Showing posts with label love. Show all posts
Showing posts with label love. Show all posts

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Alien Embrace - Donna Steele

Italian Cream Cake
(One of Lori's favorites)

2 cups cake flour
1 stick margarine
1/2 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
5 eggs (separated - whites beaten stiffly)
1 tsp soda
1 cup buttermilk or 1/2 cup buttermilk and 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts (I use pecans)
1 cup coconut

Cream margarine and sortening. Add sugar and beat until smooth. Add yolks and beat well.  Shift flour and soda and add to mixture with buttermilk alternately (start and end with dry). Stir in vanilla, coconut and nuts.  Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites.

Cook in 3 greased and floured 9" pans at 325 for 45 minutes (or until toothpick ready)

Cream cheese frosting -
8 oz cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla
1 box powered sugar
1/2 stick margarine.

Beat margarine and cream cheese until smooth, then add vanilla and sugar.

Hope you enjoy!!  It's a family recipe from my Aunt Charlotte who lived in Hickory.

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

Everyone he had known must have cried out at once.  There had been nowhere to run.  He had no idea what had exploded or what could have caused the destruction.  That didn't matter now.  The flames had raced through the narrow corridors, killing everyone inits path by smoke if not flames.  How could everything have gone so wrong?  They'd had such high technology.  He knew the answers, the out-of-control population.  He had only known shortages until he came here.  There was still guilt at every meal he ate.  Now his home was a burnt-out shell.  The structure remained, damaged, probably collapsed in places, but uninhabitable.  And all done to themselves.

As Lori comes out of a coma she finds that she has no memory of her life.  The purse that had been found with her contained only a comb, wallet and cell phone.  Her address meant nothing to her and she couldn't visualize her home at all.  Then she met Dr. Marcus Greene, the doctor called in to consult due to her amnesia.  She knew she had never met hem but there was something familiar about this handsome man standing before her.  Mark was in a long relationship with Cynthia but after meeting Lori he couldn't get her out of his mind.  This is a woman that has stolen his complete being - mind, soul, and body.  But getting to know her, where she really came from and why she is here may change those feelings completely, or could it bring them closer?  You see, Lori isn't from here and Mark will have to accept that fact or walk away from her.  What will he do and is she the only one like her out there?  Maybe not.  Does he even believe in Aliens?  Maybe he better start believing.

I fell in love with this book from page one.  Author Donna Steele writes in a way that allows you to 'feel' each character.  You feel their pain, their joy, their love and you can't get enough of them.  I'm really hoping this is the beginning of many more books in what would make a great series.  When I read this book I couldn't help but remember the series of books written by John Jakes.  This book has so many stem offs as well as connections that would make it a great set of books to read and who knows, maybe into a TV series.

If you like a bit of the known and a lot of love, you can't help but love this book.  On a scale of 1-5 stars I would give this one 7 stars!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Steamy Windows - Mae Nunnally, Author

Millionaires' Pie
(2 recipes for this book!)

8 oz cream cheese
1 can sweetened condensed milk
12 oz whip topping
1 can crushed pineapple (drained)
1 C chopped pecans
1 C sweet coconut flakes
2 x 9-inch graham cracker pie crusts

blend cream cheese and condensed milk
fold in whip topping
stir in pecans and coconut
divide between the pie crusts
chill 3 to 4 hours before serving

Harvey Wallbanger

1 /4 oz. vodka
3 oz. orange juice
1/2 oz. galliano l'autentico

Add the vodka and the orange juice to a tall glass, fill with ice, stir and float galliano on top.  Garnish with an orange slice.

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

"What's a woman got to do to get a drink in this place?"  Matt thought to himself, maybe not be a rude S.O.B., but he said "Usually sit down and order is a good start."  Once she sat he continued, "so what will it be for ya?"  "Whiskey, straight up!"  He grabbed a frosted glass from the chest and poured what the lady ordered and placed in front of her.  He watched as she downed it in one shot.  He'd seen men do it, but this was a first with a lady.

Matt is an over-worked bartender who spends 50+ hours a week waiting on those who love to drink.  Latakia is a customer who just happened to come into his bar, drawing him as her bartender.  She's rude to him and now regrets it.  This good looking, sexy man might be just what she needs.

Steamy Windows is a steamy short story about two people who meet and if things work out they 'join.'  If you need a little boost to get into the mood, read this story. LOL!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Shattered Lies - S. J. Francis, Author

Crab Salad
(One of Miss Kate's Favorite)

1 pound crabmeat, fresh or canned, drained, cartilage and shell picked out
1 hard-boiled egg, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped yellow onion
2 tablespoons thinly sliced shallot (bulb part only)
1-1/2 tablespoons chopped celery
1-1/2 tablespoons chopped dill pickle or relish
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
¼ teaspoon yellow mustard
Salt and black pepper to taste
Heavy sprinkling of paprika, to garnish

In a large bowl, combine crabmeat, egg, onion, shallot, celery and pickle. Mix together the mayonnaise and mustard in a small bowl. Add the mayo mixture to the crab and toss to coat. Salt and pepper to taste and garnish with paprika.
Serves 6.
Serve the salad on lettuce or on toasted bread as a sandwich.
Healthy and low in carbs. Meal ready in 15 minutes or less.

