Thursday, September 27, 2012

Gabriel's Chalice - Frank A. Ruffolo, Author

Oven Potatoes with Fennel
(One of Frank's Favorites)

20 ounces Yukon Gold Potatoes, cut in 1/2" cubes
1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed and cut in 1" slices
1 medium sweet onion, diced
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced finely
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven 400 degrees. Spray baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine potatoes, fennel, onion, parsley, oil, salt and pepper. Arrange mixture in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake, turn occasionally, until potatoes are crisp on all sides, 30 35 minutes. Then Serve.

Basil Butter
1 tablespoon fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 cup (or 1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
Stir basil leaves and lemon juice into butter in a small bowl. Spoon into serving container. Store, tightly covered, in refrigerator.
Spread on bread or place a pat on grilled steak, grilled chicken or hot vegetables.
Gabriel’s Chalice – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish
“This is CNN…good morning. We have an abundance of international news to cover today. We will start with Fred Wallace, just outside of Yellowstone National Park. Fred?” “Good morning. As you may remember, Yellowstone Park Rangers closed the park to the public last week. Increased seismic activity, the silencing of Old Faithful, and the sudden draining of Yellowstone Lake have volcanologists very worried. They are monitoring the buildup of underground pressure at the Old Faithful site and also at the now empty lakebed. They fear that an eruption is imminent. They have moved all reporters fifteen miles away from the park.” “Across the globe, things are far from quiet. In Iceland, Eyjafjallojokull is still erupting, and Mount Pinatubo and Mount Fuji in the western Pacific also continue to be active. The Illyinsky Volcano in Kamchatka, Russia, is now spewing ash, and just this morning, Mount Erebus in Antarctica came alive, sending yet another large pillar of ash into the upper atmosphere. With Vesuvius threatening to erupt in Italy and the increasing seismic activity in South American and Africa, we may be in for a very long winter due to all the ash in the sky.”
The year is 2028 and these are just a few of the problems earth seems to be experiencing. The CDC has been dispensed to Russia where a fungus that started by infecting the potatoes has not gone airborne and is now infecting humans. The CDC estimated that over 50,000 people had contracted the disease with a death rate of 40% of those who are affected. This figure will eventually rise into the millions. Then start the miracles. At the space moon lab, Dr. Raphael (Matt) Matteo who holds of a double doctorate in geology and volcanology with NASA, along with fellow crew members from the Moon Base Challenger find themselves involved in the discovery of a cave with an alter that has a chalice sitting on it. As the Angel Gabriel appears to them, they know that the chalice must be taken to earth in hopes of bringing its people together before it’s too late.
I received this book several months ago but when my computer was hacked I thought it was lost. Last week I finished a great accomplishment that took me 2 ½ years to complete. I had promised God and myself that I would read the Bible from beginning to end and Wednesday I finished. On Wednesday morning before I finished reading the Bible I found Gabriel’s Chalice. I picked it up and read the 1st page. It was Revelation 21:10-11 “In the spirit, he carried me to the top of a very high mountain, and showed me Jerusalem, the holy city, coming down out of heaven from God. It had all the glory of God and glittered like some precious jewel of crystal-clear diamond.” The 21st chapter was the chapter I read on Tuesday night before picking. As I read page after page of Gabriel’s Chalice I remembered more and more of what I had read in the Book of Revelations. It was almost as if this book was explaining what I had read and it was meant to be read after my Bible reading.
I would like to make a suggestion to everyone. Read Revelations and then read Gabriel’s Chalice. I truly feel that both books will give you a message that you just might need to complete your own life.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Greatest Book Ever Written

About 2 1/2 years ago I was doing a book signing at one of our local Christian book stores.  When the signing was over I decided to just look around the store before leaving.  I ended up finding a book I couldn't leave without.

My Dad was always a religous person at heart and before he passed he became even more so.  He told me once that he had read the Bible 3 times and that he found and learned something new with each read.  I had never read the Bible from beginning to end so I decided that if Dad could do it 3 times I could do it at least once and I did. 

