Saturday, March 30, 2013

Without Consent - Bev Irwin

Maple Oatmeal Hazelnut Shortbread
(A Bev Irwin specialty)
3/4 cup hazelnuts
1 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup packed SPLENDA brand brown sugar blend
2 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp maple extract
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking (not instant) rolled oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
In food processor, finely grind hazelnuts, set aside.
In large bowl, beat butter with SPLENDA until light, beat in maple syrup
And maple extract. Stir in oats and flour. Roll into balls using 1 tbsp dough per ball. Roll in nuts to coat. Flatten slightly, place about 1 inch apart on baking sheets. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until chilled.
Bake in 350 degree oven for about 10 min or until puffed and set. Let cool for 1 minute. Transfer to racks, let cool completely. Makes about 36 cookies.
Without Consent – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish
He probed for the next vessel, clamping and cutting in a similar fashion. The cavity brimmed with blood and he couldn’t see. But now, it didn’t matter. He had what he wanted. He lifted his hand. He felt resistance. A Tiny tenuous cord stretched out of the wound. Another vein. Grasping the scalpel, he carved through the connecting tissue and the organ came free. For several seconds he nestled the coveted organ as if holding a newborn robin in the palm of his hand. Its warmth seeped through his latex gloves. Below his hand, blood surged into the gaping wound. He shot a glance at the woman’s face. Mary Jane, her driver’s license said. How plane. He’d call her Gabrielle. Yes, she was more beautiful than a Mary Jane.
Dr. Claire Valincourt, works the ER at Grace Memorial Hospital. In her worse dreams she never expected to find what she found while jogging to work one evening. A foot, sticking out of the bushes. It was pale and white and Claire sound found, it was attached to a body. A dead body that looked as though it might be a patient that had for some reason left the hospital after having surgery. There was definitely an incision going down the woman’s stomach and the incision had been stitched back together. But why was she in the park and not still in her hospital bed. That’s a question that the police will have to answer.
Detective Gerry Rosko got the call that there was a body found in the park. What he never expected to find was that the woman didn’t just have surgery within the hospital but somewhere unknown. He learned after the autopsy that the sloppy job of her surgery had allowed her to bleed out and she was missing a kidney. Pressure on him was to find the killer but that pressure was increased tenfold when another victim was found in yet another park. As with the first victim, this one had bled out and was also missing a kidney.
Without Consent had me looking over my shoulder as I walked my dog at night. The tension this book puts out as Rosko tries to find a serial killer before he strikes again had me just about biting my nails. Then when it looks like he may go after Claire I was really on the edge of my seat. This is a good one for Criminal Minds to pick up. It’s believable and will scare the heck out of you for at least a few days.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Ghost Hunting Diary Vol II - T. M. Simmons, Author

Southern Bread Pudding and Jack Daniels Sauce:
(I've revised this recipe so you can make it with a little bit less cholesterol and fat.)

Bread Pudding Ingredients:

1 loaf French bread, a day or two old and in 1-inch squares
1 quart skim or 1% milk
3 Eggbeater eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup Splenda granulated sugar
1 cup regular sugar
2 tbsp. vanilla
2 cup raisins (better if you soak them overnight in ¼ cup bourbon!)
1 cup chopped pecans
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg

Cooking spray (I use the type with olive oil)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, soak the French bread cubes in the milk until milk is absorbed. In separate bowl, beat Eggbeaters, Splenda and sugar, vanilla and spices together. Stir egg mixture into the bread mixture. Stir in raisins and pecans. Coat the bottom and sides of a 9X13" baking pan with cooking spray. Pour in bread mixture and bake for 35-45 min. Remove from oven when the edges start getting brown and pull away from pan edges.

Jack Daniels Sauce Ingredients:

½ cup melted butter
½ cup Splenda granulated sugar
½ cup regular sugar
1 Eggbeater egg
1 cup Kentucky bourbon whiskey

In a saucepan, whisk melted butter, sugar and egg well. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until thickens. Don't simmer, or will curdle. Whisk in bourbon and remove from stove. Whisk before serving and pouring over individual servings of warm bread pudding.

Yum, yum!


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

I don’t much care for my days and nights getting mixed up, but since I won’t take sleeping pills unless I’m desperate, I hadn’t taken any this night. Being ghost-sensitive, though, I had realized that the ghosts were fairly active. I’d heard –and felt – someone several times since I’d settled in the room, and been aware of various noises in the rest of the house that couldn’t be explained away as a roaming cat. I’d also encountered the ghost in the bathroom a couple times: that drop in temperature and the skin-crawl sensation of the energy surrounding a paranormal entity. Normally, I don’t bother turning on the light during my nightly bathroom excursions, but due to that fairly strong presence this night, I did. And I’m not too happy with being watched during what should be a private time, but I don’t have much choice around here. I won’t call them pervert ghosts, but the bathroom ones are male.

