Saturday, February 23, 2013

Never Say Neigh - Noah Vail with Mary I. Farr, Authors

Homemade Horseradish
(A Noah special)
8-10-inch long piece of horseradish root
2 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp white vinegar
Pinch salt
1 Remove the leaves from the root and rinse the dirt off of the root.
2 Use a vegetable peeler to peel the surface skin off of the tuber. Chop into pieces.
3 Put into a food processor. Add a couple tablespoons of water. Process until well ground. Be careful to keep fumes and any juice far from your eyes. Keep at arm’s length away, and work in a well ventilated room.
Strain out some of the water if the mixture is too liquid-y. Add a tablespoon of white vinegar and a pinch of salt to the mixture. Pulse to combine.
Note that the vinegar will stabilize the level of hotness of the ground horseradish, so do not wait too long to add it to the mixture
4 Using a rubber spatula, carefully transfer the grated horseradish to a jar. It will keep for 3 to 4 weeks in the refrigerator.
Never Say Neigh - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh,Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish
It takes a long time to train a human. None of this “get them broke in thirty days and into competition by age two” philosophy works with two-legged partners. It takes time and creativity on a horse’s part to get past all those self-assured human ways. In fact, most humans don’t know the difference between a horse problem and a horse lesson. Typically, they think training setbacks begin and end with the horse, though I beg to differ. I once heard a fellow blame his horse’s poor performance on the fact that the horse grew faster on one end than on the other. Now, this revelation caused quite a hoot in the horse community. We never did figure out which end grew faster, the rump or the withers. The gelding looked pretty even on both ends.
So, can Noah train his human owner and talk her into helping him write a book? He has everything it takes to become a good author. He’s a good listener when the other horses talk. Unlike humans, he knows what they want and need. With ‘Madam’s’ help he will surely have a best seller out in no time.
Noah was once a racer who just couldn’t quite make the speed. Madam bought him and took him home to his new home at Evergreen Farm. The accommodations left a lot to be desired at first but before long he was given a nice, spacious room that will end up being sufficient to double as his ‘office.’ That is as soon as he convinces Madam to co-author with him on the book that is sure to open the eyes of every horse lover out there. Who knows, he might even make friends with the other 4 legged animals running around like they own the place… the cat, dog, cows, other horses… and add a few of their comments and stories just in case someone other than a horse lover wants to buy his book. He might even fall in love with that pretty filly rooming across from him and write about her. All-in-all life is going to be just great in his new home with his new owner. If he can just get her trained!
Meet the next 'Mr. Ed.'  You can’t help but laugh as you read Noah’s comments and feelings about anything from dressage to jumping to cattle horses. And his conversations with the other animals such as the mouse will have you smiling and even laughing out loud. This is a very light hearted book that is enjoyable for adults as well as being the perfect book to read a chapter or so to the kids before lights out.

Monday, February 18, 2013

License to Lie - Terry Ambrose, Author

(A Terry Ambrose Favorite)
3 cups nuts (peanuts, almonds & pecans)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds

1/2 cup coconut flakes
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried cranberries or cherries
1 cup chocolate chips


1.  Mix together the nuts, sunflower seeds, coconut flakes, raisins and cranberries or cherries.
2.  Spread the mixture on a baking sheet lined with waxed paper.
3.  Melt 1 cup chocolate chips in the microwave.  Pour the chocolate over the baking sheet in ribbons.  Stir to coat everything.
4.  Let the chocolate cool, then break the mix into pieces and pack it in individual containers.
Serves 12