I made God and myself a promise that I would read a chapter each night no matter what.  In the 2 1/2 years it took me to keep this promise I missed 1 night and to this day I can't remember why.  I took my Bible with me no matter where I went.  When I went to Utah to promote my book my Bible went with me.  When I went to Florida for the release of one of my books, my Bible went too.  No matter what time I came in at night I made sure I read my chapter before going to bed.  I completed my promise on September 19, 2012 and feel very proud of myself.  This is an accomplishment that not everyone can claim and I'm glad to be able to include myself in that group.

I grew up going to church and believing but most of my knowledge came from Bible stories that were told and movies that were made about these stories.  Through my reading I've learned there is so much more.  And that added knowledge has made me want to search deeper.  I'm now reading a book titled The Life of Jesus which with it's history of Jeresuleum as well as Christ is becoming a very enjoyable book that is answering my desire to search deeper.

My challange to you is this.  Pick up your Bible and start on page 1.  Make a promise to read a chapter a night and in 2 1/2 years, write your own review for the Greatest Book Every Written - the Bible.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Bad Choices - Fran Lewis, Author

Devil's Food Cookies
(A Fran Lewis Favorite)
1 package (18-1/4 ounces) devil's food cake mix
2 eggs
2 tablespoons butter, softened
3 tablespoons water
1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, eggs, butter and water (batter will be thick). Fold in chocolate chips.  Drop by tablespoonfuls 2 in. apart onto baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 10-13 minutes or until set and edges are lightly browned. Cool for 2 minutes before removing to wire racks. Yield: 28 cookies.
Bad Choices – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish
Enter the peer – that person who is somehow inexplicably like them; a person who makes them feel comfortable; one who makes them feel like they fit, like they belong; someone – and get this – who when they look at they seem able to see themselves and most importantly what they consider to be their true selves. Therefore, a peer serves as a defining mirror; a living mirror, a person who describes them – defines who they are by being it, living it, in front of them. It must be who they are (they rationalize) because it is they (the Peer Group) with whom they fit best…people with whom they feel most comfortable…a group of people and especially one friend in particular (a BFF) with whom they can relax and act naturally around. They watch these living mirrors and learn all about themselves. If the mirrors change then so do they. If it (the Peer Group) accepts them then they accept themse.ves If, however, it rejects them then they first begin to try harder to please the mirror, mirror on the wall, mimicking its instructive reflection. Or, perhaps, they may come to find that there are other mirrors – other Peer Groups -, which are better suited to help them discover the mystery of “who am I?”
Through Author Fran Lewis’ Bertha books I’ve found that this woman has such a strong care for young people, how they feel about themselves and what becomes of them. In her book Bad Choices she walks us through, of all places, a cemetery as some of the faces behind the stones tell us about the Bad Choices they made that put them where they will be forever. Each case gives the teenager’s point of view about life, what helped develop this view and what they did that brought a true end to your view.
In each case, you the reader can make up your mind as to who is really responsible for the deaths of these young people who never reached the joys of adulthood. Is it the parent’s fault? The pressure applied by their peers? Or could it just be a kid that’s mixed up and really needs medical attention? How as a parent can this be prevented? How do you recognize when there’s a problem? Through Bad Choices you’re given the clues to the puzzle as well as ways to help prevent the puzzle from coming apart. And this all starts from conception! Yes, the very beginning of life! My own kids are grown but I see some of these problems already hitting my own grandchildren. I think this is a book I’ll be sending on to their parents to see if it might help before it’s too late.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Ellen's Gold - James Walker, Author

Shrewsbury Lamb Cutlets

8 lamb cutlets
1 tbs of olive oil
1/4 ib of (button preferably) mushrooms
4 tbs of redcurrant jelly
1 tbs of worcester sauce (do you have that in USA? Its vinegar/malt vinegar based, so I suggest malt vinegar would be an okay substitute)
juice of 1 lemon
1 tbs of plain flour
1/4 to 1/2 pint of stock
seasoning - pepper/salt to taste
dash of nutmeg

Brown cutlets in oil. Slice mushrooms. Place cutlets and mushrooms in casserole. Place jelly, worcester sauce(or equivalent) and lemon juice in a pan and
stir over a low heat for 2 minutes or so and then add the flour and the stock and bring steadily to the boil in order to make a gravy. This can be thickened to
taste by adding a little more flour. Add seasoning, nutmeg and parsley and then pour over cutlets and mushrooms.

