to trickle in.

He slipped the photograph back into his shirt pocket and headed inside to bed  Tomorrow would bring another long day in court - another act in the seemingly endless theatrical production.

Attorney Jake Bishop's mind seldom strays from his beautiful wife Blanca who had died in a car accident in her home country of Peru while on an archaeological trip.  She left his heart with a void but not before giving him a precious son they named Jonathan after his best friend Professor Jonathan Albright.

Jake's life was drifting along until fate hit again with someone taking his son.  Jake vowed to find him and after months of hopes that didn't pan out he felt that he would never hold his son again.   After the death of Professor Albright and the letter he left, Jake found a new hope that sent him right back where his journey began... Peru.  But not in search for his son but for the possibility that Blanca just might be alive. 

This book is a hard one to put down.  It combines romance, mystery and the black market.  I held my breath in hopes that the woman the Professor wrote about in his letter to Jake would turn out to be his wife.  I crossed my fingers while hoping that he or the FBI would find Jonathan.  And then there was Jake's old girlfriend Maggie from years back who still had strong feelings for him.  That brought questions that I couldn't wait to find answers to.  Will it have a happy ending?  Will the woman be Blanca?  Will they ever find Jonathan?  Will Jake even make it out of Peru alive?   I have to say that the ending of this book took me by surprise, as I think it will you.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book from beginning to end.

The Sand Bluff Murders - C. M. Albrecht, Author

2:01 PM Posted by Martha A Cheves


 
Spaghetti
(A Jonas favorite
)
1 lb. ground beef.
1/2 lb. ground pork.
One chopped onion.
Quarter or half each of a green pepper and a red pepper, chopped.
At least one good stalk of chopped celery.
Up to half a cup of olive oil.
I brown all this and set aside.

In a separate pan I simmer broth. Prefer beef, but chicken stock will do. You can create your own or buy liquid stock or use as a last resort, bouillon cubes, etc. About a quart of this.

In this stock as it simmers, add, a bay leaf.
2 Tsp.  anise seed (not star anise).
4 Tsp. fine basil (or you can chop your own fresh basil, which takes more),
One good-size head of garlic, chopped a bit,
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar,
1/4 cup sugar.
2 Tsp.  dry mustard

Simmer broth 1/2 hour.

Open a can of diced tomatoes. Drain liquid into broth. Give the tomatoes a little chop, or if you can, get the smaller chopped tomatoes. Add the tomatoes to the beef and continue to cook slowly.

Strain the broth into the beef mixture and add tomato paste. Probably at least three small cans. You can adjust the thickness of the sauce with a can or so of tomato sauce and/or more tomato paste to get the right consistency.

Let this sauce gently simmer for another half hour, stirring occasionally.

Pour over hot spaghetti or rigatoni , etc., and top with freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese.
 



The Sand Bluff Murders - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

"A corpse?" I smiled.  Like a dead body?  Oh yeah!  I was supposed to take this seriously?  Only thing people killed around Sand Bluff were lots of bottles of beer and the occasional careless cat that got in the way of a speeding pickup.  I checked out the town's reputation before I ever applied for the job.  This was supposed to be a cool job with a badge, easy money and a little authority in a small town where nothing ever happens - that's what I signed on for.  Okay, let him have his little joke.  Maybe this was a sort of initiation or something.


Cheif Castillo stroked his mustache and smiled grimly.  "our Officer Ackers didn't even know the guy was dead.  Officer Ackers thought the stiff was just drunk.  He dragged the body to his patrol car and brought him in to sober up."  Chief Castillo splayed both dark hands on the desk.  "In doing so of course he totally f... up the scene and manhandled the body, so I'd say you've got your work cut out for you."  "My work?  Are you saying this is a homicide?" 


Jonas McCleary was hired on with the Sand Bluff police department as the Chief Detective.  Actually he was the only detective.  Actually they had never had a detective before.  Now that he has been on the job just three days, they have their first murder in 20 years.  Way to go Jonas!  Well, how hard can a murder in a small town be to solve?  Turns out it was pretty difficult, especially when two more bodies turn up. 