License to Lie – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish
“You lied about not knowing what Richard was upset about. Did it have something to do with Roxy?” The color drained from Tommy’s face. He grabbed the towel he’d hung over his shoulder and began to wipe the bar. “I-I can’t.” “Richard Tanner may be in some sort of trouble. If you know something, tell me. I won’t tell Roxy. This is in confidence between you and me. You don’t have time to think about it Tommy, she’ll be back in a minute.” Tommy let out a deep breath. “Richard never said exactly what he was upset about, just that Roxy lied to him about something.” “That’s it? Come on, there has to be more.” Skip glanced in the direction of the restrooms, no Roxy yet. Tommy grimaced and crossed his arms over his chest. “Don’t lock up on me, Tommy. We don’t have time for niceties.” “Okay, okay. It has something to do with Roxy’s business. She’s got him totally screwed up. He kept saying something about a scam.”
And boy was it ever a scam. One to the tune of almost five million dollars that Roxy Tanner had swindled from some of her rich ‘investors’ with no intentions of investing nor giving back to them. If there was to be an investment, it was to be in her own future sitting on a beach somewhere in a country where she couldn’t be found. But now her father was missing and she needed help finding him. That’s when she spotted Skip Cosgrove on TV after he had found a missing child and returned him to his parents. This just might be the person to help her find her dad. But this theory changed when those responsible for his disappearance demanded five million dollars ransom for his return.
The last person Roxy had trusted was a man that she met when she was 8 years old. She tried to sell him a fake Rolex and it landed her in more trouble than any child that age should face. Now she was faced with actually needing someone to trust. Maybe Skip would be that person. But how does an con artist trust a criminologist that sometimes works as a consultant for the police. How would he react if he found out what she had done and was planning to do? If he got that close she would have to make dismiss him before he turned her in and she ended up spending the rest of her good years in prison instead of on the beach. But boy was Skip hard to get rid of and hard to forget. Skip also found that Roxy was hard to forget, too.
The adventure, excitement and speed of this story kept me on the edge. I wanted Roxy to find her dad, alive and to give the money back to those she scammed but when the money ended up being transferred from her account to the kidnappers I actually felt sorry for her. She would either have to find a way to recover the money or go to jail for sure. There was no running away with enough stashed away to hide forever. I also felt sorry for Skip who by then had fallen hard for Roxy. He knew in his heart that if she did recover the money she would run so with both of them between a rock and a hard place they end up….. Sorry but you’ll have to read the book to see how they ended up. I can promise you that in doing so you’ll go down a road with more curves than straight stretches. This was a good one!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Ghost Hunting Diary - Volume I - T. M. Simmons, Author

Cucumber-Tomato Side Salad
(I learned to make this years and years ago from one of my aunts. I've seen and tasted various other versions at gatherings or on buffets, but none are prepared like this simple one I make or taste like it. It always goes over very well at our own family gatherings. In fact, when we plan a get-together, one of the first questions I get asked from one son and a few others is: Are you going to make your cucumber-tomato dish?  T. M. Simmons)
Two nice, red, ripe tomatoes
Three-four nice, firm cucumbers
One large yellow onion
One cup cider-apple vinegar
One tablespoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
½ cup sugar (or sweetener to taste)

In an adequate-size bowl or jar, mix vinegar, salt, pepper and sugar and stir briskly. Taste it to see if it is too tart or sweet for your taste, and adjust, if necessary. We like it pretty tart. Set aside.

In a large flat bowl or plastic storage dish, with lid, slice the tomatoes into thin slices.
Peel and slice the cucumbers into slices about 1/8" thick.
Peel and slice the onion into thin slices. Separate the individual layers of onion and add to tomatoes and cucumbers.
Toss the tomatoes, cucumbers and onions together.
Pour the vinegar mixture over the vegetables and cover with lid.
Place in refrigerator at least two hours before you want to serve them.
Approximately every half-hour, stir the contents to make sure the vinegar gets distributed over everything.