Cook @ 325 degrees for 90 minutes.
Ellen’s Gold – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; A Book and A Dish; Think With Your Taste Buds
From its frontispiece it was apparent that the book had been published in Augsburg in 1784. It was so dusty that he wondered if it had gone unread and forgotten for nearly as long. What intrigued him about it though were the words written in English across the cover “two times eight,” not once but three times. It seemed very strange, and when he began to thumb through the book he also discovered the words, again in English, “10 times 10” had been written on a couple of pages. It also looked as if these pages had been glued together and then pulled apart. Further on still he discovered that two pages had been cut out of the book. Then, most surprisingly, he came across a drawing on a blank page. It was clearly a crude map of a locality, which meant nothing to him except that it included a road marked as leading to Erfurt. The book had effectively been defaced, but clearly with some deliberate purpose rather than through mindless vandalism. Suddenly, he felt something lying under the flap at the back of it. To his surprise it was a letter, or part of a letter, for there was no signature, dated 13th December 1813, and written in English.
Max Kelber owned a book shop and when Frau Paulsen offered her large collection of books, he made the trip to her home to take is pick. Among the books he found the mystery book with its puzzling code, map and then a letter addressed to just the name Ellen. The letter, also written in English, gave what appeared to be coded directions to the treasure that was hidden near the town of Erfurt. But who is Ellen and where exactly is the treasure?
Ellen Charpentier lives is from and lives in Paris. Colonel Michael Korsowski is from Poland and is serving under Napoleon in his battle against Russia to recover land that once belonged to Poland. With Ellen and Michael, it was love at first sight and the more they saw of each other, the more they knew they were meant for each other no matter what. Ellen, a widow, was free give her heart to Michael but he was married to a woman who refused to grant him a divorce so Michael became a career soldier as his only means of being out of a marriage that had no love. As the war takes Michael and his troops into Russia, they are able to capture the city of Moscow. Along with the capture they discover riches beyond anyone’s dreams. This, he believes, will be his ticket to a happier life. Even if he can’t marry Ellen, they can take their share of the treasure and go to America to start a new life together. But what Michael nor anyone within his commend counted on was the severity of the Russian winters. As they lost men and horses they were also faced with having to do something with the treasure. This eventually left them with no choice but to bury it with hopes of coming back after the war ended.
Reading Ellen’s Gold was like reading a history book but an enjoyable history book. The battles were clear enough that I felt like I was actually ‘reading’ a movie. I could picture each event in my mind as I read along. I could see the frozen Russian winters, the struggles that Napoleon’s armies had as they tried to survive the cold without food for themselves nor their horses. I could also feel the desire each man had to keep the treasure safe so that when the war was over and he received his share he could start a new life of ease and comfort.
But, if the letter was found years later within a book, was the treasure ever found? Will Kebler search for this treasure for himself? Will any of the men who carried it so far out of Russia live to collect their share? The answers to those questions and more are found within the book which I feel you will enjoy searching for as you read Ellen’s Gold which is really two stories in one; the 1st being the survival of not only the treasure but also Michael and his men. The second story is more of a gothic novel with kidnapping and murder. All-in-all Ellen's Gold is a really top grade book!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Of Time and Place - B. R. Freemont, Author

Tater Tot Hot Dish!  A Midwestern staple

                    1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
                    1 onion, chopped
                    3/4 teaspoon salt
                    1 pinch ground black pepper
                    1 (32 ounce) package tater tots, thawed
                    1 (10.75 ounce) can  condensed cream of mushroom soup
                    1 (10.75 ounce) can  condensed cream of celery soup
                    1 (6 ounce) can French-fried onion rings

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Bake for about 20-25 minutes

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

‘It should be pointed out that after World War Two ended, the country experienced and unprecedented increase in the birth rate.  This was called the ‘Baby Boom.’  It started right after the end of the war and reached its peak in nineteen fifty-seven.  These ‘Baby Boomers,’ as they were known, reached prime retirement age in the teens and twenties of this century.  They were owed Social Security benefits and Medicare, the old age health benefit then in effect.  Both of these programs, especially Medicare, were grossly underfunded.  A few rather futile attempts at reform were attempted.  But, by and large, politicians were not prepared to tackle a controversial issue and waited for the avalanche of retirees to come.  They came, and the government went further into debt to fund these benefits.  By twenty thirty, eighty-five percent of Federal expenditures were to pay debt service and entitlement programs.  That left very little for the military, education, and all the other services people expected.  The rate of inflation increased throughout the decade of the twenties, topping at twenty-five percent, in twenty twenty-eight.  That was a presidential election year.  Americans were shell-shocked and apathetic.  Neither political party seemed to be able to tackle their problems.”