Prep time: 10mins for boiling egg. 

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

"Miss Kate went up there.  I went to check on her..."  "What do you mean?  You let her up there?  Why?"  he asked.  "I didn't let her up there," Elsa said.  "And why not?  It's her house, too."  "I Told you no one is allowed up there.  No one."  "Relax, Sam. I'm sure Miss Katherine didn't mean Kate,"  Elsa said.

"Damn it, woman!  I told you when we first came here that Miss Katherine has rules..."  "Why did you let her go up there?" Sam asked.  I didn't allow her to do anything,"  Elsa said.  "You still haven't told me what the big deal is."  "It doesn't matter now."  He moved to leave but she caught his wrist.  "It matters to you and if it matters to you, it matters to me."....  Sam knew if Miss Katherine found out, there'd be hell to pay, but he couldn't physically make Kate leave.  That left him without any other options.

Kate lived on the family plantation that her namesake grandmother Katherine owned.  Kate was a veterinarian and took care of the animals as well as the farm itself.  Her grandmother had raised her after the death of her parents and even after college and the death of her own husband, she still called the old place her home.  She wanted to be no place else.  So why was the attic off limits to her?

Kate knew something wasn't right.  There were too many unanswered questions about her parents and the answer was in that attic.  So after slipping the keys from her grandmother's room she went on a search through the attic.  There hidden under some old boxes she found a small, blue journal that appeared to belong to her mother.  She took it back to her room, read it and then went in search of her grandmother for the truth.

When Kate started asking questions I had no idea what she was going to turn up.  I was truly surprised when I learned the answers to my own questions.  I never dreamed her family secrets would turn out to be what they were.  And I don't believe she had any idea as to the size of the can of worms she was about to open.

This book will make you stop and think.  It will make you really understand that people do make mistakes but blood is normally thicker than those mistakes.  And forgiveness is even thicker.  A beautiful story of love and hate.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Vital Temptations: A Heart's Betrayal - K. L. Lewis, Author

K. L.'s Simple Lemon Pie
(Great for any holiday or occasion. I usually make this on Thanksgiving Day)

Freshly squeezed lemon juice-1/2 cup, or 1/4 if you want it less lemony
2 Egg yolks (Can use full eggs, but need to beat well to reduce clumping)
1 Can Eagle Brand Condensed Milk (Sweetened)
Pie shell of liking (I prefer the 'Ready Crust' graham cracker, reduced fat)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix juice, yolks and milk together and pour into your pie shell.  Bake 10-15 minutes or refrigerate overnight. 

*Can add meringue to top it off, but I'm not crazy about meringue

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

The two chatted for several minutes as Bethany continued studying him.  Something about him reminded her of her dad, who always told her to look for a sense of humor in a man.  His beautiful complexion and perfect lips and teeth were an added bonus; she loved a man who took pride in his oral hygiene and nails.  His pearly white smile sparkled at her when he spoke.  Bethany sensed that he was much younger than the guys she usually dated and she was unimpressed that he came to the conference unprepared; nonetheless she accepted his offer for lunch since she hated eating alone.

Dr. Bethany McNeal has just met the love of her life - Dr. Brent Anderson.  Both are attending a conference at the Seattle Children's hospital.  The unprepared Dr. Anderson takes the only available seat left which is next to Bethany.

Just a couple years earlier Bethany had found herself in a relationship with a man she really loved and trusted.  Turned out trust was the last thing he should have been given.  They parted ways with her being extremely cautious when it came to men.  Brent finally broke through the wall she had built and she had fallen so in love with him that she knew there would be no other.   But... Brent came with secrets, both past and present.  Secrets that should end any feelings she has for him.  When she finally learns what he has been hiding from her the pain is unbearable but nothing can kill her love.

As I read Vital Temptations I found myself rooting for Bethany.  Hoping she would open her eyes and see what was going on around her.  Hoping she would listen to her best friends Danielle and Caleb.  Listen to them when they tell her there are other women.  Listen when Danielle introduces her to Charles who falls heavily for her.  This love story will keep you in suspense all the way to the end, wondering what is going to happen to Bethany.  I knew how I wanted it to end.  I'll not tell you what I hoped for but will tell you that it didn't end the way I wanted it to which is good because I think it ended just the way it should.  I had a hard time putting this book down and if you're a fan of a good 'what is she going to do' you'll be glad you picked this one up.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

This House is a Home - Philip Nork, Author

Great-Great-Grandma Elga’s Squirrel Stew

2 or 3 squirrels cut into serving sized pieces
2 green peppers, chopped
2 large onions, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
3 rhubarb ribs, chopped
3 or 4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 large potatoes, chopped
3 quarts of water
Corn or a bean of your choice
Salt and pepper
3 quarts of water
4 large tomatoes, whole

Add the water and seasonings to a large pot and turn on the heat to simmer. Add in the squirrel meat and all the vegetables. Let simmer for 2 or 3 hours and then add in the whole tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Let simmer until ready to eat.
For an added treat make some homemade sourdough or wheat bread with whipped butter and you have a feast made for a coal miner after a hard day in the mines.

