Monday, March 5, 2018

The Five Manners of Death - Darden North, Author

Stuffed Pepper Soup

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
Makes: 8 servings (2 quarts)

2 lbs ground beef
6 cups water
1 can (28 oz.) tomato sauce
1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cups chopped green peppers
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
Pinch or two of garlic powder
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. beef bouillon granules
1 tsp. pepper
2 cups cooked long grain rice
(Optional): chopped fresh parsley 
(Optional): 8 oz. finely shredded chedder cheese (Apply after cooking)

In a Dutch oven over medium heat, cook and stir beef until no longer pink; drain. Stir in water, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, chopped green peppers, brown sugar, garlic powder, salt, beef bouillon granules, and pepper. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered until peppers are tender– about 30 minutes. Add cooked rice; simmer uncovered 10 minutes longer. If desired, sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley and shredded cheddar cheese.

Nutrition Facts per cup without cheese: 337 calories, 14 g fat ( 5 g saturated fat), 70 mg cholesterol, 1466 mg sodium, 30 g carbohydrates (13 g sugars, 4 g fiber0, 24 g protein

The Five Manners of Death - Review by Martha A. Cheves

What are the five manners of death?  They are:

It appears that someone in Jackson, Mississippi, is following suit with each of the manners of death.  As each person dies, Dr. Diana Bratton finds herself, as well as her aunt Phoebe, more and more involved.  The tangle of lies begins to unravel after a body buried 50 years earlier is discovered on the Ole Miss college campus during a construction project.  According to Aunt Phoebe, she never knew the deceased.  Diana learns of the deception after seeing a 1966 yearbook from Ole Miss in her aunt's belongings.  Aunt Phoebe not only knew dead Rusty Reynolds well but she also knew several of the newly deceased.  So, what could possibly be the connection between 50-year-old skeletal remains and more recent deaths among the same a circle of friends from that era in college? 

I've read everything written and published by Author Darden North and have to say that with each novel he gets better and better.  "The 5 Manners of Death" has to be his best yet and I hope will become a long time series.  Every time I thought I had come up with a connection between the Ole Miss students from 50 years earlier and the contemporary deaths, I found myself to be wrong.  I incorrectly pegged the whole motive and killer all the way to the very last pages.  The cover drew me to this book. I immediatley wanted to pick up, start reading, and NOT put it down until finished. 

Keep them coming Dr. North!

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Boy and the Sea - Orna Gadish, Author

Potato & Salmon Cakes
(The Kids will love this dish)

500g cold cooked mashed potato
213g can pink salmon, drained, any bones and skin removed
2tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Grated zest 1 lemon
2tbsp plain flour
2tbsp vegetable oil

Place the mashed potato in a bowl. Flake the salmon into the potatoes, add the parsley and lemon zest and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Mix well.  Shape the mixture into 8 small cakes with damp hands. Dust in flour. You can make the fishcakes in advance and chill at this stage until ready to cook.  Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan and fry the fish cakes for 4-5 mins on each side over a medium heat until cooked through. Serve with salad.

The Boy and the Sea - Review by Martha A. Cheves

I've read many children books and they all seem to carry a special message but this book was a little different.  It takes you from childhood to old age and gives a simple explanation of what is involved with each stage of aging.  I loved it and don't just recommend it as a child's book but a book that adults should read too. It's a very special book for that carries a valuable message.   

Saturday, February 24, 2018

A Mersey Mariner - Mersey Mystery Series Book 4 - Brian L. Porter, Author

Portuguese Chicken with Ratatouille
(An Alexandra Rose Specialty)

1 tbs honey
1 tbs lemon juice
1 tsp tomato purée
4 tsp Piri Piri Seasoning 
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, scored
For the Ratatouille:
1 tbs olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 courgette, diced
1 small aubergine, diced
1 red pepper, diced
200 g (7 oz) tin chopped tomatoes
½ tsp Garlic Grinder 
1 tsp Basil 
1 tbs tomato purée
Salt and pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C, 400°F, Gas Mark 6.
Mix together the honey, lemon juice, tomato purée and Perfect Shake Piri Piri Special Blend in a shallow dish, add the chicken and coat well. Place the chicken on a baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes.
For the Ratatouille, heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the vegetables for 4-5 minutes. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Serve with the chicken and crusty bread.

A Mersey Mariner - Book 4 - Review by Martha A Cheves, Author of: Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

"Mister Gray, what on earth's wrong with you man?"  Gideon shouted at the young man.  "Sorry sir, but he's dead, sir, dead as a doorknob."  "Who's dead, man?  Come on, pull yourself together and talk sense," Gideon said to the young man, who was visibly trembling.  "The man in cabin six, sir.  The Spaniard, Mister Gaspar.  He's just lying there on his bunk sir, staring up at the ceiling with a terrible look on his face.  He's dead, sir, I'd stake my life on it," Gray said, his voice croaking with emotion as he relayed the information to his captain.