This is Author T. M. Simmons talking about her own home, which is haunted, especially her spare bedroom which she calls the Molly-Belle Suite and which accommodates her when she can’t sleep and doesn’t want to wake her husband. She normally gets along with her resident ghosts but that’s only due to her ‘laying down the house laws’ to them. But now and then they will ‘test’ her to see what they can get away with.

In Ghost Hunting Diary Vol. II, T. M. Simmons records some of her experiences in both the cemetery as well as a few haunted buildings. Some of these experiences would scare the pants off people like myself yet all are quite interesting and there are even a few that are quite funny. By funny I’m talking about her records of the Naked Ghost which she found in the Baker Hotel. And her description was so that I don’t think I would mind meeting this ‘Adonis’ghost. But the evil ones she encounters within the Goshen Cemetery I think I’ll pass on.

If you enjoy a good ghost story, you’ll enjoy this series of books – Ghost Hunting Diaries. If you’re a believer, you’ll love these stories. If you’re a non-believer, they just might change your opinion regarding ghosts, ghost hunters and the paranormal world. They have made a believer out of me!


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Calm Before the Storm - B. J. Robinson, Author

Chicken Dumplings
(From the kitchen of B.J. Robinson)

1 whole chicken
1 or 2 packages frozen dumplings
½ Tsp. Kitchen Bouquet
½ Tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning

Brown flour and make homemade gravy or take another shortcut and buy three packs of brown gravy mix and a pack of chicken gravy mix.

3 or 4 chicken bouillon cubes
Use onion, garlic, and other seasonings to taste.

If you're from Louisiana, you might decide to sprinkle on some Louisiana Hot Sauce to taste.

I love old-fashioned chicken and dumplings like my former mother-in-law always made, but I love an easy shortcut when I have a taste for dumplings and no time to prepare and roll the dough. I still like to make my gravy for them homemade. Experiment and find what works best for you. This recipe will make a huge pot of dumplings to feed an entire family. We had a large family and one big pot made the meal.

In Calm Before the Storm, my newest romantic suspense, Vera and Douglass agree on something after being apart for years. They both enjoy chicken and dumplings. Want homemade chicken dumplings without all the work of rolling the dough or using drop dumplings, try using frozen dumplings such as Plantation-Style Food Frozen Dumplings. There are other brands, but this one is my favorite. I like the dumplings flat instead of thick. Now, no one I know makes dumplings as great as my former mother-in-law who taught me to cook "the real" homemade ones, but with a busy lifestyle, these serve the purpose. The dumplings taste homemade because everything else is homemade. Prepare your chicken by boiling a hen as usual. You can let it cool and take the skin off, the take the meat from the bone, or you can cut up a whole chicken and boil it, depending on your family's taste. Some people may like white chicken gravy, but I like to brown the flour as I was taught, and I like brown gravy with the chicken taste. Season to taste.

Calm Before the Storm by B. J. Robinson– Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

“We’ve been feeding and medicating her intravenously and trying to get her to eat, but all she does is push food around on her plate. I found toast crumbs in her sheets and the bacon strips she tried to hide. She pretends to eat and thinks she’s fooling us.”

Vera said, “I wonder how long she’s been pretending.”

“Not sure, but she’s down to 60 pounds. If she makes it, she’s going to need help.” Sally patted her shoulder. “There are some wonderful Hospice workers who’ve been in and out sitting with her. I’m sure you’ll meet them shortly. It won’t be long before the doctor is due to make his rounds.”

“Hospice?” Vera’s eyes widened. “I don’t understand. She’s not dying. We’re going to get her the help she needs.”

Sally patted her shoulder again. “Like I said, it doesn’t look good. You need to prepare yourself for the worse, just in case. Short of a miracle, we don’t expect her to make it.”

Vera felt like she was going through the repeat of a nightmare she'd lived six years ago when she watched her mother die in the same hospital where her sister, who was suffering from Anorexia Nervosa, an eating disorder, was being treated. Her sister was all she had left. She'd left their hometown years ago when she found that her boyfriend Douglass and her best friend were seeing each other behind her back. But when she walked into the hospital, there he stood waiting to offer his comfort in any way she might need. And he stayed by her side all the way to the end. Would the shot Nurse Sally gave her sister to help her rest turn out to be the last shot of her life?

