Monday, June 24, 2013

A Cloud of Witnesses - Joan S. Hickey, Author

Apple Pie a la Mode
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
6 to 7 cups thinly sliced peeled tart apples
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Pastry for double-crust pie (9 inches)
1 tablespoon butter
1 egg white
Additional sugar
In a small bowl, combine first 6 ingredients and set aside. In a large bowl, toss apples with lemon juice. Add sugar mixture; toss to coat.
Line a 9-in. pie plate with bottom crust; trim pastry even with edge. Fill with apple mixture; dot with butter. Roll out remaining pastry to fit top of pie. Place over filling. Trim, seal and flute edges. Cut slits in pastry.
Beat egg white until foamy; brush over pastry. Sprinkle with sugar. Cover edges loosely with foil.
Bake at 375° for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake 20-25 minutes longer or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool on a wire rack.
Yield: 8 servings.
Top with ice cream
A Cloud of Witnesses – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish
***I am the seventh of seventeen children, from a working-class, Midwestern Catholic family.  In my teenage years, the tension of alcoholism and depression brought my family to its knees.  My parents fought constantly about money.  Teenage brothers and sisters, one at a time, ran away from home.  My fifteen-year-old younger sister, Lisa, got pregnant.  My eighteen-year-old older brother, Charlie, who was smoking a lot of weed and dropping a lot of LSD, got shot in the back hitchhiking home at 4 a.m. through the ghetto and became crippled.  My father’s depression and drinking led to the loss of his job.  When my family defaulted on the mortgage to our house, we sold our furniture on the front lawn in the middle of January, packed our remaining belongings into a U-Hall truck, and made our way out west for a new start.***
***Inside I was dying.  The alcoholic family’s code of silence and denial worked in tandem with teenage male conditioning in a toxic way.  I was deeply depressed by all that was happening at home.  I struggled with a tremendous sense of shame.  I had no way to access my own needs and feelings, much less the ability to articulate them or to ask for the help I desperately needed… This whole time was a death-of-God experience for me.  The God of my childhood, with whom I had bargained to save me and my family, was now officially dead.***
This is a story that is lived by many others but seldom told.  How can a person expect to live through circumstances so negative and still come out with a positive attitude?  How can they be expected to go through the heartbreaks and horror and still have Faith?  How can they be expected to even believe that the is a real God?  ‘As a young boy Jesse felt called to be a priest.  Part of this was a real sense of piety.  He truly felt a love for God.  The Holy One was the only one he could count on amidst the emotional and physical violence of his family.  At the same time, religion was a socially sanctioned way to escape from the chaos’…  Even though his faith and beliefs faltered over the years, he experienced his own ‘miracle’ that kept him seeking and eventually becoming what God meant for him to be.  He is a board-certified chaplain who works with pediatric oncology patients and their families.
Jesse’s story and many others are shared with us in this wonderfully uplifting book A Cloud of Witnesses.  As I read each story I allowed myself to drift into a state of ‘meditation’ and be there for each Godly experience.  The inter peace and tranquility that I received was through each testimony can only be described as beautiful.  I have several friends who are cancer patients and this is a book that I fully intend to pass along to them with hopes that they too will receive the messages being shared by those within this book who experienced them.  I can only say thank you to the author Joan S. Hickey for bringing these words together.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Escape From Paris - Carolyn Hart, Author

Corn Sausage Casserole
(WWII recipe which I found on Carolyn Hart)

BEAT 4 eggs well. Thoroughly blend in 1 No. 2 can cream style corn (2 1/2 cups). 1 cup soft bread crumbs (packed in cup), 1 lb. sausage meat, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/8 tsp. pepper. Pour into greased 8-inch round open-faced casserole. Spread 6 tbsp. catsup over the top. Bake 50 to 60 minutes in a moderate oven (350°). 6 servings.

