A Silver Medallion - James R. Callan, Author

11:29 AM Posted by Martha A Cheves



Callan's Oatmeal Cookies

Start with
            ¾ cup of butter
            ½ cup granulated sugar
            1 cup brown sugar
            1 teaspoon of baking powder
            ¼ teaspoon baking soda
            1 teaspoon cinnamon
            ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter until smooth. Add the sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and ground cloves and beat until mixed and smooth.
            2 eggs
            1 ½ teaspoons of vanilla
Now, mix in the eggs and vanilla until well mixed and smooth.
Next, if you have a good mixer, use it.  Otherwise mix by hand.
            1 ¾ cups of all purpose flour
            2 cups of rolled oats
After all of the above is well mixed in, then add and mix only enough to distribute the nuts and cranberries.
            1 cup pecans or walnuts
            1 cup of dried cranberries or Craisins
Use a teaspoon to put small mounds of dough on a cookie sheet and bake in a 375 degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.  Some like the cookies softer and some like them crisper.  You decide, or make a pan of each.


This will make about 5 dozen cookies, depending on the size of the cookie you bake.  If you have a  large enough mixer, you can double this recipe, cook half of it and put the remaining batter in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator.  Then, you can bake the rest tomorrow, yielding hot, fresh cookies on both days, with only one mixing.  Happy eating.

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

Crystal's grandmother stood under a maple tree.  Eula Moore was staring at the small storage shed about twenty feet behind her house.  She aimed a double-barreled shotgun at the door of the building.  "Don't make no sudden moves.  I got a nervous trigger finger.  I might just blow your head off."  Nothing moved.  "Now, very slowly, come on out in the open, and keep them hands over your head where I can see 'em."  Crystal crept up beside her grandmother, "What's in there, Nana?" she whispered.  A few moments passed.  Then a single finger came into view. Gradually, it turned into a whole hand, waving in a small arc.  "Por favor, no dispare."  The tiny brown hand fluttered again.  The voice quavered slightly, "Please.  No shoot.  No shoot."

Crystal Moore was paying her grandmother Eula a visit at her home "The Park."  Finding her Nana standing in a defensive stance with a shotgun pointed at one of the buildings wasn't what she had expected to walk into.  She also wasn't expecting the troubles that followed the discovery of a young Mexican woman hiding inside that building.

Rosa was her name.  She had been smuggled across the border to serve as what Crystal called a 'slave' to one of Dallas' most prominent men.  And to keep her under his control she is told that her husband will be killed if she talks to anyone or tries to run.

In Crystal's attempt to help Rosa as well as others in this same situation, she finds herself in the heart of Mexico where family members of those enslaved are being held.  This task is one that could cost her her own life as well as the lives of those close to her.

If you want a twisting road ride, you'll find it in A Silver Medallion.  I thought the first book in this series 'A Ton of Gold' was good.  This second book in the Crystal Moore Suspense Series has taken it a step further.  My word to Author James R. Callan is "hurry up and give me book 3!"

Southern Spirits (The Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries Book 1) - Angie Fox, Author

1:42 PM Posted by Martha A Cheves



Coca Cola Cake
(It’s a staple in the South—and in Sugarland, Tennessee. This Coke cake recipe was contributed by Lee Avery Catts to "Atlanta Cooknotes" and was published by The Junior League of Atlanta.)

2 Cups sugar
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1 Cup Coca-Cola
1 ½ Cup small marshmallows
½ Cup butter or margarine
½ Cup vegetable oil
3 Tablespoons cocoa
1 Teaspoon baking soda
½ Cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
½ Cup butter
3 Tablespoons cocoa
6 Tablespoons Coca-Cola
1 box (16-ounces) confectioners' sugar
1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Cup chopped pecans

Preparation
TOTAL TIME: 1 hr 15 min
Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 45 min
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, sift the sugar and flour. Add marshmallows. In a saucepan, mix the butter, oil, cocoa and Coca-Cola. Bring to a boil and pour over dry ingredients; blend well. Dissolve baking soda in buttermilk just before adding to batter along with eggs and vanilla extract, mixing well. Pour into a well-greased 9- by-13-inch pan and bake 35 to 45 minutes. Remove from oven and frost immediately.

Coca-Cola Cake Frosting
To make frosting, combine the 1/2 cup butter, 3 tablespoons cocoa and 6 tablespoons of Coca-Cola in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and pour over confectioners' sugar, blending well. Add vanilla extract and pecans. Spread over hot cake. When cool, cut into squares and serve.