Author C. M. Albrecht has written what I call an enjoyable 'light-hearted' murder mystery that includes a little humor and a lot of questions without so much gore and strong language.  As hard as I tried to determine who the guilty person was I just about had it near the end but still couldn't connect them with all three murders.  This book will keep you in suspense and keep you guessing.  I really enjoy this Author's style of writing. 

The Critical Element - John L. Betcher, Author

12:35 PM Posted by Martha A Cheves


 
Fresh Sweet Salsa
(A Beck Special)

3 cups chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 cup onion, diced
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice 
4 teaspoons chopped fresh jalapeno pepper (including seeds)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper 
1 tablespoon sugar (or to taste)

Stir all ingredients together. Refrigerate overnight. Serve chilled.

 

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

Rodney slid back in the chair, his hands gripping the armrests.  he cracked his neck to both sides before beginning his tale.  "It was yesterday afternoon," he said.  "Sunday...and I was out on the John Deere checking my fields, you know...and all of a sudden I hear this sound.  It was a kinda weird sound, you know?"  "It was kinda like whoosh-thud...tumble, tumble, tumble," he said.  "So I got up and looked toward the sound."   ..."something was knocking down my corn"... "This thing, whatever it was, knocked down maybe thirty or forty feet of head-high corn stalks, in a straight line," he continued.  "I saw the last ones go down."  He clapped one flattened hand downward onto the other.  "Then all was quiet." 

..."I stand up straight and look around," he said, "my wrench hand at the ready.  But there's no sign of man nor beast." ... So I stoop down and start pawing through the grass and then...just when I'm about to give up, the back of my hand hits something big and solid in the grass."  ..."I decided to give the thing a kick with my boot."  "And voila,... there it was."  "It was a meteor!"

Rodney Holton was a local farmer known in the city of Red Wing, Minnesota for his flim-flammery, so when he recited his story to Attorney James Becker, Beck had his doubts as to how much was true and how much wasn't.  And to assure his belief he and his wife Beth decided to pay a visit to Rodney's farm where he displayed his 'meteor' and charged $20.00 per person to view.  Yep, Rodney was up to his old tricks again.  The taped off area that contained burned grass and what appeared to be a bowling ball dug into the ground didn't quite fit the story he had relayed to Beck.  Yet there was something that just didn't ring quite right that had Beck believing there might be a bit more to Rodney's story.  When the FBI turns up looking for the meteor, Beck's feelings proved true.   What didn't quite fit was the finding of Hoof and Mouth Disease that were found in Rodney's cattle.  This strain appeared to be found only in the South African tribal farming area, so how did it get to the US.  And what is its connection with the meteor? 

The answers to these questions plus, lead Beck and the FBI to suspect North Korea has a hand in at least one part of the mystery.  Their beliefs are reinforced when the meteor turns up missing and is found to have been in the presence of a Korean man who was found dead with traces of a fluffy, white powder that is such a favorite of terrorists world-wide - Anthrax.  After a search of the man's work place Beck and agent Costa discover half of the powder found had been mixed with another white substance.  What was missing was the other half of undiluted powder that could kill thousands if placed in the right venue. 

I've read everything John L. Betcher has written and every time I think he can't get any better.  Well he does.  The Critical Element is by far his best in the James Becker series.  I can't wait to see what Beck will do next.

