Thursday, December 12, 2019

The Mersey Monastery Murders: The Habit of Murder - Brian L. Porter, Author


Wiener Schnitzel with Parsley Butter Potatoes

4 veal cutlets, ½-inch thick
1 T (15 ml) sunflower or canola oil
Salt & pepper
Light oil (such as sunflower oil)
¼ C (31 g) flour
2 lg eggs, beaten
1 C breadcrumbs
1-2 C (230-459 g) butter
1-2 C (220-440 g) lard
POTATOES:
1½ lbs (680 g) sm new potatoes
½ C (115 g) butter, melted
1 C (121 g) breadcrumbs
2 T (5 g) Italian parsley, finely chopped
Pepper to taste
GARNISH:
1 lemon, cut into wedges

Place cutlets between pieces of wax paper and gently pound with a meat mallet (or small heavy saucepan) until about ¼-inch thick. Rub cutlets with oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set up 3 shallow dishes: 1 with flour, 1 with egg and 1 with breadcrumbs. Coat each cutlet well first with flour, then egg, then crumbs.
In a heavy frying pan, melt equal amounts of sufficient butter and lard to cover frying pan bottom to a depth of ½ inch. Working 2 at a time, place cutlets in pan, immersing in fat. Shake pan gently as meat cooks to ensure cutlets do not stick. Cook 3-4 minutes over medium heat until cutlets begin to brown; turn over; cook another 1-2 minutes so both sides are golden brown. Drain on paper towels; sprinkle lightly with salt.
Meanwhile, boil potatoes in salted water until easily pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes. Drain; place them back on the stove for a minute or so, uncovered. Peel; slice into wedges and place in a serving dish. Pour melted butter over potatoes, sprinkle with parsley and pepper.
Serve cutlets with potatoes and garnish with lemon. This dish pairs well with a sweet white wine like muscatel.
Makes 4 servings.



The Mersey Monastery Murders: The Habit of Murder - Review by Martha A. Cheves

"Right now, Nick, we really don't know where to look for the killer, because we don't know for sure when the he was killed.  We're pretty certain he was murdered by this Freedom Train organization, to allow them to insert the impostor in his place.  If we can put a rough time to his death, we can search for organization members active in the UK at that time.  If we find the person or persons involved in the murder, it will go toward shutting them down here.  They can't be a big group.  I don't think the Stasi were as big as the Nazis after World War Two, and Sam's contact at MI6 gave her the impression there are a limited number of former Stasi officers on the Germans' want list.  So, the number of those helping them to evade justice has to be relatively small."

When someone is killed at the Monastery it's up to Andy Ross and his team to find out who committed the murder and why.  Could it be one of the Brothers or one of the Nuns?  Not likely but not impossible.  As their investigation progresses Ross finds more hidden secrets than even he would have guessed.  Someone is not only murdering people but also replacing them with wanted war criminals.  So how do they stop them?

This makes the 7th book in the Mersey Murder Mysteries that I've read and I must say they just keep getting better and better.  I don't know where this author's imagination comes from but I'm glad he has it and hope it never quits.  Anyone that can write mysteries like this one as well as adopt and care for a dozen dogs, writing books about them too, is an Ace in my book.  Keep it up Brian Porter and I'll keep reading.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Haunt the Haunt, Walk the Walk - Rose Pressey, Author


Marshmallow Ghosts

4 cups mini marshmallows (1 bag)
14 oz white chocolate chips or candy melts
1-2 tbs shortening
1 tube black gel frosting

In a large microwave safe bowl, melt white chocolate chips and 1 tbs shortening on high for 30 seconds. Carefully remove from microwave and stir. Continue in microwave in 20 second bursts, stirring in between each burst, until chocolate is melted and smooth. Add a little more shortening as needed to thin chocolate for easy use.
Let chocolate cool for a couple minutes, but not completely. Lay out sheets of waxed paper on counter top. Add marshmallows to cooling chocolate and mix well to evenly coat marshmallows.
Drop chocolate covered marshmallows onto wax paper and gently shape into ghosts. Let cool completely.
Use black gel frosting to add eyes and mouths to ghosts.



Haunt the Haunt, Walk the Walk - Review by Martha A. Cheves

Devil's Moon was one of the most haunted places I'd ever known.  It had more than its share of ghosts.  There were plenty of scary stories to keep everyone intrigued and an abundance of ghosts to be spotted everywhere in town.  I'd quickly figured that out when they kept popping up all around me.  Sometimes the spirits even followed me during the tours.  Of course that freaked a lot of people out, and I was a little scared of them myself.  Especially since I didn't know what they wanted or why they were following me.  There was also a new development in my paranormal adventures - ghosts were now sending me text messages.  I know that sounds crazy, but it's true.