This House is a Home - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds, A Book and A Dish

"Just go in and do your business,” Uncle Rich said as we approached the wooden shack.  “This is old school all the way.  Do me a favor though. See if you can find any toilet paper in there."  

I was stunned.  What did he mean by that?  I slowly walked into this small shack that looked like it was falling down and searched for the light switch.  Not finding one I left the door ajar to allow the sunshine to stream in. Once fully inside I saw a long piece of wood along one side of it that looked like a couch without any cushions. There was a hole in the middle of it with a toilet seat attached to it. I assumed this was where I had to go.  I closed the wooden door behind me that had a half moon cut out near the top if it and slowly lifted the seat.  A tremendously bad odor arose very quickly... I squeezed my nose shut with two fingers while I did my thing... Even though I didn't need it, I looked around like Uncle Rich suggested and found no toilet paper. I did find a Sears catalog and wondered why it was there but there was nothing to wipe your butt with... Uncle Rich was waiting for me when I finished.... "What's the catalog for?" I asked. "That's old-time toilet paper,” he answered with a smile. “You can read while doing your business and then just rip a page out and use it."

In the 1970's teenager Peter was assigned to do a summer report on his family history.  Being from a family of divorce he didn't know his dad's family all that well and knew very little about his mom's side either. He did know his grandfather but when Peter tried to talk to him about the ‘good old’ days, his grandfather, Vern, would joke around, take a draw off his cigar and another swig of his always present bottle of whiskey.  Peter's mom and uncle decided the best way for him to find out about his family was to go back to the coal mines of Southern Illinois. Boy was he in for a surprise, as well as an education.

Once in a while I pick up a book that takes me back in time.  This was one of those books.  As I read about the 'outhouse' I couldn't help but go back to my own life in the 1970's when we would visit my dad's distant relatives in the North Georgia mountains. They too had the outhouses, the cow and chickens, the pot belly stove for heating and cooking, and the way of talking that only comes from the mountains.  My first visit was much like what Peter first experienced. I couldn't believe people actually lived like this.  Where was the AC?  Where was the TV?  What was that thing my 4th cousin was pushing up and down after pouring milk into it?  And best of all, what did I just eat?  

Whether you grew up in the 1970's or not, this book will not only transport you to the way life used to be, and I'm sure still is in some places, but it will also teach you the same lesson that Peter learned from his great-aunt Maddy, "A house is just a building, what makes it a home are the people in it. It doesn't matter where you live or what you do as long as you have family you're taken care of."  

I love this book!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Legacy of the Tropics - Mary Deal, Author

Puerto Rican Style
(A Mary Deal Special)

SOFRITO (Sauce):


10-15 Garlic cloves
A bunch of Cilantro
4-5 sweet Pimientos (also known as
Hungarian or Cuban peppers. They
are sweet peppers.) If pimentos
aren’t available, use Green Bell
20-30 Small sweet peppers

Liquefy all the ABOVE ingredients.

Salad Olives
1 14 oz. Can Tomato Sauce
Potatoes, quartered

For 2 Pounds of Meat:

(Goat meat should be washed with or soaked in lime juice before cooking to remove the wild odor.)

In a thick bottom pot, pour olive oil to cover the bottom. Heat and add 4-5 tablespoons of the Sofrito. Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes.

Add capers and salad olives in quantities you desire. Add 1 can of tomato sauce. Salt to taste.

Add the meat. Cook until half tender. Add potatoes. Cook until the stew starts to thicken and potatoes and meat are well done. Serve with rice.

If four pounds of meat are cooked, double the recipe.

Refrigerate or freeze any remaining SOFRITO for future use.

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

“Why don't you sleep in our house, Mama,” Pablo asked. “So we can be a family, like my friend Jose next door. His mama and papi live together. A renter lives in their cottage.”

Pablo, son of Rico Rey and soon to be step-son of Ciara Malloy, doesn't quite understand why the two people he loves most in the whole world aren't married and living together. Neither Pablo nor Ciara knows the secret that Rico holds that keeps them apart. Rico has promised that soon, they will be a complete family but first he has promised to take them on a vacation that will have them sailing the seas near their home east of Puerto Rico. All goes well, until a sudden freak storm blows in, sinking their ketch and leaving them struggling for their lives.

“People die at Ke'e Beach, Lillian,” he said. “Why do you keep going back there?” She forced herself to remain quiet a moment longer than usual to quell an urge to put Glen in his place. “Careless people,” she said, enunciating each word, “die at all beaches.”

Lillian Avery is an underwater photographer who has made her home on the island of Kauai in Hawaii. She has her goal set to take pictures of every fish living in the beautiful waters around her island but became distracted by the docile green sea turtles that seemed to take a liking to her, nipping at her bathing suit. Her friend Glen tags along with her and all goes well until a vicious rip current pulls them both well out to sea till losing sight of land. Will Glen’s neuroses and actual fear of water cause their drowning deaths as he loses control of his emotions?

“Hurricane season's almost over,” Ciara said. Rain pelted down outside the window. “Most likely that storm south of us will die out, don't you think?”
“All the others have this year,” Lilly said. “But every storm is different.”
This tropical storm had more to offer than either could foresee.