It wasn’t until Douglass’ best friend Mark’s wife went into the same hospital for minor surgery and didn’t make it back out, that Vera started putting two and two together and came up with one. Something wasn’t right. Both her sister and Mark’s wife were on the mend and could have lived. What happened to them. They all seemed to never wake up after their last shot was given to allow them to rest. And rest they did, forever.

As I read Calm Before the Storm I thought I would be reading a ‘romance’ or ‘love story.’ I was halfway right. The shock for me came when I discovered that this was also a ‘suspense’/’mystery.’ The love that is reflected between two people as well as their love and respect for God is so beautiful but then the devil sticks his hand into the pot and people start dying. I had a hard time putting this one down and I have to admit that I NEVER guessed the ending.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Show Girls and Aliens - Darrell B. Nelson, Author

Barbecued Reptile
(A Darrell B. Nelson Special!)

The selection of which reptile to cook is the opposite of all other
meats. With birds and mammals you want herbivores, ones that eat plants
and maybe an insect or two. With reptiles you want Carnivores, meat
eaters. The way to figure out which reptiles are meat eaters is to look
at their hides. The rough scaly skin protects them from their dinner
fighting back, if they have smooth skin they eat insects.

Once you've chosen and butchered your reptile, treat the meat like you
would chicken breasts. Have the barbecue at a lower heat than you would
for steaks and cook for longer. Do this because reptiles (like chicken)
can carry some nasty diseases. Make sure the meat is throughly cooked,
tender to a fork and no pink showing and serve.

Reptile meat has a distinct favor that many people enjoy. Barbecuing
brings out this flavor the best. For the BBQ sauce most people recommend
the smoke and vinegar flavored sauces rather than the tomato flavored
sauces. But your individual taste may vary.
So if you happen to find a Reptile Overlord that has been enslaving
humanity since the dawn of time, throw them on the grill and enjoy a
great picnic.
Showgirls and Aliens  - Guest Review by Matthew Morrison
Surely, Darrell B. Nelson must have abducted Whitney Strieber, Carl Hiaasen, and Larry Flint together, force fed them lysergic laced pizza for days before recording their collaborative ramblings to produce his next offering: Showgirls and Aliens. Nelson's latest story is a hippie trip of swirling vortices. Who else could combine the black latex logic of 1983's TV series "V", the comical hysteria of aliens run amok found in the first MIB, and a stripper with a heart of gold? Now, add a bouncer with a paladin complex and an ancient bisexual reptilian alien overlord with an ovipositor the size of a Mack truck, and you begin to wonder if the brownie you are munching on tastes a little 'green.' Nelson's imagination streams off the page in multi-colored trailers only to be chased by the chrome gnats of horror from his sophomore effort in the "Vekman Series."
PS - Darrell, I found this amusing anecdote shoved on a shelf in a local Florida food co-op next to the homemade brownie mix and the patchouli spritzers.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Olivia's Gift - Nancy Carabio Belanger, Author

Grandma's Lime Gelatin Surprise
(Feeds a crowd!)
1 large or 2 small packages lime gelatine
1 can (20 oz.) pineapple pieces not drained (You need
  1 cup of liquid here.  You may have to add water to make
  1 cup of liquid)
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 cup ginger ale
2 cups boiling water
Mix 2 cups boiling water with gelatin and dissolve completely.  Add softened cream cheese to ginger ale and mix well.  Add mixture to gelatine.  Add undrained pineapple and juice (1 cup), mix well.  Refrigerate until firm.
Olivia’s Gift – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish
“He set before me a book of nature; I understood how all the flowers He has created are beautiful, how the splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not take away from the perfume of the little violet or the delightful simplicity of the daisy. I understood that if all flowers wanted to be roses, nature would lose her springtime beauty, and the fields would no longer be decked out with little wildflowers. And so it is in this world of souls, Jesus’ garden. He willed to create great souls comparable to lilies and roses, but He has created smaller ones and these must be content to be daisies or violets destined to give joy to God’s glances when He looks down at His feet. Perfection consists in doing His will, in being what He wills us to be.” - St. Therese
Olivia Thomas has loved and cherished her books of her favorite saint St. Therese of Lisieux for a long time now. She follows St. Therese’s ‘little ways’ in everything she does, or at least she tries. But things are about to change for Olivia when her family are invited to spend a whole month at her Aunt and Uncle’s house on the beach. The house is beyond beauty, in Olivia and her friend Hayley’s eyes as they see it, the ocean and the kids that reside around it. The surrounding houses as well as the people inside those houses all have one thing in common – money, and lots of it. That is except for Olivia and her family. In fact, her family may have to really start ‘pinching pennies’ due to her dad being laid off and not really sure when he’ll be called back to work. But for now, they will enjoy a full month of living in a beautiful home by the ocean.
Like St. Therese, Olivia strives to do what’s right. She treats people the way she would like to be treated, shares with everyone and never lies. She’s even started a project of saving her money to sponsor a young girl’s family in Guatemala. But that is all about to change as Olivia and Hayley meet their next door neighbors Brooke and Brandon. Two kids whose family has given them everything they could ever dream of – but love, attention, discipline, rules. They basically do as they please, not caring who nor what is hurt in the process. And meeting these two has put Olivia into a position of shame. Shame that her own family has no money but does have rules that in order to fit in Olivia must lie about owning her Aunt and Uncles home, traveling around the world and being a ‘little rich girl’ that goes to a private school. She must also use the money she has saved for her project to buy things she doesn’t really need just to fit in. But we all know that sooner or later our lies and actions catch up with us. So what does Olivia do to mend her ways? That’s a question you’ll have to find out by reading Olivia’s Gift.
Olivia’s Gift is a book that EVERY young girl needs to read. The positions Olivia and Hayley find themselves in are positions I feel sure they can all relate to. I know I could and I’ve been grown for a long time. These situations never change from generation to generation. They are always there and hopefully Olivia’s Gift is a book that will help young girls understand the ‘whys’ as well as the’ what to dos’ when faced with the decisions Olivia had to face. I highly recommend that every parent with a daughter of reading age present her with a copy of Olivia’s Gift. I also recommend that the parents read it too so they can be there to help their daughter through this hurdle in their life.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Willowtree - Mike Bove, Author

