Just a Touch Dead - Jordania Sydney Robinson, Author

11:27 AM Posted by Martha A Cheves



Hazelnut Brownies
(A Bridget Special)

box of 16 Ferrero Rocher chocolates
250g pack salted butter, plus extra for greasing
250g golden caster sugar
225g light muscovado sugar
100g cocoa powder
4 large eggs
100g self-raising flour
85g ready-chopped hazelnuts
4 tbsp Frangelico or Fratello hazelnut liqueur (or Disaronno)

Unwrap the chocolates, place on a tray and pop in the freezer. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Lightly grease and line the base and sides of a 21-22cm square tin with baking parchment.
Put the butter, sugars and cocoa into your largest saucepan and gently melt together, stirring regularly so the mixture doesn’t catch. Once the sugar granules have just about disappeared, take off the heat, tip into a bowl and leave to cool for 5 mins.
Use a whisk or wooden spoon to beat the eggs, one by one, into the mixture. When they’re completely incorporated and the mixture is smooth and shiny, stir in the flour, hazelnuts and liqueur. Tip the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 35 mins.
Remove the tin from the oven and use a cutlery knife to mark the top of the brownies into 16 squares (don’t cut through, it’s just as a guide). Use a teaspoon to push a little dent in the centre of each portion and add a frozen Ferrero Rocher chocolate into each dip. Return to the oven for 3 mins, then remove and leave to cool completely.

Once cool, cut into 16 squares. Will keep for 3 days in an airtight container.

Just a Touch Dead - Review by Martha A Cheves, Author of:  Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

My long, pillar-box-red hair fanned out around my head like a vibrant halo, my fringe artfully covering one eye.  It looked great, really thick and shiny.  Why couldn't I get it to look like that normally?  I looked closer.  No, it wasn't my hair, or it wasn't just my hair, it was a rapidly spreading pool of blood from the back of my head colouring the pavement.  Huh.  But at least my white Christian Dior trouser suite was blood free.  I'd have died it that'd had any bloodstains on it.  Oh, wait.  No, I couldn't be dead.  If I was dead I wouldn't be floating around watching.  I'd just be, well, dead.  Right?

Meet Bridget Sway.  She has been hit by a bus but she isn't really dead.  At least that's what her 'angel' Charon has told her.  She is simply on a 'day trip' giving the doctors a chance to pump her body full of drugs so it won't hurt so much when she pops back in.

Charon had her board a bus filled with a group of crying people.  Something just wasn't right but she agreed to go along for the ride.  Then Charon explained to her that the other people on the bus were actually dead.

This book grabbed me from the beginning.  It's actually a short book serving as an introduction to Bridget Sway.  It has a touch of humor, while giving you a touch of the dark side of what Bridget finds in the afterlife.  For me - I have developed the desire to read the next book in the series... Beyond Dead.

Curse The Day - Annabel Chase, Author

6:13 AM Posted by Martha A Cheves



Angel Food Cake in honor of Daniel, the beloved fallen angel--

1/4 teaspoon salt 
1 1/2 cups egg whites 
1 teaspoon cream of tartar 
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1/2 teaspoon almond extract 

Directions

Beat egg whites until they form stiff peaks, and then add cream of tartar, vanilla extract, and almond extract.
Sift together flour, sugar, and salt. Repeat five times.
Gently combine the egg whites with the dry ingredients, and then pour into an ungreased 10 inch tube pan.
Place cake pan in a cold oven. 
Turn the oven on; set it to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). 
Cook for about one hour, or until cake is golden brown.
Invert cake, and allow it to cool in the pan. When thoroughly cooled, remove from pan.

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

Daniel carried me in his arms like I'd watched Superman carry Lois Lane countless times, except Daniel didn't wear a unitard.  This time I forced my eyes to stay open so I could watch the town pass beneath our feet.  No easy feat for someone with my anxiety issues.  It was, for lack of a better word, magical.  I saw the church spire on a distant hill and the clock tower in the town square.  The town was bustling with people, or creatures that looked remarkably like people, and the buildings seemed to stretch beyond the horizon.

I still felt the need to pinch myself.  Today I'd met an angel, two fairies, and what I was fairly certain was an elf.  And now I was bout to meet a coven of witches.  It was an amazingly lucid dream and I was sure I'd awaken at any moment.  Never again would I eat the entire bag of Doritos before bed.

Emma Hart, Attorney, was on her way to meet with a new client.  Apparently somewhere along the way she has taken a wrong turn, or was it a turn that was really meant to be?  Whatever the case may be she, being the kind person she is, spotted a man standing on a cliff preparing to jump to his death.  She stopped her car and proceeded to prevent his demise from happening.  In the process she apparently didn't turn her car off before exiting.  She turned around to see it coming straight for her.  Her only means of escape was to jump into the lake.  Not good for a non-swimmer!  But before her own fatal death could occur, the man on the cliff swooped down and headed straight for her.  He flew!  He had wings.

Welcome to Spellbound.  Emma has found herself trapped in a community that housed everything from Witches to Vampires.  She also found that being an attorney put her in the perfect position of becoming the next Public Defender for Spellbound.  It appears that the original defender was murdered.  He was a vampire and someone had 'staked' him.  She now has the duty of taking over his case load as well as finding his murderer.