Ciara and Lillian had lived next door to each other years earlier in Puerto Rico but had never met. Ciara had always wanted to meet the lady next door who took much sought-after underwater pictures. Lilly had always wanted to meet the lady next door who wrote darling children books. It never came to be until some years later when Ciara moved to Hawaii with her grandson and bought the house next door to Lilly. Even though the two ladies had never met, they found they had a lot of history to share as they caught each other up on their lives.

Life in the tropics seems to be going great until the hurricane hits their island. Will these two ladies, who have lived through so much already, be able to ride out yet another storm in their lives? Or will this be the end of a friendship or even their lives which seem to have come full cycle? Will Lilly finally learn Rico’s secret that even Ciara has kept hidden all these years?

This book has taken me to Puerto Rico and Hawaii, two places I've never been but now feel like I've been there many times. It has taken me under the waters watching not only the fish but the beautiful sea turtles. It has taken me through two storms that I hope and pray I'll never have to live through in real life. Even though I've experienced all of these through reading, it still feels like it has all been real. A great book that gives you three stories, or novellas, that combine to make one incredible adventure for these ladies, a true Legacy of the Tropics.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Romance Under the Oaks - B. J. Robinson, Author

Louisiana Seafood or Shrimp & Sausage Gumbo
(A B.J. Favorite)

1 lb. shrimp, peeled and cleaned
1 pkg. beef smoked sausage
Add crabs or oysters if you like.

One large onion
One large bell pepper
Several cloves of garlic
A Couple stalks of celery
A half bunch of green onions

Wash and chop onions, garlic, bell peppers, celery, green onions (leave out or add other seasonings according to taste).

A large tablespoon of flour
A large tablespoon of butter or cooking oil

Make a roux using flour and oil.  (This makes enough for a small family, but increase if you want a larger serving.)  Brown flour and slowly add the chopped veggies and saute. 

You can add chicken broth or use water and season with butter, Worcestershire sauce, kitchen bouquet, and Tony Chachere's to taste.  I use about a tsp. of the sauces and a couple dabs of butter.  Drop in two bay leaves, if you like them.  You may also add ground cayenne pepper if you like your food hot New Orleans Cajun style.  Salt and pepper to taste.  2 Tsp. ground gumbo file  may be included toward the end of cooking.  Bring to a boil.  You may cook as is or add vegetable such as corn and peas or a frozen vegetable package if you like gumbo with veggies, or you can leave this part out and have just the shrimp and sausage.  Let simmer until meat and veggies are done.  You can also slow cook it in a crock pot.  I like to include veggies, but this is up to you.  Cook a pot of rice and serve over rice.  Have crackers on hand.  If you don't know how to make a roux with oil and flour, you can cheat and buy packaged gravy, but homemade is better.  I have cooked it with just shrimp and smoke sausage as well as with veggies.  It's good both ways, depending on your family's taste.  This is a brown gravy recipe, but you can add tomatoes or tomato paste if you like red gravy.  Enjoy.  Freeze leftovers for later. Experiment with different veggies and seafood and make your own style to please your family.

My mother-in-law taught me to cook this recipe when I was a young bride.  I've experimented with her basic shrimp and smoke sausage one over the years and found you can use it with or without veggies.
You can make the recipe to include various seafood such as shrimp, crab, crawfish, and oysters, or use only shrimp and smoked sausage, according to taste.

Romance Under The Oaks - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

Jacques Roman had the place picked out for a home as well as his woman, but the problem was getting the love of his life to see his dreams.  She was a socialite, used to being seen in the high-society, ritz, and glamour of old New Orleans.  She adored grand balls and was often the belle of them.  It'd be only fitting that she should have the belle of the ball when it came to plantation homes.  He'd give her the grand dame of them all.

Celina Pilie didn't want to talk about bayou swamp land.  It had to be infested with mosquitoes.  Weren't they bad enough in the city?  Hope dashed with each word Jacques uttered.  If he did get around to asking her to marry him, Jacques expected her to live fifty miles from the New Orleans she loved.  Didn't he realize she was born for the city?

Finally.  Jacques stood, got down on his knees, pulled a black velvet box from his coat pocket, opened it, and asked, "Celina, will you marry me?"  She clapped her hands together like an excited child.  "Oh yes, Jacques, yes, yes, yes.  I can't wait."

Well, she did have to wait.  She waited two long years while Jacques built her a home that would take away her breath.  but... she is a city girl and sees no way she can be happy living so far away from her family, the balls and the many stores she loved to shop.   Even though her father had given her Zelie, a slave she had known her whole life and loved dearly, she was lonely for other female friendship.  Her life seemed to evolve around reading the many books that filled the library.  And through her reading she ran across a book titled "Uncle Tom's Cabin" which stems an idea that will keep her busy as she actually helps people.  But what she does must be kept a secret.  With the Civil War coming she could lose everything if anyone found out her secret actions.

