Sprig of Broom - Susan Whitfield, Author

2:18 PM Posted by Martha A Cheves



Coq au Vin

Coq au Vin is basically a chicken stew. The “Coq” in its name
means “rooster.” Today we use chicken pieces.
It tastes even better the day after it’s made.

Ingredients:

Step 1: Marinade Chicken Thighs
1 cup red wine (Tin Cup Merlot or a Beaujolais works well)
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 bay leaves
3 whole cloves
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup onion, chopped fine
3 lbs chicken thighs (2 packages (about 10 pieces), frozen, skinned)

Mix first seven ingredients in a large bowl. Add skinned thighs.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 18 hours. Longer is better. Strain
off the red wine marinade, and save it. Discard bay leaves and
onion bits.

Step 2: Prepare Vegetables and Broth
2 slices low-sodium bacon
1 parsnip, cut into small chunks
¾ cup carrots, cut into chunks
1/3 cup flour
2 ½ cups low-sodium chicken stock
1 small can tomato juice (6 oz.)
2 sprigs of fresh thyme (or ¼ teaspoon dried thyme leaves)
2 onions, sliced the long way (or 25 pearl onions)

If using pearl onions, cut an X into them at the top before peeling,
and drop them (with peels on) into boiling water for two
minutes. Remove, discard water, and let onions cool. When cool,
the peels will slip off. Set aside. If using regular onions, use half
in next step and save remainder for last step.

Cook bacon in a deep skillet until crisp and crumbly. Remove
bacon and set aside. Place carrots, parsnip, and first portion of
sliced onion into skillet and sauté until onion is golden. Add 2
Tbsp. of flour (save the rest) and stir to coat vegetables. Cook
floured mixture 5 minutes, stirring often. Slowly add stock and
then tomato juice to pan. Add fresh thyme. Simmer 30 minutes.
Cool and strain to remove vegetables and thyme sprigs. Set aside.

Step 3: Brown chicken and mushrooms
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
Reserved flour
1 package button mushrooms (8 oz.)
Dry the marinated chicken thighs with paper towels. Dredge
chicken pieces in flour until coated lightly.
Heat oil in a clean skillet. Place chicken pieces in hot oil and
cook until golden, not deeply browned. Do this in small batches
to keep the oil evenly hot. Remove chicken pieces. Save oil and
bits of chicken and flour in pan. Brush or wash mushrooms to remove
grit. Peel mushrooms, saving stems. Cut tops and stems into
rough quarters. Add to hot oil and cook until browned. Remove.

Step 4: Combine and bake
Chicken pieces
Reserved vegetable broth
Reserved red wine marinade
Reserved onion, bacon, and mushrooms
Preheat oven to 350° F.

Place browned chicken in an ovenproof pan. Strain the vegetables
out of the broth. Pour the broth over the chicken. Add the
reserved red wine marinade. Scrape bits from pan with mushrooms,
and add to chicken. Place reserved sliced onion (or peeled
pearl onions), crumbled bacon, and mushrooms around chicken
pieces. Bake for 1½ hours or until chicken is tender.
Traditionally served over egg noodles, with salad and crusty
bread. Serves 4 to 6.


from Killer Recipes submitted by Cash Anthony, author of “Yes, She Bites”, “A Bona Fide Quirk in theLaw”, and “The Stand-Inand numerous short films and screenplays


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

Many years ago I discovered the author John Jakes and fell in love with his Kent Family Chronicles.  This series started way back with this family following them from England to America.  They went through the Revolutionary War, Civil War, and taming the west.  I eagerly read every book until I reached those that took place around WWI.  That is when I stopped reading.  I love reading history, but only periods and the time from WWI until now has never interested me that much.

Now.... I've read the Bible from beginning to end and enjoyed it very much but I don't like history that takes place much after that, especially the history of Kings and Queens.  So when I saw that one of my favorite authors had written a book that dates in the year 1127 I thought, no way!  I've read everything written by this author but she has always written murder mysteries.  How can a suspense writer possibly write about this time period and keep the reader interested, especially me?

Well.... I read her book.  I was so infatuated with the story that I didn't want to put the book down.  Her story is basically about Geoffrey Plantagenet who married Dowager Empress Matilda who was the daughter of King Henry I.  Matilda had been married before but after losing her husband King Henry and Geoffrey's father made a deal for the marriage.  Geoffrey was very young when this marriage took place.  He was only 15 years old!  The story continues on through the trials that Geoffrey is put through by Matilda.  The death of King Henry and Matilda's journey to take his place.  The birth of their children.  Geoffrey's mistress and child.  And then Geoffrey's is ask to join the Knights Templar and vow to their code of honor.

Author Susan Whitfield has truly amazed me by writing a book so full of history, from a time that has always bored me, and made it so interesting that I want to learn more.  She is a great historian!