 

Means to an End - Elizabeth Romero, Author

8:38 AM Posted by Martha A Cheves

 
The word  lagniappe is a Louisiana term which means a small extra gift. This recipe is my lagniappe to you. Hope you enjoy this Cajun favorite - Elizabeth Romero
SHRIMP AND CRAB GUMBO INGREDIENTS AND TOOLS
  • One 4 QUART OR LARGER HEAVY BOTTOM POT
  • One MED SKILLET
  • 2 pounds shrimp peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 pound small peeled shrimp
  • 2 cups lump crab meat
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 2 tablespoons self rising flour
  • 2 quarts chicken or seafood stock
  • 2 large onions diced
  • 1 small head of garlic minced
  • 1 large bell pepper diced ribs removed
  • 1 rib of celery diced
  • 2 pounds of sliced okra fresh or frozen
  • I can Rotel tomatoes mild or spicy as you like
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons file’
  • Tony Chachere’s seasoning to taste I add a tablespoon and then re-season when finished if I need more
  • 1 cup chopped parsley
  • cooked rice enough for at least one cup of cooked rice per person ( maybe more if you are Cajun)
  1. Place enough oil to season in the bottom of heavy pan.. add okra and cook on medium stir as necessary to keep from sticking..cook until sliminess is not visible Do not burn
  2. Add remaining vegetables and stir well continue sautéing until slightly brown
  3. Add seasonings ,bay leaf and stock
  4. Stir and scrape all bits from the bottom of the pan
  5. Add the small shrimp these will incorporate into the broth and disappear but give the strong seafood flavor needed cook for about one hour on medium ..while this is cooking do step 6
  6. Put remaining oil in a skillet bring to medium heat add the flour stir constantly until it is the color of peanut butter remove from heat immediately This is called roux
  7. Allow the roux cool off until the oil separates then remove the excess oil
  8. Spoon roux into the pot with the stock and other ingredients this will foam a bit but don’t worry cook on med high watching closely until foam subsides
  9. Add shrimp and cook on med /low for another ½ hour then add crab and cook for another 15 minutes
  10. Taste for seasoning and add to taste
  11. Add parsley and stir gently
  12. Place a scoop of rice in a bowl and ladle gumbo over rice
Enjoy!!
Footnote: Some say you can’t do Gumbo with roux and okra. Well my family did and after you try this you will agree. If you have questions go to my email…elizabethromerobooks@yahoo.com
 
Means to an End - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish
 
Just as she was wrapping it around her, her stepfather appeared there in the doorway.  She almost screamed because he startled her so.  He had seen her naked before but not this way, only when he would sneak into her room in the dark.  She slapped her hand to her mouth to keep from crying out as he slowly leaned back on the door that separated her form the hall.  "What...what are you doing in here?  Momma will hear you," she said.  "That ole cow won't hear a thing.  She done took a couple of her little pills and she is snoring up a storm.  It is just you and me. "  She suddenly realized that he was cold sober.  She tried to reach for the doorknob, but he caught her arm.  He was scary when he wad drunk but not as quick.  Somehow this was different, and it was worse knowing he was in complete control now.  He pulled her near him and said, "You know we could be good friends if you weren't so uppity.  I've been feeding the three of you since me and your momma came to Carolina.  I reason you owe me a good time once in a while."
Ashby, her twin brother Danny and her mother Marie Boudreaux were sent to their own living hell when Ashby's grandfather sent her mother off to marry, not the twin's father, but Garrett Devereaux when he found she was pregnant with the twins.  He made them leave New Orleans and sent them to a rundown home with forty acres of land that he had won in a horse race many years before.  And he did this just to save face in the community. 
Garrett, who required Ashby and Danny to call him Poppa, were in for the abuse that only a monster like Garrett could inflict.  His hobby seemed to be getting drunk and then giving the kids and their mother a good beating.  Danny finally had enough and ran away, Ashby assumed to New Orleans so she was left to protect herself.  Her mother, who should have taken steps to keep her children safe spent most of her time popping pills and sleeping.  So now at the age of 17 Garrett has added another abuse to his list...  Sexual.   
Following Ashby as she deals with not just Garrett but also the 'popular girls' at school who added their own abuse through calling her names and passing rumors, gave me a feeling of heartbreak and pain that a child like Ashby must go through just to survive.  From what happens to Garrett to Ashby's chance of escape I had a hard time not reading just one more page and then just one more page in hopes that she would find some relief in her life.  The events that take place through her survival makes this one of the most unforgettable books I've read in some time and I'm happy to say that there are at least 2 more books that will allow me to spend even more time with Ashby and her life.

