Dead Medium - Peter John, Author

12:10 PM Posted by Martha A Cheves


Margaret's Bakewells
(Her favorite!)

Pastry
300g plain flour
125g unsalted butter
30g sugar
1 egg

Filling
225g butter
225g sugar
225g ground almonds
3 eggs
The grated zest of 1 lemon
50g plain flour
jar cherry jam

Topping
200g Icing Sugar

Method
As my mother always told me, there's no need to flounce around the kitchen when it comes to making shortcrust pastry. Throw the flour, butter, sugar and egg into bowl and mix well. I use the big Kenwood mixer Alf brought me for my birthday last year but a bit of elbow grease will do the job just fine. If the mixture feels a little loose just add a smidgen of flour. If it's too tight, a dribble of water or milk will help. Once you're happy with your short crust, dust your counter with flour and tip the pastry on to it. Find a rolling pin, mine is usually in the top drawer next to the sink, and roll out the pastry to fit whatever tin you have to hand. I use a round tart tin. It's just a bit smaller that those old vinyl albums they used to sell down the high street years ago. I've still got a few. Everything's on those compact thin gummies now. People say they sound better but I prefer my Pat Boone with a little crackle. Anyhow, once your pastry is in the tin perforate the base with a fork as many times as you can fit and stick it in the oven, 20 minutes should do it. I usually preheat mine at 200c (Gas mark 6).

While that's baking you had best get on with the filling. Grab a bowl and beat the butter and sugar together until it's all fluffy. Throw in the ground almonds, then the eggs. I find it's best to do them one at a time, beating as I go. If the mixture begins to split, Don't panic, just add a smidgen of flour. This next bit is important, I got this wrong once and it was an awful mess. Stop with the beating and gently fold in the flour and lemon zest.

You should have taken your pastry out of the oven by now, let it cool before spreading cherry jam across the base. leave 2 cm gap around the edge. Grab your filling and spread it over the jam. Bung the tin back in the oven for another 20 minutes or until set and golden-brown, I turn mine down to 180 c for this bit. Once baked make sure it's completely cooled before doing the next bit.
For the icing tip the icing sugar into a bowl. Add a little water and keep stirring until you get a think fondant, adding water as needed. Pour the fondant over the cake and wait for it to set. If I'm feeling adventurous I pipe melted chocolate across the fondant while it's still loose and then drag a knife across it to form a marble pattern which looks rather effective but is not essential; it tastes just fine without it.



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

George's hand on her shoulder silently comforted her.  She would have usually pulled away from him and given him the sharp end of her tongue but at that moment she didn't.  It wasn't fear that held her temper.  Even though she hated to admit it, his presence reassured her.  His touch anchored her, preventing her form drifting into the darkness above.  Had she been alone she might have reacted to the bewildering feeling that was overwhelming her.  The fear made her shy away from the darkness but also drew her toward it.  The temptation to let go felt familiar, it almost felt like a sense of belonging.  It was as if the darkness marked a path she was meant to travel, a passage home.  

May Elizabeth Trump spent her young years in a orphanage, her adult life being a recluse that saved every penny earned, and now she can speak to those who have passed as well as those who are still living.

Penny Saunders lives in the same town as May but has passed leaving her only child Chloe in a bad financial position.  Chloe must now pay for her college education as well as the upkeep on the family home that Penny has spent her life trying to hold on to.

Then comes the idea that will involve Margaret, May's only 'friend', and her Thursday Night Club, which is a group of 4 ladies who dabble in the 'psychic business.'  With May as the medium they can line up clients of ghosts who want to talk with those left behind and charge the living, allowing Chloe an income so she can continue with her education as well as keep the house.

One important piece of information that I haven't told you.  May is dead therefore being the Dead Medium.

This book is full of humor, ghosts, and some uncertain beings that are called the Soul Stalkers who May has been warned about by a ghost named George.  But... even though she never cared for a living soul when alive, for some reason May is drawn to Chloe and feels the need to help her in any way possible.  This story kept my finger busy as it turned page after page.  I couldn't wait to see what the next page and even sentence had to add.  And the ending - that was a total surprise.  It also left a very large opening for another chapter in the Dead Medium which I hope Author Peter John brings forth very soon.

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