This is such a beautiful story.  I've always loved reading Civil War history and when an author gives us this history in the form of a family's involvement, it makes it even more interesting.  Through this book Celina, Jacques, Zelie and many of the other slaves become people that you end up feeling that you know personally.  You hurt for them as they struggle to make adjustments as their lives change.  But you also feel happiness as their struggle through the war brings them out with families of their own.  And you cry with them as they lose those that you too have come to love.  This is truly a story that will bring out all of your emotions.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

When The Drum Major Died - Anjuelle Floyd, Author

A Dinner for Two in thirty Minutes
by Anjuelle Floyd

2 to 4 ¾” cuts of filet mignon
1 white onion, chopped
1 bag of leaf spinach
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 bag of salad of your choice
salad dressing(s) of your choice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  While oven is warming, place cuts of filet mignon on a sheet of aluminum foil.  Salt and pepper both sides of each cut of filet mignon.  Place 1-2 squares of butter on each cut.  Add basil and onions.  Once temperature reaches 350 degrees, place in oven and cook for 15-20 minutes turning once.  While filet mignon is cooking, sauté spinach in olive oil for 5-6 minutes adding salt, pepper and garlic as desired.  Remove filet mignon form oven when 20 minutes is up or earlier.  Serve with sautéed spinach and salad with dressing, both of your choice.

When The Drum Major Died – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

“The thick jungle, and the heat.  It was too much.  They had to cut their way through vines and over growth.  No path had been laid out like usual.  It was native tropical forest, untouched.  They had been through their own war.”  Clifford lowered his head.  He teared up, redness swallowing the whites around his irises.  “Towards the middle of the night the Viet Cong heated up their firing.  We thought it was all over, that in the next moment their entire company would descend on us.  I lost track of Ennis.  Like me he was trying to keep focus on his men amid the fighting and keep them alert.  Firing died down about one the next morning.  We began to hope.  Then one of my men reported seeing a soldier dragged off.  By morning twenty-five men lay with their necks slit.”  “Not more than ten yards from me Ennis lay dead.”…. “I never got to say “Good-bye,” Clifford said, barely audible.  Neither had Florina.

Florina had met Ennis while in college.  They found themselves deeply in love and married just before he left as a First Lieutenant in the US Army on his way to Vietnam.  Many saw him as a white man but Ennis’s mother was of both Negro and Cherokee heritage.  This was no problem for Florina since she was of the Negro race but very light skinned.  But due to his heritage, she decided to keep both Ennis and their marriage a secret from her family until after her graduation.  This never took place.  Ennis was killed in action while in Vietnam.

Life goes on for Florina.  She found a great man and husband in Dr. Redmond Austin, one of only 3 black doctors in the small North Carolina town of Poinsettia… Redmond, his father and Macon Elders.   But as  all lives come with baggage...hers was in continuing to keep Ennis and their marriage a secret, Redmond’s baggage came in the form of Agnes, Macon’s wife as well as their next door neighbor.

Now and then I run across a book that has a story that simply tugs at my heart with its love/hate relationships.  This is one of those books but this is more than just a love story.  I grew up with boys I went to school with being drafted to fight in the Vietnam War.  I grew up with segregation going on all around the little town where I lived just outside of Atlanta.  I also grew up confused as to the way both white and blacks treated the one boy that was admitted to my high school.   He wasn’t accepted by either race.   Why?  He was light skinned.  I never understood the problem.  As I read, When The Drum Major Died, after all these years, I have begun to understand.  If you grew up as a baby boomer, especially in the south, this is a book I recommend you read.  It is beautiful, educational and simply a wonderful book to read.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

River Oaks Plantation - B. J. Robinson, Author

Plantation-Style Red Beans and Rice

1 lb. dry red kidney beans
1 Tbsp. oil
1 onion
1 bell pepper
1 clove garlic
1 - 2 stalks of celery
Water to fill near top of pot
Bay leaves
Cayenne pepper
Black pepper
1 Tbsp. Creole or Cajun seasoning
Choice of meat for seasoning - Ham, ham bone, salt pork or smoke sausage

2 cups rice
1 Tbsp. butter
4 cups water

Wash red beans and soak.  If I don't soak mine, I cook them a few hours.  If soaked, they'll cook quicker.  Wash and cut seasonings.  Brown or saute seasonings to taste, including the ones you enjoy and leaving out the ones you may not like.  If using smoke sausage, you may brown it with the seasonings.

Pour seasonings into pot with beans.  Add meat.  Let come to a boil and then simmer until done.  I recommend cooking at least two hours.  A ham bone provides the best flavoring in my opinion.
You may turn the fire to low and let the beans simmer or just keep warm after two hours.  You can also cook using a crock pot, but you should put them on very early in the morning and let them slow cook all day.  If cooking on the top of a stove, you will need to continually add water to them as it cooks out until they are nearly done.  Then, let them cook down so the gravy is thick and red.

Boil rice about thirty minutes before serving time.  Let two cups of rice, four cups of water and 1 Tbsp. of butter come to a boil, turn to low and let the water cook out of the rice.

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

River Oaks Plantation 1856 - The minute the horse and buggy drew up in front of it, Margaret Jane Turnrow knew she'd found the home of her dreams.  In a trance, she sat spellbound and stared.  The majestic beauty from the long white-shelled drive, the huge live oak trees dripped with Spanish moss, and the white-columned splendor of the large two-story antebellum home made her heart flutter.  She fell in love at first sight, and that first view of the large white house sitting behind massive oaks took her breath away. 

