Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Apocalypse Calendar - Emile A. Pessagno, Jr., Author

(Alice is Emile Pessagno's wife)
1 4 to 5 pound beef brisket.
2 packages of dry Lipton’s Onion Soup Mix.
Place on heavy duty aluminum foil. Sprinkle with dry Lipton’s Onion Soup Mix all over brisket. Place on foil with fatty side up. Fold edges and seal well. Bake at 300 degrees for 3 to 3 ½ hours.
The Apocalypse Calendar – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish
Felipe said, “When we visited the shrine to the Virgen de Montserrat in the Sierra Crullas, we saw a strange diagram carved into the limestone wall of the small cave. It showed a pyramid with a flying-saucer-like object in the pyramid’s center. There was a knob-like structure at the top of the disk, which seemed to depict beams of light radiating out from it. There was also an arrow that pointed to the south. We asked the natives what they knew about the diagram. They claimed that it had always been present in the cave, long before the Virgen de Montserrat made her appearance.”
Felipe, is part of Professor Frank Miller’s Geology team that has descended deep into Mexico to do research on the rocks and faults to provide proof as to how the continents were shaped. During their trip they discovered not only the markings on the cave walls but also a find that would change the world as we all know it today. They found what was believed to be Moctezuma’s Treasure, which consisted of a limestone box with a disk inside, the same disk that they had found drawn on the cave walls.
The team brought their find back to the states for testing and to determine what the disk was made of as well as the green ‘rock’ that was imbedded within it. Tests proved that the materials were not created on earth but, as the Indians’ stories go, was apparently something that was brought to earth by aliens.
As harmless as the disk appeared, it wasn’t until Professor Miller’s grandson turned a knob, causing the green stone to emitted light, that all earth began to change. The end of earth was on the threshold and no one knew how to stop it.
As I read The Apocalypse Calendar I couldn’t help but stop and think about the changes in earth’s weather. Our seasons are changing. Normally cold weather has reached warm weather areas. Dry areas have received an abundance of rain. We’ve had earthquakes and volcano irruptions in areas that have been quiet for years. So could the Apocalypse Calendar be real? Can the events that take place, such as global warming, be caused not by humans but by the shifting of our earth? After reading this book I’m starting to wonder, as Professor Miller puts it, if Mother Earth is ridding herself of her problem inhabitants and preparing to start over again just as she did with the dinosaurs. This book is so full of history, education and the possibilities of earth’s future that it actually scared me and I loved it!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Talon on the Wing - Gigi Sedlmayer, Author

Semmelknödel    Dumplings
Semmelknödeln sind die ideale Beilage zu saftigen, sossigen Hauptspeisen.
Sie nehmen z.B. den Bratensaft gut auf und vermischen sich geschmacklich sehr gut mit dem Hauptgeschmack.
Mit diesem einfachen Rezept sollte es auch Ungeübten gelingen, leckere Semmelknödel selbst zu kochen.
Zutaten:  Ingredients:

(für 6 - 8 Knödel) -  ( for 6 – 8 )
6 Semmeln (Brötchen) vom Vortag  -  (6 buns form the day before)
1/8 l Milch (heiß)  -  (1/8 l milk)
1 kleine Zwiebel  -   (I small onion)
30 g Butter oder Margarine -   (30 gr Butter or Margarine)
2 EL gehackte Petersilie (glatt) -   (2 spoons parsley)
2 Eier  -  (2 eggs)
Muskatnuß gerieben  - ( nutmeg, shaved)
Pfeffer gemahlen   -   (Pepper)
Salz   -   (salt)
etwas Mehl   -  (some flower)
Zubereitung:   -   (Method)
Semmeln in dünne Scheiben schneiden und mit heißer Milch übergießen.
(Cut buns in thin slices then spill the hot milk over it)
Zwiebel in Würfel schneiden und in der heißen Butter oder Margarine glasig dünsten.
(Cut onions finely then roast in the butter or margarine.)
Petersilie kurz mitdünsten.
(Put the parsley with it)
Gedünstete Zwiebel/Petersilie unter die Semmelmasse mischen, die Eier untermischen, etwas ziehen lassen und anschließend kneten.
(Mix the onions into the buns mixture, then mix the eggs in. Let it stand for a while then knead the whole mixture with your hand.)
Bei Verwendung von trockenen Semmelwürfeln die Masse länger ziehen lassen und eventuell 1 - 2 EL Milch oder Wasser in die Knödelmasse geben.
(The mixture should be just right, not too thick and not too thin. If it is too thick then the dumplings will become too hard. If it is too thin, put some more bread in. or if it is too thick then put some more milk in.)