Convenient Marriage - Maggie Tideswell, Author

4:55 PM Posted by Martha A Cheves


Mini Chocolate Kahlua Pots
(A Maggie Tideswell Special)

100g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
150 ml single cream
2tablespoons Kahlua liqueur
4 glasses or ramekins


Place chocolate in a large bowl.
Heat cream just until it comes to the boil, then pour it over the chocolate and leave to stand.
Whisk until smooth, then add the Kahlua.
Spoon into the glasses/ramekins.
Leave in the fridge for 1 hour
Serve with crème fraiche and top with a coffee bean.


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

‘Joshua skimmed down the page, not registering what he was reading, when a tiny advert squashed between Lost and Found and Obituaries jumped to his attention.  It simply read:

Husband needed.
Call Holly Turnbull 021 768 9223
No pranks please

Joshua read it a second time before he scrubbed both hands over his face, his elbows crumpling the newspaper on the table.  What was the world coming to, if women had to resort to dailies to get them a man?  he wondered.  Would this poor, misguided soul even want the kind of man who was like to respond to this silly ad?...  Surely this Holly woman didn’t think she was going to get a bona fide offer of marriage from this tiny advert, did she?... He waited for his laptop to boot up, then typed ‘Holly Turnbull’… Holly turned out to be a journalist and not bad to look at either.  He was impressed, even though it seemed odd that a woman like her would advertise for a husband.  Oh, well, each one to her own.  She would do nicely in his newly formed plan.’

Joshua Jordan has found a way to push Nicole, his fiancée of four years, into making the final commitment by scheduling a wedding.  He will give her an ultimatum of time and if she doesn’t find it within herself to meet the deadline, he will take this Holly woman up on her marriage proposal for just long enough to bring Nicole to her senses. 

Holly Turnbull didn’t actually place the ad for a husband in the daily paper, her three best friends and roommates did.  Holly’s ex-husband Donald has refused to allow her to see their two boys for long enough.  The girls believe that with a husband, Donald will have no excuses for not allowing her to see the boys.  The girls also believe Donald’s wife Gwen is the one that is really behind him not allowing Holly to see her kids.  So when the marriage proposal comes in from Joshua Jordan, Holly sees that this just might be the answers to her problems with Donald.  But with the proposal comes something that no one would have guessed... Moragh.  Moragh is a spirit from the past who starts sending Holly messages demanding that she ‘tell her story’ and to her surprise, the story starts at the very home belonging to Joshua.

This book has it all… murder, mystery, love, hate, ghosts, spells and the supernatural.  The tale is so twisted that you think you have it all figured out only to find that you’re wrong.  The characters are strong and if you believe in ghosts, very believable.  I really didn’t want this book to end but to just keep on going.  Convenient Marriage is a very entertaining book.  I loved it.

The Apocalypse Calendar - Emile A. Pessagno, Jr., Author

1:19 PM Posted by Martha A Cheves

ALICE’S QUICK AND EASY BRISKET
(Alice is Emile Pessagno's wife)
1 4 to 5 pound beef brisket.
2 packages of dry Lipton’s Onion Soup Mix.
Place on heavy duty aluminum foil. Sprinkle with dry Lipton’s Onion Soup Mix all over brisket. Place on foil with fatty side up. Fold edges and seal well. Bake at 300 degrees for 3 to 3 ½ hours.
Enjoy!
 
The Apocalypse Calendar – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish
 
Felipe said, “When we visited the shrine to the Virgen de Montserrat in the Sierra Crullas, we saw a strange diagram carved into the limestone wall of the small cave. It showed a pyramid with a flying-saucer-like object in the pyramid’s center. There was a knob-like structure at the top of the disk, which seemed to depict beams of light radiating out from it. There was also an arrow that pointed to the south. We asked the natives what they knew about the diagram. They claimed that it had always been present in the cave, long before the Virgen de Montserrat made her appearance.”
 
