Friday, June 29, 2012

The Stovepipe - Bonnie E. Virag, Author

FishTacos with Mango Salsa and Cilantro Lime Sauce
(A Bonnie Favorite)

1 lb. flaky white fish, such as halibut, tilapia, sole, or snapper (we used Amberjack)
4 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
10 to 12 corn tortillas
3 cups shredded cabbage

For Lime Sauce:
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 cup low-fat yogurt
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped or pressed

For Mango Salsa:
1 bell pepper (red, yellow, and/or orange), deseeded and chopped into 1/4-inchsquares
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, deseeded and diced
2 just-ripe mangoes, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch square chunks
1 handful cilantro, washed, dried, destemmed, and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Juice of 1 lime
Salt to taste

Prepare the fish marinade by combining the fresh lime juice with the vegetableoil and soy sauce in a rectangular glass or ceramic dish. Add the fish, turn tocoat, and leave to marinate while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Prepare the chipotle-lime sauce bycombining the mayonnaise, yogurt, lime juice, chipotle chile, and chopped garlic in a bowl. Season to taste with salt.
Prepare mango salsa by mixing all ingredients together in a medium-large bowl and season to taste with salt.
Remove fish from the marinade and grill or saute until cooked through. Warm the tortillas, either in the oven, microwave, or saute in oil. Set out individual bowls of the sauce, salsa, and shredded cabbage.
For each individual taco, place someof the fish (breaking off chunks of the cooked fillets) on a tortilla, drizzle with the chipotle-lime sauce, and top with cabbage and mango salsa.

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

…we saw a large, black automobile drive into our lane.  It pulled slowly into the backyard and stopped beside the house where we were playing.  We all stood frozen.  In a poor rural area, it was rare to see an automobile on the road, let alone have one pull into our own yard.  Muggs must have know it meant trouble, for she quickly opened the cellar door and herded us all inside.  But it was too late, for she had been spotted.  No sooner had the door been slammed shut than it was flung open, exposing my sisters and me as we huddled fearfully inside.  “Come out,” a man said as he tugged on our arms, pulling us out one by one.  As we hurried to Muggs’ side, the man said, “We’d like to speak with your mother.”  Muggs shook her head.  “I’m sorry, but she ain’t home right now.”   At that, without saying another word, he and a woman who had come with him grabbed my sisters and me and pushed us, kicking and screaming, into the backseat of the car.  They then rounded up Bobby and shoved him in beside us.

Bonnie Virag was one of 2 sets of twins birthed by her mother Flossie Bell Mudford.  Flossie Bell had a total of 18 children of which Bonnie can remembered 14 counting herself.  By the time Bonnie and her twin sister Betty, her twin sisters Jean and Joan and her brother Bobby were taken from the home 6 of the older children had already left.  Most of the girls’ care was provided by one of her older sisters, Margaret which they fondly called Muggs.  But due to Muggs being a child herself, Children’s Service felt they had no choice but to take the younger ones from the home, leaving them all feeling lost and alone.

When I started reading The Stovepipe, I had just finished another autobiography by a lady who, along with her siblings, had been placed in an orphanage.  The trials and mistreatment they went through was heartbreaking.  I truly thought that children placed in foster homes had to be better.  That isn’t necessarily true.  Bonnie and her siblings ended up on a Tobacco farm and put to work as if they were mere slaves.  They were housed in the attic and not allowed to come into the house except to go to their rooms.  Meals were served after the family had finished eating and heating in their attic rooms consisted of The Stovepipe that ran up through the ceiling.  Their living conditions, mistreatment by the family members, their lack of love and even their simplest needs were non-existing.  It really took some strong willed individuals to survive what these children were forced to suffer through.

As I read The Stovepipe, I grew to admire Bonnie and her siblings.  She is a woman I would love to sit down with and simply listen to as she tells stories of her childhood.  Some of the stories within her autobiography would have been funny had the consequences for their actions not been so severe.  I couldn’t help but laugh when I read about the yard being covered with paper the girls had hidden within the rafters and uncovered when the roofers started work.  But I wanted to cry when the foster family punished them for their innocent deed. 