Escape From Paris - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

***If he didn’t hurry, they were going to be caught. That sergeant would walk down the road in a little while to see why she was taking so long. Why didn’t the Englishman hurry? Why had she said she would take him? Why had she been such a fool? If the soldiers searched the car at the gate…Linda shivered uncontrollably although the late August heat baked the little car, making the leather so hot that her blouse and skirt clung wetly to her. Still she shivered. She tried again to light the cigarette. The lighter clicked. The pinpoint of flame wavered but she held it to the cigarette, drew deeply. Dear God, why didn’t he come? Her hand reached out, touched the key in the ignition. All she had to do was turn the motor on, put the car in gear and be on her way. She would stop at the gate and show her papers and she wouldn’t have to be afraid. The Red Cross pennant on the windshield was her protection. The pennant wouldn’t protect her if they found an English soldier hidden in the trunk. She turned the key in the ignition. Why should she take such a frightful chance?***
Eleanor does volunteer work with the Red Cross taking small packets of food to the prisoners being held in the hospitals by the Germans before they move them on to the prisons. Linda is Eleanor’s sister. Today’s visit to Douellens had been scheduled for a week or more. When Eleanor was up all night with a toothache, Linda volunteered to go in her place. Linda hated sickness – and wounds – and hospitals – and she was dreadfully afraid of the Germans. You see, there is a war going on and the Germans have taken over Paris. What Linda had not expected was to have one of the English prisoners ask her to help him escape. After helping just one English pilot escape, Eleanor, Eleanor’s son Robert and Linda find themselves becoming an important link in the chain as they helped others find their way out of Paris and hopefully on to safety.
I’ve read many of Author Carolyn Hart’s books and will read every one I can get my hands on. I love her style of writing, as she always seems to add drama along with humor. But this book was different. I had no idea that this author could write such a wonderful piece of history. I’ve never been a fan of WWI nor WWII history. When I picked up this book to read I didn’t think I would make it through to the end. I was so wrong! All my life I’ve read and heard about the Jews during WWII but never have I read nor heard much about the treatment of the people by the Germans in other countries. Carolyn Hart makes you see the brutal punishments, torture, and deaths of those who even spoke against them. She takes you into the torture rooms and gives you enough of a description that you knew what had to have gone on there. She takes you to the prisons where the women are held and exposes you to their treatment or should I say lack of it. You become so engrossed with the characters that you feel as if you actually know them on a 1st name basis. And she scares the heck out of you as you follow them through their lives as underground links. I had a very hard time putting this book down. I wanted it to end so the torture would end but I didn’t want to stop reading. This is a wonderful book of history.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

81 BBQ Chicken Recipes - Sharon Ray, Author

Pepsi Chicken Barbecue
(From Sharon Ray’s BBQ Chicken Recipes Cookbook)

  Serves: 4
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Marinating time: 8 hours
Cooking time: 15 minutes  

2 Lbs. chicken – boned and skinless  

3 c. Pepsi 1
1/ 2 tsp. garlic
2 tsp... Rice vinegar
2 tbsp. Smokey paprika
2 tsp. salt
1 1/ 2 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. sugar  

Dry Rub
1 c. brown sugar
1 1/ 2 tbsp. kosher salt
1 tbsp.   Garlic powder
1 tbsp. Smokey paprika
1 tbsp. cayenne pepper
1 1/ 2 tsp. onion powder  

1. Prepare the marinade. Simply mix all the spices together.  
2. Put it in a re-sealable plastic bag. Add the chicken and then add in the Pepsi and rice vinegar.   3. Refrigerate and marinate for at least 8 hours, turning the chicken occasionally.  
4. Prepare the dry rub. Simply combine all the dry rub ingredients together.  
5. Take out the chicken and rub the spices on the chicken.  
6. Grill for about 6 to 8 minutes or until the chicken is firm and the juice runs clear.  
7. Serve along with potato salad and marinated cucumber, if preferred.
BBQ Chicken Recipes  - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A book and A Dish
I seldom eat red meat but live off chicken and fish so this book was right up my alley.  The recipes included in BBQ Chicken Recipes – the Best BBQ and Grilled Chicken Recipes allow it to live up to its name.  The one above has to be my favorite.  The chicken comes out juicy and tender.  It is seasoned just a bit ‘hot’ for me but I can always cut down the cayenne pepper in the marinade and dry rub. 
Another favorite is the Oven Steamed BBQ Chicken Quarters with Sweet & Tangy Sauce.  The chicken cooked with onions and lemon made a beautiful blend but it’s the sauce that got me.  A mixture of vinegar and mustard mixed with onions, garlic, Worcestershire sauce and chili powder and topped off with tomato puree and apricot preserves to give it the perfect blend of sweet and tangy.  And those are just two of the delicious recipes that I’ve had a chance to try, so far.  Next I want to try Grilled Chicken Quesadillas and the BBQ Chicken with Easy BBQ sauce.  This one sounds like something that could become a quick go to dish on the grill when needed.
So, if you like chicken as much as I do and love yours cooked on the grill or even in the oven, this is a must have book for your own kitchen.  I’m sure enjoying mine.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Ghostly Justice - Bev Irwin

Golden Peach Pork Chops Recipe
(Bev's favorite Slow Cooker Dish)

1 can (29 ounces) peach halves
5 bone-in pork loin chops (1 inch thick)
1 tablespoon canola oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
1/4 cup cider vinegar

Drain peaches, reserving 1/4 cup juice (discard remaining juice or save for another use); set fruit and juice aside. In a large skillet, brown pork chops on both sides in oil; transfer to a 3-qt. slow cooker. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon and cloves. Add the tomato sauce, vinegar and reserved peach juice. Pour over the chops. Arrange peach halves over the top. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until the meat is tender.