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


"You want to help?" I asked, making sure I reached clear of Lucy as I dumped the contents of the vase over Grandma's rosebushes.  She gave the little pile a sniff and sneezed.  "You said it."  The dirt was loose and dry, which I was glad to see. I'd heard that sort of things was good for the roots.  It certainly couldn't hurt.  When the last of the fine dust had settled out of the air, I hosed out the vase and poured the water on the roses.  

After clipping a rose from the bush, putting it in the vase and adding water, Verity returned to the home she had inherited from her grandmother.  What happened next takes her on a journey that could only traveled by a strong minded southern girl, which she was.

Verity had been engaged to one of the most eligible, prominent members of her hometown Sugarland, Tennessee.  The wedding was planned and she was ready to go through it living happily ever after.  What she learned the day before the actual wedding put a stop on the event and ended up costing her everything she owned.  She had already sold off everything within her grandmother's house, except the dented vase that no one seemed to want.  Unless she found a way to come up with another $20,000 she would also be selling the house which was breaking her heart.

This book is so full of humor!  I'll give you just one hint of what you're in store for when reading Southern Spirits - Lucy is a skunk!  She's had her glands removed so she's safe but so cute you would think her to be a dog or cat.  The problems and events that take place after Verity poured the dirt on the roses leads to even more humor.  Yes, there are ghosts, murder and attempted murder, bringing it all together to make this one of my favorite books.

Kima - Ahmed Amin, Author

11:37 AM Posted by Martha A Cheves



Bobotie

(Pronounced ba-boor-tea, the national dish of South Africa is a delicious mixture of curried meat and fruit with a creamy golden topping, not dissimilar to moussaka.)

2 slices white bread
2 onions, chopped
25g butter
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1kg packet lean minced beef
2 tbsp Madras curry paste
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
3 cloves 
5 allspice berries
2 tbsp peach or mango chutney
3 tbsp sultana
6 bay leaves

For Toping:
300ml full-cream milk 
2 large eggs

Method
Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Pour cold water over the bread and set aside to soak.
Meanwhile, fry the onions in the butter, stirring regularly for 10 mins until they are soft and starting to colour. Add the garlic and beef and stir well, crushing the mince into fine grains until it changes colour. Stir in the curry paste, herbs, spices, chutney, sultanas and 2 of the bay leaves with 1 tsp salt and plenty of ground black pepper.

Cover and simmer for 10 mins. Squeeze the water from the bread, then beat into the meat mixture until well blended. Tip into an oval ovenproof dish (23 x 33cm and about 5-6cm deep). Press the mixture down well and smooth the top. You can make this and chill 1 day ahead.

For the topping, beat the milk and eggs with seasoning, then pour over the meat. Top with the remaining bay leaves and bake for 35-40 mins until the topping is set and starting to turn golden.

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

'I was alone, sitting under a tree, when I saw for the first time, a strange bird.  At first, I thought it was a raven, but it turned out, after I understood what the birds were calling him, that he was a Black Seagull.  He was as tall as you two, but that wasn't the strange part.  What was odd, was the birds asking him an unexpected question'.... 'They asked him if he could look into their future, and tell them how long can they stay here and make their living.  And he said, for six nights you can live free, and for two other nights you will have to hide, for I see clouds, rain, and lightning approaching from afar...'

Many years earlier when Kima was much younger than she is now, she learned she had a special gift.  She could understand what animals were saying as they communicated with each other.  This was also when she met the Black Seagull who could see farther than anyone else and by doing so he could predict and warn the animals of what was to come.  Now in her older years, Kima has met Alex and Alice after Alex finds a beach full of dying whales.  These two youngster will find that they have the fate of themselves as well as the animals on their own shoulders.

I can best describe this story as a Fable.  You travel with the Black Seagull, a Gray Wolf, a Dolphin named Shells and a Whale as they try to prevent the destruction of their planet as they know it as well as their species.  But what will cause this destruction?  The best answer is 'Man.'

Are we, as humans, really causing the destruction of the animals we share the planet with?  I found my answer to this question at the very end of this book when Author Ahmed Amin talks about the annual event of the whales that have been committing 'suicide' on the beaches of South Africa since 1928.  The cause?  Possibly magnetic fields created by humans.