Ghost Hunting Diary – Volume I – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish


The Green Room is haunted by a Confederate soldier, but for some reason, he only appears in the summer.  He had been wounded in the Civil War and found his way to The Myrtles, where he died from his wounds.  There are tales of people seeing six red-coated British soldiers carrying a coffin out by the pond.  A lady in white walks around the grounds, and both guests and townspeople have reported seeing her.  The most famous story about The Myrtles, though, is the story of Cloe, the black slave.  Clark Woodruff owned the plantation in the early 1800’s.  By 1982, he and his wife had three children, two girls and a boy.  There was a portrait of Woodruff in the game room, and stories say that people have actually seen tears flowing down it.  In those days the southern plantations were worked by slaves, and at times, the masters took mistresses from the workers.  One of Woodruff’s mistresses was Cloe.  Proud and protective of her status, since it kept her in the house and out of the fields picking cotton and other crops, Cloe intended to maintain her position.  Thus, she tended to eavesdrop in order to store up any information that might assist her.  When caught Woodruff ordered Cloe’s ear cut off and banished her from his bed.


Author T. M. Simmons doesn’t just write paranormal stories; she lives them too.  The ghosts above are just some that she and her Aunt Belle encountered while visiting The Myrtles in St. Francisville, Louisiana, just outside of Baton Rouge.  In her Ghost Hunting Diary Volume I, she gives us a look at what is involved in ‘cleansing’ a room and sometimes even a whole house.  But I think the story that got to me the most was when she and other members of the North Texas Paranormal Research Society visited Goshen Cemetery, just out from Eustance, Texas on of all times of the year, Halloween. 


There have been times in my own life that I’ve felt there were ‘others’ among us but have always brushed this feeling off to excuses such as ‘I’m alone,’ ‘Its Dark,’ or ‘That was just the wind.’  After reading Ghost Hunting Diary Volume I, I’ve just about decided that there is a lot more to these encounters than we realize.  I have a feeling that by the time I get to her 4th Ghost Hunting Diary, I’ll be a true believer.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Confession​s of a Predator Lender - Irma Fritz, Author

(with heel of Parmesan and Hambone)
Wash and sort 1 lb of Great Northern white beans
Bring to boil in large pot in 6-8 cups of cold water (or soak overnight)
Boil rapidly for 2 minutes
Remove from heat and let sit for 1 hr
Return beans to boil; simmer until cooked, but still firm
While beans are simmering:

Chop and fry ½ lb bacon in 1 tsp olive oil in large pan until medium done
Peel, chop coarsely and add 1 carrot, 1 parsnip, 1 stalk celery and cook with bacon
Chop coarsely andadd 1 onion to bacon
Peel, mince and add 4 cloves of garlic to bacon

When vegetables are tender, but still firm:

Add ham bone with leftover ham to soup kettle (or chopped up deli ham)
Add heel of Parmigiano Reggiano
Add cooked bacon and vegetables
Add spices: 4 bay leaves, white pepper, 1 Tsp oregano (no salt needed due to cheese)
Add 1 can roasted, crushed tomatoes
Add 4 diced fresh Romano tomatoes
Add more boiling water if needed

Bring soup back to boil and then simmer gently for 1 hr to melt flavors
Remove hambone, cut off ham and add to soup
Discard heel of parmesan and bay leaves
To serve: top each bowl with chopped Italian parsley and grated Parmesan cheese
Yield: 10-12 servings

Confessions of a Predator Lender – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

“During the eighteen months the Otts have had their home, they have paid only part of the interest and none of the principal. Now, that the reset date has arrived, I’m not surprised that shock and awe has set in. Their new payments will be three, maybe even four, times the amount of the monthly payments they’ve been making. I could explain to Sally that they can’t refinance a house that’s worth less than the amount they owe. I could explain to her that their house is a piece of paper, called a mortgage-backed security, that’s been sold and resold. Their home is identified by a serial number, rather than a family name Whoever owns a share of the Otts’ CDO has never seen photos of Sally, John, Haley, and J. J. And if Big Lou and Steve can’t come up with a viable solution for our bank, very soon I will be in the same position as the Otts.”    (Quote from Confessions of a Predatory Lender)

Lewis ‘Big Lou’ Goode is the CEO of Goode Mortgage Bank. This is the bank his own father created years ago. Now, the bank has branches extending throughout the U.S. But Big Lou wants his bank to grow even bigger. How? By flooding the mortgage lending market with new products, which will allow just about anyone to qualify for a mortgage. With loan products the customer can buy with no money down, without the best credit references, such as the ARM programs, they can pay just some of the interest and none of the mortgage at a lower interest. Then a few months down the road after the new homeowner has had time to build up a little nest egg, the loan will jump up to a higher interest rate. But by then they will be in better financial shape to make the higher payments. This is just one of the products Big Lou has highlighted to his newest graduating class of loan officers. And when he talks about the money they themselves will profit from these sales, greed can’t help but kick in.