The above is from a class taught by James Lendeman in the year 2062.  I have to say it sounds just about right.  Of Time and Place is written with about a 10 year gap taking you back and forth between the 2050s and the 2060s.  It’s much more than a story of love and deceit but a story of what the world will most like be just a few decades from now.  Cars will become a thing of the past with trains and trams providing the majority of our transportation needs.  Subdivisions will become obsolete due to the lack of vehicles to transport people into the cities.  The search will be on to find ways to bring more fuel resources into not just America but other countries as well from those that still have them.  And jobs will become even harder to find due to the lack of being needed.

Of Time and Place also takes you on a journey from New York, DC, Savannah, Ga and on to Florence and Paris.  You’ll visit places that most of us only dream of and through a description that will make you feel as if you’ve been there. 

The life story of James Lenderman is one that has the common ups and downs.  Love that goes wrong, love found and the undying love of true friendship.  As I read Of Time and Place, I couldn’t help but compare Author B. R. Freemont to another favorite author of mine… Nicholas Sparks.  Their style is similar so if you like one, you’ll like both.  This is truly a touching yet eye opening book.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Dead Man Hand - T. M. Simmons, Author

Granny's Gumbo

A lot of Cajun dishes start with a good roux. True Southern women make their own roux, from cooking equal parts shortening and flour in a large, deep cast-iron skillet for half-an-hour, stirring constantly, until it's a nice dark brown. Men do this, also, since my husband always makes his own roux. However, there is roux mix for sale in lots of stores; some powdered, some in pint jars already cooked (which I like the best). So take your pick, but you'll need about a pint of roux.


½ cup shortening
½ cup water
Stir together and cook in large cast-iron skillet for half-an-hour, stirring constantly

Other Ingredients: 
1 whole chicken
1 lb. smoked sausage
1 lb. crawfish tails (found in the frozen seafood section, if you don't have your own leftovers from a crawfish boil, as we do)
1 lb. medium shrimp (if desired; if no crawfish available, use at least 2 lbs. of shrimp)
1 stick butter or margarine
2 bunches green onions (chopped)
2 large green bell peppers (seeds removed; chopped)
Salt and pepper to taste
Zatarain's Creole Seasoning (to taste, but taste often, can be salty if overused)
Louisiana Hot Sauce (to taste)
Gumbo filè
White rice

Cover the chicken with water and boil, adding more water as needed. Cool. Skin and de-bone, keeping the broth for the gumbo. Tear the chicken into bite-sized pieces.
Melt the butter/margarine in a large skillet. Sauté the onions and bell peppers for about five minutes.
Cut the smoked sausage links on an angle into 1/8 inch thick slices.
Bring the chicken water back to a boil.
Add onions, bell peppers (along with the butter/margarine from the skillet).
Add the de-boned chicken, smoked sausage, crawfish tails, and/or shrimp.
Add the roux mix according to directions. If you use the powdered mix, mix it with the chicken broth, not water. Add more water if necessary. The mixture should be medium thick and a nice, dark brown.
Add salt, pepper, spices, hot sauce (to taste and taste after each add).
Simmer low for at least an hour.
Cook enough rice for six people.
Serve gumbo over rice, along with filè for more seasoning

This makes a scrumptious meal with cornbread

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

“I left it open,” he said in a frantic voice. “Who shut it? We have to get back in there!” I glanced overhead. The transom was closed. The thud of Danny’s shoulder drew my attention, and the door shattered off its hinges. He dragged me after him – straight over under the poor woman’s hanging body – and ordered, “Wrap your arms around her and try to hold her up some.” Stifling my distaste, I did as Danny said. He climbed onto a chair he’d already pulled over beside the woman. Thank the Universe I still had on my coat, so it absorbed any still wet blood… except where my hands touched her bare legs. I also tried to ignore something else I’d only read about in research, never experienced. The poor woman’s bowels had evacuated. Somehow Danny managed to get the rope loose from her neck. Her weight staggered me, but Danny quickly took the burden off me when he climbed off the chair. For an instant, he stared down at the body lolling in his arms, then appeared to control himself and carried her over to the bed, where he laid her down.