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

***I watched until they turned the corner at Colburn Street.  Then the energy vanished and a profound sadness filled me.  Even playing the piano held no joy that day.  I have to talk to her.  But how?  I gave up trying to contact the living years ago.  It became so tiresome – appearing in front of them, touching them, talking to them, yet never being noticed.  Until now.  Every day, I watch for her.  Every day, I try to make contact.  Every day I plead for her to look up at my window again.  Two weeks have passed now.  And every day, she hurries past; her gaze focused on the street ahead.  I must talk to her.  Daira is the first person I’ve been able to communicate with since the day I was murdered.***

Daria Brennan is your typical 15 year-old, or at least she thought she was until she discovered that she could see ghosts.  Her first sighting was of a young woman in the upstairs window of an old house she passed every day going to school.  At first she thought it might be her imagination since the house was empty.  The woman who lived there had fallen and been taken away to recuperate in a rehab center.  Maybe someone had broken into the house.  Whatever it was she knew that every time she walked past the house she felt a chill.. [1]  Then came the voices.  Someone calling her name when there was no one there.  This became more frequent after she and some friends broke into the house to have a place to be together. 

As the visits to the house grew more frequent, so did the voice in her head begging for her help.  The ghost she was seeing and talking to turned out to be Amanda the daughter of the old lady who owned the house.  She had died 40 years earlier and Amanda needed Daria’s help t her remember how and why.  As Daria researched Amanda’s death she found that the police had ruled it as a suicide.  But as Amanda’s memory started coming back she knew it wasn’t suicide but murder. Daria was the only one to help her prove it and to help her put the person responsible away.

Ghostly Justice was a really enjoyable mystery.  I had no problem coming up with who murdered Amanda but I had a problem guessing how he would be caught.  I also had a problem guessing why Daria and Amanda looked so much alike.  Daria was born 40 years after Amanda’s death but their birthdays were the same month and day.  Had to be a connection but what?  I really enjoyed this book and there are a couple cuss words, not really bad ones, but I can see this being an enjoyable read for ages teen to 90.  I loved it and hope to hear there will be other chapters in Daria’s life that will be put to words.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

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

Southern Fried Chicken and Gravy
(One of T. M. Simmons' favorite dishes)

1 cut-up chicken
3 cups flour
2 tbls. corn starch
1 tbl. baking powder
½ cup canola oil
1 can condensed milk
Salt and pepper

Lay chicken in sink and sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper to taste. (If you want, you can freeze the back for noodles later rather than cook it.)
Combine flour, corn starch and baking powder. Shift together.
Heat oil in large iron skillet to high heat.
When oil is ready, dredge chicken pieces in flour mixture and add to oil. (Save flour mixture for gravy.) Cook each side until nicely browned, then lower heat to medium low and finish cooking, turning often so chicken doesn't burn.
When done, remove chicken from skillet and drain on paper towels.
Pour off excess oil until there is only a thin layer in the bottom of the skillet, leaving in any small pieces of chicken or skin that came off during cooking.
Turn heat back up to medium high and sprinkle 3-4 tbls of flour mixture into oil.
Stir until flour begins to brown.
Turn heat down to medium and pour in one can of condensed milk, stirring as you add it. Add water if gravy is too thick.
When gravy is thickened, turn off heat and serve it with your fried chicken and mashed potatoes. Yum!

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

***Billy and Lucy York had been to Goshen Cemetery once previously with two other ghost hunters. From what they told me, I wanted to visit this historic graveyard myself.  I wasn’t deterred by the rumors and tales abounding about Goshen, nor by the fact invitations to a few other paranormal investigator friends to join us were turned down flat.  Word about evil entities and how dangerous Goshen could be had spread through the paranormal community for years.  Perhaps I should have been more forearmed, but hindsight is perfect vision.***
Reading this Author’s diaries has been quite fascinating to me and as soon as I finish one, I can’t wait to read the next.  Her experience in the Goshen Cemetery would have scared the heck out of me but what happened as they were leaving would have probably given me a heart attack. 
As her diary went on through other outings, I was drawn to wishful thinking when she told about her short chat with a Dr. Griffith who was examining her ‘horseless carriage’ one night while she was visiting a friend.  That’s one event I think I would have enjoyed after my heart rate slowed down just a bit. 
The Ghost Hunting Diaries all take you into what most of us can call the unknown.  For T. M. Simmons, it has become the purpose of her life to deal with those who haven’t passed over yet and to encourage them to make the decision to leave their ‘unlife’ for a peaceful one on the other side.  But all isn’t fun and games when it comes to ghosts.  Some are humorous and enjoy playing jokes while others are quite evil and enjoy wreaking havoc on those around them.  And some are simply demonic and quite dangerous.
This is the third Ghost Hunting Diary that I’ve had the pleasure of reading and as I said, I can’t wait to dig into Volume IV.  If you like a good ghost/sprit story, you won’t want to miss T. M. Simmons’ own personal accounts of being a paranormal investigator.  They have sparked my interest.

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