Greed is exactly what Christy Palus feels as she climbs the ladder to success. As she and her best friend Megan begin to live their dreams of great cars, clothes and even a houseboat, Christy finds herself betraying, not only Megan, but anyone else who seems to get in her way. She isn’t proud of what she does to rise up the ranks, but does see it as something that must be done. When her very first buyer comes back to her for yet another Big Lou deal, in the form of a cash out loan, and her gut tells her this isn’t such a good idea for the customer, again greed steps in to remind her that the customer is really the greedy one by wanting more.

Then it happens. The housing bubble bursts. The customers can’t pay and the banks are running out of money to loan. The housing market is going down the tubes with no relief in sight. Loans were made, loans were sold, and the housing values are dropping, leaving everyone out in the cold. Will Christy herself survive? Should she survive? Is she the ‘Predatory Lender?’

I’ve seen the events within this book happening all around me. I’ve known young couples who would never have qualified to buy, had the loans been given on the merit of credit, job and stability. I’ve seen them spend the money they saved with lower interest rates, even though they knew in the back of their minds that the rate would soon go up. I’ve seen the stress these financial situations have put on couples, some enough to split them up. And I’ve seen the houses being foreclosed on, due to the rise in their interest rates. But this hasn’t affected just those who have and will lose their homes. It’s affected all of us through the property values of our homes. Even in the condos where I live, there have been foreclosures with the banks selling the property way below the mortgage. With just a few foreclosures within an area, you end up with the decrease of all property around it. Although Confessions of a Predator Lender is a book of fiction, it has opened my eyes, showing me exactly how and why this has and is still happening. It all boils down to one word… Greed. This is a book filled with humor and truth and well worth reading.

Monday, February 11, 2013

'Til the Streetligh​ts Came On - Daniel J. Porter, Author

(A Daniel J. Porter Special)

2 lbs. ground round steak
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
Spice blend
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup milk
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce

Spice blend:
2 tsp. dried mustard
2 tsp. paprika
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 1/2 tsp. basil
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix thoroughly in order given. Top with tomato sauce. Place in 9 x 5 loaf pan. Bake for 60 minutes. Serves 6.
‘Til the Streetlights Came On – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish
6:30 a.m.: The thud of the paper on the front porch – two hours until ‘game time.’ (It took until 8:30 for the morning commute traffic to clear our streets, which would then remain virtually car-free until 4:30 that afternoon.)
7:00 a.m.: The gurgle of your family’s coffee pot churning out its black gold – ninety minutes until game time.
7:30 a.m.: The roar of Mr. Pruschetti’s Plymouth wagon… T-Minus sixty minutes and counting.
Cued by this melliferous morning melee, we headed down for a bowl of frosted something-or-others and listened for a signal from which we drew further indications of what the day held in store. Our communication network was closer to the beating of tribal drums than today’s web of technology. We moved to the sounds of our world with sublime synchronicity. Noises that seemed inconsequential to others were Morse code to our awaiting ears. We simply listened to the world around us – and we knew what to do.
Now those were the days! If you were a kid growing up from the 1950s to the 1980s, you can very possibly relate to this. This was the time when we had no cell phones, no texting, and no computer games. This was the time when we actually ‘played.’ There were organized sports for those lucky enough to live in an area that offered them or if you family could afford to pay for you to participate but for those who couldn’t, your games were organized by those who played. Sometimes it even became the one who had the ball or bat or glove. As to where you played, a lot of times it was in the road or if you were lucky, the vacant lot. Those were the days of not only having real, honest fun but also the days of self teaching and learning lessons that would follow you through the rest of your life.
As Author Daniel J. Porter spreads out his childhood stories, I can’t help but think about the kids of today. As we expand more and more each day into the computer world I can’t help but feel that today’s kids are missing out on so much. Other than technology, what are today’s kids learning? Can a computer game teach them team work? Can a computer game teach them respect for others? Can a computer game teach them to share? Sadly I fell the answer to these questions have to be answered with a no. Yes there are organized sports and events that kids can participate in but the accomplishment of organizing, bring the players together, setting up the rules of fairness and most of all, making those friendships and memories that will last a lifetime can’t be found in a computer game.
As I read ‘Til the Streetlights Came On I took a wonderful walk down memory lane. It also made me feel sorry for the kids of today. They are missing out on so much. Maybe, just maybe, this book will help wake us up and get the kids outside where the real fun begins. It’s a book I recommend be read, especially by young parents.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Suzanne's Kitchen - An A-Z Kitchen Guide - 'Come On In' - Suzanne Rexford, Author