Alice is a writer. She is also the proud owner of a home full of paranormal residents. She and her Aunt Twila and friend ‘Granny’ have become quite well known for their ability to talk to ghosts and make them understand that if they won’t go through the light then they will behave or be banned to places where they can’t bother humans. For her own residents she has come up with what she calls ‘The Howard and Alice Ghost Agreement.’ Howard, being her Head Ghost has been put in charge of the other paranormal cohorts within her domain.

Alice received a call from Twila telling her they were to travel to Red Dollar, New Mexico, stay at the Red Dollar Hotel and bring the ghosts there under control so the hotel could sell. It appears the ghostly residents have been causing trouble whenever the real estate agent brings potential buyers by. Furniture has been thrown around, doors slammed, the signs destroyed, all scaring anyone off from wanting to buy. Their job is to create an agreement for the hotel ghosts. So off take Alice, her dog Trucker, her cat Miss Molly and Granny to spend a few days in the beautiful Red Dollar Hotel.

For the travelers, trouble starts in the beginning. There is a storm that has set in delaying Twila’s flight. They get to the hotel only to find a woman hanging in one of the rooms leading Alice to the conclusion she had been murdered since her hands had been removed. A ghost that had appealed to Alice before leaving home suddenly appears again at the hotel. She encounters a ghost that is not only smelly and dirty but also has a mean streak, especially when it comes to cats. Alice’s police ex-husband shows up for what she feels is no reason. And then there is True who was shot in the back of the head after winning the hotel in a poker game over 100 years before. True refuses to pass over and ends up reliving his shooting every night. All of this plus the discovery of a possible black conven working the area have the little group a real fix.

Dead Man Hand is a book I couldn’t put down. The more I read and the closer I got to the end, the more I wanted it to just keep going. I didn’t want it to end. I’ve enjoyed it so much that I must go back and read Dead Man Talking and Dead Man Haunt, the first and second books within this set. Author T. M. Simmons keeps you going with her style of writing.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A Torn Page - The 2012 Spring Short Fiction Anthology

Lactose-Free Pumpkin Pie
(Shared with us by Dan O'Brien)

Using fresh instead of canned pumpkin is a bit labor intensive, but it’s worth it. Plus, the color of a fresh pumpkin pie is bright orange.

Ingredients: 2 cups fresh pumpkin puree
1/3 cup dark corn syrup
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon

prebaked pie shell (if you’re lactose intolerant, check for milk ingredients)

Directions: Wash, deseed, and steam a small pumpkin in a large stockpot. Cook until the flesh scoops away from the skin with a spoon. If you have trouble cutting it when it is fresh, steam it first in a large stock pot. Wait until it cools and the puree in food processor or blender.
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and beat on medium speed for a minute or two. Pour into pieshell and bake 45 minutes or until firm.

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

One of the best parts of reading short stories is that it’s like reading ‘a whole bunch’ of books in one.  I’ve always loved the fact that I can involve myself in so many stories in such a short period of time and A Torn Page is no exception.  The Authors, of which there are too many to list, put the reader into many situations… some make sense, some don’t, some are realistic, some aren’t.  Some are happy, some are sad.  But one thing they all have in common is that they are enjoyable to read.

Silky is the story of a young lady who returns home to her mother after not speaking to her in several years.  Will her mother welcome her with open arms or turn her away.  And what will she do when she is introduced to the baby?

In There Was a Naked Man on the Terrace you find yourself thinking ‘what would I do?’  Call the police?  Ask him to come in?  Or maybe join him?  This one was really quite interesting. 

Remnants is about the town that was.  You ask ‘was what?’  The answer is simply the ‘town that was.’

In Therapy you just might find out that you must be insane to be a therapist.  After reading Therapy I must say it makes sense to me.

And one of my favorites was The Day I Met Jesus Christ.  Possible?  I think so.

Those are just a few of the stories you’ll find in A Torn Page.  This is one of those books that you can pick up, read a story at random and come back a week later and read another.  A Torn Page will have you thinking and even analyzing what you’ve just read and you just might find yourself reading the same story more than once and coming up with a different conclusion each time.

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