Felipe, is part of Professor Frank Miller’s Geology team that has descended deep into Mexico to do research on the rocks and faults to provide proof as to how the continents were shaped. During their trip they discovered not only the markings on the cave walls but also a find that would change the world as we all know it today. They found what was believed to be Moctezuma’s Treasure, which consisted of a limestone box with a disk inside, the same disk that they had found drawn on the cave walls.
 
The team brought their find back to the states for testing and to determine what the disk was made of as well as the green ‘rock’ that was imbedded within it. Tests proved that the materials were not created on earth but, as the Indians’ stories go, was apparently something that was brought to earth by aliens.
 
As harmless as the disk appeared, it wasn’t until Professor Miller’s grandson turned a knob, causing the green stone to emitted light, that all earth began to change. The end of earth was on the threshold and no one knew how to stop it.
 
As I read The Apocalypse Calendar I couldn’t help but stop and think about the changes in earth’s weather. Our seasons are changing. Normally cold weather has reached warm weather areas. Dry areas have received an abundance of rain. We’ve had earthquakes and volcano irruptions in areas that have been quiet for years. So could the Apocalypse Calendar be real? Can the events that take place, such as global warming, be caused not by humans but by the shifting of our earth? After reading this book I’m starting to wonder, as Professor Miller puts it, if Mother Earth is ridding herself of her problem inhabitants and preparing to start over again just as she did with the dinosaurs. This book is so full of history, education and the possibilities of earth’s future that it actually scared me and I loved it!

Talon on the Wing - Gigi Sedlmayer, Author

9:11 AM Posted by Martha A Cheves

Semmelknödel    Dumplings
Beilagenknödeln
Semmelknödeln sind die ideale Beilage zu saftigen, sossigen Hauptspeisen.
Sie nehmen z.B. den Bratensaft gut auf und vermischen sich geschmacklich sehr gut mit dem Hauptgeschmack.
Mit diesem einfachen Rezept sollte es auch Ungeübten gelingen, leckere Semmelknödel selbst zu kochen.
Zutaten:  Ingredients:

(für 6 - 8 Knödel) -  ( for 6 – 8 )
6 Semmeln (Brötchen) vom Vortag  -  (6 buns form the day before)
1/8 l Milch (heiß)  -  (1/8 l milk)
1 kleine Zwiebel  -   (I small onion)
30 g Butter oder Margarine -   (30 gr Butter or Margarine)
2 EL gehackte Petersilie (glatt) -   (2 spoons parsley)
2 Eier  -  (2 eggs)
Muskatnuß gerieben  - ( nutmeg, shaved)
Pfeffer gemahlen   -   (Pepper)
Salz   -   (salt)
etwas Mehl   -  (some flower)
Zubereitung:   -   (Method)
Semmeln in dünne Scheiben schneiden und mit heißer Milch übergießen.
(Cut buns in thin slices then spill the hot milk over it)
Zwiebel in Würfel schneiden und in der heißen Butter oder Margarine glasig dünsten.
(Cut onions finely then roast in the butter or margarine.)
Petersilie kurz mitdünsten.
(Put the parsley with it)
Gedünstete Zwiebel/Petersilie unter die Semmelmasse mischen, die Eier untermischen, etwas ziehen lassen und anschließend kneten.
(Mix the onions into the buns mixture, then mix the eggs in. Let it stand for a while then knead the whole mixture with your hand.)
Bei Verwendung von trockenen Semmelwürfeln die Masse länger ziehen lassen und eventuell 1 - 2 EL Milch oder Wasser in die Knödelmasse geben.
(The mixture should be just right, not too thick and not too thin. If it is too thick then the dumplings will become too hard. If it is too thin, put some more bread in. or if it is too thick then put some more milk in.)