The Alexandra Rose had sailed into the Mersey Estuary which was shrouded in dense, dank fog.  Due to weather reports it would be anchored there until the fog rose, which would be a couple of days.  The passengers are a bit unhappy for the delay in landing and now they have to contend with a death.  A death that will surely turn out to be something other than natural.

Author Brian L. Porter has taken me on a ride that goes from the Alexandra Rose with its crew and passengers to the Amazon where the search for a natural cure for cancer is taking place.  As I read, I'm sure there has to be a connection, but what?  As the deaths start mounting up, so does my puzzlement as to the connection.  It appears to be two whole stories within one book.  Then... he brings it together, taking me by surprise and making me wonder why I didn't see it earlier.

As always, Porter has written yet another book that will have you turning the pages as he keeps you in suspense of the actual plot and who the bad guys actually are.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

The Ka - Mary


2 cups All-purpose flour
1 cup   Mashed bananas
3/4 cup Sugar
2 Eggs
1/4 cup Shortening
2 tsp    Baking powder
1/4 tsp Baking soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1 cup Walnuts

Beat sugar, shortening and eggs together until light. Add mashed bananas. Sift flour with baking power, salt and baking soda. Stir into creamed mixture, beating until smooth. Stir in walnuts. Pour into greased 9x5x3 inch loaf pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 60-70 minutes. Cool before serving.

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

Chione was in awe making her way around the immense dimly lit chamber.  Magnificent history spoke from the etchings.  Her heart quickened.  She wanted to read and learn who had been laid to rest in the burial chamber of this opulent tomb, yet the unfinished tasks at the first tomb took priority.  Tauret's tomb would not allow her to focus her attention elsewhere until the mission of that discovery could be satisfied.

As far back as I can remember I always wanted to be an Archaeologist, but I had one really big problem.  I'm very claustrophobic.  So I now rely on old things above ground and reading about those below ground.  In The Ka, Chione took me not only to the Valley of the Queens, she also took me on a journey where history, in a sense, sometimes repeats itself. With all its history and vivid detail, the author must have spent vast amounts of time doing research.

Chione, along with a group of archaeologists embark on a finding that will take them deep into the earth and all of this has come about due to the dreams and visions Chione has seen.  But it seems that this group of archaeologists are not as normal as they believe they are.  They have been brought together to do something more than uncover history.  They, too, are just as special as Chione and as time goes on, they will see for themselves just why they were all brought together. 

So, I now have one question for you.  Do you believe in reincarnation?  If not, you might after reading The Ka.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Keep Her Safe - Richard J. Parker, Author

Richard Parker’s Golden Rum Chicken Wings

I’m pretty obsessed with chicken wings. They’re the ideal accompaniment to a home movie night. I’ve experimented with every way of cooking them - marinating in advance, flour coating, baking etc but this, for me, delivers the best results. - Richard

You’ll need:

10 chicken wings per fry
Corn oil
Garlic powder
Sea salt
Dried oregano
4 cups smoky barbecue sauce
Couple of slugs of golden rum
Carton of sour cream

Don’t season wings beforehand. Deep fry them for 8 minutes. Drain and break one to check meat is white. Sprinkle with garlic powder, sea salt and dried oregano.

Add rum to smoky barbecue sauce and stir in. Adjust to taste. The more the merrier!

Drop the wings into a deep plastic bowl, pour over rum sauce and toss.

Serve with sour cream for dipping on the side and open a chilled beer.

Keep Her Safe - Review by Martha A. Cheves

Order now - This book releases 1/11/2018!

The figure was halfway through, their bulk bent over the ledge and partially concealed by the curtains their body was bulging out.  Maggie lunged for Penny.  She scooped her out of her crib and clasped her tight as the figure's weight landed on the carpet and shuddered the floorboards.  As they stood, the hood of their dark blue poncho glistened from the rain.  Maggie yelled.  An incoherent warring that came from deep inside her.  She hoped it would briefly startle them.  The figure froze, and Maggie saw blue surgical gloves clutching a carving knife.  Her shoulder butted hard into the door frame as she reversed from the nursery.  Fingers seized her bob of dark hair.  Maggie twisted her head, clutched Penney to her chest and crouched as she made for her open bedroom door.

He, or is it a she, is called the 'Babysitter.'  The Babysitter has found a way to commit murder without getting 'blood on their own hands.'  How - simple - you kidnap a child and have the mother of that child do the killing for you making her the murderer, not you.  And when she has done the dirty work for you, you simply have her killed by another mother.

Boy did this book take me through the wringer!  It would make a perfect movie, especially if it were released around Halloween.  The 'Babysitter' will scare the heck out of you while making you believe this is something that could really take place.  And as for the ending - I was totally surprised and shocked to find the motive behind all of the murders.

If you like a good mystery that will keep you on the edge of your seat, don't miss Keep Her Safe.