Mit Muskatnuß, Pfeffer und Salz kräftig abschmecken. Eventuell etwas Mehl über die Masse stauben um eine bessere Konsistenz zu erreichen (nicht zu viel, sonst werden die Knödel hart).
(To test put into the mixture nutmeg, pepper and salt) 
Mit feuchten Händen 6 - 8 etwa gleich große, feste Knödel formen und in Mehl wälzen.
(With wet hands form about 6 – 8 dumplings. They should all be the same size. Roll the dumplings in a bit flower.)
Ich selbst forme die Knödel neben leicht fließendem Wasser: wasche mir die Hände und forme einen Knödel mit feuchten Händen. Wälze den Knödel in Mehl auf einem Teller und lege ihn auf eine mehlbestaubte Fläche. Wasche mir wieder die Hände, forme den nächsten Knödel, ...
In kochendes Wasser legen und 20 Minuten ziehen lassen (nicht wallend kochen!).
(Boil water in a pot they all will fit in and put them in. When the water boils, put them slowly in and let them in for 20 minutes. Don’t let the water bubble all the time. )
Dabei darf der Topf nicht ganz zugedeckt sein! (z.B. Kochlöffel zwischen Topf und Deckel)
Turn down the heat and put the lid back on, but only halfway with maybe the wooden spoon between it)
Die Semmelknödel mit einem Schaumlöffel aus dem Wasser nehmen und baldigst servieren.
(When ready, take them out and enjoy them.)
Talon, On the Wing – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

Crayn narrowed his eyes. ‘What is it, Mat?’
‘I just remembered something form yesterday. It was so funny, you know, when Talon stood by the door and banged his wings on the side of the door?’
‘He folded his wings to go through the door. Remember? But he probably wasn’t thinking about it. Neither did I. But since I was lying on him, his wings went over me, covering me. Not completely, because he stopped doing it when he felt me under them, I guess. So, I was, for a short time, buried under his wings. It felt so, so … it felt so warm, so secure, so safe and protected. Just lovely. Yes, it really was.’ A bright grin parted her face when she looked at her father.
‘Oh yeah, I can imagine it. When he folds his wings … yes, he does that.’ Crayn suddenly doubled up in laughter. “I actually saw it, but didn’t think about that.’ When they finally stopped laughing, they heard a crowd yelling.

Matica actually flys on the back of a Condor but not just any Condor, one she actually raised from an egg. She, her Mum, Dad and brother Aikon live in a remote village of Pucara in Peru. Her whole family was accepted by the Indians but not her. They shunned and avoided her because she was different. Matica has a growth problem. At the age of 5 she looked as though she was only 2. This to the Indians was a ‘bad’ sign so they kept their distance and refused to befriend her. But that all changed when she accidently ended up on the back of her Condor that she had named Talon. She then became someone special, not to just the Indians in her village but as word spread, to villages all around. People came from all over to hear her talk about her experience while soaring through the sky on Talon. Everyone loved her, that is except one. His name was Alexander and he would walk away from her when she tried to speak to him and become his friend. Puzzled, as well as hurt by his rejection, Matica became determined to learn why he hated her so much. Was he jealous or did he not believe that she actually flew? When Matica finally did learn his secret she was dumbfounded. She learned that he had a brother that was like her – little. But his brother had died and what bothered him most was how and why his brother died. But it went deeper because Alex blamed himself for his brother’s death. He should have prevented it from happening. So can Matica open Alex up and help him?