I can only hope and pray that things have changed since Bonnie and her siblings were brought up in the system of foster care.  No child should ever be inflicted with excessive pain and sorrow, especially after the a child has already been hurt by the loss of their own family or the lack of ever knowing one.  These children should be treated as the special people they really are. 

The Stovepipe is a book that EVERY parent should read and hopefully stress to their own children, the heartbreak of being in the system.  Bonnie and her sisters should be very proud of themselves for being survivors and not allowing their experiences to weaken them but to make them stronger and better people.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Royal Pane Down Under - David and Linda Broughton, Authors

Dave's Good Old BBQ Sauce

1 1/2 cups quality tomato sauce, or ketchup
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar (more or less, suityourself)
3 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1-teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder (or more,  depending on strength)
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 cup Coke
Optional ingredients
2 oz local honey
More diced onions,  Vidalia or Texas Sweets

1 cup (or more) finely diced Jalapeno peppers (orwhatever kind you like)
Half cup finely shredded cheddar or provolone cheese
Salt to taste
A few dashes of Frank's Louisiana Hot Sauce, orsimilar not to hot variety like Green Tobasco

Sprinkle of Oregano flakes,
Dash of dried Basil,
Smidgen of Thyme,
Cayenne pepper to your desired heat level.


Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan overmedium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring until ingredients are completelyincorporated. Reduce heat to low and gently simmer until flavors have meldedand sauce has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 30 to 40minutes.
Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Ifnot using right away, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. Letting it standat least overnight in the fridge helps the flavors meld into one harmoniousflavor, rather than many individual flavors put together

The first part makes a basic barbecue sauce, theoptional ingredients will make it your own. Don't be afraid to experiment.  A tablespoon of Hershey's cocoa powderdoes interesting things, so does a tablespoon of creamy peanut butter. You canadd ingredients as spices you might not consider. Want a little more zip butnot heat? Add a smidgen of Dijon mustard, or a touch of horseradish sauce. Iknow, you were always told not to play with your food, but why not? If you'repaying for it, and the one that's gonna eat it, it's all up to you. Only youknow what tastes suit you.

Royal Pain Down Under – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; A Book and A Dish; Think With Your Taste Buds

(This book has an added bonus.  The Author is giving you a 1/2 off code for your copy of Royal Pane Down Under through Smashwords.   Here is your code  HM48Z)

When the cheeseburgers arrive Ash about falls out of her chair.  The things are huge, probably bigger than those of the Red Top back home.  They’re certainly thicker.  No wonder they’re that price.. Ravenous Ash manages to eat only one of them.  They taste fantastic.  She has the other put in a to-go container.  On a whim, Ash has the waitress get the owner to her table, acting as if she has a complaint.  When the owner comes to the table, she tells him she won’t pay that for those burgers.  Before he can say a word, she hands him the check with a ten thousand dollar pack of bills, “That’s what I’ll pay for these burgers.”  The man if flabbergasted, totally speechless.  Exactly the effect she wanted to have on him.  She and Rodger get up to leave.  She tips the waitress a thousand dollars because she can.  Outside, Rodger quips, “What do you fancy yourself?  Some kind of Robin Hood or something?”  Ash smiles, “Something like that, when I get unexpected funds like those t the mill, I like to spread it around to those that deserve it, some of it, anyway.  Some folds give to charities, I do a bit of that myself.  I also like to help out hard working people that are doing things right.”

Ashling Pane is a woman of many faces and she doesn’t mind exposing them all when the need arises.  One of her best friends just happens to be the President of the United States. After she saved his life twice, his career once, and rescuing his daughter from kidnappers, he has declared that she has free run of whatever she might need or think she might need. Nobody dares say different.  This friendship has helped her accomplish her tasks in more ways than one.  Ash normally works recovering high dollar items for major insurance companies.  Her fees are high but her success rate is even higher, since she never gives up.  On a case where she recovered a famous violin ‘Lady Blunt’ she also recovered a young Russian immigrant, Roz, that was being and used against her will.  After taking her in, Ash discovers the girl’s musical talent affording her any instrument her heart desires to help make up for what she has been through.  Money for that job was good but when Ash is asked to go to Australia to free those being enslaved by a man named Aldridge Ainsworth, the offer becomes more than she can afford to turn down.  The Queen herself is making the request and offering her over $188,000,000 and that doesn’t count whatever she and her team might find along the way. 