This book is so funny!  It's book one in the Spellbound Paranormal Cozy Mystery Books and I enjoyed every page.  Someone needs to pick this series up for a TV movie series.  I have no doubts it would be loved by the young generation as well as those of us in the older generation.

A Scone to Die For - H. Y. Hanna, Author

1:18 PM Posted by Martha A Cheves



Scone Recipe
(From A Scone to Die For)


Scones have a long history, originating in Scotland in the 16th Century, and are said to have taken their name from the Stone of Destiny where Scottish kings were once crowned. They are a “quick bread”, a bit similar to Southern “biscuits” in the United States. the original version was triangular-shaped, made with oats and griddle-baked rather than baked in the oven. They have since become one of the highlights of British baking – no traditional English afternoon tea would be complete without warm scones with jam and clotted cream!

A great debate rages in the United Kingdom over the correct way to pronounce “scone” – those in the North say it should rhyme with “cone” whilst those in the South insist that it should rhyme with “gone”. Meanwhile, people have come to blows over whether you should put the cream on first and then jam… or the jam first and then the cream!

There is now a huge variety of scones, both sweet and savory, made with dried fruit, nuts, vegetables, cheese, chocolate chips – and even a recipe with lemonade! This is a recipe for a traditional English plain scone, but it can be modified with the addition of your favorite treats.

Ingredients
500 grams all-purpose flour (approximately 4-1/4 cups or 17.6 ounces)
4 teaspoons double-acting baking powder*
1/2 cup caster sugar (super fine sugar)**
125 grams butter, room temperature (1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon or 4.4 ounces)
150 ml full fat milk (just under 2/3 cup)
2 eggs beaten lightly
Egg and milk wash for the “egg wash” to glaze the scones

Instructions
Preheat the oven to 250C / 400F
Sift the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl (this is important to add more “air” to the mixture).
Rub the butter into the flour mixture with your fingers – it is important to coat the flour with butter as much as possible. Keep doing this until the mixture has the consistency of fine breadcrumbs.
Add the sugar to the mixture and mix well with your fingers.
(This is the stage when you can add in extra ingredients such as raisins and currants, if you wish.)
Add the eggs and some of the milk – do not add all the milk at once; go slow and check that the dough does not become too wet otherwise the scones will “drop”.
Mix well with your fingers until the dough forms a ball.
Tip the dough onto a floured board, scatter some more flour on top, and then knead lightly. It is very important not to over-work the dough otherwise the scones will become very hard.
When the dough looks smooth, gently pat it out (or use a rolling pin) into a thick slab, about 1 – 1.5 inches thick. This is one of the secrets to great scones – not rolling the dough out too thinly.
The dough should now be rested for at least 30 minutes – unless you are using a single-acting baking powder. Some chefs say that resting the dough for hours, even overnight, is the secret to getting really light, fluffy scones.
Using a cutter of your choice, stamp out the scones from the dough. Be careful not to twist the cutter as you are pressing it down – only twist it gently at the very bottom to free it.
Roll up any leftover dough and spread it out again – keep cutting out scones until you have used up all the mixture.
Place the cut rounds onto the greased baking tray or baking paper.
Brush the tops with the the egg and milk wash – this will give them a lovely golden glaze.
Bake in the hot oven for about 12 – 15 minutes.
Cool the scones on a wire rack.
Serve warm with some jam and butter or clotted cream!

Enjoy!

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

"You want a few words, young man?  I'll give you a few words."  Mable stood up from the next table where she and the other Old Biddies had obviously been listening.  The reporter turned to her eagerly, "Yes?  Were you a witness as well?"  "Oh yes, and I even met the victim the day before." Mable nodded emphatically.  "Really?  What was he like?"  The reporter's tongue was practically hanging out.  "Flatulent."  "Er... fla...flatulent?" He looked bewildered.  Mable nodded.  "Yes, I didn't actually hear him break wind, you understand, but I could tell just by the tone of his skin.  Not enough fiber in his diet.  I'm sure of it.  Now, all he really needed was to take a spoon of bran every morning - just like Mr. Cooke does.  My doctor recommended this marvelous stuff for my Henry.  Particularly if you're constipated or if your haemorrhoids are acting up.  No need for laxatives to hurry things along."  She looked at the reporter intently.  "Do you go regularly, young man?"

I don't normally open my reviews with such a long script from the book but this conversation is one that had to be shared.  Mable is one of the group Gemma calls the "Old Biddies."  Gemma is actually from a tiny Cotswold village and has returned to her roots and opened a little establishment called Little Stables Tearoom which is run by her, her friend Cassie and her chef Fletcher Wilson.  The "Old Biddies" are becoming regulars at the tearoom and if you want to know anyone's business, just ask them.  So, when Gemma comes in to work one morning and finds a dead man sitting outside with a scone stuffed in his mouth, the Biddies know exactly what his problem was.

This book was one I would pick up, read a few chapters, put it down just to pick it right back up.  It's full of humor as well as a mystery that kept me in the dark.  I had my suspect and ended up changing my mind several times.  When the real killer was revealed I was shocked.  Never suspected that character to be the bad one.