This is the 2nd volume in the Talon series and I have had the pleasure of reading both. The lessons taught within both books are priceless and very much needed in today’s world. The story teaches trust, which we all need more of. It teaches judgment, not just in what you say or do but also in how you actually judge others. It teaches patience, which is something I lack. It teaches love and forgiveness which everyone could use more of. This is a wonderful book to start reading as a bedtime story for young kids as well as a great story for older children to read on their own. Yes, we adults can learn from it too so I recommend it to all ages. And I must add that the story itself is one that I totally enjoyed too. A young girl that has befriended not only Talon who she raised but also his parent Condors who stick by her side as well as hers and show their appreciation for what she did for them.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Wiggle Room - Darden North, Author

Anderson’s Chicken Pesto

1  package pesto sauce mix
8  boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4  slices provolone cheese, cut in half

1   4-ounce can sliced mushrooms

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare pesto sauce following the package directions.  Spray 9 X 12 inch  rectangular dish with no-stick cooking spray. Moisten chicken with water, shake off excess, and completely coat with bread crumbs. Place chicken in baking dish. Spread pesto sauce evenly over chicken breasts. Cover each piece with ½ slice of provolone cheese. Spread mushrooms over cheese. Bake for 45 – 50 minutes. Serve with pasta. Enjoy with friends and family.

I am more of a cook of books than an authority on cookbooks.  Even that’s a stretch.  I rarely cook at all except for the occasional grilled steak or piece of fish and a pop of a leftover into the microwave.  In fact, my biggest meal of the day is typically lunch at the hospital where I work as an ob/gyn (my “day job”).  Our two children are grown and live away, so my wife and I rarely have big meals around our house.  But this is one or my favorite dishes.  Daughter Anderson has made it popular around Jackson, Mississippi, when she has been home.  It’s a quick and easy, but delicious meal, without being too heavy.

----- Darden North
 Author of Mysteries and Thrillers

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

Mississippi surgeon Brad Cummins, serving on temporary duty at Balad Air Base Theatre Hospital in Iraq, has just been informed that an incoming Black Hawk will be bringing in wounded from an IED which hit a Humvee on patrol. Of the six transported to Balad, five are American Troops. The sixth person injured appears to be an Iraqi student  walking down the road and tossed under the Humvee, breaking bones and receiving burns to much of his body. One of Brad’s patients, Lance Corporal Giles, is treated and seems to be doing OK until a CODE is called on the dying Giles.  Team surgeon John Haynes takes over after Brad attends the Iraqi student. Unfortunately, Giles dies for no apparent reason causing an investigation into his treatment and death. Brad is cleared by his peers but not by himself. He questions his own actions, and his uncertainty mounts.

Brad returns to his fiancee Leslie and to the surgical practice in Mississippi with his twin brother Brian. His real troubles start when Brad and Leslie find Brian shot to death in the parking lot elevator of their medical building. Brad believes that someone meant to kill him, not his twin brother.  Other attempts are made on his life, and the only connection seems to be with the death of Giles. And how does the Iraqi student fit in?

Author Darden North really out-did himself this time. I’ve read several of his books and they have always kept me on the edge but this book became one I didn’t want to stop reading until I reached the end. He kept me guessing as to who the killer would turn out to be and when I decided I knew the answer to that question, he threw in a wrench at the end which had me second guessing my choice. This was a very enjoyable book and I really hope we’ll see more of Brad Cummins in future books.