Eggplant Caprese
 (mentioned in Willowtree)

1 med. eggplant (serves 2)
1 med-large tomato, diced
Fresh Basil, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste
Olive Oil

I do not measure these ingredients. More or less depends on your taste. I like a handful of basil and two cloves of garlic.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Wash and cut eggplant in half, lengthwise.  Cut out eggplant leaving a "boat" with walls about 1/4".  Dice the removed eggplant.  Heat oil in a skillet.  Add eggplant.  Heat on Med. for 5 minutes, stirring often.  Lower heat and add garlic.  Cook for 3 minutes.  Mix tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper, cheese and eggplant in a bowl.  Put into "boats".  Sprinkle with more cheese on top.  Bake 12-15 minutes to melt cheese.

Willowtree – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish
Friday, September 24. Exactly three weeks ago Keely and I found a dead body near the golf course. How did that discovery affect my life? It became one-major third of my life. My wife, Genevive, and my golf game, were the other two thirds. I tried to keep them in order, Genny first. These damn murders kept intruding into my consciousness. I didn’t know how the police measured their progress in solving the cases. It seemed I found out information as fast as they did, not fast enough. I was sure the three deaths were related. And the La Banda, and jimsonweed connected them. I had to get over this obsession. I was more resolved than ever to do what I could to put these cases to rest. I wished to get back to my life with two major halves, not thirds.
In the town of Willowtree, a man was killed. It appeared he had fallen off a cliff. Did he fall by accident or was he murdered? Years later Bruce and his dog Keely find another body. It too had fallen off a cliff, or had it been pushed? Within days another body is found. This one has been stabbed leaving no doubt that his death was murder. The connection between these three deaths – the La Banda club that had been formed when all of its members were still in school and a plant called jimsonweed, better known by the Indians as ‘loco weed.’
Bruce is a retired postman. He tired of the working world and retired with the aspect of doing his favorite pastime – playing golf. He and his friend Ben, who was also the brother of the first man to take a plunge over the cliff, spent most of their days trying to outdo each other on the course and thoroughly enjoying this new aspect in his life. That was until he found the body of the second cliff jumper. That is also when Bruce took up a new profession. He became an amateur detective decided to help speed up the progress of the police as they tried to solve the deaths of what soon became three murders.
This is one of the most light-hearted suspense/murder mysteries I’ve read in a long time. The camaraderie between Bruce, Ben and Bruce’s wife Genny is priceless. And the ending – well I’ll just say that I didn’t see that coming. I hope this will be just the first of many more books to come from Author Mike Bove and his team of Bruce, Ben and Genny.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Dimensions In Time - Lawrence Johnson, Sr.