Oh yeah.  I'm Ripley Van Raden or Rip to my friends.  I moved back to my hometown to take the position of head librarian, but also used the opportunity to start my tour around town.  My tours always start in the cemetery where the ghosts are plentiful.

Not long after moving to Devil's Moon we had a murder in town.  That's when I met the hunk of a policeman, Brannon.  We hit it off from the beginning.  You see, he is into the paranormal too.  I also met the library ghost Annie who was the librarian many years before me.  She is the one who first started texting me.  But lately, I've started receiving text messages from someone else.  I've also being followed by someone that I've never seen before.  Could they be one and the same?

Oh yeah again.  I forgot to tell you that there was another murder in town and this one really has me scared for my own life.

Haunt the Haunt, Walk the Walk is Book 3 in the Haunted Tour Guide Mystery.  I've read all of the books in this series so far and can tell you that Rose Pressey has me wanting more.  She keeps you guessing as to who the murderer really is but keeps the story 'light' along the way.  I personally can't wait to read Book #4 - Walk this Way, Haunt this Way.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Bumping Off Fat Vinny - Dennis N. Griffin & Morgan St. James, Authors



Cherry Delight Recipe

2 cups Graham Cracker Crumbs about 16 full graham crackers finely crushed
1 stick Butter melted
1 tablespoon Sugar
8 ounces Cream Cheese softened
1 20- ounce can Crushed Pineapple in juice drained
2 cups non-dairy topping thawed
2 21- ounce cans Cherry Pie Filling

Instructions
Mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter. Pat into the bottom of 9 X 13 cake pan. Bake in 375 degree F oven for 7 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges.
Let cool.
Mix cream cheese until smooth, add powdered sugar. Mix in pineapple. Fold in the non-dairy topping. Spread over graham cracker crust.
Gently pour and spread cherry pie filling over the top. Refrigerate at least 4 hours.

Baking the graham cracker crust is optional but gives the crust a toastier flavor.
Vanilla wafers or shortbread cookie crumbs can be used instead of graham cracker crumbs.
Can be made in 2 8-inch X 8-inch pans, or two premade graham cracker or shortbread pie crusts.
2 cups of Dream Whip or homemade whipped cream can be used in place of whipped
topping.
Other pie fillings may be used as a substitute for cherry.  Try Blueberry for a blueberry delight.



Bumping Off Fat Vinny - Revenge is Sweet - Review by Martha A. Cheves

CEO of Vitali Publishing, Vincent Vitali tips the scales at just over four hundred pounds, distributed evenly over his five-foot-seven frame, earning him the nickname of Fat Vinny.  As he sat in his office glaring at the man and woman seated across from him, he drew on a cigar and blew smoke in their direction.  "You call this piece of crap finished?  It's not the book I thought it was going to be."  Danny Garrett, a former FBI agent with a string of successful books behind him tensed as he said "Well, you thought wrong.  This is the book we signed a contract to write.  We're willing to do some minor touch ups, but you're the one who gave us the assignment.  Danny's co-author Margaret Stanton added, "Look, Vinny, you wanted the memoir of a Mob wife; you got the memoir of a Mob wife.  "My problem is -" Vinny paused, 'There are no investigative interviews.  Did you contact Tony "The Nose's" brother.What about the Mob bosses his widow rags about in this piece of garbage?  It's her word against theirs."

Much to the disapproval of Danny and Margaret's agent, have signed a contract, not with Vitali Publishing but with Fat Vinny himself.  They have completed their part by giving him the memoirs of the wife of mobster "The Nose" who was murdered a few years earlier... but, Fat Vinny isn't a man to be reasoned with.  With an iron clad contract he can change his mind about what he wants and will get what he wants or hold the manuscript until he does.  So, what can Danny and Margaret do to make him change his mind and let them have their manuscript back?  Ahhhh, that becomes the fun part of this book!