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Moon is Broken! - Monique B. Martin, Author

Beef Tamales (6 servings)
(Taylor's Favorite)

4 lbs boneless chuck roast
4 cloves garlic
4 dried ancho chiles
3 8 oz packages dried corn husks
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp whole wheat flour
1 cup beef broth
2 tsp cumin
2 cloves minced garlic
2 tsp chopped fresh oregano
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp white vinegar
2 tbsp salt
3 cups lard 
(lard is a non-negotiable for Mexican-style tamales, but I've had success with coconut oil as well)
9 cups masa harina


  1. Place beef and garlic in a large pot. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil over high heat. As soon as water boils, reduce heat to a simmer and cover pot. Let simmer for 3 1/2 hours, until beef is tender and shreds easily. When beef is done, remove from pot, reserving 5 cups cooking liquid and discarding garlic. Allow meat to cool slightly, and shred finely with forks.
  2. Meanwhile, place corn husks in a large container and cover with warm water. Allow to soak for 3 hours, until soft and pliable. May need to weight down with an inverted plate and a heavy can.
  3. Toast ancho chiles in a cast iron skillet, making sure not to burn them. Allow to cool and then remove stems and seeds. Crumble and grind in a clean coffee grinder or with a mortar and pestle.
  4. Heat oil in a large skillet. Mix in flour and allow to brown slightly. Pour in 1 cup beef broth and stir until smooth. Mix in ground chiles, cumin seeds, ground cumin, minced garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, vinegar and salt. Stir shredded beef into skillet and cover. Let simmer 45 minutes.
  5. Place lard and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whip with an electric mixer on high speed until fluffy. Add masa harina and beat at low speed until well mixed. Pour in reserved cooking liquid a little at a time until mixture is the consistency of soft cookie dough.
  6. Drain water from corn husks. One at a time, flatten out each husk, with the narrow end facing you, and spread approximately 2 tablespoons masa mixture onto the top 2/3 of the husk. Spread about 1 tablespoon of meat mixture down the middle of the masa. Roll up the corn husk starting at one of the long sides. Fold the narrow end of the husk onto the rolled tamale and tie with a piece of butchers' twine.

The Moon is Broken! - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish
Every night at eight o'clock the same thing happens.  "Time for bed,"  Mommy says.  "Time for bed, sleepyhead!"  But, to her surprise and fright, something is wrong this starry night!  Something has happened to the moon and it has to be fixed! 
This is such a sweet little book that helps Taylor solve her dilemma.  She's determined to let God know that the moon is broken.  The last time she looked it was a round circle and now part of it's fallen off.  She must find the missing part so it can be fixed.  Perfect for a bedtime story for young children.  Beautiful illustrations.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Map - Boni Lonnsburry​, Author

Asparagus and Mushroom Tarts  
Originally from Bon Appétit | April 2009

A simple but sophisticated starter: Puff pastry squares are topped with a bright spring mixture of asparagus spears, fresh shiitakes, and crème fraîche.