Friday, December 8, 2017

A Deadly Fundraiser - Talk Radio Mysteries Book 4 - Mary Kennedy, Author

(A Maggie Special)

2 extra-large eggs, room temperature
½ cup plus one tablespoon sugar
½ cup plus one tablespoon flour
1 – 2 tablespoons chilled butter
1 cup chopped fresh (or frozen rhubarb)
¾ tsp good quality vanilla extract
¼ tsp almond extract

Chop the rhubarb.
Beat eggs until light and fluffy. 

Gradually beat in sugar until thick. Add vanilla and almond extract. Beat in flour (don’t overbeat) 
Pour into greased 8 inch baking pan.   Arrange a layer of rhubarb on the top.  Top with dabs of butter.  The cakes do turn out better if you make one at a time, rather than doubling the recipe. I don’t know why.   Of course they can bake together.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20 – 25 minutes.
When the cake is cool, dust with icing sugar.  The sweetness counteracts the tartness of the rhubarb.

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

When Christopher Morgan, the owner of Mayfair, passed away he left instructions that the house be preserved and donated to the Preservation Committee as a center for the art.  The Historical Society, along with the Preservation Committee decided to open the 1930's mansion for a "gala" to raise money for the planned Center for the Arts.  Cyrus Still, the station manager at WYME, liked to support community causes.  But it looked like Maggie and Vera Mae were the only WYME folks to show up from the station.

Maggie has a radio call-in show called On the Couch with Dr. Maggie.  She closed her psychology practice and moved to Cypress Grove to become a radio talk show host.  Vera Mae is the producer of her show and is in charge of scheduling guests and manning the phones as people call in to ask questions of the guests.  So, when this event took place, it was a good way to meet people and hopefully promote the show.

To allow everyone a chance to see the mansion for the last time before it was remodeled for the Center, the committee decided to have a scavenger hunt.  Maggie and Vera Mae were joined by a reporter pal, Nick Harrison, to search using the clues provided by the committee.  Things were going great until they went to the basement where many years before, housed a real 'speakeasy.'  While searching for their next object, Maggie placed a hand on the wall.  To her surprise, the wall slid open exposing a hidden room and a body.

I've read many of Mary Kennedy's books and she gets better and more entertaining with each.  Her books always give you a handful of suspects while keeping you in suspense as to which one was guilty.  As always she left this book with the possibility of another and I'm impatiently waiting for it to appear.

Friday, December 1, 2017

In the Weeds - Mark Ozeroff, Author

Potato Leek Soup
(Mark Ozeroff's favorite Recipe from the Old World

2 large leeks
3 T. butter
4 cups chicken broth
Salt and pepper
1 med. onion, chopped
4 med. potatoes, cubed
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Chives, optional

Slit leeks and wash THOROUGHLY. Chop and sauté leeks with onion in butter for 5 minutes, stirring. Add broth and potatoes, simmer for 15 minutes. Blend slightly and add cream. Serve hot or cold with chives.

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

I sat on Bian's bed, staring out the only window in the tiny room.  She'd been looking west, toward the Everglades.  The fleeting patches of sun a couple days ago probably would have seemed familiar to her, perhaps like her memories of Vietnam.  Here, she'd known nothing but strangers, uniforms, and pain.  But perhaps a familiar sight, and a memory of home, drew her toward the unknown.

I left her room and descended the stairwell, just as she must have done.  I turned left on the landing toward the exit and found myself looking at the eastern edge of the Everglades.

I dropped to my knees to get a child's perspective, and could clearly see a gap in the vegetation, the start of a trail.  I stood and followed it, then closed my eyes.  Burrowing as deeply into the mind of a young girl as I could, I took a fresh look down the trail.  To a hurting and exiled orphan, this must have looked like a path to freedom.  I took my bearings, like the pilot I was, then marched back to the orphanage.

This young child, aging around 4, was brought from Vietnam to the US to start a new life.  She had been burned over thirty percent of her body and one of her legs had been amputated below the knee.  She is lost and looking for someone or something that might make her feel that she is safe and cared about.

This young child will also be what brings Vietnam veteran "Slats" Kisov, back to a new start of his own.  Slats flew an O-1 for the Air Force as a 'spotter' who would fly low enough to spot the enemy and report their position to the pilots flying the F-4 Phantoms.  After being shot while on a mission, he was eventually sent home to what should be a normal life.  It didn't take long for Slats to find his life was going to be far from normal.  When you combine PTSD, pot, a girlfriend who used to be the sheriff's wife, the fact that the sheriff is a member of the Klan, and a hurricane that should have taken his life, you find a man with a really mixed up life.  Just the kind of life only a child can smooth out.

This book is full of Vietnam War history.  I've know several who served during this terrible war and when asked about events as I read them, they assured me that what I was reading was true.  All the way down to the orphans that were brought over, some in very sad health.  Reading about some of the events we were never told here in the states, it broke my heart to know what these men went through.  So when Slats took his flying ability to an illegal level, I actually worried about him making it through the dangers of his actions.  I've read hundreds of books and have to say that this one is written in a fashion that made me feel like I was listening to a real person as he told me about his life.  It's very believable and well worth reading.

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