Shrimp Salad
(less fat – less carbs.)
2 1/2 cups Elbow macaroni (low carb.)
2 tablespoons Dijonniase mustard
2 Eggs (large) boiled
2 stalks Celery (diced)
2 pounds Shrimp
3 tablespoons Lemon juice
4 tablespoons Mayonnaise (low fat)
½ teaspoon Salt
½ teaspoon Pepper (white)
1 teaspoon Onion powder
1 teaspoon Garlic powder
Cook macaroni, drain and let cool. Cook shrimp, peel, devein and cut into half's or thirds depending on size. In a large mixing bowl combine macaroni, oil, shrimp, celery, eggs and stir.
Add Hellmann’s Mayonnaise and Helmann's Dijonnaise then stir again.
Add remaining ingredients stir. This dish may be served warm or chilled.
Original recipe by Larry Johnson – The Budget Gourmet
Dimensions In Time - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish
'Aunt Judy gave him a smile as she walked over to the old desk near the window. She reached into the bottom drawer of the battered oak desk and pulled out a cigar box and tattered dog-eared copy of the novel Journey to the Center of the Earth. The elderly woman handed the book and cigar box to her nephew.'
Uncle Joe was Eddie's favorite. Most people considered him a bit 'odd' but Eddie could never get enough of his stories about flying horses, dragons and elves. He would be surely missed by Eddie but at least he had something to remember him by, his cigar box and book, or at least that's what he thought until later that night, when he actually opened the box and found it contained an old map and a silver ring with a sapphire stone in the center. His mind raced and his heart beat faster than normal. "A treasure hunt. What was Uncle Joe trying to tell me?" Eddie asked himself.
Well, being like his Uncle, Eddie knew there was only one way to find out. Take the map and find the 'treasure.' The trip would take him to the Amazon and since Eddie's brother Michael was getting married soon, this would be the perfect trip for the two of them to make before he took on the life of a 'married man.' What he didn't expect to find when arriving at the spot described on the map was a second Stonehenge, flying horses and little people. He also never expected to be given the chance to change the outcome of one of the greatest disasters of his time and save hundreds of lives.
I've read several of Author Lawrence Johnson's books and this short story e-book will take you on a journey through time that only he can do. It's a great quick read for those who love a little adventure in your life, like I do.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A Teacher Grows in Brooklyn - Albert Mazza, Author

Bagel Dip
(Perfect Recipe for a man from NY)

Mix together:
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 5 ozs corned beef (thinly sliced deli, chopped
  • 1/4 cup onion (chopped)1 Tbsp fresh parsley (minced)
  • 1/2 tsp seasoned salt
  • 2 tsps prepared horseradish (optional)
Cut up 4 bagels into bite-size pieces for dipping.

A Teacher Grows in Brooklyn – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish
‘At the village we were greeted by our hosts and tribe members. My girls were again paired with one family and I was to be hosted that night by Susan. Her home was a block building with “outside plumbing.” A hand pump brought rain water into a small kitchenette. There were two rooms in the building. Susan was young, pretty, and blonde. She was given a guard at night to discourage the tribe’s young men. The Kalenjin were more advanced than the Luo, but the Peace Corps did not want any incidents with their volunteers. My new host, Edward, was slightly older than I was. He had fourteen children ranging in age from five to twenty-three years. His family occupied more than four buildings: sleeping quarters for the younger children, a larger building with a bedroom for him and his wife, and a living/dining room with a television set. I hardly saw his wife, who spoke only Swahili. Much of her time was taken up shopping and cooking in a typical cooking hut that had a chimney and an overworked fireplace that seemed to turn out food twenty-four hours a day. Edward told me that all his children will go to college. His eldest son was already married and a teacher. He was very proud to be a grandfather. Edward was also proud that he was a wealthy man with a healthy wife, many children, and a very productive tea plantation.’
Al Mazza grew up in Brooklyn and later went into the field of education serving many roles but with his most important one, in my opinion, as a creator of a student exchange program. He and his students traveled throughout the world learning the cultures as well as some of the languages, but most importantly earning the friendship of those within their travels. The experiences learned by teacher and students are priceless and could never be learned, taught nor ‘felt’ without this program. Teacher and student traveled to Japan where they took a trip to Mt. Fuji on the “Bullet Train.” They visited Belfort, which is famous for the Statue of Liberty design. They viewed the beauty of the Pyramids at Giza. And these were just a few of the trips allowed over the years for those students lucky enough to qualify for the exchange program. During their stay in the different countries, the students actually lived with their host family and attended the schools. In exchange, students from the host countries were treated to the same experiences within the United States.
What I can really express about my feelings while reading A Teacher Grows in Brooklyn is that I envy those who were treated to these experiences. The knowledge and memories can be nothing but grand. I would have loved to be a part of this program but since I wasn’t I do appreciate being able to read the memories and stories shared with us by Albert Mazza.

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