This book is full of humor with a little suspense mixed in here and there.  That is until you get to the end and discover that there was more suspense than you realized.  Yes, what I'm trying to say is that there is a very big surprise at the end.  This is another fun book from Authors Dennis N. Griffin & Morgan St. James.  Don't let this one slip away before reading.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Remembering Dexter - Brian L. Porter


Beef and ale cobbler

465g diced casserole beef
2 tbsp oil
1 chopped onion
1 large diced carrot
150g halved button mushrooms
560g Asda Chosen by You Beef and Ale Pour Over Sauce
225g self raising flour
50g chilled (cubed butter)
150ml milk
½ tbsp chopped thyme
½ tbsp chopped parsley

Pre-heat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/ Gas 4. Brown the beef in batches in 2 tbsp of oil.
Lift out with a slotted spoon and transfer to a casserole dish with the onion, carrots and mushrooms.
Pour in the Beef and Ale Pour Over Sauce and mix well. Put the lid on the casserole dish and cook in the oven for 2 hours
Prepare the cobbler 15 minutes before the 2 hours are up. Put 225g self raising flour into the bowl and rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add 1 tbsp each of the thyme and parsley. Make a well in the centre and add the milk (reserving 1-2 tbsp for glazing). Combine until it forms a soft dough.
Roll out on a lightly floured surface until 5ml thick. Cut out rounds 3-4 cm in diameter.
Carefully remove the dish after 2 hours and increase the heat to 200C/180C Fan/ Gas 6. Top the casserole with the rounds and brush with the reserved milk. Return to the oven for a further 25-30 minutes until golden brown on top.



Remembering Dexter - Review by Martha A. Cheves


"It's a sad tale really.  Someone was driving along the motorway one day, quite recently, and suddenly saw a car up ahead open one of its doors, and a dog was literally thrown from the car onto the motorway.  As it was travelling at about 60 mph, the poor dog hit the tarmac with some force and rolled over and over until it came to a halt on the hard shoulder.  Luckily, there was no other traffic following the car, or he could have been hit and killed.  The person who witnessed it, quickly applied the breaks and pulled onto the hard shoulder.  They were too far behind to get the number of the car that threw him out, which quickly accelerated away, and was lost to sight in no time.  They checked the poor dog, as best as they could, then gently loaded him into their car and dove him to the next town, luckily only a few miles down the road.  They found a vet, told him what had happened, and left the dog in his care."  The dog in this story is Dexter.

After hearing this story told to Brian and his wife Juliet, by one of the Dog Pound employee, being both mad and hurting regarding the treatment this beautiful Labrador/Staffy Crossbreed received, they decided to take him for a walk with one of the pack members they had brought along to see how he would fit in.  It didn't take long for everyone to decide this beauty had just found himself a new, loving home.

As I read Dexter's story I also became mad at the way some people treat these loving beings.  A dog, in many ways, is more caring than people.  My dog Jesse is a rescue too and our first day together bonded us to the point that he doesn't want me out of his sight and I actually don't want him out of mine.  As I sit at my computer, he lays under my feet.  If I get up, so does he.  When I go to another room or up the stairs, he follows.  And at night he sleeps curled up against my back.  Yes he sleeps with me.  He wakes me every morning around 7:00 a.m. with kisses.  Now, what human has ever shown that much love?  I've never known one that is that caring.  Jesse is my best friend and my soulmate.   Like Dexter, my Jesse is getting up in age.  I know his time is near and like Brian and Juliet, it will be a time that will give me pain for a long time.

I can't help but admire this Brian and Juliet.  Their love for our four legged friends is so great.  I can only wish I was in a position to take care of the 10 to 12 that they have at all times.  They are both very special people.  So, if you're a dog lover you must read Remembering Dexter.  If you aren't a dog lover, read it anyway and you might just become one.  After all what does DOG spell backwards?!  Do you think God made Dogs and named them after himself and that is why they are so special?

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Pumpkin Spice and a Body on Ice - Willow Monroe, Author


Starla's Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

1 cup self rising flour
3/4 cup of rolled oats
1 and 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spices
1 Tbsp. powdered orange drink (Tang)
2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup applesauce
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. honey
1/2 cup walnut pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 12-count muffin pan with cupcake liners or spray with nonstick spray.  This recipe makes 14 cupcakes, so you will have a couple of cupcakes to bake in a 2nd batch.  In a large bowl, toss the flour, oats and spices together until combined.  Set aside.  In a medium bowl, whisk the brown sugar and eggs together until combined.  Whisk in the pumpkin, oil, applesauce, milk, vanilla and honey until combined.  Do NOT over mix the batter.  Gently fold in walnut pieces.  Spoon the batter evenly into 14 cups; fill the unused cups one-third full with water to prevent warping.  Bake for 17-28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool completely before frosting. 

Pumpkin Spice and a Body on Ice - Review by Martha A. Cheves

Police Chief Roby Whitt entered the diner, somehow managing to walk through the door without rattling the jingle bells on the handle.  The men in the room stood or sat up a bit straighter while the women just collectively seemed to...well, there's o other word for it; swoon.  Gladys was seventy-five years old and still pretty attractive when she remembers to put her teeth in.  A few weeks earlier Gladys accidently caught her apron on fire while trying to ogle Chief Whitt and make an omelet at the same time.  This had earned the diner a visit from the entire Sugar Hill Volunteer Fire Department, who were actually having a slow week and also hoping for free coffee and cupcakes. 