Yield: Makes 8
1 17.3-ounce package frozen puff pastry (2 sheets), thawed
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
12 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, caps cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper, divided
1 pound slender asparagus spears, trimmed, cut on diagonal into 1-inch pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
1/2 cup crème fraîche*
1/2 cup (packed) coarsely grated Gruyère cheese (about 2 ounces)
Fresh thyme sprigs (for garnish)
Roll out each pastry sheet on work surface to 10-inch square. Cut each into 4 squares. Using small knife, score 1/2-inch border (do not cut through pastry) around inside edges of each square. Arrange squares on 2 rimmed baking sheets. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.
Melt butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Sauté until tender and lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Transfer mushrooms to large bowl; cool 15 minutes. Add asparagus, chopped thyme, lemon peel, 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to mushrooms. Mix in crème fraîche and cheese. DO AHEAD: Filling can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill.
Preheat to 400°F. Mound filling atop pastry squares, leaving 1/2-inch plain border.
Bake tarts 20-22 minutes until crusts are puffed and golden and filling is cooked through. Remove from cookie sheet and cut into 4 pieces each with a pizza cutter. Garnish with thyme sprigs.
Boni’s note:
I absolutely LOVE this recipe!! It is easy, it looks amazing, it tastes like you slaved for days, it is so delicious you’ll crave it in the middle of the night, and it freezes like a dream! What’s more to ask for?
The Map – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish
…There are plenty of people who have tons of money but it’s never enough…they are never satisfied, never secure and they never feel truly abundant.
There are people who have the spouse, but not the trust, the support, the respect and the ever-deepening love.
There are people who have careers that they thought would make them happy, but they don’t feel free, creative and excited and they aren’t having fun.
The things are not what bring you the essence (the wonderful, positive feeling states).  The essence (the wonderful positive feelings states is what brings you the things…
By now I’m sure you’re asking yourself, what exactly does this have to do with a Map?  Well, The Map isn’t just any map.  It’s not one that you can use to map out a trip, or is it?  Actually the answer is yes and no.  You won’t find the highway numbers, little towns and cities you’ll travel through nor your mileage distance but you will find your destination and how to get there.  Through following the instructions given in The Map you don’t create your ‘wish’ list you create your ‘intent’ list.  And this goes for everything from relationships to jobs to cars, to travel and to everything in between.   How?  You ask and then believe.  Now that doesn’t mean half-heartedly believe.  You must truly believe.   You must want it strong enough that it is no longer a wish but an intent.  Again, how?  The Map will map the way for you to have what you intend to have simply by following it’s steps and believing in your own self. 
Does this work?  A couple years ago I wanted to take a trip to Utah.  I lived there a couple years when I was a child and wanted to see if my childhood memories were real or just made up by my mind over the years.  Now, how to I afford a trip like this?  I thought about it and thought about it and became determined, or should I say intent, upon making this trip.  Then it hit me.  I was a smoker for 44 years.  If I quit smoking I could easily afford this trip.  I had tried to quit smoking a hundred times and nothing seemed to work but I was determined to make this trip.  Through my intent to quit smoking and my intent to make this trip I did both!  And in the long run I did even more that made me very happy.  I gave up something that was harmful to my health, I made the trip, I saw relatives that I had not seen in 50 years and will probably never see again, but the biggest accomplishment was that when I became intent on that one trip I proved to myself that I can do and have anything if I really put my mind to it and make it an intent instead of a wish.  So, since reading The Map I’ve ‘mapped’ out other intents that I have all the confidence that I will acquire along the way.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

20 Strawberry Cake Recipes - Sharon Ray, Author

20 Strawberry Cake Recipes - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish
Classic Strawberry Cake
(Straight from the Cookbook and so good)
2 large eggs
2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup fresh, crushed strawberries, unsweetened
1/2 cup butter
2 1/5 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
Strawberry Glaze:
1 cu powdered sugar
12 - 3/4 cup crushed strawberries
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/5 tsp. vanilla
Preheat oven to 350F/180C/gas mark 4.  Prepare the cake.  First sift flour, salt and baking powder together.  Using a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients.  This includes the butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla.  Beat for about 3 minutes.  Make sure to scrape the sides of the bowl.  Add the flour mixture to the cream mixture.  Alternate it with adding the strawberries.  Beat again for about 2 minutes.  Pour the batter into two 8-inch round greased and floured cake pans.  Put pan in pre-heated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until cake tests are done.  Turn out on wire cooking racks to cool.  When cool, top the cake with the strawberry glaze.  To make the strawberry glaze, simply mix all ingredients together.  Just make sure that you use enough strawberries to think the mixture.
Inline image 1
This is just one of the wonderful recipes included in Sharon Ray's Golden Recipe Collection - 20 Strawberry Cake Recipes.  I made this cake and my food testers all raved about it's taste and texture.   When working this recipe up I did notice the batter was a bit thick and that worried me a bit but it proved to be a deliciously moist cake with loads of strawberry flavor.  The glaze did come out thin but as it sat for a few minutes it thickened slightly and just added to the moist consistency of the cake.  This woman has it together when it comes to strawberries.  I can't wait to try some the others in this book, especially since strawberries are in season.
Order your copy today 20 Strawberry Cake Recipes

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