Margaret and her new husband Danny have just returned from their honeymoon to their new thirty-five hundred acre Louisiana home.  Danny's promise to "Maggie" is to become a wealthy planter and make them rich with the growing of cotton and sugarcane. But then comes the war.  Will they be able to survive the war without losing everything they have worked so hard for?

River Oaks Plantation 2005 - On August 29th, Amaryllis Camilla O'Brien eased her red metallic Chevy Camaro down River Road.  After driving all night in horrible wind and rain, she couldn't wait to reach the plantation.  Her heart thudded  against her chest the closer she got.  The best summers of her life were the ones she'd spent under shady oaks with her grandmother.  And now with the passing of her grandmother the plantation was hers. 

When "Cammie" stepped from her car and made it into her home she found more than she could ever expect.  She found an old friend from the past, but she also found that she had picked the worse time ever to return to the plantation.  Her return came just in time to experience one of the worse hurricanes Louisiana had ever faced - Katrina. 

River Oaks Plantations is made up of two stories that become one.  The struggles to survive and to keep River Oaks alive are more than most could possibly endure.  But with the help of God, both generations stand firm, determined  to keep going no matter what.  This is one of the most beautiful books I've ever read.  I've read all books written by this Author and each time I think I've read the best for her to come through with one that tops the last.  If you're looking for a book that will fill you with love and life, this is the book for you.

This book actually has an extra treat.  At the end you'll find a recipe for Allie's Famous Louisiana Cornbread Dressing to go along with the Red Beans and Rice!   

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

When Love Never Ends J. Alec Keaton, Author

(A J. Alec Keaton Favorite)

3 eggs
1 cup Imperial margarine (microwave to soften)
½ cup of nuts (optional)
1 cup diced avocado
2 cups flour
1 ½ cups of sugar
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ cup allspice


Soften margarine and mix with sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, beat well. Add dry ingredients, nuts and avocado. Spray 3 loaf pans with PAM and pour mixture evenly.  Bake at 350 in oven for 45 minutes. (the time may vary slightly depending on the exact temperature of your oven)

Double recipe to make 5 loaves.



When Love Never Ends - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

Sam never uttered the words "I love you" to any woman with whom he had a sexual relationship.  He had said those three words only to Sara, who was the love of his life.  Threatened and intimidated by her father, Sam had walked away from her a long time ago.  That happened in 1966 and now, thirteen years later, he was still in love with her.  Sam tried not to think of her, but in the deepest reaches of his heart, he could never forget her.  A man never forgets his first love.  Sam's ultimate desire was to correct the one mistake he'd made long ago.  His friend, Dr. Jeremiah Ebenezer Pike, always talked about the possibility of time travel.  If it was possible to travel back in time, then I'd correct the mistake I made in leaving Sara, Sam thought. 

It was only since the loss of his wife four years ago that Ebb had been obsessed with the concept of time travel.  On a Wednesday, Sam met Ebb for dinner.  "Ebb, tell me more about your project of time travel."

Sara's father was a bit of a bigot.  When he found out that Sam was part Japanese he forbid Sam to see Sara.  With there being a 5 year age difference he threatened Sam with statutory rape, along with threats regarding Sam's parents as well as Sara herself if he didn't break it off with her immediately without allowing her to know that her father had intervened.  Sam had always wanted to be an attorney and this dream would be destroyed if he went to jail.  He also worried about what would happen to his parents if his dad lost his job and how Sara would thrive with her father controlling her every move.  He had no choice but to break it off, hurting both of them more than either could imagine.

Sam saw his dream and became a graduate of Harvard University.  He met Elliot Benson who was the controlling partner in an exclusive law firm that represented some of the more wealthy clients in Seattle.  Benson took an immediate liking to Sam and offered him a position within the firm.  Sam was impressed but had committed to work for Senator Kennedy in Washington for four or five years.  After completing this he would return to Seattle and if Benson still wanted him he was his.

After returning to Seattle, Sam's life was still incomplete.  The missing element was Sara so when she walked into his office one day asking if he would represent her in her divorce against an abusive husband, Sam felt the missing pieces of his life coming back together.   Until......

This book is so beautifully filled with love and commitment.  It also holds hate and disappointments.  But then it holds the possibility of everything being corrected and happiness falling upon everyone within Sam and Sara's lives.  This was a truly enjoyable book with a surprise around every corner.


Monday, August 5, 2013

Convenient Marriage - Maggie Tideswell, Author

Mini Chocolate Kahlua Pots
(A Maggie Tideswell Special)

100g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
150 ml single cream
2tablespoons Kahlua liqueur
4 glasses or ramekins

Place chocolate in a large bowl.
Heat cream just until it comes to the boil, then pour it over the chocolate and leave to stand.
Whisk until smooth, then add the Kahlua.
Spoon into the glasses/ramekins.
Leave in the fridge for 1 hour
Serve with crème fraiche and top with a coffee bean.