(Suzanne's Recipe was printed in
 Citrus County Chronicle)

* 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
* 1/2 cup milk
* 1/2 pound ground pork
* 1/2 pound ground beef
* 1 egg, beaten
* 2 teaspoons sage
* 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
* 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
* 2 cloves garlic
* Salt and pepper to taste
For the soup:
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 4 cloves garlic
* 1 pound escarole
* 8 cups chicken broth
* 1/2 small onion
* Salt and pepper to taste
Mix the milk and breadcrumbs in a small bowl; let sit 5 minutes. Combine the remaining ingredients for the meatballs along with the soaked breadcrumbs. Mix well with your hands. Form teaspoon-size meatballs and place them on a sheet pan.
Heat 6-quart pan; add olive oil and garlic. Sauté 30 seconds (do not brown garlic and onion). Add the escarole and sauté 5 minutes until it collapses. Add the chicken broth and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Add salt and pepper.
Carefully drop the meatballs into the simmering soup. Do not stir! After 2 to 3 minutes when the meatballs have held their form, carefully stir them. Let the soup simmer for 1 hour.
Suzanne's Kitchen - An A-Z Kitchen Guide - 'Come on In' - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

What is 'Brown Betty?' What is 'Enamelware?' What is 'Gratin?' What is 'Light Beer?' What is a 'Snow Pea?' What is 'Quinoa?' If you know the answers to these questions, see if you can answer a few more. What does 'Cooking in Liquid' mean? What does 'Cube' mean? What does 'Frizzle' mean? What does 'Mince' mean? What does 'Render' mean? Answered these all correctly? Just a few more. Do you know how to purchase 'Corn?' Do you a substitution for 'Corn Syrup?' Do you know how to store 'Limes?' Do you know what needs to be done to 'Meringue' to keep it from shrinking? Do you how to use 'Star Anise?'
If you answered yes to all of these you just may not need this book. I for one have to look some of these up before giving an intellegent answer. I've always heard of Brown Betty and am sure I've eaten it but never really knew what it was. I found a recipe using Quinoa but had no idea what it was, where it came from nor how to cook it. I actually have some Star Anise but had no idea what meats are complimented by this licorice smelling 'pod' that comes from an evergreen that grows in southwestern China and northern Vietnam. And when it came to a substitution for Corn Syrup, I had to look that answer up too and that is where Suzanne's Kitchen came in.
As soon as I picked this book up the first thing that came to my mind was a 'cooking dictionary!' How many times have I needed one of those. Sure, we can all go to the internet but that means logging in to the internet, typing in the main topic of what we're looking for and then sorting through several pages of articles/blogs written on the topic. With Suzanne's Kitchen you simply look it all up within one book. Short, simple and quick. I love this book and as much as I cook I'll never be able to store all of the cooking information within my head that you can find within this one book. This is a book that EVERY kitchen needs, whether you cook a lot or just a little. This one will be used in my kitchen.

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