The book was sad yet happy as most Fables are and ends with a lesson that we all need to take notice of.  Very enjoyable reading.

Snow Falls - Bobby Nash, Author

11:22 AM Posted by Martha A Cheves



Snow Ice Cream
(This is a simple recipe if you live in an area where it snows).

Snow
Sugar
Vanilla extract
Milk

When the snow starts to fall, place a large, clean bowl outside to collect the snowflakes. When full, all you have to do is stir in the sugar and vanilla to taste then stir in just enough milk for the desired consistency. It will begin to melt quickly so once you make it, serve it and enjoy. Perhaps you can even enjoy it while reading a Snowy adventure.

(I remember eating this when I was a kid. Martha)


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

Abraham Snow wasn't the superstitious type.  That said, but spending so much time undercover, always under the threat of being found out, had made him sensitive to his surroundings  It was little more than intuition, a hunch that started as a tickle at the base of his brain.  He had learned to listen to those hunches.  More than once they had saved his life.  Standing in the middle of the lobby of that beautiful five-star hotel, surrounded by enough security to protect a small nation, that familiar warning make itself heard.  Whatever it was that set him on edge wasn't readily apparent.  Maybe his subconscious had picked up on something that his conscious mind hadn't yet detected.  He couldn't explain it, but there was danger lurking nearby.

Like his grandfather Archer Snow, Abraham Snow was one for excitement that took him deep undercover for any job he undertook.  But all things must come to an end so when someone sells him out to the target he was trying to get close to, his life almost came to an end, leaving him no choice but to head to his grandfathers' home for a little R&R.

What Snow didn't expect was the hotel his grandfather's family business was protecting to be hit by a sniper.  Their target being no one other than Owen Salizar, owner of Salizar Biotechnix.  A man the U.S. had been after for some time for laundering cash and supporting multiple terrorist groups and militant governments in exchange for business favors.  So far they haven't had enough proof to shut him down.

This book took me one night to read.  It is a short book but it's also one that was packed with action and I had a bit of trouble putting it down until finished.  It is book one in a series and left me wanting to know more about the man that almost killed Snow, as well as the sniper who went after Salizar.  You can bet I'll dig into book two in the near future.


Union of Friends - Glenn Sartori, Author

1:01 PM Posted by Martha A Cheves



Jiffy Bar-BQ
(Glenn's Mom's Recipe)

My mom’s Jiffy Bar-BQ (Sloppy Joe) was a staple at family get-togethers.  All my aunts made it, but I think Mom’s was the best.  The addition of chili powder was the special ingredient.

Ingredients
1 ½ - 2 lbs. ground beef
1 medium onion
2 stalks of celery
1 green pepper
1 tsp. of salt
1 tsp. of chili powder
1 small can of tomato paste
3 cans of water


Brown the meat in a heavy skillet. Drain. Finely chop the ingredients and add to the meat:  Add a small can of tomato paste with about 3 cans of water.  Cook until onion and celery are soft or until desired thickness.

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

"Union was murdered two years ago."

He felt a contraction in his heart and a cold tingling in his face, and couldn't utter a word.  Two years Travis thought.  He lost the power of sight for an instant, but he conquered his emotion by a strong effort of willpower, almost a transport of rage.  Why had she waited two years before telling him?  He felt numb, lost, and as if he had just awakened from a coma and was being downloaded with events he missed.  The words two years rolled through his mind - Union has been dead for two years.  He heard her say something about coffee, and he followed her into the house, his mind returning to reality.

Union Miller and Travis Gibbs had grown up together.   They were best friends.  Yet, he had been dead for two years and Travis never knew until he received a letter from Union's mother stating 'My Union was murdered.  Please come.  He didn't do it.'  So he went to Riverfield to find out who killed Union and why.

According to the police Union killed Patti and Patti's husband killed Union.  But why?  This simply wasn't the Union Travis had known the better part of his life.  And because of this, he was determined to find out what really happened.  With the help of an old schoolmate Travis started his investigation through which the name Global Friends kept popping up.  Could there be a connection?  Could Union have found information regarding this company that needed to remain hidden?

Union of Friends is one book that kept me in the dark until the end.  I never knew where it would lead me next nor which character could really be trusted.  Author Glenn Sartori let nothing slip which kept me turning pages as I tried to decide how everyone connected.  I'm now looking forward to the next book in this series.