Mit Muskatnuß, Pfeffer und Salz kräftig abschmecken. Eventuell etwas Mehl über die Masse stauben um eine bessere Konsistenz zu erreichen (nicht zu viel, sonst werden die Knödel hart).
(To test put into the mixture nutmeg, pepper and salt) 
Mit feuchten Händen 6 - 8 etwa gleich große, feste Knödel formen und in Mehl wälzen.
(With wet hands form about 6 – 8 dumplings. They should all be the same size. Roll the dumplings in a bit flower.)
Ich selbst forme die Knödel neben leicht fließendem Wasser: wasche mir die Hände und forme einen Knödel mit feuchten Händen. Wälze den Knödel in Mehl auf einem Teller und lege ihn auf eine mehlbestaubte Fläche. Wasche mir wieder die Hände, forme den nächsten Knödel, ...
In kochendes Wasser legen und 20 Minuten ziehen lassen (nicht wallend kochen!).
(Boil water in a pot they all will fit in and put them in. When the water boils, put them slowly in and let them in for 20 minutes. Don’t let the water bubble all the time. )
Dabei darf der Topf nicht ganz zugedeckt sein! (z.B. Kochlöffel zwischen Topf und Deckel)
Turn down the heat and put the lid back on, but only halfway with maybe the wooden spoon between it)
Die Semmelknödel mit einem Schaumlöffel aus dem Wasser nehmen und baldigst servieren.
(When ready, take them out and enjoy them.)
 
 
Talon, On the Wing – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

Crayn narrowed his eyes. ‘What is it, Mat?’
‘I just remembered something form yesterday. It was so funny, you know, when Talon stood by the door and banged his wings on the side of the door?’
‘Yes?’
‘He folded his wings to go through the door. Remember? But he probably wasn’t thinking about it. Neither did I. But since I was lying on him, his wings went over me, covering me. Not completely, because he stopped doing it when he felt me under them, I guess. So, I was, for a short time, buried under his wings. It felt so, so … it felt so warm, so secure, so safe and protected. Just lovely. Yes, it really was.’ A bright grin parted her face when she looked at her father.
‘Oh yeah, I can imagine it. When he folds his wings … yes, he does that.’ Crayn suddenly doubled up in laughter. “I actually saw it, but didn’t think about that.’ When they finally stopped laughing, they heard a crowd yelling.


Matica actually flys on the back of a Condor but not just any Condor, one she actually raised from an egg. She, her Mum, Dad and brother Aikon live in a remote village of Pucara in Peru. Her whole family was accepted by the Indians but not her. They shunned and avoided her because she was different. Matica has a growth problem. At the age of 5 she looked as though she was only 2. This to the Indians was a ‘bad’ sign so they kept their distance and refused to befriend her. But that all changed when she accidently ended up on the back of her Condor that she had named Talon. She then became someone special, not to just the Indians in her village but as word spread, to villages all around. People came from all over to hear her talk about her experience while soaring through the sky on Talon. Everyone loved her, that is except one. His name was Alexander and he would walk away from her when she tried to speak to him and become his friend. Puzzled, as well as hurt by his rejection, Matica became determined to learn why he hated her so much. Was he jealous or did he not believe that she actually flew? When Matica finally did learn his secret she was dumbfounded. She learned that he had a brother that was like her – little. But his brother had died and what bothered him most was how and why his brother died. But it went deeper because Alex blamed himself for his brother’s death. He should have prevented it from happening. So can Matica open Alex up and help him?


This is the 2nd volume in the Talon series and I have had the pleasure of reading both. The lessons taught within both books are priceless and very much needed in today’s world. The story teaches trust, which we all need more of. It teaches judgment, not just in what you say or do but also in how you actually judge others. It teaches patience, which is something I lack. It teaches love and forgiveness which everyone could use more of. This is a wonderful book to start reading as a bedtime story for young kids as well as a great story for older children to read on their own. Yes, we adults can learn from it too so I recommend it to all ages. And I must add that the story itself is one that I totally enjoyed too. A young girl that has befriended not only Talon who she raised but also his parent Condors who stick by her side as well as hers and show their appreciation for what she did for them.