Saturday, March 23, 2013

Calm Before the Storm - B. J. Robinson, Author


Chicken Dumplings
(From the kitchen of B.J. Robinson)

Ingredients:
1 whole chicken
1 or 2 packages frozen dumplings
½ Tsp. Kitchen Bouquet
½ Tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning

Brown flour and make homemade gravy or take another shortcut and buy three packs of brown gravy mix and a pack of chicken gravy mix.

3 or 4 chicken bouillon cubes
Use onion, garlic, and other seasonings to taste.

If you're from Louisiana, you might decide to sprinkle on some Louisiana Hot Sauce to taste.

I love old-fashioned chicken and dumplings like my former mother-in-law always made, but I love an easy shortcut when I have a taste for dumplings and no time to prepare and roll the dough. I still like to make my gravy for them homemade. Experiment and find what works best for you. This recipe will make a huge pot of dumplings to feed an entire family. We had a large family and one big pot made the meal.

In Calm Before the Storm, my newest romantic suspense, Vera and Douglass agree on something after being apart for years. They both enjoy chicken and dumplings. Want homemade chicken dumplings without all the work of rolling the dough or using drop dumplings, try using frozen dumplings such as Plantation-Style Food Frozen Dumplings. There are other brands, but this one is my favorite. I like the dumplings flat instead of thick. Now, no one I know makes dumplings as great as my former mother-in-law who taught me to cook "the real" homemade ones, but with a busy lifestyle, these serve the purpose. The dumplings taste homemade because everything else is homemade. Prepare your chicken by boiling a hen as usual. You can let it cool and take the skin off, the take the meat from the bone, or you can cut up a whole chicken and boil it, depending on your family's taste. Some people may like white chicken gravy, but I like to brown the flour as I was taught, and I like brown gravy with the chicken taste. Season to taste.

 
Calm Before the Storm by B. J. Robinson– Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

“We’ve been feeding and medicating her intravenously and trying to get her to eat, but all she does is push food around on her plate. I found toast crumbs in her sheets and the bacon strips she tried to hide. She pretends to eat and thinks she’s fooling us.”

Vera said, “I wonder how long she’s been pretending.”

“Not sure, but she’s down to 60 pounds. If she makes it, she’s going to need help.” Sally patted her shoulder. “There are some wonderful Hospice workers who’ve been in and out sitting with her. I’m sure you’ll meet them shortly. It won’t be long before the doctor is due to make his rounds.”

“Hospice?” Vera’s eyes widened. “I don’t understand. She’s not dying. We’re going to get her the help she needs.”

Sally patted her shoulder again. “Like I said, it doesn’t look good. You need to prepare yourself for the worse, just in case. Short of a miracle, we don’t expect her to make it.”

Vera felt like she was going through the repeat of a nightmare she'd lived six years ago when she watched her mother die in the same hospital where her sister, who was suffering from Anorexia Nervosa, an eating disorder, was being treated. Her sister was all she had left. She'd left their hometown years ago when she found that her boyfriend Douglass and her best friend were seeing each other behind her back. But when she walked into the hospital, there he stood waiting to offer his comfort in any way she might need. And he stayed by her side all the way to the end. Would the shot Nurse Sally gave her sister to help her rest turn out to be the last shot of her life?

It wasn’t until Douglass’ best friend Mark’s wife went into the same hospital for minor surgery and didn’t make it back out, that Vera started putting two and two together and came up with one. Something wasn’t right. Both her sister and Mark’s wife were on the mend and could have lived. What happened to them. They all seemed to never wake up after their last shot was given to allow them to rest. And rest they did, forever.

As I read Calm Before the Storm I thought I would be reading a ‘romance’ or ‘love story.’ I was halfway right. The shock for me came when I discovered that this was also a ‘suspense’/’mystery.’ The love that is reflected between two people as well as their love and respect for God is so beautiful but then the devil sticks his hand into the pot and people start dying. I had a hard time putting this one down and I have to admit that I NEVER guessed the ending.

 
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