Welcome to the Dixie Cupp Dinner owned by myself Starla Cupp and my partner Poppy Wendell.  We are not only noted for our very tasty food but also for my cupcakes.  My blue velvet cupcakes are light, sweet and melt in your mouth.  They have won me the blue ribbon in the cupcake competition at the annual Sugar Hill Dessert Festival five years in a row.  But this year may be a different story.  It appears that our new police chief Roby Whitt will be judging the cupcakes and believe it or not but he is a health nut.  My cupcakes are far from being healthy!  So, maybe I should just back out this year.  Or should I.

When I first started reading Pumpkin Spice and a Body on Ice I knew it was going to be good.  It's light hearted, contains humor and even a murder to bring it all together.  It's Book 1 in the Dixie Cupp Diner Mysteries and you can bet I'll be reading Book 2.  If you want a book that is actually fun to read, check this one out.  I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Monday, October 7, 2019

The Hawk's Nest -

Campfire Spam Hash

Ingredients
1 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 large potatoes, peeled and cubed (about 2 pounds)
1 spam cut into chunks
1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chiles
1 can (15-1/4 ounces) whole kernel corn, drained

Directions
In a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat, cook and stir onion in oil under tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Add potatoes. Cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add spam cook and stir until meat and potatoes are tender and browned, 10-15 minutes. Stir in chiles and corn; heat through.



The Hawk's Nest - Review by Martha A. Cheves

The first thing you saw when you walked into the Hawk's Nest was our outdoor living room.  There was a table and a couch near the fire pit, and more chairs scattered for people to sit and visit.  Our tents were set up in a row on either side of our shared space.  The freeway above was our shelter from the weather.

When I started to write this review it came to me that I knew nothing, nor have bothered to learn anything about the homeless.  I see them on the streets asking for money, selling their bodies and now and then asking for food.  I've never bothered to even think about where they came from, who they are, what they may have done in another life, nor even why they are homeless.  I just saw them as people who lived on the streets.

After reading Hawk's Nest I stopped and realized these are 'real' people.  They have their hard times just like we do but in their case worse.  Yes, they may steal to stay alive and do drugs to forget.  But they are human and this book helped me realize that.  I'll admit that the language is rough but the story is even rougher and a true eye opener.  So my question is, could we put ourselves in their position and live their lives?  I hope I never have to find out.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

The Dinner Party - Richard Jay Parker, Author


Parmesan Eggplant Appetiser

This is a very easy but delicious appetiser to throw together for a dinner party. Vegetarians skip the bresaola!

1 Eggplant
Parmessan Shavings
Chilli Flakes
Couple Slices Of Bresaola
1 Fresh Mozzarella
Pack Of Arugula
Pesto
Olive Oil

Cut the egg plant into lengthways strips about quarter of an inch thick and griddle them in a little oil for five minutes. Make sure you get some bar marks on the flesh and that it softens up sufficiently.

Next spread a little pesto on each slice, sprinkle with chilli flakes and some parmesan shavings. Add a slice of bresaola and a then a slice of mozzarella at one end. Season and then roll the eggplant slice around the mozzarella.

Put into a baking tray and allow two rolls for each guest.

Bake for fifteen minutes on a medium heat or until the mozzarella had melted.


Drizzle with olive oil and serve with arugula and basil leaves.    


The Dinner Party - Review by Martha A. Cheves

Have you ever heard of a 'trust game?"  I never had until I read this book.  Here is the way it works:

It's especially for couples who have been married longer than seven years.  To any couple who feel they've amassed too much baggage, the game is designed to expunge guilt and wipe the slate clean for the sake of their futures.  Each person in a couple has to write down their deepest, darkest secret on a piece of paper, something that has happened since they took their vows - something they've never told their partner about.  Then they fold the piece of paper, put it into a n envelope and give it to their partner.  It can be anything, minor or major.  Then their partner, without opening the envelope, tells them that they forgive them and set fire to it.  It's symbolic and it means they can move on.  Whatever secret they had has been forgiven and destroyed by their partner.

So, when this game is put into play at a dinner party given by Juliette and Ted, the feelings vary between the 8 people present.  But, what could it hurt.  They would play, get it over with and continue with the party.  What could go wrong.  Turns out a lot went wrong and if you're like me, you will never figure it out until the end.  This book kept me in suspense from beginning to end.  I never saw it coming.  So, if you want a truly suspenseful book, this book is for you.  So mark your calendar for October 18, 2019 to make sure you don't miss out on this one!


 
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