As it turns out, Ainsworth has the natives working the mines producing uranium as well as gold and silver.  As the mines and compounds are attacked and the slaves freed, Ash and team find themselves collecting what ends up being several billion dollars in gold, gems, art and money hidden within the compounds.  Even after making the team members rich beyond their belief, Ash still has more than she can ever begin to spend.  Therefore she becomes ‘Robin Hood’ of sorts, taking from the criminals and giving a hand up to the working class. 

Royal Pane Down Under wasn’t a disappointment.  Ash Pane is still the person that you would love to be friends with while hoping that you never get on her bad side.  If she likes you, you will always be in good hands. If she doesn’t like you, don’t step into her path.  She is one macho woman who even the most macho men fear.  This would make a good character for Angelina.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Captured Moments - Ellenelizabeth Cernek, Author

Hungarian Goulash
from the kitchen of Ellenelizabeth Cernek

3 lbs of beef cubes bite size (cooks quicker)
32 oz chicken broth
3 cubes beef bouillon cubes
4 large onions diced
1 head of garlic diced
1 can of tomato sauce (If you like chunky sauces use a can of diced tomatoes, slice onion and garlic on the larger size.)
2 tablespoons Hungarian paprika
2 tablespoons red pepper
3 tablespoons basil
2 tablespoons thyme
3 12oz sour cream

Coat bottom of a large soup pot with oil. When oil is heated add onions, and garlic browning them remove from pot into a separate bowel (you will return them into pot). Brown beef cubes, do it in batches, so you fry the outside of the cubes. Place finished cubes in the bowel with onion and garlic. Continue to brown all beef cubes and remove them all. Pour in chicken broth and clean up bottom of pot to get all the goodness from the fried meat. Return meat, on-ions, and garlic into chicken broth. Make sure all of the meat is covered by the chicken broth, if not add water to cover all of the meat. Add in beef bouillon cubes, bring all to a boil, then lower to a high simmer for about 1 hour. Add tomato sauce, red pepper, basil, and thyme and cook for another hour. When meat is tender, add sour cream and Hungarian paprika cook for another 1/2 hour until sauce thickens).
Best served over egg noodles or a hearty pasta.

My family loves this after it is over night in the frig something magical hap-pens to thicken the sauce even more! Great comfort food in front of roaring fire.

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


Life again and again
Finds only crossroads
Where now and before
Shall turn into a tomorrow.

Worry not in this
Crossroad’s time
For this will always
Pass into a yesterday.

Life again and again
Finds only crossroads,
Where life will again
Be always new.

This has to be one of my favorite.  Each time I read these few words, the more I agree what that they say and mean to me.  We do have a lifetime of crossroads and now does always become tomorrow. 

I’m not big on reviewing poetry due to the fact that what I like you might not like, but Ellenelizabeth Cernek has written ‘songs’ that tug at my heart as well as my spirit.  "Her Beach Reverie" will make you wonder about ‘Neptune’s fury’.  "Empty Space" will have you remembering illusions you believed in at one time.  And then there is "To Remember."  It will bring back the Could-bes, Should-bes and Would-bes.  Captured Moments will keep you stepping in and out of time, life and space.  This is a beautiful book!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Recipe - Joe Parente, Author

The picture is a 2.5 lb trout I caught At
Sunset lake. I live on the lake and caught
 it off my dock. With a long flexible filet knife,
                     I can get two slabs of fish.  Here is how.

You start behind the gill flap and then run the knife to the tail. I repeat this on the other side. What is left are the main bones and the innards of the trout in which the local seagulls love. I then, place the fillets skin down and with the knife, I lay the knife flat and then cut out the belly bones. It's best done by slightly lifting the knife with the sharp side up and slice against the underside of the belly bones. I have never had a 'pin' bone left to worry about. Do not wash the fish. You will eliminate the essential oils and flavor. You can wipe then with the back edge of the knife.

