Lights, Camera, Murder - Nikki Haverstock, Author

9:13 AM Posted by Martha A Cheves



Blended Pomegranate Margarites
(One of Melissa's favorite drinks)

1/4 cup pomegranate juice, store bought is fine, plus seeds for garnish
1/3 cup Tequila Blanco (about 4 ounces)
1/8 cup Triple Sec (about 1-ounce)
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 ounces)
12 ounces ice cubes
Blend and serve!

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

"Everyone in my family has their life together, and I'm a total mess.  Mom's this well-respected writer, and Dad built up a super-successful business.  They are all set even if they do nothing else in life.  My older sister ran this huge resort and now is building the resort out there."  I hooked a thumb toward the window and the construction site visible.  "It will be a success because everything she does is amazing.  My brother, the middle child, is an entertainment lawyer back east, and his business is taking off.  He has these amazing clients.  One of them wrote the book that last summer space movie was based on.  And then there's me."

This is Melissa McBallister's description of her life.  Her whole family is a success, that is except her.  Then comes her chance to change that.  She's been cast to play in the new reality TV show Sexy Socialites of Fishcreek Falls which was being filmed in her own town.  She would be one of five that would meet for events and discuss themselves and their lives.

The filming started out rough on the very first day.  One of the other ladies, Heather, took an immediate dislike to Melissa.  Seems that her friend Stacey was scheduled for the part and Melissa took the part away from her.  So when there is a murder that takes place just before a filming, Heather decides to blame Melissa.

This book started out just a little slow for me but when it picked up speed it really took off.  I had decided about half way through that I knew who the real killer was but I have to admit that I was wrong.  I stayed entertained not only with Melissa and the other girls but also with the dog Bubbles.  It seems that Bubbles got its name through a natural bodily act that he can't seem to control.

If you want a fun, fast read murder mystery with a touch of humor, I highly recommend this book to you.  I enjoyed it and want to read more by this author.

Sheba: From Hell to Happiness - Brian L. Porter, Author

3:52 PM Posted by Martha A Cheves



SLOW COOKER BEEF STEW WITH DUMPLINGS
(The furry ‘people’ usually enjoy any leftovers too)

Ingredients
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 medium parsnips, cut into 2.5cm (1in) pieces
2 medium carrots, cut into 2.5cm (1in) pieces
1 large leek, cut into 1cm (½in) slices
3 tbsp tomato purée
1 kg (2lb 2oz) braising steak, cut into 4cm (1½in) chunks
Plain flour, to dust
200 ml (7fl oz) red wine
600 ml (1 pint) beef stock
3 fresh rosemary sprigs

FOR THE DUMPLINGS
Ingredients
125 g (4oz) self-raising flour
60 g (2½oz) suet
1 tbsp dried parsley

Method
Put the oil, vegetables and tomato purée into the bowl of your slow cooker. Dry the beef pieces with kitchen paper and dust with the plain flour (tapping off excess). Add to the slow cooker together with the wine, stock, rosemary and some seasoning. Stir to combine.
Cover and cook on high for 5hr or until the beef is tender.
After 5hrs of cooking, make the dumplings. Sift the flour into a large bowl and stir in the suet, parsley and lots of seasoning. Add 100ml (3½fl oz) cold water and stir to make a soft (and slightly sticky) dough.
Remove the lid and discard the rosemary sprigs. Pinch off walnut-sized pieces of dough, gently roll into a ball and place on top of the stew, spacing apart. Recover and cook for 1hr more. Check the seasoning and serve with mashed potatoes.


Ideal on a cold winter’s day, and usually some tasty leftovers for the dogs. This tasty dish can be thickened even more by adding a handful of pearl barley while cooking. 

Sheba:  From Hell to Happiness - Review by Martha A Cheves, Author of: Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; and A Book and A Dish

"Can you tell what breed it is?" Juliet asked me, quietly.  "I'm not sure.  It's hard to tell, but at a guess, I'd say it's a little Staffy," I replied.  "It looks close to death's door," my wife said, choking back her own tears at this terrible sight, this symbol of man's in-humanity towards an innocent living creature.  "I want to ask Lisa about it."  

Lisa smiled as we walked back into the warmth of reception.  "Bet you've found something you like, haven't you?" she said with a knowing look in her eyes.  "Maybe," Juliet replied.  "What can you tell us about the little dog in the stables, the one under the heat lamp?"

The little dog that Author Brian Porter is talking about is Sheba.  She was underweight, her hair had been shaved off.  She had skin abrasions and deep ligature marks around her neck.  She had been thrown on a rubbish pile and was barely alive.  The cause of these injuries - she had been used as bait to train fighting dogs.

I'm an avid animal lover, especially dogs.  I've always had one and can't imagine my life without one of my best friends.  When I started reading this book I couldn't stop the tears and the anger that would build up inside me.  How can anyone be so inhumane?

I've read all of Author Brian Porter's books about the dogs he has rescued and I can't say enough about the kind heart he, his wife and daughters all have.  In my book, they are all some of the great ones for bringing these babies out of their living and sometimes dying hell into a beautiful, loving, comfortable life.

If you're a dog lover as I am, this is another one of those books that you simply must read.  It will really open your eyes to the cruel life these dogs live just for what some really sick people call a 'sport.'  I would love to put them through what they put these loving babies through.