Secrets in the Fairy Chimneys - Linda Maria Frank, Author

12:46 PM Posted by Martha A Cheves


A Wonderful Seasonal Treat - 
Poached Pears and Ice Cream

Peel, core, and halve your pears, Bartlett, Bosc or Anjou.
Place them flat side down in a large heavy skillet, and cover half way with apple juice.
Sprinkle liberally with brown sugar
Add whole cloves, allspice and a cinnamon stick.
Bring to a boil and simmer, uncovered until the liquid becomes syrupy. Keep an eye on it.
Cool and add your favorite ice cream or whipped cream.
Sprinkle with nutmeg and serve with thin crisp cookies.
Hint: French Vanilla coffee or Lemon Ginger tea go very well with this dessert.



Secrets in the Fairy Chimneys - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

We were in a valley of shapes I couldn't believe were not made by humans, humans with a fabulous imagination.  Conical formations called fairy chimneys in various sizes spread away from us in every direction.  The color of bleached bones, they sat majestically among the gray-green brush and white clay like soil.  The air shimmered from the heat.  I could smell the odor of clay mixed with a faint herbal scent that must have come from the brush.  Some of the fairy chimneys had windows and doors.  Could people actually live inside?  It was dry here, and hot.

Anne Tillery has joined her boyfriend Ty at an archaeological dig in Turkey.  He and his best friend Cedric are at the dig representing Vermont University.  They will be working alongside a Dr. Atsut who is in charge of the project.  Ty, Cedric and Dr. Atsut are trying to prove that human remains at one of the earliest known archaeological sites in Turkey contained DNA that would link them to the first humans that evolved in Africa.  But, accidents and missing artifacts seem to be plaguing the site and there is even fear that it may be shut down.

As I've found out in other books of this series, Annie is quite a detective.  Hopefully she, with the help of Dr. Atsut's twin children, will be able to make the connections that will end the accidents and theft before the Turkish government steps in to put a halt to everything.  In doing so, Anne finds herself escaping two attempts of kidnapping which leaves her no choice but to call her own father for help.

This book gave me so much history of the Fairy Chimneys that I had to see for myself if they were real.  They are and they are amazingly beautiful!  Seeing what these unusual cities look like made the book even more enjoyable.  As I read I was not only enticed by the story but I could also picture where events were happening.  If you like mystery as well as archaeology, you'll not want to miss reading this book.

Fairy Chimneys

Mistaken Identity - Patricia Gligor, Author

2:54 PM Posted by Martha A Cheves



Greek Almond Cookies
(Patricia Gligor's Mother's Recipe)
(Makes 40-50 cookies)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

¾ cup sweet butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
4 eggs separated, at room temperature
3 ¼ cups flour
¾ lb. almonds, shelled and chopped
8 oz. confectioner’s sugar
8 oz. orange or raspberry preserves

Cream butter and sugar together
Add baking powder and egg yolks, one at a time, to the batter
When the yolks are blended, add the flour, one cup at a time; beat to form soft dough
Beat the egg whites in a bowl until fluffy but not stiff
Shape the dough into round, flattened balls 1 inch in diameter
Dip each cookie individually into the egg white mixture and then roll in the almonds
Make a grove in the center of each cookie and place on cookie sheet about an inch apart
Bake for 30 minutes; allow to cool on sheet; then dip in confectioner’s sugar

Place ¼ teaspoon of preserves in the center of each cookie

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

Ann couldn't stop screaming.  What she was seeing was beyond horrible.  She stood there staring at the young woman's body, wanting desperately to run away but unable to do so.  It felt like her feet were mired in quicksand, her legs too heavy to lift.  Several minutes went by but to her it was as if time had stood still.

Ann, her sister Marnie and Ann's two children Danielle and Davey, are on vacation on Fripp Island.  Ann and Marnie are there for a little R&R, Danielle is there for the history and Davey is there to find buried treasurers.  But what they really find, or should I say Ann finds, is the body of a dead woman.
Clara Brunner is an elderly lady that Marnie has known for years.  When she joins the vacation party she delivers just about everything the group wants, plus.  For Marnie and Ann, who has solved a couple of mysteries in the past, she provides the gossip that is going around about the murder and all those connected. - Jenny Harrington married Mark Hall.  Jenny's father Robert Harrington is married to a woman named Alison who is only a couple years older than Jenny.  Jenny's ex-boyfriend Tod made the statement that if he couldn't have Jenny no one could.  Jenny's mother is upset about being cut off from Robert's money now that Jenny is married.  And Jenny's bridesmaid is upset because she is in love with Mark.  Whew...  So who is the murdered woman and who killed her?  I stayed on the edge of my seat trying to figure this one out.

This book is full of mystery, but not too heavy, and lots of history.  Clara fills the vacationing group, as well as the readers, through some of the history of Fripp Island along with that of Beaufort, making me want to know more and maybe even visit the two places myself.  It is also filled with many possibilities of other stories that I hope the author will branch off with.  I will tell her this - I'll be watching for stories about the Detective, who is single; Marnie and Sam; Clara; and of course Ann.