Convenient Marriage – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

‘Joshua skimmed down the page, not registering what he was reading, when a tiny advert squashed between Lost and Found and Obituaries jumped to his attention.  It simply read:

Husband needed.
Call Holly Turnbull 021 768 9223
No pranks please

Joshua read it a second time before he scrubbed both hands over his face, his elbows crumpling the newspaper on the table.  What was the world coming to, if women had to resort to dailies to get them a man?  he wondered.  Would this poor, misguided soul even want the kind of man who was like to respond to this silly ad?...  Surely this Holly woman didn’t think she was going to get a bona fide offer of marriage from this tiny advert, did she?... He waited for his laptop to boot up, then typed ‘Holly Turnbull’… Holly turned out to be a journalist and not bad to look at either.  He was impressed, even though it seemed odd that a woman like her would advertise for a husband.  Oh, well, each one to her own.  She would do nicely in his newly formed plan.’

Joshua Jordan has found a way to push Nicole, his fiancée of four years, into making the final commitment by scheduling a wedding.  He will give her an ultimatum of time and if she doesn’t find it within herself to meet the deadline, he will take this Holly woman up on her marriage proposal for just long enough to bring Nicole to her senses. 

Holly Turnbull didn’t actually place the ad for a husband in the daily paper, her three best friends and roommates did.  Holly’s ex-husband Donald has refused to allow her to see their two boys for long enough.  The girls believe that with a husband, Donald will have no excuses for not allowing her to see the boys.  The girls also believe Donald’s wife Gwen is the one that is really behind him not allowing Holly to see her kids.  So when the marriage proposal comes in from Joshua Jordan, Holly sees that this just might be the answers to her problems with Donald.  But with the proposal comes something that no one would have guessed... Moragh.  Moragh is a spirit from the past who starts sending Holly messages demanding that she ‘tell her story’ and to her surprise, the story starts at the very home belonging to Joshua.

This book has it all… murder, mystery, love, hate, ghosts, spells and the supernatural.  The tale is so twisted that you think you have it all figured out only to find that you’re wrong.  The characters are strong and if you believe in ghosts, very believable.  I really didn’t want this book to end but to just keep on going.  Convenient Marriage is a very entertaining book.  I loved it.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Divorcee.Biz - Eileen Thornton, Author

Simple Chicken and Rice Casserole
(Eileen Thornton's Special)
Long Grain Rice, drained
Cooked, small diced vegetables, (carrots, turnip, parsnip) and peas
Cooked chicken sliced or diced.
Boil the rice until it is cooked. Add the diced veg and peas and mix well. Add the cooked chicken and season with salt and pepper.
Turn into a casserole dish and place in a pre-heated oven  (180 C)  until it is heated right through. Stir occasionally to make sure the chicken is piping hot.
Divorce.Biz – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish
“We had twenty people requesting meetings last night,” Connie told Jenny, as she and Sadie strode into the office.  “That’s great news,” Jenny replied.  “I know it’s early days, but it looks like our venture into the business world is working out well.  Hopefully we’ll hear from more people today.”  “It was only twenty people, Jenny.”  Sadie flopped into a chair.  “Don’t get too excited.  We haven’t hit the headlines of the Financial Times.”  “There’s no need to be so grumpy, Sadie.  I was only saying it’s good because it means we earned three hundred pounds last night.”  Jenny paused.  “So what’s eating you this morning”  “Sorry, Jenny.  I didn’t mean anything.  Yes, I suppose from that point of view it is good news.”
But Sadie did have something else bothering her.  Connie’s ex-husband Andrew had appeared at the launch celebration for Divorcee.Biz and even joined.  Sadie knew how much he still loved Connie and how much she loved him but his onetime slip-up with another woman had put an end to their marriage.  It was up to her to show Connie just how much they both still loved each other and get them back together. 
Divorcee.Biz is a divorcee only dating service that was just a thought in Connie’s mind until she mentioned it to her three best friends.  Her idea was to create a service that would require a fee to join and a fee to set up meetings/dates.  The fee would not only pay the bills for the four friends but due to the amount being charged it would appeal to only the most serious.  Along with the meeting fee and the fact that they would be setting up the meetings for the customers, this should keep the members safe.  But would it work?  But just as important to the making of money was the desire of all four women to find mates of their own.  All four had gone through divorces of their own, for various reasons, and were wanting to find that perfect match for themselves.  Someone unlike their ex-spouse.  Boy were these ladies in for a big surprise with their new venture.
Divorcee.Biz, to me is ‘Sex in the City’ gone UK.  I used to watch that show every week just to see what would happen to the 4 best friends next.  The ladies Connie, Sadie, Jenny and Lucy all remind me of the characters in that weekly show.  They are full of hopes and dreams of finding Mr. Right.  And as much as I loved Sex in the City, I’ve found that I love Divorcee.Biz just as much.  It kept me cheering each girl along through her own search and crossing my fingers when she would meet someone.  I’ve felt laughter as well as pain and must say that I thoroughly enjoyed Divorcee.Biz.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Seasons in Purdah - Anjuelle Floyd, Author

Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

(I love chocolate. I am also diabetic.