My next step is to put the fillets in a paper bag with three tablespoons of flour or other type of  breading along with a few generous quarter size amounts of garlic powder. Shake the bag so all of the fish is coated. The paper bag helps dry the fish to eliminate any splattering when you fry them in a large pan.

Place the trout skin side down in a hot skillet of olive oil and fry for one minute or when the skin turns golden brown. Gently flip the fish over and cover with foil for about 20 seconds. The foil will steam the rest of the fish and make it oh! so! good!

You can either eat the skin or remove it. I eat the skin with a light touch of salt.  There, you have a boneless delight that is out of this world.

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

“I said I’ll get it for you tomorrow,” Sal said shakily.  “I promise, I will.”  Sweat was pouring down his face.  “I promise you, please,” he pleaded, with both palms facing the men in a useless defense.  “Not good enough, Sal, you had your last chance.  We gotta’ have it tonight.  There is no more time.  Where is the money?  Get up and get it.”  He didn’t move.  “You don’t have it, do you?  You are a liar.  Nobody’s gonna’ lie to me.  You have made the worse mistake of your life, Sal.”  “No, but” – There was a noise coming from the closet and the other man heard it.  Anna must have tripped on some clothing and the sound telegraphed through the closed door…… “Please, you guys, I’ll get the money.  I’ll bring it to you tomorrow.  I’ll bring all of it to the bar plus extra.”  The other man jerked the door open and Sal’s wife fell out……. “Please guys don’t do this.  I’ll do anything you want,” Sal pleaded.  “I told you, it’s too late for your excuses,” threatened Mo, spittle hanging off his lip.  “We have to go for a ride; the boss wants to see you,”  Mo pulled Sal brutally out of bed and shoved him into the hallway….. A few months later, Sal and his wife Anna were found under the railroad trestle, both dead.

Sal and Anna Santorini had a son named Joey.  Thanks to the kind heart of Leonardo Bonino, Joey was taken into his home and treated like a member of the family.  Leo’s own son Frankie and Joey became inseparable ‘brothers’ with both watching the other’s back.  When Leo, who was a widower, decided to remarry Frankie and Joey gained another brother Mario and a sister Christina.  The closeness of the three boys, their desire to protect their sister and the love of Leo and his new wife Colina completed the circle that shaped the Santorini family. 

Trouble started when a man who called himself Whitey came around to collect protection money from the shoe shop that Leo and the boys ran.  Leo knew the larger, more profitable business were being required to pay for what was being called ‘insurance’ against accidents but until Whitey, the smaller business had been left alone.  Determined not to pay, Leo came up with The Recipe.  Anything worth doing right required a recipe in Leo’s books and this one would require the perfect ingredients to make the plan work and his recipe required the help of his three sons. 

I don’t normally read gangster/mob books and seldom read anything written within the time period of the 1930s through the late 1940s.  When I started reading The Recipe I had myself convinced that it was a book that I just might pass on to a friend to read and review for me.  I simply wasn’t interested in reading about the mob taking over the neighborhood and fighting within the mob families.  I have to admit, I was hooked after the first few pages.  Actually reading about the many scams that were pulled surprised me.  Not only were there the protection scams but also the real insurance scams where policies were sold to the soldiers and money collected but no real coverage.  There was the ‘buy your coal in the summer at a discount’ but no coal delivered in the winter.  And one of the worse were those that targeted the widows stating that the deceased owed money on anything from repairs to the house to the purchase of a Bible.  This book really kept my interest.  But the best part was when the boys finally found a way to strike revenge for the death of Joey’s parents.  I must say that they gave out what was deserved. 

What did I not like about The Recipe?  The ending.  It came too quickly.  I wanted to keep reading to see what happened next.  Will they now become mob leaders or will they try to find a way to live their lives like normal families?  I guess Author Joseph Parente will just have to write a sequel so we can all find the answers to my questions.

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