Holidays Can Be Murder - Connie Shelton, Author

8:50 AM Posted by Martha A Cheves



Connie Shelton's Green Chile Stew

1 to 1-1/2 lbs pork tenderloin, cut in 1/2” cubes
2 cans stewed tomatoes, crushed
1 small can mild whole green chiles (4 to 5 chile pods), cut into stew-sized chunks
Hot green chile to your taste (1-2 T. diced is usually good)
1 medium onion, cut into stew-sized chunks
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
8-10 c. beef bouillon
Salt and black pepper to taste
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes

Place all ingredients except the potatoes into a large stew pot. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat and simmer 2-3 hours. About 30-45 minutes before you plan to serve, peel and cut the potatoes and add them to the stew. Serve with corn bread, warm flour tortillas or other favorite bread. 
    For a somewhat different taste, I’ve made this with either pinto beans or hominy in place of the potatoes. The meat can, alternately, be beef or wild game.

Holidays Can Be Murder - Review by Martha A Cheves, Author of:  Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; and A Book and A Dish

"Hold it right there, ma'am," a sharp voice commanded.  A rough hand gripped my shoulder and spun me around.  "Charlie?"

"Kent?  What's going on here?"


He dropped his hand and stood firmly blocking y way.  "This is a crime scene.  Neighbors of yours, I gather?"

Uh, yeah.  I live right here,"  I said, indicating our house with a vague wave.  "What kind of crime?"  I knew it was a stupid question the minute it slipped out.  Kent Taylor only worked one kind of case - homicide.

Charlie Parker lives in a quiet neighborhood in Albuquerque.  She has lived there since childhood and now enjoys the home that was once her parents' with her husband Drake and their dog Rusty.  When Drake informed her that his mother would be coming for the Christmas holidays her red flags went up.  She had only briefly met Catherine and had no idea as to how they would get along.  Entertaining her would be just one more thing to add to her holiday activities.  Then came the call from her newest neighbor Judy, asking for help with the list of decoration required by the community every year.  Coming from Chicago she wasn't even sure what luminarias were.  Yet another addition to the do-do-list.  And on top of this, she still had to keep up with the private investigation agency she and her brother Ron owned.

Christmas came and went but the day after brought the celebrations to a stop when a neighbor was found murdered.  The police have their suspect but Charlie knows deep down that they are wrong and it's her job to prove it.  And prove it she does.

This book is a quick, easy read that takes you on a few curvy roads along the way.  It kept me turning pages while giving me very little clues as to who the murderer would turn out to be.  It also has me wanting read more of this author's work.

Mobsters in Mount Dora - De Miller

11:48 AM Posted by Martha A Cheves




Slow Cooker Chili
(One of Trent's Favorite Dishes)

2lbs ground beef
1 can black beans
1 can dark red pinto beans
1 can cannellini beans
1/2 onion
1 green bell pepper
1 to 2 tb honey
black pepper
white pepper
paprika (or smoked paprika for more flavor)
cayenne pepper
garlic powder (or minced garlic)
chili powder
optional - kielbasa, smoked sausage or bratwurst

Start by browning the beef. While it's in the skillet, dice the onion and bell pepper. Get them in the bottom of the crock pot. Drain your beans and put them in the pot on top of the onion and bell pepper. Once the beef is done, drain it and add the spices to taste. There is no right or wrong amount, only how hot you can stand it. Add the seasoned meat to the slow cooker, then finally drizzle the honey over all of it. That little bit of sweetness will help balance out the heat. If you decide on a little extra variety, put your sausage in last. Often, these are fully cooked, so there is no need to brown, unless you like that extra snap from the casing. Leave the slow cooker on low for at least four hours, but don't stir until an hour has passed. The longer you go with the lid on, the moisture will make it "soupy". Four hours is plenty of time to get everything nice and warm and allow all those juices to mingle and get to know each other. Shredded cheese and sour cream are great to add to your finished bowl.

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

"So, let me get this straight.  All you want me to do," Trent said, ticking off the items on his fingers, "is prove there was an attempt on the life of the ex-President when he was here in Mount Dora; prove that your grandfather who died long ago aided in the thwarting of this hushed-up attempt; prove that President Coolidge promised the deceased a congressional medal of honor and get congress to act on all this.  That's about it, right?"

How is Trent, and his 'partner' Horatio, supposed to prove that any of this happened when there are no records of an attempt on the ex-President's life.  Everyone who would have lived at the time is dead.  Or so he thought.  Turns out that there is one person still living from that time.  He's 98 years old but it turns out his mind is still very active and clear.  But this too brings up another problem.  The man in question worked for Scarface Al Capone.  According to him, the attempt was to murder Coolidge and frame Capone for the killing.  Hearsay!  No proof.  In fact, there isn't even any evidence that Capone ever visited Mount Dora.  So, with no proof, Trent and Horatio have to prove something that Trent believes never took place.  And this has to be done while someone is determined to keep him off the case and away from the area where it was to supposed to have taken place.

This author has done it again!  History, history, history.  He has filled yet another book with history pertaining to Al Capone, his brother 'Two-gun-Hart', Coolidge and the area surrounding Mount Dora, Florida.  As I've said before, I've never indulged in this time era.  It's never interested me.  But, after reading De Miller's books I've found it very interesting.  I've even looked up some of the names and found that his 'quote of history' is correct.  So again, as I've said before, this author has either done an intense search of history or 'he has connections.'  You can't help but enjoy this book and learn a little history along the way.