This recipe is great for anyone who is watching the sugar intake and/or trying to lose weight and wants to eat more healthily, but like I, has a sweet tooth, or two.)
Anjuelle Floyd


1/2 cup chopped pitted dates 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, “natural” or Dutch-process 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules 1/2 cup boiling water 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts, plus 2 tablespoons for garnish 2 slices firm white sandwich bread, crusts trimmed 1/3 cup all-purpose flour 1/4 teaspoon salt 2/3 cup sugar, divided 2 tablespoons canola oil 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 large egg 3 large egg whites, or 2 tablespoons dried egg whites, reconstituted according to package directions

  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) chocolate, finely chopped (1/3 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar


1. To prepare cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9-inch round cake pan with cooking spray. Line the bottom with parchment or wax paper.

2. Combine dates, cocoa and instant coffee in a small bowl. Add boiling water and stir until the cocoa has dissolved. Cover and let stand until the dates have softened and the mixture has cooled to room temperature, about 20 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, spread hazelnuts in a shallow baking dish and bake until fragrant and lightly toasted, 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool.

4. Grind bread into fine crumbs in a food processor. Measure to make sure you have 1/2 cup. Transfer to a large bowl. (No need to wash the workbowl between steps.)

5. Place 1/2 cup of the hazelnuts in the food processor. Add flour and salt; process until the nuts are finely ground. Transfer to the bowl with the breadcrumbs.

6. Scrape the cooled date mixture into the food processor. Add 1/3 cup sugar, oil, vanilla and whole egg; process until smooth, stopping several times to scrape down the sides of the workbowl. Scrape the mixture into the bowl with the breadcrumbs and nuts. Mix gently with a rubber spatula.

7. Beat egg whites with an electric mixer in a clean large mixing bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 1/3 cup sugar, beating until stiff, glossy peaks form. Add one-fourth of the beaten whites to the batter and whisk until blended. Fold in the remaining whites with a rubber spatula just until blended. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, spreading evenly.

8. Bake the cake until the top springs back when touched lightly, 25 to 35 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Coat the rack with cooking spray and invert the cake onto it to cool completely.

9. Meanwhile, to prepare glaze: Combine cocoa, chocolate, corn syrup and instant coffee in a medium bowl. Add boiling water and stir with a wooden spoon until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Stir in vanilla. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar (to the chocolate mixture), beating with an electric mixer, slowly at first, then gradually increasing speed, until the glaze is smooth and thickened. (The mixture may seem lumpy at first, but it will smooth out.) Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature until the mixture is set, about 30 minutes.

10. To finish the cake, place it bottom-side up on a serving plate. Place several strips of wax paper under the bottom edge to protect the plate from drips. Spoon on glaze and spread it evenly over the top and sides of the cake with an icing spatula or knife. Arrange the remaining 2 tablespoons hazelnuts around the top outside edge. Discard the wax paper before serving.

Seasons in Purdah – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

“James’ entry into Sahel’s life had at the very least unleashed an ability to communicate with those living on other levels of life. Through holding James’ hands, Sahel had entered James’ thought space and experienced the images punctuated with the smells and sounds of his memory. It was a powerful talent, one that, during the ensuing days, had put Sahel at ease and peace with her vulnerabilities, not simply as a person without physical sigh, rather an individual who wanted to love and to be loved. Sahel’s lack of sight had opened portals leading to a source of connection with others, a wellspring that provided a sense of purpose bathed in compassion. It also bestowed an awareness of the need for boundaries.”

Sahel Ohin Denning had a degree in psychology but as it’s been said in many ways – a doctor can’t seem to heal himself. As for Sahel, due to an accident she lost her sight but not her emotions. She found herself feeling some of the same feelings her patients had felt giving them reason to seek out her help. But how could she help others when she couldn’t even help herself. These emotions led her to do the unthinkable. She attempted suicide. Had it not been for her husband Titus’ early arrival at home she would have succeeded. Titus is a heart surgeon and blames himself for her loss of sight. Their best friend Carl is a neurosurgeon who feels surgery will allow her to regain her sight. But to his dismay, Sahel and Titus refuse the surgery. Sahel then meets James who asks one question of her … “Do you believe in reincarnation?”

Through her lack of sight Sahel finds herself being able to communicate with James’ fiancé who committed suicide after the death of her father. James is able to communicate through Sahel with his beloved letting her know how much he loves her and that he forgives her for what she has done.

But James himself is dying and wants to reunite with his beloved at the end with hopes of her helping him cross over into her world. Through Sahel’s help, this is accomplished but with much strain on Sahel’s her own health, pushing her to have the surgery she doesn’t want.

Seasons in Purdah is a beautiful story of three people who love each other with all their hearts. Sahel, Titus and Carl grew up together and were best friends but both men loved Sahel and she loved them equally, yet in different ways. After dreaming of a life during another time and place and then learning that Titus as well as Carl had the same dream at the same time, Sahel, when Sahel is attempting to answer James’ question “Do you believe in reincarnation?” seeks understand the question as well as its answer. She must clarify whether the reality of her life. Is her life an aspect of Titus and/or Carl’s dream(s) or are their lives but an aspect of her dream? Is Sahel experiencing a life she has already lived? Or is she living one of the many lives that awaits her in the future? Or is she dreaming this present life from a life based in the future?

And so, what do you, the reader, believe?

After following the three of them through the trials of life and the trials of their‘dreams’ I must give it a second thought before I can answer.

Seasons in Purdah is a very beautiful, loving, yet intriguing story that would make a great ‘